An interview with Zygmunt Bauman

openDemocracy has an interview with Zygmunt Bauman on globalization, war, terrorism, and modernity.

Lukasz Galecki: How do you define the borders of globalisation?

Zygmunt Bauman: Globalisation is not a process taking place somewhere far away in some exotic place. Globalisation is taking place in Leeds as well as in Warsaw, in New York and in any small town in Poland. It is just outside your window, but inside as well. It is enough to walk down the street to see it. Global and local spaces can be separated only as an abstraction, in reality they are intertwined.

The main trouble is that the globalisation we are dealing with today is strictly negative. It is based on the breaking down of barriers, allowing for the globalisation of capital, the movement of goods, information, crime, and terrorism, but not of the political and judicial institutions whose basis is national sovereignty. This negative aspect of globalisation has not been followed by the positive aspect, and the instruments of regulation over economic and social processes are not established enough to deal with the reach and consequences of globalisation.

Globalisation and chaos

Lukasz Galecki: Are there any historical precedents for this situation?

Zygmunt Bauman: Two centuries ago our ancestors were frightened by the naked chaos which could not be tamed by the modest powers of local communities – village, parish, and small town. In those days, the big spaces of action that were about to build nations must have seemed as frightening and open to ambush as the forces of globalisation are to today’s nation-states. Yet our ancestors were capable of building the instruments of political representation and the legislative and judicial means to manage chaos, to coordinate rules and procedures in order to tame this chaos, to make it relatively transparent and more or less predictable.