- REASONED CRITICISM OF JORDAN PETERSON AND CAMILLE PAGLIA
- HANZI GOES THROUGH THEIR 1h:40m LONG YOUTUBE TALK ABOUT FEMINISM AND POSTMODERNISM, BEGINNING TO END
- TOTAL PARTY KILL
- MONEY BACK GUARANTEE
- MERCY LEVEL SET TO: 0.00%
So when the Prophet was asked about what the most sacred of struggles is, he responded that a word of truth in the face of an unjust ruler is the highest form of Jihad (Musnad Aḥmad 18449)
Ladies and gentlemen, somebody needs to speak out against the emperor. He is naked. And so is the empress.
And another prophet, the one we call Jacques Lacan, pointed out that the street bum madman who thinks he is emperor isn’t necessarily any more mad than the emperor who thinks he’s emperor. The only difference is that other people share the latter’s belief.
If you’re a follower and worshipper of Jordan Peterson on his anti-postmodern anti-feminism, shared by Camille Paglia, you have been worshipping a false god, an idol. You have been sold a golden bull. But Moses is here to cast it into the fire.
Gifted but Highly Over-rated
In my opinion, nobody is more over-valued than the great internet phenomenon Jordan Peterson, the Canadian psychology professor. As a psychologist and university teacher he is pretty good, even great. As a political commentator and interpreter of our time, he is simply not. Camille Paglia, who joins him for this talk, is also talented and interesting, but ultimately a poor and unreliable guide to understanding culture, politics and society of today.
So here’s the talk I want to comment upon, where JP and CP discuss for about 1h 40m. They talk mostly about postmodernism, social justice warriors, political correctness, feminism and university life.
Here is the talk in text if you don’t have the time to watch the video.
I’ll comment and show you they’re wrong about most things they are saying – including almost all of their central arguments. Some good stuff is in there, but most of it is just plain wrong, incoherent, and very poorly argued.
I’m going to use a somewhat mean method to get my message across here: machine-gunning a recorded talk with text. I realize that this isn’t 100% fair, and it can come across as overly antagonistic or even caustic. They get to talk and I get to think and write before I comment.
But since these thinkers have gained great influence, becoming some of the most dominant intellectual voices on the internet, they should be able to take it. If they want, they are free to respond in text with clarifications or counter-arguments, as can others who might want to rush to their defense.
My Main Point
So before we go, here’s my claim in four points:
- Both JP and CP misdiagnose the current social justice and postmodern movements, describing the key insights and social dynamics of these incorrectly.
- Both fail to take the perspectives from which these social, cultural, and political currents emerge, and thus they also fail to present solutions to very real problems. In effect, they deny very real problems.
- Both fall into the exact same traps that they accuse their adversaries of: collective blame, essentialism – and here and there you can even find clear cases of misogyny, exactly corresponding to the bitter, antagonistic feminism they try to critique. There is essentially good feminism (smart, balanced, science-based) and bad feminism (antagonistic, bitter, sloppy, male-bashing), just as there is good anti-feminism (seeing men’s interests, looking at things more psychologically, checking facts) and bad anti-feminism (antagonistic, bitter, sloppy, female-bashing). JP and CP represent bad anti-feminism. They think that if you just remove the evil and inexplicable abomination of postmodern neomarxist politically correct feminism, all will be well.
- Both make clearly false and incoherent statements, many times, and in general – which shows that the high claims to intellectual authority of these two figures should not be taken seriously. In some cases, they reveal outrageous incompetence. At the risk of being tedious, I’ve gone through many of their mistakes, 47 to be precise. This is because I have been asked to be specific about my refusal to share in the choir of praise.
One thing I do like about JP is that he urges people – and men in particular – to toughen up and speak their truth, clearly and directly. A sound advice.
A pro-JP friend, who I told about some of the arguments I’m going to present, actually asked me to have some mercy and not criticize without also lifting Peterson’s strong points. And of course, there are strong points. I have positively referenced JP in this earlier post, where I bash some of the sicknesses of political correctness and feminism.
But if JP and CP are flat out wrong about most of what they’re saying, should I refrain from pointing it out, in order to protect the frailty of their message? No. That’s not how this works. Their stuff should be robust enough to survive a critical listening. If it’s not, it’s not.
When someone is on the wrong side of the truth, when someone is deep into falsehood and distortion, as Jordan Peterson and Camille Paglia manifestly are, the truth can show no mercy.
Here’s my truth about Peterson.
Alright, are you ready?
Marathon of Academic Incompetence
Let’s start here: poorly concealed misogyny. Listen through the whole talk and count the negative statements about women as a collective, and the negative statements about men. The results are staggering and terrifying – and this can hardly be a coincidence. There are many more negative statements about women.
Now, I’ll go through the talk in sequence. It’s going to be a marathon, so keep up. The reason it’s long is simply that they make so many mistakes. Just saying, I had to skip about half of my objections just to keep the text from swelling.
In the first part, they make mistakes, but it’s more about pomo (postmodernism) and the universities than about gender issues. If you want the juiciest stuff, where they talk more gender and reveal their misogyny, you can scroll down to Part 2 two directly.
- Paglia, 4-6 min. She tells us that a “foreign French import” of poststructuralist thinking came into American campuses, and that this had nothing to do with the “authentic” 1960’s revolution, which was closer to the movement known as “New Age”. “Careerists” became the poststructuralist university professors.
- If the original movement didn’t last, there may be a reason for it. If it devolved into New Age madness, maybe it wasn’t such a good legacy. And if the ideas first expressed by French intellectuals caught on among the post-war generations, it probably was because these ideas resonated with the social and cultural currents of the 1960s and beyond.
- Argument of authority, and false inference: if pomo is not 1960’s revolution, and the latter is good, then the former must be bad.
- This is also a “bad-guy theory” about a foreign invader, not a sociological explanation.
- Besides, it’s simply incorrect; there are many real connections, in Europe especially, between e.g. Foucault and the cultural revolution of the 1960s. Wiki: “Lectures began at the university in January 1969, and straight away its students and staff, including Foucault, were involved in occupations and clashes with police, resulting in arrests. In February, Foucault gave a speech denouncing police provocation to protesters at the Latin Quarter of the Mutualité”. Eribon 1991, p. 201 and 206.
- She says: “It was elitist, not progressive” – These are not opposites. False inference.
- So: false authority, false inference, false facts. Low quality stuff.
- Paglia: 9:20-10:00. She tells us that because she teaches at art schools, she knows that not all of cognitive reality is linguistically mediated as the postmodernists claim, for instance ceramics isn’t, it’s more bodily and visceral. This is used as an argument against the postmodern position that language is fundamental to human activity and understanding.
- If you look at the new research presented in Lisa Feldman Barrett’s How Emotions Are Made, you see that “concept formation” is more primary and neurologically generalized than formerly assumed. In other words, even deep inside our brains, even at level of emotions and sensations, we are linguistic creatures. True story, empirically speaking.
- She needs to read up.
- (Some due credit: Paglia is right about “the end of oppositional art”. And about bureaucratization of academia. And about fragmentation of teaching, to some extent. These are commonly held positions, which I also share.)
- Peterson: 15-16 min. He suggests that pomo is a radical relativism and interpretationalism and the only thing that is real to pomos (postmoderns) is power. He wonders what the connection between pomo and neomarxism really is, given that pomo is relativist and neomarxism has some rather absolute values.
- Roughly correct, but a bit of a strawman. Pomo is not really about relativism, but about the fact that all knowledge shows up in a context, and that you may uncover hidden or implicit structures to that knowledge. The structure of the knowledge claim tends to follower cruder rules that have to do more with power relations than what is presented at surface level.
- By the way, the connection he is looking for between pomo and neomarxism, and which Paglia fails to provide, is that both are moral-critical projects which speak to a fairness-seeking mind: one looks at cultural injustices and inequalities, the other at economic ones. To the pomos, the point is that we should be suspicious of modernist narratives and if we demask and criticize them, there may be new emancipations – cultural, economic or both.
- Paglia goes on to say these people are poorly educated, but obviously these are the folks with degrees in history and anthropology, and these people are often very well read. I dare you to try me on this one: we can find many very well educated academic pomos.
- Paglia: 21:00. She claims that one must understand neoclassicism and classical theory in order to write about Western society (which she says Foucault didn’t).
- No argument is made for why this is the case. There are always a thousand categories of knowledge that can be claimed as “necessary”.
- So this is Bildung snobbism, which would be OK if it weren’t for the fact that this is her own main charge against the pomos.
- Also, it would exclude her interlocutor, Jordan Peterson, who isn’t so big on neoclassicism – correct me if I’m wrong.
- Peterson: 21:30-22:30. He tells us that psychology is science-based and thus protected from the madness of pomo and neomarxism, which makes no quality distinctions.
- It should be noted that sociological, critical, and analytical understanding are not simply reducible to scientific methods. These categories involve critical re-evaluations of everyday life, social ontology, and so forth. They have a spiritual or existential undercurrent.
- Hence, he is measuring a distinct social category by the standards of another field. The sociological imagination includes some deeply counter-intuitive understandings that are easy to grasp conceptually, but difficult to follow in practice.
- Peterson: 24:30. He tells us he learned from Robert Zapolsky (the Stanford primatologist and behavioral biologist) that zebras are black and white, mainly using camouflage stripes to hide in the herd, not hiding in grass (being visible from miles away). He means that pomos are like these zebras; they hide in the herd from lions like himself.
- He fails to point out that lions, the main predator of zebras, are colorblind, which makes the example less relevant. Lions cannot see the difference between the whiteness of the zebras and the pale grass.
- Also, he gets the pomo logic exactly wrong: pomo is about trying to claim uniqueness, to stand out, which is one of the main reasons why it’s linked to narcissism. To quote the über proto-pomo of all time, Rousseau: “I may be no better, but at least I am different.”
- Paglia: 27:40. She says that you shouldn’t do French Lacan in English, because English doesn’t need it, it being a richer language than French.
- Contradicts her former (manifestly incorrect) statement that language doesn’t need to structure the contents of experience.
- English doesn’t need to look at its underlying structures and assumptions? Why ever not?
- Paglia: 28:00. She says that the US universities should be more like the British departments and that separate departments are “totalitarian”.
- Totalitarianism means something else. She’s making some inference here she needs to clarify. Sloppy.
- British faculties are also pomo and PC (politically correct), so her proposed solution does not solve her supposed problem.
- Peterson: 32:00. He says he doesn’t understand the hatred from which pomo critique stems and why they just want to “demolish” patriarchy, etc.
- This isn’t hard to answer. It’s from experienced racism, sexism, social degradation, unfairly stacked games, and other developmental cluster-fucks that wound people, hold people back, and create resentment. In their experience, pomo critique offers a tool for resistance and self-empowerment.
- The fact that he doesn’t understand this shows that he fails to see the fundamental source of social movements, described in so many social theorists, notably Jürgen Habermas.
- He also fails to understand the positive “punk” current to this culture, how these ideas and perspectives soothe aching hearts and give hope and a sense of strength, meaning, and rebellion to the people who feel society is too harsh and unfair.
- As I argue in The Listening Society, people often tend towards simplistic bad-guy models to channel our resentment if we’re not sufficiently cognitively complex, and if we lack access to sufficiently correct explanatory mental models of the injustices. So hurt feelings, plus insufficient cognitive stage, plus flattened or over-simplified theories explain the pomo critique and its pathologies.
- Hence, he misreads the social forces in play, which causes him to misdiagnose the pomo critique of society, its genesis, and its pathologies.
- The PC leftwing pomos are indirect followers of Rousseau; they believe that if life isn’t good, it’s because there is something that stops people from the natural state of being good: capitalism, patriarchy, etc. which is why they want to tear these structures down.
- On a side note, I agree with him that resentment is a bad place to start if you want to change the world for the better, or to know the truth for that matter. But to counter resentment, you must understand what causes it and keeps it going, and offer other options. Simply telling the resenting party to stop being wounded doesn’t help. Evidently.
- Peterson: 33:30. He tells us there is no sense of bad motherhood and no sense of good fatherhood in today’s society (referring to generalized, abstracted archetypes), which means that we’re stuck with overprotective institutions.
- Google the phrase – in quotation marks – “nanny state”. You get lots of hits. Read the wiki article if you like.
- Google a corresponding popular term for bad fatherhood on a political level, one used all the time.
- What? Why aren’t you doing it? How come you cannot find a term like that?
- Because he’s plain wrong: the current dominant discourse is one against the nanny state (the bad mother in his own theory of archetypes), not against the paternalistic, strict society.
- He also claims that this explains why boys do poorly in school, but the line of reasoning is very unclear. A more down-to-earth explanation may be that boys on average have a harder time sitting still and concentrating.
- Sloppy reasoning. Incorrect inference.
- Paglia: 35:50. She thinks there’s no cure for the culture’s ills, except if men start demanding respect as men.
- Unclear what this means in practical terms. Maybe it means something clever, but we’re not let in on it.
- She’s being a poor sociologist here: saying that a collective group’s (“men”) ascribed agency (which is fictional) can be transposed to the illness of “culture”, and that they can salvage it. This is collective messianism, nothing more.
- This is an exact inversion of the bad kind of feminism. This is bad anti-feminism.
- Peterson: 36:15. He and others have shown that pomo PC values correspond with both femininity (high agreeableness), negative emotions, and personality disorders, and goes on to note that women with harmful relations to men may dislike all masculinity because they can’t distinguish between its positive and negative types.
- Yes, feminism is often a trojan horse for good old bitterness.
- But then again, he fails to point out that the majority of PC is explained by high agreeableness and higher social concern, also being linked to higher stages of personal development and post-conventional moral development.
- He wants to pin an “evil essence” to pomo, but fails to see that it’s a broad phenomenon where many different psychological mechanisms are gathered under one banner.
- There are other bodies of research which show unflattering traits in other collective categories of people as well. The folks who are authoritarian have higher level of psychopathy and sadism, meat eaters have lower empathy, people of the Christian faith (like Peterson) have lower IQ (even if he happens to have a high IQ). Suddenly, a few negative traits in feminist social justice warriors don’t seem so spectacular in comparison.
And then they start to talk more about women and gender – this will be the main focus of the comments from here on. There’s lots of other preposterous stuff going on, but let’s skip past most of it for the sake of brevity. After all, you get the picture from Part 1.
- Peterson: 39:10. He says he feels helpless because he cannot hit women, or implicitly threaten to hit them.
- Yes, really, this is what your hero says. Go listen to it again a few times and let it sink in. And then go get yourself a new hero, if you still need one.
- But to get at his underlying argument, that physical threats between men temper discourse and makes it flow more naturally, this is a completely incorrect claim. If it were the case, then discourse would be most functional where violence is most present, like in criminal gangs.
- Peterson: 39:30. He says it’s the responsibility of the collective category “women” to tell off their “crazy harpy sisters”. These purportedly undermine the masculinity of culture, which “really is fatal”.
- Doesn’t make sense to give collective responsibility to broad categories.
- How exactly is “the masculinity of culture” undermined? Are there any ways to measure this variable and can he show this is happening?
- Fatal? That’s a pretty strong claim, on pretty weak basis. Aren’t we owed a better explanation? After all, the modern hypermasculine cultures, like Nazi Germany or ISIS, seem pretty short-lived.
- Peterson sounds like… a fanatic – of the kind he accuses pomos of being.
- Paglia: 40:15. She says that the fall of masculinity leads to the decline of Western culture.
- Are there other cultures that are doing much better? By what measures exactly? It is clear that this is vague and empty speculation. She mentions ISIS but I don’t think she means it as a positive example in this regard.
- Paglia: 43:40. She says women of today are unhappier because of lacking traditional roles.
- In statistical terms, this isn’t true. Men and women are both happier today than before, even if the increase is bigger in men.
- It goes for a developmental axis as well, more modern countries having happier women.
- More gender-equal countries have happier women. Japan and Korea’s keeping of traditional gender roles under modern circumstances have proven extremely detrimental to mental health, gender relations, and family relations.
- She may still be right that women are unhappy about this part of their lives, but she owes us better evidence, or at least better reasoning.
- We shouldn’t do guilt-by-association, but it should be pointed out that her argument is identical to that of Nazis. That doesn’t make her a Nazi; it just means she reasons like one on this topic, which might make us think twice about where following this line of reasoning might lead us. See here for (almost) identical structure of argument, an essay called “Women and National Socialism“.
- Peterson: 46:20. He says that gender differences, according to research, are maximized in the Scandinavian countries, where equality has progressed the farthest.
- So basically, he just killed their whole argument that PC gender equality means that masculinity is undermined. The most feminist countries get more masculine guys and more feminine women, who are freed from oppressive norms.
- Seriously, he just ignored the fact that his and Paglia’s main argument against feminism is wrong.
- Also, he should point out that men and women in Scandinavian countries are also more androgynous in their expressions and demeanors; it’s just the character traits that diverge.
- Also, he should point out that the increased gender gaps have to do primarily with statistical measures of which jobs people choose, and that Scandinavian countries are full of initiatives for women engineers and tech startups, which is very good for the economy.
- (Due credit: The thing Peterson says about male and female dominance hierarchies and the differences between them is true and important.)
- Paglia: 49:00. She says she likes a TV show where women have toxic arguments and guys settle the matter with a good fistfight and then they’re friends.
- No, physical violence creates toxic, pathological, and sad relationships between men.
- She was probably never in a fistfight, which is likely why she references what she saw on TV. I was in a lot of fistfights when I was a kid and I saw a lot of them and I can tell you that 99% of them happen when bigger guys pick on smaller or younger ones, or when robbers smack people in the head to grab their cell phone and wallet.
- And then there’s night-life violence, in which very drunk, very hurt people get in pathetic and sad situations and have to be dragged off by security guards. I’ve studied police interactions in nightclubs, and all I can say is that violence isn’t very pretty and only rarely catharsis-inducing.
- If a grown man actually hits another seriously, the risks of severe injuries or even death are very tangible. Her violence romance is deluded. And it is, unfortunately, another clear link to Nazism.
- Besides, this is an overtly misogynous and sexist remark. It says she prefers guys to girls.
- Peterson: 49:35. He says that girls are mean bullies because they go after the reputation of the victim, as happened to his daughter.
- First of all, most bullying among guys follows a similar pattern: teasing, freeze-out, etc.
- Secondly, he implies that he would have preferred a physical male bullying treatment of his daughter, to the “annoying” female one.
- I’m not saying he prefers his daughter to be hit with fists and physically abused. I’m just saying he might not have thought this through.
- And here he joins Paglia in overt misogyny.
- Paglia: 50:40. She says that men tease one another and this toughens them, so they don’t take things so seriously, whereas women are over-sensitive.
- Might be true to some extent, but again, a generalized, loaded, misogynist remark.
- Fails to point out that men tease each other less if they have healthier relations. Insecure 13-year-olds tease the most and pretend they think it’s fun, as do gang members. Mature, well-developed, functioning guys tease only a tad, and only in sensitive, good-spirited ways. And they apologize if anything is taken the wrong way.
- She clearly has a false, romanticized view of male ball-busting. Most of it is insecure and insincere.
- Paglia: 52:10. She says that everybody should be better educated and learn about the Stone Age, etc., in which case we’d come closer to her conclusions.
- First of all: People with in-depth knowledge about our Paleolithic ancestors, historians, archaeologists, anthropologist etc., generally don’t share her ideas.
- Secondly: We should always be suspicious when someone says that everybody should learn something. Why this particular thing, instead of say physics, complexity, self-knowledge, social intelligence, mindfulness, or basic computer programming?
- Of course, this is a game played by many or even most academics. If the particular knowledge they possess is what constitutes the definition of “education”, this means that they are also the “most educated” person, and thus that everyone should learn from them, and thus that they are at the top of the hierarchy. I’ve seen too much such academic bullshit.
- But if she wants to make an argument that “everyone” must learn something, she needs a very strong, generalizable argument, and a falsifiable theory for why this is the case. Otherwise, she’s just saying that if people read what she read they would think more like she does (tautological), effectively telling the world to be more like herself.
- … the pathology of which is self-evident: it’s narcissistic to force one’s own truth down everybody’s throats. Another claim for power.
- Paglia & Peterson: 54:20-55:50. She says that we should appreciate the development that has happened throughout history, and the sacrifices made by men. Peterson joins her and says men’s sacrifices made progress possible and that we have a great society.
- This is classical conservatism. Nothing wrong with that, but it should be called for what it is.
- If she wanted to balance the argument out, she might also have mentioned the other side of the argument, the radical side; that there is no logically conceivable reason to believe that today’s society cannot be improved upon.
- But she doesn’t.
- Peterson fails to mention that women make many sacrifices corresponding to those of men. He goes on to restate the classical conservative argument: the unlikely wonder of society not falling apart.
- It’s simply an invalid argument that we should stop making further changes to our society, which has been characterized by constant change, out of fear that it will fall apart. Historically, societies have more often collapsed from the reluctance to change than the opposite.
- Paglia: 56:15. She says our culture is falling apart because a strength or spirit has been lost.
- First of all, this is poor social science: Talking about spirit or strength without reference to the exact societal mechanisms, discourses, or any other observable factors to affect human behaviors, leaves us with nothing but invisible free-floating ghosts that can neither be verified nor falsified.
- Secondly, this is just more classical conservatism. Compare to fin de siècle, the “spirit” around the late 1800s, where writers such as Oswald Spengler inspired the far right.
- This flow of classical conservatism goes on for a while on both sides…
- Let’s call these two what they are; classical conservatives. Clever ones, updated ones, but still.
- Peterson: 01:01:55. He says that most people who were abused as children don’t spread the abuse to their children. This proves, he says, that patriarchy doesn’t exist, because if it did it would spread exponentially until all people were abused by bad fathers and men.
- Basic logics fail. His conclusion doesn’t in any way follow from his stated facts.
- I also think “patriarchy” is a pretty weak theory, but his reasoning doesn’t touch upon it at all. No one has claimed that child abuse and patriarchy are synonymous.
- And even if patriarchy was reducible to child abuse, which no one has ever claimed to my knowledge, his line of reasoning is entirely illogical. Just because child abuse isn’t inherited in most cases, this doesn’t mean that new child abuse can’t show up for other reasons and thus be reproduced.
- The fact that child abuse has declined is of course due to the many social and cultural advances of society, and not an inherent tendency for it do peter out – in which case it should have petered out when humans had already been around for over 15 000 years at the onset of the Neolithic Age.
- I think he just managed a triple non-sequitur, which may be a record in academic incompetence. He made an argument that doesn’t compute, about a topic that doesn’t relate to what he’s trying to prove, through an analogy that doesn’t hold.
- Not sloppy. This is incompetent. Painfully, inexcusably incompetent.
- Paglia: 01:02:50. She says that it’s important to examine the transfer from the traditional extended family structure to the modern nuclear family. She thinks Freud is a good place to start.
- No, no. This is a common Marxist mainstream cliché, but it has been more or less disproven for decades.
- Historians like Peter Laslett and Alan MacFarlane have proven that the nuclear family – a mother, father and child(ren) in a “simple house,” as Laslett put it – was the dominant arrangement in England stretching back to the thirteenth century.
- It’s not a grave mistake, if it weren’t for her own insistence on historical knowledge and her claim that the transition from collective household to nuclear family is so central.
- In addition, the sociologist Birgitte Berger has argued in her 2002 book that the nuclear family is actually psychologically superior for the development of children, turning a lot of the Freudian critique on its head.
- Paglia: 01:03:55. She says that contemporary therapeutic psychology doesn’t talk enough about childhood, as psychoanalysts used to back in the good old days.
- She fails to point out that talk therapy has dramatically increased its evidence-based effectiveness since people stopped talking about their childhoods and began focusing on the here and now.
- Therapeutic psychology of today is also more science-based and effective than during the mid-20th This is largely because Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and other related therapies don’t over-complicate things and focus on what can be done here and now. They are also easier to learn, repeat, and make reliable tests upon.
- If some issue is deeper and you need to talk about your childhood, that’s a large investment in time and energy. It’s smarter not to make that investment into a default, but to calibrate when to talk about childhood and when not to.
- … and why doesn’t Peterson point out this obvious mistake, seeing as this is his field of expertise?
- Paglia: 01:04:35. She says that it’s taboo today to ask about how childhood experiences may play a part in causing homosexuality.
- It is widely accepted praxis within the sciences to investigate the ways that sexuality may be formed by an interplay of genetic and environmental factors.
- Peterson & Paglia: 01:05:30. He says that he opposed a legislation which said you had to call transgender people by their preferred pronoun, which he thinks is “compelled speech”. Paglia thinks that is “absolutely Orwellian”.
- We have many other forms of “compelled speech” that JP does not oppose. For instance, we’re not allowed to call one another bitch, nigger, “it”, and legally we’re not allowed to tell somebody to commit murder. And we can be compelled to speak when asked about our earnings by the tax authorities.
- Besides, we are still allowed to say what we want about the gender pronoun if we don’t like it. We just need to respect transgender persons’ wishes, or refrain from talking to them in pronouns, opting for using their name, etc. So it’s not actually compelled speech. That’s just his exaggerated misnomer.
- If asking people to show common courtesy and mildly penalize failure to do so is “absolutely Orwellian” to Paglia, I don’t think she has read George Orwell’s 1984.
- Will they mind if we call Peterson a girl and Paglia a boy?
- Paglia: 01:05:55. She says that her own writing of a book was “the greatest sex change in history” and that this justifies that there should be no regulations on uses of the English language. True story, that’s what she says. Go back and listen.
- No, that wasn’t the biggest sex change in history.
- She means that because it meant so much to her to use the English language in her book, she thinks it is “evil” for someone to tell her how to use it.
- She fails to point out that nobody would stop her from writing her book however she wants, using the beauty of the English language (with as many “okaaay?s” as she likes), but that she’s simply expected to show common courtesy.
- What about grammar; grammar does tell her how to use language? Does she hate that too?
- What about all the language academies in other countries, institutions regulating spelling and grammar, are all of these “pure evil” and their populations stuck in purely evil and Orwellian states?
- Let’s be clear: Peterson and Paglia find reasons to feel terribly affronted, but it simply doesn’t make sense and they have nothing to be upset about, and they are hysterically focusing on details. Sounds a lot like… bad feminism. Except this is bad anti-feminism.
- Paglia’s statement is an affront not only to the very real struggle of transgender people, but also to the legacy of George Orwell. Which is just sad, for a literature professor who claims to defend the English heritage and being transgender.
- Peterson: 01:07:30. He says that having older parents with more resources makes people spoiled, which is psychologically harmful.
- This may be true in part, but the research consensus is that having parents with more resources is better in so many ways.
- So all in all, even if he’s right about something in part, he is still wrong overall.
- Paglia: 01:09:15. She says that it’s the upper middle class who institute hyper-sensitivity and inject it into universities.
- Working class people aren’t as sensitive? She probably doesn’t hang out very much with working class folks. I grew up working-class, without a dad who was college professor by the time he was 35 (which is her idea of a working-class background, her own). Two of my brothers were so hurt in life they both died early from drinking and smoking. People are always in minor family feuds, always conflicts about who did or didn’t do what, who owes who, who was insulted, etc.
- Such family feuds between neighbors and cousins simply aren’t as prevalent in the “yoga bourgeoise” (you know, folks who are rich and meditate and have higher class) where people are sometimes annoyingly sensitive towards one another, yes, but more socially apt and functional, and thus in a much less emotionally precarious position.
- Working class are just bourgeois waiting to be born. Bourgeois are just upper middle class waiting to be born. So the increased sensitivity she describes is simply what dialectically emerges as people have more of their wants and needs met.
- A smarter way ahead is to deal with this sensitivity, rather than to mock people for it and say it isn’t allowed (and to deny it in ourselves), as Paglia does.
- (Intermezzo: they say smart and good things about child development).
- Peterson: 01:13:30. He says that women are bitter about the role they have in modern life and jumps to remembering that many cultures have had bride abduction as part of the marriage ritual.
- Bride abduction still goes on in some places, like Kyrgyzstan, watch this short Vice documentary.
- It leads to women killing themselves in misery. It’s a huge problem over there.
- If Peterson is to suggest women secretly long for this, that “this fundamental feminine role is being denied to them” he might have to sharpen his argument.
- Paglia: 1:15:00. She argues for “the freedom to risk rape”.
- This shows a basic lack of understanding of rights and liberties. There are negative freedoms (freedom from) and positive freedoms (freedom to). The freedom to risk rape isn’t a concept that makes sense.
- You can be free from rape, and free from excessive control – but freedom to be raped, now that’s Orwell’s 1984 (“Freedom is slavery”).
- Paglia: 01:17:00. She argues that men hunt women and want sex, which she says women do not understand.
- Misogynistic comment that says women are stupid. I’ve never met a woman who didn’t understand what she’s saying.
- I think she means to say that it’s difficult for women to take the male perspective, as men are simply more immediate and visual in their sexuality.
- Paglia: 01:19:00. Paglia says American society has a chaos in the sexual realm.
- Meanwhile, rape statistics have slumped, and a very large portion of the women who are raped are students, which says that the counter-measures with on-campus support mechanisms of universities – which Paglia is against – may be effective after all. This is in an era where many more of the occurring rapes are reported as taboos are lessened, so the fall of sexual violence is actually much greater than the fall in statistics.
- She’s wrong.
- Paglia & Peterson: 01h 19-21 min. They talk about consent and emphasize the responsibility of women to understand that men may want to rape them.
- This of course puts the responsibility of men’s actions on women’s shoulders.
- In a fair society, wouldn’t it make more sense to put the responsibility of one’s own actions on each person?
- Here, they are mixing up sociology and behavioral science with ideas about personal responsibility. It’s true that we cannot have poor social institutions and then say that “it’s up to the individual” to not make mistakes. So we cannot put the sociological issue of sexual violence on the shoulders of an individual young man; we have to figure out ways to make it less prevalent in society at large. But Peterson and Paglia are taking the burden off the man’s shoulder and putting it on the woman’s: “the right to risk being raped”.
- The recent #metoo social media campaign and its massive response around the world serves to underscore that women have too often carried the responsibility for the actions of men and for their transgressions.
- Paglia: 01:21:50. She want to stop all interference of universities into what students do with one another. That, she adds, is “fascism of the worst kind”.
- It should be pointed out that Peterson and Paglia both viewed comparisons between themselves and fascism as unacceptable, and that Peterson said that he would physically threaten any male who said such things about him.
- Apparently, they don’t hold themselves to the same standards.
- Besides, having a system for investigating sexual misconduct is “fascism of the worst kind”? I guess mass-murdering people of differing opinion gets second place?
- Peterson agrees to this phrasing, “fascism of the worst kind” specifically, arguing that it is a new kind of fascism.
- From dictionary definition of fascism: “Fascism /ˈfæʃɪzəm/ is a form of radical authoritarian nationalism, characterized by dictatorial power, forcible suppression of opposition, and control of industry and commerce that came to prominence in early 20th-century Europe. The first fascist movements emerged in Italy during World War I before it spread to other European countries. Opposed to liberalism, Marxism and anarchism, fascism is usually placed on the far-right within the traditional left–right spectrum.”
- Neofascism, from dictionary: “Neofascism is the practice of university administrations to offer supportive structures for the psychological and social wellbeing and health of their students, such as investigations in cases of sexual violence or misconduct, as well as working against excessive partying at fraternity clubs by means of information, counselling, and giving condoms.”
- I’m not going to tell you which one of these two I made up. You will have to guess.
- Peterson: 1:23:00. He wonders how anyone could be naive enough to create parallel “legal systems” at the universities, because it obviously wouldn’t work.
- Social work, it works the same way.
- Psychiatric care, it works the same way.
- Union rights, it works the same way.
- Civil society committees, it works the same way.
- In churches and major corporations, it works the same way.
- Just saying.
- On a more serious note, when Peterson repeatedly returns to claiming that present-day society is “naïve”, he aims to critique what I have earlier called “game denial”, which is a core feature of classical conservative sentiments.
- Both he and Paglia fail to make the analytical synthesis and offer a path towards “game change”, hence they end up de facto defending the status quo of women being sexually abused. They go against “game denial” but end up in the position of “game acceptance”, which means to implicitly defend injustice.
- The correct answer is to refute “game denial” as well as “game acceptance” and to offer paths towards transformations of everyday life, taking the perspectives of all parties seriously.
- We hear very little such alternatives.
- Peterson: 1:23:25. He says the legal system is awesome because it evolved over a long time.
- There are many things that evolved over a long time that aren’t very good.
- The legal system is one of them. The way it deals with sexual violence is catastrophic, and it is a too heavy weight system for these matters, dealing in too binary terms.
- That’s why sexual misconduct is being transposed to other realms than the strictly legal one.
- You can read this article on how the justice system fails rape victims, if you like.
- Paglia: 1:24:10. She says that it’s taboo to say that women should be responsible for their own choices.
- Implying, then, choices that lead up to someone else raping them.
- Implying, then, that she wants women to be responsible for the choices of male rapists.
- It doesn’t make sense.
- Paglia & Peterson: 1:24:10. They agree that the refusal to hold women responsible for risking being raped is “such a betrayal of authentic feminism”.
- I disagree.
- The right to being raped is not authentic feminism.
- Paglia & Peterson: 1:25:00. They argue against verbal consent because sex is not a verbal thing.
- Would it be so bad if people talked a little more about it? Might avoid some misunderstandings.
- If people have verbal consent – more of the kind in the BDSM community, which is hardly known for lacking spice – then the responsibility is shared more equally.
- With a light-weight consent policy, you are still free to have sex with someone without asking, but then you risk that they will flip out and raise charges. So you have responsibility for your own sexual actions, not those of another.
- Can Peterson and Paglia offer another venue for legal protection for rape victims? Do they at all recognize the fact that the vast majority of all rape cases are never dealt with, the victims never vindicated?
- Peterson: 01:32:00. He says that, for feminists, the patriarchy is evil and so is traditional motherhood, which leaves women only with the professional role, which then is patriarchy, just run by women.
- Reveals lack of basic understanding of feminism.
- The idea with “patriarchy” is that women become the bitches of guys in different aspects of life and thus less free to live their life as they want.
- Patriarchy in this sense doesn’t have anything to do with guys being bad, just with the persistence of norms, habits, and prejudices that no longer make sense in modern society.
- Almost no feminists argue that women should run society, only that they should have a more equal share in its power.
- The Roman Empire fell because of its inability to sustain bureaucratic control. Imperial overstretch, poor fiscal policies, military challengers, growing inequalities in a largely socially unsustainable system, and long-standing ecological crises brought the Roman Empire to its knees – not too much bureaucratic control or the fact that the Roman Empire consisted of different ethnicities (as was the case in all of the large agrarian empires of the time).
- This wouldn’t be an issue if it weren’t for her bragging and insistence upon historical understanding as mandatory. Apparently, she miserably fails at it herself.
- He fails to point out that pomo culture also creates venues for expressing shame, resentment, and frustrations in non-violent ways, allowing for cultural struggle to take the place of violent struggle.
- Does he really mean to say that the places in the world that have most ethnic conflicts also have the most pomo feminists? I think the opposite case can be made rather easily.
- They may have nodded and agreed, but this shows only lacking rigor. Upon closer inspection, they don’t agree on everything.
And that, my friend, closes this marathon of harrowing academic incompetence. All in all, these were 47 points pf critique, a handful of which would have shot dead an academic discussion of normal standards. (13 + 37 points, but three were interludes with due credits).
Forty-seven points of severe, fundamental faults. That’s either incompetence, dishonesty or the tunnel vision of the fanatic. You decide which one, or which combination of the three.
If you’re one of the many people who have been unable to see through the thin veneer, unable to see these people for what they are – standard conservatives, misogynists, hysterical anti-feminists – this means that your critical thinking has also been curtailed.
So do the right thing and say a painful goodbye to your YouTube father figure, Jordan Peterson. He told you to speak the truth. But he doesn’t tell you the truth, not even close. And neither does Paglia.
By the way, the correct answer to their question, what comes next, after this wave of pomo?
It’s that you accept good feminism, make sure none of it is driven by blame or hatred, and then add another layer to it: masculinism. Then you proceed with a both-and perspective. And you use developmental psychology to get at the core of the issues, reducing the gender antagonism in society, as discussed in my upcoming book, Nordic Ideology.
The core failure of the intellectual projects of Peterson and Paglia comes from a lack of understanding of developmental sociology. They have both failed to see the simple and fundamental progression: from traditional, to modern, to postmodern, to metamodern.
None of these positions (modern, pomo, etc.) are perfect. They all have pathologies and sicknesses of their own. Pomo has sicknesses. But Peterson and Paglia think that pomo itself is a sickness. To them, if people just “stop doing it”, stop being pomo, everything is going to be fine. But that’s not going to happen, as society developmentally generates a huge onslaught of pomo in late modernity. You can’t tell someone to stop being at a certain developmental stage.
So basically, Peterson and Paglia offer us no path ahead.
What’s next? Metamodernism is next.
Hanzi Freinacht is a political philosopher, historian and sociologist, author of ‘The Listening Society’, and the upcoming books ‘Nordic Ideology’ and ‘The 6 Hidden Patterns of World History’. Much of his time is spent alone in the Swiss Alps. You can follow Hanzi on his Facebook profile here.