Jordan Peterson and Generalising the Left

Oh Jordan Peterson, you saviour of the neckbeards, you tidier of untidy rooms, you pariah of lobsters; its been a couple of years since you railed against Canada’s hate-speech laws, and yet, you are still here and going stronger than ever. You have had radio interviews, television appearances, a bestselling self-help book, and a public profile that has been likened to that of a rock star.You have been pitted as the antidote to the “SJW” generation, to the league of feminists and “mao-like” trans activists, to the Marxist intellectuals who want to destroy western civilisation for good. But as I delve into your collective interviews and online lectures, I find myself confused, disappointed even, for your acclaimed political theories show nothing but an inept, and dangerous, understanding of philosophy, political theory, and left-wing thought.

Now, you might be thinking some of those are spurious claims:

Inept? Dangerous? Isn’t that going a little too far?’  You might ask me.

‘Yes, yes, and no.’ Are the answers I would give to those three questions respectively, and here is why:

Jordan Peterson, as an intellectual and long-standing academic, appears to be the monolithic product of counter-culture, conservative soul searching. He dislikes feminists, thinks society has grown to become too sensitive, and talks a great deal about free speech. The perfect trio, for any budding Republican/Tory out there yearning for a respectable, intelligent looking mouthpiece to propagate their fears of left-wingers and progressives; and propagate fears of left-wingers and progressives he does, but with such a great deal more intellectual bankruptcy that you may think yourself back in McCarthyist America.

To sum up the magnum opus of his political rationale: Peterson believes that a host of postmodern academics have infiltrated various top universities, and have used their influence to develop and spread the values of Marxism, communism and identity politics as a threat to the norms of western civilisation. This statement is often touted in his lectures, and therefore agreed upon by many of his fans; which is unfortunate, for the whole thing makes a hideous lack of sense. To use ‘postmodernism’, a field of thought which is sceptical of all forms of human categorisation, and then place it alongside such ideas as ‘Marxism’ and ‘identity politics’, which categorise people wholeheartedly, should be seen as intellectual sacrilege by all. But it isn’t, and most likely never will be, for people like Peterson will always take these theories and conflate them out of both a lack of knowledge and a naive fear; and it is this kind of ignorant prejudice that has him, and many others, using terms such as ‘feminist’, ‘neo-Marxist’, ‘postmodernist’ and ‘social-progressive’ interchangeably. This is deeply disturbing, for it is not only wrong, but it threatens the accuracy and diversity of political discourse. It needs to stop. Now.

This isn’t just some sofa-sitting, keyboard-wrangling online prattle either, for Peterson is taking his hatred of made up hive-minds to the battlefield. ‘Sociology, that’s corrupt. Anthropology, that’s corrupt. English literature, that’s corrupt’, he says, giving a list of departments he would like to be shut down or monitored, ‘maybe the worst offenders are the faculties of education.’ Maddening stuff, really, when you consider his own comments on the danger of the government interfering in free speech, and even more maddening when you see the damage this does to the public’s perception of certain political perspectives. If I hear someone calling Corbyn a communist, or using trans-activist and marxist in the same sentence one more time, I think I might cry.

Peterson is a clinical psychologist, not a political theorist. Don’t allow him to wield authority over such matters just because he dresses well, carries himself respectively and has a decent command of rhetoric. It is the same wilful following that allows other, well-spoken individuals such as Rees-Mogg to get away with making obscene political comments about left-wing thought; how else could he get away with calling the Windrush scandal an act of ‘socialism’? Something tells me Diane Abbott would not be so lucky. Stick to your own principals and ethics and make sure you know the facts before believing everything you hear from such influential figures making a name for themselves in contemporary society.

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