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.

Chapter 5: The struggle for power: the revolt

Ruth Capriles

Subjects: politics and public policy, leadership


If ressentiment was made by Nietzsche a terminus technicus, according to Scheler (Scheler 2003: 20), his concept of the slave revolt (Sklavenaufstand) is a key element in his construction of the Genealogy of Morals (1892). Without the slave revolt there would be no genealogy, just morality. Nietzsche’s explanation departs from the idea of a historical beginning when human groups were disorganized, ‘inorganic and errant’, upon which fell a superior race (sic), a blonde, fair, brave race whose members created order, the State (GM: II,17). This people, the warriors, the conquerors, the noble, the masters, create value. They will value most, and call good, their own qualities: fairness, bravery, loyalty, knowledge, wealth, truth, and so forth. The ‘master morality’. But 2000 years before his time, says Nietzsche, a faction from the ruling classes, who were secondary in wealth and power or who lacked the moral qualities of the real masters, especially bravery, raised a revolt against the masters’ morality: the slave revolt. What is this morality?

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