August 9, 2018


Why the Left Is So Afraid of Jordan Peterson: The Canadian psychology professor's stardom is evidence that leftism is on the decline--and deeply vulnerable. (CAITLIN FLANAGAN, 8/09/18, The Atlantic)

Two years ago, I walked downstairs and saw one of my teenage sons watching a strange YouTube video on the television.

"What is that?" I asked.

He turned to me earnestly and explained, "It's a psychology professor at the University of Toronto talking about Canadian law."

"Huh?" I said, but he had already turned back to the screen. I figured he had finally gotten to the end of the internet, and this was the very last thing on it.

That night, my son tried to explain the thing to me, but it was a buzzing in my ear, and I wanted to talk about something more interesting. It didn't matter; it turned out a number of his friends--all of them like him: progressive Democrats, with the full range of social positions you would expect of adolescents growing up in liberal households in blue-bubble Los Angeles--had watched the video as well, and they talked about it to one another.  

The boys graduated from high school and went off to colleges where they were exposed to the kind of policed discourse that dominates American campuses. They did not make waves; they did not confront the students who were raging about cultural appropriation and violent speech; in fact, they forged close friendships with many of them. They studied and wrote essays and--in their dorm rooms, on the bus to away games, while they were working out--began listening to more and more podcasts and lectures by this man, Jordan Peterson.

The young men voted for Hillary, they called home in shock when Trump won, they talked about flipping the House, and they followed Peterson to other podcasts--to Sam Harris and Dave Rubin and Joe Rogan. What they were getting from these lectures and discussions, often lengthy and often on arcane subjects, was perhaps the only sustained argument against identity politics they had heard in their lives.

That might seem like a small thing, but it's not. With identity politics off the table, it was possible to talk about all kinds of things--religion, philosophy, history, myth--in a different way. They could have a direct experience with ideas, not one mediated by ideology. All of these young people, without quite realizing it, were joining a huge group of American college students who were pursuing a parallel curriculum, right under the noses of the people who were delivering their official educations.

Because all of this was happening silently, called down from satellites and poured in through earbuds--and not on campus free-speech zones where it could be monitored, shouted down, and reported to the appropriate authorities--the left was late in realizing what an enormous problem it was becoming for it. that the former have simply embraced the Left's identitarianism, while the latter recognize that the Left/Right is talking anti-Christian/anti-American nonsense.

Posted by at August 9, 2018 4:19 AM