Multiculturalism and resentment

There are two kinds of resentment relevant to the politics of multiculturalism today. 1 The first, which is basically Nietzsche’s conception of ressentiment, occurs under conditions in which people are subject to systematic and structural deprivation of things they want (and need), combined with a sense of powerlessness about being able to do anything about it. It manifests itself in terms of a focused anger or hatred towards that group of people who seem to have everything they want, and yet also symbolize their powerlessness to get it. For Nietzsche, of course, it was out of this set of emotions and psychological state of mind that the ‘slave revolt’ that gave birth to modern morality emerged, supplanting the aristocratic values oriented around good and bad with the reactive and slavish values of those oriented around good and evil (Nietzsche 1989: 36- 39). The desire to lash out or take revenge against those who you perceive as keeping you down, keeping you from enjoying all the benefits and advantages others enjoy and that you want or feel you deserve, for Nietzsche, is a basic emotional orientation that can – in combination with other complex forces - reshape an entire culture. A second form of resentment is of a more moralized kind; a reactive sentiment bound up with holding another morally accountable for their actions. I resent your curtailment of my liberty, for example, just because I believe we share certain moral commitments – for example, a..
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