Leadership by Resentment

Leadership by Resentment

From Ressentiment to Redemption

New Horizons in Leadership Studies series

Ruth Capriles

The author explores the conditions that foster the development of ressentiment, the role of leaders and followers, and the phases of the phenomenon as it encourages destructive behaviors such as murder and suicide. Often considered an incurable disease with destructive social and political repercussions, it is a core motive for acts of terrorism, revolutions, social upheavals and processes of toxic leadership. The author puts forth a model that helps to describe certain historical processes led by ressentiment, like some revolutions and terrorist acts, and to distinguish them from other movements that are usually treated as similar (e.g., independence revolutions). The book then tackles a seemingly impossible question: Can we find a cure for this powerful and destructive impulse? With care and deliberation, the author demonstrates the power of ethical leadership, recognition and redemption as positive unifying forces during human conflicts.

Introduction

Ruth Capriles

Subjects: politics and public policy, leadership

Extract

Democracy was a dream from which Venezuelans awoke one midnight in February 1992. A coup d’état announced the commencement of the revolt of ressentiment. We did not listen to the warning and by February 1999 we saw the Leviathan rise, the Beast of State Power, seeming to come from the depths of a collective psyche or from a distant past. The revolt of ressentiment had succeeded once more; through it, the slaves became the enslavers. And again one has to make an attempt at understanding. To deal with it; to survive; to avoid the contagious effect of incubated hate erupting into total destruction. There is my motive, from the middle of the hurricane – to undertake a moral quest through individual emotions that affect collectivities that affect the world. The Venezuelan experience is but one among many instances in the contemporary world of the 21st century showing similar signs of emotions having the upper hand in social and political affairs. Genocides, terrorism, despots massacring their people, are signs that democracy, with its rational process of growing inclusion and respect for human rights, is far from the envisioned global goal of mutual understanding and deliberation. Friedrich Nietzsche, who dealt with ressentiment and on whose work all subsequent authors on the subject have elaborated, understood his moment, the end of the 19th century, as another victory of the revolt of ressentiment started 2000 years previously with the Judeo-Christian civilization. Should we say that it is happening again at the 21st century in...