Daily Bread for 7.7.22: Resentment’s a Nebulous National Explanation

Good morning.

Thursday in Whitewater will see scattered afternoon thundershowers with a high of 84. Sunrise is 5:24 AM and sunset 8:35 PM for 15h 10m 47s of daytime.  The moon is a waxing gibbous with 54.1% of its visible disk illuminated.

 Whitewater’s Landmarks Commission meets at 6 PM, and Whitewater Fire Department, Inc. hold a business meeting at 6:30 PM.

On this day in 1946, Howard Hughes nearly dies when his XF-11 reconnaissance aircraft prototype crashes in a Beverly Hills neighborhood.

The second Hughes XF-11 during a 1947 test flight. USAF photograph.


Conservatives and the center-left both now claim Americans are in the grip of resentment (lit., indignation or ill will stemming from a feeling of having been wronged or offended)

From the center-left, Paul Krugman writes that

And because G.O.P. extremism is fed by resentment against the very things that, as I see it, truly make America great — our diversity, our tolerance for difference — it cannot be appeased or compromised with.

Conservative Tom Nichols makes a similar point about resentment in the national political context:

The thing about resentment as a force in politics is that there is nothing you can do about it. You can try to be respectful, you can try to compromise. It won’t matter. Because it’s not about any of that. It’s about the itching sense of inferiority in the other guy.

Katherine Cramer, of the center-left, wrote an entire book about the Politics of Resentment (‘Rural Consciousness in Wisconsin and the Rise of Scott Walker’).

I was critical of Cramer’s book, in which she describes first-order ideological conflicts as cases of second-order resentment (that is, feelings of insult, etc.).  

We’ve a national conflict over ideological positions, over fundamental principles, not a fuss over whether someone got the table he wanted at Denny’s. Perhaps people are resentful, but it matters why they are resentful. ‘They’re all simply upset’ doesn’t describe the seriousness of America’s conflict. 

Perhaps it’s true that this conflict seems intractable, and that some feelings will not be changed. If they’ll not be changed, then they’ll not be changed…

What, though, prompts those intense feelings? Belief for and against, in favor and opposed, of convictions held and rejected.

Better to call something what it is, specifically and particularly, than to rest on vague claims that one’s opponents are simply put out. 

If they are insulted because some of us insist on free markets in capital, labor and goods, individual rights, limited and responsible government, free trade, tolerance and acceptance of others on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, gender, and orientation, then those others will have to go on being insulted. 

Indeed, it diminishes the dedication of purpose of those on the other side of these issues, too, to see it all as resentment. 

From a traditional libertarian view: wall-building, child-caging, book-banning, and closet-confining are challenges to individual rights, not spats over events at a sad family gathering. 

Taking account of others’ resentments matters in a struggle of this kind only so much as it helps one’s cause.

Once the stakes are clear, and once one sees how implacable one’s political adversaries are, it serves only to deprecate the seriousness of the conflict to contend that it’s hurt feelings that drive others. 

 Over 20 Million Tons Of Grain Are Stuck In Ukraine. What Does That Mean For The World?:

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1 year ago

[…] On the national scene, assigning feelings of resentment to political factions ignores the ideological foundations of their actions. There are ideas underlying political behavior, and calling others merely resentful is a second-order description for a first-order matter. See Resentment’s a Nebulous National Explanation. […]

1 year ago

[…] is simple-minded. (For criticism of claims that national debates are stem from resentment, see Resentment’s a Nebulous National Explanation and Considering The Politics of Resentment, Concluding Thoughts. […]