The contemporary world finds itself embroiled in an age of rage, dominated by violence and underpinned by an undercurrent of societal cynicism and ressentiment. On a global scale, there is a rise of the far right, the politics of hate, demagoguery, and authoritarian strongmen. Hate speech and bigotry against minority groups and immigrants have entered the mainstream of socio-political discussions, fanned by political entrepreneurs determined to exploit inherent majoritarian insecurities and biases. The “Age of Rages” workshop organised by the Centre of Excellence for National Security (CENS) sought to interrogate this phenomenon of rage in the world today.
Held from 26 to 27 February 2019, the conference sought to explore the rise of rage to understand the roots of this anger while also seeking solutions to attend to its underlying factors. The conference was composed of four panels. The first delved in search of possible historical equivalence of rage in our age. It debated the notion that rage is cyclical and that as societies we may experience recurring patterns of rage. It also investigated if rage was episodic with eruptions that are both contextual and variable.
The second panel focused on the various structural reasons for modern rage. It explored mass rage as a symptom of under-performing political systems and deliberated if the roots of today’s rage are centered on economic systems and misgivings and frustration at current social structures shaped by gender, class, and race.
The third panel tackled the critical impact of technology on societal rage. It suggested that the creation of echo chambers and feedback loops in our discussions online fuel rage but also questioned if the discussions do counterintuitively dampen rage in the physical world as well. This led to a vibrant discussion on whether technology is an accelerator or decelerator of rage.
The final panel discussed the collectivisation of rage. It inquired if the rise of extremist groups, acts of civil resistance, activism, and revolts revealed a shared rage and if there was a ‘progressive rage’ that could seek positive change as a reaction to the rage of hate.