So What Jordan Peterson Is Saying Is…

The media is buzzing this week about a thirty-minute interview between Canadian psychologist/self-help guru Jordan Peterson and English “presenter” Cathy Newman. After seeing about fifty links to the interview, I resolved to suffer through a few minutes of it. I ended up watching the whole thing, with a growing sense of horror.


Mr. Peterson, a mild-mannered college professor in his mid-fifties with a gentle demeanor and a voice that makes the average Baruth sound like Barry White in comparison, has been alternately lionized and demonized lately as a symbol of the “alt-right”. The irony, of course, is that his views would only be considered “right-wing”, let alone “alt-right”, in a world where the mainstream discourse is now considerably to the left of Bill Clinton’s election platforms.

(Brief aside: if you think I’m kidding, take a look at Clinton’s 1992 positions on everything from gay marriage to immigration to “workfare” and then take a moment to consider how quickly we’ve moved the so-called Overton Window to the left.)

The media, of course, knows perfectly well that Peterson has nothing to do with the infamous “14 Words” or the fairly radical positions on racial purity and “the Jewish question” held by many alt-righters. Thus they were willing to have him appear for this BBC Channel 4 interview in much the same way that they would not be willing to host Vox Day or Heartiste or Baked Alaska.

(Brief aside, part two: Have you noticed that virtually every right-wing figure uses a pseudonym, at least to start their career? It’s because every right-wing figure who doesn’t use one finds himself in the unemployment line.)

The interview is worth watching because it demonstrates why people don’t trust the media, both in the UK and here. Vox Day has been very forthright on this subject. It’s obvious from the first minute that Peterson is going to be ambushed, harassed, and misrepresented. Yet he gets through it with a remarkable amount of grace and the general consensus of the Internet is that he came away looking significantly better than Mrs. Newman did.

It should be mentioned, as well, that the BBC showed some remarkable ethics in running the entire interview without edits, including Newman’s speechless reboot near the end. I don’t think Peterson would have gotten the same treatment on US media, which has proven willing time and again to edit for narrative regardless of whether it’s lies about WikiLeaks or fish feeding idiocy or removing a call to “burn the suburbs” down in order to portray a relative of a shooting victim as an “icon of peace”.

Can you imagine what 60 Minutes would have done with that footage? Peterson would have come out looking like a sexist, racist, science-denying mass murderer. Vox is right. Unless you have the collected, stutter-and-“um”-free demeanor of an experienced psychologist, and unless you can be sure that the interview will be shown in its entirety, you shouldn’t interact with the mainstream media. And if you are simply a citizen who consumes the news, you should be aware of how the sausage is made, both here and overseas. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: at the moment, the game is heavily rigged against anybody who can’t align himself with the current narrative. Sure, Peter Thiel might be able to get away with being a moderate-politics gay billionaire, but the punishment for people below the C-suite is swift, brutal, and utterly certain.

What bothers me most about Peterson’s appearance on the program, if I am completely honest, is that I think they brought him on for a quick Two Minutes Hate. Mrs. Newman, displaying the staggering viciousness common to women who believe themselves to be on the winning side, had planned on simply steamrolling him. It made me think of Orwell, so I’ll close this post with a few appropriate paragraphs. It’s always worth thinking seriously about who we are supposed to hate, and why.

As usual, the face of Emmanuel Goldstein, the Enemy of the People, had flashed on to the screen. There were hisses here and there among the audience. The little sandy-haired woman gave a squeak of mingled fear and disgust. Goldstein was the renegade and backslider who once, long ago (how long ago, nobody quite remembered), had been one of the leading figures of the Party, almost on a level with Big Brother himself, and then had engaged in counter-revolutionary activities, had been condemned to death, and had mysteriously escaped and disappeared. The programmes of the Two Minutes Hate varied from day to day, but there was none in which Goldstein was not the principal figure. He was the primal traitor, the earliest defiler of the Party’s purity. All subsequent crimes against the Party, all treacheries, acts of sabotage, heresies, deviations, sprang directly out of his teaching. Somewhere or other he was still alive and hatching his conspiracies: perhaps somewhere beyond the sea, under the protection of his foreign paymasters, perhaps even — so it was occasionally rumoured — in some hiding-place in Oceania itself.
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Winston’s diaphragm was constricted. He could never see the face of Goldstein without a painful mixture of emotions. It was a lean Jewish face, with a great fuzzy aureole of white hair and a small goatee beard — a clever face, and yet somehow inherently despicable, with a kind of senile silliness in the long thin nose, near the end of which a pair of spectacles was perched. It resembled the face of a sheep, and the voice, too, had a sheep-like quality. Goldstein was delivering his usual venomous attack upon the doctrines of the Party — an attack so exaggerated and perverse that a child should have been able to see through it, and yet just plausible enough to fill one with an alarmed feeling that other people, less level-headed than oneself, might be taken in by it. He was abusing Big Brother, he was denouncing the dictatorship of the Party, he was demanding the immediate conclusion of peace with Eurasia, he was advocating freedom of speech, freedom of the Press, freedom of assembly, freedom of thought, he was crying hysterically that the revolution had been betrayed — and all this in rapid polysyllabic speech which was a sort of parody of the habitual style of the orators of the Party, and even contained Newspeak words: more Newspeak words, indeed, than any Party member would normally use in real life. And all the while, lest one should be in any doubt as to the reality which Goldstein’s specious claptrap covered, behind his head on the telescreen there marched the endless columns of the Eurasian army — row after row of solid-looking men with expressionless Asiatic faces, who swam up to the surface of the screen and vanished, to be replaced by others exactly similar. The dull rhythmic tramp of the soldiers’ boots formed the background to Goldstein’s bleating voice.
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Before the Hate had proceeded for thirty seconds, uncontrollable exclamations of rage were breaking out from half the people in the room. The self-satisfied sheep-like face on the screen, and the terrifying power of the Eurasian army behind it, were too much to be borne: besides, the sight or even the thought of Goldstein produced fear and anger automatically. He was an object of hatred more constant than either Eurasia or Eastasia, since when Oceania was at war with one of these Powers it was generally at peace with the other. But what was strange was that although Goldstein was hated and despised by everybody, although every day and a thousand times a day, on platforms, on the telescreen, in newspapers, in books, his theories were refuted, smashed, ridiculed, held up to the general gaze for the pitiful rubbish that they were in spite of all this, his influence never seemed to grow less. Always there were fresh dupes waiting to be seduced by him. A day never passed when spies and saboteurs acting under his directions were not unmasked by the Thought Police. He was the commander of a vast shadowy army, an underground network of conspirators dedicated to the overthrow of the State. The Brotherhood, its name was supposed to be. There were also whispered stories of a terrible book, a compendium of all the heresies, of which Goldstein was the author and which circulated clandestinely here and there. It was a book without a title. People referred to it, if at all, simply as the book. But one knew of such things only through vague rumours. Neither the Brotherhood nor the book was a subject that any ordinary Party member would mention if there was a way of avoiding it.
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In its second minute the Hate rose to a frenzy. People were leaping up and down in their places and shouting at the tops of their voices in an effort to drown the maddening bleating voice that came from the screen. The little sandy-haired woman had turned bright pink, and her mouth was opening and shutting like that of a landed fish. Even O’Brien’s heavy face was flushed. He was sitting very straight in his chair, his powerful chest swelling and quivering as though he were standing up to the assault of a wave. The dark-haired girl behind Winston had begun crying out ‘Swine! Swine! Swine!’ and suddenly she picked up a heavy Newspeak dictionary and flung it at the screen. It struck Goldstein’s nose and bounced off; the voice continued inexorably. In a lucid moment Winston found that he was shouting with the others and kicking his heel violently against the rung of his chair. The horrible thing about the Two Minutes Hate was not that one was obliged to act a part, but, on the contrary, that it was impossible to avoid joining in. Within thirty seconds any pretence was always unnecessary. A hideous ecstasy of fear and vindictiveness, a desire to kill, to torture, to smash faces in with a sledge-hammer, seemed to flow through the whole group of people like an electric current, turning one even against one’s will into a grimacing, screaming lunatic. And yet the rage that one felt was an abstract, undirected emotion which could be switched from one object to another like the flame of a blowlamp. Thus, at one moment Winston’s hatred was not turned against Goldstein at all, but, on the contrary, against Big Brother, the Party, and the Thought Police; and at such moments his heart went out to the lonely, derided heretic on the screen, sole guardian of truth and sanity in a world of lies. And yet the very next instant he was at one with the people about him, and all that was said of Goldstein seemed to him to be true. At those moments his secret loathing of Big Brother changed into adoration, and Big Brother seemed to tower up, an invincible, fearless protector, standing like a rock against the hordes of Asia, and Goldstein, in spite of his isolation, his helplessness, and the doubt that hung about his very existence, seemed like some sinister enchanter, capable by the mere power of his voice of wrecking the structure of civilization.

Okay. I lied. I’m not going to end with a quote. I’m going to end with a quote, followed by a photo.

23 Replies to “So What Jordan Peterson Is Saying Is…”

  1. JustPassinThru

    Life imitates art.

    Between George Orwell and Ayn Rand, we find today’s political-social-economic dynamic, exactly.

    Both of those writers would be shocked to see how prescient they were.

    Reply
  2. John C.

    The frightening thing to me was how bad an interviewer she was. As they talked about, she had been selected above hundreds of others to be in her job at the BBC, the most serious news source in the English language. And yet that was all she had. The 10-50 liberal shrews under her should be liking their chops. They have to be ready to go head to head with a conservative. If they can’t what good are they to the agenda.

    Reply
  3. silentsod

    I know people who at least read 1984 in high school because we were in the same English course. These same people either learned the wrong lessons or don’t understand that they’re currently on the side of the totalitarians and are hateful of people who harbor doubleplus ungood thoughts is difficult for me to grok.

    Reply
    • silentsod

      I guess it’s crimethink if they’re thinking doubleplus ungood thoughts. I mean, how else could they be doubleplus ungood?

      Reply
  4. TAFKADG

    Orwell certainly foresaw the pathos and petty totalitarianism, but Huxley frickin’ nailed the absurdity. IMHO, we need both to fully appreciate the current year.

    Reply
  5. silentsod

    Listening to the interview and they really picked the wrong person to do the interview. She clearly is not on the same level of analysis and not up for an actual debate.

    Reply
  6. John Krauser

    I ended up listening to all 30 minutes myself after reading the post. This is deeply disturbing, how at every moment, she wanted to make a broad generalization and have him agree to it. It was like she was talking in sound bytes, but Peterson was masterful in responding. This was a far cry from an interview and more of a debate.

    He has an interview on Joe Rogan’s podcast that is pretty hard hitting. If I recall correctly, it is nearly 3 hours.

    Reply
    • Matt

      Here is a (slightly) more condensed and produced introduction to/overview of Peterson and why his message resonates with so many these days.

      Personally, I think/hope he has the potential to be a modern day Martin Luther. Once the hyper-leftists have shot their wad on social justice and they flame out in the 2020 election, hopefully there will be a growing awareness for the need for reconciliation and a newfound appreciation of western liberal values. However, my optimism in this regard is limited.

      Reply
  7. Disinterested-Observer

    This may be a broad generalization but I would say that most journalists are shameless retards. Specifically whenever I see someone is a “science” journalist I have to laugh. In college I had delusions of being a physics major and one of the events that disabused me of that idea was when my lab prof was relaying a conversation he had with some trigglypuff studies prof about “A Brief History of Time”. The triggly said it was physics from a man’s perspective and my prof pointed out that he didn’t really understand it, whereas the triggly thought zhe did (is that the correct pronoun?). I had read it and thought that I understood it, when he said he didn’t I realized I was way out of my depth.

    Reply
    • stingray65

      Until the 1960s, most journalists had a high school diploma at most and worked their way up the ladder from the mail room as their talent allowed. It was only with the growth of journalism schools that it became a “professional” occupation, although the school’s tended to attract left-wing faculty and students who didn’t have the brain power to specialize in something useful like STEM or management/economics. Thus with somewhat limited brain-power, journalism students become very easily indoctrinated in left-wing thinking by their left-wing professors, and seldom are required to take course work in STEM or management/econ topics that might give them a more balanced perspective. It is much easier for the shallow journalism students to take their free electives from the similarly leftist gender studies or sociology departments.

      The rise of the Internet, which not only brought competition to the mainstream media from “free” and “alternative” news-sources, but also the loss of ad revenue (which now goes to Google and Craig’s List, etc.), has also meant journalist cutbacks in regional staffing (i.e. the big “national” papers, networks and wire services no longer have regional offices in Omaha, Cleveland, or Houston). This means almost all the “serious” “mainstream” journalism is now done in the leftist media bubbles on the coasts (i.e. NYC, DC, LA).

      Thus the not very bright leftist leaning people trained by radical leftist journalism school professors, go to leftist NYC and LA to work in leftist mainstream media outlets, and are asked to write stories about business practices, income and taxes, climate science, new technologies, etc. that they have no personal experience or education about. This means mainstream media “news” stories are being written by functional “illiterates” with very strong leftist viewpoints about capitalism, human development, power structures, and government control. This also means that they are totally helpless when faced with someone smart such as Jordan Peterson, which is why such unedited “debates” with right leaning figures of stature are so very seldom seen. In summary, most journalists are not retarded in the clinical sense (i.e. IQ of less 70), but only in the leftist sense.

      Reply
  8. ComfortablyNumb

    The parallel between the Two Minutes Hate and the blue team getting themselves all worked up at marches and such is interesting. The Hate was so effective because, once the citizens had whipped themselves into a frenzy, there was the image of Big Brother to rally around. They tried to make Hillary that face, but no dice. Who will the next one be? If there were already an established champion of leftist causes out there somewhere, presumably we’d know about him/her/xyr by now. Such a shame, they’re wasting perfectly good hysteria by not having a savior identified.

    Reply
  9. stingray65

    The problem with the left is that facts aren’t on their side, thus they really can’t debate an intelligent person from the center or right without resorting to name-calling or mischaracterization. There is no gender pay gap – most women freely choose lower paid majors and careers, work fewer hours per week, take more time off from work, and tend to be less aggressive in seeking/accepting challenging assignments/jobs that might lead to stardom or abject failure, but none of these facts fits the feminist narrative that men and women are exactly the same and thus any deficits on the part of women has to be because of evil patriarchy and misogyny. Same with climate change – virtually none of the prominent climate scientists or politicians who tell us the world is soon to boil and melt will ever have a straight up debate with a prominent skeptic, because the few times it has happened they have been absolutely humiliated when the facts are presented.

    Reply
  10. Martin

    This interview was a total, complete disaster for Cathy Newman and her reputation. I cannot believe that even her most ardent admirers aren’t horrified by her performance, and the way Peterson makes her look like a silly, stupid, unintelligent child is almost too embarrassing to watch. “So what you’re saying is…” will absolutely be the epitaph on her career’s headstone. Now she’s complaining that Peterson’s right-wing Internet mob is threatening her, so she gets to be the victim and claim moral superiority. Maybe that will soothe the bad feelz of her peers.

    You are right about this being a lazy Two Minute Hate piece. But by the end, he’s got her saying things like, “So I’m aggressive and unreasonable…?” and he’s laughing at her and the look on her face is so stupid and uncomprehending- really, it is painful to see a grown woman so humiliated.

    Reply
    • Matt

      There’s very much an open question as to how much violence and hate she is actually being threatened with. Just as in the Wilfred Laurier University scandal in Canada, much of the vitriol seems to be causing “narcissistic injuries” as Jack might put it. My theory is these rabid leftists are so insecure and incapable of forming their own worldview, and their identity is so wrapped up in the progressive ideology they espouse, and their /actual lifestyles/ are so inconsistent with those progressive ideals, that they view any challenge to that worldview as a personal threat.

      Reply
  11. Jeff Zekas

    Thanks, Jack. This woman will not be demoted or fired, because she is a woman. Talked with my buddy today. His new supervisor was promoted due to affirmative action. Which means, of course, that she is less qualified, has less experience and is less capable than many, many other candidates. But no one can say this, can speak the truth, because the thought police will retaliate against dissidents. The emperor’s daughter has no clothes, but if this is pointed out, it means death to one’s career.

    Reply
    • stingray65

      You seem to have forgotten your lessons from University: Merit is greatly over-rated, while Diversity (of everything except thought) is our strength.

      Reply
  12. rpn453

    That woman is insufferable.

    The Joe Rogan interviews with Peterson provide a much more enjoyable listening experience. He has some interesting ideas if you allow him to speak for a bit.

    I’m not religious, but I especially enjoyed his connections with religious elements and fables. He’s clear that our psychology is the product of evolution, but our society functions because of our fundamental social agreements that are often founded on religious and moral elements.

    “We were chimps, for Christ’s sake! You know? It took us a long time to develop, say, an ideal. Just to say the word, “an ideal”. It implies a counter-ideal. Well, those things were embodied way before they were ideas.”

    Reply

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