(Rick Madonik/Toronto Star)
Nevertheless, The Rise of Jordan Peterson comes to me as a relief. Prior to Peterson, the position of the hip professor loved by college students (with all sorts of memes and merchandises using his image), was occupied by Slavoj iek.
Jordan Peterson, the Canadian psychologist and global thought leader, is a frequent topic of exploration for authors at Merion West. Petersons work is often discussed, both by his supporters and critics at this outlet. Thus far, I have remained on the sidelines of these debates. But, given the degree to which Peterson has become a cultural icon, I suppose the time has come for me to weigh-in. And, as intellectual apprentices usually do when it comes to engaging with a topic they do not already know much about, I began by watching an introductory film.
The Rise of Jordan Peterson, directed by Patricia Marcoccia, is very useful in this regard: for serving as an introduction for a Jordan Peterson neophyte like me. Needless to say, in just ninety minutes, the film cannot address all the complexities of Petersons thought. However, it does an effective job in presenting Petersons main views. The film is never dull, andlike any good good intellectual portraitit also offers a glimpse into Petersons personality and private life. And, true to Petersons own intellectual spirit, the film is fully open to dialogue, avoiding a one-sided portrait. Both enthusiasts and adversaries are given their due in the film.
As the film tells it, Peterson rose to fame when he announced he would not comply with the Canadian governments requirement to address someone by their preferred pronoun; predictably the transgender community in Toronto was not happy about this, and some tried to silence Peterson. The first half of the film focuses on this controversy. While watching it, I could not help being reminded of the 1967 Muhammad Ali vs. Ernie Terrell fight, in which Aliresentful that his adversary called him Cassius Claycontinuously yells, Whats my name, fool? I suppose that many of us have felt like Muhammad Ali at some point in our lives: some of us hold dear an identity, but society refuses to acknowledge who we are. Yet, as the case of Rachel Dolezal proves, our culture isat bestinconsistent andat worsthypocritical. If you are biologically male but feel like a woman, you are entitled to being acknowledged as such. However, if you look white but feel like an African American, somehow you are a monster. If one even dares to point out the obvious parallelisms between transracial and transgender identities, one assumes the risk of being on the receiving end of bullying from the Social Justice wing of the Left, as Rebecca Tuvel learned the hard way.
Now, Ali was a tough guy, and he fought hard to receive the identity recognition he desired. Sadly, the transgender community seeks the easy way: they want the State to punish those whoeven without intent to cause harmfail to address them with the pronouns they choose for themselves. And this is the crux of Petersons crusade: it is not so much a transgender issue but, rather, a free speech issue. The State must not be in the business of regulating silly little words; to do so would, indeed, bring us closer to totalitarianism. I think Muhammad Ali would have agreed.
As the film goes on, this concern with totalitarianism comes up as a constant in Petersons thought. He appears obsessed with the Soviet Union, to the point of having his house replete with Soviet propaganda paintingsperhaps as a reminder of where the West might be headed if the culture of political correctness continues its expansion. This, however, is where Peterson looses steam and becomes harder to take seriously.
For example, in one scene, Peterson mocks a portrait of Marx, and then there are the occasions when he speaks about the threat of Cultural Marxism. Marx may have been wrong on many things, but he never proposed any totalitarian scheme. Furthermore, Peterson speaks a lot about Cultural Marxism, but it is never clear exactly what he means by itother than a sort of suggestion that there exists a secret cabal that is using some hidden agenda to rule the world. The professor does appear to dip into the conspiratorial every once in a while. In the film, one twelve-year-old child approaches him to express admiration and begins to rant about how his teachers are all Cultural Marxists and how his classmates do all they can to keep the teacher in check. Peterson does nothing to tone down the childs paranoia, and I would suspect that, actually, the childs teacher is the one who would be afraid to speak his mind in class. It seemed to me this particular child was not unlike those activists thatin the first half of the filmhad sought to deplatform Peterson.
In the film, one of Petersons friends and colleagues at the University of Toronto, cleverly says that Peterson ultimately becomes very similar to what he so vehemently criticizes. Indeed, Peterson has proposed scrutinizing college courses about their level of political correctnessso as to warn students not to take them. This is very concerning. The overzealous opposition to Stalinism can lead to McCarthyism, its mirror image. And, it seems to me that Peterson is falling into this trap.
He is certainly right in criticizing the Soviet Union as a totalitarian State. But, tellingly, he has little to say about post-Soviet Russia. Now, any reasonable person would agree that Putins Russia is almost as authoritarian as the Soviet Union. But, somehow, many conservatives do have a soft spot for Putinon account, perhaps, of his muscular approach to politics, views on sexuality, relationship with the Russian Orthodox Church, and, of course, his relationship with Trump. My guess is that Peterson would also have some degree of sympathy for Putin (although Peterson acknowledges that he is not so certain about Putins honesty), precisely because Putin seems to embody the anti-political correctness that the West desperately needs.
Peterson has great admiration for Solzhenitsyn. Solzhenitsyn certainly can be admired for many things, but he was not exactly a great representative of anti-totalitarian liberalism. Solzhenitsyn was a victim of Soviet totalitarianism, but he still wanted a Russian society that would go back to Czarist traditions (not exactly the apex of an open society). I suspect that, were he alive today,Solzhenitsyn would not be too dissatisfied with Putins approach (Solzhenitsyns widow is a big fan).
So, as the film itself portrays it, it is not entirely clear that Peterson is wholly removed from the kind of authoritarianism he abhors. Take, for example, Petersons constant plea to youngsters to clean up their room. Now, of course, hygiene and tidiness are important. But interestingly, obsession with these things does have an association with authoritarian personalities, which as Adorno famously claimed, can lead to totalitarian politics.
Nevertheless, The Rise of Jordan Peterson comes to me as a relief. Prior to Peterson, the position of the hip professor loved by college students (with all sorts of memes and merchandises using his image), was occupied by Slavoj iek. A film about him was also made. I would say Zizek!is one of the worst films I have ever seen; for two hours, iek spouts incomprehensible and ridiculous claims, and, of course, his books are not any better. By contrast, Peterson is a straight-forward, no-nonsense type of guy who does say many reasonable things. But, the beast must be tamed. This is where The Rise of Jordan Peterson excels: it presents a mans courageous fight to put an end to all the campus craziness overtaking North America; yet at the same time, it provides useful hints about the limits that must constrain this new crusade against political correctness.
Dr. Gabriel Andrade is a university professor. He has previously contributed to Areo Magazine and DePauw Universitys The Prindle Post. His twitter is@gandrade80
Go here to see the original:
Writing about Jordan Peterson for the First Time - Merion West
- Understanding the Viciousness of Jordan Peterson's Critics - Merion West - March 27th, 2020
- Rosie Huntington-Whiteley Has Mastered The Art Of Waist-Up Dressing - British Vogue - March 27th, 2020
- Five hours to change your life with Jordan Peterson - Patheos - March 27th, 2020
- If people stand up in the face of the things they are afraid of, they get stronger - The Indian Express - March 27th, 2020
- Prof still fighting school's demand to call he a 'she' - OneNewsNow - March 18th, 2020
- Patrick Peterson: Cardinals 'all in' this year and 'not done' - Cards Wire - March 18th, 2020
- Tips, links and suggestions: what are you reading this week? - The Guardian - March 18th, 2020
- What Happened to Jordan Peterson? - The New Republic - March 15th, 2020
- Inside the Treatment of Jordan Peterson - InsideHook - March 15th, 2020
- Christopher Booker: Groupthink review an uncritical history of political correctness - The Arts Desk - March 15th, 2020
- 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos: Jordan B ... - March 9th, 2020
- The best recent poetry review roundup - The Guardian - March 9th, 2020
- Jordan Peterson Checks into Rehab Following Wife's Cancer ... - March 9th, 2020
- Jordan Peterson Wife: The Truth About Tammy Peterson - Who - February 28th, 2020
- Podcast giant Joe Rogan coming to Tampas Amalie Arena - Tampa Bay Times - February 28th, 2020
- Is Wall Street on the Brink of Disaster? - Stock Investor - February 28th, 2020
- The Travesty of Comparing Jordan Peterson to Hitler - Merion West - February 25th, 2020
- What Douglas Murray's Book Does Well (And Where It Falters) - Merion West - February 24th, 2020
- Jordan Peterson: the One Who Helped Me When I Most Needed It - Merion West - February 20th, 2020
- 'He could've killed somebody': Victim in Boise 11-car hit-and-run crash reacts to wild video - KTVB.com - February 20th, 2020
- A Controversial Study Claimed To Explain Why Women Dont Go Into Science And Tech. It Just Got A 1,113-Word Correction. - BuzzFeed News - February 20th, 2020
- Feb. 18: The story of Bombardier could have been easily avoided. Readers react to Bombardiers fortunes, facial recognition, Jordan Peterson, plus... - February 20th, 2020
- Meet the Petersons: the controversial family plagued by ill health - Telegraph.co.uk - February 20th, 2020
- Ex-benzodiazepine user relating to Peterson says withdrawal 'hell' needs awareness - The Chronicle Journal - February 20th, 2020
- Jordan Peterson enters rehab after wife's cancer diagnosis - February 9th, 2020
- Jordan Peterson recovering from tranquilizer addiction in Russia - New York Post - February 8th, 2020
- He nearly died several times: Controversial academic Jordan Peterson seeks to recover from addiction, daughter says - Toronto Star - February 8th, 2020
- EXCLUSIVE: Update on the health of Dr. Jordan B. Peterson - The Post Millennial - February 8th, 2020
- Is bragging about sex to other women 'emotional cheating'? - Stuff.co.nz - February 6th, 2020
- Filmmakers Discuss THE RISE OF JORDAN PETERSON On Tom Needham's SOUNDS OF FILM - Broadway World - February 2nd, 2020
- Bernie Broke My Heart When He Embraced Rogan's Endorsement - The Nation - February 2nd, 2020
- How Fox News Weaponizes Art + Two Other Illuminating Pieces of Criticism From Around the Web - artnet News - February 2nd, 2020
- The Masculinity Crisis - Unraveling the Threads - The Good Men Project - February 2nd, 2020
- Red flags: The enemies of bias - Asheboro Courier Tribune - January 30th, 2020
- It's Good That Joe Rogan Endorsed Bernie. Now We Have to Organize. - Jacobin magazine - January 26th, 2020
- Joe Rogans Endorsement: The Stain On Bernie Sanders That Some Voters Think Makes Him More Attractive - Forbes - January 26th, 2020
- Dame Sarah Connolly: Brexit will inhibit the lives of musicians - Palatinate - January 26th, 2020
- College professors donate to Democrats over Republicans by ratio of 95-to-1: Study - Washington Examiner - January 24th, 2020
- Jordan Peterson: Descensus ad inferos - January 13th, 2020
- Jordan Peterson and the Cult of Genius - The Good Men Project - January 13th, 2020
- Anti-Jordan Peterson professor accused of abuse of power by former colleague, students - The Post Millennial - January 13th, 2020
- 'No Safe Spaces' ignores the attacks on free speech from the right - INSIDER - January 13th, 2020
- Jordan Peterson in Rehab After 'Horrific' Withdrawal - January 10th, 2020
- America Remains the Land of Opportunity. For Everything Else, Theres Gold. - Forbes - January 8th, 2020
- Make 2020 the year of your programming side hustle - Coffee Talk: Java, News, Stories and Opinions - TheServerSide.com - January 8th, 2020
- The End of Pseudo-Liberalism | John Waters - First Things - January 6th, 2020
- Jordan Peterson Destroys Q&A | 25 February 2019 - January 4th, 2020
- New at Disney World and Disneyland in 2020: Avengers Campus, Epcot updates - USA TODAY - January 4th, 2020
- Did 2019 mark a decline in the power of the transgender mob? - Lifesite - January 4th, 2020
- Jordan Peterson - Wikipedia - January 1st, 2020
- What Jordan Peterson Gets Right And Wrong About Sacrifice ... - January 1st, 2020
- Jordan B. Peterson - January 1st, 2020
- The Rise of Jordan Peterson (2019) - Rotten Tomatoes - January 1st, 2020
- Understand Myself - What You Need to Know - January 1st, 2020
- TCW's Book of the Year: Douglas Murray's The Madness of Crowds - The Conservative Woman - January 1st, 2020
- Jordan Peterson finds an unlikely readership in China, even after censors stripped away entire sections of his book - The Globe and Mail - December 31st, 2019
- The race to replace Andrew Scheer is turning into a dog and pony show - NOW Magazine - December 31st, 2019
- #YearInReview: Here's the Ten Most-Read NewsBusters Blogs of 2019 - NewsBusters - December 31st, 2019
- Health and wellness fads 2019: What were the trends and what's to come in 2020? - Stuff.co.nz - December 31st, 2019
- Jordan B Peterson - YouTube - December 21st, 2019
- Jordan Peterson | Podcast - December 21st, 2019
- They is Merriam-Websters Word of the Year. Heres why. - Vox.com - December 18th, 2019
- Yegor Zhukov Wants to Be Russia's President One Day - The Moscow Times - December 13th, 2019
- As the Year Closes: Appreciating One's Political Opponents - Merion West - December 13th, 2019
- If You Truly Believed in Gd, What Would You Be Like? - Ricochet.com - December 13th, 2019
- Should Atheists Lament the Decline of Christianity? - Patheos - December 13th, 2019
- Top five films: Best of the big screen - Sydney Morning Herald - December 13th, 2019
- Sad Wingnut Explains Slavery Saved Souls - Wonkette - December 13th, 2019
- Christmas-themed feminist slasher movie shouldn't work, but it does - The Age - December 13th, 2019
- Michelle Malkin: 'I Am an Extremist When It Comes to Telling the Truth' - CNSNews.com - December 13th, 2019