If you haven’t heard of Jordan Peterson yet, you probably will soon. The University of Toronto professor’s new book, 12 Rules For Life: An Antidote To Chaos, is currently the best-selling book on Amazon — beating out Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury. On Tuesday, Peterson appeared on FOX And Friends to disparage Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for asking a woman to use the word “peoplekind” instead of “mankind.”
Railing against the enforcement of using gender-neutral pronouns and espousing the importance of masculinity, Peterson has steadily been making a name for himself as a voice of the anti-political correctness movement on his YouTube channel and now in his bestselling book. He’s also part of a new, internet-savvy group of controversial thinkers that have been deemed the “intellectual dark web.”
Peterson Keeps Getting More Popular
A heated — and awkward — debate between Peterson and Channel 4 News’s Cathy Newman on gender equality went viral in January, garnering more than 6 million views at time of writing. The video’s been perceived as a masterful rebuke of a “Gotcha!” journalist’s attempt to back her subject into a corner. During the interview, Newman attempts to expose Peterson as a closet misogynist who uses scientifically dubious claims to justify his controversial ideas. But Peterson is a skilled speaker with a cool temperament, and Newman didn’t quite manage to ruffle his feathers.
While Peterson’s views may be controversial, they’ve attracted a lot of supporters. In the two weeks after the interview was posted, Peterson acquired more than 100,000 subscribers on his own YouTube channel.
By attacking political correctness on popular podcasts and maintaining his beliefs on his prolific YouTube channel, Peterson has managed to amass a growing following online. His channel now has 750,000 subscribers and over the course of 2017 and January 2018, he gained 7,000 Patreon subscribers.
Where Did Jordan Peterson Come From?
A University of Toronto professor of psychology, Peterson first garnered mainstream media attention in 2016, when he refused to use gender-neutral pronouns in the classroom.
“I don’t recognize another person’s right to determine what pronouns I use to address them,” he told Toronto Life.
Claiming it violated his right to free speech, Peterson also took a public stand against Bill C-16, a piece of Canadian legislation that sought to protect gender identity and gender expression under the Canadian Human Rights Act.
Supporters of Bill C-16 argued that Peterson was mounting a frivolous argument to justify bigotry towards transgender people. The Canadian Bar Association also argued that the law wouldn’t proscribe the speech of private citizens, only “provide tangible protections for one of Canada’s most vulnerable minorities.”
What Exactly Does Jordan Peterson Believe?
Peterson thinks that declining religiosity in modern states has created a generation of young men untethered to morality; 12 Rules For Life is a psychology-based, religiously inclined, self-help guide that aims to provide some guidance in the 21st century. Describing his standard audience as men between ages 20 and 35, Peterson said, “They’re desperate for a discussion about responsibility, and fair play, and noble being, and working properly in the world and to hear the idea that their lives actually matter.”
A big portion of Peterson’s philosophy relies upon the his belief in the existence of the meritocracy. Peterson also claims that, because social hierarchies exist in nature, it’s wrong to call the patriarchy a social construct. Therefore, any attempt to change the social order is in opposition to nature.
Peterson also thinks that gender studies departments (he would like them defunded) are trying to “[make] over humanity in the image of [their] ideology.”
What is the Self-Described “Intellectual Dark Web”
Recently, Peterson has looped himself in with a motley crew of public figures that are calling themselves the “intellectual dark web.” It’s a loose network of scientists, philosophers, and political thinkers who believe that they don’t have the freedom to discuss controversial ideas without suffering the consequences of social censure. The term was coined by Eric Weinstein, a Harvard-educated economist and managing director of Thiel Capital. Members of this group include philosopher and religious critic Sam Harris](https://samharris.org/), litigious memo-writer and ex-Google employee James Damore, and conservative commentator Ben Shapiro.
For all the alleged persecution, members of the intellectual dark web don’t seem particularly oppressed; they have massive followings and use crowdfunding platforms to turn readers, listeners, and viewers into paying customers.
A Spokesperson for Alt-Right Beliefs?
Members of the intellectual dark web have alluded to instances of controversial figures being prohibited from speaking on campuses as evidence that the academic establishment discriminates against anyone who doesn’t share their views. This line of thought, of course, has also been argued by supporters of the white supremacist Richard Spencer.
But Peterson side steps any suggestion that his ideas are being co-opted by the alt-right. When asked about a picture of him posing with two young men and a Pepe the Frog flag, Peterson deflected and said that men who traffic in Pepe memes are mostly, “poking and causing trouble on social media.” Instead of going into further explanation, he referred people to a thirty minute video on his YouTube channel where he discusses the meme.
The leftists say okay well here’s the oppressed people, the oppressors, the patriarchal types they should be ashamed of themselves and give up some power. The right-wingers, the radical right-wingers look at that and they say, ‘Okay, so the game is ethnic identity is it, it’s identity politics? Okay, we’re white males, we’re not gonna lose.’ That’s the right wing version of identity politics, it’s like screw you.
Jordan Peterson may not identify as a part of the alt-right, but they seem to identify with him. It’s sure to affect his rising star.