The Unbearable Ambiguity of Jordan B. Peterson
What the fuck is Dr Jordan B. Peterson up to? That B in his name, is that for am-B-guity, or what?
I attended Jordan Peterson’s Melbourne speaking engagement, with around 5,500 people on Wednesday, February 13th, 2019. I had a good seat near the front and JP eyeballed me at one point. I gave him the thumbs-up sign and smiled him on. I had just had dinner with some top Melbourne New Right folks at a nearby rib & BBQ restaurant at the Crown Casino. We went “all meat” that evening, in honour of JP who is mostly on a meat diet. I actually had not booked a ticket for his show, but a friend of a friend had a spare, and they sorted me out. So, I was in.
As a former event promoter, I did a quick calculation of money made from the event, on my iPhone Calculator, while I awaited the arrival of the “Canadian God Emperor of Left-Liberal Head Melting” on stage.
5,500 multiplied by, say, the average ticket price of around $150 comes to $800,000 or so. And he’s doing about 15 such events just in Oz and New Zealand. So, I can answer one part of what Jordan Peterson is up to, straight away. He is making shitloads of money off his recent celebrity. He could do 100 shows like this a year and, let’s say he gets half the take or a third, it’s still a fair chunk of change. It’s a one-man show, after all, not much expense to tour, with Dave Rubin tagging along as MC and interviewer.
It was definitely a good show. JP is one of the best public speakers I have heard. But, during the two-hour address, some more complex thoughts began percolating up in my devious brain. Like what else, outside of being a conservative, intellectual, Canadian, “wise dad” archetype, was this guy selling? Or, as the question presented itself to me at the time, “What the fuck is Dr Jordan B. Peterson really up to?”
Allow me to unpack my thoughts, and—trigger warning!—I will be using the word “archetype” repeatedly and may even say, “…eh?” a lot, in that most Canadian of ways, eh?
I think there are three main theories of what Peterson is up to that could hold water. I’ll list them and talk about each one.
First: He’s some kind of crypto-Fascist guru of the New Right, a favourite criticism of him by the New Left, as he calmly dismantles their hysteria and ideology.
Second: He is a Globalist Centrist, deployed against both the New Left and the New Right to move the masses back to a Neo-liberal, centrist Capitalism, and essentially follow the Globalist agenda.
Third: He is a mildly Right-wing Centrist liberal, who talks common sense, and presents an uplifting set of traditional values in a new light that is fresh and inspiring to many on both the Left and the Right.
So, is the God, Devil, average man or all three? Let’s find out and take a look.
First off, if you have watched any of Jordan Peterson videos or seen him destroy various liberal media bobbleheads, you will notice that Peterson is not dumb. His IQ is around 145. He talks about it on one of his videos. I have seen countless numbers of them, and that seems about right from how he speaks, how quickly he thinks on complex topics and the depths of his arguments.
But clearly, something that comes with such high intelligence is an ability to play complex games. This is how Jordan Peterson seems to me:
He preaches a kind of conservative Globalism that ultimately pushes a more Conservative Neo-liberal agenda, while also painting an upbeat vision of our Techno Scientific World, and tops it all off by taking the New Left ideologists to the proverbial woodshed for a damn good, old fashioned hiding.
But beyond the whimpers and squeals of those of a Marxist hue, and his aversion to all things Communist and collectivist (including the Right-wing variety), he is pretty much a run-of-the-mill, mildly Right-leaning liberal Centrist. I would direct him to my own article on economic Libertarianism itself being collectivist, so that he can see he has a little “collectivism” on his own hands, whether he likes it or not.
But outside what he sees as ideological errors—mainly of the New Left—he says everything is just peachy keen or as dandy as pancakes on a Sunday morning with fine Canadian maple syrup, yum, yum, eh?
JP tells us to compare our lives to that, say, of our grandparents, and, yes, our lives are clearly better materially than our Grandparents. So everything is OK then, eh? Or is it?
Well, no it isn’t. We all know that something else is definitely going on, something dark in fact, something that makes many of the more astute among us think we are part of a dead civilization.
Think of all the worst rumours we hear about the Globalist elites—their secret political agendas, fake news manipulation, controlled politics, and the long list of crimes attributed to them—and then combine those with the fact that Jordan Peterson doesn’t want to talk about this abuse of power or even the fact that many of us think there is such an abuse of power—a significant fact in itself.
JP simply tells us that some corruption in hierarchies is natural. Does this mean he is a Globalist “corrections,” someone who thinks that the Globalist agenda has merely gone a little too hard Left, and wants to move it back to the centre before nasty old nationalists, like me and my friends, take over the world?
In short, is his real target the New Populist Right more than the New Left?
One telling clue is the fact that he mocked the idea he’s a Globalist agent—of the many things he’s accused of—at his first Melbourne show. That is perhaps a telling slip, even for a brain as big as his. Sure, everyone just happens to work for the UN through their university and then becomes world-famous virtually overnight by saying the trans movement “can go fuck itself” apropos enforced speech doctrines.
Normally when you do that, you might become infamous, sure, but do you also get a flood of mainstream media invites soon afterwards, and do you have a New York Times bestseller ready to drop within a year or so of the controversy? Is it also normal in such circumstances to have 300 speeches—about 100 hours of content in total—online to explore, all ready and set to go? JP sure did, and maybe that’s just a cool coincidence, but it could also be viewed as a tad suspicious, eh?
Don’t get me wrong I like JP, really I do! He seems to be with the Right in some—or possibly even most—senses. But with the Globalists, you must always watch the double game, the hidden agendas, the dialectical judo. Has he been sent to oppose not only New Left postmodern Marxism (his pet hate) but also Right-wing identity politics and the associated politics of the New Right?
Well, he certainly seems to go after the New Right at times, and he doesn’t hide it, speaking out constantly and dismissively about the radical end of the New Right, the Alt-Right, whom he swears all hate him. Well, many don’t.
But could all this just be strategic? Could JP have some sympathy with New Right politics and the wider phenomenon of Populist Nationalism, at least at a “meta” level? He has spoken out in favour of Trump, Brexit, and some conservative populists. It’s hard to tell though, how far his love of New Right Populism runs, though.
And there you have it! The unbearable ambiguity at the heart of the man again! What is he really up to? It’s fucking hard to tell. And that’s what makes him both interesting and dangerous. If you could pin him down, maybe he would just seem boring and banal, but you can’t. In that way, he’s rather like Trump—a comparison he won’t enjoy.
Obviously, like Trump, his overall message is very solid. But this is the same man who has gone on Dr Oz, a show run by Oprah and her Globalist chums. He even apparently wanted a job there. Then what are we to make of the endless crying jags he does on tour and on some videos? We had one at those at the Melbourne gig, which, I admit, felt sincere. My trusting nature can vibe with that, but it seems like a red flag to my suspicious side, as if some sort of cult-like psychological manipulation.
Jordan Peterson’s body language is well put together and solid—chin up, shoulders back—just like he says in his book, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos. But I did notice sometimes a nervous twitch in his hands like he was nervous about something, or that he was holding something back. Of course, that could be nothing or…
The great danger that someone like Peterson poses to the New Right is that it might be neutered or ‘cucked,’ becoming yet another Globalist engine. The Globalists have long been working to subvert or hijack the New Right, especially the Alt-Right. I’m sure some of you may have noticed that.
So, what exactly are Peterson’s politics and policy preferences? Can we finally use that to pin him down by looking at his declared positions on the issues of the day? Well, we can try, but the fact is that he never actually says anything like this clearly—seriously! Like someone trying to be all things to all men, he plays his hand very close to his chest. You won’t get more from him than an acknowledgement that the present hierarchy is inevitable and a bland statement that we “all live better than grandpa and grandma.”
His attacks on the Left, as noted by many, including those on the Left—like Stephen Fry recently in the Munk Debates—is rock solid and totally devastating. Left-wingers get what he says, and that’s his great power! He red pills ’em by the stadium loads.
I will say this, if he’s really with the New Right resurgence, he’s the most subversive mofo around! Far more effective than one hundred Richard Spencer’s, whose main aim recently appears to be to marginalize the Alt-Right and the wider Dissident Right back to the ugly and sterile Andrew Anglin end of things. JP, by contrast, not only takes back the public discourse space, in a deft, post-Gramscian move, but he drags the New Right out of the shadows, making it the politics du jour of the next 10 to 20 years. When the Left accuse him of being a crypto-Fascist, this is what they mean.
Here’s another thought: Maybe JP assumes a kind of Right Globalist stance as a disguise. I mentioned before that he has the intelligence to play complex games—the 4D-chess-type games spoken of in the past with regard to Trump. To be edgy, he has to seem like a threat to the Globalists but to stay popular and garner invites from the Globalist media to discuss his ideas, he has to seem like he isn’t really a threat. (I mean, if he really were that big a threat to the Globalists, would he even be alive today?) So, maybe he is doing something akin to the double bluff—pretending to be the fake danger, which the Globalists can approve of and control, while secretly keeping a crypto-Fascist core, as the left senses and claims.
Indeed, this fits in with his philosophical DNA. After all, his main intellectual influences are Jung and Heidegger. Heidegger’s fascist sympathies are well known, especially after the revelations of the Black Notebooks.
Although Jung kept his political dimensions better hidden, he did edit a Nazi psychology journal in the 1930s, and never apologized for doing so. His work, and hence Jordan Peterson’s, is full of crypto-Fascist allusions and great mythologizing potential.
Ambiguity, eh? There it is again—the Unbearable Ambiguity of Jordan Peterson.
But let me present the third option. I have explored the notions that he is a covert Globalist plant or a New Right crypto-Fascist, but maybe, just maybe, Jordan Peterson is exactly what he appears to be and says he is, namely a simple conservative Canadian intellectual, who has had a gut-full of the identity politics of the Left (and Right), and is especially opposed to the New Left and postmodern Marxists who dominate the universities and our culture. To put it in more human terms, they have simply “gotten his blood up,” and he just happens to be very articulate in what he has to say against them.
If I were a betting man, I’d say the odds are like this: 60% Jordan Peterson is what he says he is, with no hidden agenda; 20% he’s a Globalist tool, and 20% he’s a crypto-Fascist, playing a particularly deep game. But here’s the real zinger—the hidden fourth option that JP gets for being a Jungian initiate, namely that he is a synthesis of all three. With an IQ of 145, he’s smart enough to pull off such a tight-rope-walking balancing act.
In fact, scratch what I said earlier. This fourth option is now my favourite interpretation of him—three into one, making a perfect fourth, but the dominant note being what it says on the bottle. This means that we can keep on loving JP with a relatively clear conscience, and yet still appreciate his two dialectical dark sides, eh?
But back to the sheer power of the man. This review is a testament to that, as I was motivated enough to write it because of him. I found his first show in Melbourne tremendously uplifting. The strong metaphors and mythological allusions he uses, and the stories he tells, really do enlighten. His chief metaphor of the Light emerging from the Great Darkness was enough to make me cry along with him. So, it was quite beautiful intellectually, and emotionally.
So, does all that I have written above settle the matter of the Unbearable Ambiguity of Jordan Peterson? No, of course not, but that’s probably a good thing. So, let’s just wait and see how things unfold with him. When all is said and done, Jordan Peterson does feel legit. My gut says he’s legit and as that is his mantra, I’ll try to take him at his word.
But I will say this, I do love the video where he talks about siccing his internet trolls on Channel 4. I’ll tell you what, if he ever wanted to go from crypto-Fascist to a real one and do a Tyler Durden from a Canadian university, he’d actually have quite a following, eh?
So yes, Jordan Peterson is dangerous, perhaps, and that ambiguity is one of the reasons why he is dangerous.
But, back to face value. By his own mantra, we must look to the Unconscious for answers. This is true not only to understand ourselves but also others. Yes, we can turn it around to even shine a light on Peterson himself. There we see two titanic archetypes battling beneath the calm, rational veneer of the world-renowned lobster fancier.
Who will win out, the Satanic Dragon of the Globalists or the Knight of the New Right sent to destroy it?
It’s a fascinating battle, and it’s a battle we are all involved in, in our own tortuous, psychic ways, eh?
This article originally appeared in AffirmativeRight blog. The Warden Post thanks them for permission to reprint. The text has been modified slightly in a form, not content.
Richard Wolstenecraft is a filmmaker & festival director, philosopher/writer, Video & Podcaster, book collector, and all-around trouble maker. He is a regular contributor to Affirmative Right blog.