I've been avoiding talking about Jordan B. Peterson, if for no other reason than that I think that, if someone is simply unavoidably everywhere, it is best to either talk about them soberly when all the craze dies down, or realize that the craze was simply a craze and that there's nothing to write soberly about at all anyway.
I discovered him through the Joe Rogan podcast. This was when he was first coming under fire in Canada for refusing to use alternative gender pronouns. I seldom say this without providing a link, but if you don't know about it, go ahead and google it.
Anyway, I thought his plight was horrifying, as did many; perhaps an indication of bad things to come.
I thought his somewhat hermeneutic approach to comparative religion was interesting, though admittedly, I only found it interesting in the sense that it indicated for me that he was possibly a fellow traveler concerning some of those subjects or subjects adjacent to them.
Though I'm somewhat intellectually allergic to all but spare uses of Jungian archtypes, I thought, well, it couldn't hurt the kids to get a little gateway drug into the realization of the self.
I must confess that, in whatever original incarnation I heard his rhetoric (probably Joe Rogan, once again) concerning 'Postmodern Neo-Marxists,' I found the idea compelling, but only because I made the mistake many did: I gave him the benefit of the doubt. I didn't think he was speaking about a literal conspiracy in which failed Marxists became postmodernists. I thought he was speaking hyperbolically about something which was, perhaps, occurring on a subconscious level - a general contemporaneous origin or sense of feeling belonging to some vector of both Marxism and postmodernism, though without the two ever actually joining forces or having anything to do with one another save the kind of antagonistic relationship one often finds amongst movements which, even if only remotely and vaguely, share the same parents.
It wasn't until I'd heard Peterson on several other occasions repeat his whole Postmodern Neo-Marxist story that I realized he was speaking quite literally. I'll spare my detailed opinions on this matter in favor of a very general opinion: my take on postmodernism is that it doesn't even come close to going far enough in its goal. It is still too morally absolutist, still too tied to the humanist/enlightenment tradition, and by all turns, pretty boring. Peterson's criticism of postmodernism, upon further examination, turns out to be a criticism which is unfounded, misguided and confused even if one were to set aside his peculiar conflation of it with Neo-Marxism.
Anyway, if you care to get a take on it from someone who actually seems to criticize Peterson from the position of one who is both familiar with and favors postmodernism, you may find the video below useful.
My opinion of Peterson, though based for the most part on modest fragments of his whole catalogue, really took a turn when I heard his debate with Sam Harris.
Here, Peterson comes off sounding precisely like the kinds of reletavists and postmodernists he always speaks of pejoratively. Even when faced with simple grade school math equations, Peterson refused to cede any intellectual territory to Sam Harris concerning the nature of logic and truth. The conversation literally goes nowhere.
Frankly, it made the conversation below actually sound sane, which I didn't think was possible.
Gordon White, the host of the Rune Soup podcast, devoted an interesting solo episode to the subject of Jordan B. Peterson.
In it, he tries to deal the professor an even hand. He gives Peterson a pass for what many have called a 'stupid philosophy' on the grounds it's not a philosophy at all, but a set of minimal-interventionist techniques to get one's life on the right track. Gordon then goes on to offer his own problems with Peterson's Postmodern Neo-Marxist conspiracy, and suggests that Peterson might be getting the postmodernists mixed up with the Frankfurt school, for which he furnishes details of an actual possible Marxist conspiracy that many have overlooked.
It's not until you get to Vox Day (author, blogger, publisher, vilified personality on the Alt-Right, along with many other things) that one approaches anything resembling a criticism which could be called 'Scathing, without academic jealousy.'
In a campaign which includes many videos and blog posts, Vox furnishes just about every intellectual and personal mistake Peterson could ever have been proven to make. This would seem petty, save for the fact that for all of the endless criticism aimed at Peterson by others, no one else said what Vox said about him. Peterson was called a Nazi, a Fascist, Far-Right, trans-phobic, mysoginistic, stupid in his philosophy and incorrect in his views of postmodernism. Vox Day, on the other hand, argued that Peterson was linked to a UN NWO narrative, simply dressed standard liberal values up in provacative language and that he was incorrect in his views of pretty much all things intellectual even outside of postmodernism.
It would be quite easy to insert the old cliche here that, 'If you're pissing people off from all sides, you must be doing something right.' Unfortunately, I think such an insipid idea rarely holds water today, if only for the fact that we live in a time when it is easy to piss everyone off from all sides. Jordan B. Peterson is hardly the first public figure to be called, simultaneously, a fascist/nazi AND a globalist shill carrying water for the Left.
What seems unique about him, as someone who seems to piss everyone off, is that he doesn't seem to give any indication, at least not immediately, that he's trying to piss anyone off. He seems to generally believe in the things he's saying, whether that be the vapid instructions to 'Clean your room,' as a microcosm of imposing order on chaos, the non-explanation that women don't attend his lectures because 'they're too busy,' as though it were a profound statement about the thirst young men have for a positive message, and even such humorously egregious errors as his claim that all Marxists in academia with any shred of decency disavowed their ideological inclinations by the 1960's.
Is he a shill? Is he a maniac? He may be both, but I think he believes in his product, even if it simply amounts to a message which could be interchangeable with the instruction 'Don't suck' as a maxim of universal application in a world in which people are no longer 'othered,' complete with a global legal system which, at once, sees to it that all men get one wife whether they want one or not, but in which alternative gender pronouns are not forced on anyone.