Is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez a hero? I think she’s driven by the Resentment Loop.
After reading Max Scheler’s Ressentiment I’m fascinated first of all by what I call the Resentment Loop. This is the constant replay of negative emotions or experiences. We do this when there has been some conflict that we are powerless to resolve. You know how it goes…”I should have said this…I should have said that…Next time I see him I’ll say…What I should have done was…I’ll get him back…Just you wait and see…” We replay the conversation in our head or we rehearse what we’re going to say or do, but we never actually do it because for a whole range of reasons we’re frustrated and powerless.
The Resentment Loop goes on in our own minds all the time, but it is also played out in the wider world–in our relationships, in politics, in fact in every aspect of life. It’s a given. It’s the default setting. It’s the way we’re wired.
But what interests me more than the Resentment Loop is the Resentment Flip. Scheler observes that at some point the Resentment Loop turns around. The experience of being frustrated, poor and powerless becomes in our mind a virtue. Nietzsche called this the “slave revolt of morality”. The underdog sees himself or herself as the hero. They are not just poor and powerless, they are also persecuted and their persecution becomes for them a red badge of courage. They see themselves as martyrs for a cause and if martyrs, then rebels with a cause.
Like magnets with iron filings they draw others who are discontented, powerless, poor and persecuted. Hold on. Even if they are not objectively powerless, poor and persecuted the important thing is that they FEEL powerless, poor and persecuted. They form a movement. They get involved. They wish to change the world. They become activists. Because they are martyrs they are also good. They have right on their side. They are self righteous in the extreme. Everything they believe is true and every motive they have is good and nothing must stand in their way. Anyone who opposes them immediately becomes the enemy not just of them, but of everything that is good and true.
People in the Resentment Flip do good things from a heart of bitterness and anger. This is why they are never satisfied. You cannot appease an activist who is motivated from the Resentment Flip.The present crop of young, leftist Democrat politicians are a prime example of activists motivated by the Resentment Flip. Ocasio-Cortez is their mascot. She typifies this syndrome. Seemingly bright, earnest, driven and determined, she illustrates the energy and zeal that lies at the heart of the Resentment Flip. She also illustrates the self righteousness and ruthlessness beneath the activism.
Political Bias alert! Do you think I’m taking a political stance? I’m just another old white Republican guy?
Is this a blog post to pick on Ocasio-Cortez and all the Democrats?
Not really. I’m using her as an example of this deeper malaise within the human personality and human relationships. While this Resentment Flip is most obvious among leftists, you can find it in any angry activist group. They don’t have to be left wing socialists. They might be right wing conspiracy theorists. They could be feminists or homosexualists, environmentalists or transgender noisemakers. They could be pro life activists, people opposing poverty or folks protesting cruelty to animals or gun control.
Whatever “good cause” they are espousing is a fake. It’s a facade. It is a cover for a deep lie–the lie of Resentment which is dark and rooted in pride–they’ve given Resentent a candy coating.
True charity on the other hand is driven by love not Resentment and bitterness. True charity is far more difficult to discover because it is usually humble and hidden. True charity simply gets on and rolls up its sleeves and does something about the problem. It does so with simplicity, hard work and good humor. It does so on the local level where the real problem exists. It does so with real people–not just policies and programs on paper
If you want to discern the difference it is quite easy. True charity is always self sacrificial. Those involved in true charity always work to make a difference by laying down their own energy, their own money, their own time, their own lives.
Those driven by Resentment never do this. They always want to change others, but never want to change themselves. They want to take from the rich to give to the poor, but never give a penny themselves.
These are People of the Lie and their activism is a Grand Deception.
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