Refugees symbolize all our fear of losing everything, they embody the fear it could be us, says Zygmunt Bauman, one of the world’s most eminent social theorists.

Talking to the TV programme, Talk to Al Jazeera, Mr Bauman underlines that there is a “psychological explanation” for what he deems a nervous reaction in Europe to refugees coming to the EU.

“These people who are coming now are refugees not from people hungry, without bread and water. [They are] people who yesterday were proud of their homes, were proud of their position in society, were very often very well educated, very well-off and so on. But they are refugees now…”

Refugees, he says, “embody all our fears” of losing everything. “Yesterday they were very powerful back in their country, like we are here [in Europe] today. I think the shock is only beginning,” Bauman says.

Bauman sees both sides of the story. “Hospitality possibilities are not limitless. And the human ability to endure their suffering and rejection is not limitless either. So we have to exercise what is called empathy, but – and that’s a big but – unfortunately, going through that, there is no shortcut solution … dialogue is a long, long process. Coming to an understanding takes some time, the whole generation, even more than one generation, so we have to brace ourselves for a very difficult time coming.”

“You have to accept this is the situation. Let us come together and find a solution”, he concludes.


Narrated by (via Talk to Al Jazeera ): One of the world’s most eminent social theorists writing on diverse issues such as modernity, postmodern consumerism and liquid modernity.