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an interview of Jordan Peterson about Western culture ideologies

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  • an interview of Jordan Peterson about Western culture ideologies

    I just watched a great Jordan Peterson interview (on a Joe Rogan podcast), mostly about the role of ideologies in Western culture, in general and in extreme forms.

    This is a bit complicated for discussion here but that subject might ring a bell. I'll provide a summary, and others are welcome to comment on this take, even if their own isn't really as developed or spelled out.

    He is a Canadian psychologist involved with gender pronoun issues, although that's far from what his central message is. I won't say much about gender pronouns except that for him the issue is free speech, using or not using whatever words you want, so people being "trans-gender" and how that's interpreted sort of isn't the point.

    This video is more about ideology, about how the far left and far right fall into making two different kinds of mistakes. He butts heads with the far left a lot more, who he frames as SJW's, social justice warriors, and that's one of the most central themes in this video interview (link at the end).

    To them (the more extreme left) he's against people defining their own gender identity as they want. Per his take he has absolutely no problem with that, he just opposes a law in Canada requiring people use one of dozens of non-binary gender pronouns to address people. How could a law tell you to use a pronoun? That part gets complicated, so I'll essentially just skip it. Literally that is what the law says, although it's a bit vague; I've read it. Of course more was going on with what it meant, the background context, and how it was going to end up being applied.

    The ideologies part is what's interesting to me. As I see it that really breaks into two completely different sets of issues, related to people being conservative or liberal (left or right), or else radically conservative or liberal. People favoring government non-interference and limiting transfer of wealth from the wealthiest to poorest (the right) versus supporting basic rights and social services for the lowest class (the left) is sort of a real issue. It seems to me that in the US that gets a bit twisted, and politicians use one of those two narratives (and separate values related to gay rights and such) as a cover, and then just support the special interests of their own wealthy supporters instead, not really actively pursuing either set of goals.

    He doesn't go into it here but it is interesting in other videos how he links psychological characteristics (measured personality traits) as mapping back to that left and right divide. The short version: people who value order and authority and oppose social change tend to be conservative, and people who value compassion and empathy as an ideal and embrace social change tend to be liberal. Conservative perspective and approach works much better when conditions are stable, in both governing strategy and in business approach, and a liberal outlook maps onto creativity and inclination to change that works well when circumstances require change. The personality type mapping to liberal outlook matches with being an entrepreneur, the opposite (personality type inclined towards being conservative) to being an upper level manager or CEO.

    Radical ideological positions are something else altogether. The extreme left (post modern philosophy, communism) accepts that everything is more relative (there are less absolutes, I guess with fixed genders working as one example), that people are free to define themselves outside the constraints of any inherent starting point, and that equality of outcomes is a good ideal for all people (everyone should be the same, should get the same benefit of societal wealth). Some of that last part doesn't work really well paired with capitalism. The extreme right believes that authority should dictate social order to fix problems that naturally occur in social systems where that's not happening (guidance from the top, more or less, and rigid norms established by past tradition).

    What happened in the Soviet Union and Communist China during the 20th century are examples of why the first extreme is problematic. Lots of millions of people were killed in both places rounding off what seemed to be problematic extremes in society that required extreme forms of adjustment, clearing out systems and actual people (killing them) in order to make big changes. Of course the Nazis are the paradigm for the far right extreme going bad, and everyone knows how that went. It just doesn't work to say that everyone is going to be the same, or else, based on those two different approaches that aim towards different goals related to that.

    Someone might well argue that a law dictating pronoun use and communists demolishing social systems are two completely different things. It is hard to see why he's linking the two; it requires understanding his message about the underlying patterns in a way that doesn't come across in a two hour video. And it's not as if there's any guarantee his read on everything is right. I completely accept his interpretation of those underlying patterns, and what he's saying about psychology is hardly even open for debate, once you understand what that part is. The rest of the interpretation--extending all that to other positions--is more open to criticism.

    What do you think?

  • #2
    I'm listening to Jordan Peterson and the thought that is coming to my mind is Canadians should be proud of having such a reasonable person Love his views, what he's saying about the radical left and all their atrocious and horrifying views and actions. Once marxist system went wrong the comic side of it is they fight for equality but do not speak about the tyrrany included in the fight that can never be successful because it is impossible for all to be completely equal. They love control which is obvious seeing their patterns of behaviour. You're not with us, so you're a Nazi, you're not reasonable. Here we had one extreme representative from the far left and we know the way he operated when finally saw no one was taking his extremism with sentiment and ran away like a rat from a sinking boat. I completely agree that that type hate the successful, radical left hate the successful. and I can add become comical in all the absurd they're trying to push as normality like genderless society, genderless pronouns,, I remember our notorious left winger was so much for three gay men getting married and everyone who spoke against this type of insanity was labelled as a homophobe...I see the classical example of a representative from the far, extreme, evil left which has been destroying the world for years. Equality...Like everyone has the right to be equally poor and f****d up in Venezuela....leftism is pure evil which profits from envy and resentment, good for nothing losers become far left.

    Yes, the world is the battleground of groups. Of left, right and whatever. Radical right was also criticized. Peterson suggests to get away from radicals and extreme cases. Yet he has much more reproaches towards far left than far right. Something new has appeared and far right cannot understand that some directions need to be changed, to think outside the box and be more creative. Environment keeps changing so no one can stay completely conservative. By the way, we have one extreme right representative on here too - always aggressive, always calling people who can think leftist fools, even if those people talk rationally, he believes in racism, he believes non white people living elsewhere cannot comment on Europe, USA, Canada, etc...sickening and has much more in common with the freak from the far left than he can imagine. lol just really two extreme evils Peterson actually criticized.

    I've read one comment from a Canadian on youtube 'Trudeau makes me ashamed to be Canadian, Peterson makes me proud' and I agree with him. If I were Canadian, I'd feel the same way. Unfortunately, cannot listen to him for too long but will sure come back to his interviews.

    Thanks for sharing, it was interesting to listen to and explore.
    Last edited by Etsia; 02-02-2018, 10:13 AM.


    • #3
      Discuss the falsity of identity politics while categorizing people into left and right identities


      • #4
        Originally posted by grgur View Post
        Discuss the falsity of identity politics while categorizing people into left and right identities
        ​Identity politics stems from categorizing people based on factors that they cant control, such as their age, gender, race ect. That's what we are against.

        ​categorizing people based on their own political platforms, on their beliefs and their individual political allegiances is a merit based system, Its treating people by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin. Its quite the difference.


        • #5
          Originally posted by Ameriguy99 View Post

          ​Identity politics stems from categorizing people based on factors that they cant control, such as their age, gender, race ect. That's what we are against.

          ​categorizing people based on their own political platforms, on their beliefs and their individual political allegiances is a merit based system, Its treating people by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin. Its quite the difference.

          not the way he did it in the interview he obciously ascribed some personal characteristics depending on one's political leanings

          and yeah, based on identity politics- one can actually choose how to identify oneself, no matter how silly it is


          • #6
            A picture is worth a thousand words...


            • #7

              Im kinda



              • #8
                I watch Jordan Peterson on You Tube often and I agree with him , another one I like is Ben Shapiro, none of the commenters refer to their "wrack",,but wracks or not there are also some quite outspoken young women who attack the left using brains


                • #9
                  I just saw another media article on Jordan Peterson related to opposing post-modernism based thinking (or ideology, which can also be used as a loaded term):


                  Oddly that author leans towards accepting a lot of the ideas Peterson is arguing against but is generally positive about his take and specific positions.

                  That doesn't necessarily mean it's a perfectly balanced interpretation, or that the article gets all the context clearly and correctly defined, but at least it's not the typical pro or con take.

                  A citation of how Peterson describes himself seems to work to place where the ideas are coming from (a diverse positioning):

                  ..His primary concern, however, which underpins nearly everything about him, is the defense of the individual against groupthink, whether on the right or the left.” In his own words, Peterson says,

                  politically, I am a classic British liberal. Temperamentally, I am high in openness, which tilts me to the left, although also conscientious, which tilts me to the right. Philosophically, I am an individualist, not a collectivist, of the right or the left. Metaphysically, I am an American pragmatist, who has been strongly influenced by the psychoanalytic and clinical thinking of Freud, Jung and the psychotherapists who have followed in their wake.

                  His nuanced blending of these philosophies makes it difficult to pigeonhole him...


                  • #10
                    The more I read what they guys says now and what the guy said in the past, the more inconsistency and contradiction is visible for me personally in his views. Even if he opposes feminism in very harsh form with good constructed questions and thoughtful conclusions, the whole picture of his mindset seems to be oriented only on very small spectrum of aspects. He repeats often same things just from another perspective and his 'diagnosis' is very simple "the society has to change", "emotions aren't good adviser for a society"
                    He seems to forget that any western society is a product of decades of social engineering (eg. modern feminism isn't really productive for women anymore, it's just a tool for gender polarization, what works as intended...)
                    He highlights several times often one particular aspect and leaves other not less important ones nebulous. What is a sign of rhetoric, not of revealing honest personal opinion.
                    Oh yes, this guy has surely one personal agenda. Hence his objectivity and seemingly clinical views as psychologist is just a cover for winning of credibility and attention. I would with pleasure see a discussion with him and one eloquent person to topic "enriching" illegal immigration or so "glamorous" multicultural society. Not with one of those limited feminists which run always straight in a open blade or YT showmen which are obviously too absorbed with themselves to bring him out of concept. However it seems he is very selective in matter with whom he talks


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by RogerCarmel View Post
                      A picture is worth a thousand words...

                      Women want number 1 as opponents but number 2 as teammates.
                      Are you surprised? I'm not....


                      • #12
                        I'd be happy to discuss his specific ideas but it's hard to do much with general criticism (he's vague, he wants attention, he opposes feminism).

                        It wouldn't even make sense to oppose feminism; someone would need to oppose some of the individual ideas that define a feminist perspective instead. For example, he opposes the idea that men and women are identical. To be more specific, that the two genders are completely identical related to inherent personality traits, but only in terms of the overall distribution of those.

                        In that video he clearly discusses what he means by that. Both genders exhibit inherent personality characteristics across a distribution of measurable attributes that overlap for both sets. The result is that for any one measurable personality trait both men and women can exhibit that trait to varying degrees, but as things work out at the extremes for some traits (the far end of the distribution curve) everyone at that level is from one particular gender.

                        As I recall he said that the most empathetic 1% of everyone are all women, and the most aggressive 1% are all men, but at the 50% level differences are there in the distributions but not as pronounced.

                        If it seems like we're talking about completely different subjects I'd agree. It makes no sense to say he opposes feminism, because his interest is in those sorts of psychological principles.

                        He does oppose the post-modern philosophy informed support for equality of outcomes, which is more broad. But it gets complicated what that even means, both the background and where the actual issues turn up, so it would only work to discuss it if people were already familiar with it. That gender issue is clearer because it's simpler. I can't imagine that he's actually for or against immigration limitations in a way that would tie back to one of those types of issues.

                        There is an equality of outcome issue tied to that gender issue that isn't so hard to describe. People want women to earn the same pay as men, but one factor in that is not just earning equal pay for doing the same work (which is valid), but also that men and women choose to do different jobs. More women choose to be nurses than men, and more men choose to be engineers than women. Engineers earn more than nurses, so in the end that one difference has men earning more than women. Of course that's only one factor, job and career choice, but it's a good example of why unexamined equality of outcome mandates are very problematic.

                        About him seeking attention, that seems wrong to me. He was just an ordinary college professor who only became famous because he took a stand on the mandatory use of non-binary gender pronoun issue. In Canada it's illegal to not call someone "ze" or "zer," if they want you to, or dozens of other new forms of pronouns, if you work in government or in a university. That's an obvious violation of the principle of free speech.

                        He's misrepresented as being against trans-gender rights but his involvement in that only related to that free speech issue, and to pointing out that the two genders are not biologically identical, as I already described. It's possible to look up that law and read it, and I have, and although it's a bit vague it's clear what it says, just not so much how it's going to be interpreted later.

                        I hope all that helps.


                        • #13
                          I must admit he makes me tired after 15 minutes, hence I don't go so into detail in longer vids of him. Maybe a little bit too difficult english level for my skills.
                          Of course he opposes postmodern way of thinking he criticizes postmodern oriented development of particular societies and modern feminism is a good example for that. I watched a video where he criticizes Muslims and their way of creating of parallel societies and the wrong way how western societies react on it. (must be somewhere on Hence I think he has a opinion about immigration and multicultural societies with unilateral willingness to being multicultural. Nevertheless he doesn't give clear answers even in psychologist manner to all questions, what is not wrong and understandable in times of forced political correctness in media.

                          In regard of modern feminism, we all know how most modern feminist are. He is a male, he doesn't dance how he should to their music. Hence you don't need a deep psychological analysis to know how feminists see him. Even if he tries to remain objective in this matter. (we had some weeks ago a interview between Jordan Peterson and Cathy Newman, this was entertaining )

                          I don't have an illusion what is the reason why he appeared as some kind of 'Tribune of the Plebs' in media among all others. Of course he wants attention, he needs credibility, otherwise this guy would be entirely unambitious. We speak already here about him. I think people need and are seeking after reasonable voices in the media which don't repeat the shocking views and news of CNN or Breitbart in one form or another.


                          • #14
                            Most of that works. That interview with Cathy Newman was a debacle. It was interesting only if someone has a strong stomach for a really badly prepared and aggressive interviewer completely failing to make an attack based approach work. One comment I saw that summed it up for me was that it was like a toddler trying to argue with an adult. It just didn't go anywhere.

                            I never saw him comment on Muslim immigrants or sub-culture, so I don't know about that. Related to sharing that one article link, a really intelligent online friend commented that without knowing the subject background and jargon he found it hard to follow. I think that might happen for a lot of people, especially if English isn't a first language. I never really noticed it but I studied philosophy in two degree programs and some of the terminology and background overlaps.

                            A lot of what he's saying is just a summary of current accepted psychology. I don't mean a current position that is well regarded now, instead what has emerged as the general, established field background over the last four decades or so. That's why when people reject those particular ideas it tends to relate more to them just not understanding what they're criticizing, not so much related to it being accepted, but in the sense that they're not understanding it.

                            The philosophy is really something else, the strands relating to rejecting post-modernism and relativism. He is identifying patterns that wouldn't be familiar to most people, and adding his own judgment to what he's interpreting. It's more speculative. It's interesting to me because I studied that quite a bit, but it really should be hard to follow without that. I completely accept his take as almost completely accurate, but that starts to relate to my own interpretation too, instead of both of us necessarily being right.

                            Maybe he is guilty of that, mixing ideas that are just basic, accepted psychology with others that are more speculative, representing his own take instead. It would really hard to clearly frame that though; to say in addition to what he's saying what the ideas represent, and what their origins are. In his role as an academic content "popularizer" he probably should get around to addressing it at some point though, in some way.


                            • #15
                              His discourses are surely over intellectualized and for public with deeper knowledge about the matter he speaks about. However being an intellectual doesn't reduce only a person into ability to discussion on the same level. Sometimes isn't necessary to explain a matter in simple and comprehensible terms, especially if a person tries to discuss with somebody whom head is filled with concrete like Cathy Newman.

                              I find his interviews where he answers to particular clear formed questions in not too long answers comprehensible. There is a rule, never let a psychologist or philosopher talk for too long, because it turns often in some kind of pseudo intellectual narcissism.