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Must Read: Resisting Resentment Politics Down Under, Paul Tyson

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How owning our Resentment can save Australian Politics

In this piece, Paul Tyson, honorary Research Fellow at the University of Queensland, outlines his take on the rise of right wing populist resentment, as a powerful political force, from an Australian perspective.
Professor Robert Solomon notes that we all experience strong emotional responses to being the victim of an injustice. Solomon singles out three responses in particular: anger, contempt and resentment. Crucially, these emotions have distinct political signatures. Anger is a potentially resolution producing emotion directed towards equals; contempt is a vengeance and retribution focused emotion directed towards inferiors; resentment is an impotent and servile emotion directed towards superiors.

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5 comments on “Must Read: Resisting Resentment Politics Down Under, Paul Tyson

  1. Clare Flourish
    November 10, 2016

    Wow. That’s cheerful. human social dynamics being what they are, we must be aware that there are tipping points which, once past, produce an almost fixed trajectory towards barbarity and destruction. As both parties support the refugee policy, they can’t back out. So we must turn our resentment against the elites, and stop it becoming contempt. Unfortunately for us in Britain, Mrs May has anticipated this move, which is why she categorises me as “liberal metropolitan elite” to be resented, as well as rorter/bludger to be contemned. I can’t win.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. acflory
    November 11, 2016

    Interesting article but a little too emotive for my liking. I can see the leaders of the Brexit movement, and now the Trump campaign using the ‘resentment and contempt’ tool, but the people who voted for Brexit /and/ Trump were/are even more angry at the status quo. i.e. their own political leaders.

    If anger is the way forward, for Australia or any other country, then god help us all because anger is just as blind as resentment.

    The thing distinguishing both the Brexit and Trump phenomena is the willingness to set logic aside in favour of belief. The author was right in that regard. There has been a strong religious element in both ‘choices’.

    But why would so many people willingly suspend disbelief?

    Part of the answer, I believe, lies in the experience of the post Hungarian revolution. Prior to the revolution, living conditions for most Hungarians were so bad that they had no outlet other than anger. When you have nothing, you have nothing to lose.

    So they fought back against those they saw as oppressing them – i.e. the puppet Hungarian government.

    The revolution ultimately failed, but it must have scared someone [in the USSR] because post revolution, the economic stranglehold was eased. Once Hungarians began to enjoy a better quality of life, they had something to lose. They did not stage a second revolution.

    I believe something similar is happening in many of our First World democracies. People are hitting rock bottom and from there, the only way up is to lash out at the status quo. In situations like these, snakeoil salesmen abound.

    We are in transition in more ways than one so an increase in prosperity seems unlikely, yet I can’t see any other realistic solution. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    • Does that mean you don’t agree some form of anger and resentment isn’t already responsible, for example, for these boat policies?

      Like

      • acflory
        November 12, 2016

        Oh no! I do agree. Where I disagree is that more righteous anger is the answer long term.

        Liked by 1 person

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This entry was posted on November 10, 2016 by in activism and tagged , , , , , , .
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