Here Lies Bitterness - Healing from Resentment

Cynthia Fleury


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Polity Press
25 November 2022
ISBN: 9781509551040
226 pages

From the publisher

Political philosophy and psychoanalysis have one key problem in common, one which affects both the life of individuals and the life of societies: a bitter unhappiness which poisons their existence. When we experience feelings of inferiority in relation to others, resentment can set in: a diffuse and obsessive loathing, coupled with delusions of victimhood, which clouds one's judgement and perspective, so that an individual's capacity to act and heal is paralysed. Without the ability to heal, resentment can give rise to violent impulses, to the rejection of the rule of law, the proliferation of conspiracy theories and the urge to use violent means to try to regain control of one's life. Resentment, argues Cynthia Fleury, is the disease most likely to endanger modern democracy. By presenting resentment as a key threat to modern democracy, Fleury re-focuses democratic theory on the task of searching for the tools that could enable us to stem its flow. Democracy is a way of sublimating violent instincts and collectively creating institutions and cultural resources that enable us to cope with conflict. As individuals and as societies, we are facing the same challenge: how to diagnose resentment and its dark forces, and how to resist the temptation to allow it to become the motor of our individual and collective histories. This bestselling and highly original account of the psychic forces shaping modern societies will be of great interest to anyone concerned about the crisis of democracy today and what we can do to address it.