By Zygmunt Bauman
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Extra info for Alone Again (Demos Papers)
The dilemma we confront now has been expressed poignantly by the great German/American ethical philosopher, Hans Jonas: ‘The very same movement which put us in possession of the powers that have now to be regulated by norms… has by a necessary complementarity eroded the foundations from 28 Demos This page is covered by the Demos open access licence. Some rights reserved. uk/openaccess Risk and Limits which norms could be derived… Now we shiver in the nakedness of nihilism in which near-omnipotence is paired with near-emptiness, greatest capacity with knowing least what for’.
Independence is frowned upon, dissent hounded down, disloyalty persecuted. Pressure to keep the intended flock in the fold is unrelenting; the craved-for cosiness of belonging is offered at the price of unfreedom. The overall effect of all this is yet another case of the by now familiar tendency to expropriate the individual’s moral responsibility. It is now the community, or rather the self-proclaimed wardens of its purity, who draw the boundaries of moral obligations, divide good from evil, and for better or worse dictate the definition of moral conduct.
Community advertises itself as the cosy home amidst a hostile and dangerous city; it draws profusely, overtly or obliquely, on the very contemporary image of the sharp divide between the fortified and electronically protected homestead and the street full of knife-carrying strangers, the wasteland subjected to a chary ‘neighbourhood watch’. Community seduces its proselytes with the promise of freedom from fear and the tranquillity of chez soi. But again, the reality is all too often the opposite.