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Willfully Mistaking Derision For Fear


It’s like…Bennet lives!

The content is, alas, even worse than the premise. Like, for example:

That might seem like a small thing, but it’s not. With identity politics off the table,

To interrupt here, the idea that “identity politics” is “off the table” when you’re dealing with Jordan Peterson’s male chauvinist ressentiment is beyond absurd.

it was possible to talk about all kinds of things—religion, philosophy, history, myth—in a different way. They could have a direct experience with ideas, not one mediated by ideology.

1)There is no such thing as an experience with these ideas unmediated by ideology, and even if there was Peterson sure as hell ain’t it.

Because all of this was happening silently, called down from satellites and poured in through earbuds—and not on campus free-speech zones where it could be monitored, shouted down, and reported to the appropriate authorities—the left was late in realizing what an enormous problem it was becoming for it.

This portrayal of campus life is, of course, fantastical. Who is monitoring this speech constantly? What authorities? This is just gibberish.

The book became the occasion for vicious profiles and editorials, but it was difficult to attack the work on ideological grounds, because it was an apolitical self-help book that was at once more literary and more helpful than most, and that was moreover a commercial success.

It is in fact quite easy to attack the book on ideological grounds, and the idea that it’s “apolitical” is again absurd. It’s even easier to attack the work of someone who uses “Marxism” and “postmodernism” interchangeably while (needless to say) knowing nothing about either on competence grounds.

There are plenty of reasons for individual readers to dislike Jordan Peterson. He’s a Jungian and that isn’t your cup of tea; he is, by his own admission, a very serious person and you think he should lighten up now and then; you find him boring; you’re not interested in either identity politics or in the arguments against it. There are many legitimate reasons to disagree with him on a number of subjects, and many people of good will do. But there is no coherent reason for the left’s obliterating and irrational hatred of Jordan Peterson. What, then, accounts for it?

This is, again, essentially a bunch of insults devoid of content. “Obliterating?” “Irrational?” “No coherent reason?”

At this point, a remotely serious piece edited by a competent editor would actually discuss some specific, lengthy critiques of Peterson, such as the three linked above. Flanagan…does not do this. Nellie Bowles’s superb profile, which she passes over without serious engagement, is the only actual disagreement with Peterson cited. There’s no reason to believe that Flanagan is aware of their existence, or indeed did any research for the piece at all. Her generalizations are completely without foundation.

Instead, she quickly moves on to discuss Nation poem-ghazi, the hiring of Sarah Jeong (with the bad faith claims about her taken completely at face value, natch), a claim that Barack Obama is “the poet laureate of identity politics (?)” and a claim that this is all “at least partly responsible for the election of Donald Trump.” In other words, baseless claims followed by a bunch of conservative identity politics mad libs.

Like most would-be critiques of “identity politics” from the right, in other words, this exemplifies what it thinks it’s attacking.

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