A New Age of Anxiety

Nexus Conference 2020

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You don’t need to be a psychologist to know that anxiety is the dominant human emotion, nor do you need to be a historian to realize that there has never been an era in which people lived without fear. Nevertheless, in 1947 the poet W.H. Auden perfectly summed up the twentieth-century zeitgeist when he published his major prose poem entitled The Age of Anxiety – for that is what the twentieth century was! After the Fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, this anxiety retreated into the background. But now, in the 21st century, in the midst of economic, ecological, social and political crises, anxiety is back! And it leads not just to depressions, burnouts and suicides, but also to resentment, xenophobia, hatred and despair. On top of all this, a pandemic has gripped the world leading to such sickness and chaos that it seems almost apocalyptic.

On Saturday 14 November 2020, a diverse group of internationally renowned thinkers gathered around the Nexus Institute’s round table. They discussed the causes of all these crises and the anxiety they give rise to, and how we can ensure together that we can leave behind this age of anxiety as fast as possible.


Why are we more anxious while the world has never been safer?


Liberalism and the causes of cancel culture


11:00 AM Welcome Rob Riemen

Keynote lecture Wole Soyinka


Apocalypse Now? Causes of Anxiety in Our Age
Roundtable conversation with Wole Soyinka, Jean-Marie Guéhenno, Kate Brown, Omar Saif Ghobash, Theodore Dalrymple, Laura Spinney, Edward Skidelsky, Thomas Chatterton Williams
moderated by Rob Riemen


Amor Mundi. How to End the Age of Anxiety?
Roundtable conversation with Dita Kraus, Ian Bostridge, Gregory J. Polan, Olga Tokarczuk, Richard Frackowiak, Ivo van Hove moderated by Rob Riemen

4:00 PM End