Will The Real Jordan Peterson Please Shut Up?
Yet again, Jordan Peterson, the energetic academic psychologist cum profiteering alt-right blowhard, has put his mouth where he believes the money is. That is, since most of his paying audience — believe me, he has no interest in any audience that is not paying, and by god they certainly will pay — is comprised of young males who believe Donald Trump is infallible, QAnon is a news organization, and Marjorie Taylor Greene is their spiritual sister, Peterson has calculated, accurately, that his current material advantage lies with spoonfeeding his groupies a pablum of Vladimir Putin propaganda sweetened with pretenses of being “a wish for peace.” No, it is a wish to ingratiate himself to the populist right for profit, by rationalizing Ukrainian surrender and the enabling of further Putin aggression.
On Twitter, Peterson links a Newsweek article in which a Kremlin propagandist rants on state television that “America has declared war on Russia” by supporting Ukraine’s desire to restore Crimea to its rightful governance, to which Peterson comments only, “WTF @ POTUS,” clearly intended as an expression of sympathy and agreement with the Kremlin propagandist, i.e., with Putin’s official rhetoric.
In one of my previous discussions of Peterson’s pro-Putin “peace advocacy,” I concluded with the following melancholic musing:
A final thought: Peterson is a bestselling author with an international audience. He apparently made the calculation that his Russian readership outnumbers his Ukrainian one, along with the typical alt-right assumption of convenience that Putin is the true and legitimate representative of Russia and the interests of the Russian people. But I can’t help thinking of what his words on Morgan’s program will mean to his Ukrainian readers and admirers, including, as I imagine, some young man sitting in a tank or lying wounded in a hospital, who has found Peterson’s ideas inspirational during these past seven months of terrible trial. And here is that young man’s admired spiritual guru telling him he can’t win, that there is nothing in it for the West to help him, even against a nuclear attack, and that the price of victory in fighting for his country amounts, in Peterson’s view, to nothing but a worthless and ignominious defeat. From broken and pathetic pseudo-intellectual to revolting piece of crap in one simple image.
And so, as a follow-up to that comment from several months ago, I note the following reply to Peterson’s latest pro-Putin post on Twitter:
Explain this, please. It's important for me as a Ukrainian and an admirer of your work.— Andriy Hnatyuk (@AndriyHnatyuk) February 21, 2023
Since Peterson will not and cannot explain what this gentleman is asking him to explain, perhaps I may give it a try.
Jordan Peterson decided several years ago, in an irrational distortion of his own paltry social science hypotheses about manhood, IQ, and the meaning of success, that making as much money as possible is necessary to proving one’s masculinity and intelligence, and so — after almost killing himself with drug addiction followed by crackpot Russian rehabilitation — he has come back from the brink as a very thin shell of his former self. He now makes no pretenses of being any kind of sober thinker or intellectual searcher, but simply feeds pop-psychological self-help diatribes to weak-minded followers, interspersed with an ever-more prominent penchant for social commentary of the internet click-bait variety, which is to say commentary unencumbered by any real knowledge, theoretical underpinning, or moral principles. In short, he has turned himself into the flimsiest sort of pseudo-intellectual pop star for cash, playing to a monolithic and intellectually uninquisitive group of core followers. Perhaps, if we are charitable, we might assume that he almost half-believes some of what he is saying, as one with a vested material interest in taking a certain position will tend to persuade even himself to some degree, as a matter of psychological convenience. With regard to the current situation in your native country, Ukraine, Peterson knows that his core audience is pro-Putin — that is, pro-strongman, pro-populist, pro-demagoguery — and therefore hates anyone seen as standing against Putinesque strongman populism. So he has decided to sell your country down the toilet for nothing more important than his own monetary gain, and the furtherance of his future income potential as he attempts to build an empire of “alpha male” charlatanry, with himself as the demi-god of this trashy new religion of vanity, greed, and playing to the squeakiest wheels for personal gain.
In short, Mr. Hnatyuk, Jordan Peterson, whose work you say you admire, is a lesser man than you. Stop admiring downward. There are proper and worthy things to look up to. You won’t find any of them where Jordan Peterson now resides.