Leon posted a link to a fascinating interview with Zygmunt Bauman in a resources blog post. A couple of things struck me about the interview. It reminded me of an earlier book by Zygmunt – Socialism: the active utopia. I read this shortly after it was published and had just finished reading Ursula Le Guin’s The Dispossessed (1974). At the time I felt that Zygmunt’s book read like a study guide to Le Guin’s story! Looking back from today’s vantage the question remains “what is the normative basis for a utopia, or any other political system or ism”?
The interview coincidently also touched on the distinction between security and freedom that I am currently reading in the introduction to Postmodernity and its Discontents. My feeling is that the contrast these days is more between control and freedom. The pair of terms is redolent of structure and agency as well of course. The emphasis can be on institutional arrangments, ideological incorporation, Althusser’s ‘interpellation’ and probably all of these. And is it a conflict or contradiction anyway? Doesn’t actually existing and occuring freedom depend upon structures, rules, the closure, one way or another, of indeterminacy, chaos and meaninglessness?. Isn’t the notion of “individual freedom” internally contradictory?
I have just started reading John Gray’s Gray’s Anatomy, an amusing but also rather depressing read. I fear his diagnosis of late capitalism, globalisation and the human condition may be right. The introduction to the book will probably tell you all you want to know. In it Gray pronounces Sigmund Freud to be the greatest Enlightenment thinker of the 20th century. Who is the greatest post Enlightenment thinker of the 20th century?