Jordan Peterson has emerged as a popular and controversial figure. He's popular because he resonates with people who a) prefer right-leaning [especially cultural] values; and b) hold moderate to right-leaning values, while appreciating or at least tolerating thoughtful discourse that does not shy away from "anti-PC" rhetoric in search of truth and societal righteousness.
Jordan Peterson is thusly very useful in 2018. He is able to both rationalize and more importantly articulate the values and perspective that compel people to shy away from the direction the left is going; to maintain a firm moderate stance - or on the other side - maybe even support Donald Trump. Indeed Jordan Peterson is perhaps the one thing Donald Trump fans and some Democrats still have in common. He is valued by people from different ideological camps. Peterson is praised by moderate Dems, conservatives, and especially libertarian minded folk. Moreover, he is touted by both atheists and religious (mostly Christian) folk alike as being a representative of some of their most deeply held values. That wide-range of appeal is both fascinating and incredibly rare in this day and age.
This of course begs the question: what makes Jordan Peterson different? For starters, he is the antithesis of identity politics, which is more obviously becoming an ever growing crutch of the left. Just last week Joe Biden launched an LGBTQ family acceptance campaign called "As You Are." While of course the values espoused in that campaign have merit (tolerance and acceptance), people can't help but notice the increased Democratic reliance on playing to people's identities, as many are speculating this campaign was indicative of Biden's interest in another political run. Many within its own party have accused establishment Democrats of a desperate devotion to identity causes, rather than focus on and provide smart, reliable and useful solutions to the problems and issues concerning most Americans today.
Another cornerstone of Peterson's appeal is his commitment to a rational, not emotionally driven conversation. This quells the reliance on hate spewing: it deters name-calling and appeals to emotion in lieu of a thoughtful exchange of ideas. Despite us sometimes falling victim to these anti-intellectual and potentially hateful exchanges (or maybe I'm just speaking for myself here...), I think most people do not want to rely so heavily on such tribalism. I think most people, deep down - at least I hope - would prefer to be thoughtful instead of ignorant. Jordan Peterson compels people to be thoughtful.
To be truly openminded, one has to let their ego subside entirely. When so much of your values rely on a reference to identity, it can be hard to let that go. Therefore many intellectually minded people on the left fall victim to the emotional appeal of progressive rhetoric. However, unwavering tolerance; irrationality in the name of morality; or a moral/cultural decline in society ought to be examined with legitimacy, even if they do fall under the "politically incorrect" category. Politically correct causes cannot be the justification for accepting any idea touted by people in society. That's where Jordan Peterson comes in. And that's what makes him both so beloved by many, and feared/loathed by just as many. He completely delegitimizes any argument that stems from one's personal struggles... regardless of how truthful or valid they may be. Instead he demands some other metric in support of one's cause.
So here are my thoughts: We know Jordan Peterson is committed to rejecting identity politics, and we should understand why this makes perfect sense. In many cases the left wing of the ideological spectrum has completely gone off the rails - insofar as aggressively and unjustifiably promoting censorship among other infractions, all in the name of political correctness or "tolerance," progression, etc. Not only has this had some counterproductive effects in some cases, but it can and has stifled some discourse entirely. There are still some of us in society who value a productive conversation. We understand there is more than one side to the story; more than one perspective to keep in mind when promoting values or policy decisions. As such, we gravitate toward Peterson's approach to reason.
And yet, Jordan Peterson fans must be careful to not automatically value everything he says, just because we very much appreciate the way he evaluates and presents his argument. We have to maintain rationality and virtue above our allegiance to his rhetoric. In reality, one's personal struggles are absolutely variables to consider when looking at a cultural (moral or political) problem. Sometimes Peterson and his supporters too aggressively deny that fact, or are too busy fighting/defending themselves to consider this important factor in the debate.
Jordan Peterson does not have all the answers. He is not always right. He often presumes or speaks on things without full grasp of the subject, and sometimes gets hypocritical. But so what? None of us have all the answers; none of us are always right. We all presume, assume, confuse or misrepresent at different times. We can all be convicted of hypocritical or conflicting values. The important thing is that we we do our best to understand and to explain to and from one another, and that we keep trying to search for truth, justice and meaning in this ever-changing and infinitely complex world. I think overall, Jordan Peterson presents a net positive insofar as promoting these things, at least at face value. It's up to us to carry out these ideals, and collectively rise above Peterson's personal wrongs to find righteousness.
What do you think? Are you a fan of Jordan Peterson? Why or why not? Post your most loved/hated Jordan Peterson quips here.