This paper nuances existing understandings of terrorists’ motivations by uncovering the emotional process of ressentiment in the manifestos of three far-right violent extremists. Through the application of Reinhard Wolf’s framework of discourse analysis, it finds that ressentiment plays a significant role in self-legitimating perpetrators’ attacks, though the resented group is different than expected. Surprisingly, the object of the far-right extremist’s ressentiment is the economic and political establishment, not the migrant community. Relevant to policymakers, the paper finds that while the extremist’s grievances towards the resented group are all-encompassing (making negotiation futile), the processual quality of ressentiment leaves open the possibility for targeted intervention before the extremist has taken too many steps towards internalising this attitude.
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11 May 2021