The Ressentido and Conservative Evangelical Political Activism: Exploring the Intersection of Resentment and Right-Wing Movements


Hatched by Thati

May 22, 2024

4 min read


The Ressentido and Conservative Evangelical Political Activism: Exploring the Intersection of Resentment and Right-Wing Movements


Resentment is a powerful emotion that can shape and drive individuals, groups, and even political movements. It is a feeling of bitterness or indignation resulting from a perceived wrongdoing or injustice. In this article, we will explore the concept of resentment and its role in both the aesthetic and political spheres. We will also delve into the recent rise of conservative evangelical political activism and how it intersects with the ideology of resentment. By examining these two seemingly disparate topics, we can gain a deeper understanding of the motivations and strategies behind right-wing movements.

Understanding Resentment:

Resentment is a complex emotion that often arises from a sense of perceived victimhood. The ressentido, as described by Maria Rita Kehl, is someone who sees themselves as morally superior to others and therefore justifies their vengeful actions. This characterization of the resentful individual resonates with audiences because it taps into their own feelings of being sensitive, fragile, or unsuccessful due to external factors. The resentful character in literature or drama elicits either identification or sympathy from the audience, as they either see themselves in the character or feel guilty for their own perceived suffering.

The origin of resentment can be traced back to the refusal of individuals to acknowledge their own desires. It stems from a voluntary servitude where one surrenders to another, only to spend a lifetime resenting the supposed agents of their unhappiness. The ressentido confuses moments of self-denial with moments of blaming others for their own actions or desires. Overcoming resentment requires confronting this ambivalence and recognizing that the other is both oneself and the object of expulsion.

Nietzsche's Perspective on Resentment:

Friedrich Nietzsche, a philosopher who exposed the pathology of resentment, offers insights into the nature of this emotion. He overturned the Christian moral framework that portrayed the weak and suffering as morally superior. Nietzsche argued that resentment arises when individuals are prohibited from taking action, leading to an imaginary revenge that consumes them. The ressentido appears active but is, in fact, reactive. This passive resistance provides a sense of depth and psychological interest to the character, as they refuse to engage with others and instead engage in constant internal monologues.

The Aesthetic of Resentment:

The aesthetic of resentment can be observed in various forms of art and media. Jane Campion's film "The Piano" exemplifies this aesthetic by portraying the oppression of a woman in a marriage. The movie captures the ressentido's struggle against societal constraints and their desire for revenge. The internal monologues and repetitive actions of the characters reflect the essence of resentment, as they continuously relive their grievances.

Overcoming Resentment:

While resentment may have its allure, it is ultimately a destructive emotion that perpetuates suffering. Jim Jarmusch's film "Dead Man" offers an alternative perspective by showcasing the journey of a naive individual confronted with the consequences of their choices. This film represents the potential for overcoming resentment and moving towards personal growth and transformation.

Conservative Evangelical Political Activism:

Shifting our focus to the realm of politics, we encounter the rise of conservative evangelical political activism. This movement aims to counter what it perceives as threats from secularism and the erosion of traditional values. It seeks to establish cultural, social, and political hegemony by expanding its religious influence and occupying positions of power in government, the judiciary, and the media. The movement's conflicts with left-wing governments, feminists, LGBTQ+ activists, and proponents of human rights have intensified over time, particularly during Dilma Rousseff's presidency in Brazil.

The Intersection of Resentment and Right-Wing Activism:

The intersection of resentment and right-wing activism becomes apparent in the motivations and strategies of conservative evangelical political movements. These groups perceive themselves as defenders of Christian values and often frame their actions as protecting the majority from perceived attacks on their beliefs. They utilize tactics such as spiritual warfare, conspiracies, and misinformation to rally support for their cause. The recent election of Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil exemplifies the influence of conservative evangelical political activism.


Resentment is a powerful emotion that can shape both individual experiences and collective movements. Its aesthetic appeal lies in the identification or sympathy it elicits from audiences. However, Nietzsche warns of the destructive nature of resentment and the potential for individuals to become consumed by their own grievances. By examining the rise of conservative evangelical political activism, we can observe how resentment intersects with right-wing movements, shaping their ideologies and strategies. Overcoming resentment requires a shift towards personal growth and transformation, as highlighted in films like "Dead Man." In conclusion, understanding the dynamics of resentment and its connection to right-wing activism provides valuable insights into the motivations and actions of these movements.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Reflect on your own feelings of resentment and identify any patterns of blame or victimhood. Consider how these emotions may be impacting your well-being and relationships.
  • 2. Engage in open and respectful dialogue with individuals who hold different political or religious beliefs. Seek to understand their perspectives and find common ground, even if you disagree on certain issues.
  • 3. Prioritize personal growth and self-reflection. Focus on developing a sense of empathy and understanding towards others, as this can help overcome feelings of resentment and promote healthier relationships.

By addressing our own resentments and engaging in constructive dialogue, we can contribute to a more empathetic and inclusive society.

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