Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Bauman on Egypt

The Polish sociologist – Zygmunt Bauman – has written an interesting text on the recent events in Egypt.

While much of the commentary in Poland has depicted the uprising in simplistic terms as a struggle for democracy – whilst worrying of a possible ‘Islamist’ takeover – Bauman provides a more nuanced approach.

What sets Bauman apart from the mainstream analysis in Poland is that he recognises how this unfolding revolution in Egypt has largely been fought against the wishes of the West. Despite their claims to support human rights and democracy in Egypt, the leaders of the major Western countries had long supported the Mubarak dictatorship. The West is now attempting to work out how it can control the movement in Egypt and best benefit from these events.

Bauman points out how the USA and Europe have a terrible record when it comes to ‘promoting democracy’ outside of their own borders. From training future Taliban fighters in Afghanistan, to backing dictators in the Middle East and Latin America, the North has a long list of impeding freedom and human rights around the globe.

Zygmunt Bauman has seen many upheavals and transformations in his life. Brought up in pre-war Poland he observed the large poverty and social and ethnic divisions that blighted a young country trying to emerge from centuries of division. He then lived through the Nazi occupation of the country and became a devotee of Communism through the experience of both defeating Fascism and rebuilding his devastated country. However, Bauman became disillusioned with the course of this new Poland and became a vocal left critic of the regime. He was expelled from the country during the Anti-Semitic purges in Poland in 1968. After initially moving to Israel – being forced to give up his Polish citizenship – Bauman moved to the UK, as he did not feel comfortable there due to his anti-Zionism. Bauman has since moved away from Marxism and long renounced his Communist past. However, he has retained an ability to radically criticise the status-quo and is still one of the most innovative and creative social scientists – even in his 90s – in the contemporary world.

1 comment:

  1. re "The West is now attempting to work out how it can control the movement in Egypt and best benefit from these events" ---> see this Reuters piece from Tuesday:


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