Anger is an Energy
Resentment is a worthwhile point of entry...but what then? asks one of K-Punk's interlocutors. See also Dominic's brilliant post on Politics of Envy, Politics of Truth. In my original post on Resentment, which was frankly rather tossed off - if I'd known it was going to help cause this particular chain reaction I would have made it a damn sight sharper - what I was trying to get at was a certain usefulness in resentment, and more generally in anger or bitterness. My problem with the 'leftist critique' of resentment that Dominic delineates is that it assumes that we should want a politics without affect: that instead, one accumulates a quantity of knowledge about capitalism's contradictions and calmly realises the necessity of its destruction. The peculiar idea that the class struggle should somehow exclude class anger, class hatred even.
For one thing, this is a misunderstanding of how revolutions actually work: usually couched in terms of avenging the last revolution, of taking some sort of final vengeance for the long history of defeats and brutalities, driven by raw wounds and by concrete grievance. There's an anecdote in Victor Serge's Conquered City, a semi-autobiographical novel of the Russian Civil War (which Vaneigem cites as well) in which a working class Red Army man is driven by a sense of personal and historical grievance, specifically avenging a Paris Communard he'd read about in a history class. Particular affects of rage or resentment at the 'scandalous' can, of course, be reassimilated and presented as merely exceptional. Yet that sort of shock, the visceral reaction, is surely what makes people revolt in the first place: not just through a reading of political economy, but from particular affective charges, from the concrete example of the intolerable - and this is why resentment seemed to me to be worth reclaiming in the first place, for its power.