Zygmunt Bauman is a Polish-born sociologist in the Marxist tradition mostly known for his thoroughgoing critiques of consumerism, modernity, and cultural memory (especially the Holocaust). His "liquid" books, including "Liquid Modernity" (2000), "Liquid Love: On the Frailty of Human Bonds" (2003), "Liquid Life" (2005), "Liquid Fear" (2006), and the book presently considered, "Liquid Times: Living in an Age of Uncertainty" (2006), for the most part seem to be shorter books whose aim is to adumbrate the arguments Bauman has made over the course of his career.
The focus of "Liquid Times" is a meta-critique of globalization and all of the problems it presents, from rootlessness to the ubiquity of the security sate, with Bauman's central thesis being that the consequences of globalization have seriously hindered attempts at international justice. The goal of globalization - to eradicate any trade barriers and therefore create "markets without frontiers" - results in the transition from a world where people are subject to the laws and protections of their home countries to one in which radical fear and lack of security are reified and the "fading of human bonds and the wilting of solidarity" reigns. This lack of security results in fear and a perceived lack of control, which in turn perpetuates and shores up the conspicuous shift toward national security that we have experienced in advanced liberal democracies. And so the pernicious cycle goes. In his comparison of cities, the globally located ones (that are able to participate in the fully integrated sphere of globalization) and locally located cities ones (those that aren't), Bauman says that the job of the city has changed from protecting its inhabitants from outsiders to housing ghettoized populations of peripatetic transnationals and strangers, the "dumping ground for globally conceived and gestated problems."
Our new liquid times have also brought about an unprecedented number of refugees, both political and economic. Wars, which Bauman thinks are essentially local attempts to solve global problems, become intractable. The result is an "excess of humanity" - humanity as waste product - completely and utterly divested of property, personal identity, or even a state that will recognize their existence.
Bauman suggests that democracy has ironically become an elitist affair, where the rich protect their interests and the poor continue to suffer from a lack of social safety nets and supportive governmental networks. He is also not terribly optimistic about the chances of gaining a pre-globalized utopia, a word which Thomas More first darkly noted could mean, homophonically, either "paradise" or "nowhere." While it is still a paradise for some, our world has become too liquid to be anything but the latter for most of us. In the end, Bauman offers in every analysis of globalization the ultimate paradox of modernity: a permanent life shot through with impermanency.
As I pointed out before, at least according to the back of the book, Bauman has taken the time to further detail his analyses in other books. However, from what I read here, I am not sure how many of his arguments are original. Books on globalization with themes of alienation and disenfranchisement are not unpopular in the field of sociology. However, Bauman's wry wit definitely has me interested in reading more of his work, which I plan on reviewing in the future.