Saturday, April 14, 2007
The De Man Affair Part Deux?
A story appeared in yesterday's Irish Times newspaper claiming that the Polish sociologist Zygmunt Bauman (whose work on postmodernity, the holocaust and love I'm sure we all admire or have used) was not simply a member of the Communist party but also a political officer in the military branch of the Polish Secret Security Forces. Here's a snippet:
Sociologist Zygmunt Bauman' s hidden stalinist past
"Last month, the biggest German daily, the 'Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung', published an article in which Bogdan Musial, a Polish historian, revealed renowned Polish-British sociologist Zygmunt Bauman, one of the prophets of postmodernism and author of sociological bestsellers, once worked as an agent for the Stalinist military secret service", notes Andreas Hess, a senior lecturer in sociology. "It should not come as a surprise that Bauman's hidden past is so passionately debated in continental Europe. Despite their adversarial history, Germans and Poles are very critical when revelations come out about the fascist and communist pasts of their intellectuals.The public attitude in continental Europe differs considerably from countries such as Britain and Ireland which were never under the spell of either fascism or Stalinism. Here in Ireland, it is still possible to read the lamentations of an unreconstructed communist like the historian Eric Hobsbawm who celebrated the Stalinist line taken during the Spanish Civil War - and to let him get away with it." (13/04/2007)
I haven't seen the full article but the title "postmodernism made me do it" is indicative of the two potential sides that will be taken in response to this revelation: some will seek to defend Bauman's work and exonerate him of blame (which arguably is what Bauman's work seeks to do anyway: to exonerate himself) and others will say they were proved right all along that postmodernism is simply complicit with all the world's evils.