Education, Politics, Regressive Left, Top Stories

In Defence of Jordan B. Peterson

A few days ago, Canadian author and English professor Ira Wells published an essay expressing concern about popular Canadian psychology professor and social critic Jordan B. Peterson. The essay was written in the wake of an incident at Canadian university Wilfred Laurier, where a teaching assistant was reprimanded for playing a short clip of a televised Peterson debate over the compelled use of gender pronouns. (I analysed the incident in Quillette last week.)

Regrettably, Wells’s essay is littered with inaccuracies and casual insults, accompanied by a moralistic undertone that is sure to turn off Peterson’s supporters, and perhaps even neutral observers. Nevertheless, I think he succeeds in condensing many of the common criticisms of Peterson, which makes the essay worth responding to as the foundation for a genuine debate of these issues. I suggest reading it if you haven’t already done so.

Wells’s main criticisms, as I understand them, are as follows:

  1. Peterson is celebrated in the news media as a champion of free speech and liberal, democratic values, while in fact promoting a far-right worldview.
  2. Peterson has made no substantial contribution to academia and misunderstands the views he is criticising under the label of ‘postmodern Neo-Marxism.’
  3. Peterson’s criticism is based on a desire to cling to old-fashioned social structures and a society of winners and losers.

I’ll address each of these points in turn, before summarising. For the record, I don’t consider myself a supporter of Peterson, although I agree with his core assertions. (I am not a donor.) The arguments presented are my own, or in the case where I am representing Peterson’s views, my interpretation of his views.

*     *     *

Criticism #1: Peterson is celebrated in the news media as a champion of free speech and liberal, democratic values, while in fact promoting a far-right worldview.

After beginning the essay by summarising the Laurier situation and noting that it has led many in the news media to proclaim that Peterson was right, Wells writes:

Peterson may be correct that, in some cases, universities have failed to strike the right balance between protecting minority rights and preserving liberal, democratic values, including freedom of speech. The Laurier incident is one of those cases. The problem is that Peterson folds this argument into a politically reactionary and often downright paranoid worldview that appears designed to curry favour with the alt-right.

The term ‘alt-right’ was coined by white nationalist Richard Spencer in 2010 and centres around ideas of white nationalism, white identity, and white supremacy. Wikipedia defines it simply as “a loosely defined group of people with far-right ideologies who reject mainstream conservatism in favor of white nationalism.”

Peterson has been careless in several of his tweets, with regard to the alt-right. Taken out of context, they could conceivably be interpreted as indifference towards the alt-right and their ideas. Peterson’s body of work, though, shows that he has consistently condemned white nationalism. He discussed the issue at length in a podcast he appeared on a few months ago with biologist Bret Weinstein and host Joe Rogan. I recommend that anyone in doubt about Peterson’s dislike of white nationalism watch the entire podcast. It’s very long and unscripted, thus allowing for an in-depth and off-the-cuff articulation of his views.

Here is a more recent tweet of his on the matter:

Furthermore, in his most recent online Q&A session, Peterson addressed the ‘Jewish Question’ – a common alt-right belief that Jews are intent on destroying the white race and/or Western civilisation – by applauding the fact that there are many Jews in positions of authority. Peterson could hardly have made a statement less appealing to the alt-right. This, combined with his condemnation of white nationalism, is not the behaviour of someone whose views are “designed to curry favour with the alt-right.”

Setting that part aside, what does Wells mean by “politically reactionary and often downright paranoid”? He offers several accusations in that same paragraph, presumably intended as evidence of the aforementioned phrase. I won’t address all of them, but a few do merit attention for being especially misleading.

Wells references a tweet Peterson sent out in April, with the wording “Islamophobia: a word created by fascists and used by cowards to manipulate morons.” By including it in the paragraph, Wells implies that it is further evidence of Peterson’s far-right worldview. What Wells does not mention, however, is that Peterson was quoting a line in the article in USA Today he was retweeting, written by an American Muslim apostate relating an incident at a Pakistani University where a young man was beaten to death by a mob who thought he had made fun of the prophet Mohammed. The article argued that the fear of being labelled an Islamophobe was preventing people from criticising Islam and its practice.

This followed a tweet Peterson sent out the month before, in which he criticised a motion put forward in Canadian Parliament calling on the Canadian government to condemn  ‘Islamophobia.’ Peterson’s tweet implies that Islam is a set of ideas, as distinct from its adherents, and should therefore be open to criticism. Which is precisely what the USA Today article was saying. In fact, Richard Dawkins, Steven Pinker, Sarah Haider and several other social critics made a similar argument a few months later when Dawkins was de-platformed by a Berkeley radio station for the same reason.

Bear in mind that Islam is not just any set of ideas. It is the world’s fastest growing major religion with approximately 1.8 billion followers worldwide, and the majority religion in 50 countries. Not being able to criticise one of the world’s most influential belief systems is deeply problematic for obvious reasons. One could make an argument that Peterson using words like ‘fascists’ and ‘cowards’ and ‘morons’ is unnecessarily inflammatory, even when quoting someone else. The underlying message, however, is hardly far-right.

A second piece of evidence Wells puts forward about Peterson is that: “In a conversation with Camille Paglia, he lamented that men can’t exert control over “crazy women” by physically beating them.” This is so misleading that I recommend you go to the segment of the video in question and watch it yourself. What Peterson is saying is that men typically know how to deal with other men, where the escalation of a conflict is generally understood by both parties to lead towards physical confrontation. But because that is forbidden with a woman, men have no method of dealing with the type of non-physical aggression that is more typical of female conflicts, which are escalated and dealt with differently. All men can do, Peterson suggests, is throw their hands up in the air.

Wells also points out that Peterson “echoes Donald Trump on fake news, telling followers they can’t trust the media.” Earlier this year, Peterson was locked out of his YouTube account, where he at the time had more than 350,000 subscribers (now it is more than 500,000), due to an alleged violation of its Terms of Service. This occurred during a widespread crackdown from YouTube on conservative channels. When Peterson reported the story to a conservative news outlet, his account was restored without explanation. The comparison to Trump seems to imply some sort of right-wing conspiracy theory, but this was no such thing; it happened to Peterson personally.

Peterson closely followed the controversy involving former Google engineer James Damore, who was fired a few months ago after an internal memo he wrote was leaked to technology website Gizmodo, which mislabeled it an “anti-diversity screed.” An article at CNN.com reported that Damore was claiming that women are not biologically fit for tech roles, an article at Fortune.com called it an “anti-woman screed,” and an article at Time.com called it an “anti-diversity tirade.” These headlines are so misleading that it is no wonder Peterson would advise followers to be sceptical of the news media, especially when dealing with politically charged issues. (Damore’s memo is worth reading in its entirety.)

In short, none of Wells’s claims prove that Peterson is far-right. In fact, in a recent discussion with psychologist Jonathan Haidt, Peterson suggested that society needs a balance of liberal and conservative forces to function properly. Peterson seems to quite proudly embody elements of both, although he refers to himself as a “British classical liberal.”

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Criticism #2: Peterson has made no substantial contribution to academia and misunderstands the views he is criticising under the label of ‘postmodern Neo-Marxism’.

Wells goes on to write about Peterson:

What he is not, however, is the author of any lasting work of scholarship, the originator of any important idea, or a public intellectual of any scientific credibility or moral seriousness. Peterson’s sole discovery is that “postmodernism” can be usefully exploited alongside the more familiar, established populist scare tactics. His message, as the intellectual guru of the alt-right, is that humanity’s natural hierarchies are under attack, that the future of Western civilization hangs in the balance of this “war of ideas.” Every form of populism needs its scapegoat and Peterson’s is the academic humanities, which he caricatures as “indoctrination cults” for “postmodern neo-Marxism.”

Psychologist Gad Saad ran a check of Peterson’s citations against those of the two professors in the Laurier meeting who, like Wells, had denigrated Peterson’s academic credentials.

Much more important, though, is the second part of the claim. Wells elaborates:

But what exactly does Peterson mean by “postmodern neo-Marxism”? In a recent series of lectures and interviews, all available on YouTube, Peterson traces this supposedly lethal strain of totalitarianism back to Jacques Derrida and Michel Foucault, two French philosophers whom he accuses of waging an “all-out assault on categories of intellectual thought.” The central claim of these postmodern thinkers, Peterson argues, is that “there are an infinite number of ways to interpret any finite set of phenomena.” As a direct result, our moral or aesthetic evaluations—our efforts to discern good from evil, beauty from ugliness, truth from falsehood—are arbitrary and therefore meaningless. The postmodernists left us in a relativistic fog from which we have yet to emerge.

This misses the essence of Peterson’s argument, which is that Derrida and Foucault combine the view described above with what he refers to as ‘neo-Marxism,’ and that the relativism of postmodernism and the universality of neo-Marxism are incompatible. What Derrida and Foucault are actually doing, he suggests, is using postmodernism as a cover for neo-Marxism, allowing them to reject positivism and logic as universal values under the guise of relativism, while in fact proceeding with a very specific universal normative theory. This “postmodern turn,” Peterson suggests, was necessitated by the collapse of Marxism as a viable theory during the 1960s. (Peterson’s talk on the subject can be seen here.)

So, when Wells goes on to suggest that Peterson misunderstands Derrida and Foucault because they argued that meaning was contextual, rather than infinite, he misses the point. When Peterson mentions Derrida’s labelling of the West as phallogocentric, he isn’t just talking about Derrida claiming that the West must be seen through a masculine and determinate/logical framework, but also that Derrida is implying it should be dismantled. The problem Peterson has with postmodernism–and Derrida, in particular–is that beneath the guise of relativity lies a universal normative framework of power, oppression, and liberation. Hence, his addition of the term ‘neo-Marxist.’

The mistaken belief that Peterson is only talking about postmodernism, rather than the conflation of postmodernism and neo-Marxism, leads Wells to make what he seems to think is a triumphant statement:

While only a tiny minority of humanities professors teach Derrida, a majority of the courses are dedicated to critical thinking, which is precisely what Lindsay Shepherd had hoped to nurture by showing the TVO clip in the first place. What makes critical thinking “critical” is the tendency to read against the grain of accepted wisdom and to question the inherited power hierarchies that structure human relations.

Derrida’s (and Foucault’s) ideas have been integrated into other fields of study. Whether or not they are taught directly is not that important. In fact, Wells manages to demonstrate just that in his very next sentence. Wikipedia defines critical thinking as “the objective analysis of facts to form a judgment.” Notice that there is no mention of power hierarchies. What Wells is referring to is not critical thinking, but Critical Theory, a methodology developed by Marxian social scientists during the early-to-mid 20th century, to which Derrida and Foucault can be described as contributing later on.

What distinguishes Critical Theory from traditional inquiry is that it articulates an explicit purpose for itself: to liberate people from oppression. The Critical Theorists were heavily inspired by Karl Marx, and one of Marx’s most famous statements articulated the distinction that would come to separate Critical Theory from traditional science and philosophy: “Philosophers have hitherto only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it.”

What’s left unstated here is that the purpose is not to change the world arbitrarily, but according to the particular goal of liberating people from oppression. Science thus becomes a tool for achieving a predefined societal state. This reflects a significant departure from traditional scientific methodology, which discourages defining purposes. Consequently, the use of the term ‘critical’ is misleading. The idea is to criticise power structures within the context of liberating people from their oppression. The purpose itself is above criticism.

The fact that Wells confuses critical thinking with Critical Theory supports Peterson’s claim that neo-Marxism has taken over the humanities. Proper critical thinking would not just question power hierarchies, it would also ask why we should question them. In other words, it would question the foundation of Critical Theory itself. But, as the Laurier incident demonstrated, these questions are not to be asked.

In practice, this declares all power structures indefensible, since virtually all power structures can be cast as oppressive, and justifying oppression is forbidden. This leaves students with only one method of inquiry: to criticise power structures with the intent of dismantling them.

As this gets more extreme, students don’t engage in inquiry at all, and everything becomes about fighting oppression. A very interesting comment below my previous article compared Critical Theory to Marxist praxis:

I was briefly a Marxist whilst studying philosophy at an English university in the Sixties, where I took a course on it. The lecturer, himself a keen Marxist, pointed out that Marxism was not a theory but a ‘praxis’, and its postulates were simply whatever ran counter to the current status quo, the idea – borrowed from Hegel – being to create an antithesis to the thesis and bring about a synthesis, namely the dictatorship of the proletariat.

In other words, any sort of nonsense was fine as long as it countered the establishment viewpoint, the aim being to use any means whatsoever to tear it down. This included violence of any kind, physical, social, cultural, intellectual . . . including the complete disregard of truth. Whatever would bring about revolution was good, because an egalitarian society would surely arise from the ashes. […]

Critical theory and post-modernism seems to be the continuation of exactly the same thing, a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and a dumb wolf at that, with its adherents intellectually dissociated from reality (which they don’t believe exists anyway) psychologically and emotionally regressed (being conspicuously childish or adolescent) and completely oblivious to history and to where all this inevitably leads.

There is one important difference, I think, between Marxist praxis and modern Critical Theory: the former tries to take a sledgehammer to society, trying to tear it all down in one go, while the latter uses a million tiny hammers, each chipping away at little bits of societal structure. It is this view that Peterson expressed when he appeared on a TVOntario television debate last year and made the following statement:

Is it a cabal of radical left-wingers? Yes, it’s a cabal of radical left-wingers, and they’ve been active behind and in front of the scenes increasingly over the last thirty years. And my estimation is that departments like women’s studies have trained between three hundred thousand and three million radical left-wing activists.

These activists have increasingly begun to populate mid-level administrative positions in society, eager to apply their praxis to dismantle societal structures in the pursuit of vaguely defined ‘equality,’ and it is about this state of affairs that Peterson has been sounding the alarm for the past year. This situation is also what got James Damore fired a few months ago, when he tried to warn against an increasingly dogmatic and stifling left-wing environment at Google. Damore was not fired because what he said was false, but because challenging the dogma of Critical Theory is forbidden. And this is surely just the beginning.

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Criticism #3: Peterson’s criticism is based on a desire to cling to old-fashioned social structures and a society of winners and losers.

Wells argues:

Peterson’s immense popularity on the far right lies precisely in his intellectual validation of those traditional power hierarchies as natural and necessary—a message perfectly attuned to those who feel dispossessed and threatened by movements for sexual and racial equality. Most of Peterson’s videos offer variations on the theme that human behavior is the product of an ancient “male dominance hierarchy” that separates winners from losers—and that any attempt to question or subvert this hierarchy will result in unhappiness for the individual or chaos for society.

This suggests that Peterson believes in a society of eternally fixed hierarchies, which is simply not true. In fact, Peterson has consistently argued that part of the value that people on the Left bring to society, especially very creative people with high openness to experience, is that they are able to challenge existing structures and improve them. What Peterson is arguing against is the belief that power structures are inherently bad and should be removed. He’s arguing against the idea of radical liberation that underlies modern leftist thought, believing that if carried far enough it will lead to societal collapse and the absence of meaning.

Students have only been given one tool – to identify flaws in societal structures and dismantle them. They haven’t been given the tools to look holistically at the world, to understand that societal structures have functions. Structures hold society together, they allow competence to rise, and they provide meaning. But increasingly all that students can see is power and oppression, Peterson argues.

Wells continues:

To fully grasp the depth of Peterson’s belief in power hierarchies, take his commitment to IQ testing: “If you don’t buy IQ research,” he has told his students, “then you might as well throw away all of psychology.”

This seems to imply that Peterson believes all of psychology rests on top of IQ research, but that’s not what he’s saying, at least not to my knowledge. What he’s saying is that IQ research is among the most reliable research in psychology. In other words, if you don’t find IQ research reliable, there’s almost no research in psychology that you would find reliable.

After criticising the reliability of IQ research, and painting an overly rigid picture of Peterson’s view on IQ, Wells ends his criticism of Peterson with this:

In the tradition of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century pseudo-scientists, phrenologists, quacks, and scientific racists, Peterson’s commitment to IQ is simply the reflection of his commitment to an unalterable hierarchy of human beings. […] For Peterson, transgender people and powerful women upset the “male dominance hierarchy” that forms the centerpiece of his thought. His worldview is predicated on the promise of restoring authority to those who feel disempowered by the globalism, feminism, and social-justice movements he derides.

To repeat, this is not what Peterson is saying. He’s arguing against the idea that societal structures are inherently bad, and thus against the far-Left belief that they must be dismantled on principle. Peterson freely admits he doesn’t know where to draw the line. But his point is that there is no longer any counterbalance to far-Left orthodoxy at universities, which has led to indoctrination about the evils of societal structures.

*     *     *

Wells ends with an appeal for the humanities to meet Peterson head on. But what is there to meet about? Praxis may work well in dismantling societal structures, but it serves no purpose in an actual debate. As long as the humanities are entrenched in a quasi-religious ideology that holds its core views sacred, there is no real debate to be had. As soon as Peterson were to advance his criticisms, he would be met with claims that his words are violence, that he is denying people’s right to exist, or simply that he is a sexist, a racist, and/or a homophobe.

Incidents on university campuses have demonstrated this over and over again, from students hunting Bret Weinstein with baseball bats to students swaying and chanting in unison to drown out Charles Murray. In fact, this very thing happened to Lindsay Shepherd, whom Wells holds up as a model for critical thinking. She has been protested, she has been condemned by fellow students, and she has been met with accusations of “white fragility,” “white tears” and “white women tears.” When she objected to this racially-charged language, she was called a racist. (Apparently objecting to the use of such terms is racist if you’re white.)

I suspect that very few people outside universities would view this whole episode to be anything other than disgraceful. Perhaps the fact that many regular people support Peterson is not because they’re far-right bigots, but because universities–and humanities departments, in particular–have come to resemble religious cults. Instead of painting Peterson as the enemy the humanities must rise up to defeat, I suggest that Wells listens more carefully to Peterson’s criticisms and takes a look inward. He might even find that Peterson has a point.

 

Uri Harris is a freelance writer with a Masters in Science (Business and Economics). He can be followed on Twitter @safeortrue

176 Comments

  1. Justin RG says

    Uri, I think this article is fantastic. After reading the Wells article, which seems like a deliberate misrepresentation of JP and his arguments, I was struggling to untangle my frustration and articulate my criticisms of the article. In addition to being condescending and intellectually lazy, Wells exposes his reprehensible character when he completely misconstrues what JP said about men not knowing what to do with crazy women. By doing so, Wells places himself squarely among the dangerous people JP and his supporters have grown so wary of: people who are willing to abandon truth, reason and virtue in violent pursuit of their ideological ends. This article delineates JP’s and Wells’ arguments with great clarity, providing a fair representation of JP’s views and effectively exposing the deep flaws of Wells’ piece. I imagined that it would feel great to write a decent critique of the Wells article, then had the pleasure of reading your article, which is far better than anything I can muster right now. I sense some irony as I struggle to form a concise, well-written description of why I found your article to be so concise and well-written, so I’ll end this by simply saying that I hope you keep writing, because I think pieces like this are really valuable.

    • Thomas Hollett says

      Likewise Justin RG. I hope you keep writing too. Your summary has also hit the nail on the head.

    • I wholeheartedly agree Justin. I try (and often fail) to challenge my views and I was actually excited to start reading Wells’ criticism of JP. I’ve spent so many hours over the past year watching and listening to JP that I really feel I have to find some dirt before I turn into a disciple.

      Unfortunately Wells’ essay was simply tragic and the worst part about it: There wasn’t a single damn link to fortify his arguments. So imagine my delight when I read this article. Beautiful peace! It’s an intellectual thunderbolt that leaves Wells as a smoldering pile of ash.

      • This is so true. I have searched for coherent, honest criticism of Peterson’s views and all I find is garbage attacks and misrepresentations. There needs to be an intelligent counter point to some of the broader strokes that Peterson paints… not only to the benefit of people who oppose his views, but to Peterson and his audience, as well. Maybe the left has just gone too far off the deep end, and we’ll need another devil’s advocate to step up.

        • I too continue to search for honest criticism about Jordan Peterson, and I too am consistently disappointed that it doesn’t appear to exist. I also think it’s a symptom of the radical Left and how its ideas have permeated through our culture. It’s not like there’s nothing to criticize. But criticism with the goal of destruction is just a smear tactic. Honest criticism would respect his positions but challenge them on their own merits.

          Sort of lends itself to what Dr. Peterson has remarked about frequently: whenever something “bad” happens to him, it seems to bolster his ideas and vindicate him in some way. This article was intended to discredit Dr. Peterson, from someone with scholarly chops to boot, but it has only provided more credit for his arguments against the radical Left.

          Surreal.

  2. Christopher Reuenthal says

    What tickled me the most is that Ira concludes with this as the raison d’être for his piece:

    “Peterson knows what he stands for. He is fighting for the souls of our students, and his message, while deeply alienating to some, is immensely seductive to many others. *We have an intellectual obligation to meet this threat directly and expose him for exactly what he is*: a YouTube star who offers a wafer-thin intellectual validation for the political retrenchment of traditional hierarchies. Peterson is calling for war within the humanities. We should happily oblige.” (Asterisks are my emphasis)

    and then refuses public offers by Peterson himself to have a debate with a neutral moderator. What cowardice. How do you literally claim to have an obligation to meet him directly and then turn down the opportunity? Where is your sense of duty? Where is the courage of your convictions? On what basis can you make this claim, having outed yourself as a hypocrite?

    Ira won’t see this, but I wonder if he’s reflecting on his decision. I suspect the offer is still open to him should he have a change of heart. Source for debate offers can be found here: https://twitter.com/jordanbpeterson/status/936000098550431745

    • “We have an intellectual obligation to meet this threat directly and expose him for exactly what he is” this was Peterson’s plan to address those he believed to represent harm. But immediately he was accused of creating an unsafe environment and targeted by name in a letter requesting he be fired. If this is ok it should be ok for him to do the same.

  3. Carl Sageman says

    Uri,
    Your article is good, but, it lacks balance. To add some progressive balance, I have some progressive responses to your article.
    1. You’re a white male. That falls under the heading of “white male privilege”. Progressives believe in equality, not white male privelege. Your article is subjective and designed to maintain CISWHITEHETEROPATRIARCHY and to oppress minorities and women.
    2. You have a masters in science and have no right to be discussing this topic. Everything you say is unreliable (or more succinctly put “just what I’d expect from white male privelege”)
    3. Racism (according to Wikipedia and other non-right wing sources) involves power hierarchy because racism is about oppression. The person who was complaining about being criticised for “white tears” was white and therefore holds inherent power over anyone who is not white. Hence, the person who made these “white tears” statements can not be racist to a white person because there can not be a hierarchy of oppression to somebody who is at the top of the power hierarchy. The non-white speaker is only trying to correct an existing power imbalance. If you understand reverse-sexism, this is like reverse-oppression.
    4. Jordan Peterson is a white male. I’m not the only person that observed that a white male (Uri) would defend another white male (a bromance), unless they’re a victim of Stockholm syndrome. Anything said by a white male cannot be considered reliable unless it denounces white males. These and only these denouncements should be considered credible from a white male.
    5. The article didn’t denounce the patriarchy. The patriarchy is the root of all social evil and must be taken down. Peterson said that patriarchy was simply another word for “western society” in a bid for himself to maintain his CIS white male patriarchal privilege.
    6. The goal of the left is equality for all. This article is anti-equality as it seeks to justify white male privilege. It doesn’t recognise an oppressive past that has created an unbalanced playing field today. By pulling down the patriarchy, everyone starts with equal opportunity. Then, we will maintain equality for everyone moving forward, not just the CIS white patriarchy.

    I think that captures the leftist perspective. I have seen these arguments made in all seriousness.

    I am personally fond of Pinker’s “left pole”. The notion that you can become so extremely left that anything right of that extreme left is seen as extreme right wing.

      • I second your comment. The “progressive” political ambit’s taken an almost surreal tone.

      • Grafton says

        Yeah, that’s “Poe’s Law” – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poe%27s_law:

        “without a clear indicator of the author’s intent, it is impossible to create a parody of extreme views so obviously exaggerated that it cannot be mistaken by some readers or viewers as a sincere expression of the parodied views.”

        as a measure of the extremeness of this kind of Marxism.

    • Irra Waddy says

      Carl, Steven Pinker pointed out two fallacies with your arguments here in a recent debate about civil discourse at Kenyon College.

      I will show you what he said and give you a link to that part of the discussion when the student asks the question. Heather MacDonald answers first, then Pinker.

      “I think there are two fallacies with that line of argument.

      “First of all, you don’t know whether someone is privileged or not just because they are white or male. There are a lot of very wealthy, privileged black students. There are a lot of very poor, discriminated-against white students. And so just looking someone and saying, ‘Well, you’re speaking from a position of privilege is making an assumption based on their race, which may not be warranted.’ . . .

      “Second, whether someone is speaking from a position of privilege or not has no bearing whatsoever on the merit of their ideas. There could be people who are privileged who say things that are true. There could be people who are underprivileged who say things that are false, that are bigoted, that are racist, that are factually incorrect.

      “So what we have to do is judge ideas based on their merit. If someone is in a position of privilege who says something that is indefensible, you can point out that the idea is indefensible. Whether they come from a position of privilege or not is completely irrelevant. It might be right, it might be wrong.”

      https://youtu.be/a2-JOINlddM?t=1h43m14s

      • Bryan says

        You should probably reread the last two sentences of his comment.

      • Andrew says

        I remember when white-privilege was simply useful way of understanding why people with social-economic advantages are prone to never experiencing and therefore not recognizing the social-economic disadvantages of others. Now the minimum broom wrangler working on contract can use her white privilege over the non-white CEO of the company that isn’t even aware of who doesn’t even know the name of the mid-level manager in charge of hiring the cleaning service. It really should just explain why CEO simply doesn’t know enough to conclude that the person with the broom is lazy.

    • Shaheed says

      Omg, someone hit me with the concept of #3 just yesterday. Maddness
      Your entire comment is so spot on with the things I’ve been hearing directly from people the past few weeks.

    • Excellent! Asking for your permission to post this on my FB. I have recently sat through two events and listened to a third one where all those “arguments” were actually made.

    • Maynard says

      The “progressive” left wants equality for all excluding white males.
      Intellectually not a tenable position.

  4. Forrest says

    “Criticism #1: Peterson is celebrated in the news media as a champion of free speech and liberal, democratic values, while in fact promoting a far-right worldview.”

    You forgot that he is a hypocritical “champion of free speech.” That is he seeks to shut down the speech of those he disgrees with.

    • Bianca says

      When has he ever claimed such a thing? Any cursory review of anything he has said on this topic proves otherwise… Why are you adding to the misinformation?

      • Forrest says

        What do you mean? He wanted to build an AI bot that identified “postmodern neo-Marxist” courses and Profs so students could avoid those courses. Sort of like Professor Watchlist in the US. The stated goal of the AI bot was to cause a drop in enrollment in those courses. That looks like an attempt to intimidate Profs and shut down ideas he doesn’t agree with.

        Peterson: “So, as I said already, women’s studies, and all the ethnic studies and racial studies groups, man, those things have to go and the faster they go the better. It would have been better had they never been part of the university to begin with as far as I can tell. Sociology, that’s corrupt. Anthropology, that’s corrupt. English literature, that’s corrupt. Maybe the worse offenders are the faculties of education.”

        • You what? Do you know how free speech works?

          If people don’t like Tom Hanks movies, and cinemas and other media never clearly disclose whenever Tom Hanks stars in movie or not, and some guy makes a list of all the movies Tom Hanks is actually cast in, and then those same folk avoid that movie, has there been a “shut down” of free speech?

          Good god. Get a grip, son.

          • Debbie says

            Yeah, consider it a trigger warning for students who feel oppressed by postmodern neo-Marxism.

          • Peter Moss says

            Hey MoW, Peterson freely admitted he wants to “shut down postmodern neo-Marxist courses”. He’s not just warning students (warning them about what?). He actually wants to shut courses down. That’s not academic freedom and is the OPPOSITE of freedom of speech.

        • BAGELMENSK says

          Dear Forrest,

          Free speech and education are not entirely compatible.
          AKA: You’re not supposed to teach people 1+1=4, that’s when you need to be either corrected or fired.

          Peterson makes the argument that many things should be shut down not because he wants to suppress free speech but because he believes that what is being taught is incorrect.

          • Forrest says

            Agree that academic freedom and free speech aren’t entirely compatible. Yet, the line here is blurry as the the free speech controversy and Lindsay Shepherd controversy shows.

            It is a good thing Peterson knows the truth. Are we sure that that the academic disciplines he wants removed from the university, or corrected for wrongthink (anthropology, sociology, women’s studies, ethnic studies, English literature, education, law) are all teaching 1+1=4? Perhaps that is a little authoritarian, intolerant, and antithetical to academic freedom. Perhaps too, it is hypocritical for a free speech absolutist like Peterson to make such a bold claim and to presume to KNOW WHAT THE TRUTH IS.

            For another example of Jordan Peterson’s hypocritical position on free speech, google Faith Goldy and read about how she was uninvited from a Free Speech event where Jordan Peterson was a panelist. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a8zLcMGCedA

        • ostsol says

          Forrest,

          The AI bot and its resulting list of courses is not tantamount to censorship. It is more akin to an awareness campaign that would allow individuals to be more careful about the courses they take. If they courses fail to continue receiving support and funding from the university, this is simply a result of market pressure.

        • Grafton says

          Also, he caused Faith Goldy to be disinvited from a Free Speech panel because she was unsufficiently aggressive with counter-questions while interviewing the alt-righters in Charlottesville.

        • Forrest, the continuing, badly-handled flustercuck at Laurier (illustrative of a systemic uni problem) is exactly why Prof Peterson’s website (Rotten Pomodoros?) to rank profs on a post modern analysis scale based on their own writing needs to go ahead. They would only hoist themselves on their own petards.

          Hopefully it would be set up so a prospective student considering a course could enter a course description or other writings by the prof into the website and it would spit out a % pomo rating again, based on the individual’s OWN words. So they could hardly complain, right?.

          This would allow SJW students to seek out such courses while also servicing those who wanted to avoid them. The results wouldn’t even need to be published on the website, as amusing as it might be to scan the writings/ratings of such stalwart maoist re-educators as Laurier’s Nathan Rambukkana and Herbert Pimlott. Not to pick on them, academia is full of such robotic Critical Theory “useful idiots”.

          Win-win without any of the prevalent social media sturm und drang. And for non-SJWs a perfect companion site for Twitter’s
          New @RealPeerReview which also lets “useful idiots” hang themselves with their OWN words.

        • Yeah so students can make a choice. when did he ever advocate silencing anyone?

          And he is talking about corruption in previously academically free disciplines, versus the new bullshit disciplines of womens studies and gender fantasy studies.

          You are as dishonest as hell…

    • Stephen E Kirkland says

      Can you reference an instance of Peterson shutting down disagreeable speech?

    • Point me to a clear example of JBP shutting down those who disagree with him? Please!

        • Peter, the continuing, badly-handled flustercuck at Laurier (illustrative of a systemic uni problem) is exactly why Prof Peterson’s website (Rotten Pomodoros?) to rank profs on a post modern analysis scale based on their own writing needs to go ahead. They would only hoist themselves on their own petards.

          Hopefully it would be set up so a prospective student considering a course could enter a course description or other writings by the prof into the website and it would spit out a % pomo rating again, based on the individual’s OWN words. So they could hardly complain, right?

          This would allow SJW students to seek out such courses while also servicing those who wanted to avoid them. The results wouldn’t even need to be published on the website, as amusing as it might be to scan the writings/ratings of such stalwart maoist re-educators as Laurier’s Nathan Rambukkana and Herbert Pimlott. Not to pick on them, academia is full of such robotic Critical Theory “useful idiots”.

          Win-win without any of the prevalent social media sturm und drang. And for non-SJWs a perfect companion site for Twitter’s
          New @RealPeerReview which also lets “useful idiots” hang themselves with their OWN words.

    • Derek says

      Forrest, please elaborate. You sound ignorant. WHEN has Jordan ever “shut down” anyone who disagreed with him? He openly invites anyone to debate him on these issues & people such as yourself cowar back to your holes every single time. Rarely does the radical left publicly debate someone with opposing views because when they do, the flaws in their arguments are so obvious it’s embarrasing to watch. Honestly, you clearly have no clue what you’re talking about, which is so common with the radical left it’s laughable. You sir are weak. Oops sorry, didn’t mean to label you with a gender. What pronoun do you identify with with? I want to be politically correct here. I wouldn’t want to offend anyone who isn’t male or female. #triggered

      • Grafton says

        Faith Goldy. Wish I could reply to more than one comment at a time but eh. Faith Goldy is an American reporter who interviewed right-wingers at Charlottesville. She had been invited to a free speech panel that JBP was on, by a female colleague who was also on. Jordan disinvited Faith because she was insufficiently aggressive with her interviewing of the C’ville people, and thought it made her look sympathetic to them. (A challenging interviewing style is British and Canadian, but not really American imo.)

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a8zLcMGCedA&t=5s

        He did intimate later that he regretted it but he was vague. Also there was dispersal of responsibility for the decision, but, he did say the above was /his/ reason. He thought it would damage what the panel was trying to do, to have her on. Which is fair I suppose. But yes, he’s at least /been a part of/ what looks like free speech squelching, or of being PC.

        • Felix Vance says

          Grafton, free speech does not mean X organization needs to give everyone a voice. There is a problem with actively suppressing voices, but that is not what happened. If they rejected a Jihadi speaker would that mean they are anti-free speech? No. Also Peterson is right about Faith Goldy, she should have posed hard questions to her interviews in Charlottesville. It was a big mistake. Instead of admitting that, she is saying that she stands by what she said. Which is a dodge. Who cares what she said, it is what she didn’t say that matters.

    • Joseph Rutkowski says

      .Au contraire! JP is a champion of free speech as well as a fierce opponent of compelled speech. He promotes the freedom of everyone to make up and use as many the fantasy words as they like, provided he and all other self respecting adults without extraordinary powers of imagination, aren’t forced against their will and common sense to partake in such juvenile and degrading forms of make believe

      • Andrew Roddy says

        Peterson appears to have back-pedalled from his eagerness to name and shame profs, courses and faculties that offend against his worldview. For an outspoken critic of totalitarianism this seems eminently sensible. Let’s hope this is because he has realised the dangerous and somewhat farcical contradiction rather than for tactical reasons.

  5. infinitiiv says

    Just a proofread comment – I believe this sentence “Damore was not because what he said was false, but because challenging the dogma of Critical Theory is forbidden.” is missing a verb.
    (Excellent article!)

  6. Forrest says

    “The problem Peterson has with postmodernism–and Derrida, in particular–is that beneath the guise of relativity lies a universal normative framework of power, oppression, and liberation.”

    There are no grand narratives in postmodernism. Thus, there is no “universal normative framework of power, oppression, and liberation” beneath postmodernism relativism or subjectivism.

      • Forrest says

        Yes. And postmodernism, Critical Theory, Marxism or neo-Marxism are not the same despite Peterson’s apparent claim to the contrary.

        • some dumbass on the world wide web says

          He has never said they were the same. He has said, repeatedly, that they are fundamentally incoherent philosophies that nevertheless flock together. This was also covered in the article, and my other replies to you, but you apparently aren’t interested in anything other than slamming your head against this particular wall.

          • Forrest says

            Pardon me, but my head is not slamming against a wall. I just fundamentally disagree with that analysis. They only appear to “flock together” because they appear on the political Left. Otherwise, they aren’t all that related. In fact, they are often fundamentally opposed.

          • Peter Moss says

            “He has never said they were the same.”

            WTF???? He is ALWAYS conflating them. Have you ever watched any of his videos?

    • some dumbass on the world wide web says

      Literally everyone knows this, the argument being made is that they are contradicting themselves because they make moral claims, either implicitly or explicitly, knowingly or unknowlingly. It’s such a lazy observation at this point in the political conversation that it would be like pointing out that if U.S. Republicans were really invested in Christian values they wouldn’t have anything to do with Ayn Rand. And yet…

      So if there are no grand relatives, justice is the advantage of the stronger, and morality merely a tool of bourgeoise oppression: why change it? There is no better world, just a world with a different arrangement of power.

      “Well, the current arrangement of power is…” what? Unjust? Evil? Unbearable? Unsustainable? None of these answers work without an implicit narrative framing. The only coherent way to complete the sentence is “…unfavorable to some; and given that there is no universal Good or Just or Moral arrangement of power, every political struggle is merely struggle to either gain or maintain power.”

      Oh man, thats not a very good motive argument. Power’s not just going to dismantle itself and, by definition, Power is in Power. Probably better to keep my head down than go on a suicide mission to change one arbitrary arrangement of power for another; its not better to live, per-se, but its a lot more pleasant than a violent death, so all things being equal, I’m gonna stay home for the revolution.

      So WHERE OH WHERE do we get these moral calls to diversity, equity, progress, tolerance, etc? (Lest someone gets confused, I do believe in these things. But I’m also not a relativist, so my defense of these, while potentially insufficient, at least isnt fundamentally incoherent before I even open my mouth). Since we ALL KNOW the post structuralists did away with grand narratives, why is there such a deep overlap between the people espousing claims like “all morals and values are relative” and “We should dismantle the existing power structures because they are inherently violent, oppressive, and racist/sexist/etc.”. A lot of those are non-trivially true, but that is a moral argument which presumes that those things are evidently bad, at least between the speaker and listener. To tell someone that they should work to dismantle a power structure that privileges them because their privilege comes at a cost to someone else is a moral argument.

      There is a very large and significant overlap of the people committed to post-structuralist arguments and people committed to social justice principles, and another overlap with people, say, carrying communist flags while protesting against some manifestation of the phallogocentric power structures of cisheteronormative, white supremacist western capitalist-imperialism. You don’t have to run in these circles for very long to find this overlap. It doesn’t matter that they are logically incoherent philosophical frameworks to point that out.

      As far as Foucault and Derrida themselves go, its too complicated to get into here considering I’ve already written too much, but you cant separate either of them from, in Derrida’s words “a certain spirit of marxism,” for one reason or another. I think the famous Foucault-Chomsky debate puts a lot of this tension in full display.

      • Forrest says

        “So WHERE OH WHERE do we get these moral calls to diversity, equity, progress, tolerance, etc?”

        The moral claim is for a genuine meritocracy, not the dismantling of all hierarchies or hierarchies based on real merit or competence.

        • some dumbass on the world wide web says

          Yes…and the metrics by which we determine and come to agreements on both “genuine” and “merit” depend on priors, a narrative framing, whatever you want to call it. Foucault in particular was very clear about the concept of justice and morality being nothing but a tool for bourgeoisie oppression; so what makes your “genuine meritocracy” any different? Saying there is a preferable hierarchy is making a moral claim; and yet there is a real political force that relies heavily on the post-structuralists to make their intellectual case while conveniently ignoring the implications those arguments have on their own conclusions. Its painful to even invoke, but Orwell had a pretty handy word for this.

          • Forrest says

            Why is this hard to understand? Perhaps you think we have a genuine meritocracy based on merit? I disagree. Thus, a genuine meritocracy rewards effort, skill, honesty, and competence and grants the opportunity for all (or most) members of society the opportunity to work hard and achieve a level of skill or competence. That kind of society does not make it prohibitively expensive for people to receive decent health care or a decent education. It does not reward greed and selfishness or corruption.

      • Maynard says

        Forrest,
        Both philosophies are victimhood philosophies without offering a sustainable solution

        • Peter Moss says

          Peterson’s narrative is also one of victimhood, that he’s somehow being oppressed by evil SJWs.

    • Irra Waddy says

      Jurgen Habermas’ criticism of Foucault’s work is that it is “crypto-normative.”

      It claims to be value-free, but especially when we look at the coincidental political activism we see that it isn’t.

      See The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity, p. 282.

      • Forrest says

        Yeah, well, I agree there is no value-free normative framework. I think I know what the problem is here. People think that because the end goal of much Leftist thought is to undo oppression or to achieve a ‘more’ equal society, all the Leftist theories are fundamentally the same and share the same normative framework. But that’s not correct. There is a diversity of thought on the Left; there are conflicting ideas, theories, or ideas about what values a normative framework should use.

        • some dumbass on the world wide web says

          I’m explicitly not claiming that all leftist theories are fundamentally the same. I’m saying, that in spite of their differences and incompatibilities, there are nevertheless people who’s arguments draw deeply from different leftist theory in ways that produce internal contradictions. You’ve outright that this happens in a different part of the comments, which is fine, but its worth pointing out because its the premise that’s actually causing the disconnect.

          Funny enough, if you think I’m arguing that all leftist theory is fundamentally the same, you have to ignore my explicit premise that there ARE a plurality of leftist theories that nevertheless intermingle and produce incoherent positions. There could be no such incoherent positions if they all boiled down to an essential sameness, because my argument is that the incoherence comes from their fundamental incompatibility. The only thing that gets them to work together is that they have shared political goals that get them talking.

          • some dumbass on the world wide web says

            you’ve outright denied* awkward, I a word

          • Forrest says

            Let me try and get this right. This essay claims that the postmodern neo-Marxist position is incoherent because it rejects “positivism and logic as universal values under the guise of relativism, while in fact proceeding with a very specific universal normative theory.” Does that statement conflate positivism and logic with normative theory and thus value, because I don’t agree that all normative frameworks originate from positivism and logic. Thus, I don’t agree that Leftist positions are incoherent in that way. Honestly, I don’t understand this essay’s argument about how postmodern and neo-Marxism are incoherent and/or and how they are supposed to fit together. I do agree that people on the Left often share similar political goals, but this too a generalization.

            As an aside, I do not agree that postmodernism’s relativism leads to nihilism as argued by Jordan Peterson in the video linked in this essay.

    • BAGELMENSK says

      Dear Forrest,

      The universal normative framework is the Marxism that people throw in once postmodernism cracks up all the foundations.

      • Forrest says

        Marxism = historical materialism.
        Postmodernism = local-narratives and a rejection of meta-narratives (including historical materialism).

        Postmodernism does not necessarily crack the foundations of Leftist thought because it does not necessarily result in nihilistic relativism, moral decay, chaos, or destroy the search for knowledge.

        • The illogical aspect/disconnect here is the “disbelief in narratives” (everything is relative) while at the same time believing that power structures are inherently bad (a narrative)

          • Forrest says

            Postmodernist’s don’t believe that power structures are inherently bad. Postmodernists may believe that UNJUST power structures probably are inherently bad as do most people.

        • phuck yu says

          “Postmodernist’s don’t believe that power structures are inherently bad. Postmodernists may believe that UNJUST power structures probably are inherently bad as do most people.”

          Wait so you are an elected representative of the left? Everything you believe is the same thing that all postmodernists believe? hmmmmm

          speak for yourself not your group. you sound like an idiot.

        • Alex T says

          Forrest, I’m afraid you’re straw-manning here. Peterson has never said that the ‘alliance’ between post-modernism and Marxism is inevitable and must lead in the direction that it has. He is simply describing what has happened. Peterson equally has described the contradictions between the two world-views and who one exploits the other. Finally, he also says that some of what post-modernism posits is true but that the ethical conclusions it has very often come have been very harmful and do very often lead to nihilism. Peterson has never said that leftism in itself is a problem, merely the forms the radical left has taken most recently in the combinations described. In fact, he has clearly stated that the proper political position is a suitable balance between left and right. Finally, about hierarchies. The point is the following: hierarchies of competence are what we are looking for; it is the proper job of liberal politics and individual virtue to seek to correct hierarchies based on anything other than competence. The problem is the difficulty of sorting the wheat from the chaff, especially given the individual will-to-power and the politics of resentment. Given that, we should be very cautious about what we deem suitable to throw out.

        • Peter Moss says

          Forrest, you are being swarmed by idiots who don’t know anything about PoMo or Marxism, except what they hear from Saint Peterson.

    • Gervis says

      That’s exactly why it is *also* neo-Marxist, not just postmodernist. Marxism offers the grand narrative postmodernism needs to be culturally relevant.

    • Just because postmodernism claims to transcend grand narratives, it does not necessarily mean that it does. Pragmatically, it aims to dismantle all grand narratives – except one. Critical theorists and their postmodern devices are employed relentlessly against any grand narrative that is, coincidentally, relatable to capitalism (i.e. the “patriarchy”, Western colonialism, etc.), yet you will hardly find a critical theorist engaging in a postmodern deconstruction of Islam, Venezuela’s Chavismo or North Korea’s juche, mainly because the very categories that postmodernism rests upon stem from an ideological system designed as a materialistic critique of capitalism. At the very best, the critical-theory approach to those cases will inevitably get to the conclusion that what is bad about the Venezuelan or North Korean reality is something that springs from capitalism and the West, or to Western colonialism in the case of Islam.

      Peterson also repeatedly explains how every person needs an underlying narrative to guide perception and the way she is to act in the world if she wants to survive even a day. The postmodernists might well claim that all grand narratives ought to go, but what they really are doing is ridding the field of anything that stands in the way of the one worldview they wish to see implemented – what magicians call “forcing a card”. In other words, it is about giving you the illusion that you are choosing the conclusion that you are getting to by “criticizing” the world, when in reality there is only one possible conclusion for you to get to if you follow their lead. And that conclusion is invariably the very Marxism from which the French intellectuals of the 1960’s-’80s concocted their anti-Enlightenment, and hence anti-capitalist epistemology. The mere fact that postmodernism sells itself as ideologically neutral, far from makes it so.

      • Peter Moss says

        Lol…you obviously know nothing about postmodernism. It doesn’t claim to ‘transcend grand narratives’ only that it is skeptical toward them. It doesn’t aim to “dismantle them” either. Lyotard spoke of the ‘fragmentation’ of knowledge, in which metanarratives are no longer tenable, because nobody believes in them anymore. What’s left are fragments of truth claims, which are believed by local communities who share the same language games. The grip of religion on society in the West, for example, wasn’t “dismantled”, it was loosened by people gradually losing their belief in an invisible man in the sky. There are still churches and still people who believe in Christianity, but society is pervaded by smaller pockets of secular humanist spirituality now, rather than one overarching religion.
        Postmodernism doesn’t “sell itself as ideologically neutral” either. You just made that up. That’s just laughable.

  7. Ira Wells was challenged to a debate by Dr. Peterson. The whens, wheres, and hows of this debate were all worked out — and Wells bailed. Chickened out. I don’t wonder why.

  8. Brilliant piece that covers a huge amount of ground and dramatically consolidates the legitimate battlefield of ideas. Getting this up in four days is an impressive act of literary bravura.

    One element that does not come through clearly (probably because Wells skipped it) is that Peterson’s social and political theory, such as it is, has limited commonality with modern liberalism, whatever his self-description as a “British classical liberal”. So, if there are actually any liberals left in humanities departments there is indeed lots “to meet about.”

    If you listen to the podcast Dave Rubin did with Peterson in May (“Jordan B. Peterson on Free Speech, Psychology, and Gender Pronouns” — and have the coffee on a IV drip) you discover that Peterson champions a distinctly baroque set of foundations for his politics (and notions of individual psychological integrity). Against the utilitarian premises of the classical liberals or the “thin theory of the good” of recent American liberals such as Dworkin and Rawls, Peterson wants to reach down into the deep murk of mythology and faith to feel around for the rusty cables with which to batten down the modern state.

    This of course does not place Peterson in any such crass journalistic category as the Alt-Right. However, the highly specific foundations for modern society that Peterson espouses can legitimately be seen as bearing about the same degree of genetic relatedness as second-cousins-once-removed to the explicit nationalist ideology of a Steve Bannon. That’s because the more specific your foundations are, the less appetite on average you (or your adherents) are apt to have for populating your country with folks who are acquainted with few if any of those myths. And the more you are prone to a lazy class-of-civilizations perspective globally.

    And what’s more, it’s total bull. I believe you can have a thriving modern country populated solely with atheists and apostates, united in their commitment to liberal toleration, premised on humanitarian and prudential grounds. (See Sweden.) No amount of mytho/psychological mumbo-jumbo would convince a skeptic that we need a “coherent metaphysics [including] the existence of God and… the incarnation” on which to found the modern state in the twenty-first century.

    If Jordan Peterson (who can for now be provisionally penciled in as a neotraditionalist conservative in the mold of an Alasdair MacIntyre) would truly like to make a passage to classical liberalism he’ll need to do some major tidying in that cluttered basement of his. That does not (of course) mean renouncing Jung or Jesus; only that he’ll need to formulate a much more generic, less particularist public rationale for the rights and obligations of the members of highly diverse countries such as his. I hope he does embark on such a Damascene conversion. One suspects that he’d be warmly welcomed, given his impressive fealty and bravery in duelling with the dastardly, authoritarian PoMo left.

    • Maynard says

      Jung’s archetypes are Plato’s ideals.
      Jung is overrated

  9. Stop Lying! says

    Let’s see if the Peterson fanboys can justify this tweet of his (since deleted, but here’s the screencap):

    https://imgur.com/Njq2PCJ

    Also, why does Peterson attract so much white nationalist support? Is it a bug or a feature?

    See: https://i.redd.it/8b308z729y001.jpg

    What is it with this stupid website? Why all the obfuscations? Just come out with it and admit you’re a bunch of reactionaries. No double-talk. The founder of this website reports for the far-right Rebel Media!

    • Love these kind of responses…lol. Left wing extreme… Yiks. Makes the process of what side I lean to very easy.

    • Stop Lying,

      It was probably not treasonous, but was the temporary deletion of Trump’s twitter a childish act by a childish employee? Absolutely it was.

      As to your second point, you’re basically repeating the leftist mantra: if you’re not on the left, you must be on the far right. If you’re not on board with our truth, you’re a racist, bigot, homophobe. In short, you leave no room for people to have any ideological position beyond your own. Richard Spencer may believe he shares something with Peterson, or that they are ideological kinsmen, but that does not make it so, the difference being that you need to think about what Spencer and Peterson are saying and see the differences, rather than saying they are linked because Spencer reached out to Peterson. You’re preaching guilt-by-association, you should know better.

      • The left-wing media has apparently granted Richard Spencer and his ilk unlimited power to define their own coalition. The alt-right will “reach out” to anyone under fire from the left-wing media, and the left-wing media will immediately pounce on it as evidence of associating wth, or being supported by, the alt-right. This pretty much immediately puts you on the side of the alt-right, whether you like it or not, and Spencer knows this. His “reaching out” is a malicious attempt to increase polarisation, and expand the alt-right’s influence. The left-wing media is practically in cahoots, because they dutifully play their role in the scheme by allowing Spencer to “taint” anyone her wants to.

      • Stop Lying! says

        You use leftist as a snarl word, so I will not take you seriously. Go and spend some time on the Jordan Peterson reddit; a great number of posters are alt-rightists. Peterson knows exactly what he is doing (he is squeezing bigoted young men out of their money). He is resentful of being a failed academic, who thinks he deserves a Nobel prize, so he’s lashing out at the world. This will not end well for anyone.

      • Dave, “Stop Lying” (there’s some non-virtue signalling should “know better”? After reading his post, do you seriously think that is possible?

    • He’s answered this question before many times like this. I’ll paraphrase it for you using rough numbers. “I have over 500,000 subscribers to my youtube channel. In any randomized population sample 10% will be crazy. That’s 50,000 people. Many of whom are likely to be disagreeable and vocal. To prove that I have more white nationalist support you’d have to show that there is a significantly higher amount of it among my fans compared to a randomized population sample. To do that you’d have to test everyone’s views—nationally and among my fans.”

      Spencer is just trying to cash in on fame. Peterson has destroyed their views already many times. White supremacists are just like black supremacists. They cash in on resentment. If they feel others are getting special treatment they claim their group is being unjustly treated and therefore should fight for status. Both groups make the same argument. They are mirrors of each other. Is BLM wrong to point out scenarios when black people are unjustly treated? No. And since that’s morally justified the same should be true in reverse. People can be bad and evil while still being correct about some things. It’s important to listen carefully to them and acknowledge what is right about their arguments so that you can better focus on what is wrong.

      The problem both groups have is this—they allocate all moral goodness to their group and all evil to the other. This is foolish because ideas, values, competence, good and evil do not reside in skin colour or group identity but in the character of individuals. The biblical story of the prostitute in Jericho would be an example of this. In the viewpoint of the story she trusted the correct big thing even though she got a lot of life details wrong prior—her perceptions and actions were ultimately accurate and were rewarded as such.

      • Stop Lying! says

        I think you’ve totally lost credibility when you claim that BLM and neo-Nazis are moral equivalents. This is coming from someone who doesn’t even like BLM.

        • Stop Lying. Yes you, stop lying. Try to follow now, we’ll go slowly. Mancat did NOT do what you say he did. He compared black and white supremicists to each other. How dare you say BLM is black supremicist? Only some of them are.

    • BAGELMENSK says

      Dear Stop Lying!,

      1: I justify the fact that he deleted it, because it wasn’t a great tweet.

      2: Just because a white nationalist likes something doesn’t mean it’s bad, I’m sure Hitler enjoyed good sandwiches, that doesn’t make sandwiches bad, and neither does Richard Spencer simply tweeting at Jordan Peterson make him bad. Also you’ve likely not seen it but there’s plenty of hate for Dr. Peterson on the alt-right and far-right, especially after Laura Loomer was not invited to a recent free speech event. Many a “cuck” was typed.

    • You realize you are doing exactly what the article exposes? Instead of engaging with the ideas you resort to incendiary (and baseless) language

  10. Travis Mitchell says

    2 points: JP can come off as a little angry/exasperated. He’s usually humorless, and uses rather intense language. How many people casually use ‘reprehensible’ or abhorrent’ in verbal dialogue?
    Also, he claims to not have the answer to the problem of gender/minority integration in social or professional life. However, this non-answer will not fly nowadays. If smart people like him will not provide a convincing answer, other, stupider peole will. And have

    • Stop Lying! says

      Yes, finally an insightful comment in this giant circle-jerk! Peterson has this crazy Manichean worldview, not that different from the SJWs. He thinks he’s some modern day prophet Elijah, warning of evil constantly.

  11. Forrest says

    “critical thinking “critical” is the tendency to read against the grain of accepted wisdom and to question the inherited power hierarchies that structure human relations.”

    Knowledge and power ARE related. That is a kind of truism, and it is not necessarily related “Critical Theory.” Challenging accepted wisdom and/or common assumptions or wisdom does not mean that logical analysis or rational thought has somehow been abandoned.

    • phuck yu says

      knowledge and power aren’t related.

      Knowledge and power are 2 phenomena that are related only indirectly. The fact you think that this is a “truism’ is laughable m8.
      Easy to see real world examples, why aren’t knowledgeable people powerful? Look at who is our president.

      Knowledge is the accumulation of information about the world that allows you to understand, see, and predict things that other people miss.

      Effectiveness is the application of skill to maximize impact in the world. Knowledge increases effectiveness (often). Although as Malcom Gladwell points out in Blink, sometimes knowledge actually interferes with effectiveness.

      Power is the consolidation of control over resources, including other people. Effectiveness aids in the accumulation of power, although it helps to start off with power, as when being born into a powerful family.

      So knowledge enhances effectiveness, which can be used to accumulate power. To equate them is to skip some logical steps! (Something you repeatedly do in all your comments on this article).

      The phrase “knowledge is power” is actually a simplified and loose translation of a more complex idea of unknown latin origin.

      • Forrest says

        Hey phuck yu, I’m not writing an essays in these comments. Smart people like yourself know probably know what I’m talking about anyway.

        Trump Administration defunds scientific research that is ideologically opposed to the Trumpian/Bannon/Coulter worldview (Environmental Protection Agency, National Institutes of Health, NASA, etc.). Power decides what counts as knowledge.

        Trump chooses which facts are more real (he calls this truthful hyperbole) and because he has been a billionaire for most of his life he has gotten away with this. You can call that effectiveness or skill and the ability to maximize his impact in the world, but most people (non-billionaires) can’t get away with Trumpian bullshit.

        • Yet here you are… as are so many of your like minded lemmings, resisting this false paradigm you maintain.

          sarcasm intended.

    • Wow you are fully indoctrinated. Power and knowledge are not related. That just a fools errand.

      “Critical Theory” is a marxist tool, not to be confused with Critical thinking.

      Did you even read this piece? Critical theory as defined by Horkheimer from the very beginning, is about power, oppression, liberation, everything that represents the Frankfurt school.

      You don’t even seem to be on the playing field of context with respect to the terms relevant to this issue.

  12. Great article. Appreciate the break downs.

    It always amazed me how left wing likes to insult constantly…odd, and to me childish, but now I have a better understanding of why. Thanks Uri. As a neofite trying to learn, I appreciate both sides if the debate. I wonder if he ever spoke with JBP directly and tried to get a real understanding of his positions. After I read it… I got the impression it was just about click bate, but could be wrong.

    With all the noise out there and what’s going on, I completely understand why JBP has such a huge following. It’s not often you get to hear a man who has and is working through it. Those citation #’s Really drive the point home. Lol

    I’ve watch and read everything you mention in your article, including the Joe rogan marathon… and thank God (general saying, I consider myself a follower of Buddhist philosophy) we have JBP. I only wish there was something more I could do to support him, and the ideas he’s working through.

    D.

    • Pip G says

      Hey Dean,

      You can always donate to his Patreon account if you’re looking for ways to support him. He’s trying to do great things with the patreon donations, which you can read about on the page itself.

      Just FYI: I donate on a monthly basis. I think that the value he has added to my life far exceeds the value of the donation I make to him.

      • Stop Lying! says

        Given that you donate to a walking Ponzi scheme like Peterson, I suspect you are a probably a fairly low-status person, probably a NEET (Not in employment, education, or training). You were and probably still are not a productive member of society. Now you’re trying to sucker another guying into parting with his money. Spend it on the stock market, not donating to Jordan Peterson.

      • Pip G, suggest you do NOT engage with Stop Lying (who is actually doing just that). He is flailing seriously, going critical and is very close to a Godwin’s Law event. I’ve seen this kind of escalation before. Just a warning, couple of other crazies are lurking about too.

      • Pip G, suggest you do NOT engage with Stop Lying (who is actually doing just that). He is flailing seriously, going critical and is very close to a Godwin’s Law event. I’ve seen this kind of escalation before. Just a warning, couple of other crazies are lurking about too.

  13. How much time will we waste on issues of the few when the opression of us all continues on? This is misdirection at best. I’ll focus elsewhere while the insanity ensues.

    • Joseph Rutkowski says

      Oh the insanity of it all! How did we ever manage to survive whilst the rest of the oppressed world writhes in agony! Alright enough of that. Time for some soy milk and in your safe space.

  14. Those were not careless tweets. They were likely written before Charlottesville. The terms did not have a consensus. Some use them to lump together everyone who is not a revolutionary leftist—which is 98% of the political spectrum. Some are trolls who deliberately offend. They are nihilistic jesters. Others genuinely believe illiberal ideas which are the mirror of the far left. One claim against the alt right is that it’s anti semetic, which in some cases is true—but some of the far left heroes who wear hijabs openly celebrate hitler and hostility towards Jews as well. Yet they’re still held up as icons of progressiveness standing against a tide of hate. It’s obscene. It can be hard to tell the difference. Even Justin Trudeau was called a “white supremacist terrorist.” At a certain term these become meaningless words, an endless crying of wolf.

  15. David holshouser says

    Being neither wordy nor philosophical. I’ll just say great piece. Helped me understand ideas I’d been struggling with. Thank you.

  16. Irra Waddy says

    It’s a great article with many brilliant points.

    Not that Jordan needs much more defense after such a great article, but I’d like to remark on the following tweet.

    “This account of Alt-Right is correct at least 1 major way. Politics is about borders – categories, concepts & states.”

    I believe here he is talking about the contours of conservative worldviews that he found in his research — that they are concerned about various kinds of borders due to high disgust sensitivity and orderliness.

    He talked about this with Jonathan Haidt starting at about 18:10.

    “You might say– and I think this is reasonable — the conservative is someone who wants the borders between categories to remain intact no matter what level of analysis. So it’s borders from the highest resolution level of cognition all the way up to the actual physical borders of rooms, towns, states, countries, all of that.”

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4IBegL_V6AA&t=2618s

  17. brilliant article, people who disagree are just human nightmares…

  18. Uri is my hero says

    This article should be required learning at every University. It is almost poetic in its ability to capture the thoughts I am unable to organize into words. Well done… Bravo.

  19. I found myself saying “yes” at so many points. Yes that is what Petersen is saying and yes that is what I understand and believe. And I am not right wing, though the rhetoric coming from progressives makes me feel more and more that way (not alt right, just increasingly right of progressives.

  20. Omar Misdaq says

    Great article. Wells’ argument was dismally weak and this writer took care of it easily.

  21. Brilliantly condensed piece.
    The Ira Wells article concludes:
    “Peterson knows what he stands for. He is fighting for the souls of our students, and his message, while deeply alienating to some, is immensely seductive to many others.”
    Not the intellects, the souls. Listen to JP and risk either losing your faith or getting hypnotised. Free thinking, dangerous as sex.
    Elsewhere he wrote about the risks to girls of Lauren Southern:
    “Imagine a 19-year-old college student—curious, idealistic, not yet rigidly ideological…”
    The new Puritans.

    • TSowell Fan says

      Your reputation precedes you? You stopped typing before getting to the ‘substantive’ stuff?

      • If I was a conspiracy theorist, I might suspect that Quillette has a filter to prevent dissenting views from getting through. But I’m not, so I have to say I don’t know why I can post short comments like this but not longer ones.

      • Nice one, TS. Take a shot at Doug compadre “Always Lying” if you get a chance. He’s pretty close to Godwin’s Law kicking in.

  22. Hear hear! Uri, where is your Patreon account. May it overflow like Petersen’s. Keep the prescient, salient insights coming!

  23. Pedro Marques says

    Jesus, what an amazing piece of writing! Well done!

  24. Thanks for taking the time to write this. I’m happy to see someone rational has taken on the misrepresentations, exaggerations and intellectual dishonesty present in Leftist criticisms of Peterson’s positions. As someone who has poured over his countless hours of lectures, talks and dialogues with a voracious appetite I am dismayed at the amount of mental gymnastics his self proclaimed opponents must undergo in order to ignore his actual positions. Alas, evidence and critical thinking presents the most objective view point. Unfortunately as we’ve come to learn evidence is all too easy to ignore when it doesn’t fit ones desire narrative.

  25. And yet, the alt-right thinks Peterson is their champion. We know this because A) they give him about $50K per month in donations for serving as their intellectual spokesman (which he happily takes).

    And B) anybody who criticizes him on Twitter is met with a barrage from the usual far-right actors with Pepe avatars, and tweet histories pushing the usual alt-right talking points. Peterson counts on and directs his army of followers to support, spread, defend his ideas, and to attack his foes.

    Remember, the alt-right is as slippery as an eel, and exists on a spectrum. Peterson may be on the lighter end of that spectrum, but he definitely registers there. It’s clear from his commentary that he prefers a white-male dominated world.

    • Yes, I’ve been on the receiving end of a barrage of invective on Twitter from some of Peterson’s admirers. It is a an awesome thing, certainly not for anyone with a thin skin. A lot of the invective is of a crudely sexual nature, in keeping, I suppose, with Peterson’s fascination with male dominance hierarchies. However, now that Peterson blocked Faith Goldy from sharing the stage with him at a free speech rally, because of her association with actual Nazis, some of the real extremists have started to abuse Peterson himself.

    • Buck Futter says

      “the alt-right thinks” – have you executed polling and some follow-up?
      Please share your research methods and analysis.

    • It’s clear from his commentary that he prefers a white-male dominated world.

      My impression is that Chinese people prefer a yellow-male dominated world (to put it using your crude language). So is the entirety of China Alt-Right?

      That is unless you think they’re in fact desperate for their territory to be dominated by black males of a particular type, so they can instead live in a black-male dominated ‘world’? Is that the case?

      Perhaps you’re party to some information that the rest of us not, leading to you what otherwise seem like childish and infantile conclusions, which purely serve the purpose of allowing you to cast ill-conceived and fatuous moral judgment on the entirety of humanity.

  26. Thank you Uri for a great article. Ira Wells is an example of the type of ideological Marxist professors that I warn my grandchildren considering university about.

    Most of my paternal great uncles died in the Soviet Gulags and some days I think I and my children will be heading to the same place. Then someone like Jordan Peterson and Lindsey Shepard comes along and gives me hope.

  27. I don’t think Wells has anything near the rank of professor. Note also how Wells writes on websites that don’t allow public comment, and that has refuses to debate Peterson in public. Sunlight is the best disinfectant.

  28. Ryan Mack says

    This whole comment section is a great representation of modern intellectuals in university and the underlying issue of people being ignorant to reason and refusing to listen.

    If you want proof of Jordan Peterson’s musings then just read all these comments. It’s right in front of you and if you can’t see it, you might be part of the problem. If you see it and reject it, then you’re definitely part of the problem.

  29. AGrenier says

    Bravo for this very civil response to a garbage git piece. This is the kind of rigor I expect from journalists.

  30. Angrydr says

    Nice commentary. Hit lots of great points. You have a masters degree. Why in the hell would you debase such an excellently written and thoughtful article by quoting the hideous imposter Wikipedia. You’d never use it at university – why would you use it in serious academic commentaries?

  31. John Brown says

    Ugh. Typing and typing so much to say so little. Peterson fans are cult-like and these comment sections only prove the furthering of the bubble that lonely, confused people who bust veins running defence for a very cynical, sad person.

    • Buck Futter says

      UGH. indeed!
      Keep on keepin’ on with so deftly enlightening the rest of us cretinous plebes as to our obvious deficiencies. At the rate you’re going, I’m sure you’ll do wonders for mankind.

    • You can tell John here read the article. You are the stereotype, you know that right? – ad hominem all day and night, utter refusal to even consider the argument against their own dogma, smug self-righteous in their willful ignorance.

      What’s notable is that you don’t actually bring up any points, counter-arguments or criticisms. Because if you did, you might just have to actually engage in a, god forbid, debate. I have yet to see a Peterson critic who has engaged in anything even resembling a debate — it’s either insults or complete misrepresentations of what he said, and then *poof* they’re gone for the inevitable response. If it gets too obvious that they are cowering away from actually supporting their claims, they claim “harassment” and call it a day.

      Call Peterson fans whatever you want to call them, but every single one of them is more intelligent than you are. Think I’m wrong? Prove me wrong. Pick any one of the points mentioned in this article, and make your case. Until you do, you’re the idiot flinging insults at the people engaging in rhetoric that scares you. And no, insulting me and claiming this debate is beneath you only proves my point.

  32. Shawn P says

    Peterson argues for free speech which is the base right of Western culture. He argues about issues not about people.

  33. Abu Nudnik says

    “Students have only been given one tool – to identify flaws in societal structures and dismantle them.”

    This sentence put me in mind of a Star Trek episode* wherein the Enterprise encounters a powerful machine that destroys life. It confused the captain with its designer and the ship gets a few hours of breathing time to figure out how to destroy it before it steers a course to Earth. It was re-created by itself after a collision between two machines, one sent out to collect and sterilize soil samples, the other to find new biological entities. The “synthesis” of the two are something like what the combination of postmodernism does when it fuses its intents with the purposes of Marxism.

    *(Episode 3, season 2, The Changeling)

  34. N. A. says

    Wells stated that Peterson’s worldview is “politically reactionary and often downright paranoid” and “appears designed to curry favour with the alt-right”. His criticism was NOT that Peterson “is promoting a far-right worldview”. That is a clear misrepresentation on your part. It’s very ironic that you argue that Wells misrepresents Peterson’s views while simultaneously misrepresenting Wells’s views.

  35. Kingston Hawke says

    Didn’t read the Wells article, don’t really care to. What I do want to address are some of the flaws in what you just wrote.

    You give examples of Peterson saying he’s not a white supremacist, and then use that as your sole evidence to say that he’s not a white supremacist. You even acknowledge that he’s echoed white supremacist positions on topics. But what stood out to me was what all you omitted. This is a person who’s argued that black people are less intellectually capable in general. That black Americans should stop demanding equality and be thankful that we’re doing so much better than black Africans economically. He’s argued that western civilization is far superior to all others. There’s a reason why the alt right has embraced this man. You can’t dismiss everything he’s said that resembles white supremacist simply because he denounced racism in a tweet once or twice. This is disingenuous.

    There are flaws in your second and third section. But I only wanted to focus on the first for now.

    • TSowell Fan says

      Best to link to an example of Peterson saying what you claim so others can evaluate it — you know, in its full context. Absent that, your comment is as flawed as Wells’ article.

      Please note that the so-called alt-right may have misinterpreted and ’embraced’ him just as you may have misinterpreted and rejected him. BTW, do you happen to know where these alt-right types hold their meetings?

      • Mark30339 says

        I am also a TSowell fan, but I’m not sure if Kingston Hawke’s breadth of reading includes TSowell. In my view, the SJW agenda is driving young men to alternative belief systems, and supremacist groups are recruiting with open arms. When U of OK had to address offensive behavior by drunk frat boys (https://goo.gl/Q37qaY), the school made no effort to reform its young men and took the most extreme sanction — expulsion. This effectively drove them toward supremacist groups. Many young men who have experimented with those troubling communities have been brought back by Dr. Peterson. But does he get credit for it? No, SJW types prefer to slander him as supremacist by association.

    • So he has said none of the things you’ve just claimed he’s said, and you are either basing that off of the countless misrepresentations of Peterson intentionally made by his critics, or you are incredibly dimwitted and actually extracted that from something he said. Nobody here is going to defend a misinterpretation of what Peterson lectures about. Whether or not the alt-right makes the same misinterpretations as you is irrelevant. Like seemingly all Peterson critics, you make wild reductions and leaps in presenting his positions, and omit any quotations or citations. Please include some if you want to be taken seriously.

    • Peter Kriens says

      I doubt if you really read the article you comment on? Asking this because where the article provided links for all most of its claims and showed how easy it is to take something out of context, you only provide your own summary of what you think Peterson said. I did read Wells and immediately looked up the beating section in a YouTube video because that was very damning. When you watch what he says in context it had nothing to do with what Wells implied. For example, you quote ‘… black people are less intellectually capable in general …’ Since there is a very well documented difference in average intelligence between African Americans, Caucasians, and Asians the way such a claim is stated makes all the difference. In such a situation not backing up your claim with the context is intellectually lazy.
      I am also worried about how easy you use ‘white supremacist’. That is a very strong accusations since we’ve seen what went wrong with Nazi Germany. Not everybody that blindly embraces the ideas that all ills are caused by white males is a white supremacist, there is a very long road to the right of your position before you reach Hitler. Not reserving that slur for people that clearly deserve it reduces it usefulness.
      The beauty of Quillette is that people are expected to backup their summary of other people’s positions they attack with context. Maybe an idea to read the article before you comment?

  36. James Bradbury says

    Man this is just like reading Jordan Peterson’s work, super interesting, reasonable, well argued, and with a comment section full of /pol’s lamest edgelords.

    I do wish Jordan would do a bit more to condemn the worst of his followers. I love listening to him speak, but all the cringy YouTube video with a title along the line of “conservative professor DESTROYS stupid liberal cuck snowflake,” that pop up in my suggested now are more than a little irksome.

    The militarism isn’t exclusive to the left, and we Rob ourselves the ability to have a proper debate when we resort to shallow insults. At least Joran himself consistently takes the high ground.

    • I’m a little sick of YouTube comments being at all relevant in any discussion regarding a professor, pundit, thinker, or whomever. I have a theory about YouTube comments that I think more people need to take seriously:

      The vast majority of viewers don’t make comments, and the comment voting system on YouTube is incredibly flawed. To the point that the top comments are in no way representative of the majority opinion, and are in fact representative of the lowest common denominator opinion. For a couple of reasons – the ‘thumbs up’ on YouTube pushes the comment towards the top, but the ‘thumbs down’ doesn’t actually do anything. When you consider that particularly older YouTube subscribers are way less likely to even have an account let alone read or leave comments, this leaves primarily a channel’s younger viewers in the comment section. Let’s not forget that there are a lot of idiot teenagers on YouTube, and they are way more comfortable perusing the comment section than everybody else is. If most of them upvote an idiotic comment they agree with, even if they only represent 10% or less of the viewership, that comment will in perpetuity end up near the top where it will continue to collect “thumbs ups”. Even if 90% of the rest of the viewers think the comment is stupid, their downvotes do nothing, and the only way they’d be able to replace that top comment is for big portions of them to get behind another more reasonable comment, and ‘thumbs up’ that comment past the idiotic one. Seeing as the 90% have a pretty diverse set of views and potential comments to make, this is highly unlikely. Furthermore, that 90% usually leaves comments that are more long-winded and less reductive, and that already means less people will read it and less people will “thumb ups” it. So automatically the most homogeneous and simplistic section of the viewership is going to get the top spots in the comments — this is usually edgelord teenagers. For many channels; not just Peterson’s. This is true all across YouTube for any channel or video that isn’t exceptionally small. In reality, that idiotic top comment with 200 ‘thumbs up’ really is just 201 people out of the 300 000 that watched the video, a completely negligible minority. The only reason those comments end up at the top is because the lowest common denominator portion of the audience can all get behind a simple idiotic comment, whereas the vast majority of the audience have more varied, long-winded and nuanced comments to make, and there aren’t huge swaths of them that can or would all get behind simple, 10 word comments. It doesn’t take long for the comments the majority make to be buried underneath half a dozen idiotic ones that are getting upvotes from 5 – 10% of the viewership. That’s more than enough to put that comment at the top. Consider as well that the YouTube comment section has been like this for a long time, and it already has a reputation as being cancerous, so I expect that a huge portion of the more reasonable viewers ignore the comment section altogether, so they aren’t even there to give “thumbs up” to the reasonable comments.

      What’s especially troubling is that this very flawed way of examining a channel’s viewership is being used by people making serious arguments about the validity of the arguments made in the videos themselves (probably because they don’t dare actually go after Peterson’s rhetoric, they know they don’t stand a chance in any kind of debate, so they resort to misrepresenting the videos to their echo chamber as well as pointing to the comment section and saying “look how evil and stupid they are” — as if that is in any way significant). It really depresses me, even to see your post right here — it is so often that I see an audience of a particular channel get really discouraged by the consistently upvoted top comments on that channel, and rather than feel like part of the majority of sensible viewers that they really are a part of, they think the minority of idiot kids is actually the majority. Comment sections are only representative of a very particular section of the audience already (those who would leave comments, usually the younger ones) and on YouTube in particular, those who have the most homogeneous and simplistic comments to make are the ones that will end up near the top of the video. If YouTube made every “thumbs down” count for as much as a “thumbs up” in the placement of the comments on videos, I suspect it would make a massive difference in what the comment sections look like. But I don’t expect they will do that, because they, like every other social media platform, is more than glad to use the skewed comment section as an excuse to shut down people like Peterson.

  37. TehOutsider says

    Kingston Hawke, could you provide links to these examples of white supremacy exhibited by Dr. Peterson?

  38. Bunty McCunty says

    After Gad Saad’s incisive look at the relevant Google Scholarship citations for Jordan Peterson and the Laurier crew, I thought it might be interesting to compare Peterson’s Google Scholarship citations with those of Ira Wells, but all it’s giving me is a single article in American Quarterly from 2010, cited by a mere nine people.

    Surely someone wouldn’t be questioning another academics scholarship credentials with such a thin record of their own, would they?

    • Mark30339 says

      I’m about to start The Road to Wigan Pier, at Dr. Peterson’s suggestion. I’m anticipating the mask of compassion to resemble Dr. Wells. I wonder how much self-loathing builds when advancing these unhinged and over-compensating SJW agendas. Dr. Wells initially tweeted that he would debate Dr. Peterson, and he would have served a lot of interests by facing the matter — especially his own growth as an academic. But fear and third-rate scholarship prevailed upon the coward in him, and he declined a firm debate invitation from the publisher of his hit piece. I suspect the derisive words we can direct are pale in comparison to the self-enfeebling these choices have rendered.

  39. Sweden now has Facebook censorship by a big vigilante army of civil servants in the state owned SVT and SR teve and radio channels and left wing journalist, They report complaints about people with opposite ideal by the hundreds – and FB hasn’t the resources to check it properly, but gp with the accusers. The vigilante Internet army # jagärhär also has created a PR bureau, that ahs taken over much of the FB moderator chores. That is, the same group of people. This page maybe right-wing, but it describes the scene quite accurately:
    https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/11439/sweden-government-censorship

    • This website is not right-wing, it’s just not on the far left.

      • @Sternococktail: Correction to my above post I thought you were talking about Quillete being RW, but your referring to Gatestone. You might be right I’m not familiar with it. Sorry.

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  43. Regarding some of the above comments about JP being on the Alt-Right or having alt-right supporters…. The media claiming that means nothing today. They also have categorized Dave Rubin as being far right…. Dave Rubin who is a married gay jewish man, pro-abortion, pro-eugenics, pro-universal healthcare… Sounds totally far right to me! Yup! The media have lost ALL perspective in their collective freakout.
    Steven Pinker’s rule indeed.

  44. The left really doesn’t understand the mistake they make when they group people like Peterson in with the alt-right. They imagine, falsely, that people will react to that grouping by looking ashamed and washing their hands of Peterson. Absolutely not. They will only assume that if Peterson, such a wise voice, is ‘alt-right’, then they too are alt-right. Ira and other lazy writers are taking voices of wisdom and consigning them to the extreme right, thus creating new enemies where previously there could have been understanding.

  45. Mr. Harris, thank you for your defense of JBP and thorough refutation of Mr. Wells’ “hit piece” which distorts and misrepresents so much. I just discovered JBP a few months ago and I’m so glad that I did. I’m learning so much from watching his videos on YouTube. “Sunlight is the best disinfectant.”

  46. (Apparently objecting to the use of such terms is racist if you’re white.)

    That’s not quite an accurate summary. The specific objection was to using the word ‘insolent,’ which is what that twitter user labeled as racist. Probably because they see insolent as meaning ‘insubordinate’ or ‘uppity’.

  47. William says

    Uri, your clarity of mind here is like a breath of fresh air. You explain ideas (which others seem to make infuriatingly complex) with such simplicity, I constantly find myself nodding and saying, “Yes, of course.” The ideas laid out by critics of Peterson are troublesome, and they seem to have a far greater reach and scope than I think many people realize. I studied at Mississippi State University, where I earned a BA in English literature in 2013. It is only now, after reading intellectuals like yourself and Dr. Peterson that I recognize the entrenchment of Postmodernism/Critical Theory within my own education. It has been eye-opening, and I am grateful for leaders like Dr. Peterson and you. I hope to read much more from you in the future. Thank you.

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  49. Tim Ewers says

    Why not address the foundation of Critical Theory, which is the premise that people are oppressed. What evidence supports the premise? How one feels and or what one perceives is of limited value in actually knowing something. Feelings are fraught with bias and assumptions. Perceptions are prone to misinterpretations and projections of what one expects to see based on one’s point of view and theories. Magic, for instance, is effective because of our limited perceptive abilities. What I see from Wells’ criticism of Peterson is that Wells does not listen or seem to try to understand Peterson and instead Wells projects his own interpretation onto Peterson. So Wells’ critique fails by not addressing any part of Peterson’s argument. His position is supported in his side however because of the unchallenged notion of oppression. How specifically is anyone in the West being oppressed? What is the evidence to support the claim? If there is actual oppression then let us address that. But, blanket, unsubstantiated claims of oppression are not useful. Because oppression is the foundation to Critcal Theory, if oppression cannot be substantiated then there is no need to entertain any other aspect of Critical Theory.

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