May 9, 2018


Is there anything that Jordan Peterson can't disrupt? (Peter Franklin, 09 May 2018, Unherd)

[P]eterson is in the process of disrupting several 'markets'.

The first is the so-called alt-right. This always was a misleading label, because the alternative on offer is not to the conventional right. Rather, the variation is on the identity politics of the left. The alt-right offers a similar set of victimhood narratives, but with a different set of victims.

Peterson is accused by his stupider critics of having his alt-right tendencies of his own. They couldn't be more wrong:

"...his refusal of the consolations of group identity also puts him at odds with the alt-right. 'The alt-righters would say--and they've said this to me directly--'Peterson, you're wrong. Identity politics is correct. We just have to play to win.' I think that's a reprehensible attitude...'

"...Peterson sees himself as a kind of Catcher in the Rye, rescuing alienated young men from such dangerous temptations."

Disrupting the market for identity politics - by convincing its potential customers that they don't need its products (whether in rightist or leftist packaging) is a campaign that Peterson has waged on social media. However, he isn't just a (highly successful) YouTube personality. He's also a serious academic and Yang hints that he may have plans to disrupt a second market:

"He had met with Peter Thiel and Marc Andreessen to discuss an unspecified future venture. Both of those billionaires have for years called for the disruption of higher education, and Peterson has spoken of his desire to create an online university that will offer accreditation in the humanities at a tenth of the prevailing cost. "

As I've argued before, this is market that desperately needs disrupting. Besides the grotesque politicisation of entire disciplines, it is absurd that students should be racking up enormous debts for the privilege of listening to mediocre academics from the back of a lecture theatre, when world-class teaching resources can be made available online. Of course, there's more to higher education than attending lectures - but digital could reinvent all of that too.

Posted by at May 9, 2018 3:47 AM