Leadership by Resentment
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Leadership by Resentment

From Ressentiment to Redemption

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.
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Chapter 6: Leadership by ressentiment

Ruth Capriles


The issue of leadership has been growing through these pages as essential to understanding revolutions and revolts by ressentiment. Leadership will influence the direction taken by a revolution; if the relation between leaders and followers is established only upon negation, as a reaction against masters and their values, and not as an affirmation of the people involved in a revolution, then it will go the way of ressentiment: by inversion of all values and destruction of a diffuse range of enemies. In the 1960s and early 1970s, Latin American intellectuals sought explanations and justifications for revolutions in Marx’s idea of structural ‘contradictions of capitalism’ as forces in history; although by then everyone knew that such contradictions did not spur the revolution in capitalist countries, as predicted by Marx, and that the role of vanguards (in the Marxist lexicon) seemed to be of greater importance not only to the insurgence as such, but to the direction taken by the revolution that did happen in an agrarian country (Russia).

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