ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON — Hannah Arendt has seen that in the face of hypocritical and quasi-rational power structures, rage can often seem like “the only way to restore the scales of justice.” The real source of rage, Arendt understood, is a sense of helplessness born of a “much deeper hatred of bourgeois society”. The rage may seem right just as today the rage against immigrants, whites and pundits is justified by those crusaders who argue that in an unjust and hypocritical system, rage is necessary for radical political change. Such collective rage can inspire virtues of courage, loyalty, and common sense; but the virtues of rage come at a price: it is the disintegration of common sense and common viewpoints that unites us beyond our political, racial, class and sexual identities. We are witnessing, once again, the decline of reason and the return of rage as the essential motor of political and social relations. At a time when materially comfortable societies are teetering and the visceral pull of tribalism is growing all around us, we must ask ourselves how our liberal democracies can survive and thrive amid intensifying partisanship and declining sanity. public. While social media is not responsible for the rage that engulfs our society, the algorithms that drive social media allow emotional and angry opinions to spread with unprecedented vigor and vitality.
Presented by OSUN, the Hannah Arendt Center and the Center for Civic Engagement, the Hannah Arendt Center conference “Rage and Reason” responds to the undeniable fact that rage and emotions are increasingly a force in our political lives and cultural. The conference asks the question: How can democratic rage be harnessed in social and political movements? Is rage essential to denouncing a systemic and rooted injustice? How can a politics of rage recognize a rational and expert authority? If humans are tribal beings, how can they live in liberal multicultural societies? Are the pundits and the elites themselves just one tribe defending their own interests? Should social media contribute to the fracturing of society into raging tribes? Is there a common interest in society knowable by reason? Above all, how can we maintain our liberal institutions and our common world in the midst of the polarization and fracture of this world?