In my continuing attempt to cover the Jordan Peterson Phenomenon without sitting through dozens of hours of videos, here’s an appreciative article in Esquire by Wesley Yang:
Is this middle-aged Canadian college professor the philosopher our times need—or a dangerous anti-PC provocateur in tweed clothing?
BY WESLEY YANG WITH PHOTOGRAPHS BY JAKE STANGEL
MAY 1, 2018
Yang is a fairly sizable journalistic talent whose career was sidetracked in recent years by some personal problems, which he says Peterson’s lectures helped him get over.
Much of the confusion over Peterson seems to come from the interaction of three factors. Is Peterson a warrior against political correctness or a self-help guru for young men or a high-brow traditionalist pro-Western civilization intellectual in the mode of, say, Lord Kenneth Clark, star of the Civilization art history series in the late 1960s that pretty much invented the modern TV documentary?
The complication is that his three roles interact. His standing up to political correctness in Canada is how he came to the public’s attention, but it seems less central to his interests. On the other hand, speaking out against the latest dictatorial craziness about pronouns was crucial to his popularity because by his courage he demonstrated that he possesses strong character, which is part of what he advocates as a self-help guru.
Similarly, it’s radical of Peterson at present to call attention to the greatness of our heritage of Western civilization because the conventional wisdom is now that the Dead White European Males of the past did all they did just out of an evil conspiracy to make today’s ascendant Coalition of the Oppressed feel bad about their own lack of accomplishments down through history and today.
In turn, the Peterson phenomenon implies that this broad campaign by the upper reaches of the culture today to denigrate and demonize males and whites and white males contributes to their current anomie and fecklessness (without, of course, doing much to boost accomplishment by other groups, either).
Thus, Peterson’s endorsement of old individualistic standards of behavior and excellence is widely seen by The Establishment as racist and fascist because, they fear, that white males are likely to accomplish disproportionately more under objective standards. And the point of contemporary society is not to accomplish things, it’s too make some member of some groups feel better about themselves and have more money and to punish members of some other groups.
So, Peterson is seen as a dangerous radical for not being committed to this contemporary consensus.