From Objectivish: Ayn Rand vs. Jordan Peterson: The Benevolent vs. Malevolent Universe Premise

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Jmaurone's picture
Submitted by Jmaurone on Sat, 2018-02-24 20:31


"Always look on the bright side of death/Just before you draw your terminal breath." -Monty Python's Life of Brian

(Originally published at  "Ayn Rand vs. Jordan Peterson: The Benevolent vs. Malevolent Universe Premise"

Compare and Contrast: Ayn Rand vs. Jordan Peterson.

“By the grace of reality and the nature of life, man—every man—is an end in himself, he exists for his own sake, and the achievement of his own happiness is his highest moral purpose.”- Ayn Rand

 “I’ve said that some people will tell you that the purpose of life is to be happy, and those people are idiots.” -Jordan Peterson

Jordan Peterson has said that, while being a fan of Rand’s fiction, that he’s not a fan of her philosophy. So, then, whose philosophy does Peterson hold in high regard? Friedrich Nietzsche and Carl Jung. And this creates a philosophical schism between Peterson and Objectivists in the way of “sense of life”, in the idea of “the malevolent vs. benevolent universe” premise.

Regarding Jung, I've already discussed how, despite some similarities, he and Rand differ on the concept of self and ego. Now, When Rand, in the essay "What Can One Do?", talks about working with others of differing beliefs to achieve a specific goal, and warns against those who who "ascribe his views to the entire membership, or to use the group to serve some hidden ideological purpose", that can be related to her concern over the superficial similarity between Objectivism and the ideas of Nietzsche, whose influence on her had been expunged by the time of The Fountainhead. Despite the surface similarities of individualism and selfishness, she ultimately saw his views at odds with hers, and the mature version of her ideas that became Objectivism explicitly make clear her objections. So, then, by logical consequence, she’s already made the case against Jordan Peterson, whose superficial similarity to Objectivism’s individualism is also informed by Jung and Nietzsche. This is seen most prominently in their respective “sense of life.”

Peterson and the Malevolent Universe Premise

 As I discussed in the past few posts, Peterson seems to hold a “malevolent universe premise” as his “sense of life”. That’s not to say that he celebrates it, or promotes nihilism; quite the opposite. And he's not coddling people who would say, "well, I made bad decisions in my life, and I don't want to take responsibility, so life sucks." But what he does hold is suffering as metaphysically important. Peterson make statements such as “life is a mistake”, it’s tragic, suffering, etc. For him, the suffering is something to be overcome:

 There is a difference between evil and tragedy. Tragedy does seem to be built into the structure of the world. But human beings seem to be equipped to deal with tragedy, but we are not equipped to deal with malevolence. That destroys people. I think that metaphysically thinking the world is structured such that humans have a choice between good and evil. Why do we have a choice? We don't know."

 That said, Peterson does not celebrate suffering, but sees it as something to be overcome:

I’ve said that some people will tell you that the purpose of life is to be happy, and those people are idiots. Happiness is something that’s done in by the first harsh blow that reality deals you. There are many circumstances in life where the expectation of happiness as a response will put you in absolutely the wrong psychological state to be prepared for what must be done.- Jordan Peterson, “Say No To Happiness”


The human capacity for eternal transformation is the antidote to unbearable suffering and tragedy.

 Now, here, and Objectivist might say, “whose life is based on suffering” By what standard? Is he projecting his own experience, or that of his clinical clients, onto life as a whole? Here, Peterson might point to the animal ancestry of man, as he does when he says that we share a neurological structure for dominance hierarchy that is found in lobsters. He might say, as Hobbes did, that nature is “nasty, brutish, and short." And as for tragedy being “built into the structure of the world”, he can point to the biblical story of the exile from Eden, the fall of man and original sin, the punishment of painful childbirth. Indeed, the sexual act for many species is nasty, brutish, and short. Certain insects devour the males after sex, or lay eggs in the male so that the offspring feed off the carcass, and in the case of bedbugs, experience “traumatic insemination”.

The history of human sexuality has its own share of violence to it, as exemplified in the works of the Marque de Sade up to the more recent (and best-selling) 50 Shades of Gray. And before an Objectivist could object, the response would point right back to Rand herself, from the cruelty of the sex scene in Night of January 16th to the infamous “rape scene” of The Fountainhead. All this, just to perpetuate the species. Love and romance isn’t always a “beautiful union.” Attempts to depict such violent forms of sex in humans as psychological aberrations would have to ignore the similar violence in other species. This points to another crucial difference between Rand and Peterson: Rand believes in the idea of the mind being tabula rasa, and Jordan, a pragmatic believer in evolutionary psychology, believes that there is something evolutionary underlying and guiding behavior. If not conceptual in nature, it’s there, nonetheless. On this issue, Rand would agree, as she told Nathaniel Branden about a women’s desire to be dominated by a man:

I recall a conversation I had with her in the early years of our relationship, when she was expounding on her idea of feminine hero-worship. I was in my twenties at the time. I asked her: 'don’t men worship women? I mean, the women they love?"

"Oh, I suppose so, but that's not how I would think of it. By "worship," I mean our highest capacity for admiration, reverence, looking up. I see man as superior to woman, and..."

"Oh, Ayn," I protested. You don't. You're joking!"

"I am not joking," she answered seriously.

"Superior in what? Intelligence? Creativity? Moral worth?"

"No, of course not. In spiritual or intellectual matters the sexes are equal. But man is bigger, stronger, faster-better able to cope with nature."

"You mean, at the pure physical level?"

"The physical is not unimportant." Later, I often heard her reiterate that point.

 So both Rand and Peterson see the violence inherent in sex. But they both see that there is also the difference between dominance and abuse.  Both want people to be strong and able to withstand and overcome suffering. Great. But why? What for? Then what? That’s where Rand and Jordan diverge. For Peterson, the goal is for man to survive; for Rand, for man to thrive. What I don’t get a sense of from Jordan is a sense of the Aristotelian idea of eudaimonia. Actually, by embracing the Nietzschean and Jungian aspect, he seems to outright reject such a thing:

 It’s all very well to think the meaning of life is happiness, but what happens when you’re unhappy? Happiness is a great side effect. When it comes, accept it gratefully. But it’s fleeting and unpredictable. It’s not something to aim at – because it’s not an aim. And if happiness is the purpose of life, what happens when you’re unhappy? Then you’re a failure. And perhaps a suicidal failure. Happiness is like cotton candy. It’s just not going to do the job.

(His calling happiness a “side effect”, “fleeting and unpredictable”, I suppose, is meant to conjure up the attributed “wisdom of Solomon”: as the story goes, Solomon requested a ring with an inscription that would make him sad when he was happy, and happy, when he was sad. The resulting inscription was “this, too, shall pass.”)

I suspect this lack of eudaimonia, and a lack of romanticism, in general, is largely a result of Peterson considering himself a pragmatist. (Rand had argued against pragmatism, of course.) That pragmatism informs Peterson’s attitude about purpose, as he quotes holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl: “Those who have a 'why' to live, can bear with almost any 'how'.”

Frankl’s opinion on happiness is the same as Peterson’s, as well:

Don't aim at success. The more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one's personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one's surrender to a person other than oneself. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it. I want you to listen to what your conscience commands you to do and go on to carry it out to the best of your knowledge. Then you will live to see that in the long-run—in the long-run, I say!—success will follow you precisely because you had forgotten to think about it
Viktor E. Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning

There is a particular line that Peterson quotes that sticks out, to me:

 Weak and miserable as I am, I can still stand up to the terrible tragedy of life and prevail!- Strengthen the Individual: Acounterpoint to Post Modern Political Correctness

 This sentiment is one that rankles those of the Objectivist mindset, to call oneself “weak and miserable.”  And it would even contradict Peterson’s own admonition to “stop saying things that make you weak!” Still, that is a step up from Byronic Romanticism, which Rand portrayed as doomed heroism, that told one to struggle despite being deterministically fated to fail, as opposed to Rand's "Romantic Realism", which says that happiness can be achieved in this world.

 Also, this line brings to my mind a quote from Nietzsche as something that I would use to question Peterson about all this:

You call yourself free? I want to hear your ruling thought and not that you have escaped a yoke. Are you such a one as was permitted to escape a yoke? There are some who threw away their ultimate worth when they threw away their servitude. Free from what? What is that to Zarathustra! But your eyes should announce to me brightly: free for what?- Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra

 The question begging to be asked here of Peterson is what is the purpose, then, of overcoming the struggle and tragedy, if not happiness? (The question already holds the answer. Revealed by his admiration for Nietzsche, Peterson would say that the freedom is not to be spent in pursuit of some eudaimonic happiness, but in an continual striving to evolve, a continue cycle of struggle and triumph, an “eternal return.” Here, it is tempting to invoke Rand’s disowning of her own Nietzschean influence, but I do think there is something similar retained in her own work, in her depiction of life as not a circle, but a straight line of goals. See her description of Dagny Taggart's meditation into the woods, before the tunnel disaster, in Atlas Shrugged.)

Here, I think, we see the difference between Rand and Peterson’s approach to individualism. Peterson's promotes individualism of the Jung/Nietzsche variety, contra Rand, who would never hold that the road to individualism ultimately leads back into "the whole", or some "collective unconscious."

 Objectivism and the Benevolent Universe

In contrast, Objectivism holds a secular view of the “benevolent universe” premise. Instead of the world being divinely created for us, Peikoff describes it, thusly:

 Although accidents and failures are possible, they are not, according to Objectivism, the essence of human life. On the contrary, the achievement of values is the norm—speaking now for the moral man, moral by the Objectivist definition. Success and happiness are the metaphysically to-be-expected. In other words, Objectivism rejects the view that human fulfillment is impossible, that man is doomed to misery, that the universe is malevolent. We advocate the “benevolent universe” premise.

The “benevolent universe” does not mean that the universe feels kindly to man or that it is out to help him achieve his goals. No, the universe is neutral; it simply is; it is indifferent to you. You must care about and adapt to it, not the other way around. But reality is “benevolent” in the sense that if you do adapt to it—i.e., if you do think, value, and act rationally, then you can (and barring accidents you will) achieve your values. You will, because those values are based on reality.

Pain, suffering, failure do not have metaphysical significance—they do not reveal the nature of reality. Ayn Rand’s heroes, accordingly, refuse to take pain seriously, i.e., metaphysically. You remember when Dagny asks Ragnar in the valley how his wife can live through the months he is away at sea, and he answers (I quote just part of this passage):

“We do not think that tragedy is our natural state. We do not live in chronic dread of disaster. We do not expect disaster until we have specific reason to expect it, and when we encounter it, we are free to fight it. It is not happiness, but suffering, that we consider unnatural. It is not success but calamity that we regard as the abnormal exception in human life.”

 This is why Ayn Rand’s heroes respond to disaster, when it does strike, with a single instantaneous response: action—what can they do? If there’s any chance at all, they refuse to accept defeat. They do what they can to counter the danger, because they are on the premise that success, not failure, is the to-be-expected.

 Teleology, Purpose, and the "Pursuit of Happiness"

 But that brings up another difference in their approach: The purpose of life gets into the idea of teleology. If one is religious, that person is going to have a different view than an atheist as to the purpose. Or an Objectivist.

Here, I think, is another intersect between Peterson and Rand on the matter. The etymology of happiness: "good fortune," from happy + -ness.

 late 14c., "lucky, favored by fortune, being in advantageous circumstances, prosperous;" of events, "turning out well," from hap (n.) "chance, fortune" + -y (2).

The key being that happiness, in the sense of luck, favored by fortune, etc, was something that happened to one externally. As suggested in the earlier Viktor Frankl quote, the words "happy" and "happen" share a root word", "hap".

 Now, Rand and Peterson would meet on the fact that happiness is not the standard of value; they were not hedonists. But still, we need to go further: Without reason or effort, happiness is outside of volition. It really would be luck or good fortune, something that simply "happens" to you. But with reason, happiness is something that can be achieved. "Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed." This is where the malevolent/benevolent universe premise really kicks in. The benevolent universe, as Peikoff explained, is not of the supernatural variety, but of a logical, scientific one. That we don't have to simply adjust to our environment, but that we can adjust it to us, that the rules don't arbitrarily change, that it can be done.

Again, returning to Eudaimonia: In philosophy, happiness is translated from the Greek concept of eudaimonia, and refers to the good life, or flourishing, as opposed to an emotion.

Rand vs. Nietzsche on the Pursuit of Happiness

 Nietzsche, like Peterson, also disparaged happiness: "Man does not strive for happiness, only the Englishman does."

 Nietzsche believed that happiness as one's ultimate goal "makes one contemptible." As a warning against seeking "mere happiness,” he depicted a "last man”, a picture of a hedonist who avoided struggle and effort. In essence, he was saying that anything worth doing would be a struggle, or to quote Kennedy, “we do these things not because they are easy, but because they are hard.” Since Rand, who also rejected hedonism, had a similar attitude, as Ronald Merrill, in The Ideas of Ayn Rand, describes as “The Galt-Like Golfer”:

What about a highly productive man who, rich at thirty, retires and spends the rest of his life playing golf? Has he really done anything wrong? Yes, he has, by the standards of Objectivist ethics. Again, it’s not what he has that counts, nor even what he does, but what he is. By living in idleness, he is diminishing his productive capacity and ability, and thus acting against his own life. In reality skills decline if not practiced— business skills, not just golf! Knowledge is forgotten or becomes obsolete if not used; ability and ambition decay if not presented with new challenges. And that matters, because— in reality— fortunes are vulnerable to inflation, depression, and confiscation. Merrill, Ronald E.. Ayn Rand Explained: From Tyranny to Tea Party (Ideas Explained) (p. 158). Open Court. Kindle Edition.

And here’s what Rand has to say about happiness as a purpose: Rand, contra Jordan: "The maintenance of life & the pursuit of happiness are not two separate issues. To hold one’s own life as one’s ultimate value, and one’s own happiness as one’s highest purpose are two aspects of the same achievement."

 Service to Others and Self vs. Man as an End in Himself

 Now, harkening back to this essay’s opening quote from Rand regarding people of differing beliefs working together: here's the difference between Rand and Peterson: Aristotle and Plato. Aristotelian ideas largely inspire Objectivism, and Plato, the Jungian Analytic Psychology that inspires Peterson.  And Rand, writing of the duel between Apollo and Dionysus, took Nietzsche to task for his emphasis of emotion, over reason. (While holding that there is no duality, if the two are properly integrated.) And again, the teleology comes into play. Jung's ideas do promote a kind of individualism, but as part of a cycle. The ego individuates into the Self, but then returns the "cosmic collective unconsciousness." Jung holds that the second half of life goes to accepting mortality, and therein, results in suffering.

Here, I have to briefly mention Peterson's definition of sacrifice as "delayed gratification", to surrender something now for something better, later. Rand has also addressed that definition of sacrifice, but rejected it, at least in the sense of the "now" being "this life" and the something better being "the afterlife". (The afterlife is something Peterson is ambiguous and agnostic on, it has to be said.) That said, he does share a theme with Rand's essay there, in "The Ethics of Emergencies." Peterson has said that one should not sacrifice ones's life to someone drowning, for example. But he does hold it as a "duty" for one to better oneself for the sake of others and one's self. (See Yaron Brook contra Peterson on sacrifice.) And, as Amy Peikoff pointed out, Objectivism rejects the use of the word "duty" in that context. In Rand's own words, regarding Roark, she wrote that it would be alien for Roark to "serve himself".

As to your sentence that Roark would want to serve that kind of God-that is the only sentence in your letter which was offensive to me. The word “Roark” and the word “serve” are opposites—the two antagonists who will never meet and must not be connected. There is no such conception as “service” in Roark’s consciousness nor in the kind of universe to which he belongs and which he represents. Roark would not “serve God” nor anyone nor anything. He would never even use such a word in relation to himself. He would never think of “serving himself” or “serving his art.” Roark is a man who does not serve- that is his whole meaning. Roark is man as an end in himself. That which is an end in itself does not serve anything. That which serves is the means to something which is the end.

Weltschmerz, and loss of purpose

 "God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference."

-Reinhold Niebuhr, “Serenity Prayer”

 I think that the concept of weltschmerz can explain what Peterson is getting at in his crusade against the “pursuit of happiness” as the meaning of life: mental depression or apathy caused by comparison of the actual state of the world with an ideal state. Given that Rand’s goal of her writing was the depiction of an “ideal man”, and found the world wanting for them, she had a bout of weltschmerz of her own.  Indeed, Rand’s critics have even pointed to Rand’s personal life, the loss of friendships and trashing of her work by critics, and the depression that followed, and said that Rand died lonely and miserable. Her defenders would claim the opposite, that her pain “only went down so far”, and that Rand herself claimed that she still loved life, and this world.

 Now, previously, I said that Peterson and Rand both rejected happiness as the standard of value, and both suggest that having a purpose is more important, that a man with a purpose can endure anything. But a purpose implies a goal to be achieved, and if that goal is not achieved, it may result in something like weltschmerz. But more paradoxically, a succession completion of a goal may result in depression as well, if there is no new goal to replace it. If the purpose it taken away, then happiness is fleeting, as well. I already mentioned Merrill’s discussion of the “Galt-Like Golfer”. I can think of other examples, such as musicians who achieved their goals of selling millions of records and becoming world-famous overnight, only to find their motivation was gone, afterwards. Ayn Rand said something similar about why she stopped writing fiction. After Atlas Shrugged was completed, she had created not one, but four versions of her ideal man, already, which was the purpose of her work, and the fuel for her motor was gone. And it also explains the Chinese curse “may you get what you wish for.” It also puts the ending of Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory in a more ominous light:

Charlie, do you know what happened to the man who got everything he wanted?

 No, what?

 He lived happily ever after.

 It’s why the Philadelphia Eagles, in their Super Bowl victory of 2018, relished their underdog status, because “underdogs are always hungry!.”

Another question: is weltschmerz always such a bad thing? In Rand’s context, it could be an indicator that a course correction is needed:

 In psychological terms, the issue of man’s survival does not confront his consciousness as an issue of “life or death,” but as an issue of “happiness or suffering.” Happiness is the successful state of life, suffering is the warning signal of failure, of death. Just as the pleasure-pain mechanism of man’s body is an automatic indicator of his body’s welfare or injury, a barometer of its basic alternative, life or death—so the emotional mechanism of man’s consciousness is geared to perform the same function, as a barometer that registers the same alternative by means of two basic emotions: joy or suffering. Emotions are the automatic results of man’s value judgments integrated by his subconscious; emotions are estimates of that which furthers man’s values or threatens them, that which is for him or against him—lightning calculators giving him the sum of his profit or loss.

For example, since Objectivism holds that happiness is not the standard of value, it cautions against using emotions as a tool of cognition in determining values, as well. And when one’s reasons and emotions clash, it advises reason over emotion. That’s not to say that if one sees injustice in the world, or people suffering because of oppression, or disaster, etc, that one shouldn’t feel such a clash. But Objectivism would hold that we have the power to change that. “I love this world. I hate the shape of the things in it.” Roark, in contrast to Henry Cameron, Gail Wynand and Dominique Francon, is an explicit rejection of the ultimate power of weltschmerz, that such depression is a momentary reaction. An observation from Essays on Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead notes that Dominique “never aquires the fundamental motivation that is Cameron’s and Roark’s: to reshape, for oneself, the earth into a place of joy. Until the end of the story, she does not fully comprehend the nature and possibility of such a motivation.”

One might say the same about Peterson.

Critics like Peterson might say that Rand’s work is a “white-washing” or repression of her true feelings, but Objectivists would say that Peterson is reifying the negative aspects of life, the suffering and tragedy, as the whole. Jordan would argue the statistics in favor of a malevolent universe premise; Rand would say that statistics aren’t the deciding factor, and point to the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, and the turn-of-the-century art and music as counter-examples to those statistics. They may see the same phenomena, but their assessment is where they differ, on what they choose to give metaphysical significance.

Vicious Cycles and Eternal Returns

A common misconception is that of thinking of ‘survival’ as if it were some single vital action that occurs after all the other actions [necessary to life] have been completed. ‘Survival’, however, means the continuation of the organism’s life, and the organism’s life is an integrated sum composed of all those specific actions which contribute to maintaining the organism in existence. In this sense in living action the parts are for the sake of the whole: the specific goal-directed actions are for the sake of the organism’s capacity to repeat those actions in the future. An ultimate goal, if it is truly ultimate, must be an ‘end in itself’. An ‘end in itself’ gives the appearance of a viciouscircle: it is something sought for the sake of itself. This circularity vanishes when we regard life as an end in itself: actions at a given time benefit survival, which means they make possible the organism’s repetition of those actions in the future, being then again directed toward survival, which means their repetition, and so on. (pp. 64– 65)  Binswanger, Harry, The Biological Basis of Teleological Concepts

Here is an example of Rand rejecting a view of life as a “vicious cycle” in favor of something more hopeful:

 Philosophically, Romanticism is a crusade to glorify man’s existence; psychologically, it is experienced simply as the desire to make life interesting. This desire is the root and motor of Romantic imagination. Its greatest example, in popular literature, is O. Henry, whose unique characteristic is the pyrotechnical virtuosity of an inexhaustible imagination projecting the gaiety of a benevolent, almost childlike sense of life. More than any other writer, O. Henry represents the spirit of youth—specifically, the cardinal element of youth: the expectation of finding something wonderfully unexpected around all of life’s corners.  .  Ayn Rand. The Romantic Manifesto (Kindle Locations 1588-1589). Signet. Kindle Edition.

 “The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street”, or, Post-Edenic Morality

 Rand sees evil as impotent to create, with only having the power to destroy. Peterson seems to see evil as a potent force. In Jungian terms, it’s a result of our “shadow side.” And it will always be with us as long as people remain blind to their own capacity for evil. That is why he puts such emphasis on “getting yourself together,” clean your room, etc. Know thyself. Indeed, in my own study of the comparison between Rand and Jung, I found examples of how that “shadow self” bring out the monstrous capabilities of even good people, even in Objectivists. This is the crux of Peterson’s comments about Rand’s fiction being problematic because the characters are either too good or too evil. I take his characterization as wrong on its face, not just in the fiction, but the philosophy. 

 Rand echoed something similar when she relayed this anecdote about Jean-Paul Sartre:

Sartre recounts a conversation he had with an American while visiting in this country. The American insisted that all international problems could be solved if men would just get together and be rational; Sartre disagreed and after a while discussion between them became impossible. ‘I believe in the existence of evil,’ says Sartre, ‘and he does not.’ ” This, again, is a euphemism: it is not merely the existence but the power of evil that Europeans believe in. Americans do not believe in the power of evil and do not understand its nature. The first part of their attitude is (philosophically) true, but the second makes them vulnerable. On the day when Americans grasp the cause of evil’s impotence— its mindless, fear-ridden, envy-eaten smallness— they will be free of all the man-hating manipulators of history, foreign and domestic.  Rand, Ayn. Philosophy: Who Needs It (p. 212). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition

Still, there is the capacity for goodness, and self-knowledge. And since Objectivism holds that errors of knowledge are not errors of morality per se, and that we are not omniscient, we have to constantly strive to keep true. There is debate over the Objectivist idea of a person’s capability of being “morally perfect”, even among Objectivists. But even allowing for the imperfection of man, Peterson’s emphasis on the monstrous capability of a person, their “shadow side”, seems to be so influenced by Jung and Nietzsche as to be a border-line endorsement of the biblical “original sin.” In the Peterson view, civilization is but a thin veil, to be pulled back like the classic Twilight Zone episode “The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street.” Rand’s view of man is one of a moral upward-mobility, and that we are not determined by lobster-like biology, but that the power of ideas gives us choice, and responsibility, to transcend our animal nature.

 Peterson, in contrast, claims that, if we are honest, people would admit to fantasizing about a return to a pre-moral state of brutal animal innocence. I don’t think he’s wrong to caution against it. Invoking the Stanford Prison Experiment, he cautions against thinking that one wouldn’t have participated in Nazi atrocities, if placed in that environment. But Peikoff would indict those who would fantasize about such a return, while simultaneously rejecting the resulting work and effort required of man after the exit from Eden as the “suffering” that Peterson sees it as, but as a blessing:

 Effort does not mean pain or duty, but it does mean struggle, because conceptual knowledge is a volitional attainment that involves the risk of error and the need of continual, scrupulous mental work….

Their opposites are the anti-effort mentalities, who seek to coast through life, hoping that knowledge and values will somehow materialize without labor or cost whenever one wishes for them. This attitude represents the subversion of virtue at the root; it is resentment of the fact that virtue is necessary. The best symbol here is the Garden of Eden before the Fall, which the Judeo-Christian tradition regards as paradise. Such a projection elevates mental stagnation to the status of ideal. No long-range action is required of Adam and Eve, no work, no plan, no focus; they need merely lie around, munch fruit, and follow orders.

So, again, we are presented with a yin-yang view of life: Peterson, the warning against the dark side, Rand via Objectivism, pointing towards the light.

 Objectivism as “Anti-Pollyanna”

It has to be reiterated, at this point, that Objectivism does not deny the existence of suffering and tragedy. And if Objectivism holds that the physical world can be tamed and made hospitable, there is still the reality of “man’s inhumanity to man.” (As Sartre put it, “hell is other people.”) In Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand, Peikoff has a chapter on happiness that could serve as a refutation of Peterson on its own. One line stands out to me, regarding the image of optimism as a “Pollyanne-esque delusion:

 The benevolent universe premise has nothing to do with “optimism,” if this means Leibniz’s idea that “all is for the best.” A great many things in the human realm are clearly for the worst. Nor does the premise mean that “the truth will prevail.” Unless one adds the critical word “ultimately.” Nor is benevolence the attitude of a Pollyanna; it is not the pretense that there is always a chance of success, even in those situations where there isn’t any. The corrective to all these errors, however, is not “pessimism,” which is merely another form of pretense.”

 (As an exercise for the reader, compare and contrast Pollyanna's "Glad Game" to the idea that "crisis equals opportunity.")

Rand made a similar point, while discussing music, in The Romantic Manifesto:

It must be stressed that the pattern is not so gross and simple as preferring gay music to sad  music or vice versa, according to a “benevolent” or “malevolent” view of the universe. The issue is much more complex and much more specifically musical than that: it is not merely what particular emotion a given composition conveys, but how it conveys it, by what musical means or method. (For instance, I like operetta music of a certain kind, but I would take a funeral march in preference to “The Blue Danube Waltz” or to the Nelson Eddy-Jeanette Mac-Donald kind of music.) As in the case of any other art  Ayn Rand. The Romantic Manifesto (Kindle Locations 706-710). Signet. Kindle Edition. 

  So why does Peterson disagree with Rand so emphatically on the role of tragedy? It may be tempting to know his biography, to ask, what happened to him in his life to give him such an outlook? "Who hurt you, Jordan?" "Lighten up, Francis!" (In all seriousness, Amy Peikoff notes that Peterson, in his book 12 Rules For Life, does go into some biographic detail that contributed to his outlook. I don't mean to make light of that. But, while I haven't read those details, and they probably are important in looking at how they shaped Peterson's ideas, for the purpose of this essay, it's more important to examine the overall fact that both he and Rand have experienced suffering, but have come to differing conclusions and contrasts in their "sense of life". )

But if you look at Rand’s biography, and see what she suffered in Soviet Russia, one then might ask, why didn’t Rand succumb to the same? Indeed, here is an example of why Objectivism is not a symbol of Pollyanna-like naïve optimism. Though The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged both have happy-endings, We the Living does not. The original title, Airtight, reflects the reason for that. Her escape from the Soviet Union was a fluke, she said, and that in such an environment, such naïve optimism would get one killed, that such an air-tight environment of terror does not permit happiness and fulfillment, and to write a happy ending would betray those who were suffering and dying. But then, she also wrote Kira as dying with a smile on her face, because she had, in her attempt to escape, seen a better alternative, a better way, abroad. And that it didn’t have to be like this, if only we choose better, and fight for it. So, even then, it wasn’t a denial a suffering, but neither was it a reification of suffering as the whole. Rand chose to acknowledge the reality of suffering and tragedy, but not to give it metaphysical significance.

So, then, why didn’t Rand succumb to the Nietzschean worldview that has inspired Peterson? And why does Peterson choose to see suffering as metaphysically important? Why does Peterson surround himself with Soviet art, as a reminded of the horrors of communism (which he is dedicated to fighting), while Rand wrote We the Living, to “get Russia out of her system?”  Peterson, has suggested the Kantian idea of that we see the world through certain filters, and I suspect that Kantian influence is a major cause of his friction with Objectivism. Rand and Peterson are seeing the same phenomenon, but viewing it through different belief systems. Still, they both converge on the idea of purpose. When he writes of people like Viktor Frankl, and how he survived in the concentration camps, it’s a similar situation to Rand’s. Frankl would envision life on the outside, keeping a positive spirit, and with purpose.

Peikoff’s answer to that, in a callback to the “Serenity Prayer”, invokes the commonality between Rand and Peterson on the idea of purpose, while also invoking the Objectivist idea of evil as “impotent”:

The corrective is realism; i.e., the recognition of reality, along with the knowledge of life that this brings: the knowledge that happiness, though scarce, is no miracle. It is scare because it is a culmination that only a demanding cause, moral and philosophical, can produce. It is no miracle because, when the cause is enacted, its effect follows naturally-and inevitably.”

 Viewing Peterson as Rand Viewed Dostoevsky

Now, where does that leave Peterson as an ally to the Objectivish? Can his malevolent sense of life be reconciled on a deeper level? Where I place Peterson is in the same spirit as Rand discussed her admiration for writers with whom she differed philosophically, like Victor Hugo and Fyodor Dostoevsky, in The Romantic Manifesto:

 The choice of subject declares what aspects of existence the artist regards as important—as worthy of being re-created and contemplated. He may choose to present heroic figures, as exponents of man's nature—or he may choose statistical composites of the average, the undistinguished, the mediocre—or he may choose crawling specimens of depravity. He may present the triumph of heroes, in fact or in spirit (Victor Hugo), or their struggle (Michelangelo), or their defeat (Shakespeare). He may present the folks next door: next door to palaces (Tolstoy), or to drugstores (Sinclair Lewis), or to kitchens (Vermeer), or to sewers (Zola). He may present monsters as objects of moral denunciation (Dostoevsky), or as objects of terror (Goya)—or he may demand sympathy for his monsters, and thus crawl outside the limits of the realm of values, including esthetic ones.

 For instance: I love the work of Victor Hugo, in a deeper sense than admiration for his superlative literary genius, and I find many similarities between his sense of life and mine, although I disagree with virtually all of his explicit philosophy—I like Dostoevsky, for his superb mastery of plot structure and for his merciless dissection of the psychology of evil, even though his philosophy and his sense of life are almost diametrically opposed to mine—I like the early novels of Mickey Spillane, for his plot ingenuity and moralistic style, even though his sense of life clashes with mine, and no explicit philosophical element is involved in his work—I cannot stand Tolstoy, and reading him was the most boring literary duty I ever had to perform, his philosophy and his sense of life are not merely mistaken, but evil, and yet, from a purely literary viewpoint, on his own terms, I have to evaluate him as a good writer.

... in sense-of-life terms: Hugo gives me the feeling of entering a cathedral—Dostoevsky gives me the feeling of entering a chamber of horrors, but with a powerful guide—Spillane gives me the feeling of hearing a military band in a public park—Tolstoy gives me the feeling of an unsanitary backyard which I do not care to enter.”


Do I run the risk of being too generous to Peterson’s motives? Does his admiration for Nietzsche’s idea run the risk of undermining Objectivism? On the one hand, I do think that he genuinely wants to help people. As for promoting liberty over socialism, he's got kids today reading, of all things, The Gulag Archipelago by Solzhenitsyn, for cryin' out loud. And given his work as a psychiatrist who deals with PTSD victims, etc, he’s seen and heard a lot of dark experiences, I’m sure. Given that he makes a stand for individualism and capitalism, I’m willing to give the benefit of the doubt as to his personal motives. But at the same time, I’d counter that generosity with what Rand wrote in contrast to his views on pragmatism, duty, sacrifice and the necessity of suffering. (I'm also reminded of Diana Hsieh's essay, "False Friends of Objectivism", which made the argument that libertarianism was too broad an umbrella, using the example of a medical doctor aligning with a "witch doctor" or "holistic healer" under the premise that both claim to want to heal people. And, um...yeah...her critical take on my own project at the time, "Jungian Objectivism"...oh, the irony...) 

Anyway...Since Peterson is currently being touted as a hero against the left, a mentor to young people, and even as a genius by his more hard-core fans, I have to reiterate that his views are not, in fact, new, but merely Nietzsche and Jung repackaged for a new generation. I suppose those ideas may seem new to a younger generation, who wouldn’t know better, but I think that even some Objectivish-minded people, or at least libertarian-minded people, who might not share the atheistic approach of Objectivism, may be wowed by Peterson’s use of Jung’s analytical psychology. Since I’ve already gone that route, myself, I’m looking at that in the rear-view mirror…again, the irony...)

 But since he is out there, fighting a good fight against the left, I support him. Since he is trying to help people do the same, I applaud him. But I take that his "toughen up!" approach is best suited for those who are weak, and suffering, or not quite there, yet. For those who need to  first learn to, or how to, survive. But once there, there needs to be someone to say, to quote Mr. Belvedere, that life is "more than mere survival." That a life of struggle simply to overcome is a life without pleasure, and pleasure is important, too. That was Rand. If Peterson is Sparta, Rand was Athens. Now, one could warn about the decadence of Athens, and the meme that hard times create good men, good men create good times, good times create hard times, etc...But again, Objectivism does address that by rejecting hedonism and recognizing purpose of meaning. That was Rand, and her benevolent universe premise. The purpose of her art was to show the ideal man. That life could be good. That "it is real, it is possible, it is yours."

 So, to sum up: because of my own personal experience, I get where Peterson is coming from, and why he is pushes the "life is suffering, so get it together!" stance. "Whatever gets you through night", as the song goes. Hey, I still ocassionally to heavy metal music, Pink Floyd The Wall, and have a thing for monsters and dragons in mythology, myself. And just as I think Peterson is wrong to reify suffering and tragedy, I don't want to reify the brighter side of life to someone living in a warzone or under a brutal dictatorship. "The true is the whole." Mankind has the capacity for good and evil, so happiness and suffering are part and parcel of our experience. But, in the long run, I choose, and choose to promote, Rand's benevolent universe over Peterson's malevolent view. Might as well make the most of it, to the best of our context and ability.



( categories: )

Peterson in 2021: "Objectivism is not synonymous with reality"

Jmaurone's picture

"Guess who's back...back again...Jordan's back...tell a friend..." Or don't...

Jordan Peterson has been popping up again, after a lengthy stay in rehab. It doesn't seem to have changed his outlook, though. Remember when he did that even with ARI, and was given a copy of INTRODUCTION TO OBJECTIVIST EPISTEMOLOGY?
Pepperidge Farm Remembers...but I don't think Peterson does. And if he does, if you told me even if he read it, but just threw it in the trash after that, I'd believe it...(the fact that he chose that text for his Twitter ad on his video as a description of the contents it telling in itself...)

(On top of that, talk about a lot of "Polish"; I read through the transcript, and it was about 90 minutes in before it even seemed to start to make a point beyond academic gibberish...and even then, it's just a warmed-over quantum physics as justification for religion trope, with psychedelics thrown in for good measure...)

Ah, well. It's not as if I could have counted on any major epiphanies on his part, and there isn't even anything in the video to recommend on its own merits, as I generously did in the past, as it's just a jumbled mess, both intellectually and epistemologically. But still, if he's going to come back swinging with "objectivity is not reality", then, I'm going to counter that our "reality" is under siege while he's off playing in "The Land of Make-Believe". Not that it will stop his fanbase from proclaiming him a genius, but's 2021, the world is upside down, and the religious right's answer to the totalitarianism upon us is to keep on preying on the prayers of desperation from their flock of sheep...

Piss-Poor Classical Liberal

Kyrel Zantonavitch's picture

Thanks, JMaurone! "Classical liberal" is better than Rightist or Leftist. But he took forever to say it in the video above. That shows how weak and phony he is. Like all 6 or 7 videos I've ever seen of him. Peterson is a mediocrity and basically worthless. His neoliberalism always strikes me as dreadful and pathetic.

Classical liberal

Jmaurone's picture

"I once heard Jordan Peterson specifically say that he was not a conservative. But I don't know how he defines, explains, or categorizes himself then." One-time socialist, now "classical British liberal."

An Extremely Confused, Contradictory, and Weak Neoliberal

Kyrel Zantonavitch's picture

I once heard Jordan Peterson specifically say that he was not a conservative. But I don't know how he defines, explains, or categorizes himself then.

Peterson and clear speech (or, "Physician, heal thyself...")

Jmaurone's picture

A case where Peterson's blind spots show...


His "rule" (and people thought Rand was dogmatic!) about clear speech doesn't seem to apply to I mentioned before, he considers the question of an afterlife and the supernatural to be a "trap". And here, he talks about "multiple truths" besides the "literal truth." He claims to be against post-modernism, but he doesn't even see how post-modern he can be...

Peterson's "12 Principles of Conservatism"

Jmaurone's picture
As posted by Jordan Peterson on Twitter, today: "12 Principles of Conservatism" (or, how Peterson alienates his more libertarian/Objectivish sympathizers...)

(click to enlarge:)

Not that it's all bad, but it's a bit contradictory, in places, from an Objectivish viewpoint. (But probably consistent from a conservative viewpoint.) Anyway, it serves as an example of how Rand was right to challenge conservatism.

(Edit, 4-28: And that's not to say that libertarianism doesn't have its own contradictions. Anyway, it serves as an example as to why Ayn Rand was right to challenge the conservatives and libertarians, alike. But some of these do present a challenge to some Objectivist ideas in return, I should say. )

Peterson's "truth" & his post-modern rejection of post-modernism

Jmaurone's picture

" It is Peterson who uses the same postmodernist logic the left uses against the practice of group identification by identitarians. He asks "who is white exactly?" just as postmodernists ask "what exactly is a male?"

Regarding Peterson and post-moderninsm: I, and others, have noticed that about Peterson, that he rejects post-modernism on one hand, and, on the other, sounds post-modern himself, at times...Especially when he starts with the "it depends on what you mean by 'true'" trope. Whatever his strong points, it's just one example of why he's not >philosophically< fit to lead any true revolution.

His evasion about religion (he refuses to answer questions about his beliefs, seeing them as a "trap") are a prime example of his attitude towards "truth", and how he can be post-modern, himself, when he needs to be. As a by-product of his Jungian influence, I suspect he's a bit "Kantian", as well, "limiting reason to make room for faith."

Gender vs Race double standard?

Bruno's picture

Professor Ricardo Duchesne, a Canadian historical sociologist of Puerto Rican origin, argues Jordan Peterson fails to make any compelling case against white identitarianism, and that his attacks on it can be refuted by the same arguments that him Peterson uses against gender social constructionists.

The following excerpts have been taken by an article published for the Council of European Canadians, the full text can be found at their website:

Professor Duchesne has also recently appeared on an interview by Stefan Molyneux to speak on the topic of The Fall of Canada, the video can be found on youtube:


In the recent interview above, Jordan Peterson asked "who is white exactly...are the people who inhabit northern India white?" White identitarians are not just "reprehensible" and "detestable," he said, they make the same mistake as postmodern leftists in believing it is possible to identify racial groups with any certainty. Take a listen. The statement about identity politics and the white race can be heard between 17:45 and 20:00. This article focuses broadly on his statements between 9:00 and 20:00.

The same Peterson who says it is impossible to identify the white race as a distinctive group has also repeated a thousand times that postmodernists are wrong in denying objective knowledge about distinctively "male" and "female" group characteristics. The error of postmodernists, Peterson has said, is that they don't know how to distinguish substantive biological differences from less significant, socially constructed differences. Postmodernists elevate all differences, including minute differences without distinction, to the same epistemological status, making scientific generalizations impossible, since science operates on the assumption that some properties are more significant than others. For postmodernists reality is an infinite series of differences and particulars, and the criteria that allows us to decide what differences are significant are ideological. This is why postmodernists belief that differences between boys and girls can be eliminated as long as the appropriate "gender experts" are in charge of socialization.


The truth is that white identitarians are following the same biological logic Peterson applies in his identification of males and females. It is Peterson who uses the same postmodernist logic the left uses against the practice of group identification by identitarians. He asks "who is white exactly?" just as postmodernists ask "what exactly is a male?" Postmodernists tell students that there is no such thing as a white race. The white race is a social construct solely determined by the cultural norms and by the elites in charge of knowledge. They always insist that there are far more significant cultural and social differences between individuals across racial lines.


We have strong reasons to suspect that Peterson is merely abiding by the politically correct line against White identity because it is too risky. But why not stay silent, why attack White identity politics as "detestable" and "abhorrent?" Why was it so easy for Peterson to argue that Jewish individuals are disproportionately represented in many professions because they have on average, as a group, a higher IQ than individual members of the White group-race? How were Jews and Whites contrasted in their IQ results if there was no objective criteria to decide who is a Jew and who is White? Obviously Peterson would never say that Whites are more successful than Blacks because they are smarter on average.


Duchesne in this same article points out that it is within European nations of strong social and ethnic cohesion that individualism was able to flourish:

European Identitarianism = Protection of Individual Liberties

The individualism Peterson identifies with Western civilization is a recent libertarian interpretation coming at a time when Western traditions have been decimated by postmodernist politics and the relentless spread of commodification. This does not mean that community norms, historical memories, and ethnic identities have disappeared altogether. The liberal communitarianism argument against the classical liberalism Peterson endorses came to be widely accepted precisely because the principle that individuals should be recognized as agents with a capacity for independent judgment resonates only among an actually living European people with collective habits and traditions that value individual liberty.

The immigration restrictions enforced in Canada, Australia, and United States well into the 1960s/70s were the product of peoples with a strong collective identity and a strong tradition of individual freedoms. The liberal nationalism of the peoples of Europe was never based on liberal values alone, but also on a strong sense of peoplehood, territorial attachment, kinship, and collective norms. In this interview Peterson says he is both a libertarian and a "terrified traditionalist". But what else can traditions mean if not collective beliefs passed down within a group or society with common origins in the past?


In plain language:

Bruno's picture

The postmodern shift:

Christian culture --> neo-marxist culture

I contend that the former is superior to the latter.

An Objectivist counter-culture I can see flourishing within a christian foundation. In a neo-marxist foundation, might as well start Going Galt.

Communist propaganda

Bruno's picture

It has been so succesful that it is now in many ways the "cultural norm" to be a cultural marxist, i.e. a leftist.

Jordan Peterson's logical and informed reading of our Christian tradition and culture, if it became again culturally dominant, it would simply be a return to normalcy (the UK, Canada, and California seem to far gone to ever come back).

Multiculturalism (i.e. cultural suicide), multiracialism (i.e. demographic suicide), egalitarianism (i.e. hatred of the good for being the good), the glorification of hedonism (i.e. whim-worship), demographic decline, etc., are all the result of cultural leftism, i.e. the first step towards a leftist political takeover. First take out Western (Christian) culture, then replace it with marxist tripe, at which point the population will gladly give up their freedom voluntarily. Easy Peasy.

Obleftivism is Objectivism infected by Egalitarianism, i.e. cultural marxism, so it has already been swamped. The communists have culturally castrated the Obleftivists, they are no threat to the neo-marxist post-modernists. In fact, they are allies even if they may not realize it.

Poland is one of the most religious countries in Europe, go figure it has not been taken over yet. Italy is relatively pretty religious and it is in much better cultural shape than Germany. Dixie and "flyover" America is very religious, they have yet to be swamped.

It is not faith, it is not the belief in God, it is their cultural norms. They are what used to be called normal. They will defend their family, their country (nation), they know the boundaries between "us and them" (the in-group and the out-group), they respect individual choice but expect individual responsibility (rational egoism), they recognize the natural differences between the sexes, they have benevolent charity towards other tribes but not pathological altruism, etc.,

Rememeber what used to be the Western World, what used to be called Western Civilization, there you go, that's them. That's what we now call "backward". While our "forward" is now the disgusting, physically repulsive and psychologically nihilistic, spectacle of any of these "youth marches" of young little neo-communists in the making.

Ugly, stupid and conformist, un-healthy, rude, fat, physically marked with ink like ancient savages and pierced like jungle dwellers. Women that look like men, men that look like women, all of them united by the invisible strings attached to their empty heads, which the puppet masters carefully orchestrate.

Carefully observe what the "social justice warriors" attack, and you can see what used to make our Civilization great. Patriarchy (i.e. a two parent household), sexism (i.e. gender roles), racism (i.e. ethno-nationalism), etc.,

The culture is rotten and decadent, as Nietzsche would say. This is not good. Not good at all.

A powerful cultural pushback from a new Christian avantgarde is perfectly fine by me. They are bringing back the good of the old days, while leaving the ugly to the history books. That's how Western Christianity became so succesful, continous improvement.

Of course, the catholic church itself has been swamped by the marxists. Good thing there is Jordan Peterson. As far as I'm concerned, he's one of the good guys.

I do not agree with many of his values, but this is completely irrelevant and to be expected. He is a modern man flying a renewed and improved banner of our Christian past. Objectivists are beyond Christianity.

Obleftivists however have gone "beyond" by joining the neo-marxists. We should not make the same mistake. Christianity as a starting point for cultural norms is good (it brought us to where we are), I find it therefore auspicable to keep friendship with all those such as Jordan Peterson.

Do you love the West? Then you love what made it possible, and that includes the cultural norms that have been developed over the centuries, from Athens to Rome, and to Rome again all the way to London and Philadelphia. The West is Greece and Rome, but it is also Christianity and Enlightenment.

"The enlightenment" by itself is not sufficient. It is like a branch without the tree. One entire field of knowledge which I am sorry to say Ayn Rand failed to delve into is evolution. Evolution is how we progress. We evolve both genetically and culturally, and the two are intertwined. You cannot take the effect without the cause, you cannot understand the West today without looking at Christianity.

As irreligious rational egoists, it is up to the new generation of Objectivists to see just how much of the Christian cultural norms need be changed. At the moment there is no game for us. Objectivists are out. We are on the sidelines, watching as at the two teams beat each other up and joining one or the other according to circumstance. This is unbefitting a radical philosophy of reason that has aspirations to change the world.

Stefan Molyneux should be of guidance in this quest. An irreligious rational egoist, he bases his views of parenting on the data and on reason applied to it, and he will go wherever that may lead. How the job of parenting should be done is one of, maybe the most, important cultural norm a society needs. It is the starting point.

That is the kind of thing on which Obleftivists have completely capitulated to the left. Single motherhood and the catastrophic harm it causes to children? I don't remember any Obleftivist talking about that. They are useless. No, worse, they are complicit in the advance of the cultural neo-marxist satanic crusade.

But then again, Obleftivists don't care. They only care about the security of their Ghated communities. What happens to families across America as a consequence of this neo-marxist culture is absolutely of no interest to them. They detest Real Americans. They love illegal mexican gardners.

Soviet Union v. America in 80's schools

Jmaurone's picture

"...Jordan B. Peterson is bringing to the forefront of the discussion something that has been widely suppressed. I was born in the 1990s, and almost none of the high school history classes here in Italy ever go further than WWII and the national socialists. I believe this to be planned. From what I understand, children in Americans schools are taught very little history altogether."

Interesting, and it rings true that your generation was probably taught little about communism/socialism as bad. What was the cultural atmosphere of socialism in Italy, then?

I went to school in the 80's, graduated high school '92. I don't exactly remember our curriculum re : Soviet/American relations, but I remember what was in the culture. I saw it go from the tail-end of open hostility, to a thawing of the Cold War, to the resurgence of a new Red Decade in the schools and culture, and being amazed and how fast it all happened since I was in school myself.

What I saw, as a kid in the 80's was the tail-end of the Cold War. I can remember HULK HOGAN'S ROCK n' WRESTLIN', where the bad guys were Nikoli Vokoff and the Iron Sheik. I can remember when THE DAY AFTER was scaring everybody about nuclear bombs reaching America, and RED DAWN was preparing us for the Soviet Invasion. Then, there was Reagan's "Mr. Gorbachov, Tear Down This Wall!" speech, and glasnost. And when Rocky IV (i think), the one with Ivan Drago, was big...made the case that "the Russian people are just the same as us." The Berlin Wall came down, everything was looking pretty rosy...It wasn't until the late 90's, when I moved to Philadelphia, that I started seeing socialist propaganda on South Street, out in the open. A particular moment stands out to me, when an acquaintance was wearing a cap with the hammer-and-sickle logo, with the beginning and end dates, as if in memorium. It got worse, from there.

Ronald Merrill, in THE IDEAS OF AYN RAND, published in the 90's, made a prescient comment: that Glasnost was spreading, communism was on the run, but that he wouldn't feel better until it was underground with a stake through its heart. He was right.

"Peterson is talking about the communists, and doing so in a profound and systematic fashion. He is highlighting the conversation which all Western children should have during their developmental years. What the communists' goals were, what their methods were, what have been the results."

He would have been a hero, in the 80's.

Excellent post and comments thread

Bruno's picture

There's much to say, but I'll limit myself to one point I think is missing here and that represents a fundamental cultural shift.

Namely, Jordan B. Peterson is bringing to the forefront of the discussion something that has been widely suppressed. I was born in the 1990s, and almost none of the high school history classes here in Italy ever go further than WWII and the national socialists. I believe this to be planned. From what I understand, children in Americans schools are taught very little history altogether.

Peterson is talking about the communists, and doing so in a profound and systematic fashion. He is highlighting the conversation which all Western children should have during their developmental years. What the communists' goals were, what their methods were, what have been the results.

It is the cultural norm to hate the national socialists, or rather "the nazis", as it well should be. It is not yet the norm to hate the communists, and this must change. I believe what Peterson is doing is pushing the culture in that direction, and it damn well should give in to that push.

For more on soviet propaganda and methods, I suggest anyone who hasn't already done so, go to youtube and watch soviet defector and ex-KGB officer Yuri Bezmenov give an extensive and detailed presentation of how the communists achieve cultural change and social revolution.

You will see how much of what the soviets planned has already been achieved. Bezmenov's presentation will give you an ominous feeling, especially since it was given decades ago.

That spirit

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Now, where is this spirit to be found among OrgOism?

Within OrgOism, nowhere. Within Objectivism, right here!

If your blood doesn't boil, you're a waste of space!

Pugilist Peterson

Jmaurone's picture

Yeah, he's all over the place, now. And it's amazing to watch. As Craig Ceely commented, elsewhere: "He sure does manage to chafe the panties of the right people."

Now, where is this spirit to be found among OrgOism?



Lindsay Perigo's picture

Your ubiquitous Jordan was on the Gutfeld show yesterday. The only guest I've seen able to shut Greg up!

Thank you, Olivia

Jmaurone's picture

I appreciate that!

(I've written very little in the past several years, mainly because I was tired of "throwing pearls before swine" during the Obama years, not even getting a damn "pork chop in return". Seeing people shrug off Soviet flags being marched past the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia was the straw that broke the camel's back. As Linz quoted Rand quoting Nietzsche, in his interview with Bruno, it gets tiring to continually swat at flies. So seeing people like Peterson, etc, come along and have the effect they're having just re-energized me. I may disagree with him quite a bit, but at least I can deal with someone like that. I don't feel like I'm swatting at flies, but dealing with competitors. They aren't out to destroy Western Civilization. "Americans are dreamers, too.")

Thanks for the head's up

Jmaurone's picture

Thanks for the head's up, Linz. I don't have cable; I'll most likely catch it online, though, at some point.

Hi Joe...

Olivia's picture

am halfway through your insightful and well written ponderings here. Just wanted to let you know that I was reading and thoroughly enjoying your analysis. You should write more often here! Smiling You're great at it.

Your boy ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

... has just been on with Tucker, Joe. Hope you didn't miss it! Smiling

Thank you

Jmaurone's picture

You're welcome, and thank you, Luke.

Exceptional Exposition

Luke Setzer's picture

Thank you for taking the time to digest and compose this very thoughtful analysis for our consideration, Joe.

Brothers Karamazov

Jmaurone's picture

"And—has anyone here read Bros Karamazov? I'd love to get some discussion going about it. I'm just at the point of Mitya's trial, and Katerina's second testimony, contradicting her first, denouncing him."

The only Dostoyevsky I've actually read is Notes from the Underground. But, for a moment, I thought I had read Karamazov, because something you said sounded familiar, but it was actually an essay in Essays on Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged that I remembered. "Atlas Shrugged as the Culmination of the Romantic Novel" by Andrew Bernstein, where he compares Atlas to Les Mis and Karamazov.

(I was going to point out something that stood out to me, but I will hold off, in case it's a spoiler.) But thumbing through the essay, just now, has me seeing how Karamazov has particular relevance, today (I really should get to reading it, at some point; maybe that will be my next audiobook). I'd love to see a discussion happen on it.

One more: A sign of flourishing from Peterson

Jmaurone's picture

My brain spilleth over, on this topic, so thank you.

"Then again, it would be incongruous if Obleftivists, those who've sold out to Islamo-Marxism, were to burn with charismatic zeal. Treachery is not the stuff of star quality.

Hah, well, to 

To paraphrase Archie Bunker, "Mister, we could use a man like that Russian, Ayn Rand, again..."

I hope you'll bear one more, as I just came across this.

It's the first time I've gotten a sense of something beyond survival from Peterson. Not only that, it seems to support my theory that what he's pushing for is meant more for people who have been struggling just to survive, let alone thrive.  And he's cuttting off their ability to say "woe is me, I'm so weak and miserable, I can't do it" as an excuse, with some "tough love" and, dare I say it, "KASS!". I almost feel a little guilty, as if I'm revealing a magician's secret trick. 

I still think that the tragic sense of life is a major part of his psyche, but we all have our own crosses to bear, and at least he's not succumbing to it.

Peterson, talking about his counseling to soldier with PTSD, or survivors of abuse, that tragedy and evil are certainties… 

"The thing about making the 'bleak' case…let’s say that you are fundamentally optimistic, and that you fundamentally do have faith, and that you do believe that truth can prevail, then you say, ‘look what it has to prevail OVER, and then the reality that is have to prevail over is the fact that life is finite, and bounded by mortality, and tragic, and sometimes unfair…and that all of the suffering attended upon that is multiplied almost beyond endurance by malevolence. It’s like, everyone knows that, especially people who have been hurt; they KNOW that.

"And so, then you can come out and say, ‘yeah, that is right. YOU’RE RIGHT; in your deepest suspicions, you’re correct. 

"But, BUT…despite that, the power of love, so that would be the desire for things to flourish, and the power of truth, is such that it can TRANSCEND those bleak realities. 

And that works perfectly, because no one can dispute the bleak reality; it’s like, ‘yeah, yeah’…you’ve kinda pushed that to its limit, right; ‘tragedy and malevolence’, as the fundamental preconditions for life. Is there something that can withstand that? The answer seems to be ‘yes.’..THAT’S an optimistic message!"

(Excerpted from this video, around the 25:00 mark):

Wotta feast, Joe!

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Of your trillions of observations here, all are correct! Smiling

It's a major frustration that OrgOism hasn't produced anyone capable of corraling a posse. Doubly so when they attack figures such as Milo who can muster one.

Then again, it would be incongruous if Obleftivists, those who've sold out to Islamo-Marxism, were to burn with charismatic zeal. Treachery is not the stuff of star quality.

Eat your heart out, Randroids...Peterson's Got a Posse

Jmaurone's picture

I know I've blown up the comments section, but one last thought, then I have to get on with my day:

Another reason to pay attention to Peterson: his admirers. He has provided them with an alternative to pomo-nihilism leftism, and that's commendable. I don't think Objectivists would have a problem with some of his specific bits of advice; "clean your room!" "Sort yourself out!" Get yourself together, stop blaming others, change starts at home. Want to fix the world? Fix your mind, first. Nathaniel Branden has said basically the same thing.

And for that, Peterson's earned their gratitude and admiration. And something of a cult-like following. He's become the dreaded "g" word, even. ("Guru.") If you think "Randroids" were bad, well, I have a feeling we ain't seen nothin', yet. (The difference is that Rand's followers weren't actually religious, whereas Peterson, despite being evasive about his beliefs in the afterlife, etc, DOES mix in a gnostic type of religion with his philosophizing.) When was the last time you saw a intellectual celebrated, since Rand, with said philosopher's words being spread, en masse, under the banner of "Peterson DESTROYS his critics with one word", (ironic, Peterson, being older, comes off as rather genteel, even when he's angry. But his younger admirers, born and raised on violent video games, characterize it as going "beast mode!"). He's been called a genius. (Who was the last publicly celebrated genius of our time, Stephan Hawking? Maybe Camille Paglia, his left-wing doppleganger, and whom he has interviewed.) He's come to take over the meme culture (sorry, Pepe.) And don't think the left hasn't noticed; his political enemies in the mainstream media have responded with headlines like "Is Jordan Peterson the Stupid Man's Smart Person?", a hit-piece written, apparently, in a fit of hysterical panic seemingly spawned by "Trump Derangement Syndrome." Even some libertarians (or at least, left-leaning libertarians, like Sharon Presley), have felt threatened enough to question his credentials in psychology and biology, and by proxy, his followers.

But Jordan's got a posse, and they aren't backing down. (See the Cathy Newman debacle, where, allegedly, some of his fans made threats against her on his behalf, prompting Peterson to have to ask people to stop doing so, if true.) Only they are less intellectual than the Randroids of yesterday, and less restrained, and make Randroids look tame in comparison. Their weapons aren't essays and philosophical salons; they wield memes and soundbites on social media. (Born of humor and satire against the now-humorless left, and, perhaps, rightfully so. Maybe their spiritual predecessors are the "Inner Circle" of Murray Rothbard?) And I doubt they are "checking their premises."

I'm not so much worried about Peterson, himself. With his background in Jungian psychology, he knows about "ego-inflation", and the shadow side, and how heroes can turn into monsters. (Something Rand, as I've argued in the past, could have learned from.) But his followers are mostly young, and in the "hero" stage, and have yet to deal with their own capacity for harm. And they are looking for a leader, so if not Peterson, than someone else. Who knows...they are, after all, in a cultural fight, right now, which requires less reflection, and more action. Maybe they will take to heart the adage to "sort themselves out", first. But with Peterson's counseling that "life is suffering and tragic" at the same time, who knows what that might lead to.

Anyway, something to keep an eye on.

What’s So Dangerous About Jordan Peterson?
"Not long ago, he was an obscure psychology professor. Now he leads a flock of die-hard disciples."

The Guru Appeal of Jordan Peterson in our Post-Everything World
“Why,” Murray ponders in the lede, “are young Brits flocking to hear a psychology professor talk about morality?” It seems a good question, especially if you’re familiar with the phenomenon, and Murray answers it, even if he doesn’t realize he does. Peterson...has become a mixture of philosopher, life-coach, educator and guru. He has the kind of passionate, youthful, pedagogical draw that the organized churches can only dream of.”

Jordan B Peterson: Warrior of the Meek
"Dr Jordan B Peterson is causing a real revolution, it seems to me. And the irony, missed on both the right and the left, is that Peterson is a real ‘social justice warrior’—to use that dreaded term. However, he is not a warrior of class revolution but a warrior of the meek. Peterson, as a warrior of the meek, is bringing the principal of ‘logos’ to the masses, and what could be more revolutionary than Logos? Logos is the revolutionary potential of man: Logos is consciousness, light and meaning brought forth from the darkness into articulated truth, and Logos is perhaps the only thing that can really save us."

Peterson vs. Objectivism

Jmaurone's picture

"In the first clip, Jordan says Ayn's was not a great mind. It's all over for me at that point. I have paid him little heed hitherto, and shall pay him none henceforth. Unless ..."

Hah. Linz, that is EXACTLY why I was relieved to finish my essay. My ambivelance is a result of Peterson being so hard to pin down. He says one thing that seems so strong, and then undercuts it, elsewhere. I had many moments of "screw this guy! Unless..."

Let me preface this with one point: the reason why I am even giving Peterson this much level of consideration is that he is being persecuted by the left not for the things Objectivists would criticize him on, but because of the ideas he shares in common with Objectivism. And we all know what kind of smear campaign Rand had to endure ("why, you know that Ayn Rand, she eats babies for breakfast! She hates poor people! We all remember Whittaker Chambers, and "To the gas chamber, GO!"). Also, it's a free-speech issue. There are people trying to silence him and others, while increasingly resorting to violence. And Objectivists and libertarians are in those cross-hairs, as well. And he, like Molyneux, and others, ARE right to emphasize a need for morality, atheist of not (and many factions of libertarians have lost that.)

I don't think it's a case of "weasel words" (except in the case of religion, where he refuses to say, for certain, whether or not he believes in the afterlife, etc. He considers the question a "trap"; and remains skeptical/agnostic. Just like Jung. I find that confused at best, and deceptive, at worst. And I DO NOT appreciate his telling atheists that they are not truly atheists, after all. I have a MAJOR problem with that. Anyway, all that is a major source of my ambivelance towards Peterson because I know about Jung's history and the accusations, both personal and philosophical, against him.)

But then...If I thought Peterson was an outright fraud, if it was all weasel-words, I wouldn't be wasting my time on him. But I suspect that there is a real case of confusion in him, the confusion Rand saw in Hugo and Doestevsky. Even then, those two were pre-Objectivism, even if Hugo's efforts contributed to the formation of it. Peterson has read Rand, and still rejected her ideas, philosophically. And that's where my frustration comes in with him full-force. For all his rejection, most of the time, he's saying things that actually echo Rand. And he's saying those things in public.

So, then, WTF, Peterson???

(This seems weird to write, in hindsight, after that Cathny Newman interview..."So, what you're saying is...")

(A similar thing happened with director Brad Bird, when he denied any Rand influence on The Incredibles, despite sharing many of her themes.)

I had a thought that maybe it's purposeful, because of the baggage that comes with Rand, to disown her in order to spread her ideas. But I thought that about Greenspan, too, and look how that turned out. No, it's not that. Their is a fundamental philosophical schism that undercuts the surface similarity.

So, then, why bother with Peterson? Precisely BECAUSE he's saying things that mesh with Objectivism, while insulting it, and undercutting it with religious gnosticism and a tragic sense of life. Is orgOism up to it? Well, on the one hand, you have Yaron Brook disavowing Peterson, and quicker to dismiss him, even though he's sympathetic in some cases. But then, you have Amy Peikoff being more sympathetic, and calling for Objectivist to hear him out fairly, even though she's critical in some cases. She downplays the risk of Peterson's worse ideas corrupting the minds of Objecivists, since he's open about his differences. (I disagree with that; remember how Leonard Peikoff talked about his own early confusion between O'ism and other philosophies. Plus, see the leftist infiltration of ARI!.) And she's issued a request to Ben Shapiro, with whom she's had some contact, to discuss his calling Objectivism "garbage."

So I do think there's confusion about how to understand Peterson, even at the orgOism level. And that's part of Peterson's ambivelent nature, I think. This was played out on Bosch Fawstin's Twitter feed (which I blogged about, here). Prompted by a Peterson's quote about those who pursued happiness being idiots, Bosch responded by calling Peterson an idiot, back. I chimed in with my two cents, in support, and another person defended Peterson, saying that he was taken out of context, implying that we (and many others) haven't read or listened to him. Well, I have been following not just Peterson, but was well familiar with Jung, as well. But to be fair, since I'm still somewhat new to Peterson, I checked my premises. So it turned into a thing, and in digging up some quotes, that's when I really saw the extent to which Peterson's use of words and arguments is so confusing, and can seem appealing and horrible at the same time. Even Bosch, by the end of it, was feeling that confusion. After providing some context to Peterson's "idiot" quote, he then thought Peterson's intent was both "better" than what he initially thought, yet "alien language", referring to Peterson's quote "Weak and miserabel as I am, I can still stand up to the terrible tragedy of life and prevail!". Even then, I could have pointed out that THAT quote was not Peterson saying that about himself, per se, but a paraphrase of a Christian quote, directed at weak people to make them strong. But then, you could dig deeper, and find that Peterson probably WAS saying that about himself. It's a Mobius strip, with Peterson. I don't know if it's linguistic sloppiness, confusion, or purposeful. I do know that to pursue it fully is to pursue madness. Rand is much cleaner, and saner, in that regard.

And that is why Peterson needs to be addressed. Because he DOES have the national spotlight, and is presented as the answer to pomo-leftist nihilism. Because he IS counseling people who need that sanity that comes with clarity of thought, and the last thing they need is to go down that rabbit hole of circularity, despite what Amy Peikoff thinks about Peterson's openness being a safeguard against bad ideas.

Where we are...

Jmaurone's picture

"Only one thing is certain: a dictatorship cannot take hold in America today. This country, as yet, cannot be ruled— but it can explode. It can blow up into the helpless rage and blind violence of a civil war. It cannot be cowed into submission, passivity, malevolence, resignation. It cannot be “pushed around.” Defiance, not obedience, is the American’s answer to overbearing authority. The nation that ran an underground railroad to help human beings escape from slavery, or began drinking on principle in the face of Prohibition, will not say “Yes, sir,” to the enforcers of ration coupons and cereal prices. Not yet. If America drags on in her present state for a few more generations (which is unlikely), dictatorship will become possible. A sense of life is not a permanent endowment. The characteristically American one is being eroded daily all around us. Large numbers of Americans have lost it (or have never developed it) and are collapsing to the psychological level of Europe’s worst rabble."

Rand, Ayn. Philosophy: Who Needs It (p. 213). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

During the 8 years of Obama, I thought Rand's vision of America was gone. Large numbers of Americans HAD lost it, and in the case of millenials, had NEVER developed it. And never mind Europe's "worst rabble", it was the Islamic rabble turning Europe to rubble, and spreading fast, here. (And with orgOism ushering them in???) I though the American spirit was dead. Obama was elected, and it was indeed "Yes, Sir!" to the "enforcers of rations coupons and cereal prices." I guess "8 is enough"...and now, something has awakened, here.

I want to be hopeful. Still, I'm cautious. What is going on, right now, is refreshing, and needed. But it's also immature, in the sense of not being fully articulated. Rand likened it to an adolescent "sense of life":

"An adolescent can ride on his sense of life for a while. But by the time he grows up, he must translate it into conceptual knowledge and conscious convictions, or he will be in deep trouble. A sense of life is not a substitute for explicit knowledge. Values which one cannot identify, but merely senses implicitly, are not in one’s control. One cannot tell what they depend on or require, what course of action is needed to gain and/ or keep them. One can lose or betray them without knowing it. For close to a century, this has been America’s tragic predicament."
Rand, Ayn. Philosophy: Who Needs It (p. 210). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Philosophically, America's current defenders are philosophically adolescents. And that's a damn shame, nearly a crime, because the better ideas ARE out there, and they've been let down by the older generations. Including those in orgOism. When I first discovered Rand in '96, in my early 20's, the internet was just starting to pop. That's where I met other O'ists, first, and they were overwhelmingly of the older generation. As I was new to it, I was still integrating and coming to terms with the current society, and was cautioned to control that enthusiasm and desire for activism. I countered, then, that the older generation had too much of a vested interest in things as they were. As I got older, I started to doubt myself, that maybe they were right. "Listen to your elders", right? Maybe they know things we kids don't, right? They've been there, right? Then, I started to see how many people DID, in fact, have too much vested in the current system to allow some young upstarts to rock their boat. Many others were never fully on the O'ist boat, to begin with. And then orgOism started to show how it had sold out. After 9-11, that should have woke a lot of people up, but things in Ameria didn't just explode; they imploded.

20 years later, I see these younger kids coming up, and I feel for them. If there was any valid reason, pre-9/11, for the older generation to reign in the excitement of youth, it's gone. The energy of youth is exactly what is needed, both in body AND in mind. And to their credit, the new conservative "counter culture" ain't buying what the old GOP was selling. The swamp does, indeed, need to be drained. It wasn't going to be drained by the old-guard GOP. And it was only being filled with the bodies of the enemies of Hillary "Livia" Clinton! And then there's "Old King Log", and the frogs in the swamp who desired a king. As Claudius had so knowingly put it, "Let all the poison that lurks in the mud, hatch out!"

Still, I hate to see the youth having to sort through a fog of confusion in the world of ideas, when Objectivism does offer so much to work with. (And that's not to say there aren't problems with Rand's baggage, or in the application of some of her ideas. And there are some things O'ists can learn from some of these people, such as the value of family in preserving Western civilization (which IS part of O'ism, but not emphasized enough, perhaps. But I think the foundations are strong.)

This is what's going on in the pushback against the Left in the U.S, now, and while people like Peterson and Milo are having the spotlight. Objectivism, after Rand herself left us, has failed to capture the public's attention in any significant way. And now, with the tensions boiling over, we're seeing not a philosophical movement, but a sense-of-life movement, and that philosophical need is being filled by a mix of capitalism, religion, libertarianism/Objectivism, and conservatism and pragmatism.

And because of this mix, it's less unified and contentious. Even taking O'ism out of the equation, there is still arguments on social media within the supposed "New Right", it's not monolithic. There are arguments over racism, religion and economics. "Cuck" is used to push those who don't go far enough. Others are wrongly called "racist" if seen as going too far. Some fight over whether or not to accept "the Jeewzz". (Ben Shapiro is Jewish, for example, and not accepted by all). IQ is being pushed, controversially, by Molyneux. Peterson is called "alt-right" by the left for standing up to would-be transgender oppressors, but considered too soft by others. Some want more capitalism, others are calling for economic control by the government. Some want classical liberalism, others want "God back in government." (The dreaded "Christian theocracy!") Peterson is fighting nihilism with gnosticism. That, right there, is causing friction with more traditional Christians.

So, then, what is the overall philosophy? There is none. It's primarily driven by "sense-of-life", with competing ideologies.

"Things fall apart; the center cannot hold."

Once again, it's Rand who saw this coming. It's one thing she shared with Nietzsche and Jung: the ability to see the wars and destruction ahead, not by some power of "prophecy", but by using the power of principles. She was still hopeful, if only the right ideas can get out there:

"Can this country achieve a peaceful rebirth in the foreseeable future? By all precedents, it is not likely. But America is an unprecedented phenomenon. In the past, American perseverance became, on occasion, too long-bearing a patience. But when Americans turned, they turned. What may happen to the welfare state is what happened to the Prohibition Amendment.

"Is there enough of the American sense of life left in people— under the constant pressure of the cultural-political efforts to obliterate it? It is impossible to tell. But those of us who hold it, must fight for it. We have no alternative: we cannot surrender this country to a zero— to men whose battle cry is mindlessness. We cannot fight against collectivism, unless we fight against its moral base: altruism.

"We cannot fight against altruism, unless we fight against its epistemological base: irrationalism. We cannot fight against anything, unless we fight for something— and what we must fight for is the supremacy of reason, and a view of man as a rational being.

"These are philosophical issues. The philosophy we need is a conceptual equivalent of America’s sense of life. To propagate it, would require the hardest intellectual battle. But isn’t that a magnificent goal to fight for?"

Rand, Ayn. Philosophy: Who Needs It (p. 215). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

The New Right vs. Rand

Jmaurone's picture

It's good to see people like Peterson and Shapiro taking such a strong stand against the left, but frustrating, as well, to see them celebrate Rand on one hand (usually economics), while trashing her on the other (Shapiro's "garbage" comment.) That usually comes back to the atheism vs. religion argument. (Same old story, though, isn't it? Buckley vs Rand comes to mind...)

The Trump presidency sure has turned things upside down. It's been surreal. It's good that these people are taking a hard stand against the left (else we'd have Clinton, shudder.) And Galt knows that orgOism has been too mealy-mouthed to make any significant public stand. And it's weird, for a long-time observer, to see people like Brook come out strong against someone like Peterson or Shapiro, because the latter are making waves in the public, now, in a way that OrgOism hasn't since Rand herself was on television. And I think that they are right to point out the philosophical problems of the new Right, and address Peterson's criticisms of Rand, since Peterson's being solicited for such views, now. But then, Peterson, Shapiro, Milo, etc are out there fighting the fight that orgOism should be fighting. (But since orgOism seems to be in bed with liberals, they are looking like what Rand said of the "me too" socialist Republicans of old. And libertarianism has been downright clownish with people like Gary Johnson and his running mate, who decided to run out on stage bare-ass naked, for some reason...)

So, here we are. People like Shapiro, Milo, Peterson, etc are people I want to like and support, because they are sticking their necks out and staving off Marxist/socialist/post-modernism, etc, for a little while longer. But their comments against Rand reveal fundamental differences that need a rebuttal, especially since the "New Right" is a mish-mash of philosophies. Yes, I'd rather live in a Christian-dominated society over an Islamic one, but I don't want to "settle", either. And if the wrong influences were to become dominant (the "Alt-Right", as one example), it's all moot. But in our current context, I'm more against things Antifa, the war on men, the purposeful destruction of the family, the gender confusion being pushed on children in an insane campaing for LGBTQEIEOLMNOP alphabet soup, the insanity of the universities, and the voting habits of moronnials who eat Tide Pods.

Like I said, surreal.

It's a good reminder of Rand's advice in the essay "What Can One Do?":

"Above all, do not join the wrong ideological groups or movements, in order to 'do something.' By 'ideological' (in this context), I mean groups or movements proclaiming some vaguely generalized, undefined (and, usually, contradictory) political goals. (E.g., the Conservative Party, which subordinates reason to faith, and substitutes theocracy for capitalism; or the 'libertarian' hippies, who subordinate reason to whims, and substitute anarchism for capitalism.) To join such groups means to reverse the philosophical hierarchy and to sell out fundamental principles for the sake of some superficial political action which is bound to fail. It means that you help the defeat of your ideas and the victory of your enemies. (For a discussion of the reasons, see “The Anatomy of Compromise” in my book Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal.)

"The only groups one may properly join today are ad hoc committees, i.e., groups organized to achieve a single, specific, clearly defined goal, on which men of differing views can agree. In such cases, no one may attempt to ascribe his views to the entire membership, or to use the group to serve some hidden ideological purpose (and this has to be watched very, very vigilantly)."- Rand, Ayn. Philosophy: Who Needs It (p. 203). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Brook and A. Peikoff on Peterson

Jmaurone's picture

Don't know if they would debate, but for those interested, Yaron Brook has addressed Jordan Peterson in a couple of videos, already. (Edit 2/26: Looks like ARI had an event in 2017 featuring Onkar Ghate, Dave Rubin, and Jordan Peterson, over free speech: "Onkar Ghate, Jordan Peterson, Dave Rubin on Oct. 19: The Death of Free Speech"

Amy Peikoff has, as well, but the videos are kind of lengthy...this is one of three...

 (While I'm at it, here's Brook talking about Ben Shapiro's comments on Objectivism, as well, which Amy talks about in her third video, I think...)


First clip

Lindsay Perigo's picture

In the first clip, Jordan says Ayn's was not a great mind. It's all over for me at that point. I have paid him little heed hitherto, and shall pay him none henceforth. Unless ...

Let him, in his complaint about uni-dimensional characters, address specifically Chapter XI, beginning P 629 of the hardback copy 25th anniversary edition of The Fountainhead.

Here, second-handedness is brutally laid bare. Methinks Jordan doth protest too much. I'd love to debate him on this. No point Bwook the Cwook doing it, since he's the worst second-hander ever. Bruno, are you reading this? Can we set this up as a debate moderated by you on YouTube? And why not do an interview with Joe on this article while you're about it? Smiling

And—has anyone here read Bros Karamazov? I'd love to get some discussion going about it. I'm just at the point of Mitya's trial, and Katerina's second testimony, contradicting her first, denouncing him.

Jordan's back-and-forth on Rand

Jmaurone's picture

In this video, Peterson says that he does admire Rand, and her pro-individualism and her stance against communism, which, he says, she had damned good reason for. He enjoyed her fiction, which he found romantic, but was less impressed by her philosophy, and not convinced that she was a literary great, based on what he saw as her "unidimensional" characters. He says that instead of the battle being inside the characters, it was between the characters.

But then, in this video, he's crying while reading a quote from Rand regarding the individual (sorry, I can't place the quote):

I criticized Peterson's new

Elliot Temple's picture

I criticized Peterson's new book at length:

He's interesting. I learned some things from him. My favorite material is his analysis of Lion King and Pinocchio. He's good on some anti-postmodernist/SJW/leftist stuff too. But he makes a lot of major errors, and he's not interested in improving his ideas in major ways. He's already decided what he thinks and he just promotes that.

> Jordan Peterson has said that, while being a fan of Rand’s fiction, that he’s not a fan of her philosophy.

I think he insulted Rand's fiction writing, twice, though I don't have the sources.


Jmaurone's picture

"I am reading Bros Karamazov and re-reading The Fountainhead currently. Parallel universes with some overlap!"

This just popped up on my YouTube feed; posted on the 20th:

Stray 't's

Jmaurone's picture

Hah, yes. But I'm more concerned about the stray "t"'s. My brain kept insisting on inserting them in the early drafts, and I should know better, by now...damn least it's not a Russian word...

Stray 'z'

Lindsay Perigo's picture

... in your second spelling? Smiling Or is it my fading eyesight? Mind you, I had no problem seeing the details in Salvador's blobster. Smiling

Hipster Dali Lobster

Jmaurone's picture

"I've often asked Oist tabula rasists where is the animal in man?! Didn't know we got it from lobsters!" Heh. Yeh, Peterson's an odd one. Still, Hipster Dali was doing lobsters before it was cool...


Thanks, Linz

Jmaurone's picture

Much appreciated.

Hah, no weltschmerz, for me...more like relief, finishing it up. I've been working on it for a few weeks, had to cut out a lot. There's so much to say on this topic, I thought I'd never finish it, so I'm relieved to finally find a spot at which to stop. (And for not having to type "weltzschmerz", anymore...)

Exceptional, Joe!

Lindsay Perigo's picture

I hope you didn't succumb to weltschmerz after such an extraordinary accomplishment! Smiling

I devoured it this morning with my brunch. I've often asked Oist tabula rasists where is the animal in man?! Didn't know we got it from lobsters! Smiling

I am reading Bros Karamazov and re-reading The Fountainhead currently. Parallel universes with some overlap!

Will re-read your essay many times. Thanks for posting, and bravo!

Oh, and that J Peterson is an odd one. I haven't followed him much, but came across him talking about his ketogenic diet (all meat and greens) and how carbs drove him mad, literally. He came across as still somewhat disturbed. Smiling

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