Living on Borrowed Time: Conversations with Citlali Rovirosa-Madrazo
December 2009, Polity
Our liquid modern world is characterized by the transition from a society of producers to a society of consumers, the natural extension of which is the society of perpetual debtors. The ruling idea of the society of consumers is to prevent needs from being satisfied and to create demand; its natural extension is to enable consumers to consume more by borrowing. Debt was transformed into a crucial profit-earning asset of capitalism in liquid modern times. The present-day 'credit crunch' is not the outcome of the banks' failure but rather the fruit of their success in transforming the majority of men and women, young and old, into a race of debtors. They got what they were looking for: a society of debtors whose condition of being in debt was made self-perpetuating, with more debts being offered, and more undertaken, as the only way of escaping from the debts already incurred.
Starting from this reflection on the current global financial crisis and prompted by the probing questions of his interlocutor, Citlali Rovirosa-Madrazo, Bauman examines in an historical perspective some of the most pressing moral and political issues of our time, from international terrorism and the rise of religious and secular fundamentalism to the decline of the nation-state and the threats posed by global warming, issues whose seriousness and urgency attest to the fact that we are living today not only on borrowed money but also on borrowed time.
Introduction by Citlali Rovirosa-Madrazo 1
Part One 13
The credit crunch: an outcome of the Bank's failure, or a fruit of its outstanding success? Capitalism is not dead 15
The welfare state in the age of economic globalization: the last remaining vestiges of Bentham's Panopticon. Policing or helping the poor? 34
This thing called 'the state': revisiting democracy, sovereignty and human rights 45
Part Two 97
Modernity, postmodernity and genocide: from decimation and annexation to 'collateral damage' 99
Population, production and re-production of human waste: from contingency and indeterminacy to the inexorability of biotechnology (beyond Wall Street) 108
Secular fundamentalism versus religious fundamentalism: the race of dogmas or the battle for power in the twenty-first century 127
DNA inscription: a new grammatology for a new economy. From homines mortales to DIY 'post-humans' in the advent of genetocracy 141
Utopia, love, or the lost generation 157
Satyajit Das, Willmot