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e-flux conversations

Is the World Sleeping, Sleepless, or Awake or Dreaming?

Another conversation threw up a fascinating image: “During our regular night shifts, the general manager used to be abrasive with any worker he saw dozing. He used to take punitive action against them. One night, one hundred and eight of us went to sleep, all together, on the shop floor. Managers, one after the other, who came to check on us, saw us all sleeping in one place, and returned quietly. We carried on like this for three nights. They didn’t misbehave with us, didn’t take any action against us. Workers in other sections of the factory followed suit. It became a tradition of sorts.”
Faridabad Mazdoor Samachar (Faridabad Workers’ News), May 2014

A hundred years after 1914 saw nationalism explode in an orgy of violence like the world had never seen before, we are waking up to a new reality that appears to be as repetitive as a recurring nightmare. In some parts of the world, ultranationalist parties are once again walking into the bright lights. This could be a sordid one-act play or a full-blown tragic opera, but for now, they think they hold the public in thrall.

And they are singing. So loudly that the din appears to drown out every other sound. These are times when one needs a hearing aid, to listen to the murmur of other conversations. Some of these conversations may be incipient, some have never ceased. They may never cease. If they are inaudible, one has to try a little harder to hear them.

In India, the recently victorious ultranationalist “strongman” has tweeted “the good days have come” to the enthusiastic, breathless applause of a captive “eternal-growth” court. His counterparts, flashing victory signs in Europe, Russia, Hungary, Turkey, Japan, Egypt, Korea, and elsewhere, have all talked up the same “good times.” Television ratings and stock market indices have momentarily soared, in generally sluggish global economies, as have the global sales of weapons, sedatives, tranquilizers, and antidepressants.

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