Coming soon is the 3-year anniversary of the emergence of University of Toronto Psychology professor Jordan Peterson into the public sphere. What started as an expression of concern on impending Canadian legislation and “sensitivity” training for University staff has transformed into world-wide recognition, with millions of supporters as well as some vocal and active detractors.
In this posting, a review is provided of the outworking of this transformation. One of the aspects to be considered in addition to his impact on others is the corresponding effect on Peterson himself. In what follows is a sketch of phases that have taken place, with links to representative examples provided.
Jordan Peterson as of September 2019
In some recent appearances in 2019, Jordan Peterson seems to be struggling a bit with his emotions as he speaks. It might be due to the overall stress of his “12 Rules” speaking tour, covering 120+ cities, and speaking to several hundred thousand listeners.
However, consider the following recent appearance in Budapest, where he attributes his overt emotionalism to the many stories of changed lives from his speeches and writings, with people – largely young men – telling him their stories of following his advice and as a result their lives changing for the better. Something like that even one time would impact an honorable person.
But in watching and listening to him in a focused manner (remember, he says: “pay careful attention”), it is difficult not to attribute some of his emotion stemming from his sense of the “lostness” of so many people, especially young men. Further, he admits that when he reads about the atrocities of the 20th century, he self-identifies with the perpetrators, rather than the heroes or victims. Kind of a twist on the application of the old saying, “There but for the grace of God go I”. He seems to an extent to re-live the terror of dark potential within himself. It’s perhaps part of why he refuses to say that he believes in God.
Another issue that would impact most people is the increasing barrage of negative feedback from the Left since Fall of 2016 concerning his articulate and effective critique of Postmodern neo-Marxism. And sadly, some of that negativity arises from Christian Social Justice people. Nevertheless, Peterson says that negative feedback doesn’t bother him, and we must remember that he always tells the truth. However, it’s difficult not to imagine some kind of toll, even if he hasn’t yet articulated that to himself.
Whatever his inner dynamics, there is no question that in the past few months he has been proclaiming his message of responsibility with great passion, with tears frequently appearing to well up, and his voice occasionally breaking a bit.
It’s tempting to view the Budapest crowd as Peterson’s “church”, although it’s probably more like a one-night “revival”, being repeated in more than 100 cities around the world.
So what’s going on here? A man who is not a complete believer – although he supports Judeo-Christianity at a metaphysical level – is moved to near tears time and again as he urges his listeners to “be good”, whereas those who completely adopt the creeds and live by faith, often seem to be relatively dispassionate in their public delivery.
Now surely part of the issue is that Peterson’s audience is more heterogeneous than a typical church congregation, where the vast majority of attendees give at least lip service to what is being proclaimed from the lectern.
Of course, on the Leftist side, the overwhelming mode of communication is emotional, albeit in this case, raw anger rather than tears. And coupled with that form is logic- and fact-free content. As Postmodern neo-Marxist ideology states: logic and facts are the tools of the evil Patriarchy to create and maintain power. Black conservative Shelby Steele calls it “poetic” truth, which is of course essentially false narrative.
When you think of it, if you don’t believe in logic, but rather believe and proclaim “your truth” and me “my truth”, then you simply can’t have the reasoned kind of presentations that both Peterson and Judeo-Christian speakers make, with or without tears.
In the following is provided a sampling of Jordan Peterson videos to illustrate phases that seem to have developed since his emergence in the public landscape in late September 2016.
If you are relatively new to Jordan Peterson, then perhaps the 2016 and 2017 videos will be especially enlightening.
First public awareness – Bill C-16
This first phase details the aftermath of the posting of two videos in late September which took issue with the pending legislation Bill C-16, which would mandate in effect that Canadians must use the “prefered pronouns” of non-Cis Transgenered people. Peterson for a while was seemingly in danger of losing his position with the University of Toronto, as they sent him two letters to “cease and desist” in his crusade against bill C-16.
Here are excerpts from Jordan Peterson’s YouTube notes on this video:
This is the video that caused the recent media storm over Bill C-16 and free speech. In it I outline my concerns about political correctness.
It is the first of a planned three part series on the topic. Part I deals with the fear that PC types are producing, and the profound legal ramifications of their continual activism. Part II is a case study, assessing the PC-ification of the University of Toronto HR department.
Confrontation following pro free speech rally between Transgender students and Professor Jordan Peterson.
Peterson and Transgender tenured University of Toronto professor A. W. Peete strongly disagree on almost everything.
Steve Brule of Studio Brule provides commentary supporting Jordan Peterson concerning the November 19, 2016 “debate” with three Feminist lawyers at the University of Toronto concerning Bill C-16 and Transgender pronouns.
An emotional plea to the world concerning the sovereignty of the individual and the rejection of collectivist ideology. Peterson’s comment: A message for those who are looking forward to 2017. Thank you to all of those who have supported my efforts in the recent (and not so recent past).
Focus on Postmodernism and neo-Marxism – early 2017
In this phase, Peterson seems to have emerged from the Fall 2016 controversy surrounding his opposition to Bill C-16 with no further problems from the University. He began to appear at events in Canada and the US, speaking with clarity and intensity from an anti-Postmodern, anti-neo-Marxist perspective. Because of his extensive experience as both a clinical and research psychologist, he was able to expose political correct ideology from a perspective not ordinarily expressed.
Clip from the Feb. 2017 Manning conference of Jordan Peterson encouraging everyone to speak out rather than be silent, because there’s a cost either way. Although he would probably also caution not to cast your pearls before swine.
In this clip from an appearance at Harvard, Peterson is asked if the current student activism is an acceptable way of reducing unnecessary suffering (which Peterson urges). He decries that the student activism is too public, too much virtue signaling. He urges students to clean up their own personal lives, privately and humbly. Current activism is superficial, trendy and too easy, and externalizes the blame. One needs instead to start with the examination of one’s own life. He says to first become competent so that others come asking you to help.
This clip deals with gender equality in the workplace, and focuses in part on the question of why there are so few women in top positions in corporations.
Clip from Speaker’s Action Group Q/A whereby Jordan Peterson urges people to not be victims.
This clip of Jordan Peterson dealing with Marxism, Socialism and Postmodernism is extracted from the Q/A session, January 22, 2017 Speakers Action Group
Jordan Peterson attempts to communicate truth surrounding Bill C-16 to a Senator in a Hearing.
Lectures on Genesis from Psychological Perspective – Summer 2017
An important aspect of the outreach of Peterson was the initiation of his lectures on the psychological significance of the Biblical stories. The 2+ hour weekly lectures began in May 2017 at a rented theatre in Toronto, and continued throughout the summer; they were all sold out.
Peterson posits the Bible is the fundamental founding document for the West. He discussed the loss if we ignore what is found within. What other source from antiquity comes close?
Jordan Peterson discusses the unbelievable amount of commentary on the Bible, going back hundreds of years, and that we ignore the wisdom found in the Bible to our peril.
Excerpt from lecture VII of his Biblical series: “Walking with God, Noah and the Flood”.
This is a clip from the original full video Bible Series IX: The Call to Abraham, which can be found on Jordan Peterson’s channel.
Clip from Peterson’s Biblical series episode on “Walking with God, Noah and the Flood”, wherein he discusses his own spiritual awakening.
Interviews, speeches – Fall 2017
During the Fall of 2017, Peterson’s reputation continued to grow, and was interviewed on numerous occasions, including on both Canadian and US television as well as podcasts. He made considerable lecture appearances in both Canada and the US.
Clip from Jordan Peterson interview of Camille Paglia, whereby the problem of totally negative view of men by Postmodern Feminism is causing Western Culture to collapse on itself. Paglia suggests that men need to stand up, but Peterson counters that men cannot enter into vigorous dialogue with women, and what is needed is for sane women to deal with the insane women in their midst, and create a new model encompassing both good and bad members of each sex. They are not optimistic that this will happen.
Jordan Peterson explains that he went ahead with his lawsuit against Wilfrid Laurier University because he saw the University as acting disingenuously in its response to Lindsay Shepherd and Peterson.
Clip from the Jordan Peterson interview whereby Professor Haskell is dismayed at the postmodernism dominating the intellectual culture of Wilfrid Laurier University.
A clip of Jordan Peterson’s view of “Equity”, one of the big three Postmodern neo-Marxist negative concepts which – according to Peterson – correctly form the acronym DIE: (Diversity, Inclusivity, Equity). The parent video for this clip is Strategy (1): 12 Principles for a 21st Century Conservatism”.
Early 2018 – Cathy Newman, 12 Rules Book and Tour
Two events in Jaunary of 2018 catapulted Peterson to extraordinary prominence: (1) the January 23rd release of his book, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos, and (2) his contentious interview on the UK Channel 4 with Kathy Newman. He proceeded to undertake a world-wide book tour.
As time passed in early 2018, accompanying his notoriety came frequent, impromptu interactions with people who recognized him on the street, and who shared how his teaching had changed their lives for the better. As time went by, Peterson during interviews would tell of such encounters, and invariably begin to tear up, needing to stop to regain his composure.
However, there is also a dark side that occasionally appeared: real and threatening opposition from the Left. One of the most dramatic took place at his March 5th appearance at Queens University in Kingston, Ontario. See link below.
During 2018 there seemed to be two parallel tracks for Peterson: his continued expose of Postmodernist neo-Marxism, and his outreach to “rescue” people – especially young men – from nihilism and resentment to responsibility and focus.
Jordan Peterson interviewed by Channel 4’s Kathy Newman. This interview went viral, with over 17 million views as of September 2019.
A combination of clips from videos featuring Peterson where his sincere compassion is observed.
One of many examples where Peterson relates brief but powerful interactions he has with people – mostly young men – who have put his teaching into practice, and have seen tangible changes for the better in their lives.
(From YouTube) Marx observed in capitalist economies the manifestation of a fundamental law – the Pareto principle. However, he erred in his diagnosis and prescription for the problem. Jordan Peterson and Bret Weinstein explain.
This is Prager’s first contact with Jordan Peterson. Prager immediately understands the extensive force for good that Peterson has become, since becoming “visible” to the culture in Fall of 2016.
In this clip, Peterson rejects the Postmodern neo-Marxist doctrine of Equity.
In this clip, Peterson illustrates that the Identity Politics of the Left leads to Tribalism, at great detriment to culture.
(From YouTube) On Monday, March 5th , University of Toronto Professor Jordan Peterson visited Queen’s University as part of the Liberty Lecture Series. Roughly 150 protested the event. We sent our video team to see what happened outside Grant Hall.
Jordan Peterson was invited to give the inaugural lecture/discussion of the Liberty Lecture series at Queens University (Kingston, ON), funded by Faculty of Law alumnus, Gregory Piasetzk. Here is Peterson’s comment on what the University did to provide a “safe space” for students who were traumatized by the prospect of Peterson being allowed to speak: The Queen’s University “Human Rights Office” posted a link to the Levana Gender Advocacy Centre and Education on Queer Issues Project “active support” efforts during this event at their “Trans-Positive and People of Colour Positive Chill-In” in Dunning Hall, room 11, where there was coloring pages, music, food, and discussion.
Here is part of Peterson’s description of the event:The 900 or so people who attended (who comported themselves admirably and thoughtfully throughout) were subject to a continual 90-minute barrage of noise generated by the protestors, who leaped up on the stained glass windows lining the hall and banged continually on them, breaking one. Inside, we could see shadowy figures dimly outlined through the colored glass. The outside doors were barricaded. One protestor was caught on film saying “Lock them in and burn it down.” The din was substantial and ominous, although it is much attenuated in this video, due to the nature of the microphones used, which were designed to pick up speech close at hand.
Lectures and Interviews – 2019
In Peterson’s appearances during 2019, there seems to have been a greater degree of emotional fragility, as seen in the Budapest appearance referenced at the top.
Here are several other examples of occasional fragility:
At the conclusion of Jordan Peterson’s appearance at a Liberty University Convocation, David Nasser (Senior Vice President of Spiritual Development at Liberty University) asks Peterson if he has any prayer requests. Peterson responds, and then Nasser prays.
In this brief speech, Peterson reflects on some of the meaning of the overwhelming response to his writing and speaking around the world.
Dennis Prager interviews Jordan Peterson, with focus on reasons for his amazing reach to audiences around the world, as well as with issues related to God, the Bible and religion. Prager gives space for Peterson to provide lengthy answers, when necessary.
The above linked videos constitute the tip of a very large iceberg of available on-line videos featuring Jordan Peterson. Many were chosen because of brevity; often clips from much longer videos. Hopefully the above are representative of the mass available during the time ranges covered.
Addendum: Jordan Peterson’s Illness and Recovery
Unfortunately Jordan Peterson became seriously ill during the latter part of 2019, and as of early Spring 2021 is still not back to fulll health.
A webpage that provides links to some videos is given below: