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The Politics of Resentment: A Genealogy

The Politics of Resentment traces the rise of especially violent rhetoric in American public discourse by investigating key events in American history. Engels analyzes how resentful rhetoric has long been used by public figures in order to achieve political ends. He goes on to show how a more devastating form of resentment started in the 1960s, dividing Americans on issues of structural inequalities and foreign policy. He discusses, for example, the rhetorical and political contexts that have made the mobilization of groups such as Nixon’s “silent majority” and the present Tea Party possible. Now, in an age of recession and sequestration, many Americans believe that they have been given a raw deal and experience feelings of injustice in reaction to events beyond individual control. With The Politics of Resentment, Engels wants to make these feelings of victimhood politically productive by challenging the toxic rhetoric that takes us there, by defusing it, and by enabling citizens to have the kinds of conversations we need to have in order to fight for life, liberty, and equality.
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Jeremy Engels, The Politics of Resentment: A Genealogy (University Park: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 2015).
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