Two dangers constantly threaten the world: order and disorder. Paul Valéry Do what is right. Rosa Parks Henceforth, our country should be the universe. Flora Tristan Whenever you are in doubt, recall the face of the poorest and the weakest man. Gandhi *

Conflict Resolution and Sustainable Peace Building

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Conflict Resolution and Sustainable Peace Building


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Ressentiment* and World Governance

It is no easy thing to refer to ressentiment
without touching on
the composite aspects the term
conjures up. Broaching the question of
ressentiment is complicated, since it often
gives rise to misunderstandings and stirs
up confused and contradictory feelings. In this Seminar we decided to tackle the issue of ressentiment by broaching frequently avoided
questions concerning relations between a country and its people. The focus
of conflict management is almost always on territorial negotiations diplomatic
agreements or customs issues, neglecting one of the fundamental issues underlying
the conflict: ressentiment.

In the wake of the military dictatorships inflicted on the Southern Cone countries
— Chile, Bolivia, Peru, and Argentina — the peoples of these countries are now
living through a singular period in their history. They are opening up to new
horizons. Now that the transition to democracy has been successfully completed,
the region is faced with decisive challenges in terms of strengthening their
democratic processes, which remain fragile. They need to overcome the obstacles
that continue to arise stubbornly on the long road to a new political system and the
adoption of new institutions capable of guaranteeing peaceable development and
the region’s integration into a globalized economy; furthermore, this task befalls
them at a time of global crisis.

The Southern Cone peoples need to look back to their past to help them take
this historical step forward and head for the future. Not with nostalgia, but as a
source of strength to help them defeat the obstacles that have until now prevented
any real integration. Faced with the predominance of an “official” past, now being
questioned, the task of re-examining and rebuilding that past represents the best
possible preparation for rethinking the present and envisaging the future.

One of the greatest of these obstacles may well be the issue of ressentiment. Every
now and then, each time more insidiously, and particularly at times when there is
an attempt to solve the region’s conflicts, the symptoms of ressentiment are revealed
in outbursts of sarcasm, racism or xenophobia, snuffing out all efforts at establishing
dialog. Overcoming ressentiment thus seems to be a crucial element in building
a responsible, plural, and solidarity-based governance.

See also :
* Videos on the Governance and Ressentiment Seminar
(English) (French)
(Spanish)

* Translator’s note:

"I have decided to use the term "ressentiment" throughout the article rather than the more usual “resentment” in line with the author’s intentions, and based on the following references:

A term imported by many languages for its philosophical and psychological connotations, "ressentiment" is not to be considered interchangeable with the normal English word "resentment", or even the French "ressentiment". While the normal words both speak to a feeling of frustration directed at a perceived source, neither speaks to the special relationship between a sense of inferiority and the creation of morality. Thus, the term ’Ressentiment’ as used here always maintains a distinction. (Wikipedia: Ressentiment)

As a widely recognized convention, the French spelling of this term has been retained in philosophical circles so as to preserve a broad sense of discursive meaning and application. (Wikipedia: Max Scheler’s Concept of Ressentiment)"

Philippa Bowe Smith



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