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Thread: Jordan Peterson

  1. #1
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    Default Jordan Peterson

    Had heard rumblings about this chap but was shocked that many thousands attended his event in the 3 Arena in Dublin at the weekend.

    Here is a report from the workers solidarity movement:
    Last Saturday we checked out the Dublin appearance of Youtube snake oil salesman Jordan Peterson. Peterson over the last couple of years has developed a sizable following of angry young white men through Youtube videos consisting of incomprehensible lectures on ‘meaning’ and, more disconcertingly, anti-trans, anti-feminist, and anti-leftist rants. We expected it to attract many of the small fascist groups and those in orbit around them, indeed there were even ‘Men’s Rights Activists’ leafleting outside it, presumably having identified it as a recruiting ground for their poisonous misogyny.

    Peterson was speaking at a a public talk titled “Winning the War of Ideas” which took place in Dublin’s 3Arena. The event featured internet personas Jordan Peterson (an eccentric and generally unintelligible Canadian university professor, widely known for his campaigning against the rights of trans people and rants on “the postmodern conspiracy destroying academia”) and Sam Harris - an American, self-declared ‘new-atheist’ and proponent of islamophobia and US imperialism. It was moderated by the English journalist Douglas Murray, another islamophobe, vocal opponent of migration, and proponent of ‘European values’ and Brexit. (Readers unfamiliar with these speakers should be sure to read the second part of this article, which discusses their backgrounds in more depth).

    While the event was, in the end, reasonably well attended, low ticket sales in the days before led organisers to reduce ticket prices from over €60 to €20.

    On the morning of the event, Peterson was given a forty minute interview slot on Marian Finucane’s RTÉ Radio 1 show, on which he recited his usual titbit polemics about sea creatures justifying hierarchy in human society, and legal protections for trans people leading to Orwell’s 1984. While most of his ludicrous claims went unchallenged by Finucane, there was a highlight at the end of the interview where she read out messages sent in by the general public, most of which called Peterson out as deranged, an intellectual fraud, and general bigot.

    The most revealing portion of the night was the first twenty minutes, when an open mic was given to audience members to say which speaker they were there to see, and what their main interests/concerns were. As I walked into the auditorium, a young American man was on the microphone. Noting that the event was titled the War of Ideas, his question was when this would translate into a real war, “like a civil war in the US”. There were howls of excitement from the crowd which was still filing in. Another young man wanted to hear a discussion on “the decay of Europe, and how feminism has caused that” - more cheers. A young woman who hoped the speakers would address feminism was met with booing; whether the woman was feminist or anti-feminist, or whether the crowd were booing her or simply the mention of the word feminism, was unclear.

    Before the show began the atmosphere was one of tension and excitement. People who usually consume these political ideas in isolation through Youtube were clearly encouraged by the number of people in attendance. The references which most excited were those closest to pure fascist talking points - protection of national identity from whatever “threat” we feel like, anti-immigration, anti-queer politics, and general reactionary backlash against the gains of progressive politics. As the speakers walked onto the stage, before saying a word, they were greeted with a standing ovation.

    When the talk began however, it became clear that it was not going to be the type of talk the audience had envisaged. For the first hour, Harris and Peterson engaged in an abstract, irrelevant and intellectually sterile discussion about the space between “facts and values”, which Harris stated was central to their “social project”. The enthusiasm of the audience visibly waned. Peterson’s best efforts, which were spent attempting to introduce some form of pseudo-religious “transcendentalism” or universal ethics to their collective worldview, were almost effortlessly put down by Harris, who in fairness kept to basic skepticism and rationality in this part of the discussion. In the toilets during the event I overheard a young white man complain that the speakers “won’t get on to talking about the important stuff”.

    While the second portion of the show was supposed to be an audience Q&A, instead the discussion continued. Perhaps an overly cynical view was that Peterson intentionally veered it away from Q&A after hearing the blatantly far-right language of some audience members (he had in the radio interview earlier that day, as he has done on other occasions, claimed to have “nothing to do” with alt-right and other fascist politics). He asked people who wanted a Q&A to shout first, then those who wanted the discussion to continue to shout second. Predictably, the second won, in part because crowds will tend to shout louder the second time, and partly because Peterson is a powerful orator and communicator, and as a result people were so obviously in adoration of the speakers that it seemed a compliment to ask them to continue what was at that point a draining, boring discussion topic.

    Eventually however, the speakers did get on to discussing more relevant political ideas. When discussing borders Harris revealed his materialist conception of humanity, and western-supremacist world-view claiming that, in the absence of international borders, people would migrate to the West until standards of living were basically equalised globally. A discussion of the role colonialism and modern imperialism played in preventing development in these “less advanced” countries was absent. Peterson’s contribution was that lots of things are borders - “your skin is a border, towns are borders, cities are borders”. He did at least acknowledge that “we pay a bloody price for borders, and I say those words very carefully [...] and it’s often in the price of other people’s blood”. His solution to this ethical problem was for each of us who are privileged by the border regime to “live as effectively as you can”. In essence - people are literally being murdered for you, so make sure you get a good job and enjoy your salad.

    When Harris introduced the point of alt-right and fascist politics intersecting with their work, all three outrightly denied to have anything to do with fascism. Murray argued that people are overly sensitive given past atrocities, and are on the lookout for fascists - which has caused them to be unfairly targeted. Crucially, Murray followed by stating that - being accused of popularising fascistic ideas is bad, but after a while, you seem to get away with it. Peterson again denied any link to fascism stating that we know when the right goes too far - they start talking about ethnic cleansing. He claims the rest of the right’s response is to box fascists in (demonstrably untrue throughout the history of fascism). He followed with false equivalence, arguing that it’s not as easy to identify far-leftists, “and this is a real problem”.

    Except for some moments with problematic and racist comments (mainly from Harris and Murray) and crack-pot religious references and biological determinism (mainly from Peterson) the politics of the talk was generally limited to a relatively standard centre-right type discussion, and no doubt from the perspective of far-right leaning people in attendance, wholly disappointing. The bulk of discussion was taken up with bizarre metaphysical and ethical musings which was boiled down to a dispute between Peterson and Harris over a critique of pure rationalism.

    Still, the fact that right-wing speakers who are the darlings of many on the far-right are staging speaking tours around the world should draw our attention and concern.
    ____________

    What is the profile of the panelists?

    Jordan Peterson is a Canadian scholar who rose to prominence after his statements concerning a bill passed in Canada (C-16) to prevent trans people from being targeted by hate propaganda and from being denied services, employment or accommodation on the basis of their gender expression and identity. Peterson’s stance consisted in a slippery slope argument whereby this kind of law would supposedly lead to people being fined or imprisoned for not using a trans person’s preferred pronouns. By framing the law as an attack on free speech, Peterson may have mislead many people into thinking that this fantasy of his was actually what the content of the bill was about. Indeed the Canadian Bar Association made a lengthy public reply to his concerns (though without naming Peterson), clearly stating that the bill had been grossly misunderstood.

    As it turns out, Jordan Peterson believes that hierarchies of class, gender and race are ordained by nature. As a direct outcome of this, he denies the existence of white privilege or patriarchy and is known to believe, along with many fascist organisations, that ideologies which contradict this perspective are part of a marxist conspiracy (‘’cultural marxism’’) to undermine western values and bring about totalitarianism. With no sense or irony whatsoever, Peterson suggested that kindergarten educators who supposedly target children with “postmodern marxist ideologies” should be tried for treason.

    Peterson is often perceived as a very original, refreshing and fascinating thinker. This probably has to do with the fact that instead on relying on the relevant and most up to date research when talking about a topic, Jordan Peterson’s lack of investigation leads him to resort to a patchwork of heterogeneous references including Christian mythology, long discredited ideas developed by Jung, irrelevant ethology involving lobsters, and racist pseudoscience from the previous century. In many ways, he resembles someone who’d be trying to make a quiche but hasn’t been shopping in a long time and so ends up haphazardly replacing the ingredients with whatever can be scraped from under the fridge. In this analogy, the quiche stands for any conservative viewpoint Peterson is trying to defend.

    Besides his ubiquitous presence in the media, what makes Peterson a serious threat lies in the fact that a lot of young disenfranchised white men have found his self-help best-selling book “12 Rules for Life” quite useful. Far from providing a radical critique of capitalist society and of structural changes worth collectively fighting for to improve life in general, Peterson provides individualist tricks, quick fixes which conveniently create the illusion that anyone can go a long way without really challenging the status quo. But the marginal improvements experienced by following Peterson’s 12 rules for life may convince his followers that he is onto something, that there may be some truth to his extremely conservative politics. The ingredients are there for a generation of young white men to develop a sense of identity, the feeling that they belong to a group whose potential and whose true nature are stifled by “political correctness” and “identity politics”. A group who may, like Peterson, come to believe that women long for domination, that ‘’lone wolf’’ violence will be fixed by compulsory monogamy, and that the liberalization of divorce laws was a mistake.

    What about the other speaker? Sam Harris is an American Islamophobic and imperialist ideologue known for justifying the United State’s wars of aggression in the Middle-East. He embraces the racist and colonialist discourse according to which the West has a moral duty to bring democracy to the Middle-East and liberate middle-eastern women. He does so by painting muslims with a single brush with little regard for political or geopolitical context and little care for muslim voices and research that contradicts his narrative.

    He has argued in favour of torture for counter-terrorism purposes, suggested the racial profiling of muslims at airports and embraced the same “great replacement” theory as the far-right saying that “With a few exceptions, the only public figures who have had the courage to speak honestly about the threat that Islam now poses to European societies seem to be fascist.”. He has argued in favour of limiting the number of muslims in the United States and has acknowledged that his view is one neo-nazi Richard Spencer would agree with.

    Sam Harris also used his popular podcast “waking Up” to amplify and condone the voice of author Charles Murray, whose 1994 book “The Bell Curve” suggests that blacks and hispanics are biologically inferior to white people. It is worth saying that Jordan Peterson also endorsed this long discredited book in an exchange with right-wing YouTuber Stefan Molyneux . The Bell Curve draws a lot of its content from research financed by the Pioneer Fund, a white supremacist organisation created in 1937 for “the improvement of the white race” and led by Richard Lynn, a race psychologist who gave feedback to the authors of The Bell Curve before publication.

    In line with his beliefs on race, Sam Harris also claimed that most of what is said by the Black Lives Matter movement is “dangerously and offensively irrational”. Reducing the Black Lives Matter movement to the question of police shootings, he went on to claim that 99% of police killings of black people in the United States is a legitimate use of force and that shootings of innocents are largely due to the fact “people don’t understand how to behave around cops so as to keep themselves safe”.

    As is often the case when it comes to conservative ideology, Harris downplays the role of imperialism, slavery, segregation and colonisation when discussing race, preferring to focus on biological factors as well as on a very simplistic understanding of culture. Just like Peterson, Sam Harris knows how to convey the feeling that his views are moderate and nuanced, that they represent the scientific consensus. But at the end of the day, he and Peterson’s contribution has been to bring far-right ideas into the mainstream, ideas that pose a direct threat to the safety of most of us in society.

    Finally Douglas Murray, the “moderator” of the debate, is a British journalist who rejects the concept of Islamophobia and wrote a book entitled “The strange Death of Europe, Immigration, Identity, Islam”. The title says it all.

    By accepting to host such a panel, the multinational telecommunication company Three is profiting off of the spread of deeply racist and misogynistic ideologies. Since it was created, the 3arena had exclusively hosted concerts. Whether Three was merely guided by a profit motive or by an actual complacency toward the views of the panel is something the company should be pressured to clarify.

    Some will argue that this is a matter of free speech, that even if the panel is entirely right wing and even if it is the only time this venue has ever been used for a political debate, the fact Jordan Peterson, Sam Harris and Douglas Murray are able to invest such a stage is surely proof that their ideas are superior and legitimately becoming mainstream.

    On the contrary, it should be argued that this is a telling sign that the liberal marketplace of ideas is no less corrupt than the free-market is as a means to allocate goods and resources.

    In the face of rising fascism across the globe, it is high time for liberals to come to terms with the fact that the ideologies that spread best aren’t necessarily the ones backed with the best arguments, but often ones that are backed with money, conveniently elude context, offer simple explanations and use fear and hatred as a currency.

    Sources:
    https://www.jacobinmag.com/2018/04/r...bal-bell-curve

    https://itsgoingdown.org/an-anarchis...rdan-peterson/

    http://mondoweiss.net/2012/06/sam-harris-uncovered/

    https://www.theguardian.com/science/...a-hornets-nest

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/truthto...slim-response/

    https://psmag.com/education/jordan-p...toward-fascism

    https://www.vox.com/world/2018/3/26/...rules-for-life

    https://www.huffingtonpost.com/since..._11680182.html

    https://www.alaraby.co.uk/english/co...te-nationalism

    https://theoutline.com/post/4024/and...=1&zi=6wi7gqdi

    https://www.wired.com/story/sam-harr...ional-thought/

    https://bullshitphilosophy.wordpress...ag/sam-harris/

    http://www.nybooks.com/daily/2018/03...ist-mysticism/
    What exactly is the appeal with this guy? I don't get it.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Jordan Peterson

    I can understand to an extent the attraction of seeing the likes of Murray/Harris speak...as for Peterson...beats me. If it's any consolation seems that they had to significantly reduce the ticket price to sell a respectable number...if they kept it at €50 they probably would have been embarrassed by the low turnout.
    "If you go far enough to either extreme of the political spectrum, Communist or fascist, you'll find hard-eyed men with guns who believe that anybody who doesn't think as they do should be incarcerated or exterminated. " - Jim Garrison, Former DA, New Orleans.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Jordan Peterson

    Peterson is so obviously full of 100% Grade-A horseshyte it amazes me that even the sort of knuckle-dragging three-thumbed mouth-breathing inbreed that is attracted to fascist politics can't see the man is a total fraud.

    Though I did see one comment somewhere recently to the effect that Peterson is a moron's idea of what an intellectual sounds like

    His "debate" with Matt Dillahunty a few weeks ago was hilariously Stupid. Peterson always denies being a Christian Fundamenalist whackjob but Matt managed to gradually pin him down to making the usual far-right Christian fundy lunatic claims. There is no such thing as an atheist just people who are angry at God; there can be no morals or ethics without God; if atheists genuinely did not believe in God then they would "logically" run around raping and murdering so the fact most atheists live peaceful law-abiding lives "proves" they aren't actually atheists and deep down they do Believe....ya know, the usual deranged swivel-eyed gibberish.

    It's the same with all these so-called "Dark Web Intellectuals", and the so-called "alt-right" in general. It's just the same tired old 14th-century reactionary religious conservatism, white ethno-tribalist xenophobia, and rigid authoritarian misogyny, tarted up with a dash of lipstick and some fancy-sounding but ultimately completely meaningless pseudo-intellectual rhetoric/waffle.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Jordan Peterson

    Quote Originally Posted by Sidewinder View Post
    Peterson is so obviously full of 100% Grade-A horseshyte it amazes me that even the sort of knuckle-dragging three-thumbed mouth-breathing inbreed that is attracted to fascist politics can't see the man is a total fraud.

    Though I did see one comment somewhere recently to the effect that Peterson is a moron's idea of what an intellectual sounds like

    His "debate" with Matt Dillahunty a few weeks ago was hilariously Stupid. Peterson always denies being a Christian Fundamenalist whackjob but Matt managed to gradually pin him down to making the usual far-right Christian fundy lunatic claims. There is no such thing as an atheist just people who are angry at God; there can be no morals or ethics without God; if atheists genuinely did not believe in God then they would "logically" run around raping and murdering so the fact most atheists live peaceful law-abiding lives "proves" they aren't actually atheists and deep down they do Believe....ya know, the usual deranged swivel-eyed gibberish.

    It's the same with all these so-called "Dark Web Intellectuals", and the so-called "alt-right" in general. It's just the same tired old 14th-century reactionary religious conservatism, white ethno-tribalist xenophobia, and rigid authoritarian misogyny, tarted up with a dash of lipstick and some fancy-sounding but ultimately completely meaningless pseudo-intellectual rhetoric/waffle.
    I listened to his, rather soft, interview on Marian Finucane, and I think your description is spot on.

    Bit scary that he can draw such a crowd (even if it were free, but that's not the case). He's obviously peddling a message a significant number want to hear.

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    Default Re: Jordan Peterson

    I think Peterson is prone to making sweeping statements, or mis-statements, about the left and about academia. Overall, he is completely wrong about what the left stands for.

    However, I agree with him on a few issues. For example I think he is right to say that gender, like sex, is hard-wired. He is also correct to warn of the nonsense of "cultural appropriation."

    The left should not feel any obligation to embrace each and every superficially "progressive" viewpoint. Doing so just robs the left of credibility and public support and plays to the unbalanced and jaundiced portrayals of the left such as that used by Peterson.

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    Default Re: Jordan Peterson

    Funny how he thinks trans and gay people are cultural marxists. In my experience theyre almost always right wing middle class types with a loathing of the poor.

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    Default Re: Jordan Peterson

    Quote Originally Posted by Saoirse go Deo View Post
    I listened to his, rather soft, interview on Marian Finucane, and I think your description is spot on.

    Bit scary that he can draw such a crowd (even if it were free, but that's not the case). He's obviously peddling a message a significant number want to hear.
    *shrugs*

    Like Trump, or Rees-Mogg. Or closer to home, die-hard FFailure voters.

    We're just going to have to accept that approx 35%-ish of the population of any given country are thundering morons who will swallow any old bullsh1t, in fact the more deranged, authoritarian and hate-filled the message the more they'll lap it up. Facts, evidence, knowledge, logic, cause-and-effect, thinking things through, coherent policies don't matter to these balloons - in fact they actively fear and hate silly auld facts.

    The challenge is to

    A) motivate the 65% that aren't c0ckwombling fnckwits to actually bloody vote and
    B) design our systems so that whenever this block of drooling cretins get all fired up by some snakeoil-peddling demagogue, that once in power they can't actually do any real damage.

    You'd think we would have learned this from the 1930s but meh. All this has happened before, all this will happen again.

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