In recent writings I have spent a fair amount of time considering Jordan Peterson. Although, after this rant I shall take a little break from the subject (in order to catch up on some Peterson research: I do still have a lot more to say). Now, one of the concerns I have about Jordan Peterson has been the consequences of his publicity slot, on Channel 4 News, for Cathy Newman, although Cathy’s experience is far from an isolated case. In my imagination (or TFHT) I have envisioned the miscreants that have spent so much time and energy bothering Cathy as Jordan’s Troll Army of Internet Brown Shirts; pulled together by the psychological trickery of a Master Manipulator of the Mind (for what else shall we call a professor of psychology).
The Brown Shirts (SA) were an important instrument in Hitler’s rise to power (or at least his struggle for prominence). The SA silenced those who would oppose or question the voice of Hitler. The methods of the SA were crude. They did not engage in reasonable debate with those who spoke in opposition to Hitler’s ideas but silenced them – stopped opposing views with fist and boot (mind you they also engaged in the street fights with the Communists, who were also willing to do brutal things – the world always fails to be simple, even with a tidy bedroom).
Some followers of Jordan Peterson are a little touchy – acting too much like devotees of some fragile, egomaniac cult leader. This begins to make things difficult for those people who would question Peterson. But ‘difficult’ is not the word to describe what has befallen Cathy Newman; it is intolerable and an affront to all that is decent, pure and valiant. Foul fiends beset Cathy’s every move on social media and hardly a word of reason can be heard [note: presently things seem to have eased off a little for Cathy and the voice of reason seems to have somewhat retuned. I won’t take responsibility for the clearing of the Great Siege but will, out of interest, continue to watch things closely]. Now, had Twitter existed, the SA would have sought silence in much the same way; as voices of difference were made gone (though to be fair: likely less ‘friendly’ on average). Now, I do accept that my analogue is a little lazy and risks being met with immediate offence by those who have enough history to understand the allusion but their behaviour is more deeply offensive. And, even so, one should note that my comparison is not without use and instruction. It is applicable and those who have happily volunteered their services to Jordan’s Troll Army of Internet Brown Shirts should remember that Hitler eventually betrayed his own Brown Shirts on the Night of Long Knives. They trusted their Fuhrer, though I’m sure Jordan Peterson is one to be trusted… whoops, sorry; that is not what I’m saying. I’m not sure Peterson is one to be trusted. The misguided young men who joined the SA were too delighted with the permission for violence, which they believed had been granted to them, that they didn’t pay attention to the danger signs. Well ‘pay attention’ (one can’t fault Peterson on that point): Jordan is not free from danger signs.
Now, experience has shown me that in talking to a certain class of Internet denizen; revealing one’s capacity for counter offence and troll like silliness is the currency that buys respect. I actually sympathise with the manner of ‘troll activism’ – which is not politically aligned, though how things break down statistically would be a worthy study (I suppose Cambridge Analytica already know the answer and how to apply it: hence Trump and Brexit). But I did not, as such, actually call anyone a NAZI [in the interests of impartiality we should like to point out that other brands of fascism are available from every well stocked high street superstore]. The Troll Army besieging Cathy Newman may be under some dark whispered command of Jordan Peterson but that does not even remotely make Jordan a Hitler (I’ve seen a few YouTube titles talking of Jordan’s running against Trudeau but not having watched any of these particular clips, I have to allow that they may just be clickbait, as so many of them are, and so I have no idea if there is any real desire for political ambition).
As should be clear to the well ordered, untroubled mind; I simply draw attention to the problematic behaviour of the hoards of stench that befoul Cathy Newman’s online presence, by referencing another misguided hoard. The SA had a mission to silence opposition and create a space for Hitler’s voice to be heard in a vacuum; without meaningful challenge. Thought: if one silences the voice that seems other, the debate will only ever have the illusion of reason. Cathy has been silenced (and she was not really even part of the debate). Jordan points out that ‘the left’ will not engage in debate with him. Is the fearful fate faced by Cathy (and others) the reason why the left would rather avoid talking to Peterson. Does Jordan not see that his Army of Trolls have silenced debate (oh! I suspect he is very well aware that it has).
But here is the thing; according to Peterson and his admiring followers, it would seem as if Cathy was more than silenced in her opposition to Jordan’s beautifully reasoned arguments. Cathy has been revealed wanting in prowess and left fallen, fully annihilated in fierce battle with the Mighty One; welcome hero and true saviour of our lost and chaotic age. Two great warriors duelling: one the conquering king, made confidant in his noble quest. The other: Champion of the Evil Empire, fearsome foe felled by the instability of their own rotten lusts, twisted by proximity to the traitorous manipulations of the Enemy and now exposed by the Truth of Reason embodied in the New Messiah Jordan.
Two heroes, only one leaving the battlefield. Yet rather than let the downed champion be buried with honour and respect, her body is hacked to pieces by Jordan’s indisciplined legions. What sort of army celebrates the victory of their hero by bringing a mob of dismembering mayhem (this leaves one wondering who really are the forces of dark chaos).
Is this what Peterson intended when he called for the ‘kek boys’ to leave the underworld (4Chan); to bring the troubled forces of darkness to war in some great devastating double cross. The whole mass troll treatment of Cathy Newman seems at odds with Jordan’s most public statements: I’m at a loss to understand how anyone seeking to ‘grow the hell up’, will ‘throw their shoulders back’ and be satisfied that the ‘them shaped hole in the world’ is but a cog in a siege engine used in such an unjustified and ignoble battle; having contemplated on the voice of Reason (wrestled with the meaning of Logos) and mass trolling Cathy Newman is the answer.
If Peterson is not devastated at the pointless, pitiless virtual mob violence against Newman (and others), perhaps ask if he is some sort of sociopath: at what point does a lack of compassion make one a functioning psychopath – if we chip away at society’s appreciation for the ‘utility of compassion’ will our mothers and carers lose the capacity: both a childhood and dotage without the understanding of compassion (a hint of dystopia starts to emerge from Jordan’s envisioned future world).
Is truth that has been made free from the influence of compassion at risk of simply being meanness (Jordan’s troubling concept of truth begins to unravel): that’s a question to unpack but for another time.
Peterson talks of the conspiracy of the Extreme Left. Apparently the universities have already fallen. And once education has been won to the Enemy, all is lost; for the Great Evil has the mind of the youth in its hands and is now moulded to its diabolical Will. But what is the source of this Malevolence? Where does it reside? Where is Mordor (for what shall we call the head of the octopus)? Are we looking at the last ditch plan of a disintegrated Communists Empire; or perhaps the inscrutable programme of the People’s Republic. North Korea, even? Or is it just the continued existence of Marxist ideologies (did we not burn enough of Karl’s books yet: we are a tardy lot). Well this would make it a war of ideas. Academia has fallen to Marxism because of strength of thought. If the ideas of Marx are so poisonous and evidently wrong then either the capacity for reasonable thought has been lost (by all but Jordan Peterson), or there are a great cohort of brainwashed Marxist/Communist/KGB sleeper agents that have infiltrated the entirety of Higher Education. Regardless of how these lines of thought are followed, it becomes clear that Jordan Peterson is at least alluding to Conspiracy Theory. But does Jordan go beyond the origins of Marx (there are perhaps two points that get picked up by those that do seek the hidden motivations of Marx but Peterson seems to ignore both possible culprits). There seems great holes in Jordan’s consideration of these conspiratorial issues and there are arguments that Jordan will avoid exploring. It can be questioned: does Jordan Peterson seek to take advantage of the lack of critical thinking that is the fruit of our modern education system. This is the great betrayal of the educator and that accusation can run both ways (left or right).
Jordan Peterson’s conspiracy theories are substandard and unimaginative (okay, his vicious totalitarian trans lobby is pretty inventive) and I believe I can do a little better. Paying attention to Jordan, we find he has studied the ‘kek boys’; those dwellers of the 4chan underworld: what sinister hold does this psychology professor, this wizard of enticing words, have over the troubled mentality of chaos and nihilism? What twisted words have fallen from the silver tongued menace in his anonymous wandering of the Internet’s underworld. What army has been shaped. Saruman had his fighting Uruk-hai, and Jordan has his trolling Uruk-hai. Saruman had been seduced by the Eye (though betrayed by his own mad ambition), while creating a secret army, he fought for the Enemy with ill advice presented as the inevitable wisdom of the Learned Ones. Is this applicable without undue offence. Has Peterson failed to understand the Enemy or has he deliberately misrepresented the Enemy. There was a time when the Catholic Church spoke of those enemies who sought destruction (of Europe’s Catholic heritage) as including the Marxist/Communist element but they were not seen as acting alone.
We can put the concerns of the Catholic Church aside for a moment but notice one thing: both the Catholic Church and Peterson seem to come together on the anxiety of irreligious culture/systems in the world. But there is a gulf between their concerns (despite the hopes of Bishop Barron) that means the two cannot be (easily) reconciled. For Jordan, Marxism is basically a very bad (untrue) idea that fails: leading to totalitarian nihilist states. For the Church, it is (or was) the work of the Enemy.
Is this just linguist patterns obscuring the same core truth. No! A church that sees Jesus as but a myth, an Archetype, has no truth. But for Peterson it is all about Archetypes. When we talk about Archetypes, we deal with forms of universal individual, e.g. the Hero, the Trickster (yes, it’s far more complicated than this). I suspect the ‘troll’ personality is most likely to resonate with the notion of ‘trickster’ (though ‘shadow’ may seem more fitting for the army of trolling Uruk-hai). Cathy is not beset by an apparently never ending occurrence of Trickster Archetype (and she certainly is not facing any Hero). Cathy has been facing a daily mob; unthinking and dull (the genius of any individual member lost): the intelligence of a mob is the IQ of its most stupid person divided by the number of its members (Sir Terry Pratchett). But how does a mob form? How does it exist? What is its metaphysical reality? Is a mob the lowest form of Archetype – collective in nature like a spooked herd; unsure of why but happily acting without reason; individuals spontaneously unified by a force beyond their (conscious) selves. The mob is a collective Archetype. Yet collectively ignorant of the cause of its collective action or direction (slaves to a power unknown and beyond).
A mob doesn’t listen – reason requires honest listening. This may be why a mob will act unreasonably (a crowd becomes a mob when it will no longer listen to reason). Debate without compassionate listening descends into hostility, becoming accusations. But when we truly listen, debate has the potential to progress into dialogue. A debate may leave one side feeling they have won but in war there are only losers – bankers aside: yet, “what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul”. Dialogue can lead to compromise and agreement (it can also reveal the Enemy). Nobody is fully correct but we are engaged in an eternal conversation of trial and error. We need to listen to each other and that seems certain: deep listening, which brings honest critique even of the self.
Women are worth listening to (many women are significantly more worth listening to than most men). But I will go a little further and say that it is right and essential that we listen to the female voice – it is urgent! I could choose to make my point through use of Christian thought but given Jordan’s use of Archetypes perhaps we can use a line of reasoning drawing on the most fundamental of deep Archetypes (one that does not exist in some nebulas notion of collective consciousness but instead is at the very core of our soul’s entanglement with our evolutionary being – the foundation of all): maiden, mother and crone. The terrible, all-encompassing power of the feminine expressed in her Trinity.
We listen to the Maiden though eyes soft and gentle as she whispers the sweet nothings that establishes our primal meaning. We listen to the Mother through eyes that can not bear the pain of her loss, because she is nourishment and discipline; yet her love is unconditional. We listen to the Crone through eyes of suspicion and awe, because she has the power to destroy happiness, or to give the nod of respect that makes us king amongst men.
The man that doesn’t listen to women is a fool!