This one is from the Guardian.
Peterson’s opening remarks were disappointing even for his fans in the audience. They were a vague and not particularly informed (by his own admission) reading of The Communist Manifesto. His comments on one of the greatest feats of human rhetoric were full of expressions like “You have to give the devil his due” and “This is a weird one” and “Almost all ideas are wrong”.
I’ve been a professor, so I know what it’s like to wake up with a class scheduled and no lecture prepared. It felt like that. He wandered between the Paleolithic period and small business management, appearing to know as little about the former as the latter. Watching him, I was amazed that anyone had ever taken him seriously enough to hate him.
Hang on there, bucko. I’m a professor, I’ve never experienced that. I always have an outline, at least, and a set of points I want students to understand, not that I can claim I’m always fully prepared to give an elegant, well-crafted lecture. I have a bit of anxiety about just showing up and babbling extemporaneously. I have no illusion that I’m good at it.
Peterson clearly has no such concerns.
He said things like “Marx thought the proletariat was good and the bourgeoisie was evil”. At one point, he made a claim that human hierarchies are not determined by power because that would be too unstable a system, and a few in the crowd tittered. That snapped him back into his skill set: self-defense. “The people who laugh might do it that way,” he replied. By the end of his half-hour he had not mentioned the word happiness once.
Žižek didn’t really address the matter at hand, either, preferring to relish his enmities. “Most of the attacks on me are from left-liberals,” he began, hoping that “they would be turning in their graves even if they were still alive”. His remarks were just as rambling as Peterson’s, veering from Trump and Sanders to Dostoevsky to the refugee crisis to the aesthetics of Nazism. If Peterson was an ill-prepared prof, Žižek was a columnist stitching together a bunch of 1,000-worders. He too finished his remarks with a critique of political correctness, which he described as the world of impotence that masks pure defeat.
I am not particularly fond of this assertion, though.
And they both agreed, could not have agreed more, that it was all the fault of the “academic left”. They seemed to believe that the “academic left”, whoever that might be, was some all-powerful cultural force rather than the impotent shrinking collection of irrelevances it is. If the academic left is all-powerful, they get to indulge in their victimization.
And that was the great irony of the debate: what it comes down to is that they believe they are the victims of a culture of victimization. They play the victim as much as their enemies. It’s all anyone can do at this point.
I am too powerful and influential and relevant! I am! <flails wildly, falls to knees> I am important!
Validate me! Please!