Further to last week’s post, I have been involved in several interesting discussions with various folk over the merits and demerits of Doctor Peterson’s work. A lot of the criticism being circulated online claims that his views are somehow ‘dodgy’, but the critics don’t often get around to a full examination of those views, preferring instead to focus on how ‘dreadful’ his audience is.
The more interesting topic, I think, is to ask why Peterson’s message is resonating with so many young people. His recent speaking engagements in London (booked before the transmission of that Channel 4 interview) sold out in minutes. A few weeks ago, an American college campus invited him to speak at their 400-seat theatre. He was ‘no-platformed’ by the usual zealots, so the organisers of the event decided to book the only available local alternative, a 1,500-seat concert hall. It sold out.
Much of the criticism characterises this audience as ‘alt-right angry white males’ (although mostly male, Peterson’s audience is clearly mixed); that level of ‘analysis’ -and it is an act of generosity to describe it thus- will get us nowhere.
The Independent published an article about the Channel 4 interview under this headline:
'When white men feel they are losing power, any level of nastiness is possible.'
That wasn’t just intellectually feeble; it was utterly reprehensible. This kind of thing actually reinforces one of Peterson’s key messages: namely, that identity politics is a dead-end street and -at the end of that street- lies a whole heap of trouble. When I was growing up, to have assumed (and judged) someone’s views from their ethnicity, age or gender would have been considered discriminatory, vulgar and racist; now it has become the norm.
We are in a deep hole with this stuff, yet some folk want to keep on digging. I’d suggest that one of the reasons for Jordan Peterson’s popularity is that many people have decided that they don’t like the view from that hole.