Jordan Peterson is Wrong on Forced Monogamy

According to the New York Times, Dr. Jordan Peterson is the Custodian of the Patriarchy. Please prepare to examine some first class propaganda with me. BTW, the original article is behind NYT’s 5 free articles paywall. If you want to read the article and have run out of free articles, try visiting it in a private browsing session.

He says there’s a crisis in masculinity. Why won’t women — all these wives and witches — just behave?

The first sentence is true, the second a made up smear. This immediately gives this article away as a hit piece.

Jordan Peterson fills huge lecture halls and tells his audiences there’s no shame in looking backward to a model of how the world should be arranged. Look back to the 1950s, he says — and back even further.

Peterson never cites the 50’s as a golden age. Rather, he points out that since the 1900’s, we have been moving away from patterns of behavior based on psychological archetypes evolved over hundreds of thousands of years.

Most of his ideas stem from a gnawing anxiety around gender. “The masculine spirit is under assault,” he told me. “It’s obvious.”

Most of his ideas stem from Jungian psychology, and the post modernists’s denial of it. It is obvious that the masculine spirit is under assault.

In Mr. Peterson’s world, order is masculine. Chaos is feminine. And if an overdose of femininity is our new poison, Mr. Peterson knows the cure. Hence his new book’s subtitle: “An Antidote to Chaos.” “We have to rediscover the eternal values and then live them out,” he says.

Identification of order with the masculine (yang) and chaos with the feminine (yin) goes back to Taoism. Peterson’s book subtitle stems from his belief that the world has fallen out of balance, and that there is currently too much chaos.

Mr. Peterson, 55, a University of Toronto psychology professor turned YouTube philosopher turned mystical father figure, has emerged as an influential thought leader. The messages he delivers range from hoary self-help empowerment talk (clean your room, stand up straight) to the more retrograde and political (a society run as a patriarchy makes sense and stems mostly from men’s competence; the notion of white privilege is a farce). He is the stately looking, pedigreed voice for a group of culture warriors who are working diligently to undermine mainstream and liberal efforts to promote equality.

He is part of a reaction to illiberal (so called progressive) post modernist efforts to promote equality of outcome. He is 100% for the liberal principle of equality of opportunity.

He is also very successful. His book, “12 Rules for Life,” which was published in January, has sold more than 1.1 million copies. Thanks to his YouTube channel, he makes more than $80,000 a month just on donations. Hundreds of thousands of people have taken his online personality tests and self-improvement writing exercises. The media covers him relentlessly.

Though his media coverage has doubtless helped him to reach such a massive audience, who see enough value in his content to make him a best selling author and popular Youtuber, the mainstream media’s coverage has been nearly universally negative. “Relentless” is an apt word choice.

Wherever he goes, he speaks in sermons about the inevitability of who we must be. “You know you can say, ‘Well isn’t it unfortunate that chaos is represented by the feminine’ — well, it might be unfortunate, but it doesn’t matter because that is how it’s represented. It’s been represented like that forever. And there are reasons for it. You can’t change it. It’s not possible. This is underneath everything. If you change those basic categories, people wouldn’t be human anymore. They’d be something else. They’d be transhuman or something. We wouldn’t be able to talk to these new creatures.”

There is truth in what he says. The mind is not a social construct. As Jung discovered, non-religious people have dreams that contain the same archetypes that appear in the world’s mythologies and the bible. Ignoring the truth because you don’t like it won’t make it go away.

“Marxism is resurgent,” Mr. Peterson says, looking ashen and stricken.

And he’s not wrong. Look at Venezuela.

He dragged the school into controversy in 2016 by opposing a Canadian bill that he believed would compel him to use a student’s preferred pronouns. “I am not going to be a mouthpiece for language that I detest, and that’s that,” he said during a debate at the University of Toronto.

And his stand is a principled one, based on the belief that the state does not have the right to compel the speech of its citizens. This is an anti-authoritarian stance.

Mr. Peterson, who grew up in Fairview, Canada, a small town in northern Alberta, spent his career teaching psychology at Harvard and then at the University of Toronto, all while running a clinical practice. The lesson most patients need to hear, he says, is “grow the hell up, accept some responsibility, live an honorable life. We just haven’t talked about that in any compelling way in three generations. Probably since the beginning of the ’60s.”

And the nanny state is a big part of the reason why we haven’t.

Why did he decide to engage in politics at all? He says a couple years ago he had three clients in his private practice “pushed out of a state of mental health by left-wing bullies in their workplace.” I ask for an example, and he sighs. He says one patient had to be part of a long email chain over whether the term “flip chart” could be used in the workplace, since the word “flip” is a pejorative for Filipino.

Sounds as cringe worthy as Trudeau telling us we should say “peoplekind” instead of “mankind”.

He was radicalized, he says, because the “radical left” wants to eliminate hierarchies, which he says are the natural order of the world. In his book he illustrates this idea with the social behavior of lobsters. He chose lobsters because they have hierarchies and are a very ancient species, and are also invertebrates with serotonin. This lobster hierarchy has become a rallying cry for his fans; they put images of the crustacean on T-shirts and mugs.

It’s a great example of how dominance hierarchies are wired in to animals.

The left, he believes, refuses to admit that men might be in charge because they are better at it. “The people who hold that our culture is an oppressive patriarchy, they don’t want to admit that the current hierarchy might be predicated on competence,” he said.

And he’s 100% right. He doesn’t claim that all hierarchies are created by competence, only that it is a major factor.

Witches don’t exist, and they don’t live in swamps, I say. “Yeah, they do. They do exist. They just don’t exist the way you think they exist. They certainly exist. You may say well dragons don’t exist. It’s, like, yes they do — the category predator and the category dragon are the same category. It absolutely exists. It’s a superordinate category. It exists absolutely more than anything else. In fact, it really exists. What exists is not obvious. You say, ‘Well, there’s no such thing as witches.’ Yeah, I know what you mean, but that isn’t what you think when you go see a movie about them. You can’t help but fall into these categories. There’s no escape from them.”

He’s talking about archetypes here. These mythological patterns exist in the subconscious mind.

Recently, a young man named Alek Minassian drove through Toronto trying to kill people with his van. Ten were killed, and he has been charged with first-degree murder for their deaths, and with attempted murder for 16 people who were injured. Mr. Minassian declared himself to be part of a misogynist group whose members call themselves incels. The term is short for “involuntary celibates,” though the group has evolved into a male supremacist movement made up of people — some celibate, some not — who believe that women should be treated as sexual objects with few rights. Some believe in forced “sexual redistribution,” in which a governing body would intervene in women’s lives to force them into sexual relationships.

They are hardly a movement, unless having a chat board on Reddit makes people a movement.

Violent attacks are what happens when men do not have partners, Mr. Peterson says, and society needs to work to make sure those men are married. “He was angry at God because women were rejecting him,” Mr. Peterson says of the Toronto killer. “The cure for that is enforced monogamy. That’s actually why monogamy emerges.”

If society doesn’t help the incels, they will doubtless continue to be unhappy and probably commit atrocities to make their unhappiness known. I happen to think that society should not work to make sure men are married because I’m a libertarian (whereas Peterson is a traditionalist). I also disagree with his assessment that monogamy emerged to equally distribute men and women. Personally, I think that the higher cost of rearing human children promoted the evolution of pair bonding as a mating strategy to maximize survival.

Mr. Peterson does not pause when he says this. Enforced monogamy is, to him, simply a rational solution. Otherwise women will all only go for the most high-status men, he explains, and that couldn’t make either gender happy in the end. “Half the men fail,” he says, meaning that they don’t procreate. “And no one cares about the men who fail.”

While I don’t agree that his solution is a good one, I do agree that there are a growing number of men at the lower end of the social hierarchy who can’t find mates, and no one cares about them. There are also women at the top of the social ladder who can’t find men. Unsurprisingly, they are offered sympathy by the media.

I laugh, because it is absurd. “You’re laughing about them,” he says, giving me a disappointed look. “That’s because you’re female.”

And he is right. Women don’t care about incels.

But aside from interventions that would redistribute sex, Mr. Peterson is staunchly against what he calls “equality of outcomes,” or efforts to equalize society. He usually calls them pathological or evil.

He is right. Forced equality is just that: forced. The use of force to equalize society led to millions of deaths in Russia, China, and the killing fields of Cambodia. That is pathological and evil.

He agrees that this is inconsistent. But preventing hordes of single men from violence, he believes, is necessary for the stability of society. Enforced monogamy helps neutralize that.

I believe his “solution” is as repulsive as communism. In the past, this problem would have been solved by starting a war. I don’t know how we will solve it this time. Hopefully, sex robots will get better and cheaper. Legalizing prostitution would also be a good step, in my opinion.

In situations where there is too much mate choice, “a small percentage of the guys have hyper-access to women, and so they don’t form relationships with women,” he said. “And the women hate that.”

I think this is good. It may take a while, but women will eventually learn that chasing the top 20% of men is a losing game. Resisting the hypergamous instinct won’t be easy, but once it’s clearly seen as a winning strategy, I hope it will become common.

Mr. Peterson is a celebrity in the men’s rights community, a loose collection of activists who feel men have been subjugated or betrayed by social progress. Some of these supporters pay $200 a month for a 45-minute Skype conversation with Mr. Peterson to discuss their problems. (Mr. Peterson says this service has since been discontinued.) Before he leads me to his office to sit in on one of these appointments, Mr. Peterson shows me around the third floor of his home, which is filled with carvings made by Charles Joseph, a Kwakwaka’wakw artist.

Dr. Peterson has a doctorate, dumbass.

“I’ve talked to a few young women, and they have told me they do wish that they could be housewives,” a caller says. “But what they’ve said to me is that they feel as though if they were to pursue that, other people would look down on them.” “I’ve had lots of women tell me that,” [Dr.] Peterson says. “Women will never admit that publicly.” Women are likely to prioritize their children over their work, he says, especially “conscientious and agreeable women.”

And I’m sure this is true. The maternal instinct is wired in.

When [Dr.] Peterson talks about good women — the sort a man would want to marry — he often uses these words: conscientious and agreeable.

These are desirable traits.

Andrew McVicar, 45, a waiter, says it was good to hear someone finally talk about how hierarchies were okay. He says current politics are pushing for everyone to be the same, promoting women and minorities into unearned positions. “It’s forced diversity, it’s saying you must have X percent of A-B-C,” he says. “How about, look at yourself?”

Quotas are unmeritocratic.

Jeffrey Rouillard, 21, from Montreal and also studying theater, says he was drawn to [Dr.] Peterson after watching a prominent female journalist grill him. “How many times have I been in a situation where I had been set up to be the bad guy?” Mr. Rouillard asks. “Listening to Dr. Peterson, I got a grasp of myself. It’s things I already knew, but now I know how to process the thought.”

Cathy Newman did Peterson a great service.

To Naureen Shameem, who works at the Association for Women’s Rights in Development, which is based in Canada, [Dr.] Peterson’s philosophies are part of a bigger global backlash to gender equality progress. “It’s an old story, really,” she said. “In a lot of nationalistic projects, women’s bodies and sexualities become important sites of focus and control.”

What? This makes no sense.

Justin Trottier, 35, the co-founder of the men’s rights organizations Canadian Association for Equality and Canadian Centre for Men and Families made headlines when his group called the anti-manspreading subway initiatives sexist. Their musty space hosts events in which men discuss the prejudices they perceive against them. One of their group’s main goals is “waking the police up” to female-perpetrated domestic violence, Mr. Trottier says.

Well, anti-manspreading initiatives are sexist. Notice the smear of their space as “musty”.

While I disagree with Peterson on some things, and in particular on this latest idea of forced monogamy, I also think he says a lot of things of value, and challenges the status quo, which has been headed in the wrong direction on many issues for a long time.

About jimbelton

I'm a software developer, and a writer of both fiction and non-fiction, and I blog about movies, books, and philosophy. My interest in religious philosophy and the search for the truth inspires much of my writing.
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3 Responses to Jordan Peterson is Wrong on Forced Monogamy

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