On January 9, Zygmunt Bauman died in Leeds England at the age of 91. For more than 60 years he contributed with his powerful mind to the search to build a better world. In a tribute note Neal Lawson commented: “The towering intellectual colossus of our times and yet such a frail, slight and humble human being is gone.”
Alas, I never got to know Mr. Bauman but the themes of Neal Lawson’s comments on his thought ring like tapped crystal. The dominant capitalist economy is driven by those whose core source of meaning is the hoarding of wealth and the power it buys. They have persuaded the rest of humanity that meaning comes from consumption. Bauman tells us, reminds Lawson, “the shift from a world based on our identities formed by production to identities, life and a society formed largely by consumption – buying stuff we didn’t know we needed, with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t know.” Production is how we contribute to our families, our communities and our world. Meaning is produced when our production makes our families, communities and the world better place places to be. It is an expression of our dual nature – fully individual and social at the same time.
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