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