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 9: Redemption

Ruth Capriles

Subjects: politics and public policy, leadership


To understand social movements one has to have experienced them, Albert Camus wrote. But as one experiences them, understanding and knowledge are as uncertain as distant ignorance, and provide nothing more than therapeutic relief, if one survives. When the emotions of hate, envy, revenge and humiliation are the outpouring of a collective, social, ressentiment, they overwhelm all understanding. It becomes mythical, you feel evil has suddenly arisen from a distant past and the depths of an abyss. It is difficult to really understand evil, especially when it seems banal, sprung out of nowhere. When a beautiful Tamil girl walks joyfully and gracefully, with flower garlands in her hands to loop over the Indian Minister’s head, right at the moment when her belt-bomb explodes, you do not understand the girl and the act, the Minister and the politics; nor the purpose of it all.

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