Modernity and the Holocaust

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He had a successful military career, being awarded the Military Cross of Valour in for his bravery in battles against German forces in World War II and eventually rising to the rank of major.


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In , however, Bauman was dishonorably discharged from the military after his father made an inquiry to the Israeli Embassy in Poland about emigrating from the USSR to Israel an idea that the Soviet government strongly opposed for political reasons. After being discharged, Bauman completed an M.

During much of his early career, Bauman was a committed Marxist, but later changed his perspective as he became more critical of the communist government of Poland. That same year, an anti-Semitic political campaign succeeded in pushing most of the Jewish—Polish population out of the country, including Bauman. In exile for the second time in his life, Bauman first relocated to Israel to teach at Tel-Aviv University and then to England to become chair of sociology at the University of Leeds.

While Bauman was never affiliated with the Frankfurt School, he is still considered one of the leading intellectuals in the tradition of Critical Theory he was even awarded the Theodor Adorno Award by the city of Frankfurt in In doing so, he confronts us with both the problems and possibilities of living in what many believe to be a new stage of social life.

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Title First Published 23 February Publication Ithaca, United States. Main content page count Dimensions 6 x 9 in. Judaism and Jewish Studies. Newsletters Comment Print this page. Drawing upon Hannah Arendt and Theodor Adorno 's books on totalitarianism and the Enlightenment, Bauman developed the argument that the Holocaust should not simply be considered to be an event in Jewish history, nor a regression to pre-modern barbarism. Rather, he argued, the Holocaust should be seen as deeply connected to modernity and its order-making efforts.

Modernity and the Holocaust

Procedural rationality, the division of labour into smaller and smaller tasks, the taxonomic categorisation of different species, and the tendency to view obedience to rules as morally good, all played their role in the Holocaust coming to pass. He argued that for this reason modern societies have not fully grasped the lessons of the Holocaust; it tends to be viewed—to use Bauman's metaphor—like a picture hanging on the wall, offering few lessons.

Sociological Theory Bureaucratic Rationality, Alienation and the Traumatic Transition to Modernity

In Bauman's analysis the Jews became 'strangers' par excellence in Europe. Bauman, like the philosopher Giorgio Agamben , contended that the same processes of exclusion that were at work in the Holocaust could, and to an extent do, still come into play today. In the mid-to-late s, Bauman began to explore postmodernity and consumerism. It had changed from a society of producers into a society of consumers. According to Bauman, this change reversed Freud's "modern" tradeoff—i.

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In his books in the s Bauman wrote of this as being a shift from "modernity" to "post-modernity". Since the turn of the millennium, his books have tried to avoid the confusion surrounding the term "postmodernity" by using the metaphors of "liquid" and "solid" modernity. In his books on modern consumerism, Bauman still writes of the same uncertainties that he portrayed in his writings on "solid" modernity; but in these books he writes of fears becoming more diffuse and harder to pin down.

Indeed, they are, to use the title of one of his books, "liquid fears" — fears about paedophilia , for instance, which are amorphous and have no easily identifiable reference. Bauman is credited with coining the term allosemitism to encompass both philo-Semitic and anti-Semitic attitudes towards Jews as the other. Adorno Award of the city of Frankfurt in In this book Bauman is said to have copied verbatim paragraphs from Wikipedia articles on Slow Food and steady-state economy , along with their bibliography, without attributing sources, authors or the fact that they were copied from Wikipedia.

He did use a paragraph from the article on the golden handshake , but this citation was properly attributed to Wikipedia. In a response Bauman suggested that "obedience" to "technical" rules was unnecessary, and that he "never once failed to acknowledge the authorship of the ideas or concepts that I deployed, or that inspired the ones I coined". It's a reactionary ideological critique dressed up as the celebration of method and a back-door defence of a sterile empiricism and culture of positivism.

This is a discourse that enshrines data, correlations, and performance, while eschewing matters of substance, social problems, and power. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article has multiple issues.

Zygmunt Bauman

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