Nellie Bowles’s profile of profit-taking misogynist pseudo-intellectual Jordan Peterson is astoundingly good and I recommend that it be read in its entirety. There’s so much good stuff it’s hard to know where to begin:
Most of his ideas stem from a gnawing anxiety around gender. “The masculine spirit is under assault,” he told me. “It’s obvious.”
In Mr. Peterson’s world, order is masculine. Chaos is feminine. And if an overdose of femininity is our new poison, Mr. Peterson knows the cure. Hence his new book’s subtitle: “An Antidote to Chaos.”
What kills me about this sexist-Jungian “chaos is feminine” horseshit is that Peterson is an academic. Does he never visit the offices of his colleagues? [Guy peers through a stack of newspapers from the Reagan administration] “manliness is ORDER!”
He is also very successful. His book, “12 Rules for Life,” which was published in January, has sold more than 1.1 million copies. Thanks to his YouTube channel, he makes more than $80,000 a month just on donations. Hundreds of thousands of people have taken his online personality tests and self-improvement writing exercises. The media covers him relentlessly.
The last link is the greatest subtweet ever, Bari none.
For two days in May, Mr. Peterson gives me a view of his life. He shows me his home, lets me listen in on business calls and a Skype session with a fan, and follow him backstage during a speaking engagement at the Queen Elizabeth Theater. He does not smile. He has a weathered, gaunt face and big furrowed eyebrows. He has written about dogs being closest in behavior to humans, but there is something extremely feline about him. He always wears a suit. “I am a very serious person,” he often says.
[Whispers] If you have to keep saying it, you’re not.
Mr. Peterson’s home is a carefully curated house of horror. He has filled it with a sprawl of art that covers the walls from floor to ceiling. Most of it is communist propaganda from the Soviet Union (execution scenes, soldiers looking noble) — a constant reminder, he says, of atrocities and oppression. He wants to feel their imprisonment, though he lives here on a quiet residential street in Toronto and is quite free.
“Marxism is resurgent,” Mr. Peterson says, looking ashen and stricken.
I say it seems unnecessarily stressful to live like this. He tells me life is stressful.
[Whispers] If you need to festoon your house with bad socialist realist art to convince yourself that the communist takeover of Canada is imminent, it’s not. Also, you’re a loony.
So he was radicalized, he says, because the “radical left” wants to eliminate hierarchies, which he says are the natural order of the world. In his book he illustrates this idea with the social behavior of lobsters. He chose lobsters because they have hierarchies and are a very ancient species, and are also invertebrates with serotonin. This lobster hierarchy has become a rallying cry for his fans; they put images of the crustacean on T-shirts and mugs.
The left, he believes, refuses to admit that men might be in charge because they are better at it. “The people who hold that our culture is an oppressive patriarchy, they don’t want to admit that the current hierarchy might be predicated on competence,” he said.
I can think of no recent events that would challenge the assumption that patriarchal dominance is based on pure meritocracy.
Now, for some rigorous, coherent, empirically grounded support for this claim:
“It makes sense that a witch lives in a swamp. Yeah,” he says. “Why?”
It’s a hard one.
“Right. That’s right. You don’t know. It’s because those things hang together at a very deep level. Right. Yeah. And it makes sense that an old king lives in a desiccated tower.”
But witches don’t exist, and they don’t live in swamps, I say.
“Yeah, they do. They do exist. They just don’t exist the way you think they exist. They certainly exist. You may say well dragons don’t exist. It’s, like, yes they do — the category predator and the category dragon are the same category. It absolutely exists. It’s a superordinate category. It exists absolutely more than anything else. In fact, it really exists. What exists is not obvious. You say, ‘Well, there’s no such thing as witches.’ Yeah, I know what you mean, but that isn’t what you think when you go see a movie about them. You can’t help but fall into these categories. There’s no escape from them.”
Jordan Peterson is serious. Very serious. Truly serious.
And now, the unvarnished woman-hating:
Violent attacks are what happens when men do not have partners, Mr. Peterson says, and society needs to work to make sure those men are married.
“He was angry at God because women were rejecting him,” Mr. Peterson says of the Toronto killer. “The cure for that is enforced monogamy. That’s actually why monogamy emerges.”
Mr. Peterson does not pause when he says this. Enforced monogamy is, to him, simply a rational solution. Otherwise women will all only go for the most high-status men, he explains, and that couldn’t make either gender happy in the end.
Obviously, this view that women only to serve the existence of men and social mores need to be developed to force women to have relationships with men they don’t want to have relationships with is extraordinarily disgusting on its face. But the argument makes no sense even if you accept the appalling premise arguendo. “Monogamy” is not actually a solution to angry entitled incels. Nothing about forced monogamy means that Stacy will pair off with the creepy angry loner who won’t even talk to her rather than Chad. All of this nonsense is based on the false premise that what “incels” want is sex per se, as opposed to “particular high-status female objects.” Monogamy, even if made a universal norm, can’t solve the problem of not wanting to belong to any club that would have you as a member.
I recommend this recent piece by Jia Tolentino, who unlike Peterson doesn’t hate women and also unlike Peterson is a smart person.
But wait — isn’t Peterson’s whole worldview defined by revulsion against EQUALITY OF OUTCOME? Bowles, unlike so many reporters, actually brings this up:
“Half the men fail,” he says, meaning that they don’t procreate. “And no one cares about the men who fail.”
I laugh, because it is absurd.
“You’re laughing about them,” he says, giving me a disappointed look. “That’s because you’re female.”
But aside from interventions that would redistribute sex, Mr. Peterson is staunchly against what he calls “equality of outcomes,” or efforts to equalize society. He usually calls them pathological or evil.
He agrees that this is inconsistent. But preventing hordes of single men from violence, he believes, is necessary for the stability of society. Enforced monogamy helps neutralize that.
As Sam says:
Oh yes. Redistribution is the worst thing ever, except for women's bodies. 🙄🤦♀️
— sam (@verysimple) May 18, 2018
And now, the punchline:
Over his bed is a painting celebrating electrification in the Soviet Union. On the wall across from it is a hyper-realistic painting of two nude women with swords. His bedspread is familiar: It’s the same image as his Twitter avatar, a dark geometric design based on a piece of art he made out of foam core in 1985 that he called “The Meaning of Music.” He says it’s “an attempt to portray in image what music means.” He has had it made into a rug as well.
Mr. Peterson’s office has objects scattered and strewn throughout: There is a hat from a gulag, some steampunk masks he thought were cool, stacks of papers and cords, and a Kermit puppet his sister sent him because his fans joke that his voice, high and hoarse, sounds like the Muppet. Mr. Peterson stresses the importance of cleanliness, but honestly his office is a mess.
This seems rather — what’s the word I’m looking for? — chaotic?
Anyway, read the whole etc.
ETA — the patriarchy is not sending its best:
No, John, it‘s a newspaper profile. An assassination attempt would be, I don’t know, a man mass-murdering people because Jordan Peterson told him he was right to be angry that hot women weren’t fucking him. https://t.co/BsBphC1cns
— your friend Helen (@hels) May 18, 2018