Partly because I’m growing tired of the frequent puncturings of his obvious lunacy, even the well-written ones, because he and his fanboys just keep blithering on. The latest, though, by Pankaj Mishra in the New York Review of Books, seems to have had some effect — Peterson is raging on Twitter and threatening to slap him. You know, that “underlying threat of physicality” that Peterson believes to be a necessary part of our social interactions.
I sympathize. If I met Mishra, I’d have to get physical too, and shake his hand.
Closer examination, however, reveals Peterson’s ageless insights as a typical, if not archetypal, product of our own times: right-wing pieties seductively mythologized for our current lost generations.
Peterson himself credits his intellectual awakening to the Cold War, when he began to ponder deeply such “evils associated with belief” as Hitler, Stalin, and Mao, and became a close reader of Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago. This is a common intellectual trajectory among Western right-wingers who swear by Solzhenitsyn and tend to imply that belief in egalitarianism leads straight to the guillotine or the Gulag. A recent example is the English polemicist Douglas Murray who deplores the attraction of the young to Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren and wishes that the idea of equality was “tainted by an ideological ordure equivalent to that heaped on the concept of borders.” Peterson confirms his membership of this far-right sect by never identifying the evils caused by belief in profit, or Mammon: slavery, genocide, and imperialism.
Reactionary white men will surely be thrilled by Peterson’s loathing for “social justice warriors” and his claim that divorce laws should not have been liberalized in the 1960s. Those embattled against political correctness on university campuses will heartily endorse Peterson’s claim that “there are whole disciplines in universities forthrightly hostile towards men.” Islamophobes will take heart from his speculation that “feminists avoid criticizing Islam because they unconsciously long for masculine dominance.” Libertarians will cheer Peterson’s glorification of the individual striver, and his stern message to the left-behinds (“Maybe it’s not the world that’s at fault. Maybe it’s you. You’ve failed to make the mark.”). The demagogues of our age don’t read much; but, as they ruthlessly crack down on refugees and immigrants, they can derive much philosophical backup from Peterson’s sub-chapter headings: “Compassion as a vice” and “Toughen up, you weasel.”
And you call me a fascist? You sanctimonious prick. If you were in my room at the moment, I'd slap you happily. https://t.co/sC3Lc9Hhlu
— Jordan B Peterson (@jordanbpeterson) March 20, 2018
Yeah, if those quotes were attributed to me, I’d be pissed off, too.