Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Who is Jordan Peterson and Why Should I Care?

I've heard the name. He's some professor from Toronto. But apparently he's a big deal, enough so that Foreign Policy thinks he's some sort of latter day Pied Piper luring young men into the embrace of authoritarianism.

The psychologist’s mass appeal hinges on his ability to speak to what one might call the spiritual crisis of masculinity in the West: the deep sense of uselessness and emasculation that an increasing number of men claim to feel due to globalization, technological change, and civil rights gains by feminists and various ethnic minorities.

Peterson’s philosophy is difficult to assess because it is constructed of equal parts apocalyptic alarm and homespun advice. Like the Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung, whom he cites as an intellectual influence, Peterson is fond of thinking in terms of grand dualities — especially the opposition of order and chaos. Order, in his telling, consists of everything that is routine and predictable, while chaos corresponds to all that is unpredictable and novel.

For Peterson, living well requires walking the line between the two. He is hardly the first thinker to make this point; another of his heroes, the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, harking back to the ancient Greeks, suggested that life is best lived between the harmony of Apollo and the madness of Dionysus. But while Peterson claims both order and chaos are equally important, he is mainly concerned with the perils posed by the latter — hence his rules. 
In his books and lectures, Peterson describes chaos as “feminine.” Order, of course, is “masculine.” So the threat of being overwhelmed by chaos is the threat of being overwhelmed by femininity. The tension between chaos and order plays out in both the personal sphere and the broader cultural landscape, where chaos is promoted by those “neo-Marxist postmodernists” whose nefarious influence has spawned radical feminism, political correctness, moral relativism, and identity politics. 
At the core of Peterson’s social program is the idea that the onslaught of femininity must be resisted. Men need to get tough and dominant. And, in Peterson’s mind, women want this, too. He tells us in 12 Rules for Life: “If they’re healthy, women don’t want boys. They want men.… If they’re tough, they want someone tougher. If they’re smart, they want someone smarter.” “Healthy” women want men who can “outclass” them. That’s Peterson’s reason for frequently referencing the Jungian motif of the hero: the square-jawed warrior who subdues the feminine powers of chaos. Don’t be a wimp, he tells us. Be a real man. 
This machismo is of a piece with Jung but also a caricature of Nietzsche’s philosophy, particularly the thinker’s Übermensch (superman), who escapes the stultifying effects of a culture in decline. “I am no man,” Nietzsche once claimed. “I am dynamite!” Dynamite, from the Greek dunamis, meaning “power.” That is what Peterson’s acolytes are after. It is no accident that one of his video lectures is titled “How to Rise to the Top of the Dominance Hierarchy.”
I'm not into philosophy. I post this merely for those who are. Is Canada's great public intellectual of the day a dark threat of some sort as this article suggests? Earlier today I came across an article in The New Republic discussing the rise of a new "male superiority" movement that takes misogyny to a disturbing new level. The article begins with Mark Lepine's massacre of 14 women at Montreal's Ecole Polytechnique in 1989.

When Marc Lépine murdered 14 women at Montreal’s École Polytechnique in 1989, he claimed that he was “fighting feminism.” When Anders Breivik murdered 77 people in Norway in 2011, he was in large part motivated by his hatred of feminism, which he considered a poison and threat to the future of European men. And when Elliot Rodger killed six people in Isla Vista, California, in 2014, he said he did it to punish young women for rejecting him and sleeping with other men instead. 
In February, the Southern Poverty Law Center added two male supremacist websites to its list of hate groups, for the first time categorizing male supremacy as an explicit ideology of hate. The ideology of male supremacy, according to the SPLC, represents all women as “genetically inferior, manipulative, and stupid” beings who exist primarily for their reproductive and sexual functions. Gender-essentializing male supremacists rely on cherry-picked science and anthropology to bolster their claims that men are inherently dominant. Not only do women owe men sex, they believe, but men are entitled to take it from them.  
Return of Kings is one of the two male supremacist organizations listed by the SPLC. A Voice for Men, founded by Paul Elam, is the other. While Elam’s “men’s rights” movement has enjoyed some favorable media coverage, and he has managed to present himself as a moderate voice for men’s equality, he is no less dangerous, having advocated for both physical and sexual violence against women.  
It doesn’t take longer than a minute on either group’s website to find horrific examples of misogyny and male supremacy on display. “Fatties and feminists” complain about rape because no one wants to have sex with them, wrote one Return of Kings contributor whose bio says he hopes for the “re-birth of tribal-minded men with the core tenants of masculinity.” White women make themselves “unsuitable for handing on Western civilization” when they are “promiscuous,” get tattoos, pursue careers, or enjoy black culture, wrote another.

“You want to reach a point where you have high expectations of a woman but she has little expectations of you,” wrote Daryush “Roosh” Valizadeh, founder of Return of Kings, in a recent blog post. “She must give you submission while you do as you may.”
Is this just the handiwork of a gaggle of insecure goons alienated from the opposite gender or could this be the breaching of a new divide, one of many, that afflicts our society?

Both articles deserve a careful read. What do you think?


Anonymous said...

My $0.02

Roosh or whatever he calls himself and his ilk are malcontents who have not developed the social skills to properly conduct themselves with women but who grew up with easy access to porn and so have been subtly, or no so subtly, influenced into thinking that they have a right to sex and that women are there for their pleasure and to be degraded.

I think this is partly their own fault and partly the fault of their predecessors. Being a gen X-er I see that many of my cohort (a) weren't given much guidance in social niceties by their parents and (b) never tried that hard to fix this and do better by their kids. We figured it out, mostly, so they will too.

And,this, I think is where Peterson comes in. He is providing a male role model and social guidance for those who feel the lack of this in their lives. Add to this his "rebel" stance on pronoun use for transgendered people and you have a recipe for an almost cult-like following.

- PF

Jay Farquharson said...

"this just the handiwork of a gaggle of insecure goons alienated from the opposite gender or could this be the breaching of a new divide, one of many, that afflicts our society?

Both articles deserve a careful read. What do you think? "

Peterson is "you tube" famous, and as PZ Meyer's at Pharyngula and Kinella and many others have pointed out, he's a gishgallop crank.

As for MGTOW's, all you will ever need to read about that tiny portion of the internet, is We Hunted the Mammoth.

A perfect example is La Meute, ( The Wolfpack), Quebec's Quebecqois Nazi's.

Depending on the day, depending how they are feeling, 30,000 to 60,000 "strong" on line.

The most they've ever managed to get out to a "protest", or "action" as they call it, was around 25.

They did get roughly 125 out to a free "banquet", ( try the chicken fingers) once.

It's basically the self same "survivors" of Gamergate, who have figured out a way to "monetize" You Tube, and play the suckers for "rube(l)s" on line.

If you have a 36 year old man-baby, unemployed, catered to hand and mouth, living in your basement, not looking for work, and spending all their time online, then you have a problem.

the salamander said...

.. not a huge fan of Wendy Mesley on CBC
but she interviewed this lug
and In my view he was one of the most boring
obscure evasive lugnuts I've ever seen or heard..
and she was quite patient with the thug

Now keep in mind I produced directed edited
hundreds of high end educational & medical vids
Interviews with psych exemplars
workshops & seminars and so I have opinions
and I have a solid background in the field

This guy is the current golden boy
but watch and listen to the evasive obscure dissembling
and self pretension larding every statement

The guy is tumbling from the collapsing railing
of his ivory tower into the sea.. and some see genius in that

Wondrous.. something to cling to when your ship sinks..
and you're now skipper of some debris
and hoping it will keep floating

Jay Farquharson said...

From PZ Meyr's

"A useful compendium of Petersonia

In case you need it, here’s a Jordan Peterson resource page.

Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson became famous after he spouted transphobia and refused to use they/them pronouns to address nonbinary students in his classes. He then published a wildly popular self-help book 12 Rules for Life, and has been lauded in the popular press as a leading voice for disaffected men. Center right pundits like Conor Fridersdorf and David Brooks have held him up as an honest and important thinker, unfairly maligned by the left.

Unfortunately, Peterson’s writing and YouTube videos are a bolus of nonsense, resentment, and bigotry. This page provides resources explaining the problems with Peterson’s worldview and arguments.

Also unfortunately, Peterson’s lobster swarm is fanatical and impervious to argument, so if you cross them, you’ll want some backup. I recommend just citing this page at ’em and then ignoring them."

And links:

Jay Farquharson said...


Anonymous said...

If you need a bolus of nonsense Jay, then do not piss on Peterson's work but rather on the unintelligible absurd and meaningless musings of rabid men-haters. Do not forget to ponder on the messages embedded in the Duplo/Lego blocks. And respond to us, pronto, with their meaning.

Mound, Peterson just calls a spade a spade. Nothing infuriates folks using a doublespeak more. Because, King, ooops, Queen is naked!

Jay Farquharson said...


Who knew Peterson was big in Russia?


Anonymous said...

I'm a car nut. In the US, you'll come across enthusiasts of the middle class persuasion who are gung-ho Trumpists. They are not redneck gullibillies of the variety commonly thought of here. No, these are people who can quote chapter and verse to back up their theories. Yes, eugenics is back. People with smaller heads have smaller brains, so ergo aren't as intelligent. Like women. And folks, no doubt about it, blacks lag in IQ to whites. Guaranteed. All testing shows it. No word about whether IQ tests themselves are any good to begin with.

If you like to work yourself up into a righteous rage, and want to see what well-written guff comes over as, then hie yourself to:
And remember, we're all liberal snowflakes who refuse to see the natural order. This stuff isn't wildly awful like the people Anti-Racist Canada man chases down. It's middle class upset white males. And the writing is good - Baruth is a professional writer for Road and Track, and The Truth About Cars, a Torstar property. Sherlock is a retired businessman in the Oregon/Washington area.

It'll give you another angle trying to understand the support Trump has outside hollowed-out small town America. What to us makes sense on a gut level impresses these people not at all. They're not Alberta farmer types with no education. You need to know the "enemy's" thinking.


Jay Farquharson said...


I guess BM stands for "bowel movement",


The Mound of Sound said...

Thanks, PF, for your generational perspective. A lot of my visitors (and indeed this scribe also) are of an older generation which denotes equal parts of enhanced perspective and sometimes rigid, if not antiquarian, perception. "Why, when I was your age..."

UU4077 said...

Peterson is not nearly as smart as he thinks he is. “Feminine is chaos and masculine is order”. Really? I believe he has it backwards.

Clarke said...

I am not too familiar with a voice for men, but the little I have read does not suggest they advocate for violence against women. Even suggesting you are a men's rights advocate is likely to get you accused of pretty much everything. The Return of Kings is more sad than anything. Roosh got his start as a "pick up artist", though his writings suggest he never seemed to manage to have much sex. He acquired a hate for social welfare systems as he attributed his lack of success with women in foreign countries to the fact that the local women were not starving, so they had no motivation to hook up with him. When Trump came on the scene, Return of Kings found their saviour, so they are comfortably in the alt right camp.

Jordan Peterson is a right-wing academic whose writings are frankly really dense. Transgender people do not like him, and people on the right love him, but I doubt anyone can make it through one of his lectures.

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:47 - I would suggest you look up the meaning of the saying, "Calls a spade a spade." Since you don't know its history, I would say you aren't educated enough to give a proper assessment of Jordan Peterson's writings.
"Rabid men-haters" I don't fear because I have yet to meet ones who advocate violence as a means to an end. Not so with the people Mr. Peterson rubs elbows with and preaches to.

mr perfect

Anonymous said...

Jay, I might be wrong but I believe BM is trying to warn that racism is much deeper rooted in the American (and possibly Canadian) psyche that we can imagine, that well educated caucasian Americans still fall back on age old prejudices in their thinking.

mr perfect

Anonymous said...

Jay, wow with the ad hominem attack , at least be fare to the man

Jordan bernal Peterson born June 12, 1962 , is clinical psychologist and professor of psychology at University of Toronto , Peterson came to notoriety when in 2016/09/27 published a series of videos started with fear and the law

The video discuss bill C-16 ( which an act to amend the Canadian human rights act and the criminal code ) . Peterson claim that the bill in it's current formate infringe on freedom of speech and enact compelled speech , the Canadian bar association support the bill which passed in June 19 , 2017 and became a law . several academics and trans activists accuse him of being transphobic and several demonstration by trans activist was held in several campus against him .
It is worth noting that In november 2017, a teaching assistant at Wilfrid Laurier University named Lindsay Shepherd who showed a video Peterson's critique of Bill C-16 in her "Canadian Communication in context " class , was called in front of a panel of faculty members and was accused of violating Bill -C16 .
Peterson maintain youtube channel which he in it release his lectures and interact with audience.

He also has a patron page .
His website is

Peterson published two book

Maps of Meaning: The Architecture of Belief. 1999

12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos. 2018

Anonymous said...

I think the biggest problem is the misogynist culture , which is just brutal i think due to feminism being the mainstream ( we may disagree on what need to be done more ) the pendulum is moving the other way . The problem that i have with these sites and cultures that there is seem to be no way to face it , wehuntedthemammoth founder said that he is giving up on trying to argue with them ( MGTOW , INCEL,Red pill..etc) and started the site to monitor and having a Laugh at them, which is telling .

"A perfect example is La Meute, ( The Wolfpack), Quebec's Quebecqois Nazi's.

Depending on the day, depending how they are feeling, 30,000 to 60,000 "strong" on line.

The most they've ever managed to get out to a "protest", or "action" as they call it, was around 25.

They did get roughly 125 out to a free "banquet", ( try the chicken fingers) once."

Did you know Adolf hitler number in the german worker's party was the 555, while he was actually the 55th, they started counting from 501 because they wanted the party to look larger , they usually met in a run-down Altes Rosenbad beer-house .

You just need the right conditions and the right man for thing to start spiralling out of control.

Tal Hartsfeld said...

I think, as a matter of the principles espoused by the First Amendment, I'm of the opinion that we should simply allow sites like these to continue unabated, in spite of the level of myopically partisan-minded beliefs, contentions, or rhetoric said site appears to harbor.

Even if one finds the notions and contentions of such to be offensive or biased, just knowing what it is other folks think and believe can be advantageous in not only analyzing where the world stands in terms of its social climates, but will also expose the workings of those whose mindsets are different from the ones we have grown used to.
Kind of a "point-counterpoint" (for those who remember the early incarnations of the popular CBS "newsmagazine" show 60 MINUTES).

Anonymous said...

I love Jordan Peterson! Someone who tells it as it is! Lot of snowflakes out there! All this gender ideology and gender pronouns is absurd!