Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Regarding Jordan Peterson

"Arguably the most manipulative feature of 12 Rules for Life is the author’s repeated reference to procreation as the driving force of human behavior: time and again this or that proposition is supported by reference to the mating patterns of humans or animals. Given that so many of his readers appear to be young men struggling with masculinity issues, this is fiendishly clever in its appeal to their deepest insecurities: reinvent yourself as a brutal Nietzschean strongman and you’ll get some. (The patriarchal loathing for women implicit in this formulation — which presents them as markers of success or failure, rather than people to be connected with on a human level — hardly needs spelling out.)

"The world is full of snake oil salesmen; why should this one concern us particularly? Because male self-pity is a killer. There’s a white supremacist in the White House, and far-rightist violence — both Islamic and Anglo-Saxon — is a clear and present threat. In the wake of yet another mass shooting in the United States — the high school massacre in Parkland, Florida, where a teenage gunman has taken 17 innocent lives — it’s high time we gave up the complacent pretense that toxic machismo is merely an adolescent affectation or a symptom of some nebulous thing called “mental illness.” Yes, it’s a pathology; but it’s also an ideology, a system of thought in its own right, with its own intellectuals and proselytizers. In the current climate it behooves us to be extra vigilant about the creeping normalization of reactionary chauvinism, and call it out when we see it. What happens in the realm of discourse has consequences in the real world.

"Admittedly it’s not always easy to distinguish between a harmless retro eccentric and a peddler of poisonous and potentially murderous ideas. So let’s take stock: Masculinist persecution myth? Check. Repeated appeals to Darwinism to justify social hierarchies? Check. A left-wing conspiracy to take over the culture? Check. Romanticization of suffering? Check. Neurotic angst about “chaos”? Check. Like many of his sort, Peterson sees himself as a defender of the best traditions of Western civilization and the Enlightenment. But there is an old adage: if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, chances are it’s a duck."

See also: Jordan Peterson or Islamist Cleric?

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