Zygmunt Bauman’s Warning From History

But we cannot simply memorialize without asking difficult and searching questions about the contemporary moment. Are there, for instance, aspects of contemporary global society that make it possible to think and act in ways that render specific populations disposable? Such questioning is more than simply an attempt to politicize memorialization. The memory of violence is always deeply embedded in “regimes of truth” that are the outcome of power struggles. History is never value neutral or self-evident. What Michel Foucault often termed the “history of our present” is the outcome of many fraught intellectual battles, often perpetrated on the side of the victors, who try to hide continued oppression and the most systematic of abuses all in plain sight. Zygmunt Bauman remains one of the most important intellectuals connecting the violence of the 20th Century to the disposability of populations in the contemporary period. The author on some 50 books, Bauman is undoubtedly one of the most important critical voices of our generation. His eloquent and incisive writings are not the product of Ivory Tower privilege. Bauman’s work talks to the present having personally seen, intimately known, and lived through the worst excesses of 20th Century totalitarianism. His warnings for contemporary generations should be heeded then, precisely because he understands all too well the ability for mass violence to regenerate in novel forms that nevertheless reveal historical traces.


About Giorgio Bertini

Research Professor. Founder Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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