Zygmunt Bauman left earth at the dawn of 2017 but the intellectual edifice he created to better understand our world will continue to shape our journey through civilization.
His conceptual creation “Liquid Modernity” is present everywhere at all times. Because, as Bauman’s visionary mind and inquisitive talent surmised, change in modern society happens at a speed that makes absorption and internalization impossible, thereby condemning human beings to jug change without being part of it.
Modernity then fails to rationalize the world, leading human beings to cope with constant change without guiding paradigms.
They must create rationality out of an unending series of short-term projects and events that do not fit the concepts of “career” and “advancement.”
Life then becomes a rosary of fragmented episodes, emotions and creations.
Fragmentation demands from individuals to be flexible and adaptable, to reject commitments and loyalties without regret and to jump into opportunities according to their current convenience. Time and life turn liquid. Uncertainty defines liquid times. Modernity turns liquid, forcing human beings to act under prevalent uncertainty.
The time it takes to fully consider options and make fully formed decisions turns into a kaleidoscope creating a magic and unreal reality.
America has been undergoing the effects of Liquid Modernity for some time now.
Ever since the internet became “THE MEDIUM”, life began its inexorable march towards fragmentation.
Prior to the medium households gathered to follow the evening news led by true journalists whose only passion was objectivity and truth. Therefore, the whole nation shared more or less the same information package on events shaping their lives.
Today individuals are literally bombarded all day long with news fragments that, failing to be transmitted within a logical structure to understand them, leave individuals anxious and fearful.
Before Facebook everybody made time to share with peers or colleagues the incidents of life.
Today we all hang pictures capturing daily life or special moments believing that visitors to your wall will share the emotions and intellectual approach guiding those events.
Before the Internet, one had time down for oneself or the family to share endearing moments. Today the ubiquitous cell phone intrudes in every aspect of human life.
Continuing connectivity leads people to believe that they can and should take decisions with the speed of light disregarding whether all the information inputs are available and clear.
America is about to experience Liquid Modernity from the top guiding post.
President Trump is an intellectual offspring of Liquid Modernity in his approach to business, education and life.
He truly believes in light speed decision making. He believes regulations to be designed as a distant reference to those who are not fast enough to grab opportunities. He shapes public and foreign policy through tweets that create ripple effects in daily American life and abroad.
Tweets are very small fragments of reality that fail to address the sources of any dilemma but they create the illusion of movement and effectiveness. A world led by tweets is a world lacking coherence and sense. But this is the privileged means of communication by the upcoming POTUS.
In Latin America Liquid Modernity is bringing down the political edifice built by the authoritarian leaders of the Mexican Revolution without having anything to replace it and guarantee governance.
In Colombia Liquid Modernity, will soon prove to drive the country into a civic battle in the aftermath of the Peace Treaties.
In Venezuela Liquid Modernity led the opposition to think that they could jump totally unprepared into a dialogue with a rogue government without consequences while the government used the event to strengthen its repressive muscle and continuously create events that plant confusion in the opposing coalition.
I trust that Bauman is right and his forecast is on target when defining Liquid Modernity as the main tool to build a knowledge based society unencumbered by materialism. Or as he himself put it “A hundred years ago ‘to be modern’ meant to chase ‘the final state of perfection’ — now it means an infinity of improvement, with no ‘final state’ in sight and none desired.”
Published by Latin American Herald Tribune on Monday January 16th, 2017.
*The opinions published herein are the sole responsibility of its author.*