History and Politics: Selected Writings, Volume 2 1509550747, 9781509550746

A victim of the Nazis, then the communists. Twice a refugee, yet always remaining a committed socialist. In countless wa

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History and Politics: Selected Writings, Volume 2
 1509550747, 9781509550746

Table of contents :
Title page
Series Introduction
Translator’s Note
Editors’ Introduction: History and Politics in the Sociological Imagination of Zygmunt Bauman
1 Tractate on Bureaucracy (1957)
2 On the Political Mechanisms of Bourgeois Democracy (1961)
3 The Limitations of ‘Perfect Planning’ (1966)
1. Resource self-sufficiency
2. Perfect information
3. Perfect rationality by planners
4. Social homogeneity
5. Perfect hierarchic control
1. Foreign trade
2. The household frame of reference
1. Investment vs consumption
2. Collective vs individual consumption
3. Income levelling vs income differentiation
4. Goal formulation vs goal attainment
3. The qualitative heterogeneity of human needs
3. The special problem of the present4
1. Institutional
2. Political
3. Instrumental
4. Technical
4 The End of Polish Jewry: A Sociological Review (1969)
5 At the Crossroads in a World at the Crossroads (c.1970)
6 Between State and Society (1973)
7 On the Maturation of Socialism (1981)
8 Exit Visas and Entry Tickets: Paradoxes of Jewish Assimilation (1988)
9 The Holocaust: Fifty Years Later (1994)
10 Names of Suffering, Names of Shame (2001)
11 Britain after Blair, or Thatcherism Consolidated (2007)
12 Panic among the Parasites, or For Whom the Bell Tolls (2010)
13 The Haunting Spectre of ‘Westphalian Sovereignty’ (2012)
14 Europe’s Adventure: Still Unfinished? (2016)
1 Tractate on Bureaucracy
2 On the Political Mechanisms of Bourgeois Democracy
3 The Limitations of ‘Perfect Planning’
4 The End of Polish Jewry
5 At the Crossroads in a World at the Crossroads
6 Between State and Society
7 On the Maturation of Socialism
8 Exit Visas and Entry Tickets
9 The Holocaust: Fifty Years Later
10 Names of Suffering, Names of Shame
11 Britain after Blair, or Thatcherism Consolidated
12 Panic among the Parasites, or For Whom the Bell Tolls
13 The Haunting Spectre of ‘Westphalian Sovereignty’
14 Europe’s Adventure: Still Unfinished?

Citation preview

History and Politics

Zygmunt Bauman

History and Politics Selected Writings, Volume 2

Edited and with an Introduction by Mark Davis, Jack Palmer, Dariusz Brzeziński and Tom Campbell Translated by Katarzyna Bartoszyńska


Copyright © Zygmunt Bauman 2023 Editors’ Introduction © Mark Davis, Jack Palmer, Dariusz Brzeziński and Tom Campbell 2023 English translations of pieces translated from Polish © Polity Press 2023 Dariusz Brzeziński’s research was funded by the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of the Polish Academy of Science with the grant based on decision No. POR/2017/S/08. The article ‘The Holocaust: Fifty Years Later’ was originally published in The Holocaust: Fifty Years Later, ed. Daniel Grinberg, The Emanuel Ringelblum Jewish Historical Institute, Warsaw, 1994.

Polity Press 65 Bridge Street Cambridge CB2 1UR, UK Polity Press 111 River Street Hoboken, NJ 07030, USA All rights reserved. Except for the quotation of short passages for the purpose of criticism and review, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the publisher. ISBN-13: 978-1-5095-5074-6 ISBN-13: 978-1-5095-5075-3 (pb) A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library. Library of Congress Control Number: 2022940847 Typeset in 10.5 on 12 Sabon by Fakenham Prepress Solutions, Fakenham, Norfolk NR21 8NL Printed and bound in Great Britain by TJ Books Ltd, Padstow, Cornwall The publisher has used its best endeavours to ensure that the URLs for external websites referred to in this book are correct and active at the time of going to press. However, the publisher has no responsibility for the websites and can make no guarantee that a site will remain live or that the content is or will remain appropriate. Every effort has been made to trace all copyright holders, but if any have been overlooked the publisher will be pleased to include any necessary credits in any subsequent reprint or edition. For further information on Polity, visit our website: politybooks.com

For Anna, Irena and Lydia


Series Introduction

page ix

Translator’s Note xii Editors’ Introduction: History and Politics in the Sociological Imagination of Zygmunt Bauman xiv   1 Tractate on Bureaucracy (1957)


  2 On the Political Mechanisms of Bourgeois Democracy (1961) 21   3 The Limitations of ‘Perfect Planning’ (1966)


  4 The End of Polish Jewry: A Sociological Review (1969)


  5 At the Crossroads in a World at the Crossroads (c.1970) 75   6 Between State and Society (1973)


  7 On the Maturation of Socialism (1981)


  8 Exit Visas and Entry Tickets: Paradoxes of Jewish Assimilation (1988)


  9 The Holocaust: Fifty Years Later (1994)


10 Names of Suffering, Names of Shame (2001)


11 Britain after Blair, or Thatcherism Consolidated (2007)


12 Panic among the Parasites, or For Whom the Bell Tolls (2010) 178

viii Contents 13 The Haunting Spectre of ‘Westphalian Sovereignty’ (2012) 186 14 Europe’s Adventure: Still Unfinished? (2016)


Notes 209 Acknowledgements 226 Index 228

Series Introduction Mark Davis, Dariusz Brzeziński, Jack Palmer, Tom Campbell

The author of over seventy books and several hundred articles across a career spanning sixty-three years, Zygmunt Bauman (1925–2017) was one of the world’s most original and influential sociologists. In both his native Poland and his adopted home of England, Bauman produced an astonishing body of work that continues to inspire generations of students and scholars, as well as an engaged and global public. Their encounter with Bauman is shaped above all by two books that have acquired the status of modern classics: Modernity and the Holocaust (1989) and Liquid Modernity (2000). While this is understandable, it also means that many readers will be unfamiliar with the great range and diversity of Bauman’s work and with the course of its development over time. Moreover, as Keith Tester argued, an in-depth understanding of Bauman’s contribution must engage seriously with his foundational work of the 1970s, which builds upon his earlier writings in Poland, before his enforced exile in 1968. The importance of this broader and longer-term perspective on Bauman’s work has shaped the thinking behind this series, which makes available for the first time some of Bauman’s previously unpublished or lesser-known papers from the full range of his career. The series has been made possible thanks to the generosity of the Bauman family, especially his three daughters Anna, Irena and Lydia. Following Bauman’s death on 9 January 2017, they kindly donated 156 large boxes of papers and almost 500 digital storage devices as a gift to the University of Leeds. Anyone privileged enough to have visited Bauman at his home in Leeds, perhaps arguing with him


Series Introduction

long into the night whilst surrounded by looming towers of dusty books and folders, will appreciate the magnitude of their task. With the support of the University of Leeds, the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of the Polish Academy of Sciences, Polity, and the Bauman Estate, we have studied this material and selected texts with a view to making them available to a wide readership through the volumes of this series. In partnership with professional archivists and data management experts, we have read, collated and indexed this vast and unique body of material written in both Polish and English since the 1950s. Through this research, we discovered many unpublished or lesser-known articles and essays, lecture notes and module summaries, contributions to obscure publications no longer in print, and partially completed drafts of papers. It quickly became clear that no commentary on Bauman’s life or work to date has been able to grasp fully the multi-faceted and multi-lingual character of his writings. This series begins to correct that. As well as including many of his lesser-known English-language papers, we have started to tackle the multi-lingual dimension of Bauman’s sociology by working with the translator Katarzyna Bartoszyńska to ensure each of the volumes in this series includes Polish-language material previously unknown to English-speaking readers. This includes more contemporary Polish-language material, with a view to emphasizing Bauman’s continued engagement in European intellectual life following exile. Each volume in the series is organized thematically, in order to provide some necessary structure for the reader. In seeking to respect both the form and content of Bauman’s documents, we have kept editorial changes to a minimum, only making grammatical or typographical corrections where necessary to make the meaning of his words clear. A substantial introduction by the editors offers a guide through the material, developing connections to Bauman’s other works, and helping to paint a picture of the entanglement between his biographical and intellectual trajectories. This series will facilitate a far richer understanding of the breadth and depth of Bauman’s legacy and provide a vital reference point for students and scholars across the arts, humanities and social sciences, and for his wider global readership. ABOUT THE EDITORS Mark Davis is Professor of Economic Sociology and Founding Director of the Bauman Institute in the School of Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Leeds, UK.

Series Introduction


Dariusz Brzeziński is Assistant Professor in the Department of Theoretical Sociology at the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of the Polish Academy of Sciences, Poland. Jack Palmer is Senior Lecturer in Sociology at Leeds Trinity University, UK, and Visiting Fellow at the Bauman Institute in the School of Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Leeds, UK. Tom Campbell is Associate Professor in Social Theory in the School of Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Leeds, UK.

Translator’s Note Katarzyna Bartoszyńska

As I have once again found myself translating the work of Zygmunt Bauman, having already translated two shorter works (Of God and Man and Bauman/Bałka) during his lifetime, and one earlier book (Sketches in the Theory of Culture) after his death, I thought I might, at last, allow myself to say something about the way I have approached my task. Translators’ introductions are relatively uncommon in academic writing, and when they do exist, it is usually to clarify a particular term that is not quite translatable – Heidegger’s Dasein, or Freud’s unheimlich – rather than to defend stylistic choices. But, like so many of the great theorists of culture, Zygmunt Bauman cared deeply about the style of his prose. Although a prolific writer, he was also a careful one, who devoted a lot of attention to crafting his sentences in a particular way. Thus, the work of rendering some texts of his into English is an intimidating prospect, no less so because he wrote the majority of his work in English, and had developed his own approach to the language. I have attempted, in my translation, to cleave as closely to this style as possible – even, occasionally, at the cost of clarity, and thus, some explanation is in order (and a big thank-you to Leigh Mueller, our copy-editor, for helping me to find the right balance). One of the curious features of the Polish language is that it is grammatically structured in such a way that word order does not determine meaning. Because nouns and verbs are both marked, you can move the words around without creating confusion: pies zjadł kota, kota zjadł pies, zjadł pies kota, zjadł kota pies, kota pies zjadł,

Translator’s Note


pies kota zjadł – though some of these sentences sound distinctly odd, they all clearly state that a dog ate a cat. English is not so permissive, and convention restricts the choices even further, rendering the passive voice, for instance, less common. One of the distinctive features of Bauman’s writing, even in English, is a word order that may seem slightly unfamiliar to English-language readers. Often, this is a consequence of his proclivity for lengthy sentences with multiple subordinate clauses. I have tried to keep these sentences as they are, breaking them into smaller ones only when it seemed absolutely necessary to avoid confusion. I believe that he felt that readers should expend some effort in making their way through longer sentences – that to do so was to participate in a process of unfolding meaning that contributed to understanding it. I have also chosen to make sentences mostly gender-neutral, using ‘they’ instead of the more cumbersome ‘she or he’. In Polish, human, person and similar such words are gendered masculine, which leads to a de facto use of male pronouns. In his later, English-language writings, Bauman tended to use gender-neutral terms, and I believe he would appreciate that I did the same in my translations. Occasionally, however, the sentence was simply too convoluted without a singular pronoun, so I flipped a coin. And I did preserve some moments when he specifically used female pronouns – a sign that gender inclusivity was on his mind even in the 1960s.

Editors’ Introduction: History and Politics in the Sociological Imagination of Zygmunt Bauman Mark Davis, Jack Palmer, Dariusz Brzeziński, Tom Campbell

Invited to reflect upon whether or not the future was hospitable to the political left, Zygmunt Bauman (2007b) remarked that a self-assertive left – namely, one that refuses to be ‘updated’ by a centre-right ‘third way’ vision such as those animating the New Democrat and New Labour movements in Australia, the UK and USA during the 1980s and 1990s – needed to embrace two basic, yet non-negotiable, principles. First, that the duty of the community is to insure its individual members against individual misfortune. And, second, that just as the carrying capacity of a bridge is measured only by the strength of its weakest supporting point, so too the quality of a society ought to be measured in terms of the quality of life of its weakest members. These two principles, seemingly on a collision course with the increasingly harsh daily realities of ‘actually existing capitalism’, were necessary prerequisites if any politics worthy of the label ‘left’ was to stand a chance of overcoming the injustice and immorality of the capitalist system. Describing the left as ‘a stance of permanent criticism of the realities of social life’ that ‘cannot be anything but democratic’, Bauman (2007b: 10) rebels against acquiescence to the notion that the capitalist order cannot be overcome, in the following way: ‘If an optimist is someone who believes that we live in the best of all possible worlds, and the pessimist is someone who suspects

Editors’ Introduction


that the optimist may be right, the left places itself instead in the third camp: that of hope. Refusing to pre-empt the shape of the good society, it can’t but question, listen and seek.’ Around the same time, Bauman (2006: 160) was reflecting on the contributions made to the political left by his friend and once colleague at the University of Leeds, Ralph Miliband, who he described as possessing a mind that ‘refused to accept that no further improvement was conceivable. [Miliband’s] own, unique and inimitable world was a world of undying hope.’ Bauman’s tribute to Miliband was framed by their shared endeavour to confront the intellectual challenge for all those on the political left generated by the slow yet relentless decomposition of the ‘historical agent’ presumed to be capable of ushering in a better world for all, a world that would refuse to be diverted into capitalist and communist cul-de-sacs and finally reach its socialist destination. Noting that intellectuals, especially on the left, never fully trusted in their capacity to make the word flesh, and thus needed ‘someone else’ to perform the job they urged to be undertaken, Bauman (2006: 161) asks: ‘Are words able to change the world? Is telling the truth enough to assure its victory over the lie? Is reason capable of standing its own against prejudice and superstition? Is evil likely ever to surrender to the shining glory of goodness, or ugliness to the blinding splendours of beauty?’ These questions inform this introduction to the selected writings on history and politics by Bauman contained within this volume. Our story helps to reveal how Bauman’s own biography shaped his particular form of ‘morally committed’ sociology into a publicly and politically engaged project, providing a conceptual language that helped to inspire anti-capitalist and anti-globalization movements around the world, especially among progressive young activists in Spain, Italy and across Central and South America. He was a victim of the Nazis, then the Communists. He was twice a refugee. Yet he remained a committed socialist, deep in his heart. In countless ways, Bauman lived the political upheavals of the twentieth and the twenty-first centuries. He was an actor within them. His own lived history informed his politics, which found expression to varying degrees in his sociology. Through including the unknown, or lesser-known, pieces of his writing contained in this volume – and discovered as part of the archival Papers of Janina and Zygmunt Bauman project that we led at the University of Leeds1 – as editors, we begin the process of integrating them into a story of Bauman’s life and work, with the twin hope of guiding the reader through this material and of encouraging others to assist us in this task.


Editors’ Introduction

THE SOLITARY HORSEMAN ‘However hard did I try to push and kick the American political establishment and spit in its face, no one paid attention.’2 If words really were able to change the world, then the American sociologist Charles Wright Mills was going to need some persuading. Mills was in Warsaw shortly after the events of the Polish October in 1956 (Kemp-Welch 2006), accompanied by Ralph Miliband. Miliband had embarked upon a project of internationalization for the nascent New Left movement and decided upon a tour of east-central Europe to encounter those intellectuals and activists living political change (Geary 2009). Both wanted to hear first-hand the experiences of scholars who had sparked, and then helped to contain, a genuine revolution. During their visit to Warsaw, Miliband and Mills heard Polish political leaders being vitriolic in their public condemnation of intellectuals and universities for their role in fomenting an atmosphere of revolution. In particular, the philosopher Leszek Kołakowski – a contemporary of Bauman – was singled out by Władysław Gomułka, leader of the Polish People’s Republic, as a target for the establishment’s outrage.3 Mills found the situation in Poland remarkable and a cause for considerable hope, rather than despair. ‘In your country’, Mills remarked, ‘the word counts. And so the word can change things. What you, intellectuals, do matters.’4 Sixty years later, as we will see, Bauman remained unsure. Mills was encouraged by his time in Warsaw. A leading figure of the American New Left, Mills would visit Cuba in 1960 and travel the country with Fidel Castro at the height of the revolution. Mills’s (1960) pamphlet Listen, Yankee: The Revolution in Cuba brought the voices of Cuban revolutionaries to over 400,000 readers in the USA, for which he later received death threats and was named in a US$25 million lawsuit against its publisher for alleged ‘libellous comments’ (Treviño 2017; Gane and Back 2012: 402). Despite the chaos, in a later conversation with Kołakowski, Mills conceded that he never felt his words had changed anything. The victim of a heart attack in 1962, just a few years after his visit to Warsaw, Mills died far too young to see how wrong he had been. Dismissed by Edward Shils (1960: 78) as a ‘cowboy sociologist’ – ‘in part a prophet, in part a scholar, and in part a rough-tongued brawler’ – Mills was the subject of intense animosity from his contemporaries in American sociology. Indeed, so cut off was he from the sociology fraternity that Mills earned the sobriquet ‘the solitary horseman’. Not only have his words mattered to countless future generations of sociologists, but politically his words had also resonated to such an extent that

Editors’ Introduction


by 1968 the CIA had identified him (along with Herbert Marcuse and Frantz Fanon) ‘as one of the three principle [sic] leaders of the international Left’ (Summers 2000: 10; quoted in Gane and Back 2012: 403). The year 1968 would also prove to be a defining one for Zygmunt Bauman. Bauman first met Mills in 1957, while the former was a lecturer in the Department of General Sociology at the University of Warsaw. In a revealing quote, Bauman recalls the mixed reception Mills received amongst the Polish intelligentsia and, at the same time, signals a shared belief that, to be truly critical of society, one had to operate beyond the reach of a professionalized sociology: Mills’s reception in Warsaw was mixed. Many sought his company and found him addressing their thoughts and cravings. Others, dazzled and enamoured by whatever stood for ‘American sociology’, were nonplussed and embarrassed. Mills did not represent that sociology … Mills, after all, was a thorn in the flesh of the thoroughly conformist sociological establishment, having assaulted, one by one, every single one of its sacred cows. He was deviance incarnate, the critic of the American creed among its preachers and admirers. No wonder that to some of my colleagues, about to embark on a Rockefeller or Ford Foundation fellowship, Mills was a sort of Typhoid Mary. (Bauman and Tester 2001: 27)

Not so for Bauman (2008: 234–5), who has admitted that this solitary horseman made quite an impression on him. Despite many differences between Bauman and Mills in terms of their attitude towards those in power in their home countries during the 1950s, Bauman shared with Mills (1959) the view that sociology was a vocation rather than a profession. That is, one does not simply ‘do’ professional sociology but, rather, has to ‘be’ a sociologist, embracing the discipline as a mode of human being-in-the-world, rather than simply a means to obtain a monthly pay-cheque (Jacobsen and Tester 2006; Blackshaw 2005). Both distrusted an encroaching bureaucratic ethos within the Academy, which appeared to celebrate ‘intellectual administrators’, ‘research promoters’ and ‘research technicians’. Both distanced themselves from a form of professional sociology they saw represented by figures such as Talcott Parsons – excoriated for his ‘grand theory’ by Mills (1959) in chapter 2 of The Sociological Imagination, and dismissed later by Bauman (1976b) as part of the ‘Durksonian Consensus’ in his critique of the discipline’s functionalist folly in Towards a Critical Sociology. As time passed, the similarities between the works of Bauman and Mills intensified. This is most clearly evidenced in an early article by


Editors’ Introduction

Bauman (1964: 289–334), published in Polish, entitled ‘C. Wright Mills, or the Ideal of Engaged Sociology’.5 There, Bauman juxtaposes what he calls the ‘clerk’ and the ‘Promethean’ visions of sociology. While the former suffers from ‘paresis of social ambitions’, the latter is capable of awakening people’s consciences and so activating civil society.6 Unlike ‘professional’ sociologists, who were out to measure and count their way to selling more goods or fine-tuning policy interventions, by knowing that sociology as a vocation fails to follow the tick of the industrial clock, so both Mills and Bauman knew then that the audience for their work was ‘out there’ in civil society amongst an engaged and politicized public, and not ‘in here’ amongst the Academy where claims to apolitical neutrality were taken by the majority of intellectuals as the only pure hallmark of reason. Sociology had to be for the public, or it was not sociology at all. As Gregor McLennan (1999: 566) remarked, sociologists have to embrace their critical role as public intellectuals and ‘actually say something about the structure and direction of the world we inhabit, and about the values which will guide a better human future’. Bauman and Mills would have agreed. Of significance for our interpretation here, both also appreciated the importance of the connection between biography and history – what Mills (1959: 14) called ‘the personal troubles of milieu’ and ‘the public issues of social structure’ – in order to develop a publicly and politically engaged sociology. After all, this was the promise of sociology, to act as a compass by which people might better navigate a world that has shredded public issues that could be resolved collectively into the tatters of so many private troubles now to be restitched individually (Davis 2011). This promise of sociology clearly also animates the political ambitions of Bauman’s later writings. This point is captured in Tony Blackshaw’s (2005: 60) excellent study of Bauman’s work, which he characterizes as ‘another rendition of C. Wright Mills’s “sociological imagination”: both a meeting place between public issues and private troubles and a veritable remedy to awaken the sleeping sociologist in all of us’. Linking biography with history, situating the individual within wider social processes and structures, was for both Mills and Bauman a deeply political act. And it is for reasons of biography and history that Bauman’s analysis shifted from first seeing totalitarianism – in both its fascist and communist expressions – as the principal threat to human freedom, to later regarding individualization and consumerism as the primary danger (Brzeziński 2018; Bauman and Bordoni 2014; Davis 2008; Bauman 2001). As private troubles overrun the public sphere in the age of noise, it is now the market rather than the state

Editors’ Introduction


that over-reaches into people’s lives in order steadily to dismantle the remaining social safety nets once offered by the more benevolent wings of politics, with devastating consequences for the idea of democracy. Indeed, for Bauman (2010: 57), it is an open question as to whether such notions as equality, democracy and self-determination can survive when society is seen less and less as the product of shared labour and common values, and instead far more as merely a container of goods and services to be grabbed by competing individual hands. How Bauman came to hold the view that both socialism and sociology were key to their survival will in part be explained by what follows. In contrast to his frequent claim that he was an intensely private man who sought out the public only through his ideas – that he was biographically private and sociologically public – we suggest that Bauman’s biography offers vital insight into both his sociological imagination and his politics. What is now known about the life of Zygmunt Bauman owes much to the remarkable achievements of Izabela Wagner (2020), upon whom we draw throughout what follows. We share with Wagner the belief that knowing something of Bauman’s life will aid the reader in situating into a wider context his writings on history and politics that are contained within this volume, helping to reveal their urgency. After all, as he remarked in his inaugural address to the University of Leeds in 1972: ‘in the professional life of a sociologist his most intimate, private biography is inextricably intertangled with the biography of his discipline; one thing the sociologist cannot transcend in his quest for objectivity is his own, intimate and subjective encounter-with-the-world’ (Bauman 1972b: 185).7 COMMUNISM CONTRA FASCISM Born on 19 November 1925 in Poznań, Poland, Bauman was the son of Jewish parents. His father Maurycy was a Zionist, a rebel against the anti-Semitism already widespread in Poland in the 1920s; his mother Zofia was an atheist living as an ‘assimilated Jew’ in the local community. From a young age, Bauman experienced the pullulating menace of fascist anti-Semitism and the forces that led to the outbreak of war on 1 September 1939. As he recounts in an extra­ ordinary memoir originally written for family members in 1987: ‘We read of the mounting physical violence – of the beatings of Jewish students in the universities, of mini-pogroms in the rising number of rural areas and small provincial towns, of self-styled fascist troopers marching through the Jewish shtetls while watched rather apathetically by the police not particularly eager to be involved’ (Bauman


Editors’ Introduction

1987b: 14).8 When war erupted in Poland, Poznań was the target of heavy bombing. The Bauman family escaped by taking the last train leaving the city, heading east under cover of darkness to stay with Zofia’s family in Włocławek. While there, the 14-year-old Bauman witnessed German soldiers humiliating his father, a traumatic event that pushed the family immediately to leave, setting out on foot for the Soviet Union. Hunger, cold and sleep deprivation were daily experiences. The family spent all their savings and money borrowed from family on modest meals and the right to sleep in peasants’ houses. After being registered at a German ‘pre-camp’ on the Soviet border, the family risked everything by taking advantage of lapsed security to escape by crossing a nearby river into Soviet-controlled territory. This momentary relief was quickly forgotten as the border town was overrun with forced refugees living in very harsh conditions, with drastic food shortages and no possibility of employment. The family moved again, further on into the Soviet Union, stopping at Mołodeczna in Belarus, where Bauman was permitted to attend a local school. Both parents found work and, as refugees, they could stay legally and enjoy modest living conditions for the first time since the outbreak of war. Bauman was a dedicated student. Having to study in a foreign language (Russian) and integrate into a completely new culture somehow did not prevent him from obtaining the highest school grades. Chaos returned in June 1941, however, as the Nazis began their bombing campaign in Russia. Despite being refugees, with no legal entitlement to evacuation, the family somehow managed to find a train heading farther east, away from the falling bombs. With no legal right to remain in eastern cities, the family were left to their own wits to survive, and frequently suffered from hunger. To help, Maurycy worked as an accountant, Zofia as a cook in a canteen, paying to rent a room so the young Bauman could continue his education. Completing high school with a gold medal for achievement, Bauman enrolled in the department of physics at Gorki University, but was evicted from the campus by a decree forbidding refugees from residing in the city. Devastated, he returned to his parents’ home in Vakhtan, a small forest town in central Russia. On his eighteenth birthday, Bauman was drafted for military service and sent to Moscow. He joined the Polish fourth division in Sumy in April 1944, where he became the deputy political officer in the sixth section of the infantry. He was engaged in notable military victories, receiving the War Cross for his courage at the battle of Kołobrzeg.

Editors’ Introduction


At the end of the war, Bauman was one of several young officers to be selected for the new KBW (Internal Security Corps). Torn apart by brutal conflict, Poland was vital geo-politically for Stalin’s ambitions, and so was controlled from Moscow via a complex network of security institutions, such as the KBW. In December 1946, Bauman was promoted to captain due to his abilities in educating young soldiers in Soviet communist ideology. In May 1947, he transferred to Warsaw and, a month later, became deputy chief of the propaganda section of the KBW. Being in Warsaw opened countless possibilities and, for the first time, the opportunity to live a ‘normal’ life. It was there, in 1948, that Bauman met, and very soon after married, the journalist and writer Janina Lewinson (1926–2009). Unlike the Bauman family, Janina had been imprisoned by the Nazis in the Warsaw ghetto, an experience that she captured in her memoir Winter in the Morning (1986), the inspiration three years later for Bauman’s (1989) own reflections on the Holocaust (Pollock 2022; Wagner 2022). Bauman saw the Communist Party as providing the best solutions for postwar reconstruction. In June 1952, however, he became disillusioned with the army following the departure of a respected colleague. In October, he was accepted to study for a master’s degree in philosophy at the Ministry of Higher Education. His life of working for the KBW in the morning and studying in the afternoon did not last long, however, as the notorious ‘Doctors’ Plot’ finally broke out publicly in Moscow on 13 January 1953.9 Bauman was targeted during another anti-Semitic campaign as one of many Jewish intellectuals in the army. Dismissed in early 1953, the family was plunged into crisis once again. His parents, who had joined him in Warsaw in October 1949, decided to leave his flat following an argument with him. Rejected by the system, and in conflict with his parents, Bauman wrote a declaration in January 1953, stating that he had failed to change his father’s sympathies with Zionism and was thus denouncing him and breaking off all contact with him. The first phase of Bauman’s life in the cauldron of twentieth-century politics was ending, as a second phase was emerging. Bauman embarked upon an intensive study of Marxism as the only accepted social science doctrine in Warsaw at that time. Inspired by the communist ideals of universal inclusivity through socialism, which appealed to many young Jewish scholars who felt ‘outside’ of the dominant culture, Bauman became interested in the reconstruction of Poland as a specifically sociological project. Bauman’s position was like that of many Polish Jews at the time who believed liberal institutions to be unravelling in the face of challenging interpretations


Editors’ Introduction

of modernity’s cultural and political programmes – namely, fascism and communism (Judt 2005; Diner 2004). Asked years later by Peter Haffner about his relationship with Kołakowski, and their postwar investment in the communist project in Poland, Bauman said: When in retrospect we tried to recall our feelings at the time, first in Poland, then in exile, and finally after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, we agreed on one point: we had both believed that the programme of the Polish communists in 1944/45 was the only one that gave us some reason to hope that our country could escape from the backwardness of the pre-war era and the cataclysm of the war; that it was the only programme that could solve the nation’s problems of moral degeneration, illiteracy, poverty and social injustice. (Bauman 2020: 9–12)

In 1954, Bauman joined Warsaw University as a junior lecturer. Sociology in Warsaw embraced philosophy, economics, history and politics as one multi-disciplinary enterprise, and openly discussed theoretical alternatives as complementary perspectives on the human condition (Satterwhite 1992). Bauman (1972b) acknowledged that he learned a great deal from his teachers, Julian Hochfeld and Stanisław Ossowski (Wagner 2020: 171–90; Tester 2004: 34–43), including a vital lesson that sociology has no other mission than to offer a constant critical commentary on human life as it is experienced, and that, because human experience is enduring and ever-changing, so too the task of sociological interpretation must continue as a journey without end. As Bauman explains elsewhere, both Hochfeld and Ossowski were convinced of the tremendous political importance of their academic work, believing totally in sociology’s intrinsic capacity to influence the lives of other people for the better (Kilminster and Varcoe 1992: 208). It was they who first inoculated him against a professionalized form of sociology, which they regarded as offering only comfortable acquiescence to the status quo and tolerance for the suffering of the marginalized and excluded. The aforementioned lesson was confirmed by Bauman’s encounter with Mills in 1957 when, following the failed Polish October, his disillusionment with the policies of the Polish United Workers’ Party emerged and intensified. At that time, Bauman became one of a group of revisionist intellectuals labouring under the banner of Hochfeld’s ‘Open Marxism’ (just one version of this movement in Poland), which embraced many different traditions of thought, including bourgeois ones (Wiatr 2017; Hochfeld 1982 [1957], 1958). Bauman’s views on this matter are reflected, inter alia, in two Polish articles from 1957, ‘Tractate on Bureaucracy’ (pp. 1–20 in this volume) and ‘Marxism

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and Contemporary Sociology’ (Bauman and Wiatr, 1957), the first of which is published in English for the first time in this volume. ‘By its very nature’, we learn from Wagner (2020: 181), Hochfeld believed that ‘Marxism had to be open to analyses of a changing world and non-Marxist social theories. This idea inescapably favors a democratic and pluralist culture.’ In striving to ‘rescue’ Marx’s ideas from their Soviet distortion as the ‘Will of the Party’, the group were exposed to the charge of bringing ‘Western’ ideas into the East. With the death of Stalin in 1953, Bauman made the most of new opportunities to work in a transnational intellectual space across the Iron Curtain (Wagner 2020: 205), leaving Poland temporarily for England, having secured a fellowship at the London School of Economics (LSE) to work with the Canadian philosopher Robert McKenzie (Czernecki 2013: 289). This was a formative period in the development of those ideas that would be contained in Between Class and Elite (Bauman 1972a [1960]), first published in Polish in 1960 but later translated as his first English-language book. At the LSE, Bauman analysed the British labour movement, reflecting anew on the ‘humanist’ tradition of Marx’s early writings that preoccupied eastcentral European thinkers throughout the 1950s and 1960s, including a cluster of schools and networks in Poland, Hungary (especially the Budapest school), Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia (especially the Praxis group). This work was politically significant, striving to rescue socialism as a form of social organization from its association with the horrors of totalitarian dictatorships (Satterwhite 1992). Drawing upon the work of György Lukács (1971 [1923]) and Antonio Gramsci (1971), focusing upon the humanistic ideas of the ‘young Marx’ impacted Bauman’s intellectual development and the subsequent direction of his own thinking on Marxism (Bauman, 1967, 1976a, 1982, 1987c). This deviation from Soviet Marxism, however, led to drastic consequences for those engaged in such revisionism. Bauman’s interest in the politics of Western societies is also reflected in the 1961 article ‘On the Political Mechanisms of Bourgeois Democracy’, published here for the first time in English (pp. 21–37 in this volume). Here, Bauman analyses the various ways in which democracy was implemented in Western countries, and how each falls short of the ideal model. Bauman defined ‘bourgeois democracy’ as a form of government characterized by: (i) unrestricted freedom to express opinions about politics; (ii) equal influence of citizens on the decisions made by the government; and (iii) universal suffrage. As far as he was concerned, none of these characteristics was yet fully realized in democratic countries. First, decisions taken by government depend far more on economic factors than on public


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opinion. Second, as Walter Lippmann (2018 [1922]) long ago argued, public opinion is too often subject to manipulation. And, third, the existence of a multi-party system does not automatically lead to the realization of democratic values. Written in 1961, when Bauman supported the socialist system, this article contains reflections on the weaknesses of democracy, to which Bauman often returned in his later works (Bauman 1999), as well as some remarkably prescient reflections on both the merging of political and financial interests and the danger of mass communications technologies distorting public opinion to serve that new power elite. Before his interests turned more to developing a theory of culture in the early 1960s (Brzeziński 2022), Bauman’s work was explicitly political (Wiatr 2010). In his writings at the end of this period, he argued, first, that the Polish youth were retreating from the public realm into their own private lives (Bauman 1962a: 77–90). Second, he also analysed how the working class became politically passive and devoid of a sense of collective identity via the monopolization of political decision making by abstract bureaucratic elites (Bauman 1962b: 50–64). Both arguments were extensions of ideas first developed in ‘Tractate on Bureaucracy’ (Bauman 1957), mentioned previously. Drawing on a diverse cast of characters – from Weber and Veblen to Hayek and von Mises – Bauman argues that bureaucracy is indispensable to the continuity of power in all modern societies, as vital to the operation of free market capitalism as it is to socialism. On the other hand, however, he indicated that the alienation of the bureaucratic layer posed a great danger to the condition of a socialist society. It was this process that he observed with increasing intensity in Poland. As time passed, Bauman had less and less confidence in the Party, and so also in the doctrine of Marxism–Leninism. His sociology remained aligned with Marxism primarily through his interest in the writings of Gramsci (Brzeziński 2017; Bauman 1963). In a conversation with Keith Tester, Bauman remembered that time as follows: In a paradoxical way Gramsci saved me from turning into an antiMarxist, as so many other disenchanted thinkers did, throwing out on their way everything that was, and remained, precious and topical in Marx’s legacy. I read good tidings in Gramsci’s Prison Notebooks: there was a way of saving the ethical core, and the analytical potential I saw no reason to discard from the stiff carapace in which it had been enclosed and stifled. (Bauman and Tester 2001: 26)

Like Gramsci, Bauman continued to hope that words were able to change the world, that they could instigate social change in Poland

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and beyond. In particular, in striving to improve the relationship between sociology and Marxism, Bauman hoped that the greater democratization and humanization of society was possible (Bauman 1967).10 That hope came crashing down in 1968 (Stola 2006; Eisler 1998). Following several international upheavals, including the Six Day War between Israel and Egypt in 1967, Bauman’s world darkened considerably via a wave of anti-Zionist campaigns across east-central Europe, and throughout Poland in particular (Wagner 2020; Smith 1999). Increasingly weary of the ‘grave mistakes’ committed in the name of the Party, in January of 1968 Bauman resigned from the Communist Party. It is impossible for us to recount what happened next in anything close to the depth and sensitivity it deserves. Janina’s brilliant memoir, A Dream of Belonging: My Years in Post-war Poland (J. Bauman 1988), offers a vividly human account of the events leading to Bauman’s expulsion from Warsaw University on 25 March 1968 and the family’s subsequent exile. Along with other prominent scholars regarded by the officials as ‘revisionists’, Bauman was targeted as the source of political unrest among the Polish youth and faced open persecution, as the media heaped scorn on Bauman’s name for being a dangerous influence. To offer just a sense of its ferocity, Janina writes: Five bulky strangers chose a bench in our courtyard and sat there for hours, keeping an eye on the entrance to our staircase and staring up into our windows. [Lydia] came running home, frightened to death: a gang of hooligans had attacked her in the park. The TV screen was choking with hatred and spat out [Zygmunt’s] name time after time. A scholarly article appeared in a respectable magazine. It attacked [Zygmunt] and others for their dangerous influence on Polish youth. It was signed by a close friend. (J. Bauman 1988: 195)

Masked thinly by the label of ‘anti-Zionism’, with Gomułka’s approval General Mieczysław Moczar led a campaign of cleansing that resulted in a mass emigration of Jewish intellectuals, professionals and Party officials. Between 1968 and 1972, more than 13,000 Jews would emigrate from Poland after being dismissed from their professions (Stola 2017). Although Bauman’s expulsion from the University convinced the family they would be denied authoriz­ ation to leave, their emigration permit was finally approved and arrived on 7 June 1968, with the instruction to depart before the end of the month (J. Bauman 1988: 198). Faced with such open antiSemitism, the family headed for Israel.


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SOCIALISM CONTRA NATIONALISM The trauma of this biographical event was sure to become entangled with Bauman’s sociological imagination, with his work seeking to interpret the immediate experience of the family’s exile. While some of the material from his time in Israel has been published previously, today it is very difficult to access. What we do know through our research in the archive at Leeds is that, between 1968 and 1971, across two teaching posts at Tel Aviv University and the University of Haifa, Bauman wrestled with their expulsion from Poland and his own identity as a Jew (Cheyette 2020). The severity of his analysis in the 1969 article ‘The End of Polish Jewry: A Sociological Review’, reprinted here (pp. 63–74 in this volume), cannot be mistaken. Bauman argued that the events of March 1968 were nothing less than a ‘final solution’ for Polish Jewry, switching language in the original Polish manuscript – now housed within the Papers of Janina and Zygmunt Bauman at the University of Leeds – to title his article simply ‘Endlösung, 1968’. Many years later, in conversation with the Italian writer Benedetto Vecchi, Bauman (2004a: 11–12) explained: I do not remember paying much attention to the question of ‘my identity’, at least the national part of it, before the brutal awakening of March 1968 when my Polishness was publicly cast in doubt … It so happened that in the bunch of problems called ‘my identity’, nationality has been given particular prominence; I share that lot with millions of refugees and migrants, whom our fast globalizing world turn out on a fast accelerating scale.

‘The End of Polish Jewry’ makes fascinating reading, as such a candid autobiographical expression. The trauma Bauman explores is that, unlike the experiences of culturally and spatially separated Jewish peoples in pre-war Germany, the Polish Jews of the 1960s believed themselves to be wholly integrated, barely conscious of a latent ‘Jewishness’ buried deep beneath their manifest identity as Polish citizens. Not for the last time, the concept of ‘Jew’ was forced through a series of mutations to accommodate political expediencies. Written sometime around 1970, we also discovered in the archive a previously unpublished article titled ‘At the Crossroads in a World at the Crossroads’, which we include here (pp. 75–9 in this volume). In this essayistic exercise in the tradition of ‘left-melancholia’ (Traverso 2016), Bauman attempts to rescue the ideals of socialism through the lens of Marxist humanism, having just borne witness to the barbarism of its state-led Soviet variant. In this context, the essay’s final sentence is all the more astonishing: ‘Despite all forms of social

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oppression throughout the world today, against all forms of capitalist reaction and degenerate offshoots of communism – the future world will be socialist. Or it will not be at all.’ The essay also evinces a concern for the politics of Israel, which he maintained throughout his life, even writing in the pages of the daily newspaper Haaretz (Bauman 1971a). In such a public format, he questioned the desire for a life without war, and wondered over the appetite for peace among a ruling elite who didn’t yet know how to maintain power in peaceful conditions. This was, Bauman later held, the only prediction he’d ever made that had come true. Indeed, in his more overtly political interventions, Bauman steadfastly refused the role of soothsayer or prophet. Dennis Smith chose to subtitle his 1999 intellectual biography of Bauman Prophet of Postmodernity, somewhat to his subject’s distaste. In a letter to Smith, reprinted in the book – much to the author’s credit – Bauman repeated a well-known riposte to anyone asking for his predictions for the future and, therefore, what we the public should do about it. Recounting advice from a former teacher, Bauman wrote: ‘[He] told me once: Zygmunt, never predict, and particularly never predict the future.’ After all, he concluded, ‘[h]istorical precedents are notoriously misleading as tools of predicting the future’ (Smith 1999: 203). Bauman was only too aware of the temptation within ‘solid modern’ societies to set a blueprint for the future, to be guided by a scientific utopianism that was more or less well hidden within totalitarian tales of the ‘good society’ still to come (Beilharz 2002, 2000). Bauman pursued a form of sociology intending to disrupt and disturb lazy acquiescence to the status quo and moral indifference – to deploy his concept, adiaphorization (Jacobsen 2021; Tuleikytė 2016; Bauman 1995) – when confronted with the inequities and injustices of a world turned inward towards care of the self, rather than outward towards care for the other. Bauman thus embraced a ‘morally committed’ sociology, driven by the belief in the worldchanging potential of words. Cutting through the apparent ‘second nature’ of the extant social world, he wrote to remind people that, together, they each day anew collectively build and sustain their world, and so with effort can also rebuild it. This is what Bauman believed sociology was for. Inspired by Mills, Bauman knew that, when confronted with the immediate private troubles in daily life, social processes and structures can appear to be ossified and intractable. Sociology’s task is to offer up new ways of ‘defamiliarizing the familiar’, relativizing social reality to reveal alternative, potential futures gestating in the here and now. This is how sociology gives birth to new forms of politics.


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To elaborate, Bauman (1976a: 13–15) understood socialism as an ‘active utopia’ that was represented by four characteristics. First, active utopias serve to relativize the present by pointing to both historical contingencies and future possibilities, giving socialism its transformative dimension. Second, active utopias are aspects of culture in which possible extrapolations of the present in relation to future possibilities can be explored through the full range of human imagination. This gives socialism its creative dimension. Third, active utopias pluralize by generating competing visions of how to interpret, and so best solve, present problems, questioning society’s history and politics through an engaged analysis of the status quo. This gives socialism its critical dimension. Finally, active utopias exercise an activating presence on the course of historical events by changing the direction of human societies through new forms of political action, giving socialism its practical dimension. Each characteristic demonstrates that Bauman’s lifelong faith in socialism was never about proclaiming it as an accomplished set of concrete social structures, but as a modus vivendi, as a living critique of the present ad infinitum: Socialism shares with all other utopias the unpleasant quality of retaining its fertility only in so far as it resides in the realm of the possible. The moment it is proclaimed as accomplished, as empirical reality, it loses its creative power; far from inflaming human imagination, it puts on the agenda in turn an acute demand for a new horizon, distant enough to transcend and relativize its own limitations. (Bauman 1976a: 36)

For Bauman, sociology is also a moral and political project, the intellectual companion to socialism as an ‘active utopia’. His reconceptualization of the political and of historicity presents a serious challenge to the preventative or causal aspirations of an apparently predictive social science, providing one clue to the reason for his enduring rejection of empiricism in favour of hermeneutics as sociological method (Davis 2020; Dawson 2015, 2017). Returning to our timeline, the family’s short stay in Israel is explained in a remarkable interview with both Janina and Zygmunt by the journalist Madeleine Bunting (2003). For reasons expressed in his writings between 1968 and 1971, Israel had not proven to be a congenial home. While their eldest daughter, Anna, had settled there with her husband, given the family’s experiences of expulsion from Poland, Janina explained that Israel ‘was a nationalistic country, and we had just run away from nationalism. We didn’t want to go from being the victims of one nationalism to being the perpetrators of another.’

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Fortunately, Bauman’s reputation had spread well beyond Poland so there was no shortage of job offers. He turned down a job offer in Canberra, Australia, on grounds that it was too far from Europe, and so he accepted the next offer. This was an invitation to become head of the Sociology Department at the University of Leeds, extended to Bauman by the then vice-chancellor, Edward Boyle, a former Conservative education minister. The family arrived in 1971 with little knowledge of Britain beyond Zygmunt’s research trips to London and Manchester, and certainly knew nothing of Leeds. And yet it would prove to be a very good decision, the final time they would move home. As Bauman’s international reputation soared, he received countless job offers from more glamorous locations – such as Yale in the USA – but he was not tempted to leave their 1930s home on the edge of Leeds to pursue more prestigious posts, either internationally or at better-known British sociology departments such as the LSE, Cambridge or Oxford. In conversation with Bunting, Janina stated simply but poignantly: ‘We moved enough in the past.’ WHENCE REVOLUTION? WEST ENCOUNTERS EAST Despite arriving in what has been described as the ‘conflict phase’ of British sociology (Kilminster 2002: 155ff.) – in which competing theoretical positions were challenging for supremacy, rather than learning to coexist in a harmony of the humanities as they had in Warsaw (Kilminster and Varcoe 1996) – as with Mills’s America, Bauman (2004c: 207) found that little attention was paid to intellectuals in Britain, and least of all to sociologists: To say that sociology had a ‘bad press’ [in Britain] would be to play down that mixture of hostility and ridicule in which it seemed to be held … Once more, I was shocked: how remarkably prestigious the public position of sociology was by comparison in France, Germany, or indeed my native Poland, where it settled in the public worldview on the tide of the late-nineteenth-century rising optimism and self-confidence.

Yet an unfamiliar sense of freedom inhered in this position too: ‘Neither spoiled by excessive public demands nor rushed by overblown and impossible-to-gratify public expectations, insured against the dangers awaiting the academics seduced into the corridors of power, sociology was free to select its own topics and could be guided by social and cultural criteria of relevance’ (Bauman 2004c: 207). Exiled in England, Bauman was suddenly free to write what he liked, on condition of accepting that his work would have


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little public ramification among the British political classes. Having encountered both the fascist and communist variations of totalitarianism – those Arendtian (1968: viii; see also Pollock and Davis 2020) ‘dark times’ of the twentieth century, when the public realm whose function is ‘to throw light on the affairs of men [sic]’ was practically extinguished – Bauman’s ‘exilic position’ (Palmer 2023) allowed him, in Britain, to become a ‘successful outsider’ (Smith 1998). Along with his own lived experiences, this ambivalent position allowed him to see through those sweeping statements of what it means to be a ‘European’, ‘international’ or ‘global’ thinker. Neither an idea nor an intellectual can be the same thing in one place as in another – culturally, spatially, or temporally. Publics too are multiple, a fact keenly felt by the intellectual in exile. Bauman, then as well as now, is not the same figure in Poland as he is in Britain, or in Israel, or for that matter in southern Europe, Latin America or China. Perhaps the relative indifference to Bauman in Britain lay in that country’s differing experiences of the twentieth century, especially its undying memorialization of the Second World War as a triumphant moment of world-historical, yet also national, glory (Bauman 2006: 36–42), rather than through the lens of war atrocities and the enormity of destruction as in Poland. Britain’s politics, lest we forget, has also steered a course between the extremes of fascism and communism, at least since the 1920s. But since neither ideology was deemed a plausible popular future, Britain’s intellectual culture has been forever outside of those more blistering political debates in Continental Europe (Judt 2005: 205–6). The clash between the experiences and expectations of Eastern and Western Europe shaped Bauman’s early encounter with the political left in Britain. A veteran of the British New Left movement since 1959, the historian E. P. Thompson used his review of the English translation of Between Class and Elite (Bauman 1972a) to express a wider disillusionment on the part of the ‘Western Left’ with what they had imagined the ‘Eastern Left’ would one day contribute to their socialist ambitions (Tester 2006). Thompson (1972: 12) wrote: An intelligentsia which has experienced Stalinism and, more recently, the nationalism and anti-intellectualism (with authentic working-class support) which have surged through Poland and Czechoslovakia, are liable to view the creative potential of working people with a wary eye and with undiminished expectations. Coming to the West they are liable to see as their allies not any section of socialist intellectuals but … [Robert] McKenzie and the LSE … And a new, preposterous, pedagogic, pretentious, counter-empirical and plain

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boring ‘sociological methodology’ comes to birth. The British labour movement will probably survive this, but one pities the students.

Given the vitriol, Bauman suspected that the true villain in Thompson’s review was his better-known contemporary Leszek Kołakowski, then a research fellow at All Souls College, Oxford. Both Poles, however, were openly charged by Thompson with somehow ‘betraying the Western Left’s expectations’ (Bauman in Tester and Jacobsen 2005: 45). The allegation was both tactless and groundless, but perhaps not surprising to either target. After all, as explained by the Polish writer and winner of the Nobel Prize Czesław Miłosz (2001 [1953]: 29–30), the ‘eastern’ intellectual is conditioned by their lived experience ‘to think sociologically and historically’, and so often looks ‘west’ in perplexity at its denizens precisely ‘because they have never undergone the experiences that teach men how relative their judgements and thinking habits are’. What had irritated Thompson quite so much? Bauman’s arguments about the future for the political left had stressed the exhaustion of the labour movement. That there was no class struggle any more. Armed with lived experience, Bauman seemingly turned a gnawing theoretical doubt into an uncomfortable truth for armchair radicals across Britain. Fresh from the political battlefields, Bauman was expected to give them hope. He all but extinguished it. Bauman paid the price for being premature, anticipating what would soon become widely accepted among socialist intellectuals and politicians in Britain – namely that, certainly by the early 1980s, the ‘forward march of labour’ had indeed been halted. Bauman had been right. The industrial working class willingly bade farewell to their role as historical agent, seduced by a new social contract based upon consumerism as a way of life (Gorz 1982; Hobsbawm 1981). Bauman’s distaste for prophecy was no barrier to being proven right more than once. If the New Left had initially sought to claim Bauman as one of their own, as an east-central European émigré with genuine socialist credentials, so too did the academic discipline of Sovietology. As he reveals: ‘after leaving Poland I was inundated with offers to join all sorts of “Sovietologist” establishments, and with invitations to write for their journals … I refused the offers, I had no intention of living the second half of my life off the first’ (Bauman in Tester and Jacobsen 2005: 44). Instead, Bauman saw his exile as an opportunity to distance himself from the requirement to provide ‘eastern’ empirical grist to the ‘western’ theoretical mill exploring at a remove the pathologies of modernization behind the Iron Curtain. Nevertheless, somewhat under the radar, Bauman (1971b, 1971c, 1972c, 1973, 1974, 1976c,


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1976d, 1979) was active in some circles of ‘Sovietology’, studying communist politics and societies. We include three examples of these lesser-known political writings in this volume. Bauman (1966), in ‘The Limitations of “Perfect Planning”’ (pp. 38–62 in this volume), writes self-consciously for an American political science audience, uncharacteristically deploying Parsonian concepts (e.g. ‘functional requirements of the system’, ‘goal attainment’) to make a case for more effective management of the social system and to argue that the blueprints implied by utopian concepts cannot be implemented. This is a curio within Bauman’s intellectual history, manifestly an attempt at an almost managerialist sociology – but, on more careful reading, perhaps latently a coded critique of the communist system in Poland. He revisited these themes almost a decade later in 1973, in ‘Between State and Society’ (pp. 80–98 in this volume), where he develops a powerful rebuttal to the idea of a single, uniform society that could be described as either ‘modern’ or ‘European’. As he writes: ‘East-European experience … is not a relatively undeveloped version of a uniform “modern society”, but a social system in its own right, which requires its own and distinct ideal type to be intelligibly described and understood.’ It’s possible to read Bauman’s argument here as an early formulation of what Eisenstadt (2000) would later capture as ‘multiple modernities’, but cast more narrowly along the political lines of a capitalist versus a socialist modernity, rather than as a fuller examination of different modern subjectivities. Finally, 1981’s ‘On the Maturation of Socialism’ (pp. 99–108 in this volume) is his first engagement with the Polish Solidarity movement (Brier 2021; Bloom 2013) and ranks amongst the most hopeful of all his writings. Founded in August 1980 in the shipyards of the northern coastal city of Gdańsk, Solidarity was the first independent trade union in a Warsaw Pact country to be recognized by the state. Led by Lech Wałęsa, its membership peaked at 10 million in September 1981, representing one-third of the country’s working-age population. Finally, Bauman writes, the world had its historical alternative to Western liberalism and Soviet communism – a true socialism resistant to bureaucratic domination, powered by collective learning and historical praxis. What mattered was not state or market, but a reinvigorated civil society striving for political change. PARVENU AND PARIAH: PARADOXES OF ASSIMILATION Bauman’s (1989) argument in Modernity and the Holocaust is one of the most remarkable achievements of modern sociology, and a

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book that stands at the apex of a ‘Jewish turn’ in his writing during the 1980s (Cheyette 2020). A towering intellectual achievement whose influence can be traced across numerous comparative contexts (Palmer and Brzeziński 2022), Bauman would receive prestigious academic prizes for the book, including the 1992 European Amalfi Prize and the 1998 Theodor W. Adorno Prize. The book surfaced on a wave of Holocaust memorialization in the 1980s – including the Holocaust television series and Claude Lanzmann’s 1985 French documentary film Shoah – with Bauman admitting that it was Janina’s Winter in the Morning that first made him realize how little sociology had engaged with the genocide of Jewish and ‘other’ populations. Published only a few months before the Berlin Wall would begin to fall on 9 November 1989, the book resonated in the ‘post-communist’ moment of mainland Europe, in which formerly ‘eastern-bloc’ societies encountered the drive for a cosmopolitan memory of the Holocaust in order to access the European Union and other institutions such as the Council of Europe (Subotić 2019; Judt 2005). Some two decades after Bauman wrestled with his own Jewish identity in the immediate aftermath of the family’s expulsion from Poland, expressed in ‘The End of Polish Jewry’ mentioned earlier, Bauman’s engagement with Jewishness and Jewish history was a prominent feature of his sociological writings following those political events of 1989. After Modernity and the Holocaust, Bauman’s arguments in other well-known books of the early 1990s were prefigured in lesser-known articles for the Jewish Quarterly, Polin and Telos, examples of which we include here as some of his more significant political writings. In 1988’s ‘Exit Visas and Entry Tickets: Paradoxes of Jewish Assimilation’ (pp. 109–40 in this volume),11 Bauman prepares the ground for the better-known formulation of his argument in Modernity and Ambivalence (Bauman 1991a), attempting to universalize the experience of being a ‘stranger’ at a time when everyone risks being cast out from society. In ‘The Holocaust: Fifty Years Later’ (pp. 141–53 in this volume), Bauman reprises the arguments made in Modernity and the Holocaust, but through the idea that democratic pluralism is one way to combat genocidal tendencies inherent in all modern societies. Only democracy can protect the interests and voices of minorities, he argues, while at the same time warning that – as each shouts louder to advance their own claims – pluralism may well turn out to be ‘a witches-cauldron in which new, rapacious totalitarianisms are brewed’. As is widely known, at that time Bauman also analysed modern and postmodern conditions (Smith 1999). In the context of


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this volume, it should be stressed that he famously argued that post­ modernity was ‘modernity minus its illusions’ (Bauman and Beilharz 2001: 339) and was thus a ‘universal condition which Jews were first to taste’. This peculiar social position, which he also occupied, cast Jews into the role of ‘multi-centred cosmopolitans’.12 As we will see, post­modernity came to represent a ‘second disenchantment’ for Bauman, the hope of radical social renewal quickly dissolving into little more than an excuse for a consumer hedonism saturated with ethical relativism. In the noisy political optimism after 1989, however, few could hear his warning. IS THERE A FUTURE LEFT? ‘Communism has died. Some say, of senility. Some say, of shameful afflictions. All agree that it will stay dead for a long, long time.’ Revisiting Bauman’s (1991b: 35) reflections on the demise of Soviet communism, his words read as a welcome antidote to the hasty proclamations of the ‘end of history’ thesis for which Francis Fukuyama (1992) would become notorious. At the start of 1989, the cold war appeared to be in rude health, with communist regimes then ruling over a third of humankind. Beginning on the evening of 9 November that same year, the Berlin Wall separating liberal West from communist East Germany was crumbling and taking the Soviet regimes of east-central Europe with it. To cries of ‘Wir wollen raus!’ (‘We want out!’), thousands of people came to the wall with sledgehammers and chisels to demolish lengthy parts of it and, in the process, create the first unofficial border crossings in almost thirty years. Two days earlier, then German Chancellor Helmut Kohl had attended a meeting with the Polish prime minister, the non-communist Tadeusz Mazowiecki, along with the leader of Solidarity, Lech Wałęsa. Around the world, the flash fires of spontaneous political uprisings were witnessed with striking regularity. At Tiananmen Square, Chinese authorities engaged in a bloody war with the country’s young students to stay in power. Apartheid first began to crack in South Africa. Ayatollah Khomeini had died in Iran, but his Islamic revolution only accelerated. On 20 December, little more than a month after the events in Berlin, the USA invaded Panama to oust the authoritarian leader General Noriega and so secure control of a major transatlantic trade route for capitalism. Only 1848, the ‘year of revolutions’, perhaps comes close to the political upheavals taking place 141 years later. Something world-historical was happening. The established political, economic, cultural and social structures of the postwar world were suddenly in flux everywhere. Was humanity finally moving

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‘beyond modernity’ and into a new age? Presumably, one couldn’t help but look more hopefully to the future. And yet Bauman remained cautious, wary of the sudden triumphalism accompanying this apparently total victory of liberal democratic capitalism. He wrote: ‘To suggest that the communist utopia was the only virus responsible for totalitarian afflictions would be to propagate a dangerous illusion, one that is both theoretically incapacitating and politically disarming – for the future chances of democracy a costly, perhaps even lethal mistake’ (Bauman 1991b: 37). What troubled Bauman was a sense that, for all the bloodshed of a barbaric twentieth century, both sides of modernity’s coin had been required by the other’s global presence to demonstrate they offered a better, fairer and more moral future. Put simply, the horrors of Soviet communism had served to position anglophone capitalism as the more palatable alternative. Now alone on the world stage, what awesome power could hold the excesses of free market fundamentalism in check? Communism and capitalism – two future-oriented ideologies, each in their own way concerned with the glories of both individual and nation still to come. Each offers a promise that to embrace their way of life totally is to adopt the surest route to a brighter, happier world. On both sides, Bauman was unconvinced. Contrary to the soothsayers of ‘happy global­ ization’, he knew that, with the collapse of communism, humanity would have to become accustomed to ‘living without an alternative’ (Bauman 1991b). What had also ended in 1989, amidst the rubble of everything else, was a world of certainty. Back in Britain, Bauman found himself a reference point at both the beginning and the end of the ‘third way’ experiment with which we began our Introduction. In a world utterly convinced it was now politically beyond left and right, Nicholas Fearn (2006) recalls that, at the dawn of Tony Blair’s reimagination of the British left under the rubric of ‘New Labour’, the Labour Party had flirted with Bauman’s ideas but believed his mood in the mid-1990s to be ‘too downbeat at a time when things could only get better’.13 They opted instead for Anthony Giddens as the sociological architect of their project, something that Giddens (2010) himself has had cause to reassess. Bauman’s 2007 article ‘Britain after Blair, or Thatcherism Consolidated’ (pp. 163–77 in this volume) offers some reflections on the moment the sun began to set on all that New Labour optimism. And yet, only a few years later, Bauman was again cited as the sociologist inspiring a new generation of the British left, including none other than the party’s then leader, Ed Miliband, the youngest son of his dear friend Ralph. Bauman’s home in Leeds would thus become a regular stop for the Miliband children, as both Ed and older brother


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David grew up watching the two great academics discuss the future of the left.14 He met them again in October 2005, when they attended Bauman’s delivery of that year’s Miliband Lectures, an annual series at the London School of Economics established in honour of their father.15 Under the umbrella title of ‘Melting Modernity’, Bauman’s conceptual framework of ‘liquid modernity’ was presented as a conscious distancing from all the ‘rubbish written in the name of postmodern theory’ (Bauman et al. 1992: 135). In his Miliband Lectures, Bauman stressed the dissolution of ‘solid modernity’, with individuals now thrown upon the tides of market forces in a curiously ‘liquid’ society beset by the feeling of Unsicherheit – a Germanic term deployed frequently in his post-2000 writings to capture a unique blend of insecurity, uncertainty and anxiety. With the noisy end-of-history celebrations still ringing in millennial ears, his 2001 article ‘Names of Suffering, Names of Shame’, published here in English for the first time (pp. 154–62 in this volume), argues that the traumatic rupture of the 9/11 event in September 2001 was a fin-de-siècle moment that demanded human solidarity in the collective effort to build new supra-national structures and institutions capable of truly listening to each other. In this article originally published in a Polish weekly magazine just after 9/11, in the immediate aftermath of the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, Bauman argues strongly for the ethical principle of ‘loving thy neighbour as thyself’. And yet, elaborating upon his Miliband Lectures, Bauman (2007a: 26) would later conclude that the event had resulted only in fear becoming the foremost shared human experience: Fear is arguably the most sinister of demons nesting in the open societies of our time … 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.

Such sinister demons, Bauman maintained, could only be controlled by supra-national structures, aligned with his maxim that there can be no local solutions to globally produced problems. This is one of the reasons why, for all its evident faults, Bauman continued to view the possibility of Europe with such hope (Bauman 2004b). Upon receipt of an honorary doctorate at Charles University in Prague and the

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Adorno Prize in Frankfurt, on both occasions Bauman chose for his entrance into the ceremonies Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, the European anthem, rather than those of Poland or Britain. Bauman felt first and foremost European. A matter of months after Britain had voted to sever its political ties with Europe (‘Brexit’), on 5 October 2016, Bauman delivered his last ever lecture at the University of Leeds. Titled ‘Europe’s Adventure: Still Unfinished?’ and reprinted here in full (pp. 198–208 in this volume), he began by saying: ‘I voted for Britain remaining in Europe. The rest of my speech will be just a collection of footnotes to this statement.’ Yet Bauman knew that Europe and its political institutions were far from perfect. Europe was still, as his lecture title stated openly, an unfinished adventure. Indeed, Bauman warned of the consequences of a Europe-centred world being imposed upon the entire planet, as it has been through the colonial practice of state-formation and the imposition of the formula cuius regio, eius religio (‘he who governs the territory shall decide its religion’). Instead, as he argues in ‘The Haunting Spectre of “Westphalian Sovereignty”’, also reprinted here (pp. 186–97 in this volume), Europe must (re)learn the art of living with others in order to (re)negotiate the terms of neighbourhood in spite of the differences and the otherness that separate them. Following the German philosopher Hans-Georg Gadamer, Bauman states that Europe – marked by its multilingualism, close proximity of the Other, and an equivalency of “others” in a strictly limited space – must be seen as a great laboratory for new forms of human community if it is to make a difference between the chances of our collective survival or those of demise. Acquiring the art of learning from one another, and then sharing that skill with the rest of humanity, is the task of Europe. As such, the formation and health of supra-national structures are vital, Bauman believed, if the world is to avert shared crises and find shared solutions to common issues. One such example is the impending catastrophe of a truly global threat – namely, the existential danger of accelerating climate breakdown. In the only explicit discussion of the Anthropocene that we can find in Bauman’s entire oeuvre, the article ‘Panic among the Parasites, or For Whom the Bell Tolls’, reprinted here in English for the first time (pp. 178–85 in this volume), was written as the introduction to the Polishlanguage edition of the provocatively titled book Climate Wars: What People Will Be Killed For in the 21st Century (Welzer 2010). In his text, Bauman argues that all the national squabbling over who is going to be most affected – and so, alas, who is most responsible for committing to tackling climate breakdown – is a futile exercise, because this particular danger represents nothing less than the


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planetary-wide elimination of humanity and countless non-human species. Continuing to ask ‘for whom the bell tolls?’ in such a context is thus revealed in all its meaninglessness. The divorce of power from politics – such a repeated argument in this latter part of Bauman’s career, and understood as the emancipation of capital from the territorially fixed controls of nation-states – means that politicians are no longer able to fulfil their traditional functions amidst the stupefying pace of change. Their political impotence is shared by the public, who long ago ceased to be democratic citizens meeting together in the agora to find collective solutions to shared public issues – cast instead firmly into the role of consumers seeking individual market-based solutions to so many real or imagined private troubles. As a result, politics has stopped promising that it will deliver a better future for all. Today, it offers only to protect as many people like ‘us’ as it can from all ‘them’ presently nesting as demons. In a millennial volte-face, politics on both the right and left appears no longer to regard the future as a hopeful space of utopian optimism but, instead, as an endless series of emergencies and disasters congealing into ‘a chronicle of crises’ (Bauman 2017a). Since the future is only to be feared, politics today prefers to revel in a nostalgic recreation of a time when the world appeared safer and more certain. Daring to weaponize various degrees of palingenesis (Griffin 2015, 1993), politicians promise a vainglorious ‘rebirth’ for the nation. That ‘solid modern’ impulse to perfect society, adrift upon the waves of liquid modern life, is thus (re)directed towards the only ‘imagined community’ (Anderson 2006 [1983]) left available to it: ‘the past’. Published posthumously, Bauman’s (2017b) last book describes this longing to seek security in the comfort of perceived certainties long since gone as ‘retrotopia’. Instead of socialism as an active utopia trying to force open new alternatives for a better world, the ‘retrotopic’ impulse seeks to close them down by building self-confirming neo-tribes (Maffesoli 1996 [1988]), fundamentalist islands of certainty that exist not to make things better, but to prevent them from becoming worse (Davis 2020). Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose? Bauman’s biography and sociology would suggest so. Words may be perfectly capable of changing the world, just not necessarily for the better. CONCLUSION As understandable as it may be to form islands of certainty amidst the turbulent waves of a liquid modern world, for more than sixty years Bauman urged us to resist that temptation in order to preserve

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a space for thinking differently about lives lived in the company of others. He believed passionately in the value of polylogue, in keeping the conversation going rather than aiming to grind it to a halt by proclaiming the other’s defeat, in striving for mutual understanding through listening to each other as the only true art of politics. Citing the example of Pope Francis, who, upon his papal election, chose to give his first interview to a self-proclaimed atheist, the Italian journalist Eugenio Scalfari, Bauman expresses in a single sentence the whole raison d’être of his sociology and his politics: ‘real dialogue isn’t about talking to people who believe the same things as you’ (Bauman and de Querol 2016). Like C. Wright Mills, Bauman’s sociology teaches us not to seek easy answers but, instead, to ask harder questions. The easier and simpler one’s answer, the less likely one is to have listened and understood the matter at hand. Bauman’s biography, as much as his writings on history and politics, teaches us to prefer questions that cannot be answered to answers that cannot be questioned. As he states matter-of-factly: ‘I happen to believe that questions are hardly ever wrong; it is the answers that might be so. I also believe, though, that refraining from questioning is the worst answer of all’ (Bauman 1999: 8). To close, we send our reader on their way into the chapters that now follow with the words inscribed upon Mills’s headstone. Taken from the opening pages of his posthumously published book, The Marxists (Mills 1962), the inscription captures the entanglement between Mills’s life and work as a response to his idol, the sociologist Max Weber: ‘I have tried to be objective, but I do not claim to be detached.’ The same could be said of Zygmunt Bauman. NOTES 1 Further information about the Papers of Janina and Zygmunt Bauman project at the University of Leeds can be found via this link: https://​ library.leeds.ac.uk/special-collections/collection/2581. 2 These words by C. Wright Mills are quoted in Bauman (1987a: 162). 3 Readers of Polish may learn more of the context here via Kołakowski (1957). 4 Also cited in Bauman (1987a: 162). 5 Since the main focus of this article is on sociology and social theory, it will be published in volume 3 in this series (forthcoming). 6 In ‘C. Wright Mills, or the Ideal of Engaged Sociology’, Bauman (1964: 333) wrote: ‘Let sociologists demand the recovery of the means of


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mass communication, which are their tools of work, and which have been taken away from them by the ruling elite; let them call for a fight, awaken consciences, prevent the digestion of townspeople, reveal the plots of business leaders and the indolence of trade union leaders.’ 7 Bauman’s inaugural address to the University of Leeds is published in full in Culture and Art, volume 1 in this series (Bauman 2021). 8 Thanks to the work of Izabela Wagner, this memoir will be published in 2023 by Polity under the title My Life in Fragments. For further details visit: www.politybooks.com/bookdetail?book_slug=my-life-in​ -fragments--9781509551309. 9 The Doctors’ Plot of 1948–53 refers to an alleged conspiracy of prominent Soviet medical specialists to murder leading government and Party officials, subsequent to which Joseph Stalin intended to use the resulting trial of the doctors to launch a massive purge of the Communist Party. On 13 January 1953, the newspapers Pravda and Izvestiya announced that nine doctors – at least six of whom were Jewish – who had attended major Soviet leaders had been arrested, charged with the poisoning and attempted murder of several high-ranking political and military figures. Accused of being in the employ of United States and British intelligence services, and of serving the interests of international Jewry, the Soviet press reported all nine doctors had confessed to their guilt. The trial and anticipated purge never occurred due to the death of Stalin on 5 March 1953. In April, Pravda announced that a re-examination of the case showed the charges against the doctors to be false and their confessions obtained by torture. The doctors (two of whom had died during the investigation) were exonerated. In 1954, an official in the Ministry of State Security and some police officers were executed for fabricating the cases against the doctors. We offer this account to provide the reader with a deeper sense of the wider historical and political context of Soviet communism in the early 1950s. 10 Given the political upheavals of the time, Bauman was not able to develop these thoughts fully through an explicit sociology of politics, so he expressed his views via the development of his theory of culture. We describe this process in detail in our Editors’ Introduction to Culture and Art, volume 1 in this series (Bauman 2021). 11 ‘Paradoxes of Assimilation’ was the title of a book manuscript by Bauman that was in a complete form as early as August 1989. In a letter to US sociologist Irving Louis Horowitz, Bauman termed the work ‘my Jewish studies’ (letter, 19 May 1989; Amstrad file ‘horomay.pdf’). It was clearly a personal work – the first version carrying the following epigraph: ‘To my father, who brought me there; to the memory of my father, which brought me here’ (see version on Amstrad file ‘beginnin.pdf’). It includes chapters that were straightforwardly absorbed into Bauman’s (1991a) Modernity and Ambivalence (e.g. ‘Social Construction of Strangers’ and ‘Self-Constitution of the Stranger’), and others which were published elsewhere (‘Orphans of Enlightenment: A Case in the Sociology of Assimilation’, published in Society). This unpublished book also includes

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‘Exit Visas and Entry Tickets’, first published in Telos and reproduced in this volume. The book was earmarked for publication by the New Jersey-based publishing house Transaction Publishers, later bought by Taylor & Francis in 2016. Transaction was headed by Horowitz, who was keen to publish it. In the end, Bauman felt it was being rushed through to publication and he declined to sign a new contract, giving the following explanation: ‘Please try to see it my way: I have entered a new (fascinating, but unexplored before) area, and I am not in a mood to rush into print as I cannot know yet whether I said what I wished to say and what was there to be said. This book is too important to me to treat lightly the chance of lifting it to the level where it could be important for others as well’ (5 October 1989 – Amstrad file ‘horowoct.pdf’). 12 Z. Bauman, ‘Jews and Other Europeans, Old and New’, p. 13. The reference for this article in the Papers of Janina and Zygmunt Bauman is: MS 2067/B/2/6/2. The expression ‘multi-centred cosmopolitans’ does not appear in any of Zygmunt Bauman’s published writings. 13 ‘Things Can Only Get Better’ is a song by Northern Irish musical group D:Ream. Originally released in 1993, the track was adopted in 1997 by the UK’s New Labour Party as their theme for that year’s general election campaign, which would secure a landslide victory for Tony Blair. 14 In an interview with the London-based journalist Randeep Ramesh (2010), Bauman recalled that both brothers even as children were ‘already partners for serious conversation … charming and exceptionally intelligent for their age’. 15 Recordings of all three of Bauman’s 2005 ‘Melting Modernity’ lectures are stored in the LSE Digital Library and can be accessed via this link: https://digital.library.lse.ac.uk/collections/publiclectures/series.

BIBLIOGRAPHY Anderson, B. (2006) [1983] Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. London: Verso. Arendt, H. (1968) Men in Dark Times. Boston: Mariner Books. Bauman, J. (1986) Winter in the Morning: A Young Girl’s Life in the Warsaw Ghetto and Beyond, 1939–1945. New York: Free Press. Bauman, J. (1988) A Dream of Belonging: My Years in Post-war Poland. London: Virago Press. Bauman, Z. (1957) ‘Traktat o biurokracji’ [‘Tractate on Bureaucracy’], Twórczość, 9: 103–18. Bauman, Z. (1962a) ‘Values and Standards of Success of the Warsaw Youth’, The Polish Sociological Bulletin, 1–2: 77–90. Bauman, Z. (1962b) ‘Social Structure of the Party Organization in Industrial Works’, The Polish Sociological Bulletin, 3–4: 50–64. Bauman, Z. (1963) ‘Antonio Gramsci – czyli socjologia w działaniu’ [‘Antonio Gramsci – Sociology in Action’], Kultura i Społeczeństwo, 1: 19–34.


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Bauman, Z. (1964) ‘C. Wright Mills, czyli ideał socjologii zaangażowanej’ [‘C. Wright Mills, or the Ideal of Engaged Sociology’], in Z. Bauman, Wizje ludzkiego świata. Studia nad społeczną genezą i funkcją socjologii [Visions of the Human World: Studies on the Social Genesis and Function of Sociology]. Warsaw: Książka i Wiedza, pp. 289–334. Bauman, Z. (1967) ‘Modern Times, Modern Marxism’, Social Research, 34, 3: 399–415. Reprinted in 1969 as: ‘Modern Times: Modern Marxism’, in P. L. Berger (ed.) Marxism and Sociology: Views from Eastern Europe. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, pp. 1–17. Bauman, Z. (1971a) ‘‫‘[ ’על ישראל להתכונן לשלום‬Israel Must Prepare for Peace’], Haaretz, 8 August. Bauman, Z. (1971b) ‘Social Dissent in the East European Political System’, Archives Européennes de Sociologie, 1: 25–51. Bauman, Z. (1971c) ‘20 Years After: Crisis of Soviet-Type Systems’, Problems of Communism, 6: 45–53. Bauman, Z. (1972a) [1960] Between Class and Elite: The Evolution of the British Labour Movement – A Sociological Study. Manchester University Press. Bauman, Z. (1972b) ‘Culture, Values and Science of Society’, The University of Leeds Review, 15, 2: 185–203. Bauman, Z. (1972c) ‘The Second Generation Socialism: A Review of Socio-cultural Trends in Contemporary Polish Society’. In L. Shapiro (ed.) Political Oppositions in One-Party States. London: Macmillan, pp. 217–40. Bauman, Z. (1973) ‘Between State and Society’, International Journal of Contemporary Sociology, 1: 9–25. Bauman, Z. (1974) ‘Officialdom and Class: Bases of Inequality in Socialist Society’. In F. Parkin (ed.) The Social Analysis of Class Structure. London: Tavistock, pp. 129–48. Bauman, Z. (1976a) Socialism: The Active Utopia. London: George Allen & Unwin. Bauman, Z. (1976b) Towards a Critical Sociology: An Essay on CommonSense and Emancipation. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. Bauman, Z. (1976c) ‘The Party in the System Management Phase: Change and Continuity’. In A. C. Janos (ed.) Authoritarian Politics in Communist Europe: Uniformity and Diversity in One-Party States. Berkeley: Institute of International Studies, University of California, pp. 81–108. Bauman, Z. (1976d) ‘East Europe and Soviet Social Science: A Case Study in Stimulus Diffusion’. In R. Szporluk (ed.) The Influence of East Europe and the Soviet West on the USSR. New York: Praeger, pp. 91–116. Bauman, Z. (1979a) ‘Comment on Eastern Europe by Zygmunt Bauman’, Studies in Comparative Communism, 2–3: 184–9. Bauman, Z. (1982) Memories of Class: The Pre-history and After-Life of Class. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. Bauman, Z. (1987a) ‘Intellectuals in East-Central Europe: Continuity and Change’, East European Politics and Societies, 2: 162–86. Bauman, Z. (1987b) ‘The Poles, the Jews, and I: An Investigation into

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Whatever Made Me What I Am’. In the Papers of Janina and Zygmunt Bauman, The University of Leeds, MS 2067/B/1/4. Bauman, Z. (1987c) ‘The Importance of Being a Marxist’. In W. Outhwaite and M. Mulkay (eds.) Social Theory and Social Criticism: Essays from Tom Bottomore. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, pp. 1–9. Bauman, Z. (1989) Modernity and the Holocaust. Cambridge: Polity. Bauman, Z. (1991a) Modernity and Ambivalence. Cambridge: Polity. Bauman, Z. (1991b) ‘Living without an Alternative’, Political Quarterly, 62, 1: 35–44. Bauman, Z. (1995) Life in Fragments. Oxford: Blackwell. Bauman, Z. (1999) In Search of Politics. Cambridge: Polity. Bauman, Z. (2001) The Individualized Society. Cambridge: Polity. Bauman, Z. (2004a) Identity: Conversations with Benedetto Vecchi. Cambridge: Polity. Bauman, Z. (2004b) Europe: An Unfinished Adventure. Cambridge: Polity. Bauman, Z. (2004c) ‘Epilogue in Eight Essays’. In A. H. Halsey (ed.) A History of Sociology in Britain: Science, Literature, and Society. Oxford University Press, pp. 206–8. Bauman, Z. (2006) Liquid Fear. Cambridge: Polity Bauman, Z. (2007a) Liquid Times: Living in an Age of Uncertainty. Cambridge: Polity. Bauman, Z. (2007b) ‘Has the Future a Left?’, Soundings, 35: 8–15. Bauman, Z. (2008) ‘Postscript: Bauman on Bauman – Pro Doma Sua’. In M. H. Jacobsen and P. Poder (eds.) The Sociology of Zygmunt Bauman: Challenges and Critique. Aldershot: Ashgate, pp. 231–40. Bauman, Z. (2010) Living on Borrowed Time: Conversations with Citlali Rovirosa-Madrazo. Cambridge: Polity. Bauman, Z. (2017a) A Chronicle of Crisis, 2011–16. London: Social Europe Edition. Bauman, Z. (2017b) Retrotopia. Cambridge: Polity. Bauman, Z. (2020) Making the Familiar Unfamiliar: A Conversation with Peter Haffner, English trans. D. Steuer. Cambridge: Polity. Bauman, Z. (2021) Culture and Art: Selected Writings, Volume 1, ed. D. Brzeziński, M. Davis, J. Palmer and T. Campbell; English trans. K. Bartoszyńska. Cambridge: Polity. Bauman, Z. and Beilharz, P. (2001) ‘The Journey Never Ends: Zygmunt Bauman Talks with Peter Beilharz’. In P. Beilharz (ed.) The Bauman Reader. Oxford: Blackwell, pp. 334–44. Bauman, Z. and Bordoni, C. (2014) State of Crisis. Cambridge: Polity. Bauman, Z., Cantell, T. and Pedersen, P. P. (1992) ‘Modernity, Postmodernity and Ethics: An Interview with Zygmunt Bauman’, Telos, 93: 133–44 Bauman, Z. and de Querol, R. (2016) ‘Interview – Zygmunt Bauman: Social Media Are a Trap’, El País, 25 January: https://elpais.com/elpais/2016/01​ /19/inenglish/1453208692_424660.html. Bauman, Z. and Tester, K. (2001) Conversations with Zygmunt Bauman. Cambridge: Polity.


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Bauman, Z. and Wiatr, J. (1957) ‘Marksizm a socjologia współczesna’ [‘Marxism and Contemporary Sociology’], Myśl Filozoficzna, 1: 3–23. Beilharz, P. (2000) Zygmunt Bauman: Dialectic of Modernity. London: Sage. Beilharz, P. (2002) ‘Modernity and Communism: Zygmunt Bauman and the Other Totalitarianism’, Thesis Eleven, 70: 88–99. Blackshaw, T. (2005) Zygmunt Bauman. London: Routledge. Bloom, J. M. (2013) Seeing through the Eyes of the Polish Revolution: Solidarity and the Struggle against Communism in Poland. Leiden: Brill. Brier, R. (2021) Poland’s Solidarity Movement and the Global Politics of Human Rights. Cambridge University Press. Brzeziński, D. (2017) ‘Human Praxis, Alternative Thinking and Heterogeneous Culture: Zygmunt Bauman’s Revisionist Thought’, Hybris, 2, 37: 61–80. Brzeziński, D. (2018) ‘Consumerist Culture in Zygmunt Bauman’s Critical Sociology: A Comparative Analysis of his Polish and English Writings’, Polish Sociological Review, 1, 201: 77–94. Brzeziński, D. (2022) Zygmunt Bauman and the Theory of Culture. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press. Bunting, M. (2003), ‘Passion and Pessimism’, The Guardian, Review Magazine, 5 April: www.theguardian.com/books/2003/apr/05/society. Cheyette, B. (2020) ‘Zygmunt Bauman’s Window: From Jews to Strangers and Back Again’, Thesis Eleven, 156, 1: 67–85. Czernecki, I. (2013) ‘An Intellectual Offensive: The Ford Foundation and the Destalinization of the Polish Social Sciences’, Cold War History, 13, 3: 289–310. Davis, M. (2008) Freedom and Consumerism: A Critique of Zygmunt Bauman’s Sociology. London: Routledge. Davis, M. (2011) ‘Bauman’s Compass: Navigating the Current Interregnum’, Acta Sociologica, 54, 2: 183–94. Davis, M. (2020) ‘Hermeneutics contra Fundamentalism: Zygmunt Bauman’s Method for Thinking in Dark Times’, Thesis Eleven, 156, 1: 27–44. Dawson, M. (2015) ‘Sociology as Conversation: Zygmunt Bauman’s Applied Sociological Hermeneutics’, Sociology, 49, 3: 582–7. Dawson, M. (2017) ‘Keeping Other Options Alive: Zygmunt Bauman, Hermeneutics and Sociological Alternatives’. In M. H. Jacobsen (ed.) Beyond Bauman: Critical Engagements and Creative Excursions. London and New York: Routledge, pp. 224–42. Diner, H. R. (2004) ‘Before “The Holocaust”: American Jews Confront Catastrophe, 1945–1962’, David W. Belin Lecture in American Jewish Affairs, no. 11. The University of Michigan: Jean and Samuel Frankel Center for Judaic Studies, 17 March. Eisenstadt, S. (ed.) (2000) Multiple Modernities. London and New York: Routledge. Eisler, J. (1998) ‘March 1968 in Poland’. In C. Fink, P. Gassert and D. Juner (eds.) 1968: The World Transformed. Cambridge University Press, pp. 237–52. Fearn, N. (2006) ‘NS Profile: Zygmunt Bauman’, New Statesman, 21 May.

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Fukuyama, F. (1992) The End of History and the Last Man. New York: Free Press. Gane, N. and Back, L. (2012) ‘C. Wright Mills 50 Years On: The Promise and Craft of Sociology Revisited’, Theory, Culture & Society, 29, 7/8: 399–421. Geary, D. (2009) Radical Ambition: C. Wright Mills, the Left, and American Social Thought. Berkeley: University of California Press. Giddens, A. (2010) ‘The Rise and Fall of New Labour: The NS Essay’, New Statesman, 17 May. Gorz, A. (1982) Farewell to the Working Class: An Essay on Post-industrial Socialism. London: Pluto Press. Gramsci, A. (1971) Selections from the Prison Notebooks. London: Lawrence and Wishart. [Originally written 1929–35] Griffin, R. D. (1993) The Nature of Fascism. London and New York: Routledge. Griffin, R. D. (2015) ‘Fixing Solutions: Fascist Temporalities as Remedies for Liquid Modernity’, Journal of Modern European History, 13, 1: 5–23. Hobsbawm, E. (1981) The Forward March of Labour Halted? London: Verso. Hochfeld, J. (1958) ‘Marksizm a socjologia stosunków politycznych’ [‘Marxism and the Sociology of Political Relations’], Studia SocjologicznoPolityczne, 1: 3–24. Hochfeld, J. (1982) [1957] ‘Kelles-Krauza marksizm otwarty’ [‘KellesKrauz’s Open Marxism’]. In Marksizm, Socjologia, Socjalizm: Wybór Pism. Warsaw: Państwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe, pp. 190–202. Jacobsen, M. H. (2021) ‘Suffering in the Sociology of Zygmunt Bauman’, Qualitative Studies, 6, 1: 68–90. Jacobsen, M. H. and Tester, K. (2006) ‘Editor’s Introduction: Being a Sociologist’, Polish Sociological Review, Special Issue: ‘Celebrating Zygmunt Bauman’, 3, 155: 263–6. Judt, T. (2005) Postwar: A History of Europe since 1945. London: Vintage. Kemp-Welch, T. (2006) ‘Dethroning Stalin: Poland 1956 and Its Legacy’, Europa–Asia Studies, 58, 8: 1261–84. Kilminster, R. (2002) The Sociological Revolution: From the Enlightenment to the Global Age, 2nd edition. London: Routledge. Kilminster, R. and Varcoe, I. (1992) ‘Appendix: An Interview with Zygmunt Bauman’. In Z. Bauman, Intimations of Postmodernity. London: Routledge, pp. 205–28. Kilminster, R. and Varcoe, I. (1996) ‘Introduction: Intellectual Migration and Sociological Insight’. In R. Kilminster and I. Varcoe (eds.) Culture, Modernity and Revolution: Essays in Honour of Zygmunt Bauman. London: Routledge, pp. 1–21. Kołakowski, L. (1957) ‘Tendencje, perspektywy i zadania’ [‘Tendencies, Perspectives and Tasks’], Życie Warszawy, 29: 3. Lippmann, W. (2018) [1922] Public Opinion. London: Suzeteo Enterprises. Lukács, G. (1971) [1923] History and Class Consciousness. London: Merlin Press.


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Maffesoli, M. (1996) [1988] The Time of the Tribes: The Decline of Individualism in Mass Society, English trans. D. Smith. London: Sage. McLennan, G. (1999) ‘Recanonizing Marx’, Cultural Studies, 13, 4: 555–76. Mills, C. W. (1959) The Sociological Imagination. Oxford University Press. Mills, C. W. (1960) Listen, Yankee: The Revolution in Cuba. New York: Ballantine Books. Mills, C. W. (1962) The Marxists. New York: Dell Publishing Co., Inc. Miłosz, C. (2001) [1953] The Captive Mind. London: Penguin Classics. Palmer, J. (2023) Zygmunt Bauman and the West: A Sociology of Intellectual Exile. McGill-Queen’s University Press. Palmer, J. and Brzeziński, D. (eds.) (2022) Revisiting Modernity and the Holocaust: Heritage, Dilemmas, Extensions. London: Routledge. Pollock, G. (2022) ‘Reading “Modernity and the Holocaust” with and against “Winter in the Morning”’. In Palmer and Brzeziński (2022: 177–96). Pollock, G. and Davis, M. (2020) ‘Thinking in Dark Times: Assessing the Transdisciplinary Legacies of Zygmunt Bauman’, Thesis Eleven, 156, 1: 3–9. Ramesh, R. (2010) ‘The Sociologist Influencing Labour’s New Generation’, The Guardian, 3 November: www.theguardian.com/society/2010/nov/03​ /zygmunt-bauman-ed-miliband-labour. Satterwhite, J. H. (1992) ‘Polish Revisionism: Critical Thinking in Poland from 1953 to 1968’. In Varieties of Marxist Humanism: Philosophical Revision in Post-war Eastern Europe. University of Pittsburgh Press, pp. 12–70. Shils, E. (1960) ‘Imaginary Sociology’, Encounter (June): 77–80. Smith, D. (1998) ‘Zygmunt Bauman: How to Be a Successful Outsider’, Theory, Culture & Society, 15, 1: 39–45. Smith, D. (1999) Zygmunt Bauman: Prophet of Postmodernity. Cambridge: Polity. Stola, D. (2006) ‘Anti-Zionism as Multipurpose Policy Instrument: The Anti-Zionist Campaign in Poland, 1967–1968’, The Journal of Israeli History, 1: 175–201. Stola, D. (2017) ‘Jewish Emigration from Communist Poland: The Decline of Polish Jewry in the Aftermath of the Holocaust’, East European Jewish Affairs, 2–3: 169–88. Subotić, J. (2019) Yellow Star, Red Star: Holocaust Remembrance after Communism. New York: Cornell University Press. Summers, J. H. (2000) ‘New Man of Power’. In C. W. Mills, The Politics of Truth: Selected Writings of C. Wright Mills, ed. J. H. Summers. Oxford University Press, pp. 3–12. Tester, K. (2004) The Social Thought of Zygmunt Bauman. Basingstoke: Palgrave. Tester, K. (2006) ‘Intellectual Immigration and the English Idiom (Or, a Tale of Bustards and Eagles)’, Polish Sociological Review, 155: 275–91. Tester, K. and Jacobsen, M. H. (2005) Bauman before Postmodernity:

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Invitation, Conversations and Annotated Bibliography, 1953–1989. Aalborg University Press. Thompson, E. P. (1972) ‘Boring from Without’, The Guardian, 28 December. Traverso, E. (2016) Left-Wing Melancholia: Marxism, History, and Memory. New York: Columbia University Press. Treviño, A. J. (2017) C. Wright Mills and the Cuban Revolution: An Exercise in the Art of Sociological Imagination. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. Tuleikytė, J. (2016) ‘Zygmunt Bauman: Adiaphorization in the Holocaust and in the Society of Consumers’, Jednak Książki. Gdańskie Czasopismo Humanistyczne, 6: 57–68. Wagner, I. (2020) Bauman: A Biography. Cambridge: Polity. Wagner, I. (2022) ‘Janina and Zygmunt Bauman: A Case Study of Inspiring Collaboration’. In Palmer and Brzeziński (2022: 156–76). Welzer, H. (2010) Climate Wars: What People Will Be Killed For in the 21st Century, English trans. P. Camiller. Cambridge: Polity. Wiatr, J. (2010) ‘Zygmunt Bauman i początki socjologii polityki w Polsce powojennej’ [‘Zygmunt Bauman and the Beginnings of the Sociology of Politics in Post-war Poland’]. In A. Chrzanowski, W. Godzic and A. ZeidlerJaniszewska (eds.) Zrozumieć nowoczesność: Księga Jubileuszowa Zygmunta Baumana. Warsaw: Wydawnictwo Officyna, pp. 265–70. Wiatr, J. (2017) ‘Otwarty marksizm I odrodzenie socjologii: rola Juliana Hochfelda i Zygmunta Baumana’ [‘Open Marxism and the Rebirth of Sociology: The Role of Julian Hochfeld and Zygmunt Bauman’], Studia Socjologiczno-Polityczne, n.s. 1, 6: 13–25.

1 Tractate on Bureaucracy(1957) Translated by Katarzyna Bartoszyńska

The discussion here will be of Bureaucracy as a social layer; of Bureaucracy as a group of people whose profession is to grapple with the task of managing, administrating, organizing the work of other people and institutions. The discussion here will be of Bureaucracy as a layer, of which Mao Tse-tung said that, even in socialism, there exists a contradiction between it and the masses, which Zhou Enlai1 discussed with Rashidov2 and Yudin.3 The discussion here will be of Bureaucracy in this very sense, in distinction from the other, more common, meaning of the word ‘bureaucracy’, the one that is kin to the Russian term volokita, the English red tape, the German Amtsschimmel. Accordingly, all of the rich emotional associations tied to this second meaning of the word will have no place here. The reader will do well to free themselves of those associations before reading the following Tractate. In order to make this easier, I will write ‘Bureaucracy’, whenever it appears in reference to the social layer, using a capital letter. There is nothing new in the idea that the richness of emotions does not always go hand in hand with the sobriety of the intellect. And rarely requires that sobriety. Meanwhile, the entrenched argument among us over B(b)ureaucracy, which is not in its first month, is full to the brim with emotions. The discussants argue over concepts whose contents are not material phenomena, but complexes of feelings, and they strive to prove their points with rational arguments. Futile effort! Logic is helpless against emotion. We wish, then, not to tread into the kingdom of emotions. We would very much like to remain


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in the sphere that is governed by logical-experimental principles of reason. In our tradition, the term ‘Bureaucracy’ is generally used to designate the administrative layer that is separate from the masses, evading their control, foreign to their interests; but Bureaucracy – understood as people doing the work of administration and management, ‘office’ work, rather than work ‘in production’ – still exists even when it ceases to be separated from the masses by the barrier of a contradiction in class interests. It is a phenomenon more enduring than the rule of exploitative classes. The development of socialist states so far has not only not liquidated this group, but has, for entirely natural and unavoidable reasons, brought about its massive expansion. So it is worth contemplating the following: – Is it possible to get by without Bureaucracy? Is the relationship between Bureaucracy and bureaucracy accidental or necessary? Can this relationship be severed, and, if so, how? These are not easy questions. Because if we are building socialism, understood among other things as a system without bureaucracy, then it is necessary to know whether this goal requires fighting with bureaucracy, or with Bureaucracy, or with the type of configuration of Bureaucracy that leads to this Bureaucracy producing bureaucracy. These are the questions that this Tractate will be devoted to. WHENCE BUREAUCRACY? Bureaucracy is both an old social layer and a new one. Old, because the layer of clerks-administrators has existed for as long as the state has existed, and the army, and any other complex and hierarchized organizations of large groups of people. New, because it is only the twentieth century that has produced modern Bureaucracy – a branched-out, autonomous layer of specialists in administration, with a monopoly over qualifications and power. In the nineteenth century, Gladstone, Lord John Russell or Disraeli could still enter into the most minute elements of affairs that they were engaged in. Gladstone personally wrote the drafts of proposals for legislation that were debated by parliament, and Palmerston earned the title of ‘one-man Ministry of Foreign Affairs’, and was famous for the fact that he conducted diplomatic correspondence himself. Is there such a minister in the world today?

Tractate on Bureaucracy


There is not. But there is Bureaucracy. The child has already reached the age of maturity and has all the rights of a citizen. The magical curse, ‘die, begone!’, and closing one’s eyes: ‘I can’t see you, so you don’t exist’ – are of no avail. The father of the child was Detail, the mother – Competence. The confluence of transformations, comprising the most recent history – the powerful development and concentration of economic power and the institutionalization of the epoch’s class conflicts – called to life an entirely new type of political functions – complicated, multisided, bristling with a wealth of details, requiring the competence of experts with ever narrower specializations. This complicated web of social functions solidified in the form of the layer of Bureaucracy. Without it, the functioning of today’s state, or army, or political parties who exert or strive for power is unthinkable. The liquidation of Bureaucracy, even if it was possible, would bring with it the utter disorganization of social life. Bureaucracy thus has a monopoly on power. In carrying out its function, it acquires abilities essential to rule, enters into the details of the political machine, sees it from inside, translates for itself its impressive image – inspiring some with awe, and others with terror – into a straightforward, yet comprehensible only to the Bureaucrat, language of the individual, of small cogs and screws. Thus, it also has a monopoly over competence. It can be renewed via metabolic pathways, it can reproduce, but it cannot be simply replaced. The larger the number of functions within a political organism that are centrally run, the broader the range of the layer of Bureaucracy must be, the greater its formal and factual competence. The consequence – intended or unintended – of every expansion of the sphere of the state’s interests – including interventions into economics, social politics, or operating the means of mass transportation, etc., as part of its function – will always and immediately call to life a new division of Bureaucracy. The social position of Bureaucracy is determined by the following traits: – its functional position between the power-holders of social life and those who realize that power in the sphere of material existence; – the supremacy of execution over initiative; – hierarchical internal structure; – its own social bonds based on strict discipline. This kind of Bureaucracy is born in every large political organism, and its emergence is always a sign of the stabilization of that


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Organism. Even revolutionary movements whose goal is the liquidation of the existing political system, sooner or later – usually sooner than later – when they confront the necessity of the practical management of the great social problems, summon to life their own Bureaucracy, if they don’t try to make use of the already existing Bureaucracy. It is said that, in the winter of 1944/5, the newly nominated minister of industry and business travelled to Katowice to personally organize the procurement of a few dozen wagons of coal for freezing Warsaw. With which report, in which Division, in which Department of the PKPG,4 with how many signatures, did he manage similar matters in the year 1953? The point here is not the size of a no-longer-existing institution. One can argue over the number of jobs. One could replace the PKPG with the KKP.5 But Bureaucracy remains and must remain: if the ministers are to travel to Katowice for every wagon of coal, those ministers will surreptitiously become a new layer of Bureaucracy. And then it will turn out that, for the sake of efficiency, they will need to be divided into divisions, departments and reports. The formation and internal differentiation of Bureaucracy is a result of the socially necessary process of the division of labour. But it must also be added that the necessity of the existence of Bureaucracy in an organized society does not tell us anything about its social importance and the role it actually plays. And here lies the entire problem. This problem is as follows. GIVING ORDERS OR TAKING THEM? Does state Bureaucracy in capitalism accept power from the hands of capitalists? Does state Bureaucracy in socialism become the ruling class? Do these executors, taken as a whole, also become the executors or the power-holders of social life? Non-Marxist sociologists, who in the twentieth century undertook an analysis of the phenomenon of Bureaucracy, can generally be divided into two groups. One, like Max Weber or Thorstein Veblen, saw the development of Bureaucracy as a symptom of the rationalization of society, carried out by the development of modern technology, and being in opposition to the irrational ‘charisma’ of the ruler and the masses. The economically ruling class delegates certain functions to Bureaucracy, cedes to it a portion of its power to the extent that it considers useful as a result of an analysis of the needs of modern economics.

Tractate on Bureaucracy


The second – like Friedrich von Hayek, Lionel Robbins and Ludwig von Mises – regard Bureaucracy as a violation of the natural system of free market liberalism, imposed on society by particular political groups of suspect authority, placing itself in the way of the normal path of social development. Economic concentration is not the mother, but the daughter, of Bureaucracy. Some believe that Bureaucracy is a tool in the hands of the ruling class – others, in the hands of politicians; some, that the way that Bureaucracy recruits people is determined by economics – others, through political struggle; some, that the strengthening or weakening of Bureaucracy depends on the fate of the socio-economic system – others, on the belief of this or that politician, fuelled by socialists, intellectuals, etc. (In these national conversations of ours, it is so hard to think of anything new! A person tries, claims that they are developing Marxism, and then it turns out that they are merely repeating Hayek!) But both the one and the other, despite the very stark differences in their views, are surprisingly in agreement as to the idea that Bureaucracy is always a tool in the hands of power, rather than being its source, and that the power that is directly wielded by it always has a source outside of it. For the one and the other, Bureaucracy is an automaton, executing as exactly as possible the will of the Top for those Below who carry it out. The only disagreement is from James Burnham and the Burnhamists who, on the other hand, perceive in Bureaucracy a new class of rulers, who are both the source and the executors of power simultaneously. The truth, as is so often the case, lies in the middle. Bureaucracy is not the ruling class, but it is not a passive tool in the hands of that class. Being the one stable element of the Administration in a flood of changing premiers and ministers, Bureaucracy becomes the institutional guarantee of the continuity of power, the transmitter and priest of its traditions and routines, the fortress of conservatism and the repressor of countless urges of newly created politicians. Settled in its hierarchical structure, Bureaucracy quickly produces its own, internal social ties, links of loyalty and mutual dependence; produces common interests, based on a jointly executed social function; acquires shared features of consciousness. For those who control access to the national treasury, it appears as the guarantee of public peace and solidity of power; for politicians, as a ruler with a monopoly over the secret of administrating, as a technical expert on matters in which the politician is a dilettante. Bureaucracy has therefore justified pretensions to having influence over the course of political procedure. Bureaucracy, what is more, demarcates the acceptable boundaries


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of the fluctuation of political programmes. Transgressing those boundaries requires a radical change of Bureaucracy; it requires a revolutionary overturning of the state. Not, then, the ruler of contemporary capitalism, but also not a tool. Something in between. The Bureaucrat, in distinction from the politician, does not submit – even formally – his actions to the judgement of voters or public opinion; he thus feels completely independent of them and does not share the politician’s fears of the changing attitudes of the masses. Bureaucracy does not court public opinion – it is even formally independent of it. The masses are not the subject, or object, of its activities. If we use Aristotelian terminology – the masses are to it a substance, where the administration is a form. It does not understand the enthusiasm of the masses, nor does it acknowledge the charisma of popular leaders. It sees itself as the safe harbour of social sense and seriousness. Just as shoals break up threatening waves into myriad microscopic droplets, so too it shatters the waves of the enthusiasm of the masses into myriad microscopic paragraphs. The will of the Rulers, tearing through successive layers of Bureaucracy, undergoes a process of specific transformations. Bureaucracy is born from the need to introduce an element of rationalism into the anarchy of social issues; but, at the moment it emerges, it produces new demands and social needs that stem from the fact of its existence. A new social interest arises – the interest in maintaining and strengthening Bureaucracy. The layer that was formed as an expression of rational social tendencies, becomes itself the source of irrational tendencies and phenomena not dictated by the needs of social technology, and even contradicting those needs. That which ‘emerges’ from Bureaucracy to the masses is already an amalgamation of the will of the Rulers and the will of Bureaucracy. THE WILL OF BUREAUCRACY What characterizes the will of Bureaucracy? What does the worldview of the Bureaucrat depend upon? In the opinion of the aforementioned sociologists, this worldview depends not only upon the worldview of the class from which the Bureaucrat came. In the nineteenth century, a position in Bureaucracy was the mark of high social status – high independently of Bureaucracy, and beyond it. The expanded ranks of the Bureaucrats of the twentieth century recruit from among all social layers – among them, if not primarily, from those for whom access to

Tractate on Bureaucracy


Bureaucracy is an undeniable social advancement. The new arrivals from this class owe their social position exclusively to their belonging to Bureaucracy, and not to their previous class position. The dignitary of Bureaucracy, yesterday’s petit-bourgeois, is a dignitary not because he was a petit-bourgeois yesterday, but because he is a dignitary today. What he is, and what he has hopes of becoming, he owes to the Bureaucratic apparatus. His individual interests demand loyalty to the institution of Bureaucracy and acting to strengthen it. His interests also require loyalty to the Higher-Ups of Bureaucracy, and in general towards those who hold the fates of the Bureaucrats in their hands. The Bureaucrat is not chosen. It is not elections but nomination that marks the path of his life career. The choice – at least formally – is thanks to the electors. The nomination – formally and factually – is thanks to those who have the power to appoint people to positions. They create the criteria for selection, made to the measure of their needs and horizons. The criteria of qualifications and proficiency must not infrequently defer to the criteria of loyalty, obedience, lack of personality, facility of refraining from personal initiative, and – in first position – the criterion of being prepared to enact politics not because they are in accordance with one’s own convictions, but because there is an order from the Top. The primary rungs in the career ladder thus become not those qualifications that make it possible to satisfy social needs, but those that speak to the internal needs of Bureaucracy. Between the politicians and the masses there thus stands a group tightly bound with internal ties of loyalty and mutual dependence, armed with spikes of competence and secret knowledge of Governance: Bureaucracy. Politicians are the word, and it is the deed. Politicians are theory; it is practice. The fascists, who aspired to total control over society, to having power over all areas of social life, perceived in Bureaucracy a competitor; at the top of their agenda was curtailing and subordinating it. Hitler wrote in Mein Kampf: ‘The state is not our master, we are masters of the state.’6 Hitler’s doctrine carefully stressed the difference between Führung and Verwaltung, ‘The task of leading, and, as a result, legislating, is in the hands of the Party. The state is the administration, its task is to execute the deeds’, said Hitler. The result of this concept was the creation of a new Bureaucracy, on top of the old Bureaucracy, and owing its existence and its power exclusively and personally to the Führer, connected to him personally with ties of loyalty. This new Bureaucracy – which we can call, in distinction from that of the state, ideological – stormed the defensive walls of the old Bureaucracy, gaining control of key fortifications.


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It brought with it loyalty to the Führer, faith in his super-human capabilities and historical calling, and gained, in exchange for the traditional values of Bureaucracy, its life habits and ideals. The result of this attack was that there emerged once again a unified, or relatively unified, layer of Bureaucracy, this time with a decided primacy of irrational over rational factors. Fascist Bureaucracy became an example of the complete domination of politicians over Bureaucracy; this domination happened at the cost of creating an ideological Bureaucracy, which filled the space left empty by the traditional capitalist Bureaucracy. THE PSYCHOLOGY OF BUREAUCRACY For Bureaucracy, politics means administration. Politicians think in terms of history. They see, in politics, the relations between classes. Great social aims, shaped over the course of history. The Bureaucrat thinks practically. He sees, in politics, the need to write a particular report and complete the tasks that it orders. Historical thinking is foreign to him; it is for him an unnecessary or burdensome ballast, a tribute paid to fantasies of idlers and dilettantes. The Bureaucrat tolerates only one generalization: the generalization of his own daily practice of administration. For him, a smoothly and fluidly functioning administration is the entirety of political reality. Study of politics? It may be useful, but only as a study of administration. Good administration is better than the best theory. Leave off with this theory; if you must lecture me, give me the recipe for how most effectively, and with the least effort, to execute the prescribed tasks. Life comprises details and particulars. Life comprises only details and particulars. Beyond them, there is nothing that would deserve the attention of a sober mind. ‘Abandon all ideology, ye who enter here’ – this is the motto that Bureaucracy carved on the gates to its fortress. People with thoughts and ideas – once they entered into Bureaucracy, perceiving it as a means to realize their ideologies – as they increasingly become a part of it, and ever more subject to its merciless laws, have less and less time and energy for reflecting on the philosophy of history. Bureaucracy gradually becomes the end, rather than the means. References to the philosophy of actions return, at first, as a pang of conscience, as a longing for one’s idealistic and stormy youth; later, when the discussion is of ideology, an ironic smile appears on the lips; and eventually anyone who looks at matters from a point of

Tractate on Bureaucracy


view that is not purely technical, who lectures on some historical horizons, becomes intrusive, a dilettante, the embodiment of a lack of competence, the opposite of an expert. The Total Bureaucrat is inclined to see as the enemy of the Task – which he serves – everyone who would want to realize their goals – that he used to fight for – by means other than those that fit within his own way of thinking and are encompassed within the range of means that are at his disposal. Bureaucracy, of course, is not deprived of all philosophy. It has its own philosophy. In this philosophy, people are either administrators, or objects of the actions of administration. Both of these traits, as well as an assessment of their strengths and weaknesses, emerge from this very relationship. A person is a sum of all matters that enter into the area of Bureaucracy’s interests. Other ties of his are a bad thing, because they make administration difficult and go outside the sphere of reality that is encompassed by administration. This human weakness can be indulged, but it cannot be granted citizenship. It will always remain on the margins of real life. Bureaucracy has its own system of values. It is the philosophical reflection of the Bureaucratic Hierarchy. These values are hierarchized, in the Bureaucrat’s worldview, as in Plato’s philosophy. Attaining the higher values is equivalent to attaining higher ranks of the profession. A person is worth as much as the power entrusted in him by the position he occupies. The possibility of conflict between a person’s values and the function he is entrusted with cannot be recorded in a language comprehensible to Bureaucracy – no other source of human values exists beyond those that are contained within Bureaucracy itself. Bureaucracy has its system of morality. This system excludes categories of solidarity, loyalty to the collective, conflicts of different loyalties. Obedience to superiors replaces solidarity and loyalty to the collective, and moral conflicts are excluded because of the one-sidedness of loyalty and the single-dimensionality of interhuman relations. The ethics of Bureaucracy are straightforward and unambiguous, like the mechanism of administrating. The moral experiences of people of a lyrical nature, with a tendency towards emotion, are not to be acknowledged in the framework of this ethical system. It centres on spiritual calm and refraining from ethical evaluation, in regard to work obligations. Bureaucracy has two languages. It uses one to communicate internally, the other externally. The first is dry and rational, stripped of emotional valences, factual, impersonal, with all markers of individuality removed. Interjections from the field of myth and social symbols, concepts with ideological associations, clang within


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it like an unfortunate screech, eliciting a sour smile in the corner of the mouth, or a knowing wink of the eye. Political or ideological formulas sound, in this language, like hot-jazz in the walls of a medieval cathedral. The second language exists for communication with the masses. It is richly furnished with everything that has been removed from the internal language: it comprises symbols; concepts, whose contents are not things, but emotions; and slogans and stereotypes. The needs of administration are described within it as the needs of society, and the most mundane actions are derived from the loftiest of ideals. This language does not possess expressions sufficient to illuminate the totality of the actions and intentions of Bureaucracy; the majority of issues that Bureaucracy occupies itself with are not accessible to the minds of those not included in the secrets of its techniques of managing. The public’s knowledge not only does not make administrating any easier – quite the opposite, it can interfere with the smooth flow of obsessive surveillance of others. Bureaucracy thus has the natural inclination to cede, for the sake of the minds of those not initiated into its mysteries, only that quantity of knowledge that is necessary to them for acting in accordance with the demands of administration. Any excess of knowledge is a luxury – and, in the language of symbols, a betrayal of professional secrets. That part of knowledge that is made available wraps itself in the colourful robes of stereotypes–clichés, because only in that form – in the subconscious conviction of Bureaucracy – can it be assimilated by the pre-logical psyche of the objects of administration. Bureaucracy is in its essence non-partisan. That means that it serves the dominant political doctrine and party. Bureaucracy is in some ways professionally loyal to power; it most eagerly and fervently serves that power, however, that is to the greatest degree capable of realizing its highest Social Ideal: Order. Power that disrupts the established order, that revolutionizes established concepts, and requires changes in the learned mode of action, and especially the type of power that overturns beliefs about the all-powerful administration – earns the distrust and unwillingness of Bureaucracy. Because it disturbs Order, which is the primary betrayal, and an unacceptable sin. Any changes, especially those of a revolutionary dimension, are bad – not because of their intention or class contents, but for the simple reason that they enter into a collision with Order. And this is precisely what Bureaucracy, by its very nature, cannot stand. The English use the same word to designate organization and command. The attentive reader will certainly observe that, in the portrait drawn above, there are many traits missing that we would be

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inclined to consider the most important ingredients in the concept of bureaucracy… And that is the point: that they concern bureaucracy with a small ‘b’. Because, also, Bureaucracy, in my opinion, can avoid committing the full list of sins of bureaucracy, without ceasing for even a moment to be Bureaucracy. There exist – oh wonder! – Bureaucracies that function quickly and effectively, that efficiently and ably, without tolerating any kind of bloat, handle matters smoothly, precisely and to everyone’s general satisfaction. This kind of Bureaucracy – which no petitioner would ever think to call bureaucracy, and which our brave globetrotters in the age of co-existence, skilled in the art of living from office window to office window, lift in their psalms (excuse me, in their reports) to the heavens – this kind of bureaucracy, in the eyes of the sociologist, blinded by the cataracts of emotion, does not cease to be a Bureaucracy. In our country, the word ‘bureaucrat’ is an insult, ‘bureaucracy’ the name of one of the cardinal sins, appearing only on those May Day posters that begin with the exclamation ‘Begone!’ This unambiguous, and hardly honourable, social meaning of these words is due to the fact that a significant portion of our Bureaucracy possesses traits that do not allow the citizen, who spends a large portion of their life in the position of petitioner, to speak of it with sympathy. I have in mind such unfortunate properties as the proverbial impotence in handling the most straightforward of matters, minimal efficiency of its work, lack of interest in making an effort, limited competence, tardiness, lack of responsibility for its own words, fear of decisions and, finally, corruption and bribery. It is mainly for these reasons that the citizen does not like bureaucracy. Meanwhile, these very characteristics do not in any way need to be part of Bureaucracy in all cases. In this situation, some of these features emerge from the flawed methods of recruiting into Bureaucracy, or simply the lack of qualifications for professional Bureaucrats; others, from the low level of living conditions of the country; others still, from the atmosphere of fear and uncertainty which, until recently, has reigned among the ranks of Bureaucrats. These features, then, as can be seen, could be eliminated, if the causes were removed. Perhaps bureaucracy will, sooner or later, disappear. Bureaucracy, however, will remain. Because Bureaucracy is necessary to socialism. At least in this phase of its development. I hope that, if the agreement to separate sociology and emotional reactions has been upheld, this assertion will not create a nervous shock in the reader. Bureaucracy is necessary to socialism because socialism is supposed to be a system in which numerous issues are shaped in accordance with rational, scientific principles, not by a


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free-wheeling contradance of elements. Socialism needs Bureaucracy, if the principle of the social Mind is to oppose backwardness, smallscale home-spun labour, tomfoolery – if it is to be an affirmation of the principle of selecting the most effective means to realize the loftiest goals. It has become accepted – whether for better or for worse – to say that the goal of socialism is to replace ruling over people with ruling over things. But it will not occur to anyone to claim that socialism will in a short time lead to such a state that it will not be people who rule, but things. We will not manage without Bureaucracy. What is more, those who yearn for socialism should insist that it has a good and efficiently functioning Bureaucracy. But from where can we draw the assurance that socialist Bureaucracy will be free of these tendencies? That, while preserving the social function that authorizes it to be named Bureaucracy, it will also in some miraculous way be cleansed of the stigma of original sin weighing down all Bureaucracy? Socialism, the greatest miracle of all times, is, among other things, based on the fact that it excludes all faith in miracles. Does the fact of recruiting into Bureaucracy from new, working classes of society serve as sufficient medicine for its ailments? In the intellectual circles tied to the Labour Party, there has been a lively ongoing discussion whose subject is assessing the results of the nationalization of certain branches of the British economy in the years 1945–50. The issue is that a significant portion of the progressive, leftist former intelligentsia has some reservations today about the socialist idea of transforming society. It once counted on the idea that social management of the economy would eliminate the social problems that came with decentralized capitalism. This hope made it into a supporter, and sometimes even zealous promoter, of the socialist ideal. Meanwhile, the experience of the postwar years demanded that it draw two conclusions: that, while maintaining the type of industrial relations typical of capitalism, it was possible, thanks to Keynesian practices, to remove (at least for some years) some of the most painful economic and material ailments of society, such as unemployment and the most blatant forms of poverty; and that, on the other hand, the change of the character of property in industry does not lead to a transformation in the psycho-sociological relationships typical of capitalism, and does not eliminate the deforming, warping influence of social divisions on human consciousness and morale. In particular, the experience of nationalizing particular branches of the British economy showed that the act of nationalization did not by one iota increase social control over the industry subjected to it, and did not by one iota increase the participation of

Tractate on Bureaucracy


workers in running it. It called into life, however, a new managerial Bureaucracy, which feels itself – similarly to the Bureaucracy of large private corporations – like the omnipotent head of the Coal Board or other Boards, and administrates them more or less well, but always on its own terms. It probably is also not necessary to explain how little this situation contributed to prevailing over the feeling among workers that they are on ‘the other side’, their feeling of estrangement from their workplace, or to the birth of a consciousness of co-leadership or shared responsibility. From these two conclusions, some socialist intellectuals in Great Britain deduced a third: that the dividing line runs not between nationalized and private industry, but between Bureaucracy (both that of the Boards, and that of private corporations) that is controlled and in cooperation with the workers, and Bureaucracy (ditto) that is not controlled and rules over workers; that the path of advancement leads to broadening social control over bureaucracy and expanding the participation of workers in running industry, which is not necessarily tied to a change in the form of property – rather, the opposite: a full centralization of economic decision-making could, in their view, weaken, rather than strengthen, the possibility for these progressive changes. We can prove that this reasoning is based on a false premise: it assumes that socialist relations ought to emerge in every branch of the economy individually after its nationalization, even if it is lodged in a system in which private property continues to dominate; what thereby disappears from the field of vision is the influence of the totality of relations in a system on the type of property in nationalized endeavours. The results of collective–capitalist property are thus ascribed to socialism. We can just as easily prove that the fears of the aforementioned intellectual circles, as well as some of the conclusions they draw, are not unfounded, though the premises they are grounded in may be utterly false. Even without deeper sociological study, we can after all assert that, in the Polish case, where the nationalized form of property has come to dominate completely over the course of the years, interpersonal relations in industry are far from the socialist ideal; that very little has been done, both in the direction of the efficient expansion of social control over the national economy, and in the direction of strengthening feelings of shared economic responsibility among the workers. I do not need to explain that the introduction of nationalized property and dethroning of the private kind still does not constitute socialist social relations. Polemicizing with British socialists, we assert that public property is an early condition of the


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entire web of socialist socio-psychological transformations. But this assertion does not rid us of the complicated problem of the bridge between nationalized property and socialist society. Indeed, quite the opposite – it is precisely what unveils that problem in all of its sharpness, with nothing obscured. And here we run into the internal contradiction of building socialism. Rationally informed social development requires Bureaucracy. And Bureaucracy, if its innate tendencies are not brought to a halt, can find itself in contradiction with the tasks of socialist development. Using the Chinese terms, we can say that this is a contradiction, not of the type ‘nation–enemy’, but a non-antagonistic contradiction. This assertion broadly indicates the method of solving this contradiction, but does not change the fact that it exists. PRO DOMO SUA When the business of the day includes revolution, the first task is acquiring masses for this revolution. The effectiveness of the revolutionary’s activities is determined by their power of persuasion, agitation, personal example, particular charm, power and zealousness of their faith and their ability to share it with others around them. Managing, organizing and administrating must also be done, but these tasks clearly defer to those of agitation. So, this is in first place before consultation, idea before instruction, the fire of fervour before the cool speculations of the intellect. The revolutionary is, above all, an agitator. Thinker, Prophet, Leader. When the revolution prevails, the revolutionary transforms from the opponent into the ruler of society. This is a sudden leap and its psychic consequences don’t all come at once. Not all revolutionaries tolerate this leap without pain. Some fall apart or fade into the background. Those who gradually come out on top are generally people who, before the revolution, were in the second or third tier. New times fortify the Administrator, rendering the Agitator his helper, where formerly the colourless daily tasks of the Administrator were subordinated to the leader-Agitator. The echoes of the trumpets and gunfire fade with the years, and today demands handling, handling, constantly handling, thousands of issues, minor and minuscule. These tasks are increasingly practical, material and complex. The better the Agitator, the better he will serve the task of revolution; the better the Administrator, the better he will serve to strengthen it. The hierarchy of social values changes by degrees, and, along with it, the hierarchy of the people of the

Tractate on Bureaucracy


revolution. ‘When the proper political line is given, the work of organization decides about everything …’ For the revolution to be solidified, the mechanism of organization must be solidified. A frail organization is a frail revolution. Organization is revolution. Organization! The change in subjective hierarchy comes later than in objective hierarchy. It comes unobserved. It matures in the bosom of unchanging ideas and slogans of the revolution, and grows out of practical needs; the one and the other give it moral weight and the strength of argument. That is why it can happen in the minds of people faithful to the revolution, growing up in it, those who serve it unswervingly in their deepest and most honest convictions. The revolution drew its legality from its collusion with the development, the needs, of the masses – maybe even unconscious ones, but real, tangible, grinding away at old societies from the inside. The revolution did not need legality of the parliamentary type. The revolutionaries took on the burden of the hegemony of the nation, placed on them by History, but not by the nation. Now, just after the revolution, they became not only the hegemons of the revindication of the nation, but also the hegemons of its today and its tomorrow, its everyday pains and problems. The suffering of the nation was earlier the source of their strength and their hegemony, today it weighs on their account and is the cause of their weakness. For the agitators, legalization by history is sufficient. Administrators need legalization by the nation. Years go by, however, before this truth becomes obvious, and before it begins to determine the relationship between the administration and the nation. The agitator and the administrator are equally people of the revolution and the continuity of traditions conceals the change in the historical situation and its demands. For the revolutionary, the administration and the layer of Bureaucracy that serves it is a tool in the hands of the revolution. He stood at its cradle; he knows that it was an infant when the matter of revolution was already in power and dominated over minds. He knows that, before, there were shots, bloodshed, sacrifice, the bitterness of defeat and sweetness of victories. Bureaucracy came later. It owes its existence to the revolution; it therefore ought to serve it. It is its creation and its tool. The revolution precedes it historically and logically. For the person who enters into the Bureaucracy a few years after the revolution, Bureaucracy existed before he began his life as a Bureaucrat. It precedes it historically and logically. He is a creation of its hands, and its child. He was an infant when it was already in power and dominated over minds. Shots and so forth – those


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are the kinds of things discussed in academies. Bureaucracy is the embodiment of the revolution. It is something that one encounters already fully formed, permanent; it is a point of departure, it is tradition, it is reality. Inter-personal relations, soft and supple like wax in the hands of the generation of revolutionaries, become for the next generation as hard and inelastic as granite. A person does not choose the conditions in which they function. Bureaucracy becomes for the Bureaucrat of the younger generation an objective condition, external. He owes its existence to it; he owes it gratitude and loyalty.7 What was, for the generation of revolutionaries, a tool for realizing social values, the next generation is inclined to treat as a value in and of itself. The strength of administration has a tendency to move to the top of the hierarchical ladder of values. All of this directs the gaze of the Bureaucrat upwards, not downwards. The masses, meanwhile, just as before the revolution, look around themselves. The different directions of the gaze determine the differences in the landscapes they see, and the play of light and shadow. It can be the case that the eyes of the Bureaucrat see something different from the eyes of the masses. This is the sociological skeleton of the process. The complex web of class relations in the era of the building of socialism covers the skeleton with flesh. The final shape of the figure is a combination of both factors. And so the new Bureaucracy recruits from the ranks of those formerly oppressed and trampled. Into it flow many of yesterday’s workers and peasants. In the peasant–worker state, this gives it a feeling of historical rightness and ties it to the nation and its path. It likes to recall its social origins at every occasion and cannot stand statistics, measured according to criteria of belonging, and not social origins. It does not acknowledge the fact that its social position is other than its social origins. It is inclined, however, to perceive in its origins among workers or peasants the validation of its alignment with the views of the masses, and indulgence for sins already committed and that are still to be committed. ‘I already know what the worker thinks! I am a worker myself!’ Because, however, the Bureaucrat knows increasingly less about what the worker thinks, the Bureaucrat is inclined to take his own thoughts to be those of the worker. His thinking becomes for him a model of workers’ thinking; thinking that departs from this model thereby becomes not that of workers, or even anti-worker. The working-class origins of the Bureaucrat, in combination with the internal mechanism of Bureaucracy, may therefore make it even easier for him to sever himself from the suffering and pains of the masses. And it does so in

Tractate on Bureaucracy


a painless way, without undermining his feelings of class loyalty. The Bureaucrat from other classes will easily carry out even anti-national politics, but will rarely see his own views as being the will of the working class. Thus, entering into Bureaucracy is for the former worker or peasant an advancement in life. He gains a material–existential situation, social status and prestige that his previous social position did not give him. He owes his social position to the function that he serves – the apparatus in whose framework this function is executed. In the difficult economic conditions of a technologically backward country, the conditions arise for the belief that socialism can be arrived at individually or in groups. Often, the Bureaucrat, once he has attained the heights of social prestige, but when the advancement of the nation as a whole is not yet possible, is inclined to proclaim the achievement of socialist goals even before the masses have arrived. When he also has a tendency to mistake his own views for the views of the proletariat, a gap can emerge between the imagined model of the ideal working class and the reality. Finally, there is the matter of the mutual effect that different classes have on each other, co-existing on the road to socialism. The already-referenced discrepancy in the pace of the climb up the ladder of status–prestige means that, at a certain moment, more than one Bureaucrat will reach spaces that differ in culture and custom from his origins. He can afford a more extensive access to the refinements of culture; he does not yet know, however, how to make use of his new opportunities. So he grabs what is easiest to grab, what is most easily digested. He thus absorbs the filthy scum of bourgeois culture – that which is the most worn, smooth, what is as comfortable as a bourgeois couch, and similarly does not require intellectual effort and is just as ugly. The way he imagines the heights of society is, after all, still not at all socialist, and, so, fully bourgeois. Art is not yet art, but a measure of social status – painting and sculpture, decoration, music, entertainment. All of this together should illustrate the spiritual tranquillity and unconflicted nature of Bureaucracy. It is unnecessary to add that Bureaucracy is also inclined to perceive its views on art as the will of the proletariat. Similarly, as in the case of art, what awaits Bureaucracy is the threat of assimilating into the established system of cultural values as a whole – into the bourgeois hierarchy of life ideals, the lifestyle, the family relations, and everything that combines to create the class climate of culture. Not without influence on all these processes is, in our case, the circumstance that we belong, to some degree, to the group of those


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countries that, according to the vivid expression of Mao Tse-tung, ‘was served freedom on a tray’, and in which the tradition of the primacy of the revolution over the Administration was never established. The great contribution of Chinese Communists is, and will remain, that they sharpened the attention of the workers’ movement to, and honed its vigilance regarding, this problem, that they pointed out the danger of the transformation of the tension Bureaucracy–nation into a conflict as one of the main threats waiting on the wide road leading to socialism. Among their great accomplishments is also the diligence with which they worked to counteract this threat. An essential addition to the experience of the workers’ movement in this area is also our VIIIth and IXth plenum,8 which is a justified reason for pride. ENEMY OR ALLY? After the above arguments, this is a fully justified question. Because, after all, if we strip off one scale of abstraction after another, ultimately, at the bottom of the concept of ‘Bureaucracy’, we will find an army of administrators, instructors, referents, thousands of Xs, Ys and Zs whom we know personally by name and by sight – blondes and brunettes, fat and thin, happy and sad, effusive and taciturn, enthusiastic philatelists and zealous fishermen, professional ladies, men and devoted fathers. When these tendencies are separated out into basic elements – that is, people – it will become clear that ultimately we are dealing with thousands of concrete individuals, each of which constitutes its own world, has its own problems and is unlike any other. There are among them, certainly, some whom we have often called bureaucrats. But there are also many people who are committed, willing to sacrifice, giving their entire selves to the matter that they serve, devoting to the cause their time, strength, youth, opportunity for development. They are the ones who emerged from their offices in the evenings, collapsing with exhaustion, giving up the time they were to spend with their families. They were the ones who travelled by night on country roads in carts, bikes, or on foot, to tear off with their teeth a few kilograms of wheat or litres of milk for the nation. They were the ones … One could compile a long list of human sacrifices, services, heroism even, and we will always find more than one Bureaucrat whose name could figure on this list of merits and accomplishments. People are

Tractate on Bureaucracy


different, and different from each other. When we get to the level of tendencies, it is easy to lose sight of the person. No, these people are not the enemy of the class that is building socialism. Socialism will be built not out of the struggle with them – not in spite of them. They are essential for socialism; what is more, they subjectively, and in many senses objectively, serve socialism. Burdening them with the responsibility for the tendencies driving Bureaucracy would be an injustice. These tendencies are independent of them, and a vast majority of these people are unaware of them. The entire problem cannot be considered in categories of responsibility, blame and moral evaluation. In the lives of societies, there are often situations that, in principle, do not happen in the lives of the individuals: there is evil, but there are not evil people; there is guilt, but there are not guilty people. So, not enemies. But are they friends? Yes, friends and supporters. With all of their individual merits and general flaws. They are a part of the nation building socialism – they are an active and important part. This part cannot be eliminated. And precisely because one is contending with friends and supporters, it is necessary to accurately identify their ailments and tendencies to illness, allergies and organ problems, in order to prevent illnesses, to guarantee 100 years of good health. The contradiction ‘Bureaucracy–masses’ will persist for the entire epoch of the building of socialism – and this produces the obligation of permanent vigilance, regular curative practices. So that it does not unexpectedly transform into conflict. There is a diagnosis. But it is necessary to establish the means to cure it. The key to discovering them lies in the following property: the tendency of Bureaucracy to alienate itself from society, from the broader masses, to close itself in a circle of narrow interests, grow and solidify, when the political activities of the masses and their political qualifications shrink; it decreases, however, when the activities and qualifications of the masses grow. In order to limit the negative tendencies of the development of Bureaucracy, in order to constantly restore harmony between the politics it realizes and the line of the masses, it is necessary for the masses to have permanent control over Bureaucracy; and this control is empty, or a mere piety, when the masses are not politically active, until they possess the qualifications essential for political thought, for reasoning in the categories of state and society. In a word: the working class will have the kind of supporter and friend that it trains for itself – also training itself in the process.


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This general premise translates a broad array of concrete issues into the language of practice: the political activization of Party organizations in factories or in the field; the realization of the principle of self-determination of the workers in professional organizations. Finally, workers’ councils – that key to transforming workers into the bosses of their worksites, the road to an increasing feeling of responsibility for the factory, for the nation and the state – pave the road to the political thinking of the masses. And, moreover – to certain enduring principles of political life, such as clarity and wide-ranging political discussions, absorbing and strengthening the masses. Much, much trust in the political wisdom of the masses is needed: even if such wisdom is lacking today, it will not be born tomorrow without this kind of trust. These issues have been frequently discussed in our media, and I do not think that I can add much to the many intelligent things that have already been said. The curative treatments are also well known. The only thing to do is to use them. And to remember that, in building socialism, the object is not to eliminate Bureaucracy, or to replace a bad Bureaucrat with a good one, but to be mindful of the problem of the layer of Bureaucracy and its internal tendencies, and to set up relations between them and the masses that would eliminate the possibility of transforming the tension into a conflict. Summing up the experiences of the Paris Commune, Marx wrote that revolutionary victory begins the transformation of society by eliminating professional clerks. A rotation of better and more active citizens in leadership roles, regulated by a smooth electoral mechanism and an ongoing activization of the masses, will replace administrators-specialists-operators. It does not seem, however, that this perspective will be realized in the phase of building socialism, in which it has fallen to us to live and work. The social division of labour that carves out specialists for managing and administrating will probably not be eliminated quickly. But the political activization of the masses, their legal– political competence, their state wisdom, must grow, starting now, and unceasingly. The direction of growth: towards a socialist society, a society of wise, sober-minded and rationally thinking people who are leaders of their own lives.

2 On the Political Mechanisms of Bourgeois Democracy(1961) Translated by Katarzyna Bartoszyńska

In this essay, we are interested in the following problem: accepting the currently prevailing definition of democracy, formulated by the thinkers of the bourgeois persuasion, and assuming that capitalist countries such as America, England, France or Holland are – in the opinion of these thinkers – the material expression of this definition, we wish to test, by drawing on studies of their political realities, how the political system that they call democratic actually functions in practice; we wish to test the nature of the mutual relationship, in practice, between the qualities included in the definition of democracy and the traits of actual political systems that are described as democratic in the condition of capitalism. In other words, the purpose of this sketch is to explain how, through the mediation of ‘full’, ‘unconflicted’ democracy – the kind that is outlined by bourgeois thinkers – the power of capitalists is realized. It is appropriate to note at the outset, that this ‘full’ and ‘unconflicted’ democracy is a pure abstraction in capitalist countries. Recall the de-legalization of the Communist Party in the Federal Republic of Germany or Greece; the semi-legal status of the Party in the USA; the grim period of McCarthy’s witch hunts, which left a permanent imprint of terror on the minds of American citizens; numerous manipulations of the rules for the election process in France or Italy, which ‘somehow happen’ to always work against Communists, etc. The mechanism of power, even in those nations that are considered the models of parliamentary democracy, is often visibly and unrestrainedly partisan. But it is easy to present these


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facts not as an inseparable element of the mechanism of democracy, but as its disturbance, as a departure from the democratic ideal. It is not with these disturbances – however frequent and widespread they may be – that we will concern ourselves in this sketch. On the contrary – we will assume an ideal state in which these disturbances would not exist, and the realities of the governments would perfectly correspond with the theoretical premises of the bourgeois thinkers. Next, we will try to indicate whose power is realized through this ‘pure’ mechanism of parliamentary democracy. To do this, we need to set out four problems that must be examined. In order for the choice of problems not to be arbitrary, we will try to summarize the key points of the complex reasoning of theorists of bourgeois democracy. So: Firstly, in conditions of unrestrained freedom to share their opinions and express their views, all citizens have an equal possibility of competently assessing the intentions and actions of their government; they can, therefore, using the rules of logic, accurately find among the opinions circling in the political sphere those that most fully correspond to their own interests – in other words, the kinds of opinions whose realization would most completely satisfy their needs. Secondly, the decisions made by citizens in the matter of bestowing their support for this or that opinion have an equal influence on the character of the elected government and its actions; if, in elections, each citizen has one, and only one, vote, then the opinion of every citizen carries the same weight in deciding the course of actions of the government. If we also assume that the decision of the citizen is the result of the logical conclusion to be drawn from their actual interests, then the composition of the government and its political line generally correspond to the interests of the majority. Thirdly, the mechanism guaranteeing that this harmony of interests is upheld is, again, the universal right to vote. Through its means, the citizen can recall from their posts key figures who have lost their trust. The risk of such recall is the factor that leads the government to remain in line with the programme supported by the people during the elections. These three essential elements of reasoning of the theorists of so-called Western democracy will determine1 our analysis of political mechanisms described as democratic. We will concentrate on an analysis of the United States. In the first place, because this is the most economically developed of the capitalist countries, in which the processes that are only emerging in other countries have found their fullest and most mature expression; in the second place,

On the Political Mechanisms of Bourgeois Democracy


because the leaders and ideologues of this nation most widely and most frequently make use of democratic argument in their propaganda for the merits of their system, and most readily reach for democratic ideals as descriptions of their own political mechanism. Because of its crucial position in the capitalist world, the USA passes as the symbol and embodiment of the principles of bourgeois democracy. THE FUNCTIONING OF DEMOCRATIC POLITICAL MECHANISMS For the last few decades, numerous sociologists have critiqued the theoretical premises that underlie the thesis that, in so-called democratic countries of the West, the government serves as representative of the nation, and that the universal right to vote in conditions where people are free to express different opinions guarantees the authority and control of the people over the government. This critique should be distinguished from the critique that comes from ideological positions that are made by fascist theorists and politicians. The sociologists to whom we refer are not opponents of democracy – quite the opposite, they speak from the side of the traditional ideal of the sovereignty of the people. Maybe this is why they analyse the functioning of the mechanism that is meant to realize that principle – and assert that the premises on which this mechanism is ostensibly based turn out, upon closer inspection, to be a delusion in the majority of cases, if not a more or less conscious deformation of political reality. Therefore, sociologists contradicting the naïve apologia of democracy of the ‘Western’ type by bourgeois ideologues and politicians indicate that the political realities of America, England or France depart significantly from the common and ‘official’ vision of the political mechanism of democracy. As a result of long-term historical developments, these countries have essentially found themselves in a situation where their citizens enjoy significant individual freedoms, the possibility of expressing various mutually contradictory opinions on political matters – in a situation in which the safety of individuals is meaningful and guaranteed by law and custom. All this – proclaims the opinion of sociologists – is true, and these various circumstances significantly differentiate the systems called democratic from fascist totalitarianism. This does not mean, however, that they are true manifestations of the social functions that bourgeois ideologues ascribe to multi-party, parliamentary systems and universal elections.


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These institutions, taken as the litmus test of the rule of the people over the government, are far from being the organs of power. In essence – again, according to the opinion of the aforementioned sociologists – in conditions of parliamentary democracy, power – that is, influence over making decisions that are socially important and binding – is divided between particular members of society in a way that is vastly unequal; the situation in which every citizen possesses one, and only one, vote in universal elections does not at all mean that each of them has an identical influence on the composition and politics of the elected government. Quite the opposite, sociological analysis indicates that, in bourgeois society, power – and primarily power in the matters most essential to society – is concentrated in the hands of an ever narrower circle of people, who owe their power to an authorization that is not in the least formal-political. The basic mass of the people can at most – and not always – stop the most blatant tendencies of one faction or another of the actually ruling class, but it is not capable of deciding on its positive programme. Secondly – the sociologists say – the formal right to proclaim and propagate opinions does not in any way mean that all opinions have an equal possibility of acquiring supporters. And it is not true that people always choose the opinions that suit their interests. Far from it – in general, the acceptance of this or that opinion stems not from a rational consideration of their own, properly understood interests, but from entirely different reasons, not always logical ones. The mechanism of producing opinions is tightly bound to the general socio-economic mechanism, and if this mechanism assumes an inequality of people’s positions – then the opinions that express different positions also differ in the degree of privilege or obstruction. Finally, third – as sociologists say – the thesis that, in a multi-party system, bourgeois political parties organize and bring ‘to the top’ the opinions of different groups of people, realizing in this way the control of the masses over the government, is likewise far from the truth. The parties in parliamentary systems do not so much function as organizers of the opinions and will of ‘grey people’, but as organizers of electoral support for this or that faction of the ruling class. Bourgeois parties function not so much ‘from below to the top’ as precisely ‘from the top down’. It is not that they pump the opinions of the masses to the leading circles, but the opposite – they cram into the voting masses the ready-made and prepared opinions of particular group interests who are wielding government power or making a bid for it. As can be seen, in all of the three cardinal claims of the contemporary bourgeois concept of democracy, the sociologists express

On the Political Mechanisms of Bourgeois Democracy


judgements that are actively contradictory to the claims of bourgeois ideologues and politicians – even if these are non-Marxist sociologists. The Marxist critique of the concepts of the ideologues of so-called ‘Western democracy’, of course, goes further than the critique on the part of these aforementioned sociologists; Marxists not only point out the defective functioning of the political mechanisms in the countries with such democracy, they also argue that this democracy is essentially bourgeois democracy – that is, a system guaranteeing the satisfaction of the claims and needs primarily of the owners of the means of production. We will return to this fundamental problem towards the end of our reflections. First – following the trail of reasoning of both apologists of bourgeois democracy and its sociological researchers and critics – we will try to once again analyse its functioning in regard to the three aforementioned fundamental problems. The first key issue – the inequality of the division of power, even in cases of the most equal distribution of the right to vote. In the nineteenth century, or at least in its first half, the inequality of access to power was obvious and not even subject to discussion. In the societies of Western Europe, there existed a clear and unquestioned division into ‘political classes’ – from which were recruited both the voters and those they chose – and the remaining masses of the people, who – according to the pretences proclaimed by particular portions of the ‘political class’ – were ostensibly represented in government by the ‘political class’, but which on its own certainly did not take part in the process of making political decisions. The ‘political class’ was separated from the rest of society by a broad array of various categories: birth (pertaining mainly to the aristocracy), income (pertaining mainly to the bourgeoisie), education (pertaining to both of these classes), and others. Participation in the organs of politics was the natural privilege of a very small group of the people. Both the dominant practice and the dominant theory accordingly pushed into the ruling political positions the members of these classes, whose high social and economic position was to create the people most predestined to grappling with matters of a large scale and weight. Mass political parties did not exist in this period: ‘parties’ was the name given to particular fractious groups in parliaments, also composed of representative members – and distinguished ones at that – of the aforementioned ‘political class’. Incorporating the masses – even if only formally – into politics introduced a broad range of possibilities for the interpretation of such a reformed political mechanism, and created the grounds for numerous misunderstandings and mystifications. Between political


History and Politics

practice and its theoretical reflection in the ruling thought, there appeared a clear disjunct; the ruling theory understood the universalization of the right to vote as equivalent to the universalization of influence on government, when in practice these processes proved to be not at all equivalent. The continuous expansion of the functions of the government, whose activities reached into terrains that previously had been left entirely, or almost entirely, to ‘private initiative’; the growing initiative and social role of the government in the sphere of regulating economic life, social issues, the relationship between classes – all of this required a serious expansion of the government apparatus, summoning teams of experts in political economics, social politics and other new fields in the art of rule. All of this required, in other words, the birth of a new profession – the profession of the politician. If, in the beginning of the nineteenth century, the English aristocrat was a politician ‘by the nature of things’ (a family tradition of ties to ruling organs, a special type of education, a particular kind of upbringing and a specific way of being ‘automatically’ supplied him with qualifications, needed for the kind of government functions he was to fill at that time), then, in the new period, serving a political function required (and still requires today) much more specialized knowledge – the qualifications of an expert with a great knowledge of economics, finances, society or even propaganda. Today’s politician still makes use of the assistance of a constant apparatus of government admin­ istration – Ba!, one that is extraordinarily developed in comparison to its state 100 years ago; but he must also, to a meaningful degree, be an expert with qualifications of the kind that are only ensured by a special and lengthy education. Insofar as the abilities that doing politics required at the beginning of the previous century were most easily found among the aristocracy, to the same degree the qualifications that the career of a politician requires today are acquired on the broadest scale in the world of big business; politicians carry out the same tasks – but on a different scale – that are the daily bread of those who are running gigantic firms of business and finance. The main figure among career politicians of today is thus by degrees becoming the ‘person of business’ – the expert in matters of capitalist economics, frequently the trusted confidante in inner circles of businessmen, often indeed a member of these circles. Just as politicians of the nineteenth century generally had class ties to aristocratic circles, and their loyalty to the group was determined by their mutual ties, to that degree most of the politicians of today feel ‘at home’ in the world of the leaders of business. This is the environment that

On the Political Mechanisms of Bourgeois Democracy


they form the closest ties to: kinship (in both a metaphorical and in a literal sense), types of individual career, type of education, way of looking at the world, customs, accepted cultural models and moral norms. Let us take a step further: if, 100 years ago, politicians were almost entirely drawn from the members of the aristocracy, then most of the career politicians of today form a single class with the owners and leaders of business and financial corporations. They are people of the same social rank, they socialize in the same circles, they belong to the same clubs and eat at the same restaurants, they send their children to the same schools and universities, guarantee a future for their descendants with the help of the same stocks or bonds, look from the same perspective at the other classes and levels of society and assess them similarly, and marry off their daughters and their sons to each other. An especially frequent phenomenon (mainly in America, but also in Europe) is the uniting in one person of the functions of politician and capitalist – the owner of a business or financial firm, or the director of one or of many capitalist boards. A strong background in industry– finance is of significant help to a political career; it also happens that a solid position in the heights of economics is the materialized capital of the trust of those from the circles of big business, acquired while serving in political office. But we should be wary of oversimplification. Not every career politician climbs to a government position, using the elevator of big business. Although politics is a very specific career, people enter it – as with any career – from a variety of classes and social positions. Especially among the group of specialists in influencing public opinion, we find many exiles not so much from business circles, as from the intelligentsia; necessary qualifications in this job are, after all, the most widespread among lawyers, journalists, radio or television commentators. And the intelligentsia – as we know – recruits its members from all levels of society. Among contemporary politicians, we thus find many who do not owe their positions to personal family ties to the leaders of the capitalist economy. Especially in social democratic parties, seeking electoral support primarily among the working classes, there are higher percentages than elsewhere of leaders who are not bourgeois, and are even sometimes from a plebeian background. But it is also not that group that sets the tone for the highest ranks of the political hierarchy. Newcomers from other, ‘lower’ levels of the class hierarchy, usually and relatively easily assimilated into the majority of those connected to business, are subject to, and rendered powerless by, the influences of generous promises by the capitalist power-brokers, and


History and Politics

the possibilities opening up before them of joining – thanks to the political position they’ve acquired – the ranks of the powerful circles of that world. At the top, then, of the political ladder of contemporary capitalist society, there perches a group with a well-oiled internal cohesion, a social group linked by close ties, encompassing both career politicians and the leaders of big capital. Similarly to how the structure of the political mechanism is always adapted to the economic structure (among its tasks is protecting the latter structure in the broadest sense of the term, and thus also ensuring its endurance, as well as undertaking renovations within it – a reorganization that is necessary for the sake of its endurance), so the composition and the direction of actions of those in the political mechanism are formed above all by the needs and postulates of those in the economic mechanism. Private citizens, despite the fact that they wield the right to vote in parliamentary elections, have only a small influence on the components of this ruling group as a whole. They can, indeed, choose between particular components of it; they can give priority to one of its elements over another. But the choice, by its nature, is limited to the framework of this group – unified, after all, in regard to its basic class features. It is worth remembering that what is true in relation to parliamentary elections is even more true when it comes to deciding on the cabinet of ministers, those fundamental instruments of governance. It is also worth remembering that, even if in some issues the government and its politics are subject, to some degree, to the control and pressure of public opinion (for example, in the politics of social services), there is no mechanism institutionalizing social control over issues that are, after all, the most important from the social perspective – those tagged with the label ‘military secrets’. In an epoch in which militarization encompasses broad fields of activity in capitalist countries, an increasingly large number of key social issues tags itself with this label, which allows it to evade any form of public control over a huge area of economics that is also of great political importance. Some authors suggest that these circumstances constitute the fundamental reason for which the ruling elite of capitalist governments so fervently insist upon the politics of armament: maintaining its own ‘state of partial exception’ increases its autonomy from the opinions and control of those below. In sum: it is appropriate to agree that the political mechanism of capitalist nations described as democratic renders the ruling elements, to a serious degree, independent of the will and control of voters, and ties it ever more tightly to one, specific social class – the

On the Political Mechanisms of Bourgeois Democracy


class that is ruling economically, and for this reason occupying the highest positions in the hierarchy of social influence. The fate of political power is decided less by the formal rules governing elections than by actual influences on them. Now let us see how this inequality of influence is realized in the ‘unconstrained play of opinions’ in the ‘free market of ideas’. In other words, let us investigate the value of the second key premise of the bourgeois ideal of democracy, and, simultaneously, the second element of the sociological critique of this idea. GOVERNMENT BY OPINION, OR THE PRODUCTION OF OPINIONS? Frequently, in the meditations on democracy, one encounters the view that democracy is ‘government by public opinion’. Many theorists of bourgeois nations perceive the control over government by public opinion as the basic feature of the democratic system; this view influences the shape of political theory, and all its formulations. Benjamin Constant2 wrote of political parties as ‘organized opinions’; the role of parliament is often defined as being an instrument for the domination of public opinion over governments, etc. The well-known American sociologist and political commentator Walter Lippmann3 even warns us recently of the ‘dictatorship’ of public opinion, which – in his view – threatens the stability of executive power and calls for limiting the authority of opinion for the good of democracy. All of this indicates that the notion of ‘public opinion’ in the bourgeois concept of democracy is absolutely crucial, and that we cannot avoid it in an analysis of the functioning of the political mechanisms that are described by bourgeois thinkers as democratic. The thesis about the crucial role of public opinion in democratic political systems was born from the atomized, early liberal vision of a philosophical society: the ‘free market of ideas’ was a higher level of the ‘free market of goods’. The visions of a society where the thesis about the crucial role of opinion was borne out assumed the mutual independence of the centres of shaping and propagating opinion, and saw the elimination of class differences, and thus the formal equality of human individuals before the law, as a sufficient – in principle – guarantee of the equal authority of opinions held by various individuals. These imaginings simultaneously assumed that every individual thinks rationally and logically, starting from their properly understood individual interests, and dictated that we assume that the triumph of one of the propagated opinions over


History and Politics

another will depend exclusively on the power of persuasion that this opinion has, and how closely it aligns with the actual interests of the majority of the people. Our reflections on the emergence of the so-called ‘power elites’4 already points to the mythic character of this perspective on the sociopolitical function of public opinion. Even without a more detailed analysis, it is completely obvious that the class that rules the economy also concentrates in its hands the privilege of being the most effective at popularizing the opinions that suit it. As Maurice Duverger,5 analyst of contemporary political life, observes, what good does the lack of a prohibition on publishing new magazines and periodicals do, when establishing a journal in Paris requires the starting capital of a billion francs! But, in order to avoid making use of first impressions and intuition in our reflections, we must look closely at the mechanism of the functioning of public opinion – for bourgeois theory, this is not a tangential or second-level problem, but a specific litmus test of the value of the entire concept. Moving from a limited to a universal right to vote made a wide swath of people the formal co-authors of political decisions. Factually, it made the electoral success of a particular faction of the ruling class dependent on support from the masses. This placed before politicians the necessity of courting the favour of a broad swath of the populace, especially the working masses. The result was that the working masses – previously engaging with politics exclusively through the mediation of revolutionary, anticapitalist activists who were attacking the existing political system, and ignored by official politicians serving that system – suddenly became the subject of intense agitation from ruling functionaries and those seeking power in bourgeois parliamentary parties. The activities of socialist parties, which proclaimed a programme of workers’ independent politics in parliament, led bourgeois politicians to multiply their efforts, aiming to influence the new masses of the electorate. The birth of a mass electorate thus brought with it the appearance of political newspapers and brochures with broad circulation. The mass press began to specialize in preparing politics in pill form – in providing political information heavily seasoned with an opinionated breading, and in an easy-to-digest form. This already remarkably limited political information became by degrees a mere addition to the lure of the sensational, catering to the least refined tastes. The real paradigm shift happened, however, at the moment of the appearance of new technologies – so-called mass communication,

On the Political Mechanisms of Bourgeois Democracy


primarily radio and television. Drawing the masses into the orbit of the political life of the capitalist nation created the need for instruments transmitting particular views of groups of the ruling elite to the farthest reaches of the country; the aforementioned technological means sufficed to realize this need. Here we come to a particularly important feature that distinguishes the modern technological means of transmitting opinions from all those so far known in history: with these means of communication, the role of class privilege in transmitting opinions reaches unprecedented levels. These means are incredibly technically complicated, and in and of themselves expensive; to function effectively, they also require the work of a large team of experts in technology and mass culture – experts who are highly qualified, and above all highly paid and extremely expensive. Similarly, then, to the way that it is almost impossible for a craftsman who acquires some savings to open his own factory, effectively competing with powerful capitalist interests, it is just as hard to imagine that the means of mass communication, in their very essence monopolistic, would find a serious competitor. Those who wish to make use of already existing media as a mouthpiece for their own views must have tremendous amounts of funds. And it must be remembered that, because these means already exist, no party can seriously count on winning support for its views if it does not make use of them. Until this moment in history, economic power never provided this kind of monopoly on the prerogative to propagate opinions on political issues. The opinion of capitalists decidedly wins out over the opinion of opponents of capitalism in the ostensibly ‘free’ play of opinions through the very fact that it is the opinion of capitalists – that is, of those who have wealth. Mass means of communication will thus become weapons in the hands of capitalists – the analysis of their properties from the point of view of mechanisms of social psychology indicates that they are a powerful weapon and an incredibly effective one. As a result of the functioning of these means, capitalist society (especially in America, but also to an ever larger degree in the countries of Western Europe) divides ever more clearly into those who produce opinions and those who consume them. An ever larger group of those who have access to microphones and TV cameras has the ability to produce opinions equipped with the privilege of mass popularization; as to those millions who sit down in front of their radios and TV screens every evening, they have less and less possibility of countering those opinions with their own life experience or that of their own community, with their first-hand knowledge of the world.


History and Politics

There have already been studies conducted in the world – and there continue to be more – devoted to discovering the elementary properties of this remarkably important phenomenon of the ‘serial’ or ‘assembly-line’ production of opinions through the means of the media of mass communication. Studies – though still far from complete – allow us to grasp the outlines of a mechanism of this process, which in the grand scheme of things is a mechanism for shaping the brains of millions of people, according to a model convenient for capitalist leaders of editorial boards of journals and radio or television programmes. During the last decade, capitalist politicians (among them, most quickly and to the greatest extent, American ones) have reached for television and for the instructions of psychologists specializing in so-called ‘subliminal effects’ on the human subconscious. Politicians especially make use of the experience of business commercials. Nation’s Business,6 the primary organ of the US Chamber of Commerce, wrote in 1956: ‘Both parties will merchandise their candidates and issues by the same methods that business has developed to sell goods.’7 And Rosser Reeves presented matters even more clearly: ‘I think of a man in the voting booth who hesitates between two levers as if he were pausing between competing tubes of toothpaste in a drugstore. The brand that made the highest penetration on his brain will win his choice.’8 ‘Selling hope’, ‘appealing not to reason, but to secret desires’, ‘using not logical arguments, or pseudo-logical ones, but emotional associations’ – these are the principles of the modern commercial, which politicians accept more and more. In the parties’ political ranks, there have appeared experts on television commercials and ‘motivational approaches’, who acquire their skills in the same specialized schools as the bosses of commercial enterprises; brilliant politicians hire private advisors and instructors for matters related to television, just as eighteenth-century monarchs kept advisors on matters of court etiquette; American parties even turn their campaigns over to professional advertising companies. The most recent political campaign in America was organized for the Republican Party by the firm BBDO,9 and for the Democratic Party, by the firm Norman, Craig & Kummel,10 and – as those in the know tell us – as competing firms, BBDO and Norman, Craig & Kummel hate each other far more than the Democrats and Republicans do. So we have all the components to assert that the ‘free play of opinion’ proclaimed by the traditional theory of bourgeois democracy is in practice being transformed into the ‘play of means of mass propaganda’, and even – more frequently – simply into a

On the Political Mechanisms of Bourgeois Democracy


competition between advertising specialists. Reality has, thus, essentially not much in common with the premises of theory. The Republican Party, seeking to make use of the modern technologies of advertising, reserved for itself, in the year 1956, television time with a combined value of $2 million; the time was cleverly booked before and after the most appealing programmes. This guaranteed that TVs would be turned on at the appropriate time. It also meant that the programme propagated by the Republican Party reached an audience that was properly prepared by an excellent and entertaining show – in a good mood, but therefore defenceless against any proffered suggestions. From our reflections, we have relatively easily drawn a general conclusion: public opinion in countries where there supposedly exists a ‘free play of opinion’ constitutes in essence an object of manipulation for a narrow sliver of the ruling classes. The properties of modern means of mass communication even more clearly hone this fact, putting in the hands of the bourgeoisie the precise and effective-as-never-before tools for propagating its own ideologies and the views comfortable for it. So various opinions, suited to different interests, do not have anything like an equal chance, and their play is not at all free. Even if the propagated anti-capitalist ideas are not formally limited by various legal strictures (and it is not clear that this is not the case), bourgeois opinions are in any case privileged and, what is more, with the help of modern means of propaganda they eagerly reach for a total monopoly over the so-called ‘free market of ideas’. Alongside the political equality of citizens and the ‘free play of opinion’, already discussed, the third condition of the democratic system, in the eyes of the bourgeois ideologues of democracy, is the functioning of a multi-party system. Its role is sufficiently important for it to guarantee the realization of the previous two tenets of democracy: it is to create a guarantee of the political power of the individual (whose essential element is the possibility of choice), or to be the tool of the ‘free play of opinion’. That is why this argument is centrally positioned both by the supporters of the traditional bourgeois vision of democracy and by the contemporary sociological critics of that vision. This problem, therefore, deserves a minute, careful analysis. But we do not have space for such a project in this essay. Here, we can only indicate that our reflections up to this point, though we have not spoken about such parties very much, call into question the most essential arguments used by those who link the existence of a multiparty system with the highest values of democracy.


History and Politics

‘BOURGEOIS-NESS’ OF DEMOCRACY AND CAPITALIST SOCIAL RELATIONS Our reflections up to this point have provided arguments for the thesis that the political system that bourgeois thinkers have called democracy is far from realizing the principles of rule that are essentially contained in the term ‘democracy’. Essentially, the multi-party parliamentary political mechanism does not undermine the key economic–political position that the bourgeoisie occupies in the government. The bourgeoisie is still the ruling class and creatively adapts the democratic mechanism to the task of realizing its own will and satisfying its own interests. We know, as well, that the partisanship of the bourgeoisie generally only agrees with the legalization of the ‘democratic play of politics’ and resigns from an open class dictatorship when it becomes convinced that a concession to the people’s ideals can be reconciled with ensuring the key social position of the bourgeoisie. As is indicated by the attacks on Communists, and anti-Communist laws, in numerous countries, the partisans of the bourgeoisie – even today, when they have collectively adopted the position of supporters of the multi-party parliamentary system – are not inclined to allow into the ‘democratic game’ any forces that don’t accord with the premise, silently accepted by other parties, of upholding capitalism. This situation alone allows us to describe the type of system being analysed here as bourgeois – if, for the description of this system, we use the term ‘democracy’, it must be modified by the term ‘bourgeois’. In response to this assertion, we often hear from theorists of this democracy the following accusation: it is a fact that the majority of the electorate cast their votes for parties that do not set out a programme of overturning capitalism. In this way, the capitalist system, from the point of view of all available formal indicators, gains in the general elections the sanction of the majority of the nation. So, even if this democracy places power in the hands of the bourgeoisie, it does so on the strength of the people’s decision. This phenomenon is partly explained by the already described perfecting of the means of forming public opinion that are available to the ruling class. But the ideology of this class also paves the way to the minds of the masses through means other than mass propaganda mechanisms. The capitalist system produces a particular moral climate that is conducive to the spread of capitalist ideology – it makes it so that this ideology extends its roots also into the terrains of areas where objective interests demand the removal of capitalist relations.

On the Political Mechanisms of Bourgeois Democracy


Enduring for over 100 years, capitalist relations have created a world with its own hierarchy of social values, which defines ways in which people look at their compatriots, at the features of their character, and at their own life path and life perspectives. This scale of values decrees social acceptance or disapproval for this or that course of action, decides which features of people will be perceived as flaws and which as advantageous; it provides the shape for people’s dreams, solidifies ideas regarding life, gives a direction to human energies and activities. In other words, this set of values, assisted through the powerful mechanisms of propaganda, provides the lenses through which a person who accepts them looks at the society they live in, and the place they occupy in that society. The set of values that are imposed by the irresistible force of capitalist relations for the people entangled within them renders the wealth obtained on the way to individual success as the peak measure of human merit and good fortune. Simultaneously, remaining at the service of capital, radio, television, film and literature demonstrate to the masses the affluence of those who were successful, who made it to the top of the ladder. They demonstrate it with particular obstinacy to those very people who made it – who in the course of their life jumped a few rungs higher in the social hierarchy, who by happy luck or relentless effort gained access to that which is accessible only to the chosen. All possible human advantages and the totality of social acknowledgement are reserved precisely for those who have been successful – the clinking of a fat purse. ‘Show me how much money you have, and I’ll tell you how much you’re worth’ – this is the main slogan of this set of values. ‘If you feel that you’re worth more than the money that you possess – get more. If your conviction is true, you will be able to get it’ – that is the other slogan, which supplements the first one. A soldier who carries in his backpack a marshal’s baton will not listen to a critique of the institution of marshals; to eliminate marshals, one would need to let go of the dreams that are embodied in the baton. A person who believes that he or his children could – if only they were able – climb to the highest rungs of the capitalist hierarchy will not readily agree to fight against that hierarchy. Why destroy the ladder that might come in useful someday? To destroy the ladder – that means resigning from dreams – open or secret – of great success, which might come someday, but only as long as there is a ladder leading to the top. In this way, the capitalist hierarchy of values disarms people’s protests against social inequality. Instead of class antagonisms, it bids people to seek in them the key to life successes. In this way, the


History and Politics

ruling bourgeoisie achieves the obedience it needs not only through the use of force. As long as the bourgeoisie dominates economically and maintains capitalist social relations, the power of this set of values over the human mind will be endlessly renewed. That is why it is so hard to overturn capitalist relations by using the vote. If we were now to attempt to extract from everything presented here the most important element, which ties the ‘different components into a logical whole, this element would turn out to be the economic power of the bourgeoisie. In other words: private ownership of the means of production. This is what makes it so that the system – which, according to its premises, ought to replace the qualitative criteria of influence over government with quantitative criteria, offering every individual rights that are almost the same, neither more nor less, than other individuals have – that this system remains a bourgeois system, in a government in which the system is such that, despite all of its formal properties, power belongs incontrovertibly to the bourgeoisie. The reason for privileging one portion of society, and oppressing another, in the capitalist nation lies beyond the framework of the political system. This is why the very fact of the unequal distribution of privileges in its basic framework cannot be changed as a result of a modification of the political mechanism. Shifting from one political system to another can at most lead to a more intensive transfer of individuals between classes or, on the contrary, sharpen the barriers between classes. It cannot, however, dismantle the classes themselves and thus the unequal division of economic and political privilege. Getting rid of these two cardinal foundations of the rule of the bourgeoisie requires the elimination of private property. As we know, however, bourgeois democracy will not tolerate this idea; on the contrary, taking as its primary task the protection of the rights of individuals, it puts in first place, among those rights that are to be defended, the right to property. Defending the stability of the social order and playing the role of a fortress, guarding the nation from violent, revolutionary forms of solving conflicts, it entrenches the economic system of society. It does this in a similar way to all other forms of bourgeois government – except that, in the execution of its task, it resorts to open physical force and the administrative limitation of the opposition much more rarely than other forms. That last set of circumstances inclines the workers’ movement to rank democratic forms of rule the highest among all previously known forms adopted by capitalist governments. It does not, however, allow us

On the Political Mechanisms of Bourgeois Democracy


to ignore the fact that democracy takes in this case the form of a capitalist government, and is a social institution that is based on the private ownership of the means of production – and the fact that this democracy is therefore limited by class and is a democracy of the bourgeoisie.

3 The Limitations of ‘Perfect Planning’ (1966)

The subject of this paper is the ‘perfect planning’ model, something which may be thought of as the alternative of the ‘perfect market’ model widely described by the economists. Perfect planning may be defined initially as the second pole of a continuum which has the perfect market situation as its first pole. The opposition between the two poles consists in: a. the opposition between an aggregate of individual and group actions diffusely motivated and a macro-social process as a system of co-ordinated partial actions; b. the opposition between social process determined genetically and social process determined teleologically – that is, between the kind of social process in which the goal is an outcome of action and another kind in which the action is prefigured by the goal; in other words, c. the composition between a situation in which the mechanism determining the global ‘behaviour’ of the social whole is sharply different from the mechanism which determines behaviour of its individual units, and a situation in which both mechanisms are identical. The idea of ‘perfect planning’ has been to fit the total social process to the model of individual human behaviour derived from the human being’s inherent capacity of rational thinking and action. Although the perfect planning situation has not yet been achieved in any social system, still it remains the conscious or unconscious goal of any big organization, and also of government organizations seated at the highest level of societal integration.

The Limitations of ‘Perfect Planning’


It is not our task to evaluate the virtues and vices of perfect planning as an aim of social thinkers or practicians. We are not inclined to decide whether planning is desirable or even what is the proper frame of reference suitable for estimating its eventual merits and shortcomings. The sole end of this paper is to enumerate some important obstacles which – at least at the present stage of social development – counteract achievement of a perfect planning situation and thus are responsible for maintaining the gap between planning ideals and the reality of action. It is our contention that these obstacles are to be found in some salient contradictions between functional requisites of the perfect planning model and important parameters of the social structure of modern society. We want to elaborate this statement by: a. formulating the functional requisites of perfect planning; b. describing some experiences of the planning process derived predominantly from the Polish examples; c. trying to formulate in general terms those structural characteristics of the planning societies which are responsible for the functional requisites of perfect planning not having been met. A. FUNCTIONAL REQUISITES OF ‘PERFECT PLANNING’ Any planning activity requires obviously some decision-making and planning agent that makes the plan and thus plays the role of at least one of the factors influencing social action. Perfect planning, however, requires something more: it requires the above­mentioned agent to be the only and unchallenged factor determining the totality of social action. Not every social situation makes such a role possible, although any executive of a big organization wants to achieve it. Some basic requirements listed below have to be met if this situation is to exist. 1. Resource self-sufficiency The social system must be self-sufficient and isolated in the sphere of those activities which are subjected to planning (in this context, the two terms ‘self-sufficiency’ and ‘isolation’ are for all practical purposes synonymous). This means that all thinkable resources – physical, human, mental – necessary to perform activities subjected to plan ought to be available inside this given system and freely manipulable – that is, circulated according to decisions made by the planning agent. This means also that no agent from outside of the


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system (‘outside’ has a meaning which is not confined to the physical space only), or, to put it in different words, no agent which itself is not manipulated directly or indirectly by the decision-making centre of the system, ought to interfere with the circulation of resources now under discussion. Whenever this condition is not met, co­-ordinated action is replaced by the clash of diffusely planned competitive actions and so events genetically determined are substituted for those which were expected to be teleological. 2. Perfect information ‘Resources’ is a broad term and it may be defined in such a way to include also information as a foremost resource in itself in any systemic process. At the same time, the processing of information has peculiar qualities which distinguish it from the process of resource supply. That is why, perhaps, cyberneticists view any system as a cluster of two intertwining, though separate, channels – one of energy circulation, and one of information circulation. We prefer also to confine the term ‘resources’ to that class of phenomena which is dealt with in cybernetics under the rubric of ‘energy’. Thus, we should repeat about information what was stated above on resources: the perfect planning model requires all possible information important and valid from the point of view of the activities subjected to plan to be in possession of the planning agent. This refers, first of all, to information concerning availability and possible uses of resources, as well as the technology of manipulating them. Failure to meet this requirement does not lead necessarily, as in the case of resources, to the very process of planning being undermined. Nevertheless, it does lead to a planning which is not ‘perfect’, this time in the sense of not being rational enough and not being a match for the actual opportunities rooted potentially in the given social situation. 3. Perfect rationality by planners The perfect planning model requires, further, that the planning agent be capable of making decisions which are not only realistic but also most effective in terms of the overall systemic goals. This, in turn, requires that: a. the planning agent ought to be ‘depersonalized’, free of any motivations which are not identical with the pre-established goals of the system as a whole, acting as a kind of fleshless and soulless embodiment of the ‘interest of the system’ alone; b. the planning agent ought to be competent in the sense of being able to choose, among many alternatives, how to use available

The Limitations of ‘Perfect Planning’


resources to achieve the solution which is the best; this implies both reliable knowledge and skill and necessary executive power; c. the alternative among which selection is to be made must be reducible to a common denominator, commensurable, exhaustible by a simple and universal quantifying and quantifiable measure. To be subjected to any selection, alternatives have to be compared; to be compared, they have to be comparable; to be comparable, they ought to possess a common dimension, just to be located in the same frame of reference for the sake of comparison. They ought to differ from each other in terms of ‘more’ and ‘less’, in their quantities, not qualities. If it is not so, then criteria of rationality cease to be sufficient tools of decision-making, and no single-dimensional frame of reference is suitable any more to judge the planned as the ‘the best’ or ‘not the best’ without adding ‘from what point of view’. This is the case of all human systems which are concerned not only with producing one or several simple goods but also with satisfying the needs of their component human beings. 4. Social homogeneity Perfect planning implies also that the social system is homogenous in the sense that there are no events which are at the same time beneficial for one part of the system and harmful for another – in other terms, that the system does not consist of parts which have mutually conflicting interests. The ‘interest of the system as a whole’ which is the necessary reference pattern for systemic planning cannot be just a kind of ideological projection of interests of one part of the system; nor can it be reduced to alleviation of conflicts and prevention of their overt manifestations. To play its role as a reference pattern, it has to be something more: it has to be not only ‘interest of the system’, but also ‘common interest of the parts of the system, whatever criteria are applied to distinguish them’ (these two quite different notions are often and misleadingly dealt with interchangeably). Only in this case may the systemic goals retain their priority over any other goals, which is the premise of the perfect planning as it was defined initially. Conflicts of interests bring into the planning process unpredictable and basically unmanageable influences which can seriously disturb the demands of pure systemic rationality. 5. Perfect hierarchic control A further requirement is closely connected with the last one: that there be nothing in between the planning agent and elementary units of behaviour which does not derive its decision-making and executive


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power merely from the delegation by the planning agent. In other words, there ought to be no place for any autonomous sources of power or influence. Of course, in no complex system may all decisions be taken directly by the planning agent itself – on the contrary, several hierarchized levels of systemic integration are necessary; but agents responsible for the intermediary levels must make sure that, when choosing, they select the alternative which fits best of all the demands of the planning agent. Now, if there are conflicting interests within the system, they are always a basis for interest groups; and if there are interest groups, then it is a rule that no decisions taken at the systemic level are able to motivate all parts of the system to react in the desired manner. Stimulating the positive behaviour of some groups, each decision is likely to stimulate resistance of some other. It seems that some form of an interest conflict may be traced whenever the functional requirement now under discussion is not being met. Let us notice also that the presence of conflicting interests within the social system seriously impedes the meeting of the second of our requirements: this concerning availability of all information on the level of the planning agent. In a system divided into conflicting parts, all data are incomplete because relative; seen from positions of conflicting interests, the same social reality is a source of conflicting information. Placed in unco-ordinated frames of reference, facts cease to be ‘neutral’ and thus can, and indeed are, mentally organized into many different and mutually conflicting systems. No one single agent is able, therefore, to collect all information circulating inside the system. We are not sure that the foregoing inventory of functional requirements of the ‘perfect planning’ model is complete. It seems, however, to be long enough to account for the foremost reasons why in no known social system perfect planning has so far been achieved. We will try now to trace contradictions which appear when attempts to meet requirements of perfect planning are undertaken in a social system which does not fully conform to the model. B. INITIAL LIMITATIONS OF SOCIALIST PLANNING The scope of decisions taken on the enterprise level is determined by the scope of power possessed by the planning agents (we have in mind here realistic and potentially effective decisions only). The scope of power is, in turn, determined by the limits of ownership. Management is able to manipulate the volume of resources and raw materials which are actually in its possession or may be acquired

The Limitations of ‘Perfect Planning’


with available funds. Thus, the whole producing and marketing activity is, in the private ownership system, divided into a multitude of parts, each of which is submitted to another planning agency. As each agent submits its planning to the goal of profit maximization, there is always a danger of economic disequilibrium on the societal level. To avoid this danger, some non-economic institutions have to interfere. On the societal level, the notion of ‘economic rationality’, which on the enterprise level has been identified with profit-gain, has to be broadened, and additional criteria, not always reducible to monetary measurement, have to be introduced into the process of planning. The primary function of society has always been, and still remains, the needs-satisfaction of its members. Not all profit is ‘rational’ from this point of view, but only that kind of profit which is operative for harmonious need­-satisfaction. It was the fault of the nineteenth-century free-market ideologies to neglect the autonomy of the societal-level needs-orientated goals and to consider it exhausted and solved by the profit-goal operating at the middle level of an economic system. The manager of a prosperous enterprise has not got to be bothered by where and how his employees will obtain the goods necessary to satisfy their needs – providing he has paid them relevant wages and salaries. The commodity actually manufactured by this particular enterprise has nothing to do with the variety of goods which are needed and wanted by the employees in their consumer capacity. The full coverage of the totality of needs by the totality of varied products is not a problem which the manager of a single enterprise is expected to solve, or even with which he is expected to bother himself. The things turn different when we move to the level of society as a whole. As far as the scope of planning is concerned, planning in socialist countries may be viewed as the simple extension of the scope of enterprise planning: the planning state may be viewed simply as a gigantic factory management. The extension of scope is here a direct consequence of unifying the economic power hereto divided, and accumulating all available resources under single ownership. To extend our analogy, we can compare citizens of a socialist country with the shareholders of a company; their participation in the state-scale enterprise profits may be dealt with in the terms of dividends. The issues involved in their access to control the process of production are not basically distinct from the problems we confront whenever we try to understand relationships between management and rank-and-file shareholders in an average company.


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Besides, in the sphere of the foreign trade, which is still based on the free-market exchange, the gigantic ‘national enterprise’ does act as if it was a single – though formidably big – firm, bothering itself almost exclusively with the opportunities of possibly good profit. 1. Foreign trade We have passed here from enterprise-planning to state-planning, having modified the value of one variable only – namely the scope of planning, which is in its turn the direct function of the scope of ownership. This procedure depicts the socialist type of planning as a quantitative rather than qualitative change in what is rather an old and well-known practice. Let us remark also that this extension of scope has never been complete, and in all known cases is still very far from reaching its theoretical limits. The extension of the international market exchange proceeds at a much higher speed; as a result, no state­-society is able to satisfy the totality of its members’ needs with its own products. So, in its needs-satisfying functions, it is dependent on international exchange of goods, which remains beyond its power to control. That is why the spontaneous and unexpected modifications in terms of trade interfere also inside the inner-state economic system and heavily restrict the effectiveness of planning (perfect planning always requires the availability of all relevant information and the capability of manipulating all variables involved in the planning equation). The planned activity of economic units outside the boundaries of the planning state is the first limitation of effective planning on the societal level – just as the plans of other companies limit the effectiveness of factory-level planning in the ‘free-market’ economy. 2. The household frame of reference This kind of abstract model would not, however, lead us very far unless we introduced additional variables to characterize not only the quantitative but also the qualitative peculiarity of planning at the societal level. The planning state-society differs from the planning enterprise in that it is not only a producing, but also a consuming, unit, and thus is responsible for satisfying the needs of its members and for the reliable redistribution of adequate goods. From this point on, the one-sided analysis of state-planning in terms of company planning becomes completely misleading. The reason is that a planning state is not only a gigantic enterprise, but also a gigantic (extended) family household; in its planning activity, it is concerned not only with rational selection of means relevant to a pre-determined goal, but also – and in the first place – with selection

The Limitations of ‘Perfect Planning’


of hierarchization of goals; the whole diversified totality of variable needs must be met somehow inside its boundaries. The analytical model we look for may thus emerge only as a result of combining tools applied usually to analysis of factory planning, on the one hand, and the concepts used to describe a type of social unit which performs both production and consumption functions (for example, the peasant household), on the other. That means that two frames of reference ought to be employed when the society-level planning is analysed: that of a commercial organization, and that of a family household. The core of all difficulties involved in the process of nationwide planning may be found in the deep contradiction between the requirement of market rationality which governs the behaviour of an enterprise and the consumption demands typical of a family household. A rather long list of analogies between the planning state and the peasant household may be drawn up. In both units, ‘household’ (i.e. an institution serving consumption ends), comprises and subordinates ‘enterprise’ – in this case, an institution which acquires goods through market exchange. ‘Enterprising’ plays a supplementary role to ‘householding’. A part of the total production is consumed inside the unit and there always exists strong pressure to increase the ratio of the total consumed fund which is being made ‘at home’, hence phenomena called ‘anti-import’ production and crude, primitive, but money-free, substitutive production in the peasant family. The volume of product destined to be sold on the market is determined not so much by the current terms of trade (and thus by profit expectancies) as by the market price of the goods which cannot be made at home and hence have to be bought. That is why the market behaviour of both the planning state and the peasant household is at times ‘non-rational’ – it consists in selling less when terms of trade are favourable and selling more when terms of trade become worse. These are just a handful of examples taken at random from a rather large class of analogies. The conclusion we thus came to is very simple indeed. Planning on the societal level (at any rate, in the case when it is based on state ownership) is subordinated primarily to direct needsatisfaction. The role of profit as a goal is limited to the sphere of marketing framed by lacunae in economic self-sufficiency – even in this domain being seriously modified by the priority of consumption goals. Thus, state-planning in a socialist society may be viewed as reintroducing, this time on the macro-social level, the old idea of the totality and all-inclusiveness of the community functions, challenged some dozens of years ago by free-market ideology and practice.


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C. HETEROGENEITY OF INTERESTS IN GOAL FORMULATION The supreme task of the state-planning in a socialist country is the maximization of need-satisfaction of its members. Cultural, ecological, occupational, educational differentiation of needs and their dynamics in a rapidly developing economy preclude, however, the possibility of selecting one single goal serving as a unique and exhaustive measure of appropriateness and equity of plan. That is also a novelty in comparison with enterprise planning where the goal of maximizing profit is taken for granted, and criteria for plan estimating are lucid and indisputable. An inventory of needs is not, however, a sufficient guide for planning. The important feature of all planning in socialist states (vividly different from primitive subsistence economies) is a permanent lack of equilibrium between needs and the means of their satisfaction, and an undiminishing – if not increasing – gap between global demand and global supply. That is why economic decisions indifferent from the point of view of diversified interests of various groups simply do not exist. Practically each decision is beneficial to one group and harmful to another. All decisions are loci of conflicting interests and are subjected to controversial attitudes and pressures. The domain of conflicting interests, and of the struggle of antagonistic social forces articulated on their basis, is the sphere of politics. Hence, economic decision-making in a socialist country is not separated from the political decision-making process, and the goal-formulating process steps far beyond the boundaries of the realm we are accustomed to identifying with the ‘economic proper’ sphere of social functions. Available goods are scarce, and their distribution is always the result of fighting by countervailing forces. That is why the traditional tools of economic analysis appear insufficient if a system of macro-social planning is to be investigated. Political and economic patterns of societal organization and process permeate each other – at the goal-formulating stage, at any rate, they are simply indistinguishable. Hence, the problem of the political check-and-balance system in a socialist country is exclusively important also from the point of view of effective economic planning. Allocation of goods consistent with the actual differentiation of needs may be achieved only on condition that the articulation of interests is unhampered and effective enough to bring the pattern of organized pressures into accord with the current pattern of interests. Only thus can the danger of neglecting

The Limitations of ‘Perfect Planning’


some important interests be avoided without violent and extra­legal corrections. There are, however, some remarkable contradictions in the process of macro-social planning which restrict the free interplay of pressureinterest groups, or effectiveness of planning, or both (even if we eliminate transitional, incidental and extraneous impediments to this interplay). 1. Investment vs consumption We have said above that the maximization of need-satisfaction is the supreme and permanent goal of state-planning. It is obvious, however, that the degree of need-satisfaction is closely related to the level of output, and that modern society knows no other ways to increase the standard of living but to increase the rate of investment-savings, which is the only foundation for future economic growth. It is a well-known fact that, during the initial stage of economic growth, the capital coefficient is particularly high. The rate of saving necessary if the national income is to be augmented by one unit is twice or even thrice as much as in ‘after take-off’ periods. This means, in terms of practice, that the higher and more rapid the expected future rise in the living standard is, the less fully the already accumulated sum of goods can be exploited to implement well-being here and now. The free interplay of pressure-interest groups would, however, result inevitably in lowering the rate of savings, and thus in making the process of economic growth much slower than is ideologically and morally desirable (and, perhaps, possible) in the world living under the constant pressure of the values of industrial society. That is why at least a certain residuum of political restrictions can hardly be avoided if development planning is to be possible at all. Enthusiastic acceptance of industrial values and the high estimation ascribed to economic growth is not tantamount to a disposition for thrift and the renunciation of present opportunities to get richer. We ought not to expect spontaneous and voluntary adherence to puritan ethics in a century known by its lavish supply of refined consumer goods. 2. Collective vs individual consumption The incompatibility of immediate demand for need-satisfaction with the investment savings required by economic growth is not the only lasting contradiction which hampers the free interplay of interests. There is also the problem of so called ‘collective needs’ or ‘needs of the state’. As a leading Polish economist, Professor Bobrowski, put it, ‘there is the problem of choice between collective needs of the state (e.g. defence) on the one hand and the needs of


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economic growth and current consumption on the other. In this realm economic criteria do not exist and cannot exist until the happy times of general disarmament, not only economic accounts but also political decisions are necessary.’1 But still more important is the impact of another contradiction: the one between ‘collective consumption’ and ‘individual consumption’. According to common opinion, it seems in no highly developed country has this problem been solved satisfactorily. Investments in the insurance system, public education, health and other forms of collective consumption lag far behind the already achieved level of general growth. The problem is much more painful in the relatively under-developed socialist countries as heavy investments in collective consumption sufficient to provide for a minimum of social security have to be made before reliable levels of individual consumption are achieved. This contradiction cannot be dealt with by the free interplay of articulated interests. The benefits resulting from collective consumption are much less tangible – although socially more important – than the immediate and ‘my own’ advantages derived from raising an individual consumption fund. 3. Income levelling vs income differentiation As far as individual consumption is concerned, there is also a sharp contradiction between two opposite trends, one leading – in accordance with general socialist goals – to the levelling of incomes and general equality of living conditions, the second to highly differentiated incomes as crucial economic incentives for securing the basic consistency of individual behaviour with the long-term economic policy. If the planned hierarchy of goals is to express itself in the necessary hierarchy of efforts, the structure of wages and salaries ought to correspond with the relative importance ascribed to diverse jobs by the plan, and not with the current political strength of corresponding groupings. The logic of balanced economic growth is one thing, and the logic of balancing political participation with numerical strength and degree of militancy is something quite different. There will always remain a certain amount of solutions which will have to be superimposed for economic reasons even if they are not backed by the current pattern of political forces. 4. Goal formulation vs goal attainment Thus, it is not difficult to explain why some restrictions of free interplay of pressure-­interest groups cannot be avoided if planning endeavours in developing countries are to be effective. But that is only the beginning of our problem. The basic contradiction will be

The Limitations of ‘Perfect Planning’


fully understood only if we confront our conclusion with the crucial requirement of the goal-formulating process: the efficiency of planned growth demands free political struggle to be somewhat restricted; but an adequate check-and-balance system, articulation of interests, and institutionalized channels through which pressure can be effectively exerted are necessary pre-conditions to the proper choice of goals which is the initial and decisive stage of the planning process. We find ourselves in something like a vicious circle – the alternatives of ‘just good’ or ‘just bad’ solutions to this inconsistency simply do not exist. The weakening of the feed-back mechanism is always the price to be paid for the increasing efficiency of planning; but –the other way round – unlimited perfecting of this mechanism results in slackening the growth rate and making ambitious development programmes simply inefficient. Thus, the contradiction between the requirements of goal formulating and the conditions of efficient goal attainment is the source of the second limitation of effectivity of macro-social planning. D. THE PROCESS OF GOAL ATTAINMENT These means-selecting decisions are, however, taken on three levels.2 The highest is the level of macro-economic decisions which require a macro-social frame of reference and ought to take into account the totality of social interests; these are decisions concerning the rate of increase of national income, division of this income into accumulation and consumption funds, the volume of investments and general pattern of their allocation, dividing consumption fund into ‘collective’ and ‘individual’, and distribution of this fund between various classes and strata. On the other pole of the scale, we find decisions taken on the ‘lowest level’ – namely, problems faced and decided by the individual in his productive and consumptive roles and concerning selection of goods to be bought on this market and selection of a job (where to apply and sell one’s labour). In between these two polar levels lies a broad and highly diversified sphere of decisions which (as we do not know any better term) we will call somewhat euphemistically ‘current economic decisions’. This heterogenous sphere embraces such decisions like those concerning the global volume and structure of production, division of labour and co-operation, management and technology, the volume and structure of employment in various branches, etc. This type of decision concerns most directly the middle level of the economic system: the level of enterprise (firm).


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Giving the central planning agencies responsibility for the decisions of the first level and leaving the lowest level to the individuals are in a socialist society beyond discussion, unless one wants to give up the planned character of the socialist economy and/or introduce the semifeudal ‘job ascription’. Responsibility for the middle-level decisions is, however, not so obvious a problem. There is nothing in the nature of the socialist society which restricts the number of possible answers to this rather ambitious question. From the institutional point of view, at least two answers are equally possible: 1. current economic decisions are taken directly by the central planning agency, with the firm’s management left to the role of obedient and rather passive executor; or 2. these decisions are left to the management of enterprises and influenced only indirectly by the central agency by a complex system of stimuli and by determining some basic conditions which must be observed whatever decision is made. Professor Brus calls the first model ‘centralized’ (this kind of solution was prevailing till 1956), and the second one ‘decentralized with extended market operation’. Sociologically, we can, however, divide permissible answers into two differently classified groups. In both cases, the central agency exerts influence on the firm’s management; both cases differ from each other solely by means by which this influence is being exercised. The general model of influencing may be characterized as the following: a. A faces alternative X or Y; b. B wants A to choose X; thus c. B fosters attractiveness of X or/and makes Y unattractive; d. A chooses X and rejects Y. In other words, statement ‘B influences A’s behaviour’ means that B manipulates the situation of A and thus changes the balance between alternative choices. Now, this can be achieved by various means. B can threaten A with negative sanctions in the case of choosing Y; but B can also stimulate A to choose X by associating with this choice access to certain desirable goods. Thus, we have a dichotomy between what might be called ‘manipulation by punishment’ and ‘manipulation by reward’, respectively. We can now allocate all thinkable and practised solutions of our problem on a continuum linking two polar situations: one in which solely manipulation by punishment is applied, and the second in which the desired behaviour is stimulated

The Limitations of ‘Perfect Planning’


by a reward system only. In the process of planning, such rewards appeal first of all to the gain motive. Thus, the incentive system is the most usual tool applied to influence decisions made on the level of the firm. When the incentive system predominates, the goals the enterprise has to achieve are determined by the central agency in the most general terms only. What is, nevertheless, much more important, the compulsory character of this administrative command is hoped to be backed by the willing support of those to whom this command was addressed. This support is in its turn hoped to be secured by the incentive system built in such a manner that the higher the fulfilment of the imposed tasks, the higher the profit of both management and the rest of the staff. The incentive system operates exactly as was expected if the firm tries to do its best to select the most efficient means of performing received tasks. There are adherents in Poland of both polar solutions, although the vast majority of theoreticians and practicians praise the virtues of a ‘middle way’ which would combine the advantages of both poles and be free of their vices. The subject of most fervent discussion is often expressed in this way: how high a rung of the economic system should the laws of the market be allowed to reach to? Or, are the operation of profit motivation, fairly liberal interplay of demand and supply, and the domain of free choice of the Homo oeconomicus type to be limited to the level of the individual producer-consumer or lifted to the level of enterprise or even higher? As we are now analysing the stage of goal attainment and take the general economic goals as given, the relevant criteria to answer these questions ought to be sought somewhere in the degree of approximation with which economic results of a given solution approach the pre-established goal. That means that, from the purely economic point of view, the accepted solutions have to be estimated according to the level of conformity with the planned goals to which they lead. Thus, from this point of view (if we leave aside political, social, cultural concomitants of respective solutions), influencing current economic decisions by an incentive system is ‘good’ only if the decisions thus made profitable for the firm and its staff do in fact lead to the attainment of macro-social planned goals. There is nothing peculiar to planning in this conception. On the contrary, the proper functioning of each social institution depends decidedly on the degree in which individuals are stimulated by their own interest to behave in exactly the way which is necessary from the point of view of the ‘interests of society’, which is functional for societal equilibrium and survival. The family is a good example. The perseverance and stability of family units are necessary conditions of biological survival


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and cultural continuity of human society. But these macro-social needs seldom function as the motivations of individual behaviour of the would-be family members. To stimulate individuals to marry, to procreate and to maintain family ties, there has to be something in the marriage and child-rearing which satisfies certain purely individual needs of human beings. Moreover, in each epoch and culture, this ‘something’, though changing, must be sought by individuals with the same degree of intensity and be available in family life only. If it is not so, there appear immediately statistically significant dysfunctions in the working of the family institution and we are induced to speak of ‘a crisis of the family’. In the case of planning, the only difference lies in that someone wants individual motives and interests of society to conform in a planned and conscious manner. If, for example, the central planning agency raises the salaries of engineers employed in elaborating technological implementations and firm managers shift to these jobs the most skilled and experienced personnel, the working of this particular incentive proves to be ‘good’. Or if – due to the special bonus paid for export production – many firms, by perfecting their products, win new foreign markets, the sought conformity was achieved again. These examples are, however, too simple to reflect the extreme complexity of the problem. 3. The qualitative heterogeneity of human needs This complexity is a direct result of the needs-orientation, rather than ‘profit-orientation’, of the central planning goal. We have already said enough about heterogeneity of needs-satisfaction as the goal of economic planning. Profit, which may function as an adequate guide in management decisions, is by no means relevant as the unifying measure in societal planning. It is doubtful whether any single measure consistent with subsistence goals can be found at all. There is no intrinsic harmony between the diverse elements in the cluster of human needs, and success achieved in the attainment of one chosen goal may very easily become a failure when seen from the angle of other goals. Unavoidable troubles are involved in each attempt to construct intrinsically harmonious and proportionately built incentive systems safeguarding the hierarchy of efforts consistent with the hierarchy of goals. That is why no incentive system free of unexpected, and even harmful, by-products has so far been invented. On the contrary, the history of macro-social planning may be described as an uninterrupted chain of enforced modifications of incentive systems induced by their successively demonstrated or disclosed inconsistencies. Thus, in 1960, the prices of raw materials in Poland were modified; prices of scarce materials were sharply

The Limitations of ‘Perfect Planning’


raised to stimulate their replacement by those more cheap – that is, more easily available. The principle of determination of the wage and salary fund by the value of total output (dependent partly on the prices of raw products) was maintained. The inevitable – although unfortunately not anticipated – result was the increase, and not restriction, of scarce materials consumption. Ascribing the kind of troubles just illustrated to lack of relevant theoretical elaboration and adequate information alone would be misleading. Even if available information were exhaustive and the theory of economic behaviour perfect and unmistakable, there still remains a residual problem which is not likely to be solved by technical means alone. This problem is how to translate demands formulated in the qualitative, descriptive language of diversified needs into the quantitative and abstract language of evaluated profit. The profit yardstick, when applied to an enterprise, measures sources of gain differently from human needs. Moreover, these differences in evaluations cannot be expressed in terms of ‘more’ and ‘less’; if they could, this kind of expression would be nothing more than metaphorical and each attempt to find numerical, additive and multipliable indices to make this expression really quantitative would be sheer misunderstanding. Thus, we come across another permanent contradiction involved in the macro-social planning, and seriously disturbing its effectiveness. This contradiction is found at the stage of plan implementation. Activation by administrative command alone (‘manipulation by punishment’) implies that many advantageous solutions will be overlooked and many opportunities just unexploited and lost. It means also the loss of rich resources of ‘from-below’ initiative. But the manipulation-of-reward system resting upon expectance of rational choice is also deficient, as it is rather doubtful if systems of incentives appealing to the profit motives, but at the same time fully in accord with the pattern of needs, can be constructed at all. Thus, the third major obstacle to the plan implementation is rooted in the basic untranslatability of the needs-oriented and profit goals and the difficulty of expressing the qualitative heterogeneity of human needs in the quantitative parameters of the profit-incentive system. Trying to attenuate undesired consequences of this contradiction, the Polish planning system oscillated in the past twenty years between two extremes. In 1949–55, practically all the economic activity of firms was regulated by administrative command through obligatory indices guarded by administrative sanctions. The total amount of these indices was very great indeed. It is enough to say that, when drawn together, they formed a rather stout volume.3 In 1956, the


History and Politics

amount of indices determined at the level of central planning agency was drastically restricted, to a total of eight: (1) the total volume of output measured in wholesale prices; (2) volume of output of most imported goods measured in material units; (3) the global wage and salary fund; (4) the global gain (or loss); (5) the total sum which has to be transferred to the state budget; (6) the total value of investments subsidized from the budgetary funds; (7) amortization funds; (8) the total financial turnover. Since 1956, however, the amount of indices imposed by command has systemically grown. In 1958, five further indices were added: (9) the value of export production; (10) distribution of wage and salary fund between specific groups of employees; (11) the total amount of staff; (12) ratio of self-expenditure to the value of global output; (13) limits of the development fund. By 1963, the total amount of indices in various branches had reached 23–35. The introduction of each new index was in all cases somehow imposed by discovering certain undesired by-products of the heretofore existing incentive system, in some domain where the given stimuli were thought not to have any influence. Thus, in the present Polish planning system, obligatory indices are to some extent substitutes introduced to replace incentives which failed to push economic decisions in the desired direction and proved to be insufficient tools for submitting economic activity to needs-goals. But, as we mentioned before, although the higher the global amount of indices, the more closely actual economic action approximates the planned model, the opportunity to select the most rational solutions and fully utilize available resources is rather smaller than it was before. That is how the third contradiction expresses itself in the practice of plan execution. 3. The special problem of the present4 The problem of incentive systems and their efficiency becomes particularly important in the case of those means of production which are not owned by the state and hence cannot be submitted to direct supervision of the central planning agencies. That is the case of the Polish peasantry: as long as the private ownership rights of peasants are unconditionally respected by the state, agricultural production may be included in the planned growth process only when influenced indirectly. The problem of peasant household-enterprise cannot, however, be identified with the question of private ownership in general. There is one crucial difference between the traditional European peasant farm and private enterprise of the urban industrial-market type: an

The Limitations of ‘Perfect Planning’


urban enterprise is almost by definition producing for the market only and the total volume of its output is subjected to the ‘estimation by the market’ and thus to the market pressures.5 On the contrary’, a peasant family consumes itself at least part of its products; we may even imagine a model farm which is completely independent from the market and satisfies all needs of the family with no mediation of money, or even barter exchange. The list of items which are absolutely necessary for the life of the peasant family but cannot be produced by the family itself or/and replaced by another good the family is able to produce is very short indeed and, in the countries with no industrial record, practically negligible. In extreme cases the peasant family is something like a closed whole, cut off from the rest of society, economically self-sufficient and excluded from the macro­ social division of labour. If it is so, the peasant farm may be totally indifferent to market pressures and influences, and may not react at all to profit incentives as the category of ‘gain’ is not contained by its ‘needs-oriented rationality’. Unless this kind of self-sufficiency is destroyed, or at least undermined, there would be no possibility to influence the economic behaviour of the peasant. Two factors helped to maintain the self-sufficiency of the peasant farm in pre-war Poland. The first was the small capacity of the market for agricultural goods which resulted in a price relation between grain and industrial goods totally unfavourable for increasing peasant production. The second was the negligible absorptive ability of the labour market. Stagnant, undeveloping industry was responsible for both factors. As there was no industrial development, the labour force of peasants had no market price and could not be sold (during 1918–39 the rural population in Poland increased by 5 million but only 800,000 left the village for the town. The over-population of the village was estimated by pre-war economists as 3–5 million and, according to West European standards of efficiency per capita employed in agriculture, was even more than 8 million). Thus – contrary to the principles of market rationality – the peasant could not estimate his productive activity in terms of ‘efficiency’. This term has no meaning at all when labour-saving is meaningless. And it is meaningless, indeed, when labour has no market price and thus has to be ‘employed’ in the household or lost. Due to the lack of contiguous points between the market and the domain of peasant households, the two types of rationality – market and peasant – were simply untranslatable and mutually uncommunicative. Even the most labour-­consuming way of performing a given productive task, although totally absurd when measured by market yardsticks, was still quite rational from the peasant point of view as certain


History and Politics

needs-satisfactions could be attained by it which could not be achieved by other means. We can conclude that the primary condition to make peasant production responsive to the action of planners, and hence manageable, is to remove both factors which perpetuated the selfsufficiency of the peasant family household. This can be achieved by two measures: providing a broad, capacious market for agricultural goods with a price structure sufficiently advantageous for peasants to stimulate increase of output, and providing a similarly broad market demand for a labour force sufficiently strong to stimulate the replacement of inefficient human labour by modern techniques and a shift to ‘efficiency’ thinking. Both measures have a common denominator – that is, rapid industrialization. Developing industry sucks out the surplus of the labour force; by involving new masses of population in monetary exchange, it creates at the same time an everincreasing demand for agricultural products. Thus, the higher the rate of industrial growth, the higher the responsiveness of the peasant farm to profit opportunities in general and to planned manipulation in particular. There are two links in the economic cycle of the peasant farm where plan-supporting incentives can interfere. The first is situated in between the expenditure of the labour force and the act of consumption. The greater the portion of total products sold and the greater the portion of consumed goods bought, the broader the opportunity to influence peasant economic activity by manipulating this domain. The second link we have in mind occurs before the problem of how to utilize one’s labour is decided. If the increase of agricultural crop per person employed in agriculture is considered a desired goal of planning, then the higher the price a peasant would be able to get in a factory, the easier it would be to influence the peasant’s economic behaviour through this domain. According to what was just said, there exist two basic means to influence agricultural production of independent peasant farms by planners. One consists in manipulating the structure of agricultural prices and the balance between the prices of agricultural and industrial goods. The second consists in manipulating the market price of labour and availability of industrial (or, more generally, urban) jobs. The effectiveness of both means depends, let us repeat, on the general rate of industrial growth. The activation of market influences creates the general conditions for submitting the structure of agricultural production to the planned goals. But this kind of intervention does not suffice if the agricultural output is permanently scarce and the market for practically all kinds

The Limitations of ‘Perfect Planning’


of peasant products is always unsatiated (and this is the situation existing in Poland for years). In this case, the state-planning agency has to apply supplementary and non-market measures – like differentiation of taxation according to the structure of farm production, and subsidizing of certain scarce labour-consuming or capitalconsuming cultures. Stimulating the peasant’s investment-savings presents particular problems. In Poland, this was partly, though not perfectly, solved by the so-called ‘Agriculture Development Fund’ (FRR according to Polish initials). Peasants are obliged to sell part of their crop to the state; the prices paid by the state are somewhat lower than on the free market but this difference is duly transferred to the FRR – from this fund, the peasant’s productive investments are rather lavishly subsidized. Thus, investment-savings were made compulsory and investment expenditures strongly stimulated. This measure, administrative to some extent, is enforced by the market situation; the easy availability of high profits (caused by the permanent outweighing of the supply by effective demand) makes investment efforts unnecessary and, for a rural population unaccustomed to investing, also unattractive. Thus, in the domain where private ownership was maintained, only incentive methods of influencing economic behaviour are applicable, although the market is not the sole medium by which manipulation is performed. Administrative command is here excluded by the very nature of ownership relations. If applied, it can result only in curbing agricultural production and thus act against the planned goals. Applying the incentive method to the whole domain of agriculture is, however, a rather costly undertaking and thus accessible only in case of a state which has at its disposal very ample resources and funds drawn, presumably, from the strong state initiative in the industrial sphere. E. SUMMARY: INHERENT CONTRADICTIONS AS LIMITATIONS So far, in tracing the experience of Polish planning, we have found some important factors which effectively limit both goal-formation and plan-implementation processes and which are caused not by the technical reasons above (e.g., insufficient skill of the people employed in planning) but much more by resistant contradictions between functional requirements of the perfect planning model and important parameters of the social structure. Let us list these factors.


History and Politics

1. Institutional Into this category belong all obstacles resulting from lack of adequate power or lack of means sufficient to influence and stimulate, or both. This category should be sub-divided into two further: Institutional-external. This type of obstacle is felt by all macrosocial planning agencies, with no exceptions. The power of each planning agency is limited – even in the most favourable conditions – to the territory of one country only. It does not extend to foreign markets – the endeavours of the planning agencies meet there independent and often irresistible economic forces not submissive to planning. Even the most technically sophisticated and instrumentally perfect planning inside the borders of one country is supplemented by nothing more than sheer forecast so far as ‘external’ variables of internal economic balance are concerned. It can be assumed generally that the restrictive force of this circumstance is the greater: (a) the bigger is the share of foreign market exchange in completing internal equilibrium between needs and supply; and (b) the less is the international economic weight of a given country, and thus the less the influence of its economic behaviour on the terms of trade on the world market. This speaks against the developing countries – their economic position is the least favourable for effective planning. Institutional-internal. The power of the planning agency is limited also inside the borders of a given society. Not all means of production are subjected to direct regulation and there remain always certain parts of the economy guarded from the planned interference by unencroachable rights of private ownership. If this part is too great, even indirect influence becomes more and more difficult, due to the meagreness of resources available to back costly incentive systems. A sufficiently broad share of the national product and income has to be accumulated by the central planning agency to make its decisions sufficiently persuasive. The technical ability of the planners is not sufficient a guarantee of efficient planning; the force of brain must be supported by the force of money and economic power in general. If not, the planning efforts turn out to be mere forecasts, unable to modify the actual sequence of events. 2. Political To this category belong all kinds of impediments lying outside the sphere of economic life and connected with the political expressions of conflicting interests. If available goods are scarce – and they are scarce indeed in most developing societies – there is no economic decision totally indifferent to all existing interests, impinging no

The Limitations of ‘Perfect Planning’


group rights and disappointing no expectations. It is not the pure and abstract rationality of experts which functions actually as the moving factor in decision-making, estimating and accepting processes. The notion of rationality lies in the sphere of means, not goals, and common agreement on some particular version of rationality may be reached only inside the group sharing the same goal. But goal selection is ruled by group interests – or at any rate by what a group thinks its interests are. That is why the pragmatic utility of a given decision for economic growth does not suffice to make it acceptable for all groups and avoid possible stubbornness in resisting its execution. Economic planning has its extensions in the domain lying outside the sphere supervised by the planning agencies and not apt to be manipulated by economic means. That is another variable unknown from the point of view of economic equations. When economic growth is the sole guide in the decision-­making process, the planners are likely to be lost very soon and to find themselves helpless in front of difficulties, incomprehensible and even indescribable in purely economic terms. 3. Instrumental This is the third category of obstacles, connected primarily with the problems of how to harmonize the individual behaviour motivations with the common goals. As we said before, if a mass effort is to promote the solution of plan tasks, the behaviour consistent with common goals has to satisfy certain important needs and desires of individuals. As we said also, this is a tremendously intricate problem. The goals of planning on the macro­ -social level are notoriously heterogenous. Moreover, their structure has to be easily changeable if planning is to be operative and adaptable to changing circumstances. It is easier to change planned goals than to adjust the structure of individual motivations and to modify behavioural customs fabricated by the former pattern of incentives. Because of this ‘behavioural lag’, planners have to cope with a permanent tension between new tasks and the customary, less elastic and obsolete models of individual behaviour. The behavioural lag factor acts always against the desired running of plan execution even if the technically complicated task of projecting the structure of goals into the structure of the incentive system is accomplished successfully. 4. Technical These are factors manageable, at least theoretically, by perfecting the organization of the planning process – and resulting solely from the insufficient experience and skill of the planning staff. Among them the following seem to be highly important.


History and Politics

a. Problems connected with communication, or – more precisely – with information flow. Here belong problems of data-gathering, organization of statistics, and elimination of the organizational impediments to truthful information. b. The skill and flexibility of planning agents, particularly the ability to forecast probable results of action and to modify promptly previous decisions if results achieved appeared to be inconsistent with expectancies. To this sub-category belongs also the general scientific equipment of the planning agencies drawn from organization theory. c. Possession of a reliable and workable theoretical model of economic action and knowledge of actual correlations between various stages and fields of such action. Let us call this requisite the need for ‘sociological imagination’ by planners. d. The possession of adequate knowledge on the uniformities of individual behaviour, absolutely necessary if one wants to induce concrete reactions by applying reliable stimuli. It is my view that only the fourth category of obstacles can be removed by scientific investigation and increase in expertise. The other three categories have a much more permanent character and there is not much chance to overcome them just by more skilled economic action. Some important obstacles are intrinsic in the macro-social planning, others are connected with supra-economic reasons and will last till the institutional and political framework of the planning is substantially modified. That is why the problems of effective planning cannot be solved within the purely economic sphere and by economic means alone. Let us sum up now what is to be said, in light of the foregoing remarks, on the functional requirements of the perfect planning model. We now see it is an abstraction at the same level as the model of the ‘perfect market’. This does not undermine its heuristic utility nor its practical usefulness for measuring the degree of approximation with which a given society reaches the ideal limit of planning co-ordination. The model allows also a deeper understanding of why so many planned goals are not attained and why no one planning agent has yet achieved a full rationality of macrosocial processes. Nevertheless, to be useful in this way, the perfect planning model has to be treated as an ideal type and not as an empirical generalization. Comparing actual social structures with the perfect planning model, we can more fully answer the question why the actual planning did not rise to the level of expectation. Let us see then what we are able to say about the possibility of meeting

The Limitations of ‘Perfect Planning’


the functional requirements of the ideal model after analysing one example of a planning society. 1. The first requirement – the social system to be self-sufficient and isolated in the sphere of those activities which are subjected to planning – is not met; it is not met in other societies any more than in Poland. It will be met less and less as international trade will grow along with regional specialization of goods production. This has two important consequences, seriously diminishing ‘perfectness’ of planning: a. many unknown and not manipulable variables in each planning equation, b. continuous contradictions between needs-oriented criteria of ‘inside planning’ and the profit-oriented criteria of rationality in ‘outside planning’. 2. As the image of the actual state of society is centred around concrete interests and as these interests in any modern society are still diversified, then the requirement to collect all information about the system is not met also, even as far as information concerning ‘international affairs’ is concerned. That is why free interplay of interest groups becomes necessary to substitute somehow for the lacking channels of information. This, however, contradicts in its turn the necessity to secure singularity of the decision-making centre. 3. As there are within any society conflicting group interests, the planning agent faces inevitably two alternatives: a. to neglect some group interests and to submit decisions solely to criteria of economic rationality; b. to permit free clash of competitive interests, thus submitting decisions to the balance of social forces and not to the balance of available resources or terms in trade. Both solutions are bad, as the first leads to increasing resistance against plan implementation, and the second to actually renouncing the planned social process. Still, there is no third solution apart from manoeuvring between these two extremes. 4. The full comparability of alternative goals and means is not achieved if the planning activity is needs-oriented, and it is needsoriented if it is macro-social. Needs are qualities and thus are inherently incommensurable. This restricts applicability of the efficiency criteria for measuring the degree of rationality of alternative courses of action. 5. Last, but not least, each social system subjected to planning is heterogenous in the sense that mechanisms determining social


History and Politics

action on the higher levels of social organization differ from those which determine social behaviour on the individual producerconsumer level. Both mechanisms demand a different kind of stimuli; the inevitable result is permanent tension between them, and continuous search for the proper balance. These remarks are thought of as a contribution to a fuller understanding of the notorious difficulties in plan implementation – and also, I hope, of the general ways of overcoming them. These difficulties, I think, are located not so much in the planning process itself as in the social structures which do not meet at all, or fully enough, the functional requirements of the ‘perfect planning’ model.

4 The End of Polish Jewry: A Sociological Review (1969)

I  FINAL SOLUTION 1968 In all probability, the year 1968 set the seal on the fate of Polish Jewry, a community of rich cultural traditions going back some 1,000 years.1 Only some 30 years ago, it was, after the USA, the second largest in the world, as well as being second only to Israel in terms of territorial concentration. Irrespective of the future oscillations of the official policy of the present rulers of Poland, irrespective of the tactical turning on or off of the antisemitic campaign, the consequence of the developments in 1968 will undoubtedly be the final cleansing of Poland from the scant remains of the one-time numerous Jewish community. What has been happening so far has given a stunning shock to some 25,000 Polish Jews, most of whom should really be viewed as Poles of Jewish origin. This shock has with one fell swoop turned to nought all their remaining hopes and illusions. The destructive power of that shock stems from two main factors. The first one is centred on the fact that the antisemitic campaign, though inspired from above, has been conducted in the open and directed at the baser instincts of the masses. And this has been happening in a country which became the mass grave of European Jewry, and in a nation which only a quarter of a century ago was an impotent witness of the extermination of 3½ million of its Jewish compatriots. Secondly, the antisemitic campaign, which is almost fascist in its style, has been launched by the leaders of a party emanating from a movement in which the majority of the


History and Politics

Jews remaining in Poland had placed their hopes of a final eradication of all social and ideological reaction, of which antisemitism had been a significant factor. Let us also add that, in view of the existing structure of Polish Jewry, the 1968 antisemitic campaign was directed not against a comparatively isolated, separate community with different customs and autonomous political system, but against people who had devoted their lives to being part and parcel of the Polish community and regarded themselves as Poles even when they were conscious of their Jewish background. For such people the acceptance in their daily conduct of considerations identical with the Polish national and political interest was self-evident and entirely natural. The antisemitic campaign which had been growing in Poland underground for several years, and which swept to the surface in the early spring of 1968, had nothing to do with the activities or the social and economic role of Polish Jews. A clear distinction must be made in this context between conditions in pre- and post-war Poland. Before the war, the Polish petite-bourgeoisie and intelligentsia had to face the problems of economic competition, heightened by the general economic backwardness of the country, and these provided a basis for the spread of the so-called popular antisemitic sentiments. But nothing of the sort existed in post-war Poland. In a socialist Poland where, moreover, there were no numerous Jewish communities, they were neither Jewish industrialists nor Jewish street traders to compete against the rest of the population. What is most important, however, Polish Jewry after the war, and in particular after the mass immigration in the years 1957–8, could neither politically, economically nor culturally be regarded as a cohesive community, conscious of its separate identity and of its distinct group interests. Within Polish society, Jews were active only as individuals, representative not of Polish Jewry but of the separate professional and regional bodies which form part of the Polish nation as a whole. The new wave of antisemitism was therefore neither a natural nor even a perverse reaction to the part played by the Jews themselves in the economic and political life of Poland. The mainsprings of this antisemitic campaign must be looked for away from any specific Jewish problems. They must be searched for in the internal situation in Poland, or more specifically in the social conflicts and contradictions which can in part be blamed on the present leaders and which threaten these leaders with an explosion of incalculable consequences. The 1968 antisemitic campaign, as distinct from all the pre-war antisemitism, is a purely political phenomenon, in which the Jews are playing the part of a scapegoat to attract the whole

The End of Polish Jewry


accumulated aggressiveness and frustration of the embittered and disillusioned mass. It is not for us here to try and fathom the nature of these conflicts and contradictions. Even a concise analysis of these would require a separate article. But one ought to take into consideration one specific social characteristic of the present antisemitic campaign. The antisemitic exhortations of the Polish leadership are directed in the first place, if not exclusively, at one specific class of contemporary Polish society. It is the new middle class consisting of officials of state and local administration, party officials, regular officers of the armed forces, and executives of the academic enterprises. Thus, the final settling of accounts with the remnants of Polish Jewry is to give vent to the frustrations of that new middle class, as well as provide it with a target for its disappointed hopes and ambitions, and a semblance of fulfilment for its problems and anxieties. The authorities have addressed themselves to that class first of all because of the unique part it is playing in the Polish social and political system, where its members are responsible for the daily implementation of government decisions, thus being directly in charge of the everyday lives of the population at large. The key part played by this class is the reason that each group bidding for power in Poland must first of all, if not exclusively, secure for itself its backing. The antisemitic campaign which is now taking place in Poland constitutes to a large extent an attempt at breaking out of the deadlock which over the past few years has arisen in the relations between the party and government leaders and the new middle class. This class, frustrated for a number of reasons, dissatisfied and hostile towards the leadership, is now being offered a scapegoat in the persons of the handful of surviving Jews who symbolize the abstract power of ‘an international Jewish Mafia’. It is hoped in this way to invest the new class with an illusion of participation in momentous decisions, an illusion of its own power, and a belief in its own political mission. The nature of the people the campaign is addressed to, and their social basis, have marked the presentday state-encouraged antisemitism with a unique bureaucratic and administrative stamp. And it is equally responsible for the ominous, fascist-like undercurrent which manifests itself in the hysterical and public displays of this antisemitism by the officialdom which, after all, represents the type of social circles that have always in the past provided recruits for fascist movements. This present-day antisemitism which is inspired from above must therefore be seen for what it is. It is an instrument of internecine political struggle, which has nothing in common with any Jewish


History and Politics

problems. The anti-Jewish struggle is not an end in itself but only a means to an end. And not only those in the forefront of this tragedy but even some of the manipulators behind the scene are not fully aware of this. This, however, does not in any way improve the fate of the persecuted Jews. On the contrary, one could say that it aggravates it still more, since it ensures that the further developments affecting the lives of Polish Jews will be totally unrelated to their own efforts and endeavours. Thus, the basic premises of the campaign are placed far beyond the reach of Jewish influence and activity. And this confers upon the campaign a particularly depressing and almost fatalistic character. Whatever the reasons and the social basis of the present antisemitic campaign, and regardless of the severe damage inflicted on the Polish nation by the government which has unleashed it, there is little doubt that those most hit by it are Polish Jews, a tiny remnant of a community which until recently was the most numerous in Europe. Jewish life in Poland, where it has existed for over a thousand years, has been dealt an irrecoverable blow. I myself have been present at a conversation between two Polish communists, one of them a Jew and the other a Gentile. Both had been purged from the party and both had lost their employment, one because he was Jewish, and the other because he had dared to defend his national honour by protesting against antisemitism. The Jew asked the Gentile: let us assume that the political situation changed radically and you would be appointed to the leadership of the party; would you be able to restore me and others like me to party membership, would you be able to give us back our jobs, and publicly declare that the charges which were levelled against us were false? After a prolonged pause for thought the Gentile, horrified by the truth uncovered through that question, answered sadly that he could not if he wanted to stay in power… The events which have taken place in Poland exceed in their scope the immediate aims of the present campaign. Irreversible forces have been set in motion, and nothing the present regime can do can alter this. This is being realized, mostly belatedly, by those who have unleashed this campaign without regard for its far-reaching consequence. It is being realized by all the decent and enlightened people in Poland. And it is realized by all Polish Jews, even those who are fearful of admitting this fact to themselves. This sociological outline of the situation of Polish Jewry in 1967–8 describes a social phenomenon which is at present undergoing the process of an irretrievable liquidation. It is an attempt at preserving the image of this phenomenon just before its final disappearance.

The End of Polish Jewry


II  SOCIAL COMPOSITION OF THE JEWS IN COMMUNIST POLAND It is well known that on the eve of the Second World War there were over 3,400,000 Jews in Poland. Of these, according to approximate estimates, no more than 250,000 survived the Nazi extermination, either in Poland or the Soviet Union. The social make-up of the survivors was vastly different from that of the pre-war Jewish population. Hitlerite persecution had particularly hit the Jewish population of small towns, and the poverty-stricken Jews who, because of their lack of lay education, had little knowledge of Polish culture, and were thus unable to conceal themselves by passing off as Poles. In consequence a very high proportion of the survivors consisted of Jewish intelligentsia and people coming from the big towns – that is, people most assimilated culturally, and well-to-do enough to have been able to pay for illegal documents and hiding places, and at times to pay the ransom demanded by blackmailers. Thus, from the point of view of their professional qualifications, their average education, and degree of assimilation within Polish culture, the Jews who survived the war rated considerably higher than Poland’s pre-war population, which had mainly been centred in the small towns and villages in the eastern part of the country, consisting in over 80 per cent of small traders and artisans. This difference became more marked still as the result of the post-war mass emigration, predominantly but not exclusively to Israel. Following the decline – in part non-voluntary – of that wave of emigration, the Jews who stayed in Poland were in their majority culturally and even nationally attached to the country. Most of them were people who were, in their politics and ideological stance, associated with the Polish left, and who wished actively to participate in the building of socialism on the banks of the Vistula. The reader is well advised to treat with utmost caution all the quantitative conclusions and estimates which have so far been, or are yet to be, quoted in this article. This is not only because precise statistics dealing with this problem are either non-existent or else are kept secret by the Polish authorities. The more important reason is the fact that the application of a precise statistical apparatus in relation to the tiny factions of the Jewish community which remained in Poland after 1950 has been practically impossible. The phenomenon has been too subtle for any clear-cut definition. First of all, how can one distinguish someone who is still a Jew from somebody who is no longer one, bearing in mind that both of them have grown up in a Polish culture, both are non-believers, with either outright


History and Politics

internationalistic views or pure and simple Polish patriots, though aware at the same time of their Jewish origins. And in this context there are many different gradations merging imperceptibly into one another. Secondly, the very concept of a Jew has undergone a series of mutations in accordance with the post-war political fluctuations. This has affected the total number of people described as Jews, as well as those who regard themselves as such. During the past year, the Polish authorities have introduced racialist criteria in their definition of Jews, which to all intents and purposes recall the Nuremberg laws. Thus, in practice, not only offsprings [sic] of mixed marriages are considered Jews, but even people whose Jewish ancestry is a quarter or less. This will most probably increase beyond all expectation the number of people placed in the category of Jews, and as a consequence also those who are likely to identify themselves as such. The percentages of the social make-up of Polish Jewry, just as the precise figures of its total numbers, are extremely inexact, not because of the shortcomings of the statisticians but as the result of the fluidity and lack of sharp definition of the problem itself. Applying, for the above reasons, a qualitative rather than quantitative approach, we can assume that, apart from several small towns in Lower Silesia where the Jewish inhabitants, originating in the main from the pre-war eastern border regions of Poland, mostly followed the so-called traditional Jewish pursuits – that is, artisanship and small trade, though not at present as proprietors but as members of cooperatives or employees in state enterprises – the majority of Polish Jews lived in the big cities earning their livelihood in intellectual professions. Among them, a great majority were people of twin tendencies, associated from before the war either with the Polish Communist Partv or the Polish Socialist Party or other circles of the left-wing intelligentsia. Many of them were appointed to highranking positions in the state administration, in the armed forces, in the economy, in the party apparatus, and in the cultural institutions. There were also a considerable number of persons of Jewish origin in the so-called liberal professions, i.e. doctors, journalists, as well as scientists and academics. The slow but systematic process of purging the central authorities of personnel of Jewish origin and its replacement with Gentiles started as far back as the beginning of the fifties, in other words still under the Stalinist period. This process gathered momentum after the upheaval of October 1956, mainly in the party apparatus, the armed forces and the security services. The released employees in part were transferred to other less important departments in the administration and in part were deprived of employment. Since in many cases these

The End of Polish Jewry


people lacked a clearly defined profession, this meant that they remained without any means of livelihood. Only people retired from the armed forces could claim pension rights irrespective of their age, though even those pension rights were introduced at a later stage. Such people were taken care of by, among others, Jewish organiz­ ations in Poland. With the financial and material help of Joint,2 several artisan cooperatives were formed in Warsaw and a number of provincial cities, at which the former state employees could find work after a period of comparatively brief vocational training. But neither this process nor the comparatively numerous emigration of Polish Jews in 1957–8, mainly to Israel, did in any radical way alter the professional and social structure of Polish Jewry. There was still a predominance of people employed in intellectual pursuits. Although the inhabitants of small towns and people employed in trades and commerce did leave the country in large numbers in 1957–8, their places were taken in part by Jews repatriated from the USSR. But on the other hand, there were significant changes in the demographic make-up of Polish Jewry. The natural process of ageing was responsible for the fact that practically all the Jewish survivors of the war passed the 40, and in many cases the 50, mark in the 1960s. In contrast to the normal societies, which had not experienced the crematoria, and in which the successive generations overlap so that people of all ages coexist side by side, Polish Jewry suffered from an enormous gap between the pre- and post-war generations. The normal process of reproduction was totally arrested during the war, and, moreover, the proportion of victims among the children was even higher than among the grown-ups. Only after the war were the many broken marriages able to re-unite, and the survivors of exterminated families able to start new ones. There was also the additional fact that it was after the war that the comparatively numerous communist married couples among Polish Jews decided to have children, which in the uncertain conditions before the war they had refrained from having. Thus, the age-gap between parents and children was much wider in an average Jewish family than was the case among non-Jews. In the 1960s, the second post-war Jewish generation began to grow out of their teens, to leave the secondary schools and enter the institutes of higher education, as well as to seek employment. Thus, in addition to the problem of the employment of members of the older generation, there was the new, complex question of finding a place in the social and professional structure of Polish society for the comparatively numerous, well-educated and vigorous second generation.


History and Politics

III  WHO WILL LEAVE AND WHO WILL STAY? This, then, was roughly the social and demographic character of Polish Jewry at the time when the Polish authorities unleashed their new anti-Zionist, but in fact anti-Jewish, policy. The objective of this policy – irrespective of its more long-term and concealed aims, which had little to do with the problem of Polish Jewry – has been finally to oust Jews from all the posts connected with administration and education. The diligent application of this policy, both from above as well as from below, in a very short time pushed the Jewish community outside the social and professional structure of Polish society, altering its social framework. The new situation brought about by that policy has meant that a totally new classification has to be applied to any analysis of the social problems of Polish Jewry. Speaking generally, this new situation has become the most significant determining factor affecting the position of Polish Jews. In the present unusual situation, which has hardly ever been subject to a sociological analysis, the social status of Jews in Poland is mainly determined by their attitude towards and possibility of emigration. These factors also decide the criteria for the classification of Polish Jewry. Other characteristics, which normally decide the main criteria of sociological classification, such as age, educational qualifications, profession or income, are in the case of Polish Jews of importance only to the degree that they affect the main issue – that is, the problem of actual or potential emigration. Basing ourselves on this assumption, we shall try in what follows to define, albeit cursorily, the most important categories which now – or at any rate in the summer of 1968 – have become apparent within Polish Jewry. 1. To start with, there is the group of old communists associated since its youth with the Polish workers and revolutionary movement, in certain cases for two or three generations running. The numerical proportion of that group within Polish Jewry has been increasing because it, more than any other, has resisted all previous waves of emigration. The degree of the Jewish consciousness of members of this group varies enormously. At its one extremity are members of the intelligentsia, who up to now have never had to consider their Jewish origins, and certainly not any sense of national separateness. And at the other, there are the communists from the pre-war small towns, mainly inhabited by Jews, who till this day speak Polish badly and who belong in the main to Yiddish culture.

The End of Polish Jewry


This entire group, quite irrespective of its internal distinctions, has been most painfully hit by the antisemitic upswing in Poland. This has been in part because members of that group have become the targets for the most venomous and unscrupulous campaign. The anti-Zionist drive has been, among other things, an excuse for getting rid of the remnants of old communists who have become an embarrassment during the new stage of implementation of social and political conceptions which differ by far from the original premises of communist ideology. However, an even more bitter aspect has been the fact that the antisemitic campaign has been launched by the movement for the furtherance of which they have sacrificed their lives, accepting willingly the most far-reaching personal sacrifices. And now, in the latter part of their lives, if not at their end, they have suddenly had to realize the bankruptcy of something which for years has been the pivotal point of their lives. Their lives had sense only in so far as they had been within and for the party. And now the same party has expelled them from its ranks, at the same time ousting them from membership of the nation, and depriving them of the right to the land in which they had grown up. These people are, on the whole, too old today to undertake the effort of building a new life. Many of them, though, are people hardened by a difficult life who refuse to give in and wish to remain true to themselves. They wish to retain for themselves the right to determine their sense of belonging, and refuse to cede it to others. They would, therefore, be willing to remain in Poland even if they were younger and thus more able to make a new start. Ideological and moral considerations play a much more important role among the factors deciding the conduct of the members of this group than do other considerations of a more material nature. They are determined above all to retain their pride. 2. Among members of the older generation, there are also people whose qualifications are solely clerical and administrative but who were not, so to speak, professional communists. The organizers of the latest anti-Jewish purge treated those people slightly more mercifully than the previous group. In many cases people who belong to this group, most of them regular personnel of the armed forces, are recipients of pensions which guarantee minimal living standards, even though they may find it difficult to find employers willing to offer them work. Members of this group are in no doubt as to the reality that there is no place for Jews in Poland, and at the same time there are no considerations of principle which would necessarily induce them to remain in Poland in spite of the existing


History and Politics

situation. Nevertheless, not all members of this group will avail themselves of the chance to emigrate. Those who have no wealthy relations abroad who could assist them in finding a new life fear that emigration might mean an exchange of a comparatively safe, though morally intolerable, existence for the incalculable uncertainty of having to start afresh without the necessary qualifications. 3. The third group consists in part of members of the older generation and in part of the comparatively few members of the medium generation, both associated with the Polish intellectual circles, i.e. scientists and writers and journalists. In their different ways, all these people belong to Polish culture. Their contributions, as in the case of Ashkenazy, Handelsman, Perl or Hirszfeld, have enriched Polish culture. The possibility of breaking their links with that culture, and separation from the creative milieus of which they are conscious of forming a part, to provide them with conditions for their own creativity seems to them impossibly difficult and against their nature. Some time will have to pass before they can reappraise their attitude towards the new situation in which everything they had taken pride in, and devoted their work to, is now decried as harmful and subversive towards the nation which they wished to serve. 4. The next group – are all the remaining members of the mature generations who are independent professionally and economically. This is composed of many different components, among them people living in big towns as well as small towns. The unifying characteristic is the possession of a clearly defined profession, either intellectual or manual, but one which is exportable. These are the people who in their masses are trying to obtain exit permits and who will most probably leave Poland altogether within a comparatively short time. Their departure will of course alter the sociological make-up of the remaining part of Polish Jewry, making it practically uniform. The main obstacle to the emigration of members of this group is lack of money. Although exit permits can be obtained easily, emigration is still costly and, moreover, connected with rising costs. When, for instance, even one child has completed its higher education, the parents must return the cost of education to the government, and this could well raise the expenditure on emigration to two or three times the average annual income. 5. Finally the last group, the young people. Part of Jewish youth in Poland has for some years been associated, though only in a theoretical and tenuous way, with Jewish problems. This has mainly been done through summer schools, camps and youth

The End of Polish Jewry


clubs organized by the Social and Cultural Association of Jews in Poland.3 Others were very far from any sense of identification with Jewry or Judaism, being completely absorbed in the daily life and problems of their non-Jewish contemporaries. Some of these were astonished to discover, only after having been questioned by security organs following the events of last March, that they are no longer described as students of the different faculties, but as Jews. These young people have been painfully affected by their experiences during the last year. They have experienced a real crisis and turning point, which are felt particularly sharply at that time of life. Many of them have not given up their sense of a right to take part in issues affecting Polish society and to represent their non-Jewish colleagues. They realize, however, that their participation in Youth movements may harm rather than benefit both their colleagues as well as the ideals they are espousing. This is because their participation offers the authorities an opportunity to sidestep the discussion of real issues by the use of the Zionist bogey, reducing the presentation of social demands based on purely Polish considerations and Polish problems to the level of foreign-inspired subversion. Irrespective of its past attitude to Jewish problems, the entire Jewish youth in Poland constitutes a most valuable group from the point of view of real social values. First of all, its members are well educated. Most of them have definite professional interests, in the main concerned with up-to-date professions of considerable social significance. It is moreover a youth which is ideologically aware, and far from the selfish pursuit of purely private ambitions. Its sense of social consciousness invests its endeavours with a readiness for personal sacrifices for the general good. It is well endowed with moral courage – and not only moral courage, consistency as well as firm moral principles. At present, through no fault of its own, Polish Jewish youth is searching for new ideals. Owing to the circumstances which accompanied its process of growing up and in view of the education it has received, it cannot conceive life without a sense of social service. It is standing at a crossroads, but a crossroads where there is no signpost pointing to the way back. *** This is a brief and simplified description of the social and psychosocial situation of Polish Jewry in 1968. Some will soon leave the country, bearing in their hearts attachment to Polish culture, Polish landscape, and a sense of resentment against the rulers of Poland


History and Politics

for denying the Jews – as Jews – the right to be recognized as fully fledged citizens of their country. Others might go on living out their lives in Poland, embittered, suspicious and suspect, within their ghettoes, this time free of walls and barbed wire, but full of similarly tired people. And this marks the end of the thousand years of the history of Polish Jewry.

5 At the Crossroads in a World at the Crossroads(c.1970) Translated by Katarzyna Bartoszyńska

When I returned to the country,1 a smart woman I’m close to said to me, joyfully, ‘Now your children will grow up without complexes.’ Implied in this statement was: the oppression of nation is the only cause of complexes. Here, at home, we are not oppressed by our nation, so we do not have complexes. And we have no reason to have them. But too fresh in my memory were other, equally optimistic, and similarly naïve, convictions – private property is the only source of all oppression, abolishing it is enough to eliminate all human tragedies – to not put up a strong protest. I explained: national oppression is only one of the vestments of social oppression – admittedly one of the most awful and dangerous, but not the only one; if we liberate the world from it, there emerges from under it not a paradise, but subsequent raiments of that social oppression. For this reason, we must tear it from the world in order to get to those costumes of evil, more deeply hidden and not any less dangerous. No longer hampered by the ties of national bondage, we can more effectively fight the source of evil. This is the great mission of national liberation – if it is also to be the liberation of the human. And if the freedom of the nation is to be grounded on stable foundations. Whether we wish to be or not, we are all an integral part of the world in which we live. We did not choose it – it is the way it is, and turning away from it in disgust, resigning from the fight to make it better, we simply allow it to take control of our fates. Along the way, we resign from any influence over our own fate. Because our fate, in the final accounting, always depended, depends and will depend on


History and Politics

the fate of the world. So the conflicts of this world should also be the subject of our concern. If today the world is at a crossroads, then so too are we standing at the crossroads alongside it. Which of the possible roads the world takes is not a matter of indifference to our fates. In the crucible of social struggles, revolutions and major efforts at reform, the shape of our future is also forged: the future of humanity. Like it was 100 years ago, the world today is divided into the rich and the poor, the satiated and the hungry. Like it was 100 years ago – except that, since then, the differences have become even more bloody and painful, because the rich have become richer and the poor have become poorer, the satiated satisfy their appetites with ever more inventive delights, the technology of mass communication makes possible a daily confrontation of both worlds, and the divisions between the satiated and the hungry are the borders of states and nations, spiked with barbed wire. For 100 years, humanity did everything to make this crevasse a source of hatred and aggression, but nothing to cover it over – because, in the world in which, in 1966, the average income per person in the USA, Canada, Sweden or Switzerland surpassed $2,000, in Pakistan or India it has not yet reached $100; 85 per cent of global investments still happen in countries inhabited by the wealthiest 27 per cent of the world’s population. Today, there are, even more than 100 years ago, sharp and painful divisions of people into the subjects and objects of action: into those who think, and those who carry out; into those who decide, and those whose fates are shaped by those decisions. Never before in history has power been so all-encompassing – never could entire nations be destroyed by the touch of a button; and never, as well, was it so inaccessible to the ‘normal person’, so impenetrable to influence. And never did people feel this so keenly as now, when they have the knowledge of the mechanisms of history’s creation and believe that they are – rightfully – the source of all knowledge. Today, even more than 100 years ago, a chasm has opened up between the sphere of producing and the sphere of creating. In our world, we refer to the time in which we are not working as ‘free’. ‘This is mine’, we say, not of the things that we have made and which have contributed to the wealth of the nation or humanity, but of that which we have torn from social circulation and that we cut off other people’s access from. We feel free when we close ourselves off from the world, when we hide from it in the oasis of private life. Would we silently agree with the claim that what is outside of this private space is the world of bondage?

At the Crossroads in a World at the Crossroads


Much more so than 100 years ago, human life is based on external, impersonal, regulation, lacking a face or address. People ever more frequently serve as a function, and ever more rarely as a person, and it is no accident that American psychologists happened upon the idea that we can become aware of the rules governing human behavior by examining the scurrying of rats through mazes and the reactions of rats to stimuli. What those 100 years explain is that, with the development of modern civilization, all-powerful technology and gigantic, de-personalized organizations, the age-old problem of the ‘savage’ and the ‘civilized person’ takes on the ominous form of a choice between the ‘savage’ and the robot, the human-machine … Today, more painfully than 100 years ago, people are disturbed by the feeling of a terrifying contrast between the gigantic sum of knowledge, acquired or possible to acquire, and the experience of their own powerlessness in the face of the elemental and blind fate of human life. The more secrets we steal from nature, the deeper it seems that we fall into the traps of society. Our collective wisdom unveils for us our individual and collective nothingness. One must know, in order to do. But today, as never before, it has emerged that it is not enough to know, in order to be able to … For the first time in human history, humanity has found itself in a situation where unprecedented instrumental possibilities co-exist with widespread helplessness as to the choice of goals to which those instruments could usefully serve. Thanks to modern technology and academic knowledge, everything that we do, we can do with remarkable precision and excellence. But we have simultaneously lost the facility for deciding what should be done – and, what is more, for the first time, we have begun to doubt whether such decisions could even be based on any form of objective, certain and irrefutable ideas. We have begun, put off by various disappointments, to mock efforts to reflect on the goal and purpose of our existence. Throughout history, people have always, unknowingly, created the purpose of the world. When they say today that ‘the world’ ‘has no purpose’ – they are making a statement about their helplessness and declaring surrender. For the first time in its history, humanity has collected in its hands all of the theoretical and practical resources for solving all of its social problems. And for the first time there has emerged their terrifying inability to use those resources to eliminate any of their ailments. Together with the growth of creative potential, there is a growing number of ‘new paupers’, and entire nations of the materially or ‘morally’ impoverished. Together with the successes of modern medicine, there is a rise in spaces that are overpopulated and


History and Politics

infected with the cancer of hunger. Together with the development of mass, serial production, the gaps widen between the pleasures of the few and the suffering of the masses. Together with the creation of modern technologies of education and the distribution of knowledge is the growth in reserves of racial, national and regional hatred. Together with the emergence of a global, human culture is the rise of ethnic groups rushing to barricade themselves into tight enclaves of geographic nationalisms. From the technological–scientific bottle, we have released the evil djinn of social crisis, which cannot be contained by any measure we know of. The crisis has different names, new and not new, but the crisis is always the same: divided into owners and hired hands, those who use and those who are used, people – torn by conflict, entangled in the conflict with their own selves – do not govern the world that they created with their own efforts and, later, they vacillate between their private interests and social ones, creating an artificial opposition between the two. Deprived by force of any influence on history, they – discouraged – disavow any responsibility for the course it takes. In the same stroke, they increase its power over them, transforming themselves into captive playthings of fate. At the height of its power, humanity has found itself on the verge of self-annihilation. On the threshold of an epoch of plenitude, new forms of social oppression have reached heights never before seen. Whether our century will enter history as the age of liberation or the age of bondage depends solely on human decisions and human actions. The dilemma is indivisible, like humanity itself. It is faced by rich nations and poor ones, countries called capitalist and countries calling themselves communist. There is one ideology that postulates the solution of the conflicts of the contemporary world. It is socialist ideology. Humanity is grappling with problems discovered and formulated by Marx 120 years ago. Everything that was the inspiration and justification of the socialist movement is alive and relevant today. It is alive and relevant as never before – since the birth of the socialist movement. Never before has it been as clear as it is today that the world is faced with a choice: destroy the source of particular, egotistical interests and, with them, the source of conflicts, oppression and war – or be crushed by its own power, manipulated by hatred. Achieve the goals of socialism – or die. Tertium non datur. And there is one obstacle, hampering the resolution of the conflicts of the contemporary world. It is egotistical private interest, supported by gain and exploitation, wearing the mask of class, national, state or neocolonial oppression, expressing itself in racial, state or regional

At the Crossroads in a World at the Crossroads


hatred. It is as alive, awful and absolute as it was 120 years ago. Except that today it is armed with a television camera, surveillance devices and the nuclear bomb. The particular tragedy of our Jewish fates, the weight of the national fate on problems of class and other social problems often makes it more difficult to see this general human truth. The more painful that issues of state and nation become on a daily basis, the less we understand the point of class struggles and the all-encompassing meaning of the postulate of human freedom. We do not ponder who is actually interested in the ‘economic integration’ of occupied territories, and whose pockets it will line, and whose it will empty. We do not worry ourselves in the face of the next generation, growing up in the shadow of military occupation. In workers’ strikes, we see only the problem of national defence. Rarely, and only out of the corner of our eye, do we even trouble ourselves with what it’s all about, when we hear about the student barricades and workers’ struggles around the world. In bulletins from the Congress of Italian Communists, we look for news about where the flag of Syria was hung, and where the flag of Israel – but we are incapable of saying anything about the direction that gained influence during this Congress. But it is there, after all – and in many other places as well – that our fate, too, is being decided. Uninterested and alienated, we take the risk that we will not be present for these deliberations. The triumph of Israel is where we find the triumph of human freedom. We must not allow for the two sides of this equation to be separated. The problem of the world is our problem. In this part of the world, even more than in any other, we can exist only as the symbol and the model of progress, as an example of the resolution of the problems of humanity’s ills. That is the fate that has fallen to us. It is a difficult fate, cut to the measure of great ambitions, flights of imagination and strength of spirit. Would that they be present in our nation now, as they have always been in history. Despite all forms of social oppression throughout the world today, against all forms of capitalist reaction and degenerate offshoots of communism – the future world will be socialist. Or it will not be at all.

6 Between State and Society(1973)

In what perhaps is the best existing example of the Weberian idealtype method in action, Reinhard Bendix spelled out the few crucial processes which provide the referent for the concept of ‘modernization’.1 Two occurrences, so Bendix suggests, contributed more than anything else to the final shape which the modern society assumed: the first was the rising pre-eminence of ‘impersonalism’ as the principle regulating the way in which individuals are pinioned to the total network of social relations; the second was the advent of ‘plebiscitarianism’, as – simultaneously – the authority’s working rule and the keynote of its legitimation.2 The idea is not entirely new. It has been in fact brandished in social science since, at least, Sir Henry Maine and Ferdinand Tönnies. It took many shapes, sometimes wide of the original mark, as in the case of the two Durkheimian solidarities. But it has been continuously present in our thinking of modernity and the intellectual paradigm of our society. Still the merits of Bendix’s contribution remain unique. Not only has the old and somewhat rusty and discoloured idea been polished and brightened, it has been thoroughly checked against our new understanding of human behaviour and the principles of social order, and assimilated into the mode of discourse fed on the latest achievements of information and systems theory. Two tenets in Bendix’s treatment of the advent and the distinctive features of modernity seem to deserve our particular attention. The first is the genuinely sociological dimension of the overall change singled out by Bendix to replace the habitual focus on technology and economically interpreted efficiency: the growing security of human

Between State and Society


life, progressive ‘taming’ of the human environment. The degree of certainty built into the man-made world grows up together with the plebiscitarian check-and-balance system imposed on the erratic will and whim of the ruler, as well as with the rational considerations sweeping away the vagaries of emotions within the impersonal network of roles. The outcomes of human action become more predictable, and the amount of information necessary to plan and execute an effective action reduced relative to its scope and to the volume of the variables entailed. The second is the uncommon grasp of the intimate affinity between the two stubbornly incompatible levels of sociological analysis, which Bendix, following Weber, describes as those of – respectively – authority and social action. The two basic processes of modernity are not only parallel and synchronized – they are reciprocally conditioned, determining each other and determined by each other. Bendix’s model of the nationally integrated modern society of citizens is logically consistent, operated on all levels of integration by the same set of congruent rules; the models as distant from each other as social action and societal authority can be effectively construed and accounted for with the same set of basic rules. ‘Impersonalism’ comes to replace the paternalistic relationship between patron and client. To use the Parsonian language, the latter may be described as subject to the patterns of universalism and specificity, in contradistinction to the particularism and diffuseness of the former. The non-modern patterns of human relations are thoroughly particularized and widely different from one pair of individuals to another; they are likewise diffuse, tending to embrace the totality of life-processes of the individuals involved. Both attributes disappear with the advent of modernity, to be replaced by their opposites. Modernity begins, Bendix says, with the codification of rights and duties of a ‘citizen’ – an individual qua individual, an individual ‘as such’, whose generality is limited only by his membership in a societally integrated group. The individual in the modern meaning of the term is indeed charged with an irreducible paradox: his ‘individuality’ has been achieved at the expense of all his idiosyncratic, purely personal predicates. He remains individual insofar as he is not individualistic. His individuality is anonymous, generalized in the extreme, pared to the bones of the pure universality, swept clean of anything idiomatic, peculiar and distinctive. It is an individuality of the Average, a statistical rather than psychological entity. The individual is describable in quantitative terms alone; he is ‘it’ rather than ‘he’, utterly interchangeable, with no personal faculty obtruding enough to thwart his complete mapping into any other ‘individual’. .


History and Politics

This is not to say that the human beings in the Modern Age are like this; but it does mean that they are admitted into modernity in this capacity only. Modernity assimilates them and defines them within the limits of the statistical reading of individuality. Within these limits only they are riveted into the network of the modernized society. The principle of impersonalism not only moulds the social essence of an individual – it assures a congenial, consonant design of his life space. The realm enveloping the social existence of the individual consists of likewise averaged, impersonal, faceless – and so quantifiable – individuals. It can be handled effectively in purely numerical terms: it is entirely quantifiable, and so manageable by the rules of the economics of rationality. Again, it does not mean that human existence in the modernized milieu boils down to a series of rational calculations and choices: but it does mean that only this series is socially relevant, socially patterned, socially guarded and regulated. The rest, quite considerable in size, is left in what, from the societal perspective, is doomed to remain the penumbra of ‘the private’. The harmonious, congruent organization of the societal certainty and predictability has been accomplished thanks to the strict and implacable application of the specificity rule. Wide areas of human life must have been proclaimed ‘off limit’ to pave the way of the rationality of impersonalism into its socialized sector. The gist of plebiscitarianism consists in the inclusion of the masses in the political process. This implies, of course, a far-reaching change of the accepted legitimation of authority. Quantity is substituted for quality, numerical power for wisdom, interests for inalienable rights, accomplishments for properties. The substitution, to be sure, is perceived only too often as an improvement on the inductive definitions of immutable values, rather than as one value taking the place of another; thus, quantity is considered the best measure of quality; number of supporters, the index of the wisdom of decision; pursuit of interest, the least alienable of the human rights. In realistic terms, however, the change is tremendous and radical. The paramount novelty is the very notion of the masses. The passage from the patrimonial ruler to the rule of the masses is not to be underrated as a mere widening of the ruling group, as a substitution of the many for the few. The masses are not the rulers multiplied but preserving their former social identity as persons. Not before they have undergone the process of impersonalization can the subjects of the patrimonial ruler re-emerge as the masses looming large in the modern formula of authority. ‘The masses’, as assimilated into the modern idiom of government, are not a collection of specific, qualitatively distinct persons. They are describable and intelligible only in quantitative

Between State and Society


terms. So are the other concepts on which the modernized authority has been pivoted. Public opinion boils down, for all practical purposes, to computation of statistical distributions, while democracy is measured by the crudely arithmetical yardstick of majority. As Bendix has admirably shown, the two great historical movements which guided modern societies into this quantitative interpretation of rightful authority – nationalism and socialism – ruminated on the same biotope while attempting the same ‘historical task’; hence, understandably, the vehemence with which they compete, and astonishing contiguities they amply demonstrate – the increasingly populistic colouring of nationalisms and nationalistic overtones of socialisms. And so we have arrived to the focal idea of Bendix’s study: the striking harmony uniting the analytically distinct processes developing on the two opposite levels of societal integration. What has happened to setting of individual social action and to the societal authority was guided by a single set of rules and led to a society not only horizontally, but vertically, well integrated. The two planes of integration are commensurable and congruent. One well-nigh follows from the other; one is a logically consistent, if not necessary, complement of the other. Whatever may be said of the notorious flaws of the horizontal integration (class and group conflicts of interests) and the downright failure to accommodate the immense areas of ‘the private’ (styled recently as ‘the authentic’ experience as opposed to the spurious, sham social existence) – the civilization which emerged historically as the modern society of the West is indeed seamlessly knit together along its vertical stitches. As for the realm of ‘the social’, it reaches and extends the solitary and indivisible rule of quantity and quantity-based exchangeability. That is precisely why the Western modern society does indeed ‘work’ – all its periodical fits of fever notwithstanding, Due to the consistency of its operating principles, it is a workable, viable entity, equilibrated enough to offer a reasonably stable setting for a meaningful human action, and ‘open’ enough to provide room for alterations and adjustment. It is an accomplished, complete social type with its own well distinguishable identity, like its predecessor – the feudal community of medieval Europe. Above is the statement of fact rather than value, unless one selects viability and integration as the ultimate criteria of social perfection. Now, when attempting the extension of his ideal types to assimilate the historical experience of non-Western societies, Bendix accounts for the evident differences between Russia and the West by pointing to the alleged discrepancy between plebiscitarianism pushed to its extreme and impersonalism lagging far behind.


History and Politics

Pursuant to the widespread notion of the body politic of a Soviet-type society as predicated above all on the totalitarian nature of its state organization, Bendix singles out the principle of plebiscitarianism as the guiding force of the ‘socialist authority’. The idea of the necessary link between one-partiness and the state blending with the economy in a strenuous and unremitting effort to transform, politically, the social and economic texture of the society – once elaborated upon by Raymond Aron3 – lends Bendix’s analytical choice a touch of inevitability, and the ensuing ideal type – the rationalitybased consistency Weber postulated. And so, the tendency towards annihilation of les pouvoirs intermédiaires is taken for an integral component of the model and juxtaposed with Le Chapelier’s law4 as an indicator of consistent and uncompromising modernity. The Western state, it is argued, has had to come to terms with the reality of functional and corporative interests, and the initially unrelenting postulate of the unmediated relationship between the individual and the state has been gradually compromised with the effect, one would say, of the Western (capitalist) body politic lagging in its bid for modernity behind its more consistent – and, perhaps, advanced – Eastern (socialist) counterpart. It is true that, alternatively, the suppression of les pouvoirs intermédiaires may be riveted into the model of state characterized above all by its ‘totalitarian’ nature; even so, however, this aspect of totalitarianism becomes an irremovable part of the socialist strife for political modernity. The two versions of the modern society are therefore describable in similar analytical terms on the level of authority. The phenomenal differences between the two systems are instead accountable for by the distinct principles operative on the anthropological (action) level. The degree of impersonalism required by the condition of modernity has been achieved in the West due to the protracted cultural processes described by Weber in his Protestant Ethic. Nothing exactly like these processes took place in the East, neither before nor after the socialist upheaval. Hence, the masses were untrained culturally and unprepared psychologically to face the challenge of work subordinated entirely to the requirements of efficiency, value-free rationality and the competition inextricably associated with them. Hence, as well, the endemic jerkiness and instability of the policy line, with the authority clenched between the hammer of industrial progress and the anvil of indolent and supine masses. The authority emerges from the analysis as a major progressive force and, indeed, well-nigh every trouble which haunts the socialist society comes from this progressive nature of the power as thwarted by the torpor in which the masses are immersed. In

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short, the right mode for the Soviet-type society, according to Bendix, will be a modern authority pushed in its pursuit of plebiscitarianism to the most radical extremities, imposed on a population which somehow bypassed the purgatory treatment of the Weberian Puritanism and thus lacks the matching attribute of impersonalism. What remains unsaid, though implied, is that immersion in enough impersonalism on the anthropological level will perhaps bring the Soviet-type society quite close to its Western counterpart. Two correlated transformations occurred in the East ‘in the wrong sequence’; given, however, their belated reconciliation, the ideal type of the Western Civilization may be approached. In fact, the tensions emerging from the internal contradictions of the incoherent Soviet-type society work precisely in this direction. I would doubt that Reinhard Bendix belonged with the supporters of Sorokin’s or Galbraith’s idea of convergence;5 but, were the convergence theorists looking for a sound and convincing processual theoretical scheme showing how the convergence tendency is built into the very dynamics of the societies involved, they could hardly turn for inspiration to a better source than Bendix’s. Bendix’s ideal type of the Soviet-type society contains one remarkably illuminating insight: that the fitfulness of this society’s political history and the notorious teetering of its policies may and should be accounted for by the lack of integration between the structural principles of the societal authority and the action rules operating on the anthropological level. Thus, the social phenomenon of paramount significance is offered as an explanation, which follows the commendable Durkheimian postulate of explaining the social by the social. Bendix’s ideal type leaves far behind the primitive psychology – the major explanatory device enthusiastically employed by most ‘Kremlinologists’ – which blends the worn-out tradition of ‘Homunculus oeconomicus’ with the self-flattering self-image of an intellectual in unreciprocated love with freedom. Conspiracy, palace plots, and even dissatisfaction of the trammelled and of the undernourished is left beyond the pale of the ideal model itself, in the field in which it rightly belongs – the one of the contingent transformation of the ‘Dasein’ into the ‘Sosein’6 – instead of being mistaken for the ultimate layer of explanation. Bendix’s project is immeasurably more ambitious than that of the ‘Kremlinologists’: what it attempts to render intelligible is not the occurrence of specific events, but the logic of a social system which delineates the range within which some sort of events become possible. We wholeheartedly agree with both the intention, and the choice of the analytical realm in which to locate its implementation. We do not agree, however, with the


History and Politics

description of the two respective levels of the social integration, and the ensuing characterization of the major contradiction of the system. We intend to show that, while the rules of impersonalism gain power continuously on the anthropological level of the Soviet-type social system, the authority remains largely patrimonial; and that the notoriously erratic nature of this system’s political history has its roots in the endemic contradiction between the structural prerequisites of the two levels, which the system cannot overcome unless submitting itself to the hazard of a systemic transformation. Indeed, the type of power which emerged in the socialist system of Eastern Europe and has remained qualitatively unchanged throughout its already long history meets, point by point, the requisites spelled out by Weber as conditions of classifying an empirical authority as patterned after the ideal type of patrimonialism. 1. The decisions to whom the power should be granted are reached largely arbitrarily and apparently are not subordinated to any fixed rules (though some regularities of a statistical kind may be, of course, discovered in retrospect). The statutory rights of diverse agencies are poor guides to their genuine stature; neither is the name of the office a trustworthy indicator of the incumbent’s importance. Though the subtle interplay between the strength of an organization and the personal influence should by no means be denied, the bases of power are rather personal than institutional, and the power is ultimately vested with individuals. Their institutional assignment is more often than not an acknowledgement, rather than source, of the influence they already command. No impersonal rules can indeed stop the supreme rulers from whatever re-allocation of power they endeavour. If their intentions happen to be confounded, it is through the resistance put up by other, equally arbitrary, unfettered by formal rules, foci of power. 2. Similarly, one can hardly learn from the recorded laws who is most likely to decide what matter. Both the letter of law and the practical usage are kept (some say deliberately) inconclusive and open to changeable interpretation. Hence the notorious tendency to thrust each controversial matter as high up the pyramid as possible, as well as a related phenomenon of the relative easiness with which each initiative may be hamstrung, and notorious and often unsurmountable obstacles invariably encountered by any attempt to reach a positive decision. The practice of the system defies the two twin attributes of the Weberian modern bureaucracy: there are constantly too many agencies willing to poke their nose in other people’s business, and too many problems rendered ‘un-matters’ purely by the absence of a single agency daring to take the risk of handling them.

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3. Personal judgement of a ruler looms large among the factors operative in all major societal processes. The other, more objectifiable factors are influential only as screened through the ruler’s discernment and idiosyncrasies. In effect, the art of influencing people is often reduced to the ability to dress one’s intentions in a garment made to the measure of the ruler’s predilections. The personal judgement itself is ruled by the evidently pre-modern (and, indeed, pre-Roman) principle of justice, amply evidenced by the students of tribal law and of feudal judicial practice: the right verdict is not necessarily one which complies with some abstract rules relating specific consequence to specific deeds, but one which either restores or introduces a desirable situation. It is the state of affairs which the ruler wants to achieve or preserve, rather than the nature of the deed in question, which ultimately decides which of the allegedly abstract rules will be applied, if any. Thus, the modern institution of an impersonal code has been wrapped to fit, rather than contradict, the rule of personal judgement. 4.  In this description of the ideal type of patrimonialism, Weber emphasized the commingling – or, in fact, identity – of the ruler’s office and his household: the officials which performed vital societal functions were his servants, supported in the household on equal footing with the servant in the narrow sense, which performed none but purely personal service. This is not the case with the Soviet-type patrimonial system, of course, if understood literally. But the dividing line between the private and the public is, in the situation of the ruler, very equivocal and unconvincing indeed. Not that the private household of a feudal lord has been extended to incorporate (by extrapolating the norms geared originally to domestic servants) the new offices of the administrators of the realm; it is rather the other way round – the domain of public affairs is brought into the pattern of personal, intimate relationship typical, in other settings, of familial authority. Like in the Byzantine bureaucracy, the bond between superior and his subordinate is one of patron and client. As if to confirm this supposition, the Soviet-Russian vernacular calls the territory trusted to a district secretary of the Party his hoziaystvo (household). This peculiar situation is a direct consequence of the foregoing constitutive principles of patrimonialism. It can hardly be otherwise, since arbitrariness in allocation of power, entertainment of personal judgement, and the overall fluidity of the authority relations characterize precisely informal groups, including family, as opposed to the Weberian bureaucratic, anonymous and nomocratic modernity. 5.  The notorious arbitrariness in appointments is another factor which brings the Soviet-type system into a cheek-by-jowl proximity


History and Politics

to the classical patrimonial structures. Not that appointments, at least on the middle and lower levels of the power hierarchy, are subject to whim alone and free of any outspoken criteria – but the criteria, even when phrased in impersonal ways, are only in part, if at all, determined by the logic of the office which is to be filled. More often than not, loyalty to the rulers plays the dominant role, whether explicitly or implicitly; more generally, all criteria are subject to change even if no visible alteration takes place in the nature of the office under consideration. Shifting priorities, which underlie such change, are usually autonomous toward the declared organizational ends, and often at odds with them. All in all, the Soviet-type societal system is much more reminiscent of the patrimonial than of the plebiscitarian model. Historically, this circumstance bears an obvious affinity to the philosophy of the society and its change which has been endemic to socialism. In practical though not theoretical terms, the socialist tour de force was an attempt to bridge, in one forceful leap, the gap between unbearably shoddy and backward reality and what had been emerging in other places as the intoxicating opulence of modernity. Contrary to the spontaneous and crawlingly slow process of original industrialization in the West, the socialistically articulated project of modernization has been carried out, from the outset, with intense knowledge of the end which is to be achieved. The image of an ideal society which ought to be arrived at has been constantly present in thought and action, belittling the potential authority of the reality already in existence and upsetting the very chance of plebiscitarianism. As a criterion of decision and measure of results, the ideal image has had unabashed and outspoken superiority over any evidence which could have been drawn from the present. Dissatisfaction of the population is significant only insofar as it may slow down, or indeed temporarily thwart, the introduction of a better society, but certainly not as an ultimate and unchallengeable test of good and evil and, as it were, withdrawal of legitimacy – as is the case in a plebiscitarian system. As far as this assumption is concerned, the most antagonistic factions of the socialist philosophy of society find themselves in agreement. In defiance of the crawling realism of plebiscitarian philosophy, they all preach – or, rather, take for granted – the supremacy of the ought over the being. The inevitable conclusion is that some people, not necessarily a majority of the population, must be bearers of the ought and hence qualified to overbalance the beliefs of the sheer multitude, in virtue of their knowledge of the truth of which the unarmed eye can take only a dim view. The type of legitimation on which the authority thus

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defined is buttressed can hardly be squeezed into the tripartite Weberian division. Though it borrows a bit from each of the three Weberian types, it fits neither. It certainly cannot lean on the prestige of antiquity, as the traditional authority does – since it is manifestly committed to the future, militantly critical of the present and of the past. It cannot give in to the hazards of the see-saw of faceless office incumbents. Moreover, contrary to the widespread belief, it is not reducible to the commanding hegemony of a charismatic leader, since charisma’s essence is the popular acceptance and recurring confirmation of the leader’s extra-ordinary qualities, while the denial of the public wisdom and insight is the pith and marrow of the authority in question. The authority which implements the socialist vision seems to represent a fourth category of legitimation, unknown in past epochs (with possible exception of certain millenarian sects): legitimation which is, in its essence, futuristic. Futuristic legitimation being its ideological rationale, guiding principle and claim to the public obedience, patrimonialism is the suitable structural type of socialist authority. The structure of the authority must be such as to place the bearers of the ought in a privileged position of command and influence and thrust in their hands appropriate means of securing the desired malleability of social forms. On the whole, the Soviet-type system, and probably every socialist (in the sense of future-orientation) system, seem to represent another sequel of the pre-modern traditionalist society, alternative to the capitalist one which Weber described as the modern society per se, and pointing in a different direction. The unity of the societal and the action levels in capitalist society, due to their concerted subordination to the easily translatable and commeasurable rules – the certainty and predictability of the social setting – fosters this paramount condition of rational action in the instrumental, Weberian sense. This is not the case with the socialist system, which – at least as an ideal type – does not work towards increase of certainty. Effectivity is deliberately given an edge over efficiency, and Wertrationalität is favoured at the expense of its Zweck-oriented counterpart.7 Paradoxically, the futuristic orientation of the authority defies predictability in its positivistically tamed Weberian articulation; rather than to see the future as a deterministic extension of the accomplished present, it treats the present as essentially inconclusive and comprehensible only if shone through by the ideal ought. Contrary to the logical demands of the positivist concept of predictability, the socialist philosophy of society sees the ideal future as fixed, and the reality of the present as flexible.


History and Politics

But the major difference between the two alternative sequels to the pre-modern society consists in the endemic lack of integration between the two levels of the socialist in general – the Soviet-type in particular – model. While the conjunction of plebiscitarianism on the societal level with impersonalism on the action level is well integrated and cohesive since both principles are operated by homologous, equally quantifiable, rules, the essential incompatibility and lack of communication between the relevant parameters of the two respective levels constitute the major and inherent contradiction of the system which combines patrimonialism in its societal organ­iz­ ation with impersonalism on the plane of individual action. The striking feature of the socialist system is that, on the anthropological (action) level, it is practically indistinct from its capitalist counterpart. Within the framework of the immediate, face-to-face interaction, the assessment and the definition of the situation by the actor, the evaluation of opportunities, and the ensuing choice of the course of action, are subject to essentially the same rules as in similar circumstances in a capitalist society. Here, as well as there, the actor is confronted with a set of options from which he has to select one which is better geared to his goals. More importantly, here as well as there, the actor operates in an essentially markettype setting: the values desired and/or available have been processed to the point of commensurability and exchangeability – one can be traded for another and the decision-aimed considerations, as well as the decision itself in its relation to the rejected alternative, may be expressed in quantitative terms, indifferent to qualitative distinctions. To survive, the actor must embark on exchange; the most important commodity he can offer is his own skills and possessions, his labour power in the first place – and so he must measure the various sell-out options against the attainable remunerations: furthermore, he can obtain the goods which he needs as qualities (since they become goods because of their one-to-one relation to his needs) only in the shape of marketized commodities. The qualitatively distinct and specific values must therefore undergo the quality-annihilating process of quantification to be of any use in satisfying the qualitatively distinct and specific needs – the structural requirement which underlies the rule of impersonalism on the action level. Short of militarization of labour and comprehensive goods-rationing, the socialist system neither wants nor tries to eliminate impersonalism on this plane. In any case, the effort would have proved futile. But impersonalism, seamlessly matching a plebiscitarian authority structure, stands in a jarring contradiction to the authority of a patrimonial type. It is the contradiction between Wertrationalität

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and Zweckrationalität; between qualitatively oriented futuristic patrimonialism and quantitatively structured, genetically guided impersonalism; between an action which is rational in intention – which may, however, be rational in practice only if its field is ruled by internal (and thus learnable and graspable) rules – and contingent alterations which patrimonialistic authority must sporadically foist upon these rules and upon the limits of their applicability; between the supreme authority of number on one level and the in-built disregard for number on the other. Last, though not least, the power, which seeks its legitimation in its genuine or alleged knowledge of the ideal ought, cannot admit the authority of the lower level ruled by necessarily commonsensical, unimaginative, empirical considerations, and is armed therefore with in-built defences against all attempts at regulating its function ‘from below’. Its immunity toward the rules dominating the lower level is neither a temporary nor a transitory mark of a structural lag. It is indeed an irremovable, inextricable component of the system, which must not be neglected whenever modelling of its ideal type is undertaken. The essential incongruence between the two – otherwise complementary and interlocking – levels of social integration lies at the root of several notorious ‘maladies’ of the socialist system of the Soviet type. If they are maladies, they are perhaps incurable as things stand, since they are nothing but symptoms of the ineluctable tendency to meet two reciprocally exclusive sets of demands. The better the social organization is geared to the requirements of patrimonialism on the societal level, the less it furthers rationality on the level of impersonal action, and vice versa. The best known and described of all ‘maladies’ – the endless fits and starts, constant wiggling and vacillation of the outspoken or virtual policy of socialist states, stands in an immediate relationship to the above contradiction. There are several dimensions in which the fitfulness of the policy remains, with a good reason, particularly perseverant. 1. The plan–market dimension. Plan and market constitute two diametrically opposed and mutually incompatible ideal types. As an ideal type, plan requires radical concentration of resources and information (or of the control over their allotment); market demands their dissemination and universal accessibility. Plan assumes the ideologically determined nature of social processes; market is a model of processes determined genetically. Plan singles out individual human action as the flexible, dependent variable which can be geared to requirements of a supra-individual venture; market treats behaviour of individuals as the invariant datum of the processes, and its projection on the screen of the system as a whole as the resultant output of the


History and Politics

multitude of individual small-scale decisions. Plan makes sense only if Wert is the sole rationality pursued; market is meaningful as a social setting meant to foster Zweckrationalität alone. Plan is inevitably, in the last account, qualitative; market cannot thrive unless the medium has been well ground in the mill of quantification. But plan is inseparable from patrimonial authority, particularly one futuristically legitimized; while, without market, the sphere of individual action will have plunged into sheer chaos. The more rigid and assertive the plan produced by the patrimonial authority as a manifestation and the means of implementation of its ambitious design, the less air there is for the market to breathe, and the less chance of enough force to be left in its activity to instil rationality into individual actions. Paradoxically, patrimonial power, which stops short of forced labour and pernickety regulations of consumption, needs market on the level of individual action as a necessary condition of the completeness of information which is one of the essential prerequisites of the ideal plan: individual producer and consumer choices are informatively appropriated when they are subordinated to the unconditional rule of rationality. A cramped and maimed market will hardly turn out enough rationality to gratify the informative needs of the plan. Thus, we arrive at an insoluble contradiction in terms: the perfect plan annihilates the conditions of its own perfection. The same applies to the other pole. Short of relinquishing all intention to intervene into the course taken by the otherwise spontaneous social processes, the market requires planning agencies strong, expeditious and resourceful enough to safeguard prompt and precise implementation of planned objectives. The need arises from the paramount role assigned to the essential predictability of the environment in securing efficient working of the market. In a perfect market ideal type, this predictability, in absence of all noise-generating factors, is guaranteed by the sheer repetitiousness of endlessly recurring, monotonous individual actions. But this abstractly perfect situation assumes implacable surrender of all melioristic, and indeed future-oriented, interventionism – which is stridently at odds with the very gist of the socialist venture. All other solutions demand some makeshift institution to replace the automatism of the human conduct exposed to unchallenged and invariable requirements of the market. An effective plan is, in theory, such an institution. But the plan may be effective only insofar as it really masters the totality of resources and information – i.e. insofar as it pushes the market away to the ever tapering margin. And so, the need for the predictability of environment engenders fostering of

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the planning activity by market interests; but, doing so, it saps the very foundation of the market. The perfect market annihilates the conditions of its own perfection. Hence, the endless rocking of the plan–market pendulum. What many a ‘Kremlinologist’ desperately tries to explain away – chasing ever new, genuine or imagined, factions with true or illusionary vested interest, or just ‘liberal’ (pro-market) or ‘Stalinist’ (pro-plan) ideological fancies – seems to be a constant, and very much a necessary, feature of the system. It is inevitable that, unless things go as far as utter suppression of one of the two polar institutions, somebody somewhere will inevitably try to heal the maladies of the overgrown plan by stimulating development of the market, only to invite after a while somebody else’s attempt to make good the devastations caused by the overdose of the medicine – this time with another spell of a tightened and more meticulous planning discipline. The many repetitions of the cycle are even more likely than one would conclude from the logical incompatibility of two, simultaneously employed, ideal types – since other, even more important, contradictions work in the same direction. 2.  One of these extends along the quality–quantity line. Patrimonial authority transforms citizens into dependent subjects, but together with this transformation the responsibility for satisfying the subjects’ multifarious needs becomes vested with the rulers. In the same way as the father in a traditional family, the patrimonial rulers are expected to guarantee the subjects’ subsistence, shelter, health, education, gratifying of spiritual covetings, etc. Most important of all, they are responsible for the overall security of the subjects’ existence. It is in their capacity as consumers that the subjects show up to the authority. This capacity plays a much larger role in defining their composite social status (totality of their rights and duties) than is the case in systems with a different type of authority. Now, needs are essentially qualitative and mutually untranslatable phenomena. The most lavish abundance of goods pandering for one need will hardly balance and soothe another, unsatiated, need. What is more, accumulation of goods in excess of the amount required by the volume of needs they are meant to serve is utterly useless and prodigal. Since the role of a consumer is defined in terms of needs, the patrimonial authority is faced with the necessity to think qualitatively rather than quantitatively. Rationality on the societal level, like the rationality of a traditional peasant household-farm, cannot be squeezed into a uni-dimensional frame of reference. Instead, it must take good account of the endemic diversity of human biological, social and cultural needs.


History and Politics

Computation of needs, in itself an immensely intricate task (I have analysed the issue in more detail in the volume Action under Planning, edited by Bertram Gross),8 derives its ultimate meaning from the actual output it leads to. It is between these two stages that the planning authority must negotiate the most treacherous hurdle of all: the intentions, expressed in qualitative terms, must be translated into language meaningful on the level of individual action, as well as on the level of actual productive units – and this is a language of numbers. Rationality on this sub-level, as we know, is of the Zweck kind, and therefore plausible only in conditions of well-nigh complete comparability and commensurability of all significant variables. These conditions are secured due to money playing the role of the universal equivalent, and due to the transformation of almost all significant goods into marketable commodities. Money, and all commodities as exchangeable values, are not related to any particular need because they are relevant to all; therefore, they behave in a way exactly opposite to the one described above as typical of the need-related, non-merchandized goods. Sheer multiplying of their number may be sometimes the most rational form of conduct; turning out or appropriation of excessive amounts of one commodity with exceptionally favourable exchange value may be (since, due to planning, prices are inflexible) more rational than embarking on production of some other goods currently in short supply. That is why the expedient of ‘economic inducements’, intended to replace the missing link between the plan and the market (or between the aims set by the authority and the behaviour of individual producers-consumers) is doomed to remain ineffective – or, at best, inconclusive. Periods of sanguine trust in the inborn wisdom of Homo oeconomicus must alternate with fits of frantic, crude and high-handed dictation. No amount of protective redundancy, manifested in the ever growing multitude of binding indicators, may, however, neutralize the damaging effects of noise constantly generated within the communication process between the planning authority and the market-oriented actors. 3.  Another parallel contradiction is one between officialdom and class, which operates within the framework of the social structure. It is in the nature of patrimonial authority to continuously generate a social differentiation of its own creation – one organized around unequal access to decisions. The result is the social hierarchy of officialdom, with ranks distinguished according to the volume of power and influence allotted by the top. This hierarchy is built from the top down – logically buttressed on its own apex, on whose behest depends its very existence, and to whose vigour and determination it looks for its survival. The fortune of the hierarchy as a whole stands

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and falls by success or failure of the top, from which incumbents of all offices derive their power and the security of their position. Behavioural norms, criteria of appointment and assessment of the performance, attitudes expected from officials – all are uniformly apex-oriented. The relationship of the office holders towards the public is the one between functionary and suppliant. Loyalty to the survival and continuity of officialdom as such, readiness to observe diligently the letter of the latest command, are among the personal qualities most highly favoured and rewarded. The patrimonial authority on its own does not generate classes – if, by classes, we mean relatively stable groups, whose members share, as individuals, the attributes of the group as a whole, and transmit these attributes to their children. There are categories of offices, rather than social classes – in the sense that individuals are privileged, if at all, only as members of the category and insofar as they occupy the office; they have no qualities of their own, in the form either of possessions or of the performances type, which may give them a formal or informal right to partake of the group privileges regardless of the will of their superiors. Whatever the prerequisites of their status, personal security is not one of them. In the system in which the patrimonial authority is practically the only employer, officialdom is a fairly comprehensive structure which engulfs the totality of the population. In fact, each person holds a position within this structure. Naturally, the resulting all-embracing differentiation tends to eliminate, or at least undermine and subordinate, all other dimensions of social stratification arising from other, autonomous sources. Ideologically, the patrimonial authority tends to belittle and denigrate all indices of social position other than ‘partaking of responsibility’ for public affairs. In these terms, the peculiar patrimonial version of social equality is usually defined. But, within the system under analysis, officialdom is not the only comprehensive, all-embracing network of social differentiation. The other is the class order, emanating from the work of the market, in which all members of the society participate in their capacity of individual actors – along with their membership in the officialdom. Contrary to the social hierarchy of officialdom, the class structure is generated ‘from below’, as a result of the elemental criss-crossing of the multitude of individual actions. The personal attributions of an individual precede, both genetically and logically, his class membership. These are his possessions, either inherited or gained, his performances and qualities, which determine the class he belongs to. It is not clear whether the class structure is indeed truncated, at least in its extremities, in comparison with societies with plebiscitarian


History and Politics

authority, though many people in both societies think it is. Even if the widely held view is borne out, the fact remains that the market mechanisms are powerful and all-pervasive enough to secure the virtually hereditary nature of class privileges and to thwart the authority’s efforts of subordinating all status dimensions to the position in officialdom. Class and officialdom, as the two at least partly autonomous sets of status-determining factors, constantly compete with each other for the last say in allotting wealth, public deference, access to education and cultural goods, and the summary social influence. They contest the right to whole areas of scarce goods, of which the field of education is the foremost example. This rivalry has probably been mistaken for the alleged annihilation of les pouvoirs intermédiaires. Nothing like the process deserving this name has taken place in the Soviet-type system. On the contrary, one of the paramount tendencies of all patrimonial authority is generating a corporationist structure. One can easily distinguish at least two – the functional and the territorial – dimensions along which corporation-like units crystallize. Profession, branch of production, societal function provide the basis for the first kind of corporatism; authority over administratively separate parts of the country is the foundation for the second kind. The presence of like corporations is strongly felt in the political life of any Soviet-type system. Indeed, it is an indispensable feature of a patrimonial authority wielded over a large territory inhabited by a numerous population; the execution of a patrimonial authority is hardly possible unless supplemented, and indeed bolstered, by a constant interplay of well-oriented group interests with all the usual paraphernalia of group politics. The illusion of the intention to do away with corporatism came from a faulty interpretation of a phenomenon of an entirely different kind: the continuous effort of the patrimonial authority to unilaterally subordinate the social structure itself (as well as allocation of individuals to social positions) to its own discernment, and to eliminate entirely the disturbances caused by the impersonal network of the market. Since, as we know already, the two poles of the system cannot well survive without each other, this effort, like many others of the kind, must remain inconclusive. Which only means that it is likely to be repeated time and again. The structural conflict between officialdom and class owes its particular vehemence and indefatigability to the fact that it inevitably attracts all and sundry class grievances and vindications, and tends to turn into a synthetic, summary expression of whatever class conflicts are generated inside the socialist society. It is natural for the groups or aggregates of individuals who gain the upper hand in the

Between State and Society


market-like competition on the action level to loathe the officialdom’s obtrusiveness, even if they owe their original assets, which set them on a good start, to this officialdom’s grace. The moment they acquire, for whichever reason, possessions of value expressible in market terms, security of their now gratifying position becomes their primary concern. Security is the last thing they can expect from officialdom. Besides, they are not, by now, unilaterally dependent on officialdom’s favours. The possibility of retaining, if not enhancing, their assets, while relying on the market alone, is now not out of the question. They would probably do their utmost to safely institutionalize the prerogatives of the market; they will be first to demand curbing of those of officialdom. It is natural as well for the underdogs of the market-generated class structure to look to the officialdom (since it is the only alternative power, and since it gives equality a prominent place in its ideological legitimation) for redressing their wrongs. Having clearly failed in the open-market competition, they can reckon only on the enforced re-writing of its results. They will probably support, even though half-heartedly and suspiciously, the officialdom and the patrimonial authority in its wrestling with the pervasive tentacles of the market. Having lost their hope of re-stating their position in the market, they would perhaps focus their cravings on soliciting a better deal from the officialdom and utilizing their victory in this field for winning better conditions on the other. The free interplay of market-type forces, much too often misleadingly styled as freedom per se, makes little sense to them. They will attach much higher priority to their vindications, which they tend to call, in unison with the patrimonial authority, equality. Thus, the existential conflict between freedom and equality – the keynote of Horkheimer’s version of critical philosophy9 – finds its sociological embodiment in the irreconcilable conflict between class interests and attitudes. The wedge of non-communication packed between the intelligentsia and the workers is not a transient after-effect of the police vigilance and invigilation. It is, indeed, a permanent feature of the system. The idea I have wished to expand in this essay is that the socialist system, as we know it from its most developed, East European experience, is not a relatively undeveloped version of a uniform ‘modern society’, but a social system in its own right, which requires its own and distinct ideal type to be intelligibly described and understood. It has not only its unique combination of normative patterns, not only its unique delicate balance between the two levels of social integration, but its own unique structural conflict as well, which serves as a constant source of its endemic


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dynamics, while (as all structural conflicts do) simultaneously circumventing the range of the system’s options. It goes without saying that the above is only a preliminary analysis; whether it is or is not workable may be borne out only in a systematic attempt at applying it to empirical societies.

7 On the Maturation of Socialism(1981)

The Polish events of 1980 took everyone by surprise. Not the least surprised were the main actors of the events. But equally baffled and lost seemed those whose life business is to enlighten the ignorant and to guide the perplexed: the professional students of Eastern Europe and experts on history, politics and sociology of communism. The published commentaries have been remarkable either for their timidity, or for the speed with which the developing situation made them obsolete. Most of them were, first and foremost, strikingly irrelevant to the magnitude of new experience they tried to make meaningful. And yet, before blaming the experts for being caught unawares, let us admit that their plight was indeed unenviable. We rely on experts as the purveyors of information on steady, circular or repetitive processes. The 1980 Polish events belonged to neither of these categories. They admitted of no comparison with past events, however dramatic. Rare materializations of the Blochian novum,1 they left the experts with past wisdom largely unfit for making this particular oddity familiar. But past wisdom is the experts’ only strength and claim to distinction. What else could they do but to reduce the significance of the events to the size of their putative precedents: to a successive change of the ruling guard, to another round in the notoriously inconclusive fight between the ‘liberals’ and the ‘hardliners’, to one more clash between the Kremlin’s warmongers and appeasers. However understandable and, at times, called for, these reductions succeeded mostly in shifting the attention away from the new and the unusual. The true significance of the Polish events consists, however, precisely in their novelty.


History and Politics

The actors of the Polish events are, unlike their foreign spectators, acutely aware of sailing uncharted waters. The current fluidity of the Polish situation is only partly due to the natural diffidence of new and inexperienced leaders. None of their predecessors ever confronted problems similar to theirs. Not just the actors are new; the stage itself is built and rebuilt in the course of the performance – and as to the play, its lines are written no sooner than they are spoken. More than any other communist country at any moment of its history, Poland of 1980 came close to the model of historical creativity, when praxis takes over from structure as the main determinant of events. On a more mundane level of political activity, this means that for some time the course of Polish history will be subject to the method of trial and error – the one method that renders all forecasting ventures superfluous. One should heed Mayakovsky’s warning: ‘Do not paint epic canvasses in the midst of the revolution; you will find that your canvass is torn into pieces.’2 Hence the admittedly premature nature of the following reflections. They have not been prompted by an (obviously foolish) intention to predict the denouement of the ongoing Polish drama – much less by a presumptuous effort to assess its long-term impact on the shape of modern socialism. These reflections are born of the search for a theoretical vocabulary suitable to articulate the meaning of the recent Polish exercise in history-making. I do not know, and have no way of knowing, how many words in this vocabulary will be found missing, and how many of these present will prove redundant. Perhaps the least expected aspect of Polish events was the determination of the workers to obtain a legal endorsement for an organization defined at the outset only by the fact of being led by the same people who had presided before over a predominantly economic strike; during a long initial period of the struggle, the idea of ‘free trade union’ had few specific attributes except the postulate that the strike committee be made permanent and legitimate. Though unexpected, this development is hardly surprising when looked at, in retrospect, as a logical stage in the process of historical learning. Because of the continuity of themes dominating the relations between the workers and the state, one can consider 1970 as the starting point of the learning process which reached its conclusion in 1980. The winter of 1970 brought the first attempt by the Polish government to update food prices, frozen for too long to preserve any noticeable link with market realities. Workers perceived the move, not without reason, as an attempt to shift the burden of planning mistakes onto their shoulders, and took to the streets to

On the Maturation of Socialism


vent their anger. The party leaders of the day (personal responsibility of Gomułka3 remains a mystery; there is some foundation to suppose that he was tricked into an admittedly suicidal decision by factions working for his demise) commanded the troops to restore order with all means available. The one means evidently available to the troops is to use their guns, which they did. More than a hundred workers were killed, many more wounded. But the only conclusive effect of the massacre was a change in leadership. The new leaders, though greeted with relief and offered some credit of confidence, had to revoke, after brief prevarication, the decisions of their predecessors. Apparently, the workers’ strikes and demonstrations brought success. But the cost of victory was high. And victory itself soon proved to be short-lived. It took the new leaders six years to muster the courage to again try to ‘rationalize’ prices. This time a response by strike was almost automatic. Wary of the consequences, the strikers by and large confined themselves to the action inside their factories and workshops. The reaction by the government was also modified by retrospective wisdom. Price rises were called off without delay. When, however, the jubilant workers returned to their shops, the strike leaders began gradually to disappear – some jailed, some dismissed, some transferred to other jobs. At the time of the third attempt – this of the summer of 1980 – the government was confronting workers who had learned their lesson. There are several important things they have learned from the experience of their own past practice: 1.  The change of leaders matters little, insofar as the conditions in which they carry their office remain unchanged. This is a most important, and perhaps a most difficult, lesson to learn. For it to be accepted, most persistent habits of common sense thinking must be put in abeyance. Common sense, grounded in individual experience, always locked in the network of face-to-face relations and personal bonds, naturally conceives of macro-social structures as magnified primary groups; it cannot account for social changes or for reasons of their absence in any other language but one of personalities, intentions, responsibilities and culpabilities. The passage from such a language to one of structures, institutions and power relations is not attainable within, and from, common sense experience. The forbidden bridge may be crossed only when individual activity rises to the level of historical practice. This is exactly what the decade of harsh training has accomplished for the Polish workers. The advent of Mr Kania and his associates caused no emotional ripples. The promises of the new leaders were greeted with a stony equanimity.


History and Politics

Instead, the workers declared their interest in grounding their rights and their hopes in the institutional structure, rather than in good will of their leaders. For all they now care, it does not matter who handles the helm, providing he is not allowed to handle it alone. 2.  No victory, however spectacular, of a strike action is likely to move the victors far beyond square one, unless it is institutionalized by making an event into a rule, and transforming what had been originally a breach of the pattern into a law of the land. This important truth seems to have been discovered inadvertently, when pondering the bitter experience of 1976. Successful strikes bring no benefits, if the strikers do not care for the fate of their, now allegedly useless, leaders; hence the security of strike committees must be included into the clauses of the peace treaty. This, however, can be done most efficiently if the strike committees are legalized as permanent labour representatives. Thus, the idea of ‘free trade unions’ was born – not so much as an imported novelty, but as a natural, though unanticipated, product of collective learning. 3. The cumbersome and inert system of the party dictatorship cannot be expected to generate, by its own momentum, forces and actions required to heal the ailing country. The succession of economic policies, new faces and new starts petered out in the quagmire of the ‘general impossibility’. Each successive anti-corruption campaign and moral purge was wrecked by the forces apparently stronger than any number of well-wishers. One thing the dictatorial system can be relied upon to consistently produce, when left to its own resources, is more social inequality, more nepotism, more corruption. If at all, this system can be goaded into self-correction only if pushed from outside; it is important, therefore, for the forces of renewal to remain stoutly outside the system. Whoever joins the system to repair it from inside will inescapably end up reproducing the conditions of its perpetuation. ‘Inner-party democracy’ is not possible without democracy outside the party. The ‘inner-party democracy’ must be forced upon the party by casting it into a field of articulated forces which it does not dominate. None of these truths seems particularly novel. Indeed, they sound familiar, if not trivial, to any participant in socialist discourse. In Poland, most of these ideas were raised in the public debate in 1956, and then again by the intellectualist dissent of the 1960s. What is novel – quite unprecedented, in fact – is that these truths have now informed the practice of a genuine, indigenous labour movement; that, in their defence, workers were prepared to strike and to stay on strike long after their economic, ‘corporatist’ demands have been met.

On the Maturation of Socialism


This new workers’ practice throws a new light on the mechanism of the ‘enlightenment process’. The lesson one could draw from the dramatic experience of Poland is that collective learning and historical praxis are indeed inseparable; that the first is not possible without the second; and that, consequently, clarification of issues within intellectual discourse can be seen as a hypothetical anticipation, simulation, condition perhaps of emancipatory action – but on no account as its substitution in the structure of enlightenment. True collective learning is an aspect of collective action. Another surprising feature of the Polish events is the workers’ determination to ‘depoliticize’ their action, and their consistent effort to devise a non-political linguistic medium in which to articulate their social identity and action programme. Most observers, for obvious reasons enclosed within the self-same political language which the workers of Poland wished to escape, hastened to accommodate and domesticate this unusual behaviour by articulating its meaning as one more move in a political game. Thus, the emphatic refusal of a political definition has been interpreted as an attempt to avoid a head-on clash with the party and, more importantly, to placate the suspicious eastern neighbour. Conversely (though with striking inconsistency), the stubborn refusal of ‘free trade unions’ to acknowledge party supremacy in their statutes was seen as an attempt to gain an independent enclave on the country’s political map. Such interpretations are not entirely unhelpful. They capture an important aspect of Polish (and, indeed, the East European) reality: the political monopoly of the communist party renders any act of independence, any escape from unconditional submission, political. ‘Politicization’ of life is a direct outcome of the state’s determination to retain monopoly of economic, social and cultural initiative. In this sense – the sense defined by the project of the party dictatorship – the demand of new trade unions to be ‘free’ is indeed political. And yet such interpretations miss the most remarkable feature of the Polish venture: the attempt to alter the language of social discourse; to redefine social action; to construct a new, hitherto non-existing vocabulary that would allow large parts of social problems to be articulated independently from, and in no relation to, the ruling party concern with its monopoly of political power. Such a new language of social discourse would hopefully render wide areas of social and cultural life immune to the political definitions which remain the exclusive domain of the ruling party as long as the political system remains one of a party rule.


History and Politics

Following closely the many public statements made by the new unions’ leaders, reading what they say and what they refuse to say in the many press interviews and discussions, one is struck by the consistency of the refusal to be drawn into a political discourse and to accept the fitness of political language to articulate their identity. ‘We do not have any political programme’; ‘It is not for us to judge whether the government’s policy is right or wrong’; ‘Politics is a business of the politicians; we are not political animals.’ This is a language of the radical disengagement from political discourse, rather than of a political conquest. The general impression is that the leaders of the new unions have conceded the political domain to the party in power; that they are only too acutely aware that the rules of the political game, the grammar of political language, are so constructed that they automatically reproduce and perpetuate this party’s domination. They seem to know that, as partners in political debate, they do not stand a chance; they seem to have learned by heart the bitter lesson of their failed political assault on Gierek4 in Szczecin shipyards in 1971 – the battle Gierek won hands down, just using the language which had no grammatical rules for conceptformation separate from the activity of the communist party. A common feature of party dictatorship and the feudal body politic is that neither have room for political activity different from the exercising of state power, from being a link in the unbroken chain of command originating at the top of the political hierarchy. Whatever comes within the orbit of politics is matter-of-factly allocated a place within the chain of command and defined in terms of the allocated office. What distinguishes party dictatorship from the feudal body politic is the former’s aspiration to subsume and assimilate the totality of society and culture in all its manifestations. The outer limits of body politic are in both systems undefined and left at the discretion of the rulers; but the feudal rulers had neither a need nor the means to push the limits as far as the modern dictators must and can. Students of the communist society, as well as almost all dissident forces within this society, traditionally assumed that the movement away from the stultifying monopoly of political power would lead through a political conquest; through changing the rules of political game; through a division of political power. The remarkable originality of the Polish workers’ strategy stems from the realization that the political game cannot be reformed, as any reform can be brought about only by application of the rules, while the rules are such that they assure their own perpetuity by assimilating any new growth into the existing body politic. Hence, meeting the ruling party on its own,

On the Maturation of Socialism


political, ground means losing the battle before it started. The hope to loosen the dead grip of dictatorship lies elsewhere: in winning legitimacy for a non-political language. In the vindication of the right to speak of a wide range of social and cultural issues (and economic issues for that matter) in a language free of political connotations. In asserting, by the same token, the exclusion of such issues from the actual or potential domain where the will of the party rules supreme. Any reader of Gramsci’s Prison Notebooks will easily recognize in the Polish workers’ strategy an attempt to conquer a territory for civil society. Communist rule in Russia began without any vestige of a civil society. To be sure, in Russia there had never been anything remotely resembling the ramified, ebullient, vigorous civil society known from Western experience; such a society was just beginning to emerge in Russia when its inchoate, still brittle shoots were smothered under the debris of the crumbling state, which through most of Russian history had carried out, well-nigh single-handedly, the task of patching together the jelly-like, weakly articulated society. Coming into a society which was lacking in a civil society of any importance – i.e., one likely to make its resistance felt – the new communist leadership slipped easily into the ready-made pattern of a mostly state-integrated system. The absence of a civil society undoubtedly facilitated the process. The half-hearted attempts in the Soviet Union to generate a civil society of sorts ‘from above’ came abruptly to an end in the late 1920s. The decision to speed up the pace of development forcing a reticent society into an alien industrial frame could be implemented only by elevating the state to the role of the system’s sole integrating factor: to shelve the dreams of hegemony on behalf of unconcealed domination. From that point on, the sociopolitical history of the Soviet Union could be interpreted as a continual, ruthless and vigilant effort to prevent the emergence of a civil society. The state foreclosed the position which otherwise could have been occupied by a civil society, and an enforced mobilization replaced ideological resonance and became the state’s virtual ‘second nature’. The efforts continue now in the form of state repressions against intellectual dissent – these truly prodromal symptoms of a civil society about to be born. The post-war political colonization of Eastern Europe by the Soviet Union came on the top of a well-entrenched civil society in at least some of the colonized countries. There was already an institutionalized network of social debate mediating between the level of ‘popular folklore’ and the central value cluster supporting the state structure. The imported Soviet pattern squared ill with a society integrated in such a complex way. Hence, the post-war history of


History and Politics

most East European countries can be seen as a series of efforts to subdue or eradicate civil society already in existence. The efforts were never fully successful; clearly, the Leninist concept of a socialist revolution had been made to measure for a society held together by a political scaffolding alone, and can offer little guidance for a society with a richer texture. The battle for the transformation of civil society into an agency of political state is still ongoing and unresolved. The campaign of ‘depoliticization’ waged by the Polish workers can be interpreted as an attempt to regain the lost autonomy for civil society. Such attempts are not new. They were repeatedly made by the intellectuals claiming their prerogatives in the field of art, science or education. They also remained notoriously unsuccessful. Apparently, intellectuals are unable to attain cultural autonomy in a society in which no class had won independence from the political state. In the West, the intellectuals’ cultural domination was secured by the success of the bourgeoisie in constructing a public realm, the sovereignty of public opinion, outside the state apparatus. This historical sequence was not, and could not be, repeated in any of the socialist countries of the East. Polish events open up a new possibility: one of a civil society grounded on autonomy of the public sphere won by the workers. Such an autonomy seems to be the key idea in all demands articulated by the new unions’ leaders, and the one idea able to mobilize the factory floor into strike action. Strictly economic demands gave way to the ‘autonomy’ stipulations at a very early stage of the Polish events. What triggers off the most stubborn workers’ resistance are government attempts to define union activity as political, and hence falling into the field of competence of the organs specialized in the defence of the monopolistic party rule. Poland came closest to a general strike twice: when the courts tried to rewrite the unions’ statutes to suggest that their activity lies on the same plane as that of the communist party, and therefore can potentially clash with its tenets; and when the police arrested two activists of the union, implying that at least some aspects of union activity might be defined as politically criminal. This has not been just a natural defence against police harassment; this has been a manifestation of a consistent, and ongoing, struggle for the redefinition and relocation of the whole sphere of public debate and public opinion as separate from the state, and hence non-political. The struggle was, in other words, for the establishment of a civil society. The historical novelty of the Polish events consists, perhaps above all, in the fact that for the first time a process leading from an absolutist state to the separation of civil society from the state

On the Maturation of Socialism


is both carried out and led by workers. The many remarkable and unprecedented features of the Polish events throw a new light on the theory of socialism. They may force the theorists to look again at the old themes long ago proclaimed unpromising and therefore abandoned. By far the most important among such themes is the one of the working class domination. The historical practice which allegedly led to the refutation of the ‘proletarian domination’ thesis was one following the Leninist reduction of the complex issue of class domination and hegemony to the struggle for state power. The Marxian idea of the association of free producers (free, among other things, from the state as an organization of an exploiting class set against society) was transformed beyond recognition in Lenin’s prophecy of ‘every cook able to rule the state’. The socialist concept of the state as a mere administration, confined to the ‘management of things’ rather than people, was for all practical intents and purposes put into abeyance with the substitution of the state rule of the party for the class domination of the proletariat. The Leninist mask stuck to the face of the original vision so tightly that the ignominy of the first left seemingly indelible marks of shame on the second. Indeed, what the experience of East European socialism seems to have proved beyond reasonable doubt is that the idea of a proletarian-dominated socialist society is a noble but idle dream; more realistically, it is a smokescreen used to hide a bureaucratic conspiracy. What seems to transpire in the light of the Polish events, however, is that the only ‘historically refuted’ idea has been one of the equivalence between the concept of socialism as domination and hegemony of the working class, and the practice of the party monopoly of state power. The Polish events opened up a possibility of the revival of the idea of proletarian domination in a form so thoroughly repressed by the long decades of the Leninist practice, and hence so completely forgotten, that it was no longer easily recognizable as a fulfilment of the original Marxist vision of socialism. Indeed, many an observer could not but whole-heartedly agree with Honecker’s and Bilak’s5 proclaiming the anti-socialist character of the Polish workers’ movement. In their desperate search for appropriate categories to frame and domesticate Polish experience, commentators alternated between a TUC-style love for free market and free collective bargaining, and the ‘liberal’ political opposition to the ‘socialist’ rule of the communist party. The category which seemed the least germane was one of the socialist resistance to bureaucratic dictatorship. But this is what has been happening in Poland: the workers seeking to establish their hegemony not through another reshuffle of the


History and Politics

ruling elite, but through a decisive move to roll back the limits of its power; a proletarian hegemony coming to pass in the result of exemption of social and cultural power from the domination by the state; the hegemony of the workers, like hegemony of any other class in history, establishing itself in its proper domain: civil society. The Polish events revealed two things at the same time. First, that the supremacy of the communist party is of a purely political nature, and, thanks to the political means at its disposal, it suppresses the social reality of the society over which it rules. Second, that once the heavy lid of political coercion is removed, the superior strength and socially creative potential of workers becomes the dominant feature of the social landscape. If the state is just an executive committee of the civil society (and its hegemonic class), then one could expect that a proletariandominated civil society would try to model the state according to its own peculiar needs. The model which seems to be promoted in Poland is uncannily familiar to any theorist and bafflingly incomprehensible to any practitioner: a model of administration limited to the ‘management of things’. This is a battle, and very seldom a single battle can win the war. There are battles, though, which change the objectives and the rules of the war. Undoubtedly, this is one of such battles. At the time I am writing down these reflections, Poland is at the crossroads, and which route will be eventually taken is in no way a foregone conclusion. For once, the fate of Poland is not dependent solely on internal forces. Moreover, the ruling bureaucracy (despite all its past blunders and nearly universal discreditation) is by no means a spent force; it has a large and influential class of people to rely on, interested as it is in its perpetuation. The dreadful economic plight of Poland leaves little room for social experimentation. Many scenarios are, therefore, possible. One scenario, however, seems utterly improbable. This is a return to the old terms of reference of public debate, in which the new vistas of social change will be closed again and the revealed potentials forgotten. Even if nothing else happens, this alone is enough to record the Polish events among the rare but crucial acts of historic creation.

8 Exit Visas and Entry Tickets: Paradoxes of Jewish Assimilation (1988)

Modernity emancipated individual life from collective destiny. However, there were few, if any, straight roads in modern Jewish history, and no family or class traditions were strong enough to streamline the fate of the descendants. From the fortresses of ossified Chassidism, prophets of universalistic revolution could emerge, and the paragons of successful assimilation could beget luminaries of a Judaic renaissance. In trying to explain the oscillation of the Jewish emancipatory drive between the apparent extremes of assimilation and revolution, a few well-known facts about Gershom Scholem and Isaac Deutscher are worth remembering as cautionary tales.1 Scholem’s father decided to hold the bar mitzvah for his son at his 14th birthday. He was aghast when Gershom declared he did not need a tutor to read those few Hebrew sentences the Rabbi required from young ‘Germans of Mosaic Religion’ on the occasion. For his bar mitzvah, Deutscher wrote a learned disputation on whether the spittle of the legendary bird Kilion (which, in Talmudic legend, visits the earth every 70 years and spits only once on each visit)2 was kosher. The disputation was delivered in the presence of 100 learned Rabbis, who unanimously pronounced the child prodigy worthy of rabbinical honours. Scholem received the first photograph of his hero, Theodor Herzl, as a gift under the Christmas tree – left there, perhaps, by Father Chanukkah. With great reluctance, Deutscher’s father agreed to his son’s late evening visits to a secular secondary school – after, of course, devoting his mornings and afternoons to the study of the Torah and the Talmud. In Scholem’s home, the use


History and Politics

of Jewish expressions was strictly prohibited (this included rendering Yiddish idioms into the most elegant German). The Deutschers dreamed of bringing their son up at the court of the great Tsadik of Góra Kalwaria. A common feature in Scholem’s and Deutscher’s childhoods was the name Oświęcim. Gershom was attracted by the names of distant and exotic destinations written on railway cars. Oświęcim was one of them, and so were Eindhoven and Hoek van Holland. Oświęcim was also the next large town to Deutscher’s native Chrzanów. Isaac’s father used to clip unsavoury ambitions with his favourite adage: ‘Son, you only have to go beyond Auschwitz and you will be totally lost.’ There was yet another common feature. Scholem and Deutscher matured towards very different, even opposite, attitudes towards Judaic lore. Perhaps they did not differ that much, however, in their longing for the radical renewal of the world, the millennial upturn of human fate, the tikkun.3 Scholem and Deutscher did travel in opposite directions, yet what prompted them and kept them going was not all that dissimilar. THE PENT-UP REVOLUTION The Judaic scholarship of which Scholem became both the founder and the unsurpassed master is very far from the academic, contemplative interpretation of biblical wisdom Maimonides authoritatively codified. It is even further away from that positivistic clean-up of the Judaic tradition busily promoted by modern historians and theologians concerned with scientific respectability and political ambitions of national self-effacement. Scholem’s Judaism was reorganized around exactly those elements in the Jewish tradition as the dominant scholarship, bent on demonstrating the immanent rationality and orderliness of Jewish lore, could only view as shameful aberrations and (the facts of the matter notwithstanding) marginalized as insignificant and expendable. The Wissenschaft school dismissed these elements as temporary and inconsequential flights of fancy: prejudices and superstitions that modernity (including Jewish modernity) will inevitably cast aside on its march towards the unchallenged rule of reason. To the horror of official scholarship, it was precisely this alleged failure of reason, the momentary loss of nerve suffered by basically reasonable and sober people, that Scholem made the focal point of his Judaism and that, more than anything, proved responsible for the survival and astonishing viability of the Judaic tradition over centuries of oppression and suffering.

Exit Visas and Entry Tickets


Why Jewish mysticism? Why Kabbalah? Why the periodic outbursts of Messianic urge? A few years ago Olsen4 analysed the relation between utopianism and millenarianism. Utopian thought stops at the description of the perfect order. It does not deal with the process leading from the here and now to the superior world looming on the other side of history. Utopian thought can afford such an oversight because it assumes that the ideal world can come, if at all, only pulled by a supra-human and supra-historical force – be it God, Reason or the indomitable march of Progress. Millenarian thought, on the other hand, is all about the process: about the travelling rather than the arrival. The right order is the culmination of work and struggle, not unlike the one we know – an event in real history. Like other historical events, it has its causes and its obstacles. Therefore, it matters a lot what its future beneficiaries do to bring it about or to clear the way for it. Unlike the utopian paradise, the millenarian one (even if pre-ordained by supra-human forces) cannot rely solely on the inscrutable, subterranean work of a supra-human force. Rather, it sees human will and action as part of such a force. ‘Nothing historical can relate itself on its own account to anything Messianic’ – observed Scholem’s friend Walter Benjamin. But he hastened to qualify that despairing quietism which the contemplation of the gap would have legitimated: If one arrow points to the goal toward which the profane dynamics acts, and another marks the direction of Messianic intensity, then certainly the quest of free humanity for happiness runs counter to the Messianic direction; but just as a force can, through acting, increase another that is acting in the opposite direction, so the order of the profane assists, through being profane, the coming of the Messianic Kingdom.5

If, in this Theologico-Political Fragment, Benjamin sought the way from the theology of Messianic dreams to the politics of revolutionary action, he found it in the non-rabbinical teachings of Jewish mysticism, where utopia turns into millenarianism and the Messiah into Messianic intensity. At the beginning of his study of the Messianic idea, Scholem informs the reader that, for Jews, redemption is a public event, which takes place in history and within the community. The awaiting of the Messiah was always part of Jewish consciousness. The price of this awaiting was the endemic provisionality of Jewish history: ‘There is something grand about living in hope, but at the same time there is something profoundly unreal about it.’ Jewish life was a life lived in


History and Politics

deferment, a life ‘in which nothing can be done definitely, nothing can be irrevocably accomplished’. Yet, for a good part of Jewish history, the Messianic dream ‘was not always accompanied by the determination to do something for its realization. On the contrary, it is one of the most important characteristics of Messianism that to the minds of a great many there was an abyss here. And this is not surprising since precisely in the biblical texts … it is nowhere made dependent upon human activity.’ The yawning gap between Messianic redemption and daily life must have been difficult to square with the idea of redemption as a temporal and communal event, and with the unquestionable certainty of the coming of the Messiah. It could only generate tension; and it must have created temptations difficult to resist. Indeed, ‘over and over the revolutionary opinion that this attitude [of passive expectation] deserves to be overrun breaks through in the Messianic actions of individuals or entire movements’.6 After 1492, growing frustration with Messianic expectations paved the way for the blending of the Kabbalah’s abstruse and contemplative mysticism with Messianic redemption. For the first time, a bridge was built between the final stage of redemption and the contemporaneity of human action – between then and now. And this was not a one-time event. It has been and must be undertaken again and again. It is a compulsion rooted in the spirit of the tikkun, which is what the existence of Jewish mysticism is all about. ‘The movement that went forth from Safed (the birthplace of Lurianic Kabbalah) required about three generations to gain general acceptance. But after that, one generation, fully imbued with these Messianic conceptions, was enough to create a situation in which a Messiah who seemed to fit these ideas could find a wide-ranging echo.’7 From the boiling point to which the Kabbalah brought the dreams of redemption, Sabbatai Zvi took over. And as for Jacob Frank, who needed another Frank in the times which followed his downfall? After all, these were to be the times lived in the shadow of the Greatest Redeemer of all, Napoleon Bonaparte, with his code and his Act of Emancipation. In Feuchtwanger’s Jewish War, Joseph Flavius greets Vespavian at the gates of Jerusalem as the Messiah, who announced the era of universal humanity. With the same universal message, Napoleon pre-empted the task of future Messiahs. He was redemption. Redemption was now to be called emancipation – at least until frustration would also catch up with it in this new disguise. Scholem was fully aware of the dynamite stored in mystic fantasy. More than once he asked himself about the sources of this explosive force. He also pondered whether the explosives were alien entities

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smuggled into the warehouse of Jewish tradition and illegitimately hidden among reputable merchandise, or rather a compound easily created by mixing certain readily available native ingredients. He opted for the second explanation. Of the three forces in rabbinical Judaism – conservative, restorative and utopian – the last two, the urge to recreate ideal past conditions and the dream of a hitherto non-existing world, tended periodically to blend into the Messianic idea. Scholem’s friend Benjamin had an answer to why that should be the case: prohibited from investigating the future, for Jews ‘every second of time was the strait gate through which the Messiah might enter’. Once delegitimated as a subject for study, the future was compressed into the present, which made it pregnant and about to give birth. The Messiah was not the light at the end of the long tunnel stretching far ahead and unexplored. He was always here, or nowhere; always now, or never. One had to be ready for his arrival, like one gets ready for the return of Elijah by putting an extra chalice on the Passover table. Faith in the Messiah did not require insights into the unforeseeable future. It was permanently fed and renewed ‘by the image of enslaved ancestors rather than of liberated grandchildren’. Progress was an inherently Jewish idea, always floating just below the surface of the apparently stagnant waters of timeless tradition. According to Benjamin’s often quoted passage, progress is what we call that storm which ‘irresistibly propels him into the future to which his back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows skyward’.8 ANTINOMIES OF EMANCIPATION Emancipation was not something imposed on Jews from outside. Nor did it catch the Jews unprepared. It came while Jews waited, and grew ever more impatient. Universality is the war-cry of the underprivileged. Modernity promised to strip everyone of their parochial clothing, liberating them by reducing them to pure human essence. Jews were underprivileged. And they were underprivileged universally. One wonders the extent to which they served for Marx as the prototype of proletarians whose emancipation he described as the model and the condition of the good society. Marx’s proletarians had no homeland. They were oppressed everywhere, and their suffering was truly universal. The overcoming of that suffering was to be the first truly universal act of history: an act which would abolish all


History and Politics

localized and particularized suffering. By the same token, particularity was an enemy of emancipation, so the kingdom of universality could be attained only at the price of annihilating Judaism: that most particular of particularities – particularity as such. To Marx, Judaism stood condemned as the carrier of a money economy – the inexhaustible source of all particularity, division and conflict. Emancipation meant universality, and universality meant emancipation of society from Jewry. This version of the modern idea of emancipation need not be seen as a particularly Jewish contribution. Yet, more than any other, the plight of Jews could provide an experience likely to be processed into the concept of universality as redemption. The Jews, in Deutscher’s poignant words, ‘dwelt on the borderlines of various civilizations, religions and national cultures … they lived on the margins … of their respective nations’. As for the great Jewish prophets of universality, like Spinoza, Heine, Marx or Rosa Luxemburg, ‘each of them was in society and yet not in it. It was this that enabled them to rise in thought above their societies, above their nations, above their times and generations, and to strike out mentally into wide new horizons and far into the future.’9 The idea of redemption through universality was as much at home in Jewish history as the idea of progress. It was the most perverse paradox of emancipation that, under the banner of universality, it promoted a new particularization. In practice, it meant the renunciation of a specific Jewish particularity: the one and only peculiarity which gave credence to the programme of universalization. But the old particularity was to be renounced at the price of embracing a new one, be it of a religious, national or cultural kind. The old particularity was to be discarded so a new one could be celebrated. Unlike the old one, the new particularity would be an implacable enemy of universality. Tightly embraced, it would rule out any further dreams of universality. Anyway, such dreams would be prohibited. There was an irreparable contradiction between the conditions which had to be met to obtain exit visas from the ghetto, and those which had to be observed to purchase entry tickets to universal humanity. As travellers were soon to discover to their dismay, the universal currency which bought exit visas was not honoured by those selling entry tickets. Furthermore, one was expected to proceed through the two stages of emancipation in radically different ways. Exit visas were a collective matter, whereas entry tickets had to be obtained individually. Community mobilization as a political (and economic) force

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was an asset during the first stage. It became a liability in the second. Communal resources which proved so useful in pulling down ghetto walls now barred entry into gentile quarters. Once granted full citizenship rights, Jewishness became a badge of shame. By Mendelssohn’s advice, like the family dirty laundry which should never be washed in public, it was something one wisely kept at home. As a result, emancipation did not relieve tension; rather, it intensified it. As Lewin explained, with the enlarging of the space of free movement, and with weakening of the pressure applied from without, the tension under which this group as a whole lives has doubtless decreased. But strange as it may appear at first, the decrease of tension has brought no real relaxation to the life of the Jew, but instead meant perhaps even higher tension in some respects … If we compare the position of the individual Jew in the Ghetto period with his position in modern times, we find that he now stands much more for and by himself … that time he felt the pressure to be applied to the Jewish group as a whole. Now as a result of the disintegration of the group, he is much more exposed to pressure as an individual.10

To add despair to suffering, the new state of affairs was a no-win situation. Those who felt confident enough to confront the tension on their own soon discovered that, contrary to the ostensible rules of the game, they were not allowed to do so. In the eyes of the majority which had emancipated them, they remained members of the accursed emancipated minority. They continued to carry the stigma of their membership for everyone to see. If they declared their disgust towards the less ‘individualized’ members of the native community and refused to concern themselves with what the majority saw as their ‘humanization’, they were branded as accomplices to the crime of difference. If they succumbed to majority expectations and engrossed themselves in communal self-improvement, this was immediately taken as proof of their partaking of the collective stigma.11 Heads you win, tails I lose. Thus, there was only one thing left to do until it, too, was to be discredited: to lift one’s own community to the level of the majority’s standards – and to do it with such an uncompromising ardour that in some not-too-distant future the community might have dissolved (majority permitting) and disappeared altogether. In this case, the meaning of the lifting was to be unilaterally determined by the majority – or at least by the way in which the minority elite interprets the will of the majority.


History and Politics

THE ALLUREMENTS AND TRAPS OF ASSIMILATION In Mosse’s words, ‘the age into which a minority is emancipated will to a large extent determine the priorities of its self-identification, not only at the time of emancipation itself but into the future as well’.12 The legal emancipation of Western Jews took place in the heyday of the Enlightenment, in the midst of hopes to replace the prisoners of parochial prejudices with the members of the human race. The Enlightenment put forth emancipation-through-universalization as a viable project, and simultaneously offered a foolproof method for implementing it: culture, Bildung, self-improvement. The method involved the acquisition of everything good worth acquiring, and the suppression of everything bad which deserved to be suppressed. The dividing line between good and bad was drawn most emphatically in the realm of manners. L’honnête homme was, first and foremost, a man of refinement. Accordingly, the emancipated Jews who could afford the price of the entry tickets to the new, and hopefully universalistic, human race defined the state of emancipation as that of Sittlichkeit – refined and respectable manners like cleanliness, closely observed sexual etiquette, inobtrusive conduct in public places. And they saw the royal road to this condition as the process of Veredelung der Israeliten. To be a man rather than an outsider or a member of a stigmatized minority meant to be able to control one’s passions, to keep one’s nerves in check, to be strong (yet not overbearing) in body and mind. The Jews who took the Enlightenment on its word and identified emancipation with refinement of manners and, more generally, with self-cultivation had become cultural fanatics. In every Western nation they were the ones who treated national cultural heritage most seriously – in fact, more seriously than expected (mostly as means of national mobilization and state legitimation). Trying to excel in the complex and often elusive task ahead, they sung the praises of national monuments and masterpieces of national art and literature, only to find that the audience comprised mostly people similar to themselves. They read avidly and voraciously, only to find they could discuss what they read only with other aspiring Germans or Frenchmen like themselves. Far from bringing them closer to assimilation, conspicuous cultural enthusiasm and obsessive display of cultural nobility set them aside from the native middle class and, if anything, supplied further evidence of their ineradicable foreignness. ‘The entrance of Jewry as a collective into the body of German society did not mean real integration into any

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part, stratum, or section of it. It meant, rather, the creation of a separate subgroup which conformed to the German middle class in some of its characteristics.’13 What more than anything else kept the assimilating Jews apart from any established section of the majority was precisely their assimilatory zeal, which twisted their eagerly observed conformity into an all-too-salient and resented game of pretensions. Cultural creativity and cultural performance are by definition public affairs and highly visible. Yet it was precisely in this sphere that, as a rule, the assimilating Jews were heavily overrepresented. ‘Jews who aspired to social acceptance but had difficulty entering German circles may have found sitting in a mixed audience in the concert hall and theatre a convenient way of demonstrating their membership in society at large. Reading at home lacked, of course, this public dimension.’14 As this strategy was followed with a regularity paradoxical (though not unexpected) for a group propelled by the idea of assimilation as an essentially individual activity, the theatregoers, concert addicts and devoted art patrons mixed mostly with each other. In many German or French cultural centres, symphonic concerts and theatre premieres came to play the same social role for the assimilating Jews as the weekly ritual of high church service played for the gentile part of the middle class. The self-destructive tendency of assimilation also effected occupations. Whatever other preferences Jews may have had for legal or medical careers, they offered particular attractions to assimilating Jews as ‘free’ professions, which could be practised individually and independently of discriminatory employment policies. In addition, the cult of individuality permeating the professions’ esprit de corps chimed well with the interpretation of assimilation as a task to be performed singly and aimed at emancipation from communal fetters. The unplanned outcome of this double attraction was again an overrepresentation of Jews in the professions, and a new set of arguments to prove the Jews’ permanent distinctiveness. The abandoning of traditional Jewish occupations, which from the assimilants’ viewpoint meant Entjudung (de-judaization of ‘men as such’) appeared to the baffled native public more like the process of Verjudung (judaization of heretofore gentile areas).15 It is no wonder that, throughout Western Europe, it was the rapidly assimilating, reformed and cultivated Jews who became the butt of new forms of anti-Semitism. The Enlightenment had sanctioned the emancipation of Jews as individuals and condemned Judaism as a distinct form of collective life. The assimilators, who earnestly accepted this in letter and spirit, found post-Enlightenment


History and Politics

society living according to principles contrary to the declared ones. Modern society found it much easier to absorb traditional Jewish communities, which observed their orthodox ways and rejoiced in their conspicuous distinctiveness. It had a more difficult time coming to terms with the consuming, boundary-blurring mobility of ‘non-Jewish Jews’ which, among other things, also compromised the much needed security hitherto based on unproblematic belonging. Under the double pressure of gentile resentment and the inner paradoxes of the assimilatory drive, the assimilated culture enthusiasts manoeuvred themselves into a situation exactly the opposite of the one they sought. According to Volkov’s perceptive observation, ‘despite themselves, they were made into a partly segregated social element, though theirs was not a community of social exclusiveness but the social attraction among the likes’.16 It was hoped that emancipation17 would lead to the complete amalgamation of Jews with their gentile neighbours. The immediate outcome of legal equality was the emergence of what Katz called a semi-neutral society, ‘where the inferior status of the Jews was ignored by conscious effort rather than eliminated by actual equality’. Enlightened Jews weakened their bonds with traditional community. Yet, in order to satisfy their new unorthodox needs, they had to ‘find their own circles’. Even after formal emancipation was followed by the rise of liberalism, social emancipation ‘remained a far cry from the vision that had sustained Jews when they first started to leave behind the boundaries of their traditional society … Jews, even in countries where they had obtained political freedom, were economically advanced, and assimilated culturally, remained separate, even conspicuously so.’18 Besides gentile rejection, assimilants confronted problems they shared only with other people in the same position, who consequently understood them best and whose friendship they consciously or unconsciously sought. From this truly ‘catch 22’ plight, there was no guaranteed escape. Heine could still explain his conversion to Christianity in terms of the role of baptism as the ticket to the modern world. As modernity progressed, such tickets, though still available, ceased to guarantee entry. Towards the end of the nineteenth century, conversions decreased. No doubt, one reason was the general decline of religious beliefs and the gradual ‘privatization’ of denominational loyalty. In France, where the separation of church and state became a central political issue, ‘one obtained the ticket to assimilation not through baptism but rather, in part at least, through an avowed transcendence of formal religious beliefs’.19 But there was another, arguably more important, reason. Partly because of the Jews’

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formidable territorial and occupational mobility following their legal emancipation, and partly as a result of the spectacular success of assimilation (at least in its external aspects), the boundarykeeping (and hence segregatory) concerns of most communities could no longer be maintained by means of old religious criteria, which rendered membership ultimately dependent on individual choice. The very institution of conversion testified to the voluntary, subjective nature of belonging. Such a principle could not be reconciled with the modern drive towards national self-determination and the concern with boundary-drawing and boundary defence which followed it. Contrary to the modern assumption of the omnipotence of culture and education, drawing clear limits to the programme of proselytization and segregating external categories (whose acculturation is neither feasible nor desirable) is as much an organic part of modern social organization as is the tendency to cultural crusades within the sought territory. This explains the new and distinct forms of modern anti-Semitism. The argument based on the fact that ‘they rejected Christ’ no longer holds, since the ‘sin’ can be readily remedied by simple repentance. In order to keep Jews securely off limits under conditions of legal emancipation, another criterion was needed: one which rendered cultural or religious conversion impotent, and subjective self-definition irrelevant. The sought principle of segregation was found in the idea of race, promoted by the science of the time but soon embraced by political elites concerned with guarding the frontiers of their dominion. With racism elbowing out traditional modes of Jewish estrangement, the remaining box offices offering tickets to the society of ‘men as such’ were shut. Thus, the assimilating Jews did not cheat or otherwise fail to play the game according to the rules. Rather, the rules kept changing, so that every gain the hapless players made promptly became a loss. Having agreed at the start never to challenge the exclusive right of the casino owners to set the rules, and concerned with demonstrating above all their appreciation of the opportunities such rules create, converts to assimilation made themselves hostages to the same house managers whose unquestionable authority they swore to accept to legitimate their own success. They could not challenge that authority without sapping the foundation of their redemptive hopes. The project of assimilation turned out to be a trap. Without control over the rules, it was impossible to win. The closer success came, the more elusive it became. The currency of emancipation tended to be devalued or withdrawn from circulation faster than it could be hoarded.


History and Politics

ASSIMILATION’S INNER DEMONS The assimilants did not catch on too quickly. In spite of evidence to the contrary, assimilation had its own momentum and enough encouraging episodes to keep spirits high and belief in the ultimate success untarnished. The striking feature of the assimilation drive was the participants’ unshakeable conviction that the ultimate outcome was entirely in their hands: that the earnestness and persistence of their efforts made the difference between success or failure. This conviction was central to the project of redemption-throughassimilation and would not be abandoned or even critically examined without undermining the project itself, even when gathering clouds were about to cover whatever sky remained dear. Thus, Reinach, the idol of French Jewish assimilationists, could insist, after the potentially sobering Dreyfus affair: The Jews, since they have ceased to be treated as pariahs, must identify themselves, in heart and in fact, with the nations which have accepted them, renounce their practices, the aspirations, the peculiarities of costume and language which tended to isolate them from their fellow citizens, in a word cease to be a despised nation, and henceforth be considered only a religious denomination.20

False consciousness was the very condition of the project’s ostensible feasibility, and hence of its motivational potential. False consciousness, however, cannot last long unless, in the face of adverse evidence, it is supported by auxiliary theories which provide the empirical foundation it otherwise lacks. The vexing elusiveness of the final objective had to be explained away: how else and better than by promoting the hosts’ account of the failure. The host majority is extremely difficult to satisfy. It would be quick to point out that the ostensibly assimilated citizen of Jewish origin wears a mask too thin to be trusted; that, when scratched, the mask readily reveals the unprepossessing likeness of the uncivilized being the assimilants swore to have left behind. By far the most expedient way to divert the hosts’ suspicions was to compete in casting aspersions on one’s own discredited past. Since assimilation was an individual affair, it never attracted all the Jews in any given country. However hard the assimilationists tried, there were always small residues of their former brethren too old, too pious or just too poor or humble to take seriously the assimilatory option. Their presence did not worry the host population too

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much: it did not interfere with the majority’s idea of order and power hierarchy. If anything, it reinforced the boundaries the majority cared about. But they were a sore in the assimilationists’ eyes. They were too reminiscent of the assimilationists’ own past, brought unscathed into the present for everybody to see. Unable to accept that what the majority really minded was that they pretended to be different, and not that their uncivilized co-religionists were what they were, the enthusiasts of assimilation sought in the otherness of the non-assimilated the explanation of their own lack of success. What followed was what Peter Gay once called the selective anti-Semitism of the assimilated Jews. If one could only convince native opinion that there were Jews and Jews, that they had even less in common than the hosts had with Jewry as such, and that the native majority and the assimilated Jews were for all practical purposes in one camp, jointly facing the common threat lurking in the uneducated and uneducable aliens of Jewish persuasion. In 1856, freshly ennobled Baron Erzel Ginzburg pleaded with the Russian Tsar on behalf of those Jews ‘who for many years developed the life, activities and resources of the country’ against ‘the other classes of Jewry, who have not as yet given any evidence of their good intentions, usefulness and industry’. He begged ‘the gracious monarch to distinguish the wheat from the chaff, and, as an encouragement to good and praiseworthy activity, to bestow a number of modest privileges upon the deserving and educated’.21 For the assimilationists, however, a much more serious threat than their own local remnants of ghettoized Jewry were the Yiddishspeaking, orthodox masses of Eastern Jewry who, beginning with the second half of the nineteenth century, showed a frightening tendency to move West. Such a move would make the bottom fall out of the assimilationist project and turn all their good work into a truly Sisyphean task. The leftovers of the ghetto past would grow faster than they could possibly be exterminated and would become much too large to be swept under any conceivable rug. The Oriental Jew had become the incarnation of the inner demon in the assimilationist soul. Every centre of assimilation had its own ‘Oriental Jews’. Contrary to widespread opinion, heavily influenced by the unanimity with which the Eastern threat was feared, there was no one specific cultural type of the Oriental Jew. People who fought tooth and nail against their own Orientals at home might easily turn into abhorrent exemplars of the awesome Eastern threat once they moved a few hundred miles away. The ‘pushy beggars’ or ‘Galician Schnorrers’ of German Jewry were in their home country the gallant knights of


History and Politics

European culture against the ‘Litwaks’. The charges were not limited to cultural backwardness. In what was to be the universal pattern in the unhappy relation of assimilating Jewry with their respective Ostjuden, they accused the Litwaks of all the sins native opinion suspected them of. ‘A pronounced aversion to the so-called “Litwaks” was evident throughout the history of the assimilationist process [in Polish lands]. They were accused of antipathy to Polish culture, being in favour of Russian culture, and of promoting Zionism.’22 When Polish socialists split into two parties, with only one firmly committed to Polish independence, Julian Unszlicht explained the Jewish preference for the other one in terms of the Litwaks’ Russian sympathies.23 The inner demons of assimilation were patched together out of arguments used by native majorities to justify or rationalize their urge to keep the assimilating Jews on the other side of an invisible, yet well-guarded, social boundary. As the general assimilation project split into the specific tasks of overcoming the resentments of concrete national societies, so did the shape of the inner demons diversify to take account of the specific obstacles a given national opinion erected on the way to full amalgamation. The assimilants had to prove (or so they defined the task) that they were in complete agreement with the phobias and fully shared the rancours of dominant native opinion. The neighbours inhabiting the lands east of the border were an easy focus for the rampant all-German nationalism of the Bismarckian era. As if anticipating Nazi rhetoric, they were described as carriers of diseases and epidemics, ordered to be deloused on crossing the German border, and often transported through the country in sealed trains allowed to stop only at properly equipped quarantine stations. In 1892 in Hamburg, and in 1894 in Marburg, new Jewish immigrants from Poland were blamed for outbreaks of cholera. Following the twisted logic of boundary building, the insalubrity of the Orientals was related to their pre-human cultural standards, barbaric language (the Polish language was disdained as ‘wretchedly degenerate’, ‘unviable’, ‘half-asiatic’ and generally inferior), inborn restlessness and inability to harbour national feelings and loyalty.24 Jewish enlightened opinion loyally followed the lead, complete with the oxymoronic logic with which the substance of stigma was depicted. On the one hand, Oriental Jews were charged with being ‘fully alien to German Jews by virtue of their customs, outlook, and way of life’; on the other, it was held against them that they tried to shed barbaric garb with the same thoroughness of which the assimilated German Jews were so proud. As the Allgemeine Zeitung des Judentums wrote on 22 May 1872, ‘Those Jews may be registered

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with the police as Jews, but their way of living is thoroughly un-Jewish. Once these people cross the Polish border and take off their long coats, they no longer observe the Jewish law. The very people who lived so orthodox a life in Polish towns now have thrown overboard all Jewish laws.’25 Politically, socially and psychologically, the hatred of recent Jewish immigrants had its uses – particularly as it provided an opportunity for sharing deeply felt and publicly vented feelings with the Germans. In Wertheimer’s apt summary, ‘nothing, after all, unites one with others more than passion of a common enemy. Moreover, anti-Semitism had a special function in the German Jewish psychic economy: hatred of outsiders diverted self-hatred to other targets. Finally, and most important: to construct this target for Jew-hatred would, many German Jews fondly believed, disarm German antiSemitism altogether.’ Besides, ‘the newcomers threatened to revive an image of the Jew that natives had worked so hard to obliterate’.26 German Jewry was not alone in possessing and fighting its inner demons. The Ostjude problem was in no way a phenomenon confined to German conditions and explicable in terms of the peculiarities of local Jewry, or even particular features of German–Polish antagonisms. The ubiquity of strikingly similar obsessions, stereotypes and attitudes shows beyond reasonable doubt that the construction of an ‘unworthy Jew’ and the strained and flustered reaction to all display of ostentatiously Jewish traits had little to do with local conditions and everything to do with the inner logic of the assimilation project. It was in terms of this project and this project alone that some Jews had to become ‘unworthy’ and all affinity and intercourse with them regarded as shameful and stigmatizing. Really Jewish Jews were seen as saboteurs of what otherwise would surely have been a successful venture. They were blamed for the all too evident, yet stubbornly denied, failure of assimilatory efforts.27 Established French Jewry of the late nineteenth century viewed with horror the influx of Eastern European Jews. Louis Dollivet, a popular Jewish novelist, made it clear that, had the newcomers only been ‘filtered out, no one would have treated the French Jews as foreigners’, while Bernard Lazare, an ardent assimilationist, who later became a dedicated Jewish nationalist, flatly declared that he had nothing in common with ‘these coarse and dirty, pillaging Tartars, who come to feed upon a country which does not belong to them’. Enlightened Jewish opinion made no bones about its view of the duties of Alliance Israélite Universelle towards the refugees: ‘To welcome these contemptible people to our country, to help them, to patronize them, to implant them in a soil which is not their own and


History and Politics

which does not nourish them, in order to facilitate their conquest? For whose benefit is this? For the benefit of the cosmopolitan juif who has no ties with any nation, who is [like a] Beduin moving his tent about with complete indifference.’ Israelites, staunch French patriots, would have no truck with the rootless cosmopolitanism of a juif. These and similar declarations fairly expressed, if in an extreme form, the general embarrassment the relatively well-adjusted Jewish community in France felt at the sight of strangers, whom dominant opinion forced upon them as their brethren. In Marrus’s considered and well-documented summary: it appears that the Eastern European Jews were neither well received nor adequately cared for. The Paris Cometé de Bienfaisance even attempted to have Eastern European Jews repatriated, and continually directed them out of France, mostly to America. It seems clear that the French Jewish community, not unlike Jewish communities elsewhere, was reluctant and unwilling to absorb significant numbers of Eastern European Jews. The latter were blamed by some French Jews for undoing the painfully won benefits of assimilation.28

Fishman has painstakingly documented the torments of assimilated British Jews, caught in what was previously described as the ‘Dench dilemma’ – forced to admit kinship with, and accept responsibility for, the kind of people from whom they felt no less estranged than their gentile neighbours: Already in the 1870s, a marked increase in alien Jews was a source of fear and embarrassment to Anglo-Jewry. In March 1871, its mouthpiece – the Jewish Chronicle – perceived, with obvious relief, ‘the very pleasing fact that there is a very material decrease in the number of poor foreign Jewish immigrants, and a very material increase in the poor Jews who have left this country to seek subsistence elsewhere during the past year …’ The Board of Guardians had adopted the Poor Law formula of restricting the possibilities of cash relief by imposing a residential qualification of six months before any applicant could be considered … The unspoken assumption was that starvation was a rational deterrent. But such inhumanity would focus the alien issue still further to the detriment of the Jewish community.

On 29 July 1881, the Jewish Chronicle complained – and warned: ‘Our fair name is bound up with theirs; the outside world is not agreeable with making minute discrimination between Jews in general as much, if not more, from them than from the Anglicized portion of the Community.’29

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Fishman’s analysis reveals what quite a few other studies of the problem gloss over: that the strained relation between assimilating natives and rough newcomers was as much class-related as sociocultural. On the whole, the immigrants belonged to a different class: they added a new dimension to the hitherto uniformly middle-class Jewish community. The immigrants confronted the comfortably settled and unified community with the unfamiliar problem of national solidarity, spanning positions which under different circumstances would have been sharply separated by class antagonisms. The Jewish elite was goaded and, in the end, forced by predominant opinion to declare and to practise paternalistic responsibility for people repulsive and frightening not just because of their cultural strangeness, but also because of belonging to an opposite camp in the intensifying class war. An unavoidable link between the assimilated elite and the poor, working-class immigrants would not just detract from its hard-won, impeccable Englishness, but also question its class respectability and political credentials. The more class solidarity among immigrant workers prevailed over traditional respect for the betters among the poor members of the Jewish community, the more acute became the anxiety of the assimilated elite and its resentment of the moral and political responsibility for the unruly and disruptive fringes of the affluent society. Official Jewish institutions soon found themselves in the forefront of the struggle against Jewish socialist groups and trade unions. According to Fishman, dirty tricks and innuendos were not shunned as long as they were deemed efficient. Jewish workers, fast learning the methods applied by their more experienced English and Irish comrades, soon found that the hostility of the Jewish establishment, as overt and unqualified as that of the rest of the establishment, was if anything even more venomous: the ordinary enmity of a class threatened in its privilege mixed with the honour of the barely tolerated minority sensing a danger to its not yet fully guaranteed acceptance. With a wholly unintended comical effect, this mixture found one of its many poignant expressions in the Jewish Chronicle’s report of the demonstration of Jewish strikers in June 1906: ‘Could redound little to the credit of the East End that crowds of Jewish young men and women, conspicuously more or less recent arrivals in the country should invade the westwards throughfares, flaunting gaudy banners inscribed with revolutionary texts, and affrighting the decorous silence of a London Sunday with a blatant blare of brass…’. What will the Sabbath-loving gentiles think? And what about the imposition of extra duties on the police who ‘count many churchgoers in its rank, and the reflection that these men are compelled to


History and Politics

forgo their weekly hours of devotion for the purpose of controlling an alien mob is distinctly not a pleasant one’.30 EMANCIPATORY LIMITS OF ASSIMILATION The inner demons of assimilation reflected the obstacles encountered and the frustration of early hopes of progressive amalgamation and dissolution of Jewish distinctiveness. But the fate of assimilation was not in the assimilants’ hands. Obviously, there were some external limits to the project, over which the actors themselves had little control. Yet these limits were not immediately clear and, at least for a while, could be interpreted in various ways. Naturally, the first choice was self-criticism: in view of the strength of resistance, amount of suspicion and size of the task, not enough had been done. Since the project was predicated on the unqualified acceptance of the majority’s standards, the assimilants’ own standards had to be examined to see how they differed. The uncivilized/foreign-looking/superstitious/uneducated/poor/troublesome people forcing themselves and forced upon assimilating communities as their natural wards offered a vivid illustration of such violation of standards. In the hope of final success, they offered a stay of execution. If only the unwanted strangers could be put out of sight, eliminated or raised to accepted civilized standards, one could try again, starting from the point where the process had been brutally interrupted. A stay of execution did not mean, however, salvation. External barriers to assimilation as the road to emancipation were being erected so massively at both ends of the social spectrum that they could hardly be overlooked. One area where the limits to assimilation were bound to be exposed was near the top of the social hierarchy. Lewin suggests that a particularly acute social tension is generated in a situation ‘in which a goal is “almost reached”’.31 Those individuals who seemingly crossed the threshold to higher social circles did so at the cost of thoroughly effacing their former identity – everything the target group may have found offensive. By the same token, they deprived themselves of the ‘second line of defence’, the moral support of the group they had decided to abandon, and were increasingly vulnerable to the rejection or disapproval of the group they sought to join. Since they believed they had kept their part of the bargain – done their best to wipe out the stigma of their distinctiveness – they could only salvage their integrity by reinterpreting the values of those who legitimated the unexpected rejection. Reinterpretation can lead to the critique and ultimately rejection of previously coveted values,

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and ultimately to the questioning of the social order in which the now condemned values are allowed to dominate. This is not the only strategy available in the situation under discussion.32 It is, however, as rational a strategy as any, and arguably easier to embrace than others. Another site was close to the bottom of the social scale. Among the Jewish poor, in the tantalizingly yet deceptively open ghettos of the East, or in immigrant urban slums of St Paul, Stepney or the Lower East Side, redemption-through-assimilation did not seem like a viable proposition. Whatever else it may have meant, assimilation was a middle-class project. It meant raising social and political acceptance to the level of an already achieved economic status. This was not a road to redemption open to the poor. In their case, a tolerable economic status was something yet to be achieved, and something likely to be achieved with the help of social, and particularly political, levers. Economic deprivation eliminated the possibility of assimilation and thus constituted a most salient limit to the project. More precisely, it invalidated the concept of amalgamation as a stage achievable merely through individual effort. Moreover, in the eyes of the poor, the idea of middle-class assimilation was discredited very early on by the fact that, in their struggle for survival and improvement, they encountered middle-class Jews as the most immediate obstacles to progress. This middle-class Anglo-Jewry was what Morris Wishnevsky complained about in the name of fellow immigrants: ‘They are ashamed of us; not as one is ashamed of poor relations, but as one is shamed by a leper, an outcast, a black sheep … and their charity always has a flavour of riddance payment.’ In this context, it is understandable how salvation from Jewish stigma and from pariah status could be seen as a collective task. And so we read in the statute of the London Agudah Socialistim Khaverim of 1876: ‘While we Jews are a part of humanity, we cannot achieve personal liberation except through that of all men.’33 In Western slums, these ideas have been embraced by those among the Jews to whom the offer extended by bourgeois liberalism did not apply. In the East, there never was any liberal offer. No real or illusory avenues of escape from pariah status could tempt even the economically better off to try individual assimilation as a solution to what was clearly a collective problem – perhaps even a problem of society as a whole. ‘What bourgeois liberalism achieved for the Jews in Western Europe,’ wrote Deutscher, ‘only Bolshevism was able to achieve for them in Eastern Europe.’34 Or so it seemed. Thus, Paul Akselrod and Yuri Zederbaum (Martov) found their way to the ranks of the same Russian revolutionary party in their search for redemption. The first,


History and Politics

son of an impoverished craftsman from a Belorussian shtetl, had his imagination fired by the possibility not of ‘emancipation in the narrow sense of the improvement of their position, but with the goal of building the church of the future, of bringing to humanity general happiness, freedom, equality, general brotherhood, and of raising it to a new, infinitely higher level of civilization than the present one’. The second, son of a rich and assimilated merchant, found in the revolution a refuge from the nightmarish memory of the 1881 Odessa pogrom – a disaster which, as he knew well, no wealth, gentile culture or any other individual achievement could have averted. Unlike other militants, whose revolutionary identities could be explained in terms of shared class deprivation rather than national distinctiveness, this repressed yet powerful feeling that the universalistic revolutionary project was more than contingently related to his desire to solve his own particularistic ethnic problem may have prompted Martov to fight Jewish separation in the Russian revolutionary movement with unrivalled ferocity and acerbity.35 To sum up, the limitations of the assimilationist project were most likely to surface either close to the end of its individual implementation – when the failure of the project became too obvious to be denied; or at the beginning – when it was evident that the lack of opportunities to assimilate was a function of global sociopolitical arrangements and part of a broader social problem. Either way, some people tended to discard the strategy of assimilation – i.e., individual adaptation to the social order – in favour of a revolutionary one. By itself, however, this shift did not necessarily entail a change of attitude towards Jewish identity. ASSIMILATION THROUGH REVOLUTION It is not ethnic, cultural or religious peculiarity that divides people into ethnic categories. Rather, it is social segregation (prohibition of communality and commerce, ritualization of intercourse, maintenance of symbolic distinction, refusal of social esteem, etc.) which leads to the self-construction and self-perpetuation of ethnic identities. As Gellner points out, ‘any historical or ethnic atlas outlines several possible nationalities or nationalisms of which only a few are chosen. That some are chosen is a sociological necessity, but which ones are chosen is a matter of historic accident.’36 Ethnicity does not explain the perpetuation of differentiated patterns of intercourse. It is, rather, the social distance and mutual autonomy created and sustained by the persistence of such patterns that lead to a differentiation of cultural

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perspectives. These, in turn, attach various meanings to groupascribed traits and thereby transform them into culturally significant differences subsequently reinforced through the medium of ethnocentric ideologies. In a nutshell, randomly distributed peculiarities are systematized into constitutive features of ethnic cohesion by social forces acting through group intercourse rather than stemming from ethnic distinctiveness. This, however, does not make ethnic identities any more contingent, flexible or manipulable by individual efforts. If anything, the opposite is true. The priority of collective and supra-individual forces – i.e., forces beyond the control of those affected by their impact over individual self-definition – renders ethnic identities objective, i.e., immune from an individual refusal to recognize them as such. Following Barth, the relation between ethnic identities and social intercourse can be seen as the priority of ethnic boundaries over ethnic content. The continuity of ethnic groups depends on the maintenance of boundaries which precede the systematization of cultural traits as ethnic distinctions. Moreover, ethnic traits themselves may change in the course of time, and traits considered central to a given ethnic formation may disappear altogether. As long as boundaries are maintained (and, to reiterate, they are maintained by segregatory practices), the disappearance of such traits will hardly change the reality of ethnic classification. In all likelihood, the focus of discriminatory definition will simply shift to other real or imaginary traits previously considered insignificant and ‘culturally unthematized’. On the whole, ethnic categories provide an organizational vessel that may be given varying contents and forms of content in varying socio-cultural systems. They may be of great relevance to behaviour, but they need not be; they may pervade all social life, or they may be relevant only in limited sectors of activity … [it is] the ethnic boundary that defines the group, not the cultural stuff that it encloses.

However, once the boundary has been established and is successfully maintained, ‘ethnic identity implies a series of constraints on the kinds of roles an individual is allowed to play, and the partners he may choose for different kinds of transactions’. Among ethnic groups, pariah groups constitute a special case. These are groups forcibly reduced to a low status, denied social deference and, on the whole, confined to occupations which, however indispensable within the global division of labour, are shunned and abhorred by the dominant majority. This ‘pariah status’ can be seen as a product


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of permanent and irreparable asymmetry in group intercourse: the result of a situation in which interaction is completely in the hands of the dominant group which alone sets the rules and the limits of interaction, while the oppressed group is reduced to adaptation to the given situation. In the case of the pariah group, boundaries are externally imposed, and they are in principle powerful enough to invalidate in advance the group’s attempts to unilaterally improve its status. The boundaries of pariah groups are most strongly maintained by the excluding host population, and they are often forced to make use of easily noticeable diacritica to advertise their identity … Where the pariahs attempt to pass into larger society, the culture of the host population is generally well known; thus the problem is reduced to a question of escaping the stigmata of disability by dissociating with the pariah community and faking another origin.37

What seems to follow from Barth’s perceptive synthesis of anthropological wisdom is that the pariah status: (1) contains a constant invitation to attempt an escape; (2) defines redemption, or improvement in general, as the acquisition of the way of life practised by the host society (as it institutionalizes the assumption of the superiority of host values); and (3) presents the difference of cultural patterns as the cause of discrimination and oppression. In other words, the pariah status both engenders a temptation to escape and directs attempts to do so on the wrong tracks, where they are bound to fail. Since it is the boundary rather than what it contains that differentiates the relative status of groups locked in permanent interaction, obliterated cultural signs of separatedness and differentiation will be soon replaced by others. The boundary is likely to withstand considerable readjustment. The ostensibly cultural (rather than sociopolitical) determination of inferiority is a deception, which more effectively than any other device defuses the dangers of a successful attack against the existing pattern of domination and its practical consequences. It extinguishes the fire it has kindled – but in the process the fuel is all but burnt out. The admission of someone else’s status and way of life as superior, commendable and more attractive is a constant source of restlessness – at least for those within the pariah groups who find the limits of success inside the boundaries too constraining. These individuals are most likely to appear on the border between the pariah and the host communities. They will come from among those members of the pariah group who, on the strength of their occupational functions,

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interact most intensely with the host society, particularly with its elite circles – the carriers of the coveted values and the vivid illustrations of the distinction explained by the possession of such values. For these individuals, the allurement of cultural traits recognized as superior and displayed as the legitimation of social superiority is a problem they cannot ignore. They must somehow deal with the problem. The ways to deal with it differ in their individual and collective consequences, though admittedly not in the degree of their rationality or the probability of their choice. It is common in socio-psychological literature to dichotomize possible reactions to ethnically defined social inferiority into an all-out attack against the principle of discrimination. This is done in the name of dissociating ethnic ascription from the determination of social placement, or with the ‘black is beautiful’ type of reaction, when the struggle is aimed at the renegotiation of the dominant evaluation of the group heretofore constructed as inferior. Barth offers a more elaborate inventory of possible strategies: In their pursuit of participation in wider social systems to obtain new forms of value they can choose between the following basic strategies: (1) they may attempt to pass and become incorporated …; (2) they may accept a “minority” status, accommodate to and seek to reduce their minority disabilities by encapsulating all cultural differentiae in sectors of non-articulation, while participating in the larger system … in the other sectors of activity; (3) they may choose to emphasize their ethnic identity, using it to develop new positions and patterns to organize activities in those sectors previously not found in their society or inadequately developed for new purposes.38

The first strategy makes sense to those who follow it only in so far as they assume that the disability of the group as a whole is not negotiable and hence not rectifiable, while the factors which keep any given individual inside the disabled group are essentially manipulable and can be mobilized to the opposite effect (e.g., the factors are of the nature of culturally induced traits, which can be discarded and replaced in the process of Veredelung der Israeliten). In the West, this was the strategy followed by some members of the Jewish elite at early stages of political emancipation, when the wholesale advancement of the community was not seen as a foregone conclusion, and later when the continuous influx of unrefined elements from lands not yet reached by the benign Veredelung influence made the advancement of the community look like a Sisyphean task. In the East, the first strategy was the main vehicle of self-improvement. In the absence of political emancipation and in the face of the discouraging weakness


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of liberal opinion, the collective redemption was never really put on the agenda, and the solitary passage seemed the only realistic hope. For obvious reasons, the second strategy was never tried in the East on a large scale (even if contemplated and even written into platforms of mostly ephemeral cultural movements). But it seems to have replaced the first strategy for Jewry in most Western, liberal countries, once two important changes in the Jewish situation had taken place. First was the growing class uniformity of the Jewish population, with all or most Jews moving solidly into the middle or upper reaches of the bourgeoisie and hence fighting off the threat of social disabilities with middle-class resources and techniques. With this departure, individual passage tied to the effacement of past identity (always a risky, tiresome and psychically costly affair) lost most of its previously imputed advantages. Second was the new and unexpected obstacle to the erasure of Jewish commitments: the creation of the State of Israel, and particularly the entry of Israel on a political and military path, which rendered loyalty to Israel once more particularistic, i.e., difficult to reconcile with loyalty to liberal and other general humanistic standards in terms of which the full acceptance of Jews as ‘unmarked’ members of the host community was sought and argued. The impact of the latter factor has been truly remarkable. On the one hand, there is a growing tendency among diasporic Jewry to identify with the most particularistic and fundamentalist, least liberal and universalistic political camps within the host society: it is in such camps that Jews may expect their unqualified acceptance of the strong-arm policy of Israel to be shared or at least received sympathetically. On the other hand, even the commitment to blatantly universalistic values tends to be institutionalized and displayed in a particularistic Jewish framework (hence the surprising revival of Jewish socialism, a Jewish anti-nuclear movement, or Jewish groups formed to fight discrimination against homosexuals). Under the circumstances, the complete elimination of Jewish distinctiveness, even if attractive for other reasons, is hardly a viable proposition. Hence the perfect fit between the situation and the second strategy, now probably the most commonly accepted within Western Jewry – a post-humorous triumph of Mendelssohn’s recipe to be a Jew at home, a man in the street.39 The battle to prevent the synagogue from interfering with the ‘elsewhere’ having been won, the task is to keep this ‘elsewhere’ from interfering with the synagogue, and to gain the recognition that all potentially offensive and divisive topics belong within the synagogue. The third of Barth’s strategies, in its pure form, seems to have played a minor role in the history of Jewish emancipation. Not

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so, however, if one considers as its modified and somewhat diluted version the notorious Jewish propensity to seek skills in relatively new, expanding, occupations. These new areas in the social division of labour promised access to the desired social standing in comparison with better-established prestigious occupations, which explains the overrepresentation of Jews in all truly modern occupations that entail the equally modern mechanisms of apprenticeship, skill acquisition and career structure. Barth’s useful typology, though, is missing a fourth strategy, that of a frontal assault on the very principle of discrimination on the grounds of ethnicity, aimed at the de-legitimation of the practices of segregation and differential treatment. Though the practices in question are easiest to focus on, and seemingly most realistically rectifiable when they rest on politically sustained legal principles, there is always a likelihood that legislative levers and political force can be used to promote the erosion of these forms of discrimination caused and sustained by diffuse practices of social interaction or casual cultural attitudes. As Dench has wittily commented, ‘[i]f Jews, who have suffered for so long, are able to believe that tinkering with social institutions can alter the hearts of men, then it is churlish, not to mention inopportune, to dispute it too hotly.’40 Such a belief had been, after all, authorized and anointed by the never challenged modern canon that sanctified the faith in the pliability and perfectibility of man as the iron-clad warranty of the soundness of its ambitions, and that upheld the right of properly instituted powers to define and enforce the pattern of individual life and social intercourse. This belief may be seen as the common denominator of the Jewish ‘special relation’ with the modern socialist movement. Beyond this common feature, however, hides a sharp difference of psycho-social factors that aroused Jewish interest in socialist programmes and in socialism as a milieu. The most profound difference was related to the previously discussed opposition between problems arising respectively at the beginning and end of the assimilation drive. JEWISH ROADS TO REVOLUTION Imperial and Weimar Germany offer the most thoroughly investigated cases of the first type of Jewish involvement in socialism. By the end of the nineteenth century, it had become evident that the advancement of Jews inside the existing German polity had its limitations. Individual economic and educational excellence did not by themselves guarantee political equality, social acceptance, and freedom from prejudice and


History and Politics

discrimination. Weak and submissive German liberalism stopped short of breaking the political monopoly of conservative and nationalist land-owning elites. According to Wistrich’s calculation, after 1893 non-baptized Jews virtually disappeared from the Reichstag benches of German bourgeois and conservative parties. However, they entered en masse the parliamentary representation of the rising socialist movement where, beginning in 1881, they regularly made up more than 10 per cent of the group (a proportion 10 times higher than in the population as a whole).41 Inside the SDP, Jews constituted a very special category. Unlike non-Jewish rank-and-file members and the leadership, they came mostly from well-off middle-class families. Above all, they were generally highly educated (in the 1912 parliament, for instance, 11 out of 12 Jewish socialist deputies, as compared to 12 out of 98 non-Jewish deputies, were university graduates). Without any conscious design and without any noticeable outside pressures, the Jewish socialist activists found themselves heavily concentrated in selected areas of the party. They constituted a majority among party journalists, theorists and teachers. This assured them central and highly prestigious roles in the party and, thus, in German politics as a whole. The same roles, however, eventually made their position inside the party increasingly awkward and uncomfortable, once the originally radical movement ossified into a highly bureaucratized establishment concerned primarily with routines and upward social mobility. When integration and preservation rather than ideological mobilization became central, the theoretical schisms and hair-splitting in which the Jewish party elite excelled came to be resented by the increasingly pragmatic leadership. Following the well-established German pattern, the effort to phase out the now bothersome ideological principles took the form of an attack against the Ostjuden. New party leaders of the Noske generation, administrators trained mostly from within the trade unions, felt threatened and uncomfortable when forced by sophisticated intellectuals to debate issues irrelevant to their concrete tasks. They saw party intellectuals as outsiders to matters rightfully belonging to German workers. The radical ideologists were best dismissed when called dirty Polish Jews, and explained away by reference to their incurably East European mentality and inability to understand the German working class. There was, however, another Jewish road to socialism and revolution. It did not start when assimilation failed, but well before. This second road was an alternative to assimilation. It was the choice of the Jewish poor, who had every reason to consider their plight the result of class as well as national oppression. The exploiters, whom

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they knew directly and who caused them the most suffering, were all Jews. They inscribed their grievances and their hopes alike within the framework of the Jewish community – the latter-day descendants of the early modern ghettos. Throughout European history, Jews lived in closely knit communities within compact quarters of the towns. Complex rituals further emphasized the isolation and effectively guaranteed the self-imposed boundary. From the fifteenth century, the Jewish habit was codified as the law imposed by the host authorities. What has now become the Jewish ghetto was not, however, experienced by its inhabitants unambiguously as a prison. It was indeed a place of enforced confinement, but also an island of relative security and mutual support in a sea of uncertainty and hostility. The ghetto was never an autarkic society and could exist only in a symbiotic relation with the gentile world. This took many of the ghetto residents outside the walls and brought them into regular contact with the non-Jewish environment. As a rule, however, at the end of the day or the week spent outside, they returned inside the walls with a feeling of relief – as to their natural and only home. For the Jews’ spiritual life, the ghetto was a self-sufficient community. As Katz has pointed out, Jewish self-enclosure in the ghetto had another effect of far-reaching significance directly relevant to the present discussion. ‘The logical corollary of the socially introverted Jewish ghetto life was the Jewish indifference to conditions and events in the outside world. The tense Jewish feeling and apprehension regarding Christianity, which were the principal characteristics of the Middle Ages, had disappeared during the ghetto period … [T]ension – even aggression – gradually weakened, and was replaced by indifference and apathy.’42 The Jews, including their spiritual leaders, turned their backs to the surrounding culture which, for all practical purposes, was declared out of bounds and of no Jewish concern. Formerly pugnacious stances towards Christian teachings and institutions – a response to the Church’s real or merely surmised proselytizing ambitions – generated an acute interest in Christian ideas and Christian life, and led followers of the Judaic tradition to follow them attentively. Later, with Jewish distinctiveness officially recognized and institutionalized, this interest waned along with the feeling of urgency. Enclosed in the ghetto, Jewish life acquired its own momentum, and its subsequent history developed by and large independently of events outside the walls. The spiritual reflection of this autonomy was the tendency to inscribe all problems facing Jewish life into the framework of internal Jewish resources, and to seek their solutions through means accessible to Jews and controlled


History and Politics

by them. To most ghetto inhabitants, barred from all contact with the outside world and in most cases prevented from such contact by linguistic barriers, the thought that changes in the Christian world could resolve Jewish worries must have seemed bizarre and outlandish. Winds of change, blowing from gentile quarters and causing ghetto walls to crumble, did not reach the low and downtrodden layers of the ghetto community without first passing through its affluent and educated strata. From the point of view of pious Yiddish-speaking craftsmen and petty traders, the immediate effect was extremely disconcerting. Traditional community leaders were the first to catch the stigmatizing aspects of their Jewishness. For all their poorer brethren knew and cared, they turned into part of the alien and irrelevant gentile world. Remembering his childhood spent in the Jewish quarters of turn-of-the-century Warsaw, Bernard Singer wrote of poor apprentices from the basements and attics of Jewish streets, of mercilessly exploited shop-assistants living a life of misery and hopeless drudgery, in whose view ‘“Goyiim” sat as their representatives in the Jewish Council on Grzybowska Street. Members of the council differed from the Jewish mass in their dress, language … With their heads uncovered, sporting thick gentry-style moustaches, they looked like rich Christians. Many a client gnashed his teeth looking at his wardens.’43 The dormant but always present resentment of the Jewish rich mingled now with the centuries-old indignation aimed at non-Jewish strangers – leading, so to speak, to a genuine ‘overdetermination’ of the class war inside the ghetto. When the winds of change finally reached the innermost segments of the ghetto community, it ruffled simultaneously national pride and class hostility. From the bottom of the ghetto hierarchy, emancipation looked like a compound of national vindication and class liberation. The product was Jewish radicalism, Jewish socialism and a Jewish revolutionary movement distinct from Jewish participation in the radical socialist organizations of their host societies. The latter were mostly for intellectuals of Jewish origin who, having taken advantage of educational opportunities, were bound to find out – sooner in the East than in the West, but always to their dismay – that the existing polity was ill prepared to meet the expectations aroused with the acquisition of skills and successful acculturation. More often than not, the rebellion of Jewish intellectuals was an integral part of the wider conflict inspired by the mutual maladjustment of intellectual ambitions and a relatively backward and slow-developing society. Illiberal restrictions aimed specifically at Jews, however, added to the bitterness of the conflict and rendered the incubation

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of a subversive mood more likely.44 For the Jewish part of the disaffected and radicalized intellectuals, universal causes of protest were supplemented by the assimilation drive. Joining the universal movement which knew no Jew or gentile was the only way in which the handicap of Jewishness could be shed. Emancipation did not just loom at the end of the long and tortuous revolutionary struggle – it had been accomplished by the very act of joining. Once inside the socialist movement, Jews immediately turned into ‘men as such’. In a sense, Jewish socialism was an exact reversal of the above. Here, socialism was not a means of emancipation from Jewishness or an alternative version of assimilation, whose other variety failed or turned out to be impracticable. On the contrary, it was bent on redeeming the Jewish tradition by liberating it from the domination of class enemies. Jewish socialists did not perceive any contradiction between their Jewishness, which they had no wish to renounce or hide, and the human emancipation they sought. The opposite was the case. Many Jewish-thinking and Yiddish-speaking socialists saw in socialist society the fullest implementation of the same redemptive, Messianic drive of Judaism that had been swept under the carpet by the joint efforts of official orthodoxy and the rapidly ‘gentilizing’ capitalist elite. It was in the name of the Jewish redemptive tradition that power was to be wrenched from the doubly treacherous hands (in both class and national senses) of the Jewish bosses, aided and abetted by retrograde interpreters of Judaism. Most studies of the Jewish role in modern socialism have focused on the most spectacular German and Austrian cases and have established that Jews were attracted to socialism mostly as a programme of assimilation by other means. There was a socialist as well as a liberal-bourgeois way to assimilate. In light of this overtly or tacitly accepted assumption, Zionism stood as the only alternative to assimilationist policy – an alternative to both socialism and the project of individual acculturation. It stood as the only modern and secular form of reaffirmation of Jewish identity or the only programme of perpetuating Jewishness under modern conditions. However, while it is true that bourgeois-liberal assimilationism and all Jewish socialism (in its German, Russian, East End or American forms alike) did not include the intention to reject symbiosis with the respective gentile host societies or the ambition of a territorial separation from the gentile world, there was a dividing line cutting across this supposedly homogenous camp – a line more relevant than the politically enforced distinction between the Zionist and locally oriented programmes. Sorin’s recent study of the socialist movement among turnof-the-century Jewish immigrants to America casts doubt on the


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received wisdom, which identified commitment to socialism with opposition to Judaism and considered socialism a likely choice of already marginalized and estranged individuals. As Sorin’s subjects were recent newcomers from Eastern Europe who followed patterns of action brought from their original home, his conclusions have a direct bearing on the relation between Jews and socialism in countries where they were most numerous. According to Sorin, Jews did not join the socialist movement in America; they were the socialist movement in America (together with recent German immigrants). If, by the turn of the century, Jews and Germans were the twin pillars of American socialism, after 1908: ‘The Jews in New York City alone would constitute the largest, most powerful single element in New York State socialism. And New York State socialism was the largest single element in the national party.’ By the end of World War I, the Yiddish-language socialist daily, with a circulation of 200,000, was by far the most widely read and influential socialist newspaper in the US. Jewish socialists were anything but the homeless, unattached, estranged individuals that traditional opinion projects. There was a dense network of Jewish communal institutions on the new continent, an abundant and thriving Jewish life, and socialists were deeply immersed in both. In no way did they feel uncomfortable in the Jewish tradition. The opposite was closer to the truth: most Jewish socialists perceived their commitments as the only natural fulfilment of their Jewish identity. Indeed, without Jewish religious values, proletarianization and exploitation by themselves will not explain Jewish socialism. The evidence strongly suggests that the Jewish socialists were a prophetic minority, responding to biblical norms of social justice, interpreted in a modern context. They were people deeply immersed in the moral commandments of the Torah and of the Talmud, in messianic belief-systems, traditions of tsedaka … mutual aid and communal responsibility.45

Jewish socialism drew its strength from its members’ communal ties rather than from their opposition to, and estrangement from, communal values. The communal institutions, rich, viable and with immense mobilizing potential, served often as a springboard for socialist action. There was an unbroken continuity between the poor’s growing rebellion against rising exploitation inside the Jewish community, and the Jewish poor’s interest in socialism, which offered a class-oriented interpretation of their misery complete with a clear prescription. In a

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sense, the socialism of the Jewish poor was a struggle to redefine (not abandon) the Jewish tradition in terms better attuned to the position of the Jewish masses within an increasingly capitalist environment. This is how the first Jewish socialist, Aaron Lieberman, who learned about socialism in Lithuania and later brought it to the Jewish poor of London and New York, defined his credo in 1875: Socialism is not alien to us. The Community is our existence, the revolution – our tradition, the commune – the basis of our legislation as quite clearly indicated by the ordinances forbidding the sale of land, by those on the Jubilee and sabbatical years, on equal rights, fraternity, etc. Our ancient Jewish social order – anarchy; the real link between us across the surface of the globe – internationalism. In the spirit of our people, the great prophets of our time, such as Marx and Lassalle, were educated and developed …46

Abraham Rosenberg, the president of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union (ILGWU), could not find a better way to express his feeling at the sight of the great walk-out of the New York cloakmakers in 1910 than to recall the scene which ‘must have taken place when the Jews were led out of Egypt’.47 Sorin estimates that over half of American Jewish socialists ‘were consistently, unambiguously, and often assertively identifying as Jews. An additional 16% were imbued with a “dual orientation” – with some degree of Jewish consciousness peacefully coexisting with the belief that Jews will gradually acculturate.’48 Even when the logic of the socialist project to which they dedicated their lives led them to renounce all particularism and parochialism, including their national varieties, and assert instead the universality of the human species, they tended to construct their new ‘general-human’ identities by using thoroughly Jewish symbols: displaying the non-observance of divisive rules as prescribed by Jewish (mostly religious) authorities. Even in this negative way, their socialism was given shape and expression by the community in which they grew and with which – if only by opposition – they identified. What the critics of Jewish parochial communality did not bargain for was the slow demise of Jewish socialism, which followed closely the weakening of communal bonds. Wherever Jewish community disintegrated under the atomizing impact of bourgeois liberalism, Jewish socialism ran out of steam. The Jewish masses then emerged from poverty through individual enrichment or following the careers typical of the educated class, and Jewish communal life tended to be reduced to the ‘accepted rituals’, i.e., ‘the ones which most closely


History and Politics

approximate the religious practices found in gentile homes’.49 In all affluent Western countries today, Jews belong almost uniformly to the middle class, with most hurdles to individual advancement according to the generally dominant social standards removed or at least considerably lowered. Thus, emancipation has lost its urgency and appeal, as have its assimilatory and socialist expressions. With the borders stripped of their former role as trade barriers, struggle for exit visas and queueing for entry tickets have lost much of their romanticism and attraction.

9 The Holocaust: Fifty Years Later (1994)

The Holocaust was a historic event. It has its perpetrators, whose degree of guilt had to be measured, so that punishment could be meted out to them according to the gravity of their crimes. It had its victims – gassed, shot or starved to death – whose martyrdom had to be saved from oblivion; and victims who escaped perdition carrying deep spiritual wounds that had to be healed – if they could. And it had its witnesses and bystanders – such as watched in horror since there was nothing they could do, such as closed their eyes since there was little they could do but nothing they had the audacity to do, and such as could do something, perhaps a lot, but did not feel like doing it or did not think the murder they witnessed to be necessarily a bad thing. These have been left with traumas of helplessness, cowardice or complicity to crime – with guilt and shame, which they needed to atone for, or shout down, or argue out of existence. There were thus problems of punishment, of memory and of living with guilt. As the time went by, these problems got resolved or showed to be insoluble. However harrowing and painful they have been (and how cruel the conclusion may seem), they belong to a chapter of history – and it is in the nature of chapters that they tend to be, sooner or later, closed. It is the push towards closure, and the hope to be closed, that give the chapters and the stories they tell their meaning. There is, however, a problem which has neither been resolved nor shown any signs of ageing. A problem which makes the Holocaust more than a historic event, and its story more than a chapter in history. This is the problem of understanding – not of the event itself,


History and Politics

but of its possibility. How could something like this happen? Can one feel comfortable in a kind of society where something like this can happen, if this indeed is a kind of society in which something like this can happen? For quite a long time our attempts to understand focused on the question ‘how could they have done it?’. ‘They’ were not people like us. They must have been unlike us. ‘Theirs’ was not a society like ours. It must have been unlike ours. The unthinkable did happen, but we tried our best to keep it unthinkable – unthinkable for people like us, for a society like ours. We needed that un-thinkability as a tag and a certificate of our humanity and the humanness of our society. So the perpetrators were monsters. So the witnesses were soulless. So the bystanders were morally rotten and, like the murderers, bloodthirsty. So the society they all came from was ill and degenerate, tainted ethically, flawed mentally, obsessed, possessed. The men and their society alike were to us and to our society what disease is to health, cancer to the body, madness to sanity, monstrosity to norm. To grasp what they were was to grasp what we are not. We tried to understand the Holocaust through its abnormality. Such efforts may bring comfort. They even may be necessary to make life liveable. Abnormality of cruelty is a roundabout affirmation of goodness of the normal. Tracing the indecent to far-away places and keeping it there is a way of making decent our own homes: and we, the decent people, want – need – our homes to be decent. If the Holocaust was unprecedented, and unthinkable until it happened, and shocking – these attempts to understand it are none of these. This is, after all, the way we thought of evil and cruelty well before the Holocaust: mad acts are committed by madmen, evil deeds are done by evil people, monstrous things are works of monsters. We just attempt to absorb the shock the way we always did and are good at – by taking the ‘un’ off the un-familiarity, by forcing the unfamiliar to be familiar again. And yet – do we not detract from the uniqueness, monstrosity, sinister significance of the event through twisting it to fit the habitual mould of thought? Does not the uniqueness of the Holocaust require a unique and unprecedented effort of understanding to match it? There were just too many direct and indirect perpetrators, eye and hearsay witnesses, let alone intended victims. And there were just too few sadists, pathological killers or bestial Jew- or Gypsy-haters to account for the multitude of partakers which the operation required. And there were just too many civilized, moral and non-violent people around who failed to notice, let alone stop, the disappearance of their next-door neighbours. (In a TV debate, Claude Lanzmann noted with

The Holocaust: Fifty Years Later


horror that the peasants went on tilling their plots and harvesting crops around the chimneys of Treblinka. In response to which George Steiner reminded that not a single theatre closed in Paris on the night when Paris Jews were rounded up and transported to Drancy.) And the victims not necessarily and not always proved their moral superiority over their executioners; they merely stayed morally superior as long as they had less opportunity for cruelty. The most awesome of horrors bequeathed by the Holocaust is not that some people can do it – but that ordinary people can do it. And – the horror of horrors – that we can no more be sure that we are the ones, let alone the only ones, who cannot. And the most terrifying lesson of the Holocaust is that it is not possible to surmise or anticipate (let alone to predict with any degree of confidence) the massive collapse of humanity by measuring the intensity of evil streaks in individual characters, the proportion of individuals with a sociopathic disposition, or the dispersion of heterophobic beliefs. Even the most scrupulous scrutiny of daily civility of human conduct may be of little help. The most prestigious and respectable press of the civilized world, the acknowledged voice of enlightened opinion, was full of praise and admiration when reporting the daily life of Germany under Nazi rule: the Times and the New York Times and Le Figaro alike were waxing lyrical when they wrote of it, of streets being paragons of cleanliness, law and order – no strife, no mass demonstrations, no protest marches, no terrorist acts, just peaceful, hospitable, well-fed and smiling people. But it was these law-abiding, peaceful people, exemplary workers, husbands and family fathers, who were about to commit jointly the crime without equals. As Hannah Arendt pointed out, anti-Semitism can at the utmost explain the choice of the Holocaust victims, but not the nature of the crime. Just before the Endlösung took off, the spread of antiSemitism in France left behind the German popular Judeophobia, and just before the Nazi revolution German Jews more than any other Jews in Europe enjoyed full citizenship rights and felt at home in their country. Norman Cohn showed in his own study of the ‘warrant for genocide’ that, however widespread and intense anti-Semitism may be, it does not result in killing, and even the pogrom-style momentary explosions of violence were never spontaneous outbreaks of popular fury. There were many more Jew-haters than Jew-killers – and there were many fewer Jew-haters than the countless managers and officeclerks and the technicians and transport-workers who – as Raul Hilberg demonstrated so dramatically – contributed to the execution of the Holocaust, the most massive killing of Jews in history.


History and Politics

And so if half a century later, we want to understand not just to apportion guilt and merit, but in order to gain in wisdom (and, hopefully, security), we need to look elsewhere: to that curious and terrifying socially invented contraption which permits us to separate action and ethics, what people do from what people feel or believe, the nature of collective deeds from the motives of individual actors. Which allows even extreme inhumanity to remain invisible, or not to be experienced as a challenge to the moral code, or to appear to serve a higher purpose – one which re-forges cruelty into pursuit of human happiness. All these conditions – conditions without which there would be no Holocaust, conditions which turned the unthinkable into realistic – are accomplishments of our modern civilization, and in particular of three features which underlie, simultaneously, its glory and its misery: ability to act at a distance, neutralization of the moral constraints of action, and its ‘gardening posture’ – the pursuit of artificial, rationally designed order. * That one can kill today without ever looking the victim in the face, is a banal observation. Once sinking a knife into the body, or strangling, or shooting at close distance have been replaced with dots moving over the computer screen – just like one sees in the amusement arcade games – the killer does not need to be pitiless; he does not have the occasion to feel pity. This is, however, the most obvious and trivial, even if the most dramatic, aspect of ‘action at a distance’. The less dramatic and spectacular manifestations of our new, modern, skills of distant action are more consequential yet – all the more so for not being so evident. They consist in creating what may be called a social and psychological, rather than merely physical and optical, distance between actors and the targets of their action. That social/psychological distance is produced and reproduced daily, and ubiquitously, and on a massive scale, by the modern management of action, with its three different, yet complementary aspects. First, every personally performed action is in the modern organization a mediated action, and every actor is cast in what Stanley Milgram called the ‘agentic state’: almost no actor has ever a chance to develop the ‘authorship’ attitude towards the final outcome of the operation, since each actor is but an executor of one command, a giver of another – not a writer, but a translator of someone else’s intentions. Between the idea which triggers off the operation and its ultimate effect, there is a chain of performers, none of whom may be unambiguously pinpointed as a sufficient, decisive link

The Holocaust: Fifty Years Later


between the design and its product. Second, there is the horizontal, functional division of the overall task: each actor has but a specific, self-contained job to perform, produces an object with no writtenin destination, an information which can be put to many uses; no contribution seems to ‘determine’ the final outcome of the operation, and most retain but a tenuous logical link with the ultimate effect – a link which the participants, if they wish so, may claim to be visible only in retrospect. Third, the ‘targets’ of the operation, people who by design or by default are affected by it, hardly ever appear in the vision of actors as ‘total human beings’, objects of moral responsibility as ethical subjects themselves. Most actors deal not with human beings, but with facets, features, statistically represented traits – but only total human persons can be bearers of moral significance. The global impact of all three aspects of modern organization is what I have called (borrowing the term from the vocabulary of the mediaeval Church) – moral ‘adiaphorization’ of action: for all practical purposes, the moral significance of the ultimate and combined effect of individual actions is excluded from the criteria by which individual actions are measured, and so the latter are perceived and experienced as morally neutral (more exactly, but with the same effect, moral significance is shifted from the impact of action on its appointed targets, to motives like the loyalty to the organization, collegial solidarity, well-being of the subordinates, or the procedural discipline). Moreover, the vertical and horizontal division of the global operation into partial jobs makes every actor into a roleperformer rather than a person. A role-performer is an eminently replaceable and exchangeable incumbent of a site in the complex network of tasks – a network defined not so much by the character of the incumbents as by its structure, by the fashion in which the partial jobs are interconnected and co-ordinated; there is therefore always a certain impersonality, a distance, a less-than-authorship relationship between the role-performer and the role performed. And in none of the roles is the role-performer a whole person, as each role performance engages but a selection of the actor’s skills and personality features, and in principle should neither engage the remaining parts nor spill over and affect the rest of the actor’s personality. This again makes the role-performance ethically adiaphoric: only total persons, and unique persons (‘unique’ in the sense of being irreplaceable: the deed would remain undone without them), can be moral subjects, bearers of moral responsibility – but modern organization derives its strength from its uncanny capacity for splitting and fragmentation, while – on the other hand – providing occasions for the fragments to come together again has never been the modern organization’s forte.


History and Politics

Thanks to all these inventions, often known jointly as the ‘scientific organization of labour’, modern action (and modern action is an action on unprecedented scale and durability of effects, thanks to ever more powerful tools and scientific technology) has been liberated from the limitations imposed by ethical sentiments. The modern way of doing things does not call for mobilization of sentiments and beliefs. On the contrary, the silencing and cooling of the sentiments is its pre-requisite and the paramount condition of its astounding effectiveness. Moral impulses and constraints have been not so much extinguished, as neutralized and made irrelevant. Men and women have been given the opportunity to commit inhuman deeds without in the least feeling inhuman themselves. Modernity did not make people more cruel; it only invented a way in which cruel things can be done by non-cruel people. Evil does not need evil people any more. Rational people, men and women well riveted into the impersonal, adiaphorized network of modern organization, will do perfectly. * Unlike so many other acts of mass cruelty which mark human history, the Holocaust was a cruelty with purpose. A means to an end. An event best understood by pointing not to its causes, but to its objectives; not in terms of ‘because of’, but in terms of ‘in order to’. In Cynthia Ozick’s poignant words, the Holocaust was a gesture of an artist removing a smudge from an otherwise perfect picture. That smudge happened to be certain people which did not fit the model of a perfect universe. In the case of Hitler, perfection was a race-clean society. In the case of Stalin, perfection was a class-clean society. In both cases, perfection was an aesthetically satisfying, transparent, homogenous universe free from agonizing uncertainties, ambivalence, contingency. Such a universe was dreamed up and promised by the philosophers of Enlightenment and pursued by the despots whom they sought to enlighten. A kingdom of reason, the ultimate exercise in human power over nature, the ultimate display of the infinite human potential. The most disturbing thing about the Holocaust, the thing which all too often we do our best not to think about yet the thing we must think about if we want no more holocausts, is that this most cruel of cruelties was not an act of rebellion against the modern project, a hiccup of savagery our modernity had been sworn to exterminate but had no time to – but a legitimate consequence of the modern dream and of the most thoroughly modern ambition. The dream is a perfect society, a society purified of extant human weakness – and those include weak humans, the humans not up to the standard of human

The Holocaust: Fifty Years Later


potential as revealed and articulated by Reason and its spokesmen. And the ambition is to make this dream real through the continuous, determined and radical effort of ‘problem solving’, through removing one by one all the hurdles standing on the road to the dream – and that includes the men and women who make problems, who are the problems. The modern mind treats the human habitat as a garden, whose ideal shape is to be predetermined by carefully blueprinted and followed-up design, and implemented through encouraging the growth of bushes and flowers envisaged by the plan and poisoning or uprooting all the rest – the undesirable and unplanned, the weeds. In 1930, R. W. Darré, later to become the Nazi Minister of Agriculture, wrote: He who leaves the plants in a garden to themselves will soon find to his surprise that the garden is overgrown by weeds and that even the basic character of the plants has changed. If therefore the garden is to remain the breeding ground for the plants, if, in other words, it is to lift itself above the harsh rule of natural forces, then the forming will of a gardener is necessary, a gardener who, by providing suitable conditions for growing, or by keeping harmful influences away, or by both together, carefully tends what needs tending, and ruthlessly eliminates the weeds which would deprive the better plants of nutrition, air, light and sun … Thus we are facing the realization that questions of breeding are not trivial for political thought, but that they have to be at the centre of all considerations … We must even assert that a people can only reach spiritual and moral equilibrium if a well-conceived breeding plan stands at the very centre of its culture….1

In 1934, the world-famous biologist Erwin Bauer, holder of many scholarly distinctions, at that time the director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Breeding Research, was more specific yet: Every farmer knows that should he slaughter the best specimens of his domestic animals without letting them procreate and should instead continue breeding inferior individuals, his breed would degenerate hopelessly. This mistake, which no farmer would commit with his animals and cultivated plants, we permit to go on in our midst to a large extent. As a recompense for our humanness of today, we must see to it that these inferior people do not procreate. A simple operation to be executed in a few minutes makes this possible without further delay … No one approves of the new sterilization laws more than I do, but I must repeat over and over that they constitute only a beginning.

His learned colleague Martin Stämmler was, in 1935, still more exact and outspoken: ‘Extinction and selection are the two poles


History and Politics

around which the whole race cultivation rotates … Extinction is the biological destruction of the hereditary inferior through sterilization, then quantitative repression of the unhealthy and undesirable … The … task consists of safeguarding the people from an overgrowth of the weeds.’2 To underline the ambitions of the state, now firmly set on substituting a ‘scientifically conceived’ but state-managed and state-monitored plan for uncontrolled and spontaneous mechanisms of society, the additional medical metaphor – of health, disease and surgery – joined forces with the orthodox gardening one. Thus, Professor Konrad Lorenz, one of the most prominent and acclaimed zoologists of world-wide fame and the 1973 Nobel Prize winner, declared in June 1940: There is a certain similarity between the measures which need to be taken when we draw a broad biological analogy between bodies and malignant tumours, on the one hand, and a nation and individuals within it who have become asocial because of their defective constitution, on the other hand … Any attempt at reconstruction using elements which have lost their proper nature and characteristics is doomed to failure. Fortunately, the elimination of such elements is easier for the public health physician and less dangerous for the supraindividual organism, than such an operation by a surgeon would be for the individual organism.3

Let me bring to your attention that none of the above statements was aimed specifically at the Jews, or stemmed predominantly from anti-Semitic sentiments (as a matter of fact, there were quite a few Jews among the most vociferous scholarly preachers of the gardening and medical techniques in social engineering. For instance, as late as in 1935, and shortly before his dismissal for reason of Jewish origin, noted psychiatrist Dr F. Kallmann advised compulsory sterilization even of the healthy, yet heterozygous carriers of the ‘abnormal gene of schizophrenia’. As Kallmann’s plan would require sterilizing no less than 18 per cent of the total population, the author’s zeal had to be held back by his Gentile colleagues). The quoted scientists were guided solely by proper and uncontested modern understanding of the role and mission of science – and by the feeling of duty which reason needs to fulfil in bringing about, or painstakingly constructing, a good society, a healthy society, an orderly society. In particular, they were guided by the hardly idiosyncratic, typically modern and well-nigh universally held conviction that the road to such a society leads through the ultimate taming of the inherently chaotic natural forces and by a systematic – and ruthless, if need be – execution of a scientifically conceived, rational plan. As it transpired, the admittedly

The Holocaust: Fifty Years Later


unruly, anarchistic, all-classification-eliding Jewry was one of the weeds (most probably, the principal and most recalcitrant one) which inhabited the plot marked for the carefully designed garden of the future. But there were other weeds as well – sexual perverts, carriers of congenital diseases, the mentally inferior, bodily deformed. And there were also plants which turned into weeds simply because a superior reason required that the land they occupy should be transformed into someone else’s garden. The most extreme and well-documented cases of ‘social engineering’ in modern history (those presided over by Hitler and Stalin), all their attendant atrocities notwithstanding, were neither outbursts of pre-modern barbarism not-yet-fully extinguished by the new rational order of civilization, nor the price paid for utopias alien to the spirit of modernity. On the contrary, they were legitimate offspring of the modern spirit, of that urge to assist and speed up the progress of mankind towards perfection that was, throughout, the most prominent hallmark of the modern age; of that optimistic view that scientific and industrial progress in principle removed all restrictions on the possible application of planning, education and social reform in everyday life; of that confidence that all social problems can be finally resolved. The Nazi (and the Communist) vision of harmonious, orderly, deviation-free society draws its legitimacy (and – let us not forget – an embarrassingly large degree of intellectual attractiveness throughout the ‘enlightened classes’ of Europe) from such views and beliefs already firmly entrenched in the public mind through the century and a half of post-Enlightenment history, filled with scientistic propaganda and the visual display of the wondrous potency of modern technology. Neither the Nazi nor the Communist vision jarred with the audacious self-confidence and hubris of modernity; they merely offered to do better what other modern powers dreamed of, perhaps even tried, but failed to accomplish: What should not be forgotten is that fascist realism provided a model for a new order in society, a new internal alignment. Its basis was the racialist elimination of all elements that deviated from the norm: refractory youth, ‘idlers’, the ‘asocial’, prostitutes, homosexuals, the disabled, people who were incompetents or failures in their work. Nazi eugenics – that is, the classification and selection of people on the basis of supposed genetic ‘value’ – was not confined only to sterilization and euthanasia for the ‘valueless’ and the encouragement of fertility for the ‘valuable’; it laid down criteria of assessment, categories of classification and norms of efficiency that were applicable to the population as a whole.


History and Politics

Indeed, one must agree not only with Detlev Peukert’s observation above, but also with his conclusion: that National Socialism merely ‘pushed the utopian belief in all-embracing “scientific” final solutions of social problems to the ultimate logical extreme’.4 The determination and the freedom to go ‘all the way’ and reach the ultimate was Hitler’s, yet the logic was construed, legitimized and supplied by the spirit and practice of modernity. Once the issues of desirability of order and the duty of the rulers to administer its introduction had been settled, the rest was the matter of cool calculation of costs and effects – the art in which the modern spirit and practice also excelled. Again, the Nazis cannot claim any credit for the invention and codification of that art. Every single rule of the art had been established well before the glimpse of a caftaned Jew on a Vienna street inspired young Hitler’s anxiety about the purity of the world order. As David Gasman found and demonstrated, ‘one of the earliest if not the earliest comprehensive programme embodying National Socialist principles in Germany arose in the context of a movement which prided itself on its scientific ideology and modern view of the world’. The movement referred to was the famous ‘Monist Association’, led by one of the most influential scientists of the nineteenth century, Ernst Häckel. That school boasted impeccable scientific credentials and universal acclaim in the academic world of its time, and its founder remains to this day highly respected for his exceptional contribution to the promotion and popularization of the authority of modern science. For many of Häckel’s contemporaries, ‘if there existed one organization which truly expressed the modern temper, it was the German Monist League of Häckel with its radically scientific and positivistic spirit and programme’. One of the foremost figures in the League, Dr Schallmayer, warned the Germans that any politics that treated lightly and neglected the nation’s heredity resources was to be fought against as bad and dangerous politics. It was left to Häckel himself to spell out the logical conclusions: ‘by the indiscriminate destruction of all incorrigible criminals, not only would the struggle for life among the better portions of mankind be made easier, but also an advantageous artificial process of selection would be set in practice, since the possibility of transmitting the injurious qualities would be taken from those degenerate outcasts’. As the stream of ‘bad genes’ thins down, thanks to the combination of ‘scientific’ measures of physical destruction and reproductive manipulation – the nation will count its benefits: ‘lessening of court costs, prison costs, and expenses on behalf of the poor’.5

The Holocaust: Fifty Years Later


Half a century later, Germany acquired a government determined to put that authoritative scientific advice into practice. * Take modern, powerful tools of action, the art of modern scientific management, the modern quest for rational, foolproof order of human existence, put them all in the hands of a ruthless and resourceful powers-that-be, and you have all the ingredients of that fertile compost in which the specifically modern type of crime flourishes: mass murder committed in the name of perfection of the world. What I’ve just written is not really new. But it needs to be repeated, and repeated again, and again, and again – since all the ingredients I’ve mentioned are still present, and gathering in force: they have been from the start, and remain, after all, the endemic traits of our modernity – the inseparable shady side of the kind of life we cherish and are proud of. Nazi Germany and the Communist Russia were totalitarian states – of the kind that eliminated all opposition and virtually all possibility of resistance to itself. It is tempting therefore to count totalitarianism among the indispensable conditions of genocide; and, by the same token, to see political democracy as a sufficient and reliable safeguard against mass destruction. This conclusion rings true, but like other truths is not absolute. Indeed, what made totalitarian regimes into sites of genocide was the extinction of pluralism, and in particular the outlawing and disempowering of the interests and voices of minorities which could then become targets of persecution. What makes democracy a preventative medicine against the danger of genocide is the preservation and encouragement of pluralism, and the protection of interests and voices of minorities. The question is, however, whether we can be completely sure that keeping intact the multiparty system and electoral practices (the features which we tend to view as both the necessary and the sufficient conditions of democracy) will always and everywhere guarantee that these principles are observed. What we see today throughout Europe is the ease with which the great majority of voters and their spokesmen across the political spectrum turn against whoever they cast out as the ‘aliens’, and are prepared to give their whole-hearted support for at least the first three stages of Hilberg’s road to the Holocaust: definition, segregation, deportation (unlike the Jews under Hitler, today’s unwanted minorities have somewhere to be deported to, and so Treblinka is not the only choice). More generally, Kenneth Galbraith wrote recently of the


History and Politics

‘contented majority’ of today’s affluent consumer societies, which sees less and less reason to care about the weal and woe of discontented minorities. In most democratic states, we observe the tendency to redefine the idea of the ‘citizen’ as one of the ‘consumer’, whose relation with the state is measured solely by the value-for-money standards – by counting goods and services received against the taxes paid. To citizens-turned-consumers, Häckel’s slogan of ‘lessening of court costs, prison costs, and expenses on behalf of the poor’ may seem increasingly alluring. In his recent study,6 Norwegian criminologist Nils Christie presented a shocking picture of the progressive ‘criminalization’ of the otherness, deviant conduct or simply poverty (in a consumer society, poverty is indeed a deviance, an epitome of sub-standard quality, and in the end a ground on which to deny citizenship status and rights). On the other hand, with the established nation-states of Europe increasingly incapacitated in (or retreating from) their traditional roles of identity-conferring agencies and norm-setters, the abandoned function is eagerly grasped and contested by ‘sub-state’ – regional, ethnic or pseudo-ethnic – forces; in the cacophony of ostensibly pluralist voices, each voice claims, however, the identity-conferring monopoly, and declares intolerance of competing claims – all the more intensely for the insecure grounding of the claims of its own. Pluralism, in this case, may well turn to be a witches-cauldron in which new, rapacious totalitarianisms are brewed. In particular, the ‘communal, tradition-based’ grounds of identity eagerly promoted as a substitution for the legal uniformity promoted by the unitary state, share with the agencies they strive to replace the bid to expropriate moral autonomy of the individual. Just like in the case of their adversaries and predecessors, it is the group that is to be the sole repository of ethical authority, the legislator of moral duties and giver of absolution; the holder of the right to draw the boundaries of moral obligations, to name the enemies and stigmatize the traitors; and the supreme judge of what constitutes the ideal order. Like before, all moral judgement that has been refused the group endorsement is denied validity, condemned and suppressed. Like before, individuals are robbed or absolved of all ethical responsibility except the duty of loyalty to the agency greater and more powerful than any one of them. All this does not mean that holocausts must remain the bane of our modern civilization or are bound to become its permanent feature. It does mean, however, that they never cease to be a possibility. It does mean, therefore, that the Holocaust we commemorate today is not a closed chapter of history. It does mean, moreover, that

The Holocaust: Fifty Years Later


the effort to keep it closed can be hardly exhausted in the vigilance against the resurgence of the specific circumstances that gave shape to that Holocaust we commemorate today: namely, a vicious form of Judeophobia combined with a violent, fascist form of nationalism. No one predicted the form that the Holocaust would take; let us not pretend we know the forms future holocausts may take, that we know who may perpetrate them and against whom. What we know now (or at least what we can know, if we so wish) is that roots of concentrated acts of inhumanity on the gigantic Holocaust scale lie deep down in the very fashion in which we organize our human existence, and that the only way of keeping the Holocaust a fully and truly closed chapter is to act on that uncomfortable, disturbing knowledge. I suggest, as well, that there are no foolproof guarantees that our efforts will be fruitful. There is no recipe, no rules, no scientific methods of stopping inhumanity in its tracks. We are fated to act without certainty of success; and, however much we may desire such certainty, we ought to be wary of those who offer patented ‘solutions’ to the ‘problem’. There are only heuristic, not algorithmic, guidelines that we can follow. And these are: respect for freedom – and, above all, of freedom to be different; tolerance for the otherness of beliefs, ideals, ways of life; solidarity with human suffering; and relentless promotion of the idea that moral responsibility for the other’s fate rests forever with every moral subject, who can be neither expropriated from what is his, nor forgiven for giving it away. These are, admittedly, weak guidelines – and admittedly fraught with traps and ambivalence of their own. Many of them go against the grain of what recent trends make look like ‘human nature’. Following them will not be an easy matter. But following them, staunchly and vigorously, is the only thing we can do.

10 Names of Suffering, Names of Shame (2001) Translated by Katarzyna Bartoszyńska

Our feeling of moral responsibility has not changed much since the times of Adam and Eve. It suffers from short-sightedness. It loses its voice, when it finds itself beyond the boundaries of our own home, becomes deaf at the nearest forks in the road. There are moments (unfortunately rare; fortunately rare) when we follow the dictates of John Donne1 and do not ask for whom the bell tolls. If we were to read Karol Jaspers,2 and believe in what we read, and care about that which we believed in: the harm done to one person by another covers all of us – because we are all people – with disgrace. It is a shared responsibility and a shared shame, just as our humanity is shared. In these rare moments, we shudder, but not from the fear that something like this could happen even to us. In these rare moments, terror fills us at the thought that we are humans, and there are no limits to the evil that humans are capable of, no limits to the suffering – the suffering of other people, of course – with which people are prepared to pay for their own freedom from suffering (as they deludedly believe). This was such a moment. A moment of human solidarity. A moment in which we catch a glimpse of our shared humanity emerging from the murk in which it daily abides, so that it can appear in its true – only true – form: as our communal mutual responsibility. A moment, to which one would like to call out: you carry salvation, may you last forever! But also, a moment of which – taught by experience – we know that, despite our cries, it will last only … how long? Well, until the next moment. A moment entirely different from it, and one that augurs everything, except salvation.

Names of Suffering, Names of Shame


AFTER ONE CRIME, ANOTHER Because there have been, in our memory, a few such moments – maybe even, despite how rare they are, too many to be able to penetrate as deeply into their contents as would be needed to learn their lessons, for the message they contain to be extracted and retained. In our times, tribal conflict and crimes committed in the names of deranged ideas, but also in the name of a single and indivisible truth and other lofty ideals, have become our daily bread. They were a shock to the conscience if news of them reached us. But after one crime came another, and so they became easier for some to commit, and others to swallow, precisely because there was a second one, a third, a fiftieth … Many years ago, from beyond the walls of the camps, there came the voice, heard by only a few people – and those who heard quickly forgot – of the pastor Martin Niemöller:3 First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out – because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out – because I was not a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out – because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, but as a Catholic, I did not speak out. Then they came for me – and there was no one left to speak for anyone.

On 6 April 1994, the leaders of the Hutu tribe issued a command to the army, police and legions of enthusiastic volunteers and willing martinets, to murder their fellow citizens from the Tutsi tribe. In the course of a few weeks, the lives were taken, from one to the next in ever more inventive and atrocious ways, from 700,000 citizens and children of Rwanda.4 At the beginning of the year, there were 2,500 United Nations soldiers stationed in Rwanda, sent in anticipation of an outbreak of ethnic conflict. In the third week of the massacre the Security Council of the UN withdrew 90 per cent of the Blue Berets.5 ‘International society’ washed its hands of that, which one uncivilized mass of uncouth people decided to do to another … As if to share the opinion of the British Defence Minister, Alan Clark, expressed in his response to the accusation that he had provided lethal weapons to the Indonesian torturers of West Timor: ‘It is none of my business what one set of foreigners does to another.’6 The documents recently made available reveal that American leaders unequivocally ordered non-intervention in Rwandan affairs.


History and Politics

From that moment, discussion of Rwanda went silent. We heard about it again when the world became concerned about the outbreak of cholera that exploded in the Congo in the refugee camps for Hutu people seeking protection from the revenge of the surviving Tutsis (from whom, as from themselves, they did not expect such ruthlessness), and gathering the strength to bring the unfinished slaughter to its conclusion. WILL IT BE DIFFERENT? Nothing shakes the conscience as much as the sight of a suffering child. Nothing strange in that: a child is by definition a fragile creature, easily harmed, requiring protection. We, adults, are here in order to guard it from harm and surround it with protection. Protection for the weak and injured is the core of moral responsibility, and accepting responsibility for this responsibility is the core of morality, and therefore also the calling of the human, a moral being. The sight of a suffering child says to us: you have failed your calling. That is why it is so difficult to bear the sight. And it is hard to chase this image out of our memory. The older among us will not forget the image of a Jewish boy with his hands raised and a German gun pointed at his back, or the charred skin of a Vietnamese girl doused with American napalm … The younger probably still have in their memories the bones poking out from under the sores of a starving Ethiopian child, and the fear in the eyes of a Palestinian boy huddled up against his equally powerless father before a hail of Israeli bullets. And now, very recently, the tear-stained face, slack with terror, of a Catholic girl from Ireland running from a Protestant bomb has circled the world. We have suffered with these suffering children. But in each of these cases – all of them, with no exceptions – many of the people who saw them drew the lesson that, in order to protect children, we need to kill even more adults. But maybe this time it could be different? This time the blood has been spilled, not in some Rwanda, Vietnam or Palestine, Somalia, Congo or another, equally exotic, Sri Lanka, but in places that none of us needs an encyclopedia to track down. And not in countries whose weakness and powerlessness seem to invite troubles, but at the very heart of the most powerful (some say: only) superpower today, from whom this Pax on which we all rely borrowed its name. This global power will make sure that the world’s television screens will not chase after other sensations in two days, that there will be no lack of images that freeze the blood in our veins, neither tomorrow nor

Names of Suffering, Names of Shame


the day after, nor a month from now, so that we will not be able – no matter how fervently and truly we might wish – to shake off these images. So maybe this time it will be different? How one would like to shout: yes, this time, finally, the victims will have a voice. This time, finally, they will not be drowned out by the speakers from the division delegated to make orations at their funerals … This time, finally, we will grasp and understand that the suffering of one group of people cannot be healed, or erased, by the suffering of another group. If only. I fear that these are futile hopes and that this time will not be any different from the others – in any case, not for the better … According to Ken Allard, a penetrating and authoritative commentator on matters of national security, ‘most Americans are less concerned with bringing them [those responsible for the attacks] to justice than sending them to hell’.7 Hans Jonas,8 one of the most brilliant moral philosophers of the twentieth century, was pestered by the thought of the disjunct between the size of the area of human affairs on which our actions make an impact, and the area that our moral imagination is capable of encompassing. Thanks to the technology that we possess, for the first time in human history we can influence – and we do influence – the conditions in which people are contending, and will continue to contend, with their life problems: the lives of people that we will never encounter up close nor see, and generations that will be born after we have left this earth. But our feeling of moral responsibility has not changed much since the days of Adam and Eve. It suffers from short-sightedness. It loses its voice, when it finds itself beyond the boundaries of our home, becomes deaf at the nearest forks in the road. GLOBAL RESPONSIBILITY And yet it has fallen to us, the inhabitants of the twenty-first century, to live in the era of globalization – and, by ‘globalization’, we mean the web of human interdependencies that already encompasses, or will quickly come to encompass, the entire planet. We will no longer be able to say with certainty of any event, even the most minor, which is seemingly of meaning only locally, that it will not have consequences ‘on a global scale’. It will not be possible for any event – even the most seemingly ‘regional’ or ‘parochial’ in the minds of its authors, actors and witnesses – to be fully described or explained without taking into account what was happening, is happening, or


History and Politics

could happen in places far away from that of the events. Very little of what happens on Krakowskie Przedmieście9 or on the Main Square in Kraków is completely without meaning for the rest of the world, even if that rest of the world is unconscious of it, and the people involved don’t care; but also, one cannot do much on Krakowskie Przedmieście or Kraków’s Main Square, while ignoring the rest of the world. The steps that people take may not extend beyond their local haunts, but it is hard to fully understand why those steps were taken and where they lead if you don’t consider them from the perspective of the ‘global scene’. All of us in the world today are dependent on each other – on what we all, or everyone else, do, or don’t, do, or avoid doing. The very fact of dependence is independent of us. It is irrelevant whether we know of this dependence or not, whether we acknowledge it as an accepted fact or treat it as a momentary misfortune, whether we are happy about it or sad, whether we take it into account or ignore it, when we plan out our own actions. Also independent of us is the responsibility that emerges from this global interdependence. Only one thing is dependent on us: whether we acknowledge our responsibility and draw conclusions from it, or we take responsibility for this responsibility that fate has dealt to us, and act in accordance with this decision. And another thing also depends on us – that is, how we explain to ourselves the content of this responsibility. As Knud Løgstrup,10 another penetrating moral thinker from the century of human massacres and camps, stubbornly reminded us, the moral commandment of responsibility for our fellow does not come to us bundled with instructions as to its use; our moral responsibility lies precisely in the fact that it is our task to translate it into our own language. And the measure of whether we have properly shouldered this task will be an unease of our conscience impossible to stifle: that we did not do enough to live up to our responsibility for the fate of our fellow – however much we do, there is always more to be done. For a moral being, ‘I did what I could’ does not provide relief. As long as people are suffering because other people cause them harm, I could have – I should have – done more than I did, to give comfort to those who were suffering, and to prevent others from causing suffering. Moral responsibility cannot be shared – like the self-determination of nations, or the power that their governments demand. It requires that the crimes committed against other people cannot be gotten away with, and for those who plan or concoct such crimes to know that they won’t get away with it. But responsibility also requires many other things, and without them it will not be fulfilled. If we

Names of Suffering, Names of Shame


bear responsibility for the fact that, in the world in which we live, there is no room for people to harm people or cause them pain, then we cannot rest until those who do wrong are brought to justice and punished, and also until the world is rid of injustice – which produces a feeling of harm, in which evil lurks, and of which evil-doers take advantage. And evil lurks and multiplies most fruitfully in the face of indifference to harm committed and the refusal to respect human dignity. THREE SYMBOLS I don’t know who planned the destruction of the New York skyscrapers and Washington’s Pentagon, who trained the perpetrators and sent them to commit the crime. Finding and capturing the guilty is not my task, it is the business of police forces – this is why one summons such forces. But I know, and I ought to know, that whoever conceived of this crime was creative and clever in their choice of targets (counting on it, not without cause, that media corporations would turn the massacre into a global spectacle and that the message contained in the choice of targets would not escape notice). Our world is thick with symbols, with homeless signs in search of meanings to anchor them, and orphaned meanings chasing after signs that they could be taken up by. They surround us on all sides, blinking, glimmering, symbols – expressing the world through its messages. It speaks to us through symbols; we communicate through symbols. For better or for worse, violence and force are no exception to this rule. This crime was intended to be a symbol itself and was aimed at symbols (annihilating ‘on the way’ hundreds of passengers of captured planes and thousands of employees of the shopping center was the well-known circumstance, for which – Americans, actually – versed in self-guided missiles and other clever bombs, came up with the horrifyingly deceitful name ‘collateral damage’). The fortress of economic power, the seat of military might, the center of political command (if we accept that the plane that crashed in Pittsburgh was headed for the White House): for most citizens of the globe, three legible symbols of three pillars that prop up the supremacy of the United States of North America over a rapidly globalizing world. (They were missing the symbol of the fourth – cultural – pillar: Hollywood … whoever concocted this crime must have had a contemptuous view of culture, or have been ignorant of sociological matters.)


History and Politics

AMERICA AND EGOISM In its present form, globalization distributes its gifts selectively. Some become richer, many become poorer, but it seems that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Hundreds of millions of people can see, in their own experiences, indisputable proof that they are experiencing a harm that calls for revenge, that in the new globalized world they are being deprived of entry to the feast of untrammeled consumption that others shamelessly delight in and proudly show off to the rest of the world – and also of human dignity, that most basic of basic human rights. And by right of the fact that America is the only global superpower and the only nation that can proclaim through the mouth of its president (without straying far from the truth) that the lines between domestic and foreign politics have become blurred, on it falls the lion’s share of responsibility for this state of affairs (many French people use the word mondialisation interchangeably with américanisation …). But that America is doing a good job living up to its responsibilities would be difficult for it to prove. It unwillingly undertakes the protection of the weak from the attacks of their neighbours, or from the deranged ambitions of their self-proclaimed leaders, if that protection might demand victims from its side and does not serve to increase its economic or financial power. So that Americans do not have to bother with saving energy, it decisively refuses to participate in the battle with the poisoning of the atmosphere and warming of the planet that are fatal to humanity, though it is Americans who constitute 5 per cent of humanity but produce 40 per cent of fatal pollutants. It stubbornly stands in the way of assembling a global tribunal for quashing genocide and subduing its perpetrators, out of a fear that its citizens should have to testify to the sufferings they have caused other people, and to answer for them. It opposes, as much as it can, the creation of an institution of global democratic control on the scale of the global powers of business, media and financial corporations. Nothing strange that, to the millions of people who risk losing their means of existence, mired in poverty and deprived of the chance of a dignified life, America can be a symbol of everything that, in the globalizing world, they experience as evil, despicable, unworthy, inhuman – and globalization itself can seem like an infernal idea of the impunity of the strong and the helplessness of the weak. In these circumstances, reducing the issues that the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon has placed on the agenda to the matter of

Names of Suffering, Names of Shame


uncovering the wrong-doers and turning them over to justice is like equating curing typhus to the search for a cream to treat a rash. Just as you cannot save the victims of typhus by removing the splotches on their skin, so too you cannot rescue the victims of the blind, dissolute global powers, who until now have not been leashed or stifled by anyone, by building prisons and scaffolds for those, who, from their experience of globalization, have drawn the conclusion – just as believable as it is false – that might rules the world, that the strongest is at the top, and that violence can only be met with violence. FOR SUFFICIENT STRENGTH Would that we would not waste this moment, as we have wasted the other ones. Once already, at the threshold of the modern era, with horrifying results graphically described by the pens of Dickens, Zola or Reymont,11 forces euphemistically called ‘economic’ burst from the control of ethics (wielded at that time only by local groups – municipal communities, artisanal guilds, parishes). Modern governments needed the entire nineteenth century, and even much of the twentieth, to bring the land – not so much promised, as unowned – upon which there paraded forces set free from their leashes and driven only by a desire for gain, back once again to the rule of the common and collective good; and to tame, even if they could not entirely alleviate, the horrible consequences of the period of ‘de-regulation’. We are in a similar situation today – except that this time it is on a global scale. This time, the ‘economic powers’ have freed themselves from the control of national governments, and we have not yet discovered institutions, other than national governments, that are empowered to create laws that are binding and tasked with ensuring that the laws they make are based on ethical principles and serve the common good. Like our ancestors 200 years ago, so now a gigantic task confronts us. A new ‘no-man’s land’, this time global, calls for political courage, the will to democratic action – and a deep feeling of moral responsibility. Globalization is the most significant of the ethical trials that humanity has faced in its history. But for now, before we emerge victorious from this trial? This question was answered half a year ago in the pages of Le Monde Diplomatique by Ryszard Kapuściński,12 the most insightful and penetrating chronicler of the hopes and delusions, ambitions and defeats, trials and tribulations of our world. Because there does not exist, so far, any mechanism and any legal, institutional or


History and Politics

technological barrier that could effectively prevent genocidal acts, Kapuściński says, our defence is the moral tenor of individuals and societies – spiritual sensitivity, the will to do good, to listen, unceasingly and intently, to the words of the commandment: ‘Love your brother as yourself.’ That is very little, you say? If only we had sufficient strength to listen to Kapuścinski’s advice …

11 Britain after Blair, or Thatcherism Consolidated (2007)

The years of Tony Blair’s premiership will be most probably recorded in British history as, first and foremost, the ‘institutionalization (entrenchment, normalization) of Thatcherism’. Either outspoken or tacit, presumptions of the Thatcherite model of government have become the doxa of Tony Blair’s rule: (doxa: ideas ‘thought with’, though seldom if ever thought about, let alone through). During these years, Margaret Thatcher’s ‘rugged individualism’ and hotly contested disavowal of the social state has been turned into a no longer debatable principle of state policy, into a ‘there is no alternative’ creed and the benchmark of modernity – that supreme value in Blair’s policies meant to replace those of social justice and solidarity. At a deeper level, Blair’s years will be most probably noted as the completion (perhaps achieved, but surely intended) of Thatcher’s substitution of Homo oeconomicus for the citizen. The Thatcherite philosophy of the polity as primarily an ‘order of egoism’ (to borrow John Dunn’s1 recently coined phrase) has been finally fixed and confirmed as the state religion, this time pretending to represent ‘the way things are’ rather than postulating ‘things as they should be’. To Thatcher’s revolution, Blair’s years were the time of retrenchment, conservation and consolidation. Consolidation of the Thatcherist ‘order of egoism’ was conducted, bafflingly, under the code-name of ‘modernization’. ‘Modernize’ was Blair’s answer to all problems calling for, or presumed to require, successive crisis-management operations. Blair was indeed an obsessive and compulsive modernizer – as years went by, few if


History and Politics

any objects escaped unscathed the modernizing zeal and retained their pristine form in which the new Blair management inherited them from Thatcher and her orphans and immediate successors. Increasingly, for the dearth of yet unaffected objects, the yesterday ‘modernized’ setting became the objects of new rounds of modernization. Rather than conceived as a one-off operation, ‘modernization’ turned into a ‘permanent state’ of social and political institutions, further eroding the value of duration, together with the prudence of long-term thinking, and reinforcing the ambience of uncertainty, temporariness and until-further-noticeness on which capitalist markets are known to thrive. This was, arguably, the greatest service which Blair’s statemanagement rendered to the cause of Thatcher’s neo-liberal revolution and to the uncontested rule of the ‘invisible hand’ of the market (‘invisible’, because eluding all efforts to watch, let alone to direct and correct, its moves; a ‘hand’ which any poker player dreams of, rightly expecting it to be unbeatable). All their particular marks notwithstanding, the successive bouts of modernization made the invisible hand yet more invisible, putting it ever more securely beyond the reach of the available instruments of political intervention. Paradoxically, the overall effect of the ‘active government’s’ activity resulted therefore in a gradual yet relentless shrinking of the political realm through ‘subsidiarizing’ ever new political functions to the admittedly non-political market forces. And as the deregulation and privatization of the economy proceeded at full speed, as the nominally state assets were one by one released from political supervision, as personal taxation for collective needs stayed frozen, thereby impoverishing the collectively managed resources required for such needs to be met – the all-explaining and all-excusing incantation ‘there is no alternative’ (also Margaret Thatcher’s legacy) turned unstoppably (more correctly, was turned) into a self-fulfilling prophecy. The process has been thoroughly explored and its direction thoroughly documented, so that there is little point in re-stating once more what is (or had every chance to become, if given attention) a public knowledge. What has been, however, left somewhat out of the focus of attention (while deserving all the public attention it could muster) is the contribution of every single measure of the Thatcher/Blair programme to the progressive decomposition and crumbling of social bonds and communal cohesion – precisely the assets which could enable Britain to face, confront and tackle the old and new, past and future challenges of the ongoing globalization.

Britain after Blair, or Thatcherism Consolidated


ERODED HUMAN BONDS, WILTED SOLIDARITY The above-mentioned assets, which have been for the last thirty years consistently eroded and impoverished in Britain, were prudently preserved in Sweden and other Nordic countries, where they are now deployed successfully to resist and withstand potentially destructive and incapacitating pressures. As Robert Taylor recently found out,2 today Sweden alongside neighbouring Denmark, Norway and Finland remains an affluent and equitable society with a high standard of living for the overwhelming majority of its citizens … Under the often paternalistic direction of a rational and enlightened state, Sweden led the way in the conscious formation of what were genuinely social democratic societies. This admirable development reflected a conscious and deliberate government strategy to translate the abstract concept of social citizenship into a practical reality.

Contrary to what one would expect after the derision that has been lavished by the spokesmen for the British version of the ‘third way’ on the continental neighbours’ predilection for a meticulously regulated labour market, high taxes and high-powered Trade Unions (all mortal sins in the neo-liberal bible) – the post-Blair Britain will have to take off from a position sorely handicapped by comparison with many other European countries. In an Irish joke, a passer-by asked by a driver ‘how can I get from here to Dublin’, answers: ‘if I wished to drive to Dublin, I wouldn’t start from here’. The plight of Britain is anything but a joke – and yet one is tempted to follow the Irish passer-by’s example and answer as he did the question of how to get from where we are now to some British version of a truly social-democratic society like Sweden, with its flourishing economy managing to obey the principles of social justice and sustain social solidarity, with its universal principles of common provision offered to all citizens irrespective of their income, its progressive redistributive taxation and its all-embracing national insurance system and high and steady economic growth … well, it would be much better to start from elsewhere. Blair’s years made the starting point singularly unfit for the task. Alas, post-Blair Britain has no choice but to start from the point to which the long years of Thatcherism, in its original and its Blairist form, brought the country. Among many bright ideas for which Margaret Thatcher will be remembered was her discovery of the non-existence of society … ‘There is no such thing as “society” … There are only individuals and families’ – she said.3 But Tony Blair may well yet be remembered for


History and Politics

making that figment of Thatcher’s imagination into a fairly precise description of the real world, as seen from the inside of its inhabitants’ experience. True, a Britain pulverized into solitary individuals and (crumbling) families would not be built without Thatcher thoroughly clearing first the building site. It would not be built without her successes in incapacitating the self-defence associations of those who needed defence, in stripping the incapacitated of most of the resources they could use to recover collectively their strength denied or lost individually, in severely curtailing both the ‘self’ and the ‘government’ bits in the practice of local self-governments, in making the expressions of disinterested solidarity (promptly renamed ‘secondary picketing’) into punishable crime, in ‘deregulating’ factory and office staffs (once greenhouses of social solidarity) into aggregates of mutually suspicious competitors in an ‘each man for himself and devil takes the hindmost’ or the ‘Big Brother’ style, or in finishing the job of transforming the universal entitlements of proud citizens (through the humiliating ‘means test’ procedure and the war against ‘welfare spongers’) into the stigmas of the excluded accused of living ‘at the taxpayer’s expense’. But Thatcher’s innovations not only survived the years of Blair’s primeministership by and large intact, but emerged from them reinforced and, more than at any time, immune to political intervention. Many of Thatcher’s innovations in the language of politics survived and emerged reinforced in the same way – which today, as much as twenty years ago, knows solely of individuals and their families as subjects of duties and objects of legitimate concern, while referring to ‘communities’ mostly as sites where the problems abandoned by the ‘great society’ need to be dumped (like in the context of the mentally disabled that need to be transferred from state-run medical care, or in the context of the unemployed, under-educated and prospectless youngsters who need to be kept away from mischief). And as more and more water flowed under the bridges, the world before the Thatcherite revolution has been all but forgotten by the elders, while never experienced by the young. To those who forgot or never tasted the life in that other world, it seems, indeed, that there is no alternative to the present one … Or, rather, any alternative has become all but unimaginable. DISMANTLING THE SOCIAL STATE More than anything else, the ‘welfare state’ (which I prefer to call by the name of social state, a name that moves the emphasis

Britain after Blair, or Thatcherism Consolidated


from material gains to the principle of their provision) is such an arrangement of human togetherness as resists the present-day neo-liberal tendency to shift the task of fighting back and resolving socially produced problems onto individual men and women, and their admittedly inadequate skills and insufficient resources, and thereby protects its members from the morally devastating competitive ‘war of all against all’. A state is ‘social’ when it promotes the principle of communally endorsed, collective insurance against individual misfortune and its consequences. It is that principle – declared, set in operation and trusted to be working – that lifts the abstract ‘society’ to the level of felt-and-lived community, or (to use once more John Dunn’s terms) replaces (or at least attempts to mitigate) the mistrust- and suspicion-generating ‘order of egoism’ with the confidence- and solidarity-inspiring ‘order of equality’. And it is the same principle which lifts members of society to the status of citizens – that is, makes them stake-holders in addition to being stock-holders, beneficiaries but also actors responsible for the benefits’ creation and availability, individuals with acute interest in the common good understood as the shared institutions that can be trusted to assure solidity and reliability of the state-issued ‘collective insurance policy’. The application of that principle may, and often does, protect men and women from the plague of poverty – most importantly, however, it stands a chance of becoming a profuse source of solidarity able to recycle ‘society’ into a common, communal good, thanks to the defence it provides against the horror of misery – that is, of the terror of being excluded, of falling or being pushed overboard from a fast accelerating vehicle of progress, of being condemned to ‘social redundancy’ and otherwise designated to be ‘human waste’. The ‘social state’ was to be, in its original intention, an arrangement to serve precisely such purposes. Lord Beveridge, to whom we owe the blueprint for the post-war British ‘welfare state’, believed that his vision of a comprehensive, collectively endorsed insurance for everyone was the inevitable consequence and indispensable complement of the liberal idea of individual freedom, as well as the indispensable condition of liberal democracy. Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s declaration of war on fear was based on the same assumption. Freedom of choice comes after, all together with uncounted and uncountable risks of failure; many people would find such risks unbearable, fearing that they may exceed their personal ability to cope. For most people, freedom of choice will remain an elusive phantom and idle dream, unless the fear of defeat is


History and Politics

mitigated by the insurance policy issued in the name of community, a policy they can trust and rely on in case of personal defeat or a blow of fate. If freedom of choice is granted in theory but unattainable in practice, the pain of hopelessness would be surely topped with the humiliation of haplessness; the daily tested ability of coping with life’s challenges is after all that very workshop in which self-confidence of individuals, and so also their self-esteem, are cast or melted. Without that collective insurance, there is no stimulus for political engagement – and certainly not for participation in a democratic game of elections. No salvation is likely to arrive from a political state that is not, and refuses to be, a social state. Without social rights for all, a large – and in all probability growing – number of people would find their political rights useless and unworthy of their attention. If political rights are necessary to set social rights in place, social rights are indispensable to keep political rights in operation. The two rights need each other for their survival; that survival can only be their joint achievement. Historical records show that, with every extension of suffrage, societies moved a step further toward a comprehensive, fully fledged social state, even if that final destination was not visualized in advance and needed many years and several ever more ambitious parliamentary bills for its contours to become visible. And it is easy to understand why that trend was overwhelming. As more categories of population were granted electoral rights, the ‘median voter’ on whose satisfaction political parties had to orient themselves in order to win the elections moved to the relatively more deprived parts of the social spectrum. At some point – inevitably, though rather unexpectedly – a seminal shift had to occur: the line was crossed dividing those who sought political rights in order to make sure that the personal rights they already enjoyed would be neither withdrawn nor interfered with, from those who needed political rights in order to gain personal rights they did not yet possess and would have found inoperable if they were formally granted. At that point, the stakes of the political game underwent a genuinely watershed-like change. From the task of adjusting the political institutions and procedures to the already existing social realities, democracy moved to the task of deploying political institutions and procedures in reforming social realities. It moved, in other words, from political democracy towards social democracy – from the task of conserving the extant balance of social forces to that of changing it. The effect of crossing the threshold was an unfamiliar and heretofore unconfronted need to use political rights to create

Britain after Blair, or Thatcherism Consolidated


and assure personal rights, instead of merely confirming them and firming them up. Instead of growing up from the already formed ‘civil society’ yearning for a political shield, the body politic in its new form of a social state faced the task of laying the foundations of civil society in the parts of society where it had been, thus far, missing, and assisting its extension. John Kenneth Galbraith was one of the first to note the early symptoms – indeed, prodromal signs – of abandoning that task, and of retreat from the effort and soon after from the intention to pursue it. He blamed the withdrawal of the politicians’ favour from the welfare state on the new ‘affluent majority’, made into a majority largely thanks to the generosity of the ‘affirmative action’ endemic to the welfare provisions, and now eager to burn the bridges behind (together with their own past, currently ‘politically incorrect’ due to failing the neo-liberal test) and inclined to use its newly gained majority status to vote the underdog out of their rights to the state-endorsed collective insurance (now re-named ‘the taxpayers’ abuse’). The formal, legally endorsed transformation of the membership of the democratic body politic from a privilege into the universal endowment of its subjects preceded the passage to the social state. The present-day retreat from the social state is followed by an informal, matter-of-factly and legally unnoticed retraction of the exercise of political rights to the level preceding the universalization of suffrage. Once more, the membership of the democratic body politic is on the way to becoming a privilege – de facto if not de jure. RETREAT OF AND FROM POLITICS The void left behind by citizens massively retreating from the extant political battlefields and reincarnating as consumers is filled (to the acclaim of some enthusiastic observers of these new trends) by ostentatiously non-partisan and altogether un-political ‘consumer activism’ – which, however, engages a yet smaller part of the electorate than the orthodox political parties, no longer trusted to represent their voters’ interests and so fast falling out of public favour, manage to mobilize in the heat of election campaigns. Frank Furedi warns: ‘Consumer activism thrives in the condition of apathy and social disengagement. Consumer activists regard their campaigns as a superior alternative to parliamentary democracy. Their attitude to political participation expresses a strong anti-democratic ethos.’4 It needs to be seen clearly that


History and Politics

the consumerist critique of representative democracy is fundamentally an anti-democratic one. It is based on the premise that unelected individuals who possess a lofty moral purpose have a greater right to act on the public’s behalf than politicians elected through an imperfect political process. Environmentalist campaigners, who derive their mandate from a self-selected network of advocacy groups, represent a far narrower constituency than an elected politician. Judging by its record, the response of consumer activism to the genuine problem of democratic accountability, is to avoid it altogether in favour of opting for interest group lobbying.

‘There is little doubt that the growth of consumer activism is bound up with the decline of traditional forms of political participation and social engagement’ – this is Furedi’s verdict, based on his thoroughly documented study. ‘Consumer activism’ is a symptom of the growing disenchantment with politics. To quote Mark Lawson5 – ‘as there is nothing else to fall back on, it is likely that people then give up on the whole notion of collectivism and therefore any sense of a democratic society and fall back on the market (and, let me add, their own consumer skills and activities) as the arbiter of provision’. A recent survey, conducted at the start of the 2005 electoral campaign,6 suggests that ‘contrary to popular perception the British public is not apathetic about politics. That is the conclusion of a new report from the Electoral Commission and the Hansard Society, which found that 77 per cent of those polled by MORI were interested in national issues.’ It adds right away, however, that ‘this high level of basic interest is compared to the minority 27 per cent who feel that they actually have a say in the way the country is run’. Judging from the precedents, one could surmise (rightly, as the elections that followed have shown) that the actual number of people going to the electoral booths would fall somewhere between those two figures and would land perhaps closer to the lower of the two. Many more people declare their interest in whatever has been vetted in the press or on the TV as a ‘national issue’ than consider it worth their effort of walking to the polling station in order to give their vote to one of the political parties offered for their choice. Furthermore, in a society oversaturated with information, headlines serve mostly the cause of effacing from public memory the headlines of the day before; the issues which the headlines recast as ‘public interests’ can only boast a life expectancy of a butterfly, having but a meagre chance to survive from the date of the opinion poll to the date of the election. Most importantly, the two things – the interest in national issues, and the participation in the extant democratic process – just don’t

Britain after Blair, or Thatcherism Consolidated


congeal in the minds of a rising number of citizens. The second does not seem to be a relevant response to the first. Perhaps it is considered altogether politically irrelevant. The ‘Guardian Student’ Website of 23 March 2004 informed that ‘three quarters (77 per cent) of first year university students are not interested in taking part in political protests … while 67 per cent of freshers believe that student protest isn’t effective and doesn’t make any difference, according to the Lloyds TSB/Financial Mail on Sunday Student Panel’. It quotes Jenny Little, editor of the student page in the Financial Mail on Sunday, who says: Students today must cope with a great deal – the pressure to get a good degree, the need to work part-time to support themselves and to get work experience to ensure that their CVs stand out from the crowd … It’s not surprising that politics falls to the bottom of the pile of priorities for this generation, though, in real terms, it has never been more important.

In a study dedicated to the phenomenon of political apathy,7 Tom Deluca suggests that the apathy is not an issue in its own right, but ‘more a clue about the others, about how free we are, how much power we really have, what we can fairly be held responsible for, whether we are being well served … It implies a condition under which one suffers.’ Political apathy ‘is a state of mind or a political fate brought about by forces, structures, institutions, or elite manipulation over which one has little control and perhaps little knowledge’. He explores all those factors in depth, to paint a realistic portrait of what he calls ‘the second face of political apathy’ – the ‘first face’ being, according to various political scientists, an expression of contentment with the state of affairs or the exercise of right to free choice, and more generally (as stated in the classic 1954 study by Bernard Berelson, Paul Lazarsfeld and William McPhee, later rehashed by Samuel Huntington, and obliquely opted for by Anthony Giddens when welcoming the advent of ‘consumer activism’) – as a phenomenon ‘good for democracy’ for the reason of ‘making mass democracy work’. And yet, if one wants to decode in full the social realities to which rising political apathy provides a clue and which it signals, one would need to look further still than that ‘second face’ which Tom Deluca rightly claims to have been unduly neglected, or only perfunctorily sketched, by the mainstream scholars of political science. One would need to recall the meaning of ‘democracy’ that made it once into a battle cry of the self-same ‘deprived and suffering masses’ who today turn away from exercising their hard-won electoral rights.


History and Politics

DEMOCRACY IN TROUBLE A social state is the ultimate modern embodiment of the idea of community – that is, an institutional incarnation of such an idea in its modern form of an abstract, imagined totality woven of reciprocal dependence, commitment and solidarity. Social rights tie that imagined totality to the daily realities of its members and found that imagination in the solid ground of life experience; those rights certify veracity and realism of mutual trust, and of the trust in the shared institutional networks that endorse and validate collective solidarity. ‘Belonging’ – in the form laboriously put together and upheld by democracy committed to T. H. Marshall’s ‘trinity of rights’ for all – translates as trust in the benefits of human solidarity, and in the institutions that arise out of that solidarity and promise to serve it and assure its reliability. More than anything else, the present retreat of the state from the endorsement of social rights signals the falling apart of a community in its modern, ‘imagined’, yet institutionally safeguarded, incarnation. More generally, it signals the new frailty of human bonds. ‘Freedom from’ – deprived of the company and cooperation of the ‘freedom in’ and ‘freedom through’ – the state, is increasingly presented as self-sustained and standing on its own feet, or capable of finding all the support it may eventually need outside the realm of politics, and certainly outside the domain of specifically political institutions. Much like two centuries ago – well before the bold attempt to rebuild the ‘lost community’ in its updated, modern form – the abdication of the state from exercising its (presumed to be, or hoped to become, communal) authority is nowadays proclaimed to be its finest hour and most desirable virtue. ‘Deregulation’ – as that ongoing, keenly recommended and widely praised abdication is now called – coupled with ‘privatization’ – that is, with the transfer of the growing volume of once politically (and so democratically) performed functions away from politics, and so also from democratic supervision and guidance – rebounds on the receiving end as ‘individualization’ – that is, as a dismantling or loosening of the webs of interpersonal and group networks of obligations, commitments and solidarity, and as the growing self-referentiality of individual life pursuits. Elected authorities are no longer charged with the task of integrating the disparate and all too often conflicting and potentially antagonistic interests of free-roaming individuals; they are not expected to connect, but to disconnect – to separate and keep apart.

Britain after Blair, or Thatcherism Consolidated


By design or by default, they are busy paving the way for the ‘order of egoism’ and dismantling the socio-political conditions under which solidarity-promoting ‘order of equality’ could take roots and thrive. The unanticipated consequence (or perhaps an anticipated one, judging from the proliferation of ‘focus groups’ invented to deputize for the constituencies as guides to policies?) is a massive exodus from politics by those who feel expropriated from the stake-holders’ rights to shape up the policies that affect them, or who were born too late to be explained the meaning of the phrase – let alone to understand, claim and practice what it once implied. FROM SOCIAL STATE TO PERSONAL SAFETY STATE? Under such circumstances, an alternative legitimation of state authority, and another formula for the benefits of dutiful citizenship, need to be urgently found; and they are currently being sought in protection against the dangers to personal safety. The spectre of the misery caused by social degradation, against which the social state swore to insure its citizens, is being replaced by dangers to the body and to possessions – like the threats of a paedophile let loose, of a serial killer, obtrusive beggar, mugger, stalker, prowler, poisoner, terrorist; or, better yet, by all such threats rolled into one in the figure of an illegal immigrant, against whom the security state (or, more precisely: the personal safety state) promises to defend its subjects tooth and nail. In October 2004, BBC2 broadcast a documentary series under the title The Power of Nightmares: The Rise of the Politics of Fear.8 Adam Curtis, the writer and producer of the series, and perhaps the most acclaimed maker of serious television programmes in Britain, pointed out that, though global terrorism is an all-too-real danger likely to be continually reproduced inside the ‘no-man’s land’ of global wilderness, a good deal, if not most, of its officially estimated terrorist threat ‘is a fantasy that has been exaggerated and distorted by politicians. It is a dark illusion that has spread unquestioned through governments around the world, the security services, and the international media.’ It won’t be too difficult to trace the reasons for such a rapid and spectacular career for the illusion: ‘In an age when all the grand ideas have lost credibility, fear of a phantom enemy is all the politicians have left to maintain their power.’ Numerous signals of the imminent shift in the state-power legitimation to that of the personal safety state could be spotted well before 11 September – even if the shock of the falling Manhattan towers,


History and Politics

reproduced in slow motion and for months on end on millions of TV screens, was needed for the public to absorb the news and for the politicians to re-harness the popular existential anxieties to the new political formula. It was not a mere coincidence that (according to Hugues Lagrange)9 there were comparatively few signs of public concerns with rising criminality during the post-war ‘glorious thirty years’ – whereas the most spectacular ‘safety panics’ and the loudest alarms about rising criminality, coupled with ostentatiously tough responses by the governments and manifested in a rapidly rising prison population (‘substitution of a prison state for the social state’), occurred from the middle sixties onwards in the countries with the least developed social services (like Spain, Portugal or Greece), and in the countries where social provisions started to be drastically reduced (like the United States and Great Britain). No research conducted up to the year 2000 showed any correlation between the severity of penal policy and the volume of criminal offences, though most studies did discover a strong correlation between ‘incarceration push’ on one side, and the falling ‘proportion of the market-independent social provisions’ and the shrinking ‘part of the GNP earmarked for that purpose’ on the other. All in all, the new focus on crime and on dangers threatening the bodily safety of individuals and their property has been shown beyond reasonable doubt to be intimately related to ‘sentiment of vulnerability’, and to follow closely the pace of economic deregulation and of the related substitution of individual self-responsibility for social solidarity. The triumphant ‘order of egoism’ with its paraphernalia of individualism, fading of human bonds and wilting of solidarity is but one side of the coin whose other side bears the stamp of globalization. In its present, purely negative form, globalization is a parasitic and predatory process, feeding on the potency sucked out of the bodies of nation states and their subjects. As observed by Jacques Attali10 a while ago, the nations organized into states forfeit their influence on the general run of affairs and abandon to the global (anonymous) forces all means to direct the destiny of the world and to resist the many forms that fears may assume. Society is no longer protected by the state; it is now exposed to the rapacity of forces it does not control and no longer intends, hopes or even dreams to recapture and subdue. It is for that reason in the first place that state governments, struggling day in, day out to weather current storms, stumble from one ad hoc crisis-management campaign and one set of emergency measures to another, dreaming of not much more than staying in power after the next election – but otherwise devoid of far-sighted programmes

Britain after Blair, or Thatcherism Consolidated


or ambitions, not to mention visions of a radical resolution to the nation’s recurrent problems. ‘Open’ and increasingly defenceless on both sides, the nation state loses its might, now evaporating into the global space, together with its political acumen and dexterity, now ‘subsidiarized’ to individual men and women and increasingly relegated to the sphere of individual ‘life politics’. Whatever power to act remains in the hands of the state and its organs dwindles gradually to a volume sufficient, perhaps, to furnish a large-size police precinct. The reduced state can hardly manage to be much more than a personal safety state. Few people would, however, be ready to claim for their own personal choices the kind of irresistible authority that once emanated from the socially enforced order – and if they do make such a claim, there is but a meagre chance that it will be accepted and respected by the others around. The social setting for the actions of contemporary men and women is now more reminiscent of a theatre of perpetual war, on which innumerable reconnaissance battles are launched daily and fought – such battles as are aimed not so much at the promotion of a consistent (let alone bidding for universal acceptance) code of behaviour, as at the testing of limits to individual choices and assessing the size of the ground that could be gained by the determined deployment of the right weapons. Once the deficit of legitimacy becomes the feature of all bids and claims, the actions undertaken in their name and for their sake (once upon a time perceived as the proper expressions of unquestionable, immutable and irresistible order of things) tend to be recast as acts of violence – that is, as specimens of illegitimate coercion. A widespread impression of a fast-rising volume of violence results: another prolific source of fears. Such fears are scattered and diffused over the whole spectrum of life pursuits. Their sources stay hidden and stoutly refuse mapping. If only we could focus our apprehensions, and the actions intended to mitigate the pain they cause, on an object possible to locate and so, hopefully, amenable to control! As long as we fail to do that, we are doomed to grope in the dark. Perhaps clinging to the well-lit places is a less harrowing choice, even if it proves pointless in the end. Unable to slow down the mind-boggling pace of change, let alone to predict and determine its direction, we focus therefore on things which we can – or believe we can, or are assured that we can – influence: we try to calculate, and minimize, the risks of falling victim to uncounted and uncountable dangers which we suspect the opaque world and its uncertain future to hold in store. We are engrossed in spying out ‘the seven signs of cancer’ or ‘the five symptoms of depression’, or in exorcizing the


History and Politics

spectre of high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels, stress or obesity, or spying out youngsters with olive skin, shifty eyes and bulky rucksacks. In other words, we seek substitute targets on which to unload the surplus existential fear that has been barred its natural outlets, and find such makeshift targets in taking elaborate precaution against inhaling someone else’s cigarette smoke, ingesting fatty food or ‘bad’ bacteria (though avidly swilling the liquids promising to contain the ‘good’ ones), exposure to sun, or unprotected sex, and keeping the neighbourhood strangers-free. Those of us who can afford it, fortify ourselves against the visible or invisible, present or anticipated, known or yet unfamiliar, scattered but ubiquitous dangers through detoxicating interiors of our bodies and homes, locking ourselves behind walls, stuffing the approaches to our living quarters with TV cameras, hiring armed guards, driving armoured vehicles or taking martial arts classes. Those of us who can’t, sink into depression, or seek oblivion in drugs, or a malefactor who could be blamed for their misery. AFTER ALL THAT – WHERE TO START? To quote John Dunn once more – ‘individuals can, and conspicuously do, shape their own lives in very different terms. But it is difficult (and possibly flatly impossible) for them to override the main structuring principle of the form within which they live.’11 More to the point, as Karl Marx observed a long time ago – people make their history, but not under conditions of their choosing … Under the conditions which they did not choose, but in which they found themselves at the end of Blair’s rule, the ‘individuals’ must need, first, to reintegrate themselves into ‘people’, before they earnestly set out to renegotiate, and change, ‘the main structuring principle of the form within which they live’. Pondering the words of the Swedish Social Democratic Programme of 2004 will be a good point to start: Everyone is fragile at some point in time. We need each other. We live our lives in the here and now, together with others, caught up in the midst of change. We will all be richer if all of us are allowed to participate and nobody is left out. We will all be stronger if there is security for everybody and not only for a few.

Just like the carrying power of a bridge is measured by the strength of its weakest pillar and grows together with that strength, the

Britain after Blair, or Thatcherism Consolidated


confidence and resourcefulness of a society is measured by the security and resourcefulness of its weakest sections, and grows as they grow. Social justice and economic efficiency, loyalty to the socialist tradition and ability to modernize swiftly and with little or no damage to social cohesion and solidarity, need not be – and are not – at loggerheads. On the contrary: as the social democratic practice of our Nordic neighbours has demonstrated, ‘the pursuit of a more socially cohesive society is the necessary precondition for modernization by consent’.12 Though this is a kind of truth that is hard to perceive in the dusk of the Blairist era, this is the truth, nevertheless. There is more than one response to the pressures of globalization and globalized competition. The excuse ‘there is no alternative’ was the biggest and most odious political lie of the late twentieth century. It depends on the post-Blair generation whether the twenty-first century will go down in history as the time of calling its bluff.

12 Panic among the Parasites, or For Whom the Bell Tolls (2010) Translated by Katarzyna Bartoszyńska

Homo sapiens is a parasitic species, but, among parasitic species, it is exceptional. As the Polish version of Wikipedia suggests, a parasite is: a heterotrophic organism that permanently or temporarily uses the organism of the provider as a source of sustenance and a place to live. Parasitism is an antagonistic effect between the organisms, which benefits only the parasite; for the provider, sometimes called the host, this relationship causes only harm (the loss of nutrients, the destruction of tissue, poisoning from the products excreted by the parasite, etc.). The parasite can destroy, even lead to the death of, the organism of the provider.1

The Oxford English Dictionary gets right to the heart of the issue: a parasite, it explains, is an animal or plant that ‘obtains nutrients at the expense of the host organism’, but also ‘a person whose behaviour resembles that of a plant or animal parasite’.2 This ‘other organism’ that the parasitic species known as Homo sapiens obtains nutrients from – that is, the host of this particular parasite – is the planet known as Earth. It is this planet that it could ‘destroy, even lead to the death of’ – except that, unlike animal or plant parasites, it will not find a new host when the nutritional potential of this one is exhausted. Unlike those other creatures, for which the name ‘parasite’ was coined (because it was only very belatedly grasped, with a mixture of awe, terror and shame, that its way of being-in-the-world is suited to this name like a hand in a

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glove), the parasite known as Homo sapiens is thus the only one of the parasites for whom to ‘destroy, even lead to the death of’ its host couldn’t avoid simultaneously ‘destroying, even leading to the death of’ itself as well. Homo sapiens owes this exception to the very fact of its being a Homo sapiens – that it sets goals for itself and seeks, not without success, the means to achieve them. The more that it – thus far – has succeeded and continues to succeed, the closer it is – will be – to extinction: to self-destruction and collective death. It was not from its first moments that the species could boast of such unprecedented potential, inaccessible to other species – at most it was practising from time to time, exercising its remarkably suicidal capabilities here and there, on terrains much smaller than the planet, and cut off from the rest of the globe – as for example in the case described in this book of Easter Island, 3,500 nautical miles away from the nearest continent. At the beginning of the sixteenth century, the inhabitants of Easter Island lived in the lap of luxury (in those days, Easter Island offered, says Harald Welzer, ‘a medium-grade paradise’),3 but in the eighteenth century, when the first Europeans arrived, among them Captain James Cook, they saw a land with no trees and almost entirely without people; its few inhabitants were ‘small, lean, timid and miserable’4 and the only animals available to hunt were rats. There was no deluge, hurricane, earthquake or other natural disaster and no foreign invader that chased the inhabitants of Easter Island from the gardens of paradise to the killing fields: they wandered towards annihilation under their own steam, led by their own ingenuity. For a small island, even a thousand residents had – as we can see – an overpowering effect.5 Under our own steam, led by our own ingenuity, we travel the road they tested. Except that today, armed with modern ambitions and technologies cut to their measure, we are now overpowering the planet, and not chosen nooks of it. After reading Welzer’s study. it is hard to doubt that this is exactly how things are. With a scrupulousness that leaves no room for doubt, Welzer tracks, draws into the light of day, and carefully inventories the symptoms of extinction and the disappearance of the conditions necessary for the survival of human existence on earth. From a list of seemingly unrelated cataclysms, strewn about various corners of the earth that are distant from each other – such as the crumbling of communal ties, civil wars whose endings the embattled sides fear more than their continuation in perpetuity, imperialisms of neighbours and massacres of different tribes, growing slaughters of exiles and refugees, the ever deepening and widening chasm of social inequality, the growth of deserts equal to the contraction of pastures and cultivated land, and so on, and so on – there emerges a


History and Politics

gloomy image of collective delusion (it is tempting to call it a ‘species’ delusion); a delusion all the more horrifying because self-driven and self-accelerating. In this madness, to use the words of Shakespeare, there is a method. Similar to that, let us add, which bids lemmings to crowd towards the cliff’s edge, trampling and running over each other on the way. And that, sooner or later, it must come to this – if the human lemmings do not recover their senses, do not pause to think, and stop their collective stampede – Rosa Luxemburg warned us already 100 years ago. Back then, she was already explaining why such alarm was justified. The way of life acquired at some point by the species Homo sapiens, a way of life christened with the name of ‘capitalism’, was based already then, and is still based now, not so much on reproducing oneself, as on compulsive expansion; the capitalist way of life and human existence could not but be on the road to the ‘expanded growth’ that was built into its way of being – that was its way of being. If Rosa had not been executed, and had been allowed to live a little longer to see what came next, she doubtless would have pointed to the panic that capitalist governments fall into at the news of ‘zero growth’, not to mention ‘negative growth’ – and she would have observed that there is nothing surprising about this panic, because all of the means that are available to capitalism to manage the problems that it creates for itself every day assume an uninterrupted growth in income. And this growth of income called ‘expanded reproduction’ is unthinkable without finding and seizing, so as to exploit, ever-new ‘virgin territories’, previously untouched by capitalism, and thus still not subject to its logic of self-destruction, their vital resources (read: earning potential, ability to multiply gains) not yet extracted and fertility not yet exhausted. But, as every farmer learns for themselves sooner or later, what has been nibbled from the earth’s resources must be returned to it, and the more you take, the more expensive it will be to replace what is lost. Sooner or later, further investments will prove unprofitable. The land that yesterday was unspoiled and full of fertile vigour is today an arid wasteland, to be abandoned to the eternally hungry deserts. Fortunately for capitalism, there are still other unspoiled lands … Rosa did not survive to the moment in which this last sentence was to – had to – cease to be true. And that moment is now approaching. Capitalism’s efforts to conquer the globe are reaching their natural, so to speak, terminus. Capitalism won – this time on a global scale. And that means it has already consumed everything that there was to be consumed, and whose consumption was its way of life: the only form accessible to it. As Francis Fukuyama put it, not entirely

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realizing the ominous meaning of his prophecy, history has come to an end … How wryly this ending or conclusion of history is summarized by Welzer: The world as a theatre for experiment has existed for only 40,000 years. Of those, the Western variant has been with us for only 250 years, and in that speck of time more has been done to destroy the conditions for life than in the whole of the preceding 39,750. Destroyed conditions of life mean lost opportunities, not only in the present but also in the future.6

This last, barely-250-years-long capitalist phase of conquering the planet by Homo sapiens is what we call globalization. The current state of the planet documented by Welzer is the result. He describes the primary feature of this world as ‘climate wars’,7 or, more narrowly, ‘resource wars’8 – stealing the crumbs from the communal table that was only just magnificently set to honour victory. ‘Climate wars’ could just as successfully be called ‘globalization’. The main (only) objective of them is the right to global status: the right of the victors, of course – because, as to the conquered, the right won by the conquerors to globality (read: free access to all relatively attractive piles of crumbs, wherever they would be found, or protection from the dwindling of food on all the magnificent tables, wherever they may be set) is equivalent to a forced localization – a life sentence of being local (read: to ferret out the uneaten scraps from neighbourhood garbage cans). What is for some the trophy of a victorious war of liberation, results for others in the status of glebae adscripti – nailing into place. Both on the general planetary scale, and internally in national-governmental boundaries within, free movement around the world (that is, escape from the terrains that are desiccated and devastated, and leaving the ruins to the locals to clean up) is today the most in-demand of class privileges, and the main, perhaps the only, factor – but, in any case, a meta-factor – of global and local social inequality, and the best reliable indicator of social divisions. Today: this means being in the phase of a merciless battle over the division of rapidly shrinking numbers of goods, which follows the phase that is ending now – of arguing over a share joyfully and blithely, without worrying about the consequences of the goods divvied up. At the basis of the conflicts tearing the world apart today dwells the consciousness – maybe subconscious and unarticulated, but none the less consuming, – the sense of being cramped; if, in the approaching centuries, there will still be anyone to occupy themselves with historiography, perhaps our times will be recorded in the annals of history


History and Politics

as an epoch of claustrophobic wars. Anyone who has something to guard against intrusion thinks of ways to protect their assets from the burglars of Schengen and Frontex, those contemporary analogues of medieval ramparts guarded by archers, drawbridges and moats – or the surveillance camera-studded walls along the border of the United States and Mexico, or prison camps for migrants directly outside the borders of the countries that chase them out – and therefore a safe distance from their own granaries and reservoirs of potable water. Whoever has no hope of earning some kind of fortune that would be worth protecting waits in anguish for a way to pay the smuggler Charons promising to transport them across the sea to land on river pontoons, that could and would travel to the land of milk and honey, if they weren’t overloaded; and maybe they could even moor their boats on the shore, if not for the fact that – as Welzer observes – ‘such people are deported or perish’, because ‘the Schengen countries have agreed that they do not want them’.9 All of these phenomena, and many others associated with them, Welzer has assiduously collected, as probably no one else before him, and described with more clarity than others. It is true that naturalists write a lot about the destruction of nature, and, along with it, the means of human existence; they write copiously and devoutly, with great knowledge of things; they arduously and mercilessly uncover that which others are unable to – and which they more often do not want to – perceive; they warn us of the results of herd stampede, indifference to the devastation of today and to come, they sound the alarm, they call to action. But, in accordance with the demands and capabilities of their profession, they focus their gaze on that which is appropriate to naturalists – on natural processes, and also on natural causes and the effects of the processes that they describe. When, in fact, as Welzer stubbornly and rightly insists, these natural cataclysms, both in their causes and in their effects, are social catastrophes: ‘All these disastrous trends are manmade in origin and fraught with social consequences. Conflicts break out between those who put too much pressure on scarce resources and those who have to leave the affected areas and settle elsewhere. There is no future for many devastated industrial regions.’10 What of it! Sociologists, or people in political studies, staring at statistical tables (probably created, it seems, so that, through the process of reducing the weight of problems to the frequency of their occurrence, they would free compilers of tables from the risk of ‘sticking their neck out’ – or revealing the truths that are, to the majority, and thus also for the guardians of order, unpopular), place ‘natural disasters’ at the margins of their interests, along with other ‘anomalies’ that here and there interfere with the

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normal course of things, the social order and the spiritual tranquillity of its researchers. The marginalization of bothersome phenomena that don’t fit into the paradigm is the most popular, and one of the most effective, ways of trivializing them – that is, forgetting that bridges collapse not when their load surpasses the statistical average capacity of their arches, but when it surpasses the capacity of the weakest of their pillars. ‘Social and cultural theory is fixated on normality and blind to disasters […] In the social and cultural sciences, it is exactly as if such things as social breakdown, resource conflict, mass migration, safety threats, widespread fears, radicalization and militarized or violence-governed economies did not belong to their sphere of competence.’11 Meanwhile, as Welzer shows, social catastrophes give us a look behind the scenes of society, reveal its functional and dysfunctional properties, that would otherwise remain hidden; they open the door that allows us to see the underground life of society, and in doing so they show us the premises of ‘normalcy’ that its functioning is based on. They show us the inequality of opportunities and odds of survival, which in times of ‘normalcy’ are eased by various institutions, and divided up according to neighbourhood or place of work, and therefore are less visible. They also tear the curtain from the weaknesses of administration, that also appear, after all, when no one is checking on them, and indicate that violence is always an available option. It is high time to wake up from our collective coma (though some say that the time to awaken has already passed, and whether they are right or not is something we won’t learn until we wake up). In truth, it is not only sociologists that were bitten by the Tsetse fly, but they are the ones, along with everyone else in the social sciences and cultural studies, who bear a larger share of responsibility for dragging those who have been bitten out of the slumber that the sting placed them in. The essence of the matter is that, unlike in earlier times, the nature of the threats that we must beware of is far from clear: the most terrifying of the threats leap out of hiding places like bandits roaming the streets. We will not be informed of the impending warming of the climate by any of the five senses that nature equipped us with, and we would not be aware of its consequences without the help of experts. The power of our imagination, as Günther Anders, the great philosopher of the era of Auschwitz, Kolyma and Nagasaki, reminded us – stubbornly, but in vain – remains far behind the power of our realized or potential actions: we are able to do incomparably more harm than we can imagine. Concerned with the tasks before us in an ongoing way, and measuring our merit in accordance with


History and Politics

our actions, we do not have the time or the opportunity to make ourselves aware of their unplanned consequences, concurrent or side effects – and we erase these effects (not without valid reason, but also without any larger scruples) from our field of vision, as not only not being related to the matters actually on the agenda, but even interfering with them – and this happens by removing the attention and resources that were actually demarcated for dealing with them. As a result, as Welzer says, beginning with modern enslaved labour and the ruthless exploitation of colonies, up to the destruction, in the early stages of industrialization, of the fundamental means of human survival for people who had no part in this process, the history of the free, democratic and enlightened West inscribes a counter-history of slavery, humiliation and counter-enlightenment. From this dialectic, as the resulting changes in climate will reveal, the Enlightenment will not disentangle itself. And on this it will fall. It will fall – if, in accordance with our current custom, we react to the tidings of looming catastrophe with an intensification of the efforts that led to it, as we did recently, via the decisions of our governments, counselled by learned experts, in response to the collapse of the economy fuelled by the intensification of consumption and the rise of family and national debt; and what is worse, we did so unthinkingly, instinctively almost, and without any significant pangs of conscience. As Harald Welzer tries to make us realize, if this strategy of back to business, or ‘go on as usual’, collectively employed by us through the mediation of our parliaments and cabinets of ministers, was enacted on ‘the level of individuals’, then: one would immediately think of a sociopath who has no problem consuming seventy times more than anyone else while largely relying on their raw materials – or someone who uses fifteen times more energy, water, and food than the less well-off and discharges nine times more pollutants into the atmosphere. Such a personality would also be totally unconcerned about the lives of his children and grandchildren, accepting that, because of him and his kind, 852 million people worldwide go hungry and more than 20 million are refugees. All normative criteria would classify such a person as a social misfit or, more bluntly, a dangerous parasite, whose game should be put a stop to sooner rather than later.12

Maybe it is not fully clear how our way of life needs to change, in order to halt the rush towards the ‘destruction, and even death of’ the planet, and, along with it, the human species. But one thing will become clear, I hope, for the attentive reader of this book: that the option to ‘go on as usual’ is not there, that carrying on this way is a

Panic among the Parasites


crime: against ourselves, our descendants, humanity and the planet – our shared, and also our only, home. Because, as Welzer says, carefully examining all the possible actions to save us, the ‘world of global capitalism, devoid of orientation or transcendence, creates no sense of meaning within itself and is inadequate for such long-range purposes’.13 ‘What is needed’, he says, ‘is to develop visions or at least ideas that have never been thought before’.14 And anticipating the critiques of people who mistake a lack of imagination and moral sense for realism and a seriousness of perspective, he adds: ‘This may all sound naïve, but it is not really. Besides, what could be more naïve than to imagine that the train bringing destruction on a mass scale will change its speed and course if people inside it run in the opposite direction?’15 One more critique that the author of the book can anticipate – noting that there will be no lack of adherents to the ‘go on as usual’ philosophy among readers of his book – and that is the accusation of sounding the alarm too early and excessively frightening people, or, in brief, sowing panic. Welzer himself admits that he wrote this book with the fervent hope that human actions would give lie to his claims and that the grim prophecies that the book contains would prove false. And, in response to a journalist’s suggestion that he should be included in the circle of ‘fear-mongerers’, the already-mentioned Günther Anders retorted that he sees the title of ‘fear-mongerer’ as a badge of honour and wears it with pride, because ‘in our days, the most important moral task is to make people aware that they need to be alarmed – and that the fears that haunt them have valid reasons’.16 I am immeasurably grateful to Harald Welzer for undertaking the effort that I, similarly to the great majority of my friends in the field, neglected: the great work of collecting reliable testimonies, irrefutable arguments and undeniable proofs – and mainly for the deep reflection on their meaning, and the consequences that result from them regarding probably the greatest challenge that humanity has faced in the 400 centuries of its history, and the greatest of the tests that those 400 centuries have led it to. And all praise to the editors of Krytyka Polityczna17 for so quickly making the results of his work available to Polish readers. Because, in regard to the issues that Welzer discusses in his book, asking ‘for whom the bell tolls’ becomes meaningless, and the point in this book is precisely to convince the reader of this. Convincing them to understand that the alarm bell tolls for all of humanity, and not just for some of the fortified camps that it is becoming divided into, is the only chance of saving this same humanity from the fate of the lemmings.

13 The Haunting Spectre of ‘Westphalian Sovereignty’ (2012)

In the years since my essay on Europe: An Unfinished Adventure was published by Polity Press, dark clouds gathered over the future of the European Union. It has become even clearer than it was at the time that book was written that none of the inherited/extant political agencies designed originally to serve a society integrated at the nation-state level is fit for the role; none is resourceful enough to match the volume and gravity of the task. In so many countries, even the most resourceful among them, citizens are exposed day in, day out to the un-edifying spectacle of governments looking to ‘the markets’ for permission or prohibition to do what they intend to do – and, in particular, of what their citizens would dearly wish and demand them to do. It is ‘the markets’ now that have usurped (not without connivance or even explicit or tacit endorsement and sponsorship of the helpless and hapless state governments) the first and the last word in negotiating the line separating the realistic from the unrealistic. And ‘markets’ are a shorthand name for anonymous, faceless forces with no address: forces which no one elected and no one has ‘empowered to call to order and keep away from mischief; no one is able to constrain, control and guide them. The gathering and well-founded popular impression – but increasingly the expert opinion as well – is that elected parliaments, and the governments which the parliaments are constitutionally obliged to direct, monitor and supervise, are incapable of doing their jobs. No more capable of performing their jobs are the established political parties, notorious as they are to retreat on their poetic electoral promises the moment their leaders enter ministerial offices and

The Haunting Spectre of ‘Westphalian Sovereignty’


find themselves confronted with the prose of overwhelming, while untouchable, market forces and stock exchanges, well beyond the reach of the entitlements ascribed to and/or tolerated in the organs and agencies of the ostensibly ‘sovereign’ nation-states. Hence the deep and deepening crisis of trust. The era of trust in the acting capacity of the nation-state institutions is giving way to the era of institutional un-self-confidence and popular mistrust in the governments’ ability to act. The idea of the territorial state’s sovereignty goes back to 1555, when, at a meeting called to Augsburg1 by the warring dynastic rulers who were desperately seeking an exit, or at least a respite, from protracted gory and devastating religious wars tearing the Christian Europe apart, the formula cuius regio, eius religio (‘he who governs the territory shall decide its religion’) was coined. The ruler’s sovereignty suggested by that formula – as elaborated by Machiavelli, Luther, Jean Bodin2 (in his exceptionally influential De la République, published 21 years after the Augsburg treaty) or Hobbes – meant a full, unconstrained right of kings to proclaim and execute the laws binding whoever happened to inhabit the territory under their rule (variously described as ascendancy, supremacy or dominance). Sovereignty meant supreme – unconstrained by external interference and indivisible – authority within a territory. Since its inclusion in political vocabulary, the concept of sovereignty referred to a territorially confined state of affairs and to territorially fixed entitlements. As Machiavelli argued, and all the politicians worthy of that name were to reiterate since, the sole obligation of the Prince is to uphold the raison d’état – ‘état’, state, ‘Staat’ – being, admittedly, invariably territorial entities defined by their borders. As the Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy puts it, ‘sovereign authority is exercised within borders, but also, by definition, with respect to others, who may not interfere with the sovereign’s governance’ – those ‘others’ being, obviously, the authorities also territorially fixed, though located on the other side of the borders. Any attempt to meddle with the order of things established by the sovereign on the territory of his rule is therefore illegal, condemnable, a casus belli. The Augsburg formula may be read as much as the founding act of the modern phenomenon of state sovereignty as well as it is read, simultaneously and necessarily, as the textual source of the modern concept of state borders. It took, however, almost one hundred years more of bloodletting and devastation, until 1648 and the ‘Westphalian Sovereignty’ agreement3 negotiated and signed that year in Osnabrück and Münster, for the principle recommended by the Augsburg formula to


History and Politics

take hold of European social and political reality: a full sovereignty of every ruler on the territory he ruled and over its residents – that is, the ruler’s entitlement to impose ‘positive’ laws of his choice that may override the choices made individually by his subjects, including the choice of God they ought to believe in and must worship. It was this formula that was inadvertently destined to provide, by a simple expedient of substituting ‘natio’ for ‘religio’, the mental frame or stencil used shortly after to create and operate the (secular) political order of the emergent modern Europe: the pattern of the nationstate – that is, of a nation using the state’s sovereignty to set apart ‘us’ from ‘them’, and reserving for itself the monopolistic, inalienable and indivisible right to design the order binding for the country as a whole; and of a state claiming its right to the subjects’ discipline through invoking the commonality of national history, destiny and well-being – those two constitutive elements of the pattern having been presumed and/or postulated to be territorially overlapping. That historically composed pattern, chosen from many other conceivable, feasible and plausible ordering principles, has been in the course of subsequent centuries ‘naturalized’ – endowed with the status of self-evidence and un-questionability – in most of Europe, as well as gradually yet steadily imposed by Europe-centred world empires on the planet as a whole, in and through the long series of wars waged against the local, all-too-often stubbornly resistant, realities (think, for instance, of the crudely and bluntly artificial ‘national borders’ of the post-colonial states barely containing tribal feuds, or the gory fate of the post-Yugoslav republics). When, after the horrors of the twentieth century’s thirty-year world wars, the first in history attempt to establish a plausibly sustainable consensual order of the planet-wide peaceful cohabitation was undertaken, it was on the Westphalian model of sovereignty that the Charter of the United Nations – of the assembly of the rulers of sovereign states called to collectively monitor, supervise and tooth-and-nail defend that state of peaceful coexistence, was founded. Article 2(4) of that Charter prohibits attacks on ‘political independence and territorial integrity’, whereas Article 2(7) sharply restricts the possibility of an intervention from outside into affairs of a sovereign state, however outrageous such affairs could be. We live still in the ‘post-Westphalian era’, licking the as yet unhealed (perhaps incurable) wounds that the cuius regio, eius religio rule4 has delivered, and continues to deliver, to social bodies seeking, or struggling, to protect and retain their integration. The process of emancipation from the shadows cast by ‘Westphalian sovereignty’ is protracted, and has been thus far painful and anything but uniform.

The Haunting Spectre of ‘Westphalian Sovereignty’


While many powers (finance, commercial interests, information, the drug and weapons trades, criminality and terrorism) have already obtained – in practice, if not theory – the freedom to defy and neglect that phantom, politics (the ability to decide how and what for powers are to be deployed) is still smarting under its constraints. The conspicuous absence of global political agencies capable of catching up with the already global reach and capacity of powers and regain their lost control over them is arguably the main obstacle on the rough and bumpy road towards the ‘cosmopolitan consciousness’ matching the new global interdependence of humanity. As indicated before, the United Nations – an institution brought into being as a reaction to the war initiated by acts of aggression perpetrated by some sovereign nation-states against other nationstates’ sovereignty, and coming closest to the idea of a ‘global political body’ – has the entrenchment and tooth-and-nail defence of the Westphalian principle written into its Charter. The kind of ‘inter­ national’ (read: inter-state, inter-governmental, inter-ministerial) politics which the UN is bound to promote and practise, and the only one it is permitted and capable of promoting and practising, far from being a step on a road leading towards genuinely global politics, would prove to be a major barrier set across such a road, were such a road ever to be embarked upon. On a somewhat lower but structurally homomorphic level, look at the fate of the euro: the absurdity of a common currency served/sustained by seventeen finance ministers, each bound to represent and defend his/her country’s sovereign rights. The plight of the euro, exposed to the vagaries of local (nation-state) politics smarting under pressures coming from two distinct, starkly heterogeneous, uncoordinated and thereby not easily reconcilable authoritative centres (nationally confined electorates and supra-national European institutions, all too often instructed to act, and acting, at cross-purposes), is just one of many manifestations of a double bind: the condition of being clenched as in a vice, immobilized and incapacitated between the ghost of the Westphalian state sovereignty on one side and the realities of the global – or less than global, but nonetheless supra-national – dependency on the other. As I write these words, the debate conducted by the twenty-seven member states of the European Union on the ways to save the euro, Greece, and perhaps the European Union itself has been suspended (with the possibility of grave consequences of reaching a point of no return, and a certainty of yet more collateral damages inflicted upon Europe as a whole by another month of free-for-all presented to the stock-exchange gamblers and currency speculators) until after the Greek and French parliamentary elections.


History and Politics

To put this in a nutshell: we are still deprived of a global equivalent/homologue of the institutions invented, designed and put into operation by our grandfathers and great-grandfathers at the level of the territorial nation-state in order to secure the marriage of power and politics: such institutions as serve, or are at least meant and pressed to serve, the coalescence and coordination of diffuse interests and opinions, their proper representation and reflection in the practice of executive organs and in universally binding codes of laws, as well as juridical procedures. What is left to us is to wonder whether this challenge can be met and this task performed by the extant political institutions, created after all – and groomed – to serve a quite different (nation-state) level of human integration and to protect that level from all and any intrusions ‘from above’. It all started, let’s recall, from the monarchs of Christian Europe fighting to stave off the Popes’ pretences to oversee their dominions … For a few centuries, that inherited settlement was relatively well attuned to the realities of their time, a time of power and politics locked in each other’s company at the level of budding nationstates, a time of Nationalökonomie and of Reason identified with raison d’état – but this is no longer the case. Our interdependence is already global, whereas our instruments of collective action and will-expression are, as before, local and stoutly resisting extension, infringement and/or limitation. The gap between the scope of interdependence and the reach of institutions called to service it is already abysmal, yet day by day widening and deepening. Filling or bridging that gap is in my view the ‘meta-challenge’ of our time – one that ought to be given the top rank among the preoccupations of the residents of the twenty-first century: the challenge that needs to be adequately met so that other, lesser – yet derivative and inalienable – challenges, can start being earnestly, properly and effectively confronted. There are reasons to interpret the initiatives taken by Schuman, Monnet, Spaak, Adenauer and de Gasperi5 immediately after the end of World War Two, to build a political superstructure over geographic Europe, as a reaction to a perceived fall of European selfassurance. It must have been obvious to those sober-minded activists that Europe’s position in the world could not be sustained by the scattered, uncoordinated, often inconsistent actions of relatively small and weak – in any case, not mighty enough – territorial nationstates. Before attempting to rebuild Europe’s standing in the world, it was first necessary to reconcile its warring nation-states. It is too early to sum up the results of this historic initiative. After all, the founding fathers of political Europe had undertaken quite a

The Haunting Spectre of ‘Westphalian Sovereignty’


task – the building of a pan-European, transnational solidarity, which would unify the historically, albeit spontaneously, created and longestablished local solidarities, which for hundreds of years re-asserted their identities by stirring up and stoking the fires of discord with their neighbours. There are those who doubt the possibility of such a transnational solidarity, known sometimes as ‘a sense of European identity’. Nation and state, they say, are conjoined once and for all, in the eyes of God and of history, and only within this framework can human solidarity be a natural attribute of human co-existence; without a historically formed national destiny, only fragile, unstable and inherently temporary alliances are possible, entered into through tedious negotiation and sensible, but unenthusiastically accepted, compromise. Jürgen Habermas provides the toughest of arguments against this opinion, pointing out that democratic order need not be supported by an ingrained idea of ‘nation’ as a pre-political community of fate and destiny – that the might of a democratic constitutional state is based precisely on its potential to create and recreate social integration through the political engagement of its citizens. National community does not precede political community: it is its on-going product.6 The claim that a stable and self-perpetuating political system cannot exist without a consolidated ethno-cultural entity is neither more nor less convincing than the claim that no ethno-cultural entity is capable of consolidating and acquiring the strength to self-perpetuate without the help of an efficient political mechanism. This is neither the place nor the time for deep speculation on the relative values of these opposing views – nor, I would add, would such a speculation be fruitful, since the dispute can, and will, only be settled authoritatively by political will and the institutional achievements of the Europeans (unfortunately so far making their importance felt mainly by their invisibility), and not by philosophical deliberations, however subtle or logical. Let’s face it – the jury is still out on the fate of political unity in Europe, and it is hard to say whether there is progress or regress in the matter. After the Treaty of Lisbon,7 which established the offices of European President and the Head of European Diplomacy, both positions were to be filled by individuals distinguished solely by their lack of clarity or authority … (Lately, I travel a great deal around Europe on lecture tours, and often ask those I meet if they know the names of the European President and the Head of Diplomacy, but am still waiting in vain for the answer.) Not being a prophet, and not having acquired in the course of my sociology studies the qualifications for being one, I shall refrain from passing premature judgements.8 I would like, however, to share with


History and Politics

you one observation that sociological diagnosis authorizes me to make. Wherever its roots or the source of its power, the stimulus to political integration and the factor necessary for progress is a shared vision of collective mission. This is a unique mission, and, what is more, a mission to which an existing or planned political body is particularly predestined – a mission, furthermore, which only that body and that body alone is capable of taking on and taking on successfully. Where are we to find such a mission in our Europe of 2012? It would appear, and luckily so, that we will find it neither in military might nor – considering the economic miracles that are happening before our very eyes from China to Latin America – even in economic power. There is a sphere in which the historical experience of Europe and her acquired skills are second to none. And since it so happens that this sphere is literally a question of life and death for the future of the planet, then the value of what we, the Europeans, can bring as a legacy, with which to equip the rapidly globalizing world, cannot be underestimated. A globalized world – that is to say, a world of universal interdependence – needs it more than anything else, in order to aspire to what Immanuel Kant identified as allgemeine Vereinigung der Menschheit (‘general unification of mankind’), and by extension also to universal, worldwide peace. This legacy is the historical shaping of European culture and our contribution to it today. Europe was able to, and did, learn the art of living with others. In Europe, as nowhere else, ‘the Other’ is the neighbour next door or across the hall, and Europeans, whether they like it or not, must negotiate the terms of neighbourhood in spite of the differences and the otherness that separate them. ‘The situation of the European, marked as it is by multilingualism, close proximity of the Other and an equivalency of “others” in a strictly limited space’ can be seen as a great laboratory of new forms of human community – or else a school from which the rest of the world might acquire that knowledge and set of skills that could make the difference between survival and demise. ‘To acquire the art of learning from one another and to share that skill with the rest of humanity’ – says Gadamer – ‘is the task of Europe.’ I would add: it is Europe’s mission, waiting to be re-forged into a vocation and a destiny.9 It is impossible to overstate the importance of this task, and the importance of Europe’s determination to undertake it. Indeed, it is a sine qua non in times when only friendship and robust (or in today’s parlance – proactive) solidarity are able to lend a stable structure to human cohabitation. It is in the light of those sorts of observations

The Haunting Spectre of ‘Westphalian Sovereignty’


that we the Europeans should be asking ourselves the question: what steps are we taking to realize this vocation? Seen from a bird’s-eye view, the world appears today to be an archipelago of diasporas; by their nature, diasporas pose a large question mark over the hitherto unquestioned assumptions about the inevitable correlation of identity and citizenship or habitat, of spirit and place, of a sense of belonging and territory. The whole of Europe is transforming before our very eyes – though in different regions and at different rates – into a mosaic of diasporas (or, to be more precise, into a collection of overlapping and intersecting ethnic archipelagos). Without the policy of forceful assimilation, it is possible to effectively safeguard one’s national identity on one of the diaspora islands, as one would at home. Perhaps even more effectively, since this identity, as Martin Heidegger would have it, when in exile (whether as refugee, an émigré or a deportee), turns from something obvious and ‘given’ (zuhanden) into a ‘task’, something requiring constant attention and energetic effort (vorhanden).10 And neighbouring or intermixed diasporas may also, while negotiating desirable identities, enrich one another and grow, not diminish in strength. The work will be long, the process slow, and we should not expect immediate results. But the process could be accelerated, helping horizons merge – consciously and consequently. Nothing prevents horizons from merging, nothing slows the process, as much as that confusion of tongues known in times past to the builders of the Tower of Babel. The European Union recognizes as ‘official’ as many as twenty-three languages. But surely in the different countries of Europe people read, write and think also in Catalan, Basque, Welsh, Breton, Gaelic, Kashubian, Lapp, Roma and countless varieties of provincial Italian (I apologize for the inevitable omissions – it’s impossible to list them all …). Most of us, with the exception of a handful of outstanding polyglots, are denied access to the majority of European languages. We are all, on account of this, handicapped and impoverished. So much human wisdom has been passed on in stories told in unintelligible dialects. One of the most significant components – though by no means the only one – of this hidden wisdom is the surprising similarity of fears, dreams or experiences of parents and children, spouses and neighbours, bosses and employees, ‘familiars’ and ‘strangers’, friends and foes – regardless of the language they were told in … and what a great deal we can learn from one another about concerns that we all share. There occurs to me a rhetorical question: how much wisdom would be gained, what great improvement to our community or to the chances of our world mission would be achieved, if part of the


History and Politics

Union’s funds could be used to finance the translation of literature of all its member countries, making it available in print, but also in all other commonly used media today? I am personally convinced that such a rich treasury of all that is most valuable in the experience and thought of every one of the nations making up the European Union could possibly be the best investment for the future of Europe and the success of its mission. The future of political Europe hangs on the fate of European culture. And that fate, in turn, considering the increasingly and no doubt irreversibly diasporic composition of Europe, depends on our ability to learn the art of transforming cultural differentiation from passive to active, from something to put up with to something to celebrate – summa summarum,11 to accept it as an asset and not dismiss as an impediment. It is not, to be sure, a new requirement, although it is easy to forget its history or belittle and dismiss its role in the past when viewed from the perspective of our own era of nation building – with its emphasis on the homogenization of culture, and the tendency to ascribe to culture the role of haemostat as opposed to that of fertile ground for social and moral change. It is high time to bring back to our collective memory the fact that the conflict-free, mutually beneficial co-habitation of different cultures was considered the norm for centuries and continued to be so until very recently in many parts of geographic Europe defined as ‘central’. If we believe Titus Livius,12 historian of the rise of the Roman Empire and author of Ab urbe condita, the rise of Rome from humble beginnings to ecumenical stature and the glory of a six-centuries-long Empire, was due to the consistent practice of granting all conquered and annexed peoples full citizenship rights and unqualified access to the highest offices of the expanding country, while paying due tribute to the gods whom the newcomers worshipped and granting them equal rights on the Roman pantheon. The Roman tradition of respect for different cultures and conventions, for multiplicity rather than uniformity of life forms (for solidarity achieved not despite, but because of, their difference), which underpinned the flowering of the Empire, were not as it turned out, to be inherited by the heirs of the Roman Empire or observed later in Europe’s history. If it does continue, in its residual form, it is only on the outskirts of the past empire, far from absolutist monarchies with their rivalries for the position of supremacy in the European balance of power. As Western Europe plunged into a century of bloody and destructive wars of religion, sowing the seeds of hereditary animosity, a significant part of Europe east of the River Elbe was able to stay away from fratricidal massacres, thereby protecting the legacy of religious (hence

The Haunting Spectre of ‘Westphalian Sovereignty’


– avant la lettre – cultural and community) tolerance. An outstanding example of an alternative to the Westphalian system was the Polish– Lithuanian Commonwealth,13 a Polish–Lithuanian state, known for its generosity in granting self-governing powers and independent cultural identities to ethnic, linguistic and religious minorities spread throughout its territory, thereby avoiding bloodshed and other religious atrocities which befell their other, less fortunate neighbours to the west, whose wounds then took centuries to heal. However, partitions effected by its voracious neighbours – dynastic monarchies with overt or covert national ambitions – dealt a fatal blow to this unique Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. Cultural autonomies, fortunate majorities and unfortunate minorities alike were subjected to forced Russification in the east, and a no less – perhaps even more – ruthless Germanization to the west, supplemented by intermittent religious wars such as the anti-Catholic offensives of Orthodox and Lutheran churches. Only areas to the south, annexed by a monarchy aspiring to principles close to those of the Polish– Lithuanian Commonwealth, escaped a similar fate. History books credit modern history ex post facto with promoting the principles of tolerance, yet there is no doubt that cultural intolerance was an inseparable companion of the two major and tightly intertwined modern endeavours – that of nation building, and that of state-building. National languages called for the stifling and delegitimization of local dialects, state churches demanded the suppression of religious ‘sects’, and ‘national memory’ called for the annihilation of local and collective memory. Only one great European monarchy, close to the geographical centre of Europe, resisted this popular tendency right up to the breakout of the First World War. This was its ethnic groups and cultures, governed from Vienna, at that time a cultural hothouse and a breeding ground of the most fascinating and far-reaching contributions to European philosophy, psychology, literature, music, visual and dramatic arts. It is no coincidence that it was there that a theory, or rather a programme, of political integration based on the postulate of national/personal autonomy (Personalitätsprinzip as the most famous of its proponents, Otto Bauer, would call it) took root. Referring to Karl Renner’s 1899 essay/manifesto Staat und Nation, the Marxist writer Otto Bauer’s 1907 book Die Nationalitätenfrage und die Sozialdemokratie, published eight years later, presents the said postulate as a way of ‘organizing nations not into territorial bodies, but into free associations of individuals’ – that is to say, to separate, or free, a nation’s existence from its dependence and territorial prerequisites, and political integration from national identities. A similar principle was


History and Politics

formulated and promoted by the Bund member Vladimir Medem,14 referring, for a change, to the experiences of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, in an essay published in Yiddish in 1904, entitled Social Democracy and the National Question. Medem proposed, amongst other things, that ‘citizens of given nations unite into cultural organizations practising in every region of the country’, and that ‘every citizen of the State belong to a national group, whose choice be left to his personal preference, rather than controlled by any administrative body’. Those postulates and hopes found themselves amongst the casualties of the First World War. At the gathering of victors in Versailles, Woodrow Wilson,15 updating the Westphalia agreement of 1648, and raising its ideas to the rank of general rule, proclaimed the indivisible sovereignty of a nation on its territory with a universal principle of humanity (something which, incidentally, was to concern Hannah Arendt, fully aware that ‘bands of mixed populations’,16 common in the Balkans but scattered also throughout Central/Eastern Europe, were utterly unsuited to principles such as ein Volk, ein Reich). But even Wilson’s ignorance, or arrogance, could not prevent another – admittedly half-hearted and short-lived – attempt to find a form of co-existence better suited to the reality of overlapping and intersecting archipelagos of ethno-cultural diasporas, in the form of Yugoslavia. And yet even that attempt was narrowed, without much success, to the perimeters of Bosnia – a region of long-lasting peaceful co-existence of many ethnic and religious groups, which nevertheless required a similarly mixed environment to survive. This environment destroyed the viciousness of ethnic cleansing initiated not least through the fault of the highest European authorities. It was Helmut Kohl,17 after all, who, in a moment of carelessness, disastrously blurted out that Slovenia deserved independence because it is ethnically homogenous – a statement interpreted (undoubtedly against his intentions) as official licence to expel and massacre ... It fell to all of us Europeans to live in an era of advancing, and possibly unstoppable, diasporization – thus, with the prospect of all regions of Europe transforming into ‘bands of mixed populations’. According to the latest demographic predictions, the number of inhabitants of the European Union (currently around 400 million) is set to shrink in the next 50 years to the order of 240 million, which would effectively render obsolete the kind of lifestyles we are accustomed to and are interested in maintaining. Demographers tell us, furthermore, that, unless at least 30 million foreigners settle in Europe, the European system will be incapable of surviving. If there is any truth in these predictions, we must prepare ourselves for the

The Haunting Spectre of ‘Westphalian Sovereignty’


possibility that this situation (brought to a boiling point and tragic consequences by the imposition of the principle of ein Volk, ein Reich) may well emerge in Europe as a whole. All of us, I repeat, are changing, at different speeds but inexorably, into what Hannah Arendt called ‘bands of mixed populations’. ‘Proactive’ responses to the emerging situation are, however, few, sluggish and painfully slow. Provoked by pressure or blackmail by occasional flaring up of tribal sentiments, they are offered with no particular enthusiasm; and yet the future of Europe’s political and cultural existence depends on the re-thinking and reversing of the trends of the last 400 years of European history. It is high time to consider whether the past of geographically central Europe might not be the future of European politics and culture. In fact, might it not be the only future capable of safeguarding our European civilization?

14 Europe’s Adventure: Still Unfinished? (2016)

I voted for Britain remaining in Europe. The rest of my speech will be just a collection of footnotes to this statement. I will try to explain why I have done it, and what I hope will follow.1 I asked yesterday Google to give me the address of the websites where ‘Brexit’ is discussed. I got, as should be expected, 1,200,000 answers. Don’t, please, expect that I will give you a synthesis of what was there. I very much hope you don’t expect me to have read all these 1,200,000 statements about ‘Brexit’. My speech will be structured differently. There will be in fact very little about ‘Brexit’ itself, just at the very end of my speech, something like one-quarter or one-fifth of the time which Mark Davis kindly offered to me. The rest, a lot of the first part, the big part, will be an attempt to paint a picture wider than ‘Brexit’, a picture of the world in which ‘Brexit’ happened – the world which gave meaning to the event which is the topic of today’s conference – in very wide paintbrushes. I want to warn you that I will present the issue of ‘Brexit’ not as a picture on the wall, as self-explanatory, but rather as a window in the wall, through which you can see some aspects, some very important processes, happening in contemporary society, in Europe and beyond Europe, which otherwise you wouldn’t notice. But ‘Brexit’ throws a light on that window with a lamp, with a projector, showing something which is happening in our contemporary world. First of all, what was the reaction to ‘Brexit’ in the world? Well, I would rather start from personal reminiscences. Excuse me, but the topic is very close to my own biography, so I will mention it. I

Europe’s Adventure: Still Unfinished?


was twice in my life a refugee. Once it was courtesy of Nazis; the other time courtesy of the Communist government in Poland. So, I had some sort of a personal experience of the issue which is today discussed. The first time I saw the meaning of being a refugee was in Prague in the 1970s. In Charles University in Prague, they have a habit – when they offer an honorary doctorate, they ask recipients to name the international anthem which they want to play during the ceremony. Well, I had a problem. I couldn’t name my homeland Poland, because I was already twice refugee from the country, so that would be preposterous of me. And on the other hand, the British anthem. Well, I have nothing against Britain, I very much hope that Britain doesn’t have much against me! I was received hospitably, but there was no question, I was not British. I was a refugee. I was an alien. I was a foreigner. So, I couldn’t pretend that the British anthem should be played publicly in my honour. My wife Janina then found a solution. What about ‘Ode to Joy’, the anthem of Europe? And it just occurred to me, in a lightbulb moment of sorts, that’s the ideal solution. Why? Because once you mention that I am European, no British could question it, and no Polish could question it. I am European. And when once you’ve said that, the idea of ‘foreigner’, idea of ‘alien’, the idea of division between ‘us’ and ‘them’, doesn’t make much sense. Well, that’s one argument. You think about it. One argument, one first footnote, which, guided by personal reminiscences, I wanted to present to you. But let us turn to people more serious and presenting the issue more widely than I have done just this moment. I mentioned that I tried to paint the backdrop against which the phenomenon, the event of ‘Brexit’, should be – in my view – seen. This backdrop will be divided into two parts. On the one hand, there will be the circumstances, the occurrences, the settings which have something to do with the pragmatic aspect of creation of the European Union, and the case for maintenance of the European Union – even strengthening, condensing it, for pragmatic reasons. The other part will be about moral and aesthetic reasons for the same. Well, I will start from the initiative of the Guardian. I wonder whether you had the chance of reading, in the Guardian, just before ‘Brexit’, statements collected from leading intellectuals in Europe, asking them what words of advice they could give to the British who go to the referendum.2 I selected two of them (there were many) as I felt they somehow complement each other. The first one which I would like to quote was from Italy, from Elena Ferrante, and I quote briefly from her, what she said:


History and Politics

The single pieces of Europe have long lost their autonomy and centrality. Major financial crises cannot be faced by stewing in one’s own juice. Migrations cannot be controlled with traffic lights or barbed wire. Global terrorism is not a video game you play at home in your living room. The world’s climate cannot be fixed by opening an umbrella. The happy few are no longer enough, not even for themselves, but must confront the unhappy many. And so, while it may be a union that has united little or nothing, it is necessary, in my opinion [that is, what Elena Ferrante says], to stay together at all costs. What we need now is not many small countries but a continent … We don’t need roots now: they make plants of us, splendid, yes, but bound to the ground, and nowadays everything is more mobile than ever, shifting quickly from one shape to the next. A broad, true identity must open itself up to all identities and absorb the best in them. Time is short.

The second statement, also succinct and juicy, comes from Germany, from Timur Vermes, and he says: Dear Britain, let us keep it short: what is the EU? It’s the consequence of the Second World War. It’s the attempt to make things better. Even if you don’t always get the best result for yourself. Many, throughout the whole of Europe, don’t share this ambition any more. That’s understandable, for 60 million people had to die before we found it a worthwhile ambition. And that was a long time ago.

60 million was the price. As far as the young people, who you see in front of you, are concerned – well, they didn’t fortunately go through this experience first-hand. So what? Vermur suggests: ‘Everyone has the right to wait until this view comes naturally to them. But they should know this: next time they won’t get it so cheaply.’ Well, that is roughly the background to this situation. We are in such a world. We haven’t chosen it. It is a combined product of activity of history and other inactivity. But, nevertheless, that is the reality which is surrounding us. Benjamin Barber, the American political scientist and sociologist, known for writing several classic studies already, suggests in very strong words that, well, our problem is inadequacy between the grandiosity of these tasks and challenges and the mediocrity of the tools, the instruments which we inherited historically, to deal with these tasks and challenges. He said nation states – the great invention of religious wars trying to put an end to 100 years of massacres in Europe, which almost destroyed the western part of Europe completely – were perfect instruments to deal with the emerging issue of autonomy. But they are good for nothing when it comes to dealing with interdependence. They were tools made to the

Europe’s Adventure: Still Unfinished?


measure of the task of territorial sovereignty of states and nations in the process of being built up. They are still our only tools for collective action. But the task is to deal with the terribly difficult issue of interdependence. We can’t deny that. We can’t reverse the process. We can do pretty little about it. We are living in a globalized world, and that means that whatever happens in Bangladesh has an impact on what’s happening in Leeds, and vice versa. But where are the tools for dealing with such a situation? One of the most perceptive sociologists of our times, Ulrich Beck – unfortunately he is no longer with us, he was a very acute observer of the achievements and inanities of the contemporary world – in one of his latest works, suggested that our problem today, the major problem which we have to do something about but have no idea what, is the fact that we are already, without being asked, whether we like it or not, we are already living in a cosmopolitan world. But – and that is a huge ‘But’ – we haven’t started even, in earnest, to design, develop, appropriate or practise cosmopolitan awareness. I wonder whether you still remember one of the pioneers of American Sociology, William Fielding Ogburn, who published in 1922 the book Cultural Lag.3 And, in this book, what he has done – well it was 1922, and so it was still politically correct at that time – he described ‘savages’. Savages – he had in mind the colonies, the empires, planted on their land – they already live in modernized conditions, but their awareness is much behind, and they can’t actually adjust themselves to the new situation. We, ‘the modern’, as much as they, ‘the savages’, are suffering from this very unpleasant disease called ‘cultural lag’. I suggest to you, ladies and gentlemen, that we are now ‘the savages’ which are behind this situation. The situation is already cosmopolitan. Our awareness is as if nothing happened. We are reaching for the tools, instruments, of collective action, which we know, which we inherited. I wonder if any of you remember Walter Benjamin’s commentary on the great drawing of Paul Klee, the German artist. It presented what Klee called ‘Angelus Novus’, and Walter Benjamin called the ‘Angel of History’. His commentary was: here it is, the Angel of History, widest breadth of wings which he doesn’t control any longer, and he moves quite quickly, but moves with his spine towards the place where he moves into the future. But not because he is attracted to it. He is not pulled by the charms of this as yet unknown, unexplored future. But because he is repelled. He is pushed by the atrocities of the present and the past. Well, we could say, that what’s happened, what’s happening now, we are witnessing it, we are as yet summing up. But I think


History and Politics

that the ‘Angel of History’ has turned 180 degrees. He still moves, pressed, pushed, repelled, rather than attracted. But this time, he’s pressed, pushed, by a vision of history which has lost its vision of the future, which has lost its attraction. We are living, currently, for one or two decades already, in this situation. The young people of today are the first generation after the war which does not expect the future to bring a better life than the one enjoyed by their parents. Older generations after the war were convinced that the arrival point of their parents was the starting point for them. They would go further on. With history, with progress, there will be more comfort, less inconvenience, greater chances, opportunities, for an interesting and meaningful life, and in a way, also for their children’s lives. For the first time, we are living with the idea that progress is connected in our subconscious with a shock, rather than with a hope. The future which we experience is famous for bringing only bad news. For retreating from its achievements, rather than bringing a better life. Well, that is the new situation, which is now happening. And I’m even trying now to play with the idea of ‘retrotopia’ – a connection of two ideas, ‘retro’ and ‘utopia’. Utopia is an old phenomenon in modern times, it started together with them. It was always the case that utopian visions of an ideal society – or at least better than the society we know from experience – were located somewhere in the future. The future is unknown, and for that reason it is adaptable, you can manipulate it. You could imagine all sorts of societies because they were landed, fixed somewhere where no one yet explored, no one went there, they were not on the map, and so on. What’s happening today, in retrotopian times, is that this better society – which is free from the ailments, beasts of burden, mishaps and catastrophes of our time – is now located in the past. The historian David Lowenthal is known to suggest that ‘the past is a foreign country’.4 He studied very well the confrontation between our ideas about the past and what a professional historian can actually discover about what happened. I suggest to you that, from this point of view, there was little difference in the future of utopias and the past of retrotopias. They are both unknown countries, foreign countries, and therefore you are free to fantasize, to imagine. But that is what’s going on at the moment. Precisely this fantasizing – how nice it was to live in the past; how much better were they – the ways of life which our parents or ourselves even, in our naïvety, abandoned. What about going back? Going back to what? You probably heard: it’s tremendously fashionable in contemporary politics, the procedure of politics of memory. Very much of

Europe’s Adventure: Still Unfinished?


what happens contemporarily in the European Union, is guided, set in motion, precisely by that. Well, that is the one part of the backdrop, the pragmatic part. The crisis of the discrepancy between the enormity of the task created by the new state of the world, and the insufficiency, inadequacy of the tools, instruments of governance, of collective action, which are at our disposal to deal with it. So, it’s a question of pragmatics, it’s a question of survival. Can we – enclosed, confined, constrained in small plots of land, in so-called ‘nation states’ – can we deal with problems which are already global or cosmopolitan? Or is it the question of an inevitable approaching catastrophe? They are too big these questions to handle with such mediocre means. Europe should unite. The world should unite. The gap between absent cosmopolitan awareness and the present – very idealistically – cosmopolitan situation should be bridged. Why? Because it is a question of life and death. It is a question of whether we will survive, or we will together go to the bottom. The other thing, ladies and gentlemen, the other part of this backdrop is, as I warned you, the moral and aesthetic aspects of this same issue. What I have in my mind is not just the question of making life together more safe, more secure, that is at the moment on the agenda, but also the question of making our life more meaningful, and to make it more hospitable for a meaningful life, more hospitable for humans. So, you go not a few inches, but a few big steps beyond the bare issue of survival. We are going in this moral aesthetical aspect of the situation to the value of life, the quality of life. And here I could find no one, no writer, no author or public statement better than Pope Francis. Pope Francis expressed it beautifully, and allow me to give you another lengthy quote from his statement that he made during the ceremony of receiving the Charlemagne Prize,5 awarded by the German town Aachen to people with particularly big merits in adding to the glory of Europe. ‘With mind and heart, with hope and without vain nostalgia, like a son who rediscovers in Mother Europe his roots of life and faith, I dream of a new European humanism’, said Pope Francis. One that involves the constant work of humanization and calls for memory, courage and a sound and humane utopian vision: I dream of a Europe that is young, still capable of being a mother: a mother who has life because she respects life and offers hope for life. I dream of a Europe that cares for children, that offers fraternal help to the poor and those newcomers seeking acceptance because they have lost everything and need shelter. I dream of a Europe that is


History and Politics

attentive to and concerned for the infirm and the elderly, lest they be simply set aside as useless. I dream of a Europe where being a migrant is not a crime but a summons to greater commitment on behalf of the dignity of every human being. I dream of a Europe where young people breathe the pure air of honesty, where they love the beauty of a culture and a simple life undefiled by the insatiable needs of consumerism, where getting married and having children is a responsibility and a great joy, not a problem due to the lack of stable employment. I dream of a Europe of families, with truly effective policies concentrated on faces rather than numbers, on birth rates more than rates of consumption. I dream of a Europe that promotes and protects the rights of everyone, without neglecting its duties towards all. I dream of a Europe of which it will not be said that its commitment to human rights was its last utopia.

Well, ending with the backdrop, you see two collections, two categories of arguments. One from reason, from just a wish, a natural human wish, to survive the other situation, evading, eliding, running away from meaningful control supported by wide popular agreement. And the other, more lofty, more noble, more a hero if you wish, but nevertheless a group of arguments which refers to the quality of the one life – one life, one, which each of you including myself has at our disposal – to spend on theirs. Now, as I promised in the first part of my speech dedicated to the issue of ‘Brexit’, where then is ‘Brexit’ in all this company? Well, I see there are quite a few people here in this room who would be able to answer this question much, much better than myself. Mark Davis is one of them. They study the issue. I am not pretending that I have been following it very closely, not from the point of view of internal mechanisms, ad hoc coalitions, quarrels and so on. I am interested in ‘Brexit’ – again may I repeat – as a window. Looking through this event, we can see some aspect of our reality which otherwise could go unnoticed. What I came to conclude, I want to share with you. Whether you agree with me or not, you can always demonstrate your disagreement in the question time to follow. But I think that what we see looking through the window of ‘Brexit’ is the phenomenon of the ‘penalty for success’. What is the ‘penalty for success’? People who actually benefited from the last half-century (at least) – from being together, from the increased power of the European continent, from the better conditions of life, money which was flowing also from the richer countries of Europe to the poorer ones – they feel reassured. They stand firmly on their feet, with nothing to be afraid of particularly. They go: ‘Now, we don’t need them any more so much.’ That’s precisely the

Europe’s Adventure: Still Unfinished?


feeling which you find in the eastern part of the European Union – in Slovakia, Prime Minister Fico; in Hungary, Prime Minister Orbán; in Poland, well, not Prime Minister, but appointing Prime Minister Jarosław Kaczyński, and so on. Is this a unique phenomenon in Europe? The point I want to make to you – risk making to you – is that it is by no means unique, but it shows certain regularities. I will give you a few examples, taken from various places, various times, various areas of life, but all coming to the same question: the ‘penalty for success’. One distant example, the first one I remember still from when writing my Ph.D., and that was the case of Ramsay MacDonald, the first Labour prime minister in Britain. That was an incredible event. No one seriously dreamt that a Labour party – a newly created party, looked at by people not as a party but as the political representation of the trade unions – could suddenly produce prime ministers, ministers, a government, and so on. Ramsay MacDonald – why was it then that the vote happened? Because of the concretization of circumstances after the First World War. I won’t go into details – the fact is a majority of Britons voted him to power. There was no question that Ramsay MacDonald owes that success not to his own particular qualities, but to the fact that he had this massive support of the trade union movement. The first thing he did after becoming prime minister was to kick out the ladder which brought him to the peak of government. He immediately wanted to legalize his presence at the top. His presence at the top, courtesy of trade unions, was not legitimate to him in terms of the tradition of British politics. So, what he did, well, secretly – secretly even from very close colleagues of his in government – he entered a coalition with Conservatives and Liberals and created a National Government. He did not wish to be connected with – and not particularly adding to his personal glory – the circumstances which brought him to this top position within British Politics. Well, that’s one example. A second example: take the ‘social state’. I know it is called commonly the ‘welfare state’. I prefer to call it ‘social state’ because it shows the meaning of it. It is the social responsibility, social insurance against individual misfortune, individual mishap. Anyway, thanks to the introduction in most countries of Europe after the Second World War various institutions of the ‘social state’, all generations advanced. There was massive upward mobility: people who otherwise wouldn’t dream even of going beyond the primary school, not to mention going to the university, suddenly acquired education, high skills, became important people, and so on. When the ‘social state’ was introduced,


History and Politics

an issue of each introduction was the redistribution of the national wealth in order to enable the downtrodden people at the bottom, the underclass, to participate in the condition of life of a better, more opulent, more resourceful life than that. Now this idea was, as we would say today, ‘beyond left and right’. Everybody agreed ‘Yes, it was a reasonable thing to do.’ I wonder whether you remember that Lord Beveridge, who is actually the author of the British ‘welfare state’, of the British ‘social state’, was not a socialist (not to mention he was not a communist), but he was a convinced, faithful liberal. And he believed that the introduction of the ‘social state’ is not the question of giving particular privileges, particular care, to the lowdown people – but it is the question of the promotion of individual liberty. You cannot be really free, you cannot implement the liberal idea of individual freedom, unless you have firm legs to stand on, unless you have resources, unless you are provided with a promise – a kept promise – that in case you stumble, in case you are defeated, there is a community which will come to your rescue. Unless these conditions are fulfilled, freedom is illusory, freedom is purely negative, but not positive. It doesn’t give you really the right to serve yourself, and to choose the kind of life you would like. On a smaller scale, ladies and gentlemen, you had the same phenomenon in the United States of America. Not in the case of the ‘social state’. America didn’t earn that. But, if you remember, there was for several years – from Kennedy and Johnson up to Nixon – there was the so-called ‘affirmative action’. People who came from deprived areas, from poor families, were given extra points when they applied to university, and therefore it was in a sense a privilege given to them consciously, in order to equalize – or at least bring a little bit closer – the chances of upward mobility, of promotion, and so on. I refer to that only with one thing in mind. Namely, that when it came, first of all, from the rich white-skinned families in America that affirmative action is something against the interests of their children – they get results in exams, but they are not given a place at university because black people coming from ghettos will get extra points … well, when it came to that, the interesting point is that the black people – black Americans who, thanks to affirmative action, completed their education in universities, became lawyers, became doctors, members of other respectable families – now they find themselves in the first ranks of protesting against continuation of the procedure. They didn’t want to be accused that it is because they belonged to a certain category that they are where they are, not because of their own individual, exclusive achievement.

Europe’s Adventure: Still Unfinished?


That is the problem, ladies and gentlemen. That is the question of the ‘penalty for success’. I suggest to you, ladies and gentlemen, that the ‘Brexit’ phenomenon belongs to this category: the ‘penalty for success’. Europe was a very comfortable place to be in, and as far as foreign trade and the market for British products, and the freedom with which young Englishmen, Welshmen, Scotsmen, can travel around Europe to find a place which offers the greatest opportunities for them, all of that was fine. That brought conditions of life which were clearly better than the previous ones. One would say that was a normal reaction. We feel safer, we feel firmer, we feel better provided for, so let us get rid of those people in Brussels, in Strasbourg, which interfere with our national affairs. We can go back! Well, given we’re very close to the time of British Empire on which the sun never sets, the sovereign, the powerful country, which can take care of its own interests without relying on somebody else. A recovery of political control. Well, I suggest to you, an even wider idea than the previous one, that there was one more factor in ‘Brexit’, in addition to the question of the impact of this ‘penalty for success’. I wonder whether you agree with the widespread observation that among the British (and the same applies to other European countries, most of them), the trust in the present-day political system is falling down. People stopped believing, or are stopping believing, that the government of the day are capable of delivering on their promises. They promise one thing, but when it comes to government there’s nothing you can distinguish in one party from another. The lack of trust – the refusal to be confident that the government will attend to and take care of the popular interest and popular desires – now, that applies to the whole political system. It’s not the question that people lost trust in one of the parties of the establishment. That is a very old phenomenon. That’s part and parcel of democratic life. But this is some sort of a new phenomenon. The whole political system doesn’t work. You need to find some new organization of togetherness, of your life together. If that is the case, then, unfortunately, when it comes to the elementary, routine, repetitive, monotonous ceremony of parliamentary election, you cannot express this totality of your dissent. You may dislike the current prime minister. It might be Gordon Brown that you dislike, and you dislike, because of him, the Labour party. So you vote him out of office. But in voting him out of office, you have expressed your dissatisfaction with his rule, but you promoted at the same time – you vacated the room in the government, to other parties of the establishment which are no better from this point of view.


History and Politics

Fortunately, there was David Cameron. He came to the idea of referendum. And that is a totally different kind of story. Just imagine, in a referendum, unlike in parliamentary election, you can show the grandiosity of your dissent, the totality of your dissent. You can, with one single vote, express dissatisfaction with the establishment as a whole. Why? Because the same David Cameron, because of his superior negotiating abilities, convinced both the Labour party and the Liberals to take the same stance. All parts of the political establishment were on one and the same side. And, therefore, my dear friends, voting for ‘Brexit’, you just showed a very unpleasant, very impolite sign, not to one political party or one politician, but to the present political system. You just expressed your subconscious feelings that this establishment, as it was created and put into motion in the nineteenth century or even before that, is unfit to guide and rule and supervise and monitor the people in our contemporary situation. Well, that’s the point I wanted to make to you. Rather diffuse issues, dispersed issues, but all of them made visible by the phenomenon ‘Brexit’. The tendency today is very dangerous. That’s my final words. I put to you that the powers which are already global are developing – or have developed already – vested interest in fissiparousness, small size, weakness, and fragmented political units. Remember that politics is, namely, the ability to decide what things should be done, what things ought to be put on the agenda and implemented. This politics is as it was in the nineteenth century, still local, confined into the boundaries of one single sovereign state. The more fragmented the political scene is, the more benefit for powers which are already liberated from political control. So, ‘Brexit’ put all of these things I think on the agenda, whether we like it or not, in the coming months. Well, Harold Wilson, once prime minister of Britain, used to say, ‘A week is a very long time in politics.’ Now, I don’t mention weeks. I am not Harold Wilson, not that perceptive politician. But the coming months and coming years will show which way it will go. My prediction – very humble prediction, I am not a prophet – is that it won’t help the world which we inhabit. As a result of the other worlds where we can move at the moment, it won’t help the world which we inhabit and are bound to remain in to resolve this issue which I tried to put to you in the first part of my speech. Thank you.


1  TRACTATE ON BUREAUCRACY 1 Zhou Enlai (5 March 1898 – 8 January 1976) was the first premier of the People’s Republic of China, serving from 1 October 1949 until his death. Zhou served under Chairman Mao Tse-tung, helping the Communist Party rise to power and later consolidating its control by developing the economy and forming its foreign policy. Zhou was one of the main driving forces behind the affairs of state during much of the Cultural Revolution (1966–76), helping to protect others from the wrath of the Red Guard. This made him a popular figure in the Cultural Revolution’s final stages [editors’ note]. 2 Sharof Rashidovich Rashidov (6 November 1917 – 31 October 1983) was a Communist Party leader in the Uzbek SSR and a CPSU Central Committee Politburo candidate member between 1961 and 1983 [editors’ note]. 3 Pavel Fyodorovich Yudin (6 September 1899 – 10 April 1968) was a Soviet philosopher and Communist Party official specializing in the fields of culture and sociology, and later a diplomat [editors’ note]. 4 ‘PKPG’ is an abbreviation for Państwowa Komisja Planowania Gospodarczego (State Commission for Economic Planning). It was a Polish institution existing in the years 1949–56, whose tasks included: supervising the reconstruction of the country from the destruction of the Second World War, drawing up plans for economic development, and overseeing their implementation [editors’ note]. 5 KKP is an abbreviation of Komisja Planowania przy Radzie Ministrów [Planning Commission at the Council of Ministers], which replaced the PKPG at the beginning of 1957 (according to the law of 15 November 1956). The task of this Commission was to develop and present to the


Notes to pages 7–29

Council of Ministers proposals on the main directions of the state’s economic policy [editors’ note]. 6 These words were spoken by Hitler during the Nazi Party Convention in September 1934. See Franz L. Neumann’s 1942 book, Behemoth: The Structure and Practice of National Socialism, 1933–1944. New York: Oxford University Press, p. 59 [editors’ note]. 7 I refer lovers of sociology to the distinction introduced by Tönnies between Gesellschaft and Gemeinschaft. 8 Formally, a plenum refers to a plenary meeting of any assembly or committee with all relevant members present. In the Soviet Union, that could be any plenary meeting of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, or any other local Party or People’s Deputies committee. The same structure was deployed by the Central Committee of the PZPR (Polish Communist Party). Writing in 1957, Bauman has in mind here the aftermath of the Polish October, triggered in part by the death of Bolesław Bierut (18 April 1892 – 12 March 1956), a radical Stalinist and leader of the Polish People’s Republic from 1947 until 1956. Bierut’s death in the spring was seen as a pivotal moment in Poland’s public reassessment of the legacy of Soviet communism for the country. Mass workers’ protests and riots in Bauman’s hometown of Poznań occurred in June that year. Held during the interim leadership of Edward Ochab (16 August 1906 – 1 May 1989), the 8th and 9th plenums referred to here by Bauman were major turning points in the rise to power of the reformers’ faction, led by Władysław Gomułka (6 February 1905 – 1 September 1982) that October, when the Soviets gave permission for Gomułka to remain in power. This resulted in greater autonomy for the Polish government and a period of liberalization, the source of Bauman’s hope expressed in this article, before Gomułka’s own regime also turned oppressive in the 1960s – a period of huge significance for Bauman’s own life and his relationship with Poland. For more on this period, see our Editors’ Introduction to this volume, pages xix–xxv [editors’ note].

2  ON THE POLITICAL MECHANISMS OF BOURGEOIS DEMOCRACY 1 We develop these problems further in a work co-authored with Szymon Chodak. [This is Bauman’s note in the original text, which we managed to trace: Z. Bauman, S. Chodak, J. Strojnowski and J. Banaszkiewicz, Systemy partyjne współczesnego kapitalizmu [The Party Systems in Contemporary Capitalism]. Warsaw: Książka i Wiedzaso, 1962 – editors’ note.] 2 Henri-Benjamin Constant de Rebecque (25 October 1767 – 8 December 1830), known simply as Benjamin Constant, was a Swiss-French political thinker, activist and writer on political theory and religion. The essay to which Bauman refers is Constant’s ‘The Liberty of Ancients Compared

Notes to pages 29–32


with that of Moderns’, being the transcript of a speech Constant gave in 1819. The full essay is freely available online in numerous places [editors’ note]. 3 Walter Lippmann (23 September 1889 – 14 December 1974) was an American writer, reporter and political commentator. Regarded as the founding father of modern journalism, Lippmann is best known for being among the first to introduce the concept of ‘the cold war’ in his 1947 book of that name; for coining the term ‘stereotype’ in its modern psychological meaning; and for his relentless critiques of media and democracy. His book Public Opinion (1922) is what Bauman has in mind here [editors’ note]. 4 Though we cannot know for sure, it is entirely possible that Bauman is referring here directly to C. Wright Mills’s 1956 book The Power Elite, having met Mills in Warsaw in 1957 shortly after its publication. For further details on their meeting, and its significance for the development of Bauman’s sociology, see pages xviff. in our Editors’ Introduction to this volume [editors’ note]. 5 Maurice Duverger (5 June 1917 – 16 December 2014) was a French jurist, sociologist, political scientist and politician. His best-known work, Les partis politiques [The Political Parties] (1951), led to what is still today known as ‘Duverger’s Law’, a principle of democratic structures which asserts that plurality-rule elections structured within single-member districts tend to favour a two-party system [editors’ note]. 6 Nation’s Business magazine was a publication of the United States Chamber of Commerce from 1914 to 1999. All issues of the magazine have been digitized and can be accessed online via this link: https:// digital.hagley.org/nationsbusiness [editors’ note]. 7 All translations of quotes are by Katarzyna Bartoszyńska. While no bibliographic information is provided by Bauman in the original text, we have located the source as being Vance Packard’s 1958 book The Hidden Persuaders. New York: Ig Publishing, reprinted 2007, p. 176 [editors’ note]. 8 Bauman here is quoting Rosser Reeves again from Vance Packard’s 1958 book The Hidden Persuaders, New York: Ig Publishing, reprinted 2007, p. 181 [editors’ note]. 9 BBDO is a worldwide advertising agency network, with its headquarters in New York City. The agency originated in 1891 with the George Batten Company. In 1928, through a merger with Barton, Durstine & Osborn (BDO), the agency became Batten, Barton, Durstine & Osborn (BBD&O), and later simply BBDO [editors’ note]. 10 Norman, Craig & Kummel was established in New York in 1955 by Norman B. Norman, Eugene H. Kummel and Walter Craig, all former employees of William H. Weintraub & Co. It was renamed NCK Organization in 1961 and ceased to trade by the mid-1980s. During his time there, Norman pioneered the concept of what he called ‘emotional advertising’, a principle whereby the consumer discovers aspects of their own sense of self within the advertisement [editors’ note].


Notes to pages 48–80

3  THE LIMITATIONS OF ‘PERFECT PLANNING’ 1 General Problems of Economic Policy, in Economic Policy of People’s Poland, vol. I, Warsaw (1962). 2 See W. Brus, The General Problems of the Functioning of the Socialist Economy, Warsaw, (1961). 3 See Z. Nadej, Functioning of National Economy, in Economic Policy of People’s Poland, vol. II, Warsaw (1962). 4 Bauman here mixes up his numbering system in the original, with consequences throughout the remainder of the text. We have left his numbering in place in deference to the original [editors’ note]. 5 See B. Galeski, Peasantry as an Occupation, Warsaw (1964).

4  THE END OF POLISH JEWRY 1 This article [was] published simultaneously in Hebrew in GESHER, the World Jewish Congress Quarterly in Israel. 2 The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), commonly known overseas as ‘the Joint’, is a global humanitarian organization established in 1914, at the outset of the First World War, in response to Jewish suffering in Eastern Europe and Palestine. For further information on its history and significance, visit www.jdc.org [editors’ note]. 3 The Social and Cultural Association of Jews in Poland (TSKZ) was founded on 29 October 1950 as a result of a merger between the Central Committee of Jews in Poland and the Jewish Cultural Society. One of the TSKZ’s priorities was preservation of the Jewish cultural heritage and the Yiddish language. Further information is provided at https://tskz.pl/ en/home-en [editors’ note].

5  AT THE CROSSROADS IN A WORLD AT THE CROSSROADS 1 ‘do kraju’ in the original – literally, ‘to the country’, but it’s akin to ‘to the homeland’ [translator’s note].

6  BETWEEN STATE AND SOCIETY 1 The original document has frequent manual typing errors and it would have been disruptive for the reader to mark each one. As such, we have corrected each error to improve the readability of this chapter [editors’ note]. 2 R. Bendix, Nation-Building and Citizenship: Studies of Our Changing

Notes to pages 84–94


Social Order, ed. M. Raskin. New York: John Wiley & Sons Ltd, 1964 [original note expanded by editors]. 3 Raymond Claude Ferdinand Aron (14 March 1905 – 17 October 1983) was a French philosopher, sociologist, political scientist and journalist. Aron is best known for his 1955 book The Opium of the Intellectuals, in which he chastised French intellectuals for being seduced by Marx’s ideas, and what he saw as an unfounded defence of Marxist atrocities. A voice of moderation in politics, Aron is generally referred to as a conservative liberal and was a pre-eminent example of French intellectualism for much of the twentieth century [editors’ note]. 4 Le Chapelier’s law was a piece of legislation passed by the National Assembly during the first phase of the French Revolution (14 June 1791), banning guilds (as the early version of trade unions) and the right to strike. Its declaration enraged the lower classes (sans-culottes), who demanded an end to the National Assembly. The law was annulled on 25 May 1864 when the right to associate and the right to strike were reinstated [editors’ note]. 5 Convergence theory argues that the development of modern economies, especially those of the Soviet Union (communist) and the USA (capitalist), would end up converging in terms of their economic structures over time, with one meeting the other at some sort of optimal half-way point (between pure command and pure market). Bauman is here referring to two prominent figures associated with the concept of convergence, the Russian-American sociologist Pitirim Sorokin (23 January 1889 – 10 February 1968), who founded Harvard’s Sociology Department, and John Kenneth Galbraith (15 October 1908 – 29 April 2006), the Canadian-American economist, diplomat, public official and intellectual, also a long-time member of Harvard University as Professor of Economics [editors’ note]. 6 Bauman is here referring to key concepts in the philosophy of Martin Heidegger, most prominently discussed in the latter’s 1927 magnum opus Being and Time [editors’ note]. 7 These two concepts are a core part of Max Weber’s argument in his posthumously published book Economy and Society (first translated in 1978). Drawing from Weber’s original definitions, any action may be either: ‘instrumentally rational’ (zweckrational) – that is, determined by expectations as to the behaviour of objects in the environment of other human beings, with these expectations used as ‘conditions’ or ‘means’ for the attainment of the actor’s own rationally pursued and calculated ends; or ‘value-rational’ (wertrational) – that is, determined by a conscious belief in the value, for its own sake, of some ethical, aesthetic, religious or other form of behaviour, independently of its prospects of success [editors’ note]. 8 Bauman is referring to the 1967 book Action under Planning: The Guidance of Economic Development (New York: McGraw Hill), which was edited by Bertram M. Gross. We learn from a few lines in a review of the book by Albert Waterston (1970), in Public Administration


Notes to pages 97–107

Review, 30, 2: 181–7, that Bauman contributed chapter 15 to this edited collection and argued that planning in socialist societies was actually far from perfect [editors’ note]. 9 Max Horkheimer (14 February 1895 – 7 July 1973) was a German philosopher and sociologist who was famous for his work in critical theory as a member of the Frankfurt School of social research. Working in collaboration with his Frankfurt colleague Theodor Adorno (11 September 1903 – 6 August 1969), Horkheimer addressed authoritarianism, militarism, economic disruption, environmental crisis and the poverty of mass culture, using the philosophy of history as an analytical and interpretive framework [editors’ note].

7  ON THE MATURATION OF SOCIALISM 1 Bauman here refers to the utopian philosophy of Ernst Bloch (8 July 1885 – 4 August 1977), in particular his concept of the Novum (literally, ‘the New’), which he developed as part of his model of anticipatory consciousness (Vorschein). Bloch’s Novum is derived from the Jewish tradition of redeeming the past, which is informed by complex messianic futurities germinative within the present time [editors’ note]. 2 Vladimir Vladimirovich Mayakovsky (19 July 1893 – 14 April 1930) was a Russian and Soviet poet, playwright, artist and actor. Though his work was typically aligned with Bolshevik ideology, including support of Lenin, Mayakovsky’s work satirized the Soviet state – especially its cultural censorship and preference for socialist realism. Stalin described Mayakovsky, following his suicide, as ‘the best and the most talented poet of our Soviet epoch’. Bauman does not provide a detailed citation for Mayakovsky’s words quoted [editors’ note]. 3 Władysław Gomułka (6 February 1905 – 1 September 1982) was first secretary of the Central Committee of the Polish United Workers’ Party (PZPR), the ruling communist party of Poland, from 1956 to 1970. Between 1967 and 1968, Gomułka allowed outbursts of anti-Zionism, and an anti-Semitic political campaign ensued, shifting the attention from a stagnating economy. As a consequence, many of the remaining Polish Jews left the country, including Bauman and his family. For more on this period, see our Editors’ Introduction to this volume, p. xxv [editors’ note]. 4 Edward Gierek (6 January 1913 – 29 July 2001) was a Polish communist politician and de facto leader of Poland between 1970 and 1980. Gierek replaced Gomułka as first secretary of the ruling Polish United Workers’ Party in the Polish People’s Republic in 1970 [editors’ note]. 5 Erich Ernst Paul Honecker (25 August 1912 – 29 May 1994) was a German communist politician who led the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) from 1971 until shortly before the fall of the Berlin Wall in October 1989; Vasiľ Biľak (11 August 1917 – 6 February

Notes to pages 109–118


2014) was a Slovak communist politician and leader of Rusyn origin. Active in the communist movement since 1936, from April 1968 until December 1988 Biľak was a member of the Presidium of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (ÚV KSČ) [editors’ note].

8  EXIT VISAS AND ENTRY TICKETS 1 Cf. Gershom Scholem, From Berlin to Jerusalem: Memories of My Youth (New York: Schocken Books, 1980); Isaac Deutscher, The Non-Jewish Jew and Other Essays (New York: Oxford University Press, 1968). 2 The Israeli Language Academy has actually used this name to coin the word ‘ephemeral’, which was missing from Hebrew. 3 Tikkun – in Lurianic Kabbalah, the re-establishment of the harmonious conditions of the world destroyed by the loss of the Divine spark. 4 Theodore Olsen, Millenarianism, Utopianism, and Progress (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1982), pp. 265ff. 5 Walter Benjamin, One-Way Street and Other Writings, trans. by Edmund Jephcott and Kingsley Shorter (London: Verso, 1985), p. 155. 6 Gershom Scholem, The Messianic Idea in Judaism (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1971), pp. 1, 35, 14, 15. 7 Scholem, The Messianic Idea, p. 59. 8 Walter Benjamin, Illuminations, trans. by Harvey Zohn (London: Fontana, 1979), pp. 266, 262, 260. 9 Deutscher, The Non-Jewish Jew, p. 29. 10 Kurt Lewin, Resolving Social Conflicts (London: Souvenir Press, 1973), p. 153. 11 This could be called, after the sociologist who carefully studied it, ‘the Dench dilemma’. See Geoff Dench, Minorities in the Open Society: Prisoners of Ambivalence (London: Routledge, 1986), pp. 127–32. 12 George L. Mosse, ‘Jewish Emancipation: Between Bildung and Respectablity’ in The Jewish Response to German Culture: From the Enlightenment to the Second World War, Jewuda Reinharz and Walter Schatzberg, eds. (Boston: University Press of New England, 1986), p. 1. 13 Jacob Katz, ‘German Culture and the Jews’ in The Jewish Response to German Culture, Reinharz and Schatzberg (eds.), p. 85. 14 Katz, ‘German Culture and the Jews’, p. 90. 15 Steven E. Aschheim, ‘The Jew Within: The Myth of “Judaization” in Germany’ in The Jewish Response to German Culture, Reinharz and Schatzberg (eds.), pp. 212ff. 16 Shulamit Volkov, ‘The Dynamics of Dissimilation: The Ostjuden and German Jews’ in The Jewish Response to German Culture, Reinharz and Schatzberg (eds.), p. 200.


Notes to pages 118–127

17 The Jewish emancipation: a term introduced into public debate after 1828, in emulation of the Catholic Emancipation Bill in England, which permitted the Oath of Allegiance to be taken in all Christian denominations, rather than merely Protestant ones. From the very beginning, however, this parallel was inadequate, since the disabilities to be rectified by the postulated Jewish emancipation were more profound and of an altogether different kind than those suffered by Catholics in Britain. 18 Jacob Katz, Out of the Ghetto: The Social Background of Jewish Emancipation (Cambridge[, MA]: Harvard University Press, 1973), pp. 201–2. 19 Michael R. Marrus, The Politics of Assimilation: A Study of the French Jewish Community at the Time of the Dreyfus Affair (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1971), pp. 60–1. 20 Theodore Reinach, Histoire des israélites depuis la ruine de leur indépendance nationale jusqu’à nos jours (Paris: 1941), p. 306. Quoted in Marrus, The Politics of Assimilation, p. 94. 21 Quoted in William J. Fishman, East End Jewish Radicals, 1875–1914 (London: Duckworth, 1975), p. 16. 22 Joseph Lichten, ‘Notes on the Assimilation and Acculturation of Jews in Poland 1863–1943’ in The Jews in Poland, Chimen Abramsky, Maciej Jachimczyk and Anthony Polonsky, eds. (Oxford: Blackwell, 1986), p. 115. 23 Jerzy Holzer, ‘Relations between Polish and Jewish Left-Wing Groups in Interwar Poland’ in The Jews in Poland, p. 141. 24 The favourite subject of German caricaturists was the wondrous transformation of the Polish rag-peddler Moische Pisch into the Berlin haberdasher Moritz Wasserstrahl into the Parisian couturier Maurice La Fontaine. See Jack Wertheimer, Unwelcome Strangers: East European Jews in Imperial Germany (New York: Oxford University Press, 1987), pp. 25–30. 25 Wertheimer, Unwelcome Strangers, pp. 144, 146. 26 Wertheimer, Unwelcome Strangers, pp. 158, 160. 27 A posthumous version of that opinion even made its way into the conclusions of Jacob Katz’s otherwise profoundly perceptive study. According to him, were emancipation taking place simultaneously throughout Europe, full amalgamation and the obliteration of Jewish distinctiveness could have occurred. Lack of synchronization, however, coupled with geographical mobility, was responsible for the fact that at no time and at no place could assimilation be accomplished by the Jewish population as a whole. 28 Marrus, The Politics of Assimilation, pp. 160–70. 29 Fishman, East End Jewish Radicals, pp. 64–5, 67. 30 Quoted in Fishman, East End Jewish Radicals, p. 285. 31 Lewin, Resolving Social Conflicts, p. 156. 32 One alternative is to seek readmission to the original group and retreat into the old identity. Another is to plod on against overwhelming

Notes to pages 127–140


odds and at a high psychic price, only slightly mitigated by doubtful hypotheses as to the causes of the delay. 33 Quoted in Fishman, East End Jewish Radicals, pp. 90, 104. 34 Deutscher, The Non-Jewish Jew, p. 87. 35 Cf. Leopold H. Haimson, The Russian Marxists and the Origins of Bolshevism (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1955), pp. 28, 63–4. 36 Ernest Gellner, ‘Ethnicity, Culture, Class and Power’, in Ethnic Diversity and Conflict in Eastern Europe, Peter F. Singer, ed. (Santa Barbara: ABC Clio, 1980), p. 260. 37 Frederick Barth, Ethnic Groups and Boundaries: The Social Organization of Cultural Difference (Bergen: Universitetsforlaget, 1969), pp. 14, 17, 31. 38 Barth, Ethnic Groups, p. 33. 39 An updated and more realistic version of this can be found in Rabbi Isaac M. Wise’s claim: ‘For our part we are Israelites in the synagogue, and Americans elsewhere.’ Quoted in A. L. Epstein, Ethnics and Identity: Three Studies in Ethnicity (London: Tavistock, 1978), p. 64. 40 Dench, Minorities in the Open Society, p. 61. 41 Cf. Robert S. Wistrich, Socialism and the Jews: The Dilemmas of Assimilation in Germany and Austria-Hungary (London: Associated University Presses, 1982), pp. 80–8. 42 Jacob Katz, Exclusiveness and Tolerance: Studies in Jewish–Gentile Relations in Medieval and Modern Times (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1961), pp. 133–4. 43 Bernard Singer, Moje Nalewki (Warsaw: Czytelnik, 1959), pp. 9–10. 44 According to Brym, in the Russian Empire in 1875 Jewish participation in the revolutionary movement was lower in proportion than the number of Jews in the country on the whole. By 1905, however, with the numbers of educated Jews growing fast, Jews (who counted for less than 4 per cent of the total population) constituted 37 per cent of all revolutionaries arrested during the year. See Robert Brym, The Jewish Intelligentsia and Russian Marxism (London: Macmillan, 1978), pp. 53–4. 45 Gerald Sorin, The Prophetic Minority: American Jewish Radicals 1880–1920 (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1985), pp. 2–3. 46 Quoted in Jonathan Frenkel, Prophecies and Politics: Socialism, Nationalism and Russian Jews 1862–1900 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1981), p. 33. See also Sorin, The Prophetic Minority, p. 41. 47 Quoted in Sorin, The Prophetic Minority, p. 82. 48 Sorin, The Prophetic Minority, p. 119. 49 This is what J. R. Kramer and S. Leventman found in the ‘gilded ghetto’ of the ‘North City’ they investigated three decades ago. See Children of the Gilded Ghetto (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1961). See also Epstein, Ethnics and Identity, p. 77.


Notes to pages 147–152

9  THE HOLOCAUST: FIFTY YEARS LATER 1 R. W. Darré, ‘Die Grundgedanken der Zuchtaufgaben und die Ehegesetze’, in: Neuadel als Blut und Boden, Munich 1930, pp. 133ff. In L’homme régénéré (Paris 1989), Mona Ozouf points out that the French Revolution, the culmination and self-appointed executor of Enlightenment philosophy, focused on the ‘construction’ of nouveau people, setting itself the task of breeding ‘new Man’ (p. 119). It was after a ‘regenerated society’, which was to consist of a new kind of people and be ‘une société purgée de ces membres douteux’ (p. 143). The legislators were motivated and enthused by the ‘projet de visibilité absolue où l’indétermination est insupportable’ – opening the modern road that led, ultimately, to ‘des Lumières au Goulag’ (p. 120). 2 Quoted after Max Weinreich, Hitler’s Professors, New York 1946, pp. 30–4. 3 Quoted after Benno Müller-Hill, Tödliche Gesellschaft: Die Aussonderung von Juden, Zigeunern und Geisteskranken 1933–1945, Hamburg 1984, pp. 17ff. 4 Detlev J. K. Peukert (ed.), Volksgenossen und Gemeinschaftsfremde: Anpassung, Ausmerze und Aufbegehren unter dem Nationalsozialismus, Cologne 1982, pp. 264, 263, 246, 295. The modern dream of the uniform, harmonious order of society, and the equally modern conviction that the imposition of such order upon recalcitrant reality is a progressive move, promotion of the common interests and, by the same token, legitimate whatever the ‘transitional costs’, can be found behind every case of modern genocide. Thus, the builders of the modern Turkish state murdered the bulk of the ‘harmony spoiling’ Armenian population because ‘they sought to convert the society from its heterogeneous makeup into a homogenous unit. Here genocide became a means for the end of a radical structural change in the system.’ The vision of state-administered progress removed all moral compunctions the bestiality of the mass murder might have caused. The architect of the Armenian genocide, the Minister of Internal Affairs Taleat, explained: ‘I have the conviction that as long as a nation does the best for its interests and succeeds, the world admires it and thinks it moral’: Vahakn N. Dadrian (ed.), ‘The Structural-Functional Components of Genocide: A Victimological Approach to the Armenian Case’, in: Victimology, ed. by Israel Drapkin and Emilio Viano, Lexington Mass., 1974, pp. 133, 131. As the later turn of events abundantly demonstrated, Taleat, it must be admitted, was not wide of the mark. 5 David Gasman, The Scientific Origins of National Socialism, London 1971, pp. XIV–XV, XXVI, 91, 98. 6 Nils Christie, Crime Control as Industry: Towards Gulag, Western Style?, London 1993, pp. 192. This is a thoroughly researched book, filled with eye-opening and startling statistical information about

Notes to page 154


quantitative and qualitative trends in European (both West and East) and American penology and penal practice. Christie paints the picture of an amazing diversity between countries apparently belonging to the same civilizational formation – a picture that demonstrates beyond reasonable doubt how much the volume of ‘criminality’, and above all the ratio of ‘criminal elements’, is a function of policy, rather than any ‘immanent’ features of deviant action and actors. Treatment of ‘criminals’ is part and parcel of social control in general, itself one of the trade-marks of sociopolitical regimes. In America more than anywhere else, massive confinement and incarceration of ‘dangerous classes’, according to Christie’s findings, is fast becoming the preferred method of social control, of the maintenance of ‘law and order’, but even more importantly of the treatment (or, rather, disposal) of the potentially explosive problems of poverty and social degradation. Indeed, the growing proportions of prison population (from 230 per 100,000 in 1979 to 504 in 1991) in the USA can be best understood as a manifestation of the steady tendency to criminalize the outcasts of society integrating its consumer citizens through market seduction. Christie has the courage of asking questions so many among us would not dare to ask: ‘There are no natural limits. The industry is there. The capacity is there. Two thirds of the population will have a standard of living vastly above any found – for so large a proportion of a nation – anywhere else in the world. Mass media flourish on reports on the dangers of the crimes committed by the remaining one third of the population. Rulers are elected on promises to keep the dangerous third behind bars. Why should this come to a stop? There are no natural limits for rational minds. The driving forces are so overwhelmingly strong. The interests behind them are in harmony with basic values. They are morally so solidly founded. Why should they not, in the foreseeable future, succeed completely?’ (pp. 166–7).

10  NAMES OF SUFFERING, NAMES OF SHAME 1 John Donne (22 January 1572 – 31 March 1631) was an English poet, scholar, soldier and secretary born into a nonconformist family, who later became a cleric in the Church of England. He is considered the pre-eminent representative of the metaphysical poets. Bauman is quoting here from Donne’s 1624 book Devotions upon Emergent Occasions, which in ‘Meditation XVII’ contains the well-known phrase “... for whom the bell tolls” [editors’ note]. 2 Karl Theodor Jaspers (23 February 1883 – 26 February 1969) was a German-Swiss psychiatrist and philosopher whose work also had a major impact on modern theology. Jaspers was inspired by the liberal sociology of Max Weber and the philosophy of Søren Kierkegaard and Friedrich Nietzsche. Bauman’s use of ‘Karol’ here is a West Slavic (Polish and Slovak) version of the name Karl [editors’ note].


Notes to pages 155–161

3 Friedrich Gustav Emil Martin Niemöller (14 January 1892 – 6 March 1984) was a German theologian and Lutheran pastor. He is best known for his opposition to the Nazi regime during the late 1930s and for his widely quoted 1946 poem ‘First they came...’, a version of which Bauman quotes here in full [editors’ note]. 4 For a rich sociological account of these events, inspired in part by Bauman’s work on genocide, see Jack Palmer, Entanglements of Modernity, Colonialism and Genocide: Burundi and Rwanda in Historical-Sociological Perspective. London: Routledge, 2018 [editors’ note]. 5 By ‘Blue Berets’, Bauman is referring to the United Nations’ peacekeepers who are so called because they wear a pale blue-coloured beret while on active duty [editors’ note]. 6 Alan Kenneth Mackenzie Clark (13 April 1928 – 5 September 1999) was a British Conservative Member of Parliament (MP), author and diarist. Clark was the author of several controversial books about war and the military, including The Donkeys (1961), which would inspire the musical satire Oh, What a Lovely War! in 1963. We have not been able to locate the source of this quotation, so the translation here has been provided by Katarzyna Bartoszyńska [editors’ note]. 7 Colonel Ken Allard is a retired member of the US Army. His 2006 book, Warheads: Cable News and the Fog of War, was a memoir of his ten years as an on-air military analyst with NBC News. We have not been able to locate the source of this quotation, so the translation here has been provided by Katarzyna Bartoszyńska [editors’ note]. 8 Hans Jonas (10 May 1903 – 5 February 1993) was a German-born American Jewish philosopher. From 1955 to 1976, Jonas was the Alvin Johnson Professor of Philosophy at the New School for Social Research in New York City. Bauman is referring here to a theme from Jonas’s 1996 book Mortality and Morality: Search for the Good after Auschwitz. Evanston, ILL: Northwestern University Press [editors’ note]. 9 Krakowskie Przedmieście is one of the best-known and most prestigious streets in Warsaw, Poland’s capital city [editors’ note]. 10 Knud Ejler Løgstrup (2 September 1905 – 20 November 1981) was a Danish philosopher and theologian. His work, which combines elements of phenomenology, ethics and theology, exerted considerable influence in post-war Nordic thought. Løgstrup’s 1956 book The Ethical Demand (Oxford University Press, 2020) develops an ‘ontological ethics’, the experience of life lived in the company of other people, that was a significant influence on Bauman’s own writings on morality and ethics in the mid-1990s [editors’ note]. 11 Władysław Stanisław Reymont (7 May 1867 – 5 December 1925) was a Polish novelist and the 1924 laureate of the Nobel Prize in Literature. Reymont was very popular in communist Poland due to his style of writing and the socialist symbolism he deployed, including a romantic portrayal of country living in his wider criticism of capitalism. His

Notes to pages 161–177


best-known work is the award-winning four-volume novel Chłopi [The Peasants] [editors’ note]. 12 Ryszard Kapuściński (4 March 1932 – 23 January 2007) was a Polish journalist, photographer, poet and author. The recipient of many prestigious awards, Kapuściński was considered a candidate for the Nobel Prize in Literature. He was the communist-era Polish Press Agency’s only correspondent in Africa during decolonization, and later worked in South America and Asia. Between 1956 and 1981, Kapuściński reported on twenty-seven revolutions and coups until he was fired due to his public support for the pro-democracy Solidarity movement in Poland, which we discuss on pages xxxii–xxxiv in our Editors’ Introduction to this volume [editors’ note].

11  BRITAIN AFTER BLAIR, OR THATCHERISM CONSOLIDATED 1 See his Setting the People Free: The Story of Democracy, Atlantic Books 2006. 2 See his Sweden’s New Social Democratic Model, Compass 2005. 3 Thatcher’s infamous remarks were made during an interview with Woman’s Own magazine in 1987. The full quote runs: ‘They are casting their problems at society. And, you know, there’s no such thing as society. There are individual men and women and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look after themselves first. It is our duty to look after ourselves and then, also, to look after our neighbours’ [editors’ note]. 4 The paper which Bauman quotes here is Frank Furedi’s (1999) ‘Consuming Democracy: Activism, Elitism and Political Apathy’ [editors’ note]. 5 See Dare More Democracy, p. 18. 6 See www.politics.co.uk of 1 March 2005. 7 See The Two Faces of Political Apathy, Temple University Press 2005. 8 Andy Beckett (ed.), ‘The Making of the Terror Myth’, The Guardian of 15 October 2004, G2 pp. 2–3. 9 See Hugues Lagrange, Demandes de sécurité, Seuil 2003. 10 Jacques José Mardoché Attali (1 November 1943) is a French economic and social theorist, writer, political adviser and senior civil servant, who served as a counselor to President François Mitterrand from 1981 to 1991. Attali was the first head of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development from 1991 to 1993. From 2008 to 2010, he led a government committee on how to ignite the growth of the French economy, under President Nicolas Sarkozy [editors’ note]. 11 Setting the People Free, pp. 178–9. 12 Sweden’s New Social Democratic Model, p. 32.


Notes to pages 178–185

12  PANIC AMONG THE PARASITES, OR FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS 1 The quote as it appears in Bauman’s text no longer exists on the Polish Wikipedia page in March 2022, and no date of original access is provided, so the translation here has been provided by Katarzyna Bartoszyńska [editors’ note]. 2 ‘parasite, n.’ OED Online. Oxford University Press. 3 H. Welzer (2012) Climate Wars: What People Will Be Killed For in the 21st Century, Translated by Patrick Camiller. Cambridge: Polity Press, p. 52. 4 Captain Cook, cited in Welzer, Climate Wars, p. 52. 5 In the Polish edition, there is a proverb used here, ‘siłą złego na jednego’, which does not have a direct English equivalent. In meaning, the proverb amounts to ganging up on someone, or many bad things happening to someone at once – somewhat similar to ‘When it rains, it pours’ except that the emphasis is on the one person that it is happening to [translator’s note]. 6 Welzer, Climate Wars, p. 182. 7 Welzer, Climate Wars, p. 7. 8 Welzer, Climate Wars, p. 6. 9 Welzer, Climate Wars, p. 172. 10 Welzer, Climate Wars, pp. 26–7. 11 Welzer, Climate Wars, p. 26–7. 12 Welzer, Climate Wars, p. 165. 13 Welzer, Climate Wars, p. 174. 14 Welzer, Climate Wars, p. 174. 15 Welzer, Climate Wars, pp. 174–5. 16 Bauman did not provide a bibliographic reference for this quote in the original. These words were quoted from another of his articles, namely ‘A Natural History of Evil’, from 2012. Bauman referred there to a French translation of Anders’s book, Et si je suis désespéré, que voulezvous que j’y fasse? Paris: Allia, 2007, p. 92 [editors’ note]. 17 Krytyka Polityczna (‘The Political Critique’) is a circle of Polish left-wing intellectuals gathered around a journal of the same title, which was founded by Sławomir Sierakowski in 2002. The name draws inspiration from the tradition of Young Poland’s Krytyka (‘The Critique’), a monthly magazine published by Wilhelm Feldman at the beginning of the twentieth century, and on the samizdat Krytyka which served as a forum for opposition writers, intellectuals and journalists during the 1970s and 1980s [editors’ note].

Notes to pages 187–190


13  THE HAUNTING SPECTRE OF ‘WESTPHALIAN SOVEREIGNTY’ 1 The Peace of Augsburg, also called the Augsburg Settlement, was a treaty between Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, and the Schmalkaldic League (a military alliance of Lutheran princes), signed in September 1555 in the imperial city of Augsburg. It officially ended the religious struggle between the two groups and made the legal division of Christianity permanent within the Holy Roman Empire, allowing rulers to choose either Lutheranism or Roman Catholicism as the official confession of their state. The Peace of Augsburg arrangement, however, is also credited with ending a period of Christian unity around Europe, and is often seen as the first step on the road towards a European system of sovereign states. This system collapsed at the beginning of the seventeenth century, being a contributing factor to the Thirty Years’ War (1618 to 1648) [editors’ note]. 2 Jean Bodin (c.1530–96) was a French jurist and political philosopher, member of the Parlement of Paris, and professor of law in Toulouse. Best known for his theory of sovereignty, the book Bauman is alluding to here is Les Six livres de la République (‘The Six Books of the Republic’) written in 1576, which includes Bodin’s classical definition of sovereignty as: ‘la puissance absolue et perpetuelle d’une République’ (the absolute and perpetual power of a Republic) [editors’ note]. 3 The Peace of Westphalia (1648), or Westphalian Sovereignty, ended the Thirty Years’ War and created a principle in international law that each state has exclusive sovereignty over its territory. The principle underlies the modern international system of sovereign states and is enshrined in the United Nations Charter. According to the idea, every state, no matter how large or small, has an equal right to sovereignty. From the late twentieth century, the system has faced challenges and condemnation from those advocating humanitarian forms of state intervention [editors’ note]. 4 Cuius regio, eius religio is a Latin phrase that literally translates as ‘whose realm, their religion’, meaning in legal principle, following Westphalian Sovereignty in 1648, that ‘he who governs the territory shall decide its religion’ [editors’ note]. 5 Here Bauman cites five of the eleven individuals commonly identified as the founders of the European Union, with its principle of greater political integration of nation-states. They are as follows: Jean-Baptiste Nicolas Robert Schuman (29 June 1886 – 4 September 1963); Jean Omer Marie Gabriel Monnet (9 November 1888 – 16 March 1979); Paul-Henri Charles Spaak (25 January 1899 – 31 July 1972); Konrad Hermann Joseph Adenauer (5 January 1876 – 19 April 1967); and Alcide Amedeo Francesco De Gasperi (3 April 1881 – 19 August 1954) [editors’ note].


Notes to pages 191–196

6 For a fuller elaboration of Habermas’s argument, see: Habermas, J. (1992) ‘Citizenship and National Identity: Some Reflections on the Future of Europe’, Praxis International, 12, 1: 1–19; see also, Delanty, G. (1996) ‘Beyond the Nation-State: National Identity and Citizenship in a Multicultural Society – A Response to Rex’, Sociological Research Online, 1, 3. 7 The Treaty of Lisbon (2007) is an international agreement that amends the two treaties – the Maastricht Treaty (1992) and the Treaty of Rome (1957) – that form the constitutional basis of the European Union (EU). It was signed by EU member states on 13 December 2007 and entered into force on 1 December 2009 [editors’ note]. 8 We discuss Bauman’s distaste for the label ‘prophet’ in our Editors’ Introduction to this volume, see page xxvii [editors’ note]. 9 No bibliographic reference is provided by Bauman for these quotes and we have not been able to trace their exact source [editors’ note]. 10 The reference here is to Heidegger’s 1927 book Being and Time. There, in his ontological musings, Heidegger introduces a basic distinction between two ways of approaching the world: Vorhandenheit (or ‘present-at-hand’) refers to our theoretical apprehension of a world made up of objects. It is the conception of the world from which science begins. Zuhandenheit (or ‘ready-at-hand’) describes our practical relation to things that are handy or useful [editors’ note]. 11 From the Latin, literally ‘all in all’ or ‘on the whole’ [editors’ note]. 12 Titus Livius (59 bce – 17 ce), known in English simply as Livy, was a Roman historian. Bauman is here citing Livy’s monumental history of Rome and the Roman people, titled Ab urbe condita, meaning ‘From the Founding of the City’ [editors’ note]. 13 The Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth was a country and bi-federation of Poland and Lithuania ruled by a common monarch, who assumed the roles of both King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania. Established by the Union of Lublin in July 1569, the monarchies had been in a de facto union since 1386. It was one of the largest and most populous countries of sixteenth- to seventeenth-century Europe. At its largest territorial extent, in the early seventeenth century, the Commonwealth covered almost 1 million square kilometres and, as of 1618, sustained a multi-ethnic population of almost 12 million. Polish and Latin were the two co-official languages. The First Partition (1772) and Second Partition (1793) greatly reduced the size of the Commonwealth, which was partitioned out of existence with the Third Partition in 1795 [editors’ note]. 14 Vladimir Davidovich Medem (30 July 1879 – 9 January 1923) was a Russian-Jewish politician and ideologue of the Jewish Labour Bund – a secular Jewish socialist party initially formed in the Russian Empire and active between 1897 and 1920. The Paris Yiddish Center – Medem Library, the largest European Yiddish institution, was originally founded in Paris in 1929 and bears his name [editors’ note]. 15 Thomas Woodrow Wilson (28 December 1856 – 3 February 1924) was an American Democratic politician and academic who served as the

Notes to pages 196–203


28th president of the United States, from 1913 to 1921. After the Allied victory in the First World War on 11 November 1918, Wilson went to Paris for the subsequent Peace Conference and successfully advocated for the establishment of a multinational organization, the League of Nations. This was incorporated into the Treaty of Versailles that was signed on 28 June 1919, more than six months after the armistice date [editors’ note]. 16 Bauman is alluding here to Arendt’s 1951 book The Origins of Totalitarianism. There, Arendt raises the issue of the last remnants of solidarity between non-emancipated nationalities in a ‘belt of mixed populations’, which Bauman relays here as ‘bands of mixed populations’ [editors’ note]. 17 Helmut Josef Michael Kohl (3 April 1930 – 16 June 2017) was chancellor of Germany from 1982 to 1998, and leader of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) from 1973 to 1998. Kohl’s sixteen-year tenure was the longest of any German chancellor since Otto von Bismarck, until he was surpassed in 2018 by Angela Merkel’s eighteen-year term as leader. Kohl oversaw the end of the cold war, German reunification following the events of 1989, and the creation of the European Union (EU) [editors’ note].

14  EUROPE’S ADVENTURE: STILL UNFINISHED? 1 Since this chapter is the transcript of a spoken lecture at the University of Leeds on 5 October 2016, and not a journal article or essay, we have aimed to retain the timbre of Bauman’s verbal delivery. As such, we have made very minor changes to the literal transcript of his speech simply to aid its readability on the page. For example, we have removed occasional verbal repetitions and inserted the odd word where we felt the meaning of a statement would otherwise be unclear for the reader [editors’ note]. 2 The article to which Bauman is referring can still be accessed via: www. theguardian.com/books/2016/jun/04/dear-britain-letters-from-europereferendum [editors’ note]. 3 Bauman here appears to suggest that ‘cultural lag’ is the title of Ogburn’s book. In fact, the concept of ‘cultural lag’ is developed by Ogburn in his 1922 book Social Change with Respect to Nature and Original Change (New York: Huebsch). Ogburn argues there that the source of most modern social change is material culture. ‘Cultural lag’ suggests a period of maladjustment occurs when the rapid changes in material culture force other parts of culture to change, but the rate of change in these other parts of culture is much slower. He states that people live in a state of ‘maladjustment’ because of this, holding to values and behaviours out of step with their times [editors’ note]. 4 The text to which Bauman refers is D. Lowenthal, The Past is a Foreign Country. Cambridge University Press, 1985 [editors’ note]. 5 Pope Francis received the Charlemagne Prize on 6 May 2016 [editors’ note].


Chapter 1: ‘Tractate on Bureaucracy’ (1957) was originally published in Polish as ‘Traktat o biurokracji’, Twórczość, 9, 1957: 103–18. Chapter 2: ‘On the Political Mechanisms of Bourgeois Democracy’ (1961) was originally published in Polish as ‘Z zagadnień politycznego mechanizmu demokracji burżuazyjnej’, Nowe Drogi, 1, 1961: 129–41. Chapter 3: ‘The Limitations of “Perfect Planning”’ (1966) was originally published as ‘The Limitations of “Perfect Planning”’, Co-existence, 2, 1966: 145–62. Chapter 4: ‘The End of Polish Jewry: A Sociological Review’ (1969) was originally published as ‘The End of Polish Jewry: A Sociological Review’, Bulletin on Soviet and East European Jewish Affairs, 3, 1969: 3–8. Chapter 5: ‘At the Crossroads in a World at the Crossroads’ (c.1970) was discovered in the Papers of Janina and Zygmunt Bauman at the University of Leeds. Its original Polish title is ‘Na rozdrożu w świecie na rozdrożu’. Chapter 6: ‘Between State and Society’ (1973) was originally published as ‘Between State and Society’, International Journal of Contemporary Sociology, 1, 1973: 9–25. Chapter 7: ‘On the Maturation of Socialism’ (1981) was originally



published as ‘On the Maturation of Socialism’, Telos, 47, 1981: 48–54. Chapter 8: ‘Exit Visas and Entry Tickets: Paradoxes of Jewish Assimilation’ (1988) was originally published as ‘Exit Visas and Entry Tickets: Paradoxes of Jewish Assimilation’, Telos, 77, 1988: 45–77. Chapter 9: ‘The Holocaust: Fifty Years Later’ (1994) was originally published as ‘The Holocaust: Fifty Years Later’ in D. Grinberg (ed.) The Holocaust Fifty Years Later: 50th Anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. Papers from the Conference Organized by the Jewish Historical Institute of Warsaw, March 29–31, 1993. Warsaw: The Emanuel Ringelblum Jewish Historical Institute, 1994, pp. 23–33.

Chapter 10: ‘Names of Suffering, Names of Shame’ (2001) was originally published as ‘Imiona cierpienia, imiona wstydu’, Tygodnik Powszechny, 38, 2001: 9. Chapter 11: ‘Britain after Blair, or Thatcherism Consolidated’ (2007) was originally published as ‘Britain after Blair, or Thatcherism Consolidated’ in G. Hassan (ed.) After Blair: Politics after the New Labour Decade. London: Lawrence & Wishart, 2007, pp. 60–74. Chapter 12: ‘Panic among the Parasites, or For Whom the Bell Tolls’ (2010) was originally published as ‘Panika wśród pasożytów, czyli komu bije dzwon’, being the Foreword in H. Welzer, Wojny klimatyczne. Za co będziemy zabijać w XXI wieku? [Climate Wars: What People Will Be Killed For in the 21st Century]. Warsaw: Wydawnictwo Krytyki Politycznej, 2010, pp. 5–13. Chapter 13: ‘The Haunting Spectre of “Westphalian Sovereignty”’ (2012) was originally published as ‘The Haunting Spectre of Westphalian Sovereignty’, Hospodářské noviny, 7 March 2013, no pagination. Chapter 14: ‘Europe’s Adventure: Still Unfinished?’ (2016) was a lecture delivered at the University of Leeds, 5 October 2016.


Adenauer, Konrad, 190 Adorno, Theodor, 214n9 affluent society, 125, 140, 151–2, 165, 169 Akselrod, Paul, 127–8 Allard, Ken, 157 Anders, Günther, 183, 185 anti-Semitism Bauman’s experience, xix–xx, xxi, xxv Germany, 143 modern form, 119 Odessa pogrom (1881), 128 Poland, 63–4, 68, 71 selective anti-Semitism, 121 See also Holocaust; Jewry anti-Zionism, xxv, 70–1, 73, 122 Arendt, Hannah, xxx, 143, 196 Aron, Raymond, 84 Attali, Jacques, 174 Augsburg Settlement (1555), 187 Auschwitz, 183 Australia, xiv Balkans, 196 Barber, Benjamin, 200 Barth, Frederick, 129–30, 131–3

Bartoszyńska, Katarzyna, x, xii–xiii, 1–20, 21–37, 75–9, 154–62, 178–85 Bauer, Erwin, 147 Bauer, Otto, 195 Bauman, Anna, xxviii Bauman, née Lewinson, Janina, xxi, xxv, xxviii, xxix, xxxiii, 199 Bauman, Zygmunt 1968, xvii, xxiv, xxvi bibliography, ix biography, xv, xix–xxix communism vs fascism, xix–xxv East and West, xxix–xxxii exile, xxx, xxxi Jewish identity, xxvi, xxxii–xxxiii marriage, xxi outsider, xxx refugee experience, xv, xx, xxvi, 199 socialism vs nationalism, xxvi–xxix See also specific subjects Beck, Ulrich, 201 Beethoven, Ludwig van, xxxvii, 199 Bendix, Reinhard, 80–5 Benjamin, Walter, 111, 113, 201

Index Berelson, Bernard, 171 Beveridge, William, 167, 206 Bierut, Bolesław, 210n8 Bil’ak, Vasil’, 107 Bismarck, Otton von, 122, 225n17 Blackshaw, Tony, xviii Blair, Tony, xxxv, 163–77 Bloch, Ernst, 99 Bobrowski, Czesław, 47–8 Bodin, Jean, 187 Boyle, Edward, xxix Brus, W., 50 Brzeziński, Dariusz, xi, xiv–xxxix Burnham, James, 5 Byzantium, 87 Cameron, David, 208 Campbell, Tom, xi, xiv–xxxix Castro, Fidel, xvi China, xxxiv, 18 Christie, Nils, 152 CIA, xvii citizenship consumers, 152 duties, 173 Homo economicus, 163 identity and, 193 Jews, 74, 143 liberal democracy and, 22–4, 28 model, 81 patrimonialism and, 93 Roman Empire, 194 social citizenship, 165 socialism and, 43 UK concept, 167 civil society Soviet policy, 105–7 state and, 108 Clark, Alan, 155 climate change capitalism and, 180–1 climate wars, 181 fear-mongerers, 185 inequality and, 183 migration, 182


‘Panic among the Parasites’, xxxvii–xxxviii, 178–85 Cohn, Norman, 143 colonialism, xxxvii, 78–9 Communism death, xxxiv–xxxv democracy and, 21, 34 fascism contra, xix–xxv party dictatorship, 102, 104–5 Stalinism, 93, 149 Congo, refugee camps, 156 Constant, Benjamin, 29 consumerism, xxxi, 93, 152, 169–70, 171 convergence theory, 85 Cook, James, 179 corporatism, 96, 102 Cuba, xvi culture, theory, xxiv Curtis, Adam, 173 Darré, R.W., 147 Davis, Mark, x, xiv–xxxix, 198, 204 Deluca, Tom, 171 democracy bourgeois democracy, xxiii–xiv, 21–37 bourgeois-ness, 34–7 bureaucracy and, 6 capitalist social relations and, 34–7 consumerism and, 171 definition, 21–2 equality and, 22, 24–9 functioning, 186–7 inner-party democracy, 102 multi-party system, 33, 34 pluralism, xxiii, xxxiii, 151 political apathy, xxiv, 169–71, 172 political mechanisms, 23–9 production of opinions, 29–33 protection of minorities, xxxiii, 151

230 Index democracy (cont.) right to vote and, 22, 23, 25–6, 28, 30 technology and, 30–2 threatened democracy, xix, 172–3 triumph of liberal democracy, xxxv welfare state and, 168, 169 Dench, Geoffrey, 124, 133, 215n11 Denmark, 165 deregulation, 161, 164, 166, 172, 174 Deutscher, Isaac, 109–10, 114, 127 Dickens, Charles, 161 dictatorship, 102, 104–5 Disraeli, Benjamin, 2 Dollivet, Louis, 123 Donne, John, 154 Dreyfus affair, 120 Dunn, John, 163, 167, 176 Durkheim, Émile, 80, 85 Duverger, Maurice, 30 Easter Island, 179 egoism, 160–1, 163–4, 167, 173, 174 Egypt, Six Day War (1967), xxv Eisenstadt, S., xxxii Electoral Commission, 170 end of history, xxxiv, xxxvi, 180–1 Enlightenment, 116, 117–18, 146 equality climate change inequality, 183 democracy and, 22, 24–9 freedom and, 97 survival issue, xix establishment, xvi, xvii, xxxi, 125, 134, 207–8 Ethiopia, 156 eugenics, 146–51 European Union Brexit, xxxvii, 198, 204, 207–8 euro, 189 future, 186, 190–1, 194

hope, xxxvi–xxxvii intellectuals on, 199–200 languages, 193–4 migration control, 182 Ode to Joy, xxxvii, 199 origins, 190 population, 196 sovereignty and, 191–7 success, 204–5, 207 vocation, 192–3 euthanasia, 149 Fanon, Frantz, xvii fascism bureaucracy and, 7 communism contra, xix–xxv racialist model, 149 fear climate change and, 185 politics of fear, 173 Roosevelt on, 167 substitute targets, 176 terrorism and, xxxvi, 154 Fearn, Nicholas, xxxv Ferrante, Elena, 199–200 Feuchtwanger, Lion, 112 feudalism, 83, 87, 104 Fico, Robert, 205 Finland, 165 First World War, 196 Fishman, William, 124–5 foreign trade, 44, 58, 207 France democracy, 21, 23 Dreyfus affair, 120 ‘glorious thirty years’, 174 Jews, 118, 123–4, 143 Paris Commune, 20 Revolution, 213n4, 218n1 right to strike, 213n4 sociology, xxix Francis, Pope, xxxix, 203–4 Frank, Jacob, 112 free market, xxiv, xxv, 5, 29, 43, 44, 45, 107

Index freedom equality and, 97 freedom of choice, 167–8 welfare state and, 206 Frontex, 182 Fukuyama, Francis, xxxiv, 180–1 Furedi, Frank, 169–70 Gadamer, Hans-Georg, xxxvii, 192 Galbraith, John Kenneth, 85, 151–2, 169 Gasman, David, 150 Gasperi, Alcide de, 190 Gay, Peter, 121 Gellner, Ernest, 128 genocide, 143, 151, 155, 162 Germany democracy, 21 fall of Berlin Wall, xxii, xxxiii, xxxiv Holocaust. See Holocaust Jews, 121–3, 133–5, 143 nationalism, 122 Nazism, xv, xx, xxi, 67, 122, 143, 147, 149, 150, 151, 199 sociology, xxix ghettos, xxi, 74, 115, 121, 127, 135–6, 206 Giddens, Anthony, xxxv, 171 Gierek, Edward, 104 Ginzburg, Erzel, 121 Gladstone, William, 2 globalization, xxxv, 157–8, 160–1, 164, 181, 192, 201 ‘glorious thirty years’, 174 Gomułka, Władysław, xvi, xxv, 101, 210n8 Gramsci, Antonio, xxiii, xxiv, 105 Greece, 21, 174, 189 Gross, Bertram, 94 guilds, 213n4 Habermas, Jürgen, 191 Häckel, Ernst, 150, 152


Haffner, Peter, xxii Hansard Society, 170 Hayek, Friedrich von, xxiv, 5 Heidegger, Martin, 193, 213n6 Heine, Heinrich, 114, 118 Herzl, Theodor, 109 Hilberg, Raul, 143, 151 historical learning, 100 Hitler, Adolf, 7–8, 146, 149, 150 Hobbes, Thomas, 187 Hochfeld, Julian, xxii Holocaust action at a distance, 144–5 adiaphorization, 145 administrators, 143 eugenics, 146–51 experience, xxi ‘Holocaust: Fifty Years Later’, xxxiii, 141–53 Modernity and the Holocaust, xxxii–xxxiii Shoah (film), xxxiii stages, 151 understanding, 141–4 Homo sapiens, 178–9, 180, 181 Honecker, Erich, 107 Horkheimer, Max, 97 humanity at the crossroads, xxvi–xxvii, 75–9 principle, 196 Hungary, 205 Huntington, Samuel, 171 imagined communities, xxxviii impersonalism, 80–2, 84, 86, 90–1, 96 India, poverty, 76 individualism, 81, 163, 174 Indonesia, 155 Iran, Islamic Revolution, xxxiv Ireland, 156 Israel Bauman and, xxv, xxvii, xxviii Jewish diaspora and, 132 nationalism, xxviii

232 Index Israel (cont.) Palestinian conflict, 156 Polish migrants, 69 Six Day War (1967), xxv triumph, 79 Italy, 21, 79 Jaspers, Karl, 154 Jewry assimilation, xxxiii, 67 allurements and traps, 116–19 inner demons, 120–6 limits, 126–8 through revolution, 127–40 Bauman’s Jewish identity, xxvi, xxxii–xxxiii emancipation, 112, 113–15 end of Polish Jewry, 63–74 Holocaust. See Holocaust Judaic tradition, 109–13, 137–9 Messianism, 111–13, 137 Oriental Jews, 121–6, 134 pent-up revolution, 110–13 Poland. See Poland Wissenschaft school, 110 See also anti-Semitism; Holocaust Johnson, Lyndon, 206 Jonas, Hans, 157 Kabbalah, 111, 112, 215n2 Kaczyński, Jarosław, 205 Kallmann, F., 148 Kania, Stanisław, 101 Kant, Immanuel, 192 Kapuściński, Ryszard, 161–2 Katz, Jacob, 118, 135, 216n27 Kennedy, John F., 206 Keynesianism, 12 Khomeini, Ayatollah, xxxiv Kierkegaard, Søren, 219n2 Klee, Paul, 201 Kohl, Helmut, xxxiv, 196 Kołakowski, Leszek, xvi, xxii, xxxi Kołobrzeg, battle of, xx Kolyma, 183

Lagrange, Hughes, 174 languages bureaucrats, 9–10 dialects, 193, 195 European Union, 193–4 Lanzmann, Claude, xxxiii, 142–3 Lawson, Mark, 170 Lazare, Bernard, 123 Lazarsfeld, Paul, 171 Le Chapelier, Isaac, 84 leader changes, 101 League of Nations, 225n15 Left future Left, xxxiv–xxxviii New Left, xvi, xxx, xxxi principles, xiv–xv Lenin, Vladimir, 107 Leninism, 106, 107 Lewin, Kurt, 115 Lieberman, Aaron, 139 ‘Limitations of Perfect Planning’, xxxii, 38–62 Lippmann, Walter, xxiv, 29 Lithuania, 195, 196 Little, Jenny, 171 Litwaks, 122 Løgstrup, Knud, 158 Lorenz, Konrad, 148 Lowenthal, David, 202 Lukács, György, xxiii Luther, Martin, 187 Luxemburg, Rosa, 114, 180 McCarthy, Joseph, 21 MacDonald, Ramsay, 205 Machiavelli, Niccolò, 187 McKenzie, Robert, xxiii, xxx McLennan, Gregor, xviii McPhee, William, 171 Maimonides, 110 Maine, Henry, 80 Mao Tse-tung, 1 Marcuse, Herbert, xvii market planning, 91–4, 207

Index politics, 186 See also free market Marrus, Michael, 124 Marshall, T. H., 172 Marx, Karl association of free producers, 107 early humanism, xxiii on history, 176 Judaism and, 113–14 legacy, 78 on Paris Commune, 20 Marxism alienation from, xxiv–xxv Bauman’ s study of, xxi–xxii critique of democracy, 25 ‘Marxism and Contemporary Sociology’, xxii–xxiii Marxist-humanism, xxvi–xxvii Open Marxism, xxii masses, 82–3 Mayakovsky, Vladimir, 100 Mazowiecki, Tadeusz, xxxiv Medem, Vladimir, 196 Mendelssohn, Felix, 115 Merkel, Angela, 225n17 Messianism, 111–13, 137 Mexico, 182 migration control, 182 Milgram, Stanley, 144 Miliband, David, xxxv–xxxvi Miliband, Ed, xxxv–xxxvi Miliband, Ralph, xv, xvi, xxxv–xxxvi military, democracy and, 28 Mills, Charles Wright, xvi–xviii, xxii, xxvii, xxxix, 211n4 Miłosz, Czesław, xxxi Mises, Ludwig von, xxiv, 5 mixed populations, 196–7 Moczar, Mieczysław, xxv modernity impersonalism, 80–2, 84, 86, 90–1, 96 liquid modernity, xxxvi modern society, xxxii


Modernity and Ambivalence, xxxiii Modernity and the Holocaust, xxxii–xxxiii multiple modernities, xxxii postmodernity, xxxiv Monist Association, 150 Monnet, Jean, 190 Mosse, George, 116 Nagasaki, 183 Napoleon I, 112 nationalism ethnic groups, 78 fascist form, 153 Germany, 122, 134 Jewish nationalism, 123 socialism and, xxvi–xxix, 83 Nazism, xv, xx, xxi, 67, 122, 143, 147, 149, 150, 151, 199 neo-liberalism, 164, 165, 167, 169 neutrality, academic claims, xviii New Left, xvi, xxx, xxxi Niemöller, Martin, 155 Nietzche, Friedrich, 219n2 Nixon, Richard, 206 Noriega, General, xxxiv Norman, Craig & Kummel, 32 Norway, 165 Ocnab, Edward, 210n8 Ogburn, William Fielding, 201 Olsen, Theodore, 111 Orbán, Viktor, 205 Ossowski, Stanisław, xxii Ozick, Cynthia, 146 Ozouf, Mona, 218n1 Pakistan, poverty, 76 Palestinians, 156 Palmer, Jack, xi, xiv–xxxix Panama, xxxiv parasites, 178–9 Parsons, Talcott, xvii, xxxii, 81 party dictatorship, 102, 104–5

234 Index paternalism, 81, 125, 165 patrimonialism, 86–96 Peukert, Detlev, 150 plebiscitarianism, 82–3, 88, 90–1, 95–6 pluralism, xxiii, xxxiii, 151, 152 Poland 1956, xvi, 68–9 1968, 63–6 1980, xxxii, 99–108 Bauman in, 199 European Union and, 205 Jewry anti-Semitism, xxv, 63–4, 68, 71 communists, 70–2 emigrants and remainers, 70–3 end, 63–74 ghettos, 136 professionals, 72 social composition, 67–9 young people, 72–3 peasant farming, 44–5, 54–7 planning, 51 inherent contradictions, 57–62 mistakes, 100 Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, 195, 196 political language, 103–4 postwar, xxi–xxii, xxv prices, 52–3, 56 Solidarity movement, xxxii, xxxiv, 99–108 Portugal, 174 post-colonialism, 188 power elites, xxiv, 30, 211n4 privatizations, 164, 172 race fascism and, 149 theories, 119 See also Holocaust Rashidov, Sharof Rashidovich, 1 Reeves, Rosser, 32 Reinach, Theodore, 120

Renner, Karl, 195 resource wars, 181 responsibility global responsibility, 157–9 personal responsibility state, 173–6 retrotopia, xxxviii, 202 revolution bureaucracy and, 14–18 East and West, xxix–xxxii Jewish road to assimilation, 127–40 Reymont, Władysław, 161 right to strike, 213n4 Robbins, Lionel, 5 Roman Empire, 194 Roosevelt, Franklin, 167 Rosenberg, Abraham, 139 Russell, Lord John, 2 Russia, Odessa pogrom (1881), 128 See also Soviet Union Rwanda, 155–6 Scalfari, Eugenio, xxxix Schallmayer, Dr, 150 Schengen regime, 182 schizophrenia, 148 Scholem, Gershom, 109–13 Schuman, Robert, 190 Second World War, 200 self-determination, xix, 20, 119, 158 Shakespeare, William, 180 Shils, Edward, xvi Shoah (film), xxxiii Singer, Bernard, 136 Slovakia, 205 Slovenia, 196 Smith, Dennis, xxvii socialism ‘active utopia’, xxviii ‘At the Crossroads’, xxvi–xxvii, 75–9 Bauman, xv

Index bureaucracy and, 11–13, 19–20 future, 79 Jews and, 136–40 nationalism and, xxvi–xxix ‘On the Maturation of Socialism’, xxxii, 99–108, 214n9 planning limitations, 42–62 state and society, 80–98 solidarity, xxxvi, 9, 80, 125, 154, 163–7, 172–4, 191, 192, 194 Sorin, Gerald, 137–8 Sorokin, Pitirim, 85 South Africa, Apartheid, xxxiv sovereignty European Union and, 191–7 globalization and, 190, 192 ‘Haunting Spectre of “Westphalian Sovereignty”’, xxxvii, 186–97 mixed populations and, 196–7 origins, 187–8 Soviet Union anti-Semitism, 67 civil society, 105–7 demise, xxxiv Doctors’ Plot, xxi horrors, xxxv Jewish emigration, 69 Marxism version, xxiii political colonization of Eastern Europe, 105–6 postwar, xxi social system, 83–98 totalitarianism, 84, 151 Spaak, Paul-Henri, 190 Spain, 174 Spinoza, Baruch, 114 Stalin, Joseph, xxi, xxiii, xln9, 146, 149 Stalinism, 93, 149 Stämmler, Martin, 147–8 state ‘Between State and Society’, xxxii, 80–98 planning. See planning


social state, 163, 166–9 socialist concept, 107 sovereignty, 186–97 Soviet system, 83–98 totalitarianism, 84, 151–2 traditional view, 152 Steiner, George, 143 strikes, 102, 106, 139 students, 171 Sweden, 76, 165, 176 Switzerland, wealth, 76 Taylor, Robert, 165 terrorism 9/11, xxxvi, 157, 159, 160–1, 173–4 global responsibility, 157–9 global terror, 200 politics of fear, 173–4 recent massacres, 155–7 symbols, 159 Tester, Keith, ix, xxiv Thatcherism, xxxv, 163–77 Third Way, xiv, xxxv, 165 Thompson, E. P., xxx–xxxi Titus Livius, 194 Tönnies, Ferdinand, 80 totalitarianism, 84, 151–2 ‘Tractate on Bureaucracy’, xxii– xxiii, xxiv, 1–20 trade unions free trade unions, 100, 102, 103 Jewish trade unions, 125 Solidarity, xxii, xxiv, 99–108 United Kingdom, 165, 205 Treblinka, 143 United Kingdom Brexit, xxxvii, 198, 204, 207–8 ‘Britain after Blair’, xxxv, 163–77 bureaucracy, 12–14 consumerism, 169–70 culture, xxx democracy, 23, 26 intellectuals, xxix–xxx

236 Index United Kingdom (cont.) Jews, 124–6, 127 labour movement, xxxi, 165, 205 National Government (1931–5), 205 neo-liberalism, 164, 165 New Labour, xiv, xxxv political apathy, 169–71 politics of fear, 173 sociology, xxix solidarity eroded, 164, 165–6 Third Way, xiv, xxxv, 165 threatened democracy, 172–3 welfare state, 163–9, 174, 206 working class, xxxi United Nations Rwanda and, 155 state sovereignty, 188, 189, 223n3 United States 9/11, xxxvi, 157, 159, 160–1, 173–4 affirmative action, 206 Chamber of Commerce, 32 democracy, 21, 22–37 egoism, 160–1 invasion of Panama, xxxiv Jews, 137–8 migration control, 182 New Labour, xiv New Left, xvi planning, xxxii prison population, 218n6 Vietnam War, 156 wealth, 76 welfare state, 174 Unszlicht, Julian, 122 utopia, xxvii–xxviii, xxxii, xxxv, xxxviii, 111, 113, 150, 202, 203–4

Veblen, Thorstein, xxiv, 4 Vecchi, Benedetto, xxvi Vermes, Timur, 200 Versailles Treaty (1918–19), 196 Vietnam War, 156 Volkov, Shulamit, 118 Wałęsa, Lech, xxxii, xxxiv Weber, Max bureaucracy, xxiv, 4, 86, 87 on capitalism, 89 ideal types, 80 influence, xxxix, 81, 219n2 patrimonialism, 86, 87 Protestant Ethic, 84–5 rationality, 84, 89 welfare state personal responsibility and, 173–6 postwar, 205–6 solidarity, 172 UK dismantling, 163–9, 174 Welzer, Harald, xxxvii–xxxviii, 179–86, 181, 182 West Timor, 155 Westphalia Treaty (1648), 187–8 Wikipedia, 178 Wilson, Harold, 208 Wilson, Woodrow, 196 Wishnevsky, Morris, 127 Wistrich, Robert, 134 Yiddish, 70, 110, 121, 136, 137, 138 Yudin, Pavel Fyodorovich, 1 Yugoslavia, 188, 196 Zederbaum, Yuri (Martov), 127–8 Zhou Enlai, 1 Zionism, xix, xxi, xxiv, 73, 122, 137 Zola, Émile, 161

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