From the archive
COMMENT 50 | Bruce Wilder 03.20.12 at 1:30 am
What is “resentment”, if not the antonym of “admiration”? Certainly, it is not the expression of a simple grievance, which might logically target a correctly identified oppressor, for the oppression. The self-referential is an essential element in the definition of resentment: resentment is centered in the self, in feelings of personal frustration, futility, jealousy, weakness, and it functions, psychologically, to defend against shame at culpability for one’s condition. Resentment invents an enemy, and resentment loves a fake.
The politics of resentment cannot be separated from the politics of domination. The authoritarianism of the Right is a politics of people, who seek to dominate others. This is the politics of building economic prosperity on eliminating the minimum wage and labor unions.
The politics of authoritarianism and domination is not inherently a politics of reason. I trust I do not need to explain further. It is also not inherently a popular politics, for obvious, material reasons. But, everyone seeking office in politics is, to some large extent, seeking power and status.
Resentment is an emotion of inferiors, and the resentments of followers is part of a reactionary political symbiosis between authoritarian followers and those, who seek to lead and dominate them, as a means to achieve office and as an end in itself.
Stoking resentments is a psychological means of making political appeals to authoritarian followers, to people, who feel vulnerable, ashamed, weak, inferior. It is, therefore, useful to dominators and exploiters, since it involves little or no promise of material benefit.
I think there’s considerable political confusion, surrounding the failure to clearly distinguish leaders from followers. Domination is a goal of the leaders and resentment is the defense of the followers.
Behind the puzzlement of liberals over the resentments of the followers lurks considerable contempt for the followers. The contempt and the resentments might be linked in multiple ways, just as the domination and the resentments are linked.