Why I Left the Jordan Peterson Discussion Group

If you do not consider yourself to be a muggle you must have special knowledge which lifts you above the crowd. Not for you the herd mentality and slave morality of the masses. You see through the charade. Your magic talisman defends you from the sleep of ignorance.

So you’re not a muggle. You probably wouldn’t be reading this if you were. So what are you? And what is the magical superpower which makes you so special? Also, is it your own self-concocted magic or have you borrowed it? Are you your own self-made hero or do you have a champion?

If you are a Christian, your champion is Christ. If you are a Nietzschean, your champion is Nietzsche. Christ promises salvation. Through Him you can overcome the fallen world. Nietzsche also promises a kind of salvation, although his brand actually involves salvation from Christianity.

Ultimately, both Christ and Nietzsche promise salvation from muggles, but in seemingly opposite ways. They are rivals for the anti-muggle crown. The Supermen do battle with the Saints for the “top human” prize. The Communists famously did battle with the Fascists for the totalitarian prize. And there are many other rivals and many other prophets.

Who is your champion? Dawkins? Foucault? Marx? Ron L Hubbard? I picked these four because they are clear representatives of four general anti-muggle positions. They are not the only champions of these positions of course. They have rival champions as well as allies. However, their real enemies are to be found in the other three rival camps.

I call this “Muppet Wars”. Muppets think they are special. They look down on muggles. But they just can’t help bickering and fighting. “Type 1” muppets have the magic of science and reason on their side. They are atheist, neo-Darwinian, scientific materialists. “Type 2” muppets have the magic of critical theory and deconstruction. They are postmodernist, relativist, progressivist liberals. “Type 3” muppets have the magic of idealism and people power. They are utopian, collectivist, political activists. “Type 4” muppets have the magic of revealed truth. They are religious fundamentalists.

Perhaps it’s simpler to describe the Muppet Wars through the lens of basic political orientations. Type 4 muppets are the “Old Right” (royalists, imperialists, oligarchs); type 3 muppets are the “Old Left” (all forms of socialism, including National Socialism); type 2 muppets are the “New Left” (progressives, neo-Marxist postmodernists); type 1 muppets are the New Right (Libertarians, the Alt Right).

Type 1 muppets hate type 4 muppets and vice versa. Type 1 muppets also fight with type 2 muppets and type 3 muppets. Type 4 muppets hate type 2 muppets, which is generously reciprocated. Type 2 muppets hate type 3 muppets and type 3 muppets hate type 2 muppets as well as type 4 muppets. However, type 2 muppets sometimes forge alliances with type 3 muppets as do type 1 muppets and type 4 muppets. This can be extremely dangerous.

So where does Jordan Peterson fit in all this? He is critical of totalitarianism and collectivism; he hates type 3 muppets. He is critical of identity politics and postmodernism; he hates type 2 muppets. He is critical of  religious fundamentalism and authoritarianism; he hates type 4 muppets. He is critical of the New Atheism and the New Right; he disagrees with type 1 muppets.

There is a difference between hate and disagreement. Sometimes hate is justified and even called for. Peterson is arguably right to hate totalitarianism. He is also arguably right to hate the anarchy implicit in postmodernism. These fit nicely into his Order/Chaos hypothesis. Too much Order (totalitarianism) is hateful as is too much Chaos (postmodernism). Fundamentalism also excessive Order, so he’s justified in hating fundamentalism as well.

That deals with types 2, 3 and 4. Peterson clearly hates them all, and his “hate speech” has certainly ruffled a few feathers. However, he employs a very different tone when it comes to type 1 types – he actually treats them with respect. Think of his disagreements with Sam Harris and Steven Pinker. He doesn’t treat them like muppets. He treats them like intellectual equals.

Both Sam Harris and Steven Pinker call themselves left wing. They are probably very close to Peterson’s own political stance: “classical liberal”. Politically, they are allied against progressives (type 2’s), political extremists (type 3’s) and ultra conservatives (type 4’s). Where Peterson (along with Ben Shapiro and Tom Holland) parts company with Harris and Pinker is on the issue of the Enlightenment.

Peterson et al. believe that classical liberal Enlightenment ideals derive from the Judeo-Christian tradition and cannot survive without it. Like cut flowers, they will wither and die. Pinker et al. believe that science and reason are enough to maintain a humane society. But is this enough to resolve the “Meaning Crisis”? They ultimately offer a flat vision of reality without any ultimate purpose or meaning. Which is, of course, what Peterson is most concerned about.

This is where I think the real action is. And this is where Jordan Peterson is most interesting. The big question is, how can we fill the spiritual void left by the secularization of the Western world? If we don’t deal with this central question, it will (perhaps) continue to be filled by parasitical ersatz religions such as Neo-Marxism or “Woke Religion”. In my view, the Culture War is a side show. It’s just a local battle between type 1 and type 2 muppets. It’s a symptom, not the cause of the problem.

Liberal secular humanism is unstable. It can be maintained for a while, but it will always devolve into nihilism , utopianism or fundamentalism eventually. It fails to answer the deep human need for transcendent truth and meaning beyond the everyday. In it’s weak form, it is a muggle creed and is easily overthrown by the more vociferous muppets. In it’s strong form, it becomes a muppet creed in its own right (think Auguste Comte or Herbert Spencer).

It is easy to misunderstand Peterson’s real significance because he aligns himself with type 1 muppets against type 2 muppets, which include right wing libertarians like Carl Benjamin and Alt Right provocateurs like Milo Yiannopoulos. But neither is he a champion of the Enlightenment like Steven Pinker. He is not a type 1 muppet at all. He is speaking to something deeper, something beyond the Muppet Wars altogether.

Of course there is a place for calling out the irrational, unreasonable excesses of the New Left. There is a place for politics. But that’s not my place.

Which is why I left the Jordan Peterson Discussion Group.