Vier bange jaren

Nu een rechts kabinet toch weer in zicht komt en zelfs waarschijnlijk is, vliegen vier nieuwe bange jaren op ons af. Socioloog Zygmunt Bauman legt haarfijn uit in welke houdgreep de politiek zichzelf klemt en wat de zinloosheid daarvan is. Het lange citaat is in feite een aanklacht tegen de rechtse en linkse ideeënarmoede. Politici moeten de angst eens van zich afschudden en, tegelijk daarmee, de pretentieuze maakbaarheidsgedachte. De conclusie kan volgens mij alleen maar zijn dat progressieve politiek anno 2010 moedige politiek is: kosmopolitisch, eerlijk en ontmythologiserend.

Bauman in Liquid Times

,,Society is no longer protected by the state, or at least it is unlikely to trust the protection on offer; it is now exposed to the rapacity of forces it does not control and no longer hopes or intends to recapture and subdue. It is for that reason, in the first place, that state governments struggling day in, day out to weather the current storms stumble from one ad hoc crisis-management campaign and one set of emergency measures to another, dreaming of nothing more than staying in power after the next election but otherwise devoid of far-sighted programmes or ambitions, not to mention visions of a radical resolution to the nation’s recurrent problems. ‘Open’ and increasingly defenseless on both sides, the nation-state loses its might, now evaporating into global space, and its political acumen and dexterity, now increasingly regulated to the sphere of individual ‘life politics’ and ‘subsidiarized’ to individual men and women. Whatever remains of might and politics in the charge of the state and its organs gradually dwindles to a volume perhaps sufficient to furnish not much more than a large-size police precinct. The reduced state can hardly manage to be anything other than a personal safety state.

Heaving leaked from a society forcefully laid open by the pressures of globalizing forces, power and politics drift ever further in opposite directions. The problem, and the awesome task that will in all probability confront the current century as its paramount challenge, is the bringing of power and politics together again. The reunion of the separated partners inside the domicile of the nation-state is perhaps the least promising of the possible responses to that challenge.

On a negatively globalized planet, all the most fundamental problems – the metaproblems conditioning the tackling of all other problems – are global, and being global they admit of no local solutions; there are not, and cannot be, local solutions to globally originated and globally invigorated problems. The reunion of power and politics may be achieved, if at all, at the planetary level. As Benjamin R. Barber poignantly put it, ‘no American child may feel safe in its bed if in Karachi or Baghdad children don’t feel safe in theirs. Europeans won’t boast long of their freedoms if people in other parts of the world remain deprived and humiliated.’ No longer can democracy and freedom be fully and truly security in one country, or even in a group of countries; their defense in a world saturated with injustice and inhabited by billions of humans denied human dignity will inevitably corrupt the very values they are meant to defend. The future of democracy and freedom may be made secure on a planetary scale – or not at all.

Fear is arguably the most sinister of the demons nesting in the open societies of our time. But it is the insecurity of the present and uncertainty about the future that hatch and breed the most awesome and least bearable of our fears. That insecurity and uncertainty, in their turn, are born of a sense of impotence: we seem to be no longer in control, whether singly, severally or collectively – and to make things still worse we lack the tools that would allow politics to be lifted to the level where power has already settled, so enabling us to recover and repossess control over the forces shaping our shared condition while setting the range of our possibilities and the limits to our freedom to choose: a control which has now slipped or has been torn out of our hands. The demon of fear won’t be exorcised until we find (or more precisely construct) such tools.

  1. 3

    Ideeënarmoede is dat dit soort postmodernistische prietpraat nog steeds serieus genomen wordt. Zygmunt ziet spoken die niet bestaan. Karl Popper draait zich om in zijn graf.

  2. 4

    Je kunt van Bauman wel zeggen dat hij nogal pessimistisch is ingesteld. Hij hamert nogal op negatieve globalisering, terwijl er natuurlijk ook positieve bestaat. Globalisering brengt mensen ook bij elkaar, dwars over grenzen van landen en instituties heen (zie maar het verzet tegen Acta).

    W.b. postmodernistische prietpraat, over welke spoken heb je het Tjerk? Globalisering? Het risicodenken, waarbij risico’s in toenemende mate door individuen gedragen moeten worden? Over de cultuur van angst? Misschien heb je gewoon iets tegen gammawetenschappen: inderdaad veel geklets, maar echt niet allemaal onzin.

    Aardige illustratie vandaag weer van Bruce Schneier:

    Parental Fears vs. Realities

    From NPR:

    Based on surveys Barnes collected, the top five worries of parents are, in order:

    1. Kidnapping
    2. School snipers
    3. Terrorists
    4. Dangerous strangers
    5. Drugs

    But how do children really get hurt or killed?

    1. Car accidents
    2. Homicide (usually committed by a person who knows the child, not a stranger)
    3. Abuse
    4. Suicide
    5. Drowning

    Why such a big discrepancy between worries and reality? Barnes says parents fixate on rare events because they internalize horrific stories they hear on the news or from a friend without stopping to think about the odds the same thing could happen to their children.

  3. 5

    Spoken zoals: Society…is now exposed to the rapacity of forces it does not control and no longer hopes or intends to recapture and subdue.

    Over Schneier: de kans dat je om het leven komt in een autoongeluk is velen malen groter dan dat je vliegtuig gekaapt wordt door terroristen. Toch vindt de overheid dat je verplicht door een security check op de luchthaven moet, en het liefst maken ze nog een beeld van je op een body scanner. Het lijkt me juist dat de overheid (en politici) de aanjagers van angst zijn. Neem bijvoorbeeld: vogelgriep, sars, varkensgriep, zure regen, terrorisme, aids, economische crisis, olieramp, geert wilders, gekkekoeienziekte, global warming, global cooling, immigranten, islam, joden, evangelisten, rednecks, olbermann, obama, bush.

  4. 7

    De een zijn angst is de andere zijn zegen.
    Je kunt niet iedereen tevreden stellen en je schoonmoeder ook nog.
    Die wordt dan héél verdrietig als ze uit de boot valt, en bang en boos.
    Maar vooral heel jaloers.