JR'S Free Thought Pages
Jordan Peterson is a Pompous Ass Charlatan
But Calcified Conservatives, Libertarian Capitalists and Limousine Liberals Love Him
By JR, May 2021
Without evidence or argument the new guru of the political right informs us in his book of banalities called 12 Rules of Life that inequality is both part of our “human nature” and inescapable. I’ll return to this dubious claim later.
The misogynist Peterson has attracted the vitriol of countless feminists, one of whom is a columnist at Maclean’s Magazine, referring to Peterson as “the stupid man’s smart person” . A male colleague at the U of T called him the “professor of piffle”. Despite these attacks, does conservative “family values” and “yes man” defender of the status quo capitalist Peterson qualify as a genuine public intellectual who belongs in the company of esteemed giants such as Noam Chomsky, Jean Paul Sartre and Bertrand Russell? Hell no; not even remotely is he in the same league!
Many of Peterson’s “12 Rules” are norms and ethical principles that my mother taught me before I began grade school. But it seems parenting has become a lost art as many adults I know don’t seem to understand these axioms of life, pabulum for the un-mothered masses. And have you noticed that on TV, especially advertisements, parents are depicted as ADHD morons and their kids undisciplined out of control chimpanzees?
These Peterson rules are primarily hackneyed trivialities such as: be organized, think before acting, keep yourself and your living space clean, choose your friends wisely, don’t be hypocritical and a mystifying one that reminds me of my naive teen age years and the horrifying one day I spent in the stifling air head cadets. I spent that day being ordered around by a half-wit staff sergeant with a room temperature IQ invoking one of Peterson’s more bizarre 12 rules: “stand up straight with your shoulders back”.
With regard to Peterson’s claim about human nature being synonymous with grim dog eat dog unavoidable endless conflict and inequality similar to the scenario depicted in William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, I strongly disagree.
Peterson’s blogs, blurbs and lectures accept Golding’s premises and even promote Ronald Reagan greed is good trickle down unfettered capitalism and entrepreneurship (code word for parasitism and exploitation) with rants against universal human rights, communism, socialism, Marxist theory, egalitarianism and anarchism and anything on the political left of which he knows very little.
Inequality cannot be solved according to Peterson; so consequently he’s a big star with capitalists, wealthy power elites, Christian Evangelicals, the alt-right, neo-fascists, neo-Nazis, cops, the military and other fans of authoritarianism and hierarchy. In these diatribes, Peterson invokes Price’s Law, a dubious claim by a physicist out of his element which states that the square root of the number of people in any endeavour will do 50% of all the work, while the rest, the majority, takes care of the other half. Ironically Peterson also invokes the board game of Monopoly, the winner dictated primarily by the luck of rolls of a dice. I say ironic because the game of Monopoly was created by a woman named Elizabeth Magie in 1903, in order to demonstrate the evils and injustices of capitalism and its tendency to produce massive levels of economic inequality. She originally created two versions of the game, one in which capitalist style competition based on winners and losers prevailed (an unjust world demented men like Reagan, Trump and Peterson endorse), and another version based on players sharing the wealth that was being created. In the end, only the first version survived and became the game of Monopoly as we know it. Monopoly’s story is thus one about presenting an alternative to an inequality generating capitalist system, not one to illustrate its inevitability.
This inequality, Peterson continues, can be found everywhere (has he ever looked at an ant colony?). A tiny number of scientists, for instance, create 50% of the discoveries and theories; a few of the very best tennis players win most of the matches and so on and so forth. So the fact that a small number of people own most of the wealth is, according to his mind, an inevitable result caused by a natural law. Hence capitalism cannot be held responsible for the grotesque wealth of a select few, widespread economic inequality, poverty and human misery that we observe today and which under varying authoritarian models such as monarchy and theocracy, have existed throughout history. That certain people “deserve” their good fortune, wealth and power has always been justified by appealing to some arcane principle such as “it’s the will of god” or, as in capitalist regimes, the myths of the meritocracy, the supernatural “invisible hand of the marketplace” and the ludicrous “self-made man” hypothesis.
One might rightly ask why, if these rare few are so intelligent and wise, they need to be bailed out by the masses every seven or eight years in a never ending sequence of booms-busts and bailouts endemic to the capitalist world order? It’s important to note that “equality” is a mathematical concept and perfect equality in this mathematical sense is not possible or perhaps even desirable. But surely we can at the very least aspire to a more just, egalitarian and economically equal socio-economic system?
Capitalism’s injustices are many but the devious manner in which it games the economy to enrich big business, bandit banks and parasitic multi-national corporations while paying its workers minimal recompense as it offloads collateral damage onto those same workers is grossly immoral. The owners and their management possess and control the means of production, decide everything to enrich them and only them. They own everything including the flow of profits from the toil of its underpaid workers. The workers comprising at least 99% or more in any large enterprise do not own any capital, receive none of the profits and merely offer their labour to the owners whom they then have to accept what is offered and obey. Unsurprisingly, as is the case with Adam Smith’s Vile Maxim of Mankind, they give a disproportionate amount to themselves, thus creating massive inequality.
Unfortunately, capitalism’s ability to generate inequality does not end here. The power and wealth which the owners accumulate are used by them to gain control over the political system, making sure that the compliant lap poodle politicians implement laws and policies that are beneficial to them, no matter the consequences to others. This thereby increases their wealth even more, which allows them to further extend their control over the political apparatus and the manipulated fraudulent elections. It is this vicious cycle that for the past several decades, including union busting and demolition of worker solidarity that has accelerated, resulting in increasingly higher unprecedented levels of inequality. But there is nothing inevitable, deterministic or fatalistic about this process; it is a political program that has been implemented from the top down, creating a dictatorship of money that is as authoritarian and oppressive as any system ever devised by oligarchic power elites.
And let’s be honest, democracy is and always has been a sham.
The underlying premise of Peterson’s world view is that inequality is a universal aw of the physical universe rather than a socio-economic system or human construct that can be modified at will by the vast majority of people who are impacted by it. But Peterson makes the outrageous claim (strange for a psychologist who believes in free will) that ordinary people can do nothing to change the prevailing anti-democratic system of tyranny and injustice. Although psychologists such as Peterson ought to be teaching people how they can take control over their lives, Peterson’s message on inequality is one that nurtures passivity, docility, atomization and helplessness, which from the point of view of the privileged top 1%, is very beneficial - at least to them. Peterson behaves like a typical mainstream conservative corporatist courtesan “intellectual” and useful idiot whose function is to concoct narratives (fairy tales and bedtime fables) that attempt to convince people in accepting the existing structures of wealth and power - no matter how undemocratic, autocratic, unequal and unfair these structures may be.
There is much more one could say about Peterson’s puerile psycho-babble but I’ve merely focused on the issue of inequality which has arguably become the most obscene in the past several centuries when records were maintained.
Addendum – Further Reading:
The best takedowns of Peterson are Nathan Robinson’s two essays:
The Intellectual We Deserve:
Comments on the Slavoj Žižek -Peterson Debate:
A recent update on Peterson’s OCD unravelling called Peterson the Salesman:
 In an interview with anti-feminist Camile Paglia, Peterson admitted having problems with “crazy women” because he can’t hit them.