Seeing ourselves as made up of everything around us, both perceived and unperceived, brings limitless beauty and wonder to our life.
Ressentiment: “a deep-seated resentment, frustration, and intense bitterness accompanied by a sense of rage at being powerless to express these feelings directly or overtly.”
The plague that Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard lamented fifty years before German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (1890s) prophesized would sweep the world and eclipse it of meaning in the coming century, would later become known as “ressentiment”. Being unwittingly “grandfathered” in through the scientific revolution and the secularization of ethics in society will bring about a total absolution of nihilism at its most extreme, permeating the “human spirit” and its Weltanschauung, worldview, with absolute apathy and complacency.
And we can see this everywhere nowadays; manifesting especially in the level and magnitude of the crime and sociopathic “misfits” roaming around, sometimes making headlines, oftentimes going about their whole lives without acting on these impulses. With gruesome, vehement acts of violence showing no remorse, with only pity and disgust at the world and its victims, in a word, disillusionment. We see this played out every day on the news, in social media BuzzFeed, and in the school shootings, where, in the majority of cases, the perpetrator is a social “outsider”, or “loner”, (rather a pathological, yet failed, conformist “insider” seeking recognition and legitimization by the insider group of which they have felt unfairly disenfranchised from).
We can see this happening right now with the election and the level of violence and zealotry boomeranging with a backlash against the dominance of the neoliberal secularization in the West and the inevitable globalization of its trade policies in the advancement of science and technology ringing in social media and the digital “revolution”. It is a backlash against the dominant secular worldview that the Past perceives as a threat to its existence, namely, Christianity and traditional religious practices.
On the social conservative side, they begin to feel that their meaning is being impinged upon and directly oppressed and dismissed in place of a heterogeneous convolution of superficial mix matching of values in place of “pure” values resulting in hedonism. On the far left—especially in communism, Marxism, and collectivist anarchism—you see a similar phenomenon co-occurring, whereby a threat against the heterogeneity and diversity of humanity by a globalized elitism that seeks to homogenize and dissolve diversity into a marketable commodity is perceived. The reactions are “two sides of the same token,” as philosophers would say.
Both feel disillusioned; both feel contempt, pity, and disgust with humanity vis-a-vis their position within their society. Both sides make a persuasive, yet logically fallible argument, getting some things right while arguing within their own worldviews and missing the multi-contextual, multidimensional strata of forces and its level of organization, within the context of the whole, that play into the “big picture”.
In other words, the existence of a gap in each sides’ case arises from a nearsightedness that is not totally unrelatable, nor is it normatively a “negative” thing that can’t be hemmed and sewn back into the fabric of humanity’s sweater, and our place within the universe. They are not irreconcilable. There is still hope.
This attitude, ressentiment, being a natural emotion in many people, whether transiently or habitually, is most dangerous when it infects both those in power, as well as the populace. Through those less discerning, industrial jeunesse dorée—the oligarchs—our modern day corporate megaliths and politicians—and the unwitting “herd” of like-minded individuals, which, for better or worse, I have to generalize to include a sizeable portion of humanity— especially in the West—lead to a game of powerful idiots leading a pacified population immersed in horizontal competition and blame over a cliff. That cliff is global warming.
I guess we all have our point of view.
Gregory Bateson once quipped, “The species that transcends its environment destroys itself.” That foreboding quote has multiple meanings. One of which means, when we flourish, we overpopulate the world and eat ourselves out of existence. Another is, that, when we come to flourish and live without abandon, we fall into an anthropocentric worldview, with the proliferation of individualism, egoism, industrialism and consumerist capitalism exacerbating this impulse, born out of a Christian conception (and other theological traditions) of people made in the image of God, allotted special status separate from their world, they start to perceive their world and other species as inanimate and undeserving of the same privileges they assign themselves; they see the world as renewable commodity for their own needs (at the cost of others).