The Resolution of Jordan Peterson

Truth, Lies, and Reconciliation in a Time of Chaos

Peterson finally listens to himself; finds atonement at last.

This article is Part 3 in The Abs-Tract Organization’s series on Jordan B. Peterson, following from The Detraction of Jordan Peterson: Constructive Criticism to a Public Intellectual (A Critique), which was a follow-up to The Abstraction of Jordan Peterson: Mapping Meaning in the Land of Identity Politics (A Defense). I highly recommend you read those, although I cannot make you, so I will try to make this post as self-supporting as possible.

This article is organized in the following sections: Prelude to Reconstruction, Canadian Bacon, Rowdy Rowson vs. Prickly Peterson, Future Authoring: Peterson vs. Zizek, Missing Metamodernism, A Paradox He (Sort of) Understands, An Imagined Apologia, which sets up a hypothetical Retraction of Jordan Peterson, a succinct “tl;dr” summary, concluding with Revolving or Resolving Jordan Peterson?

Prelude to Reconstruction

Jordan Peterson is resolute. He’s also desperately in need of a resolution. He barrels through resistance like a well-bred beast, but resists criticism like a petulant child. Peterson represents a paradox, as Semley wrote, and a paradox needs a resolution. This dovetails with my article on Social Paradoxes and Meta-Problems, if you will, for which we need to pursue a strategy of “normative incrementalism” towards a common solution, whether we realize what that solution is or not.

Peterson is being strained. I suspect that part of him loves the success, adulation, and money that’s found him, and part of him wants to get off the conservative carousel that is drawing mounting critiques against him. What a dilemma! He laments often that he’s worried of making an error in speech, and while he doesn’t think he’s made any yet, he has, and the moment when he can admit it is (hopefully) closing in. (But that would mean the party has to end, doesn’t it? We should all be so lucky.)

“I’m worried always that I’ll make a mistake in what I say… impulsive mistake, careless mistake, that I won’t be on top of things in a combative interview, that sort of thing, that I’ll make a mistake. I’ve been worried about that, almost to the exclusion of everything else for the last 15 months.” — Jordan Peterson Is Canada’s Most Infamous Intellectual
“No, I don’t think I made a mistake.” — Jordan Peterson, Source: Audio clip in The CANADALAND Guide to Jordan B. Peterson

Here’s some myth lessons Peterson himself should ruminate on: Like Icarus, the higher he goes, the harder he’ll fall. Like Achilles, the more mighty his alpha-ness and the more hubristic his existentialism, the more banal his weakness. And like Alexander the Great, the more chauvinistic and elitist his philosophy, the easier it can be invalidated by a man who lives in a barrel and pisses in public (ie. Diogenes). Alexander was of course more real than the others, but like Jesus, constructed out of myth as much as history.

Like Alexander the Great, the more chauvinistic and elitist his philosophy, the easier it can be invalidated by a man who lives in a barrel and pisses in public.

The table below gives a partial snapshot of the spectrum of contributors to the Peterson debate. I’ve read or listened to them all. Have you? Surely this is an incomplete list, and nothing is officially substantiated (corrections welcome), but it’s more or less indicative. I think (almost) everyone has a lot to offer, but rather than polarizing the debate, trying to crush each other with ‘logic,’ the best outcome for everyone would be to try to enhance the resolution of the JP paradox, and resolve it, with or without him. He’s got too many dismissive critics on the left, and too many blind sycophants on the right. This is part of the wider meta-problem.

That’s why I say read out my previous articles (1 & 2) — which were authored long before this debate became a rollicking bandwagon fallacy — where I discuss two core critiques against Peterson which nobody else has bothered to utter: abstraction and metamodernism (except Hanzi Freinacht in the latter case). In the first article, I highlight Peterson’s positive use of abstraction in his book Maps of Meaning. In the second article, I critique his “vicious abstractions” of postmodernism, marxism, feminism, veganism, and religion, among other things, from the perspective of metamodernism. And I’m proud to say that I’m the only person who gets to claim to be on both sides simultaneously, for whatever that’s worth.

Google Sheets hyperlinked version

As you can see, probably no less than two dozen commentators have voiced their opinion now, on each side. It gives us an increasingly clear resolution of the paradox. But far fewer have tried to bridge the increasing divide, and present Peterson’s complexity in soft light. Furthermore, many have scoffed at my attempts to do just that, Peterson included (in one derisive tweet now lost in the noise). Most of them just talk past each other, sticking to a one-sided line of attack or defense.

Either Peterson’s wilfully ignorant of the critiques against him, or he’s afraid that I’m (we’re) right. And what is right here is the synthesis of all views, into something everyone can agree on — at least in theory. This is one of the essences of metamodernism (read basic intro here), something that I’ve been theorizing for the past few years, while the world has been agonizing over what to do with post-postmodernism, and while Peterson is still stuck on plain postmodernism. So, this article is not just about Peterson but about the state of civil discourse and what it would take to de-escalate the culture wars. Rather than help resolve it, Peterson merely helps it rotate.

What is right here is the synthesis of all views, into something everyone can agree on — at least in theory.

It’s good to step back and look at the big picture sometimes. I suppose that table would be a good line-up for a Left vs. Right Battle Royale — Joe Rogan could host it — but I’m not interested in that. Instead, imagine if all these people knew some similar things and had some common ground, rather than talking past each other? Would that not be desirable? “Would that it were so simple,” to quote Hail, Caesar! So let’s everyone on that list, and every fan of Peterson, reject “agree to disagree” cop-outs and agree to work hard to understand and resolve the paradox.

Do we not yet have some cause for “normative incrementalism” (which is something like piecemeal progress, but more systematic) towards a new consensus, almost 40 years after it was introduced? In one sense, this debate is a healthy exercise, and a normal distribution of views, but in another sense there is a deeper politics being repressed here, as usual. If everyone on the left could admit one right thing about Peterson, and everyone on the right could admit one wrong thing, that would be a good start, but still not nearly enough. If we could all just abstract a little better, it would actually reduce this conflict. See: Abstraction Will Make You More Politically Moderate.

Ultimately, regardless of what side one is on, some people are very right about some things and some people are very wrong about other things on substantive questions of war, gun control, human rights, education reform, environmentalism, etc… but how are we to know what’s what if we can’t agree on any fundamental ontology or epistemology? Meanwhile, Peterson becomes a proxy battleground for it all, culminating in the “intellectual dark web” barricading itself in. This is immensely frustrating to me because I believe abstraction, and to a large extent Peterson’s abstraction, is the key.

Peterson becomes a proxy battleground for it all, culminating in the “intellectual dark web” barricading itself in.

Peterson has a novel potential to sow unity across the field, but won’t. The reason why this matters of course is that (from out of nowhere) Peterson is now a contender for top public intellectual of “the West,” according to some. But, again, with or without him, we are already in a post-truth epistemic crisis in the media, universities, and think tanks that needs to be solved ASAP. Ideally, Peterson would throw himself into this thought experiment, and finally concede some of his wrongheaded positions, but in order to do that we have to equally highlight what he’s right about. That is my intent with this article; and the multiple meanings of “the resolution of Jordan Peterson.”

There is another perennial paradox at work here — somewhat akin to “how many licks does it take to get to the center of a tootsie-pop?” — which is ‘how many articles and op-eds do we have to have in order to agree on something?’ How many god-damned debates do we have to have to resolve the paradox of Jordan Peterson? Because for me it took zero. This long saga is like Deja Vu for me; I saw it all coming, and wanted to see it handled better. I didn’t really want to write these articles at all — except the first one on abstraction — and I’m sure none of the other critics really wanted to either, so I tried reaching out to Peterson very early on in his rise to fame to trade ideas on abstraction and metamodernism, that’s it, but was roundly ignored. This was and is, in fact, a tragic reproach of abstraction (and metamodernism) on his part.

Where does it end, if not here? It’s important that we don’t just move to the center on this debate, but also that we widen our appreciation for truths on the extremes of either side. The harshest critics should embrace the good things about Peterson and his most devoted proponents should acknowledge the bad, if they can. Most importantly, Peterson has to do the same, and open his mind to abstraction outside his own (over a dozen different varieties examined on this blog so far), to authority outside psychology (ie. sociology), and to his own aging conscience that reminds him his reasoning is imperfect.

It’s important that we don’t just move to the center on this debate, but also that we widen our appreciation for truths on the extremes of either side.

Ultimately, this Peterson narrative is just another indicator of a deeper problem in discourse, but perhaps if we can (re-)solve this one, it helps resolve the general meta- problem, in which it is entangled. Whatever argument for free speech one makes is irrelevant, because we are all speaking freely and this ongoing paradox is instead determining what can and can’t be functionally talked about in public discourse. Peterson’s popularity is ensuring that certain things remain undiscussed and unresolved, while others get undue attention, for better or worse. Despite Peterson’s best efforts at lucidity, he’s foreclosing discussion where its most needed; around sociological ideas that solve social issues.

Public intellectuals have a responsibility — Peterson’s key message — to their ideas and their effects, and thus to comprehend and respond to critics and critiques. Response is the operative word in responsibility, after all. So what is Peterson’s “response” to his best critics and sociologists? Deafening silence (to their core critiques) combined with spastic lashing out (sometimes in equal measure to an initial attack, in his defense). What’s his response to his fans and defenders? Endless gratitude, affirmation, moral support, and happy tears.

Public intellectuals have a responsibility — Peterson’s key message — to their ideas and their effects, and thus to comprehend and respond to critics and critiques.

Imagine if he had that same sympathy for his compassionate critics, like myself. Where is his derisive tweet or thoughtful response to my 10-section critique of his vicious abstractions, which was respectfully framed as “constructive criticism”? Nonexistent. Since that September post, Peterson has only doubled-down on his intransigence to critique, wherever it comes from. And in all fairness, the critiques often come across as one-sided as Peterson or his defenders appear. Whichever side you take/took in this debate, his explosive interview with Cathy Newman (or VICE for that matter) is still evidence of this intransigence and defensiveness — and the source of the very paradox that Peterson always bemoans he wants to solve.

But has Peterson always been this way? Way back in 1983, Peterson wrote a little op-ed in The Gateway titled “Arts vs. Engineering,” where he brilliantly solved the dilemma of which educational stream was better. The answer; they’re both vital and indispensible, and a little cross-training goes a long way too. This both/and logic was very forward thinking, but yet its been thrown by the wayside for a more populist and degraded view of everything. As far as I can tell, that was the beginning and the end of his metamodernity.

Canadian Bacon

Jordan Peterson is Canadian, so am I, and so is Jesse Brown, another one of his critics. For what’s its worth we’re all trying to solve “America,” and not just because we care, but because they’re our dangerously bloated and trigger-happy neighbour. That’s ultimately what this political strife is about. Does America need more self-help psychology, or more sociological imagination and investment in civil society? It matters to the whole world when and how America sorts itself out, but let’s start with the crooked elites, not the deceived masses, okay? Or, at least, let’s attempt to solve micro and macro problems together, not exclusively or at the expense of either.

Does America need more self-help psychology, or more sociological imagination and investment in civil society?

As Brown explains, the “NY Times editorial wondered if [Peterson] might be the most influential public intellectual in the Western world right now,” which is cause for concern on a number of levels. We, the world, David Brooks (another intellectual who ignores his critics), need to stop pretending Peterson is a super intellectual, when really he’s just an ordinary one — perhaps “the intellectual we deserve” for our post-truth climate, according to Nathan J. Robinson.

In The CANADALAND Guide to Jordan B. Peterson (February 5th, 2018), Jesse Brown prefaces his position as media critic, and not peer on par with Peterson. He rightly articulates how the media sensationalizes the Peterson narrative. They are guilty as charged. But this hyping backfires because Peterson is calm and collected against aggressive interviewers, so clips of him snapping back go viral, making the mainstream media look stupid.

Brown takes us way back, to the beginning of Peterson’s internet explosion. In late 2016, Peterson protested Bill C-16 which ended up with him aggressively debating a gay activist, which subsequently went viral for the wrong reasons, says Brown. In Brown’s jocular simplification: “He’s famous for saying fuck-you to a hypothetical trans person, who made a hypothetical demand of him.” Indeed.

Furthermore, according to Brown, the denial of grant funding prompted the self-victimization and conspiracy-theorizing that he was being censored, leading to a crowd-funding partnership with the far-right Rebel Media, and eventually going on his own to make roughly $1M a year on Patreon. To precisely this effect, Peterson boasts “I figured out how to monetize social justice warriors” on the Joe Rogan Experience. In my critique, I address the large problem with this slur, and also its very thin merits. Actually, the truth is that Peterson hasn’t monetized anyone on the left; he’s monetized conservatives who hate social justice.

The truth is that Peterson hasn’t monetized anyone on the left; he’s monetized conservatives who hate social justice.

To Brown, JBP’s brand and business model is the real story here. This is certainly a one valid approach. What’s going viral are fan-made supercuts like “Those 7 times Jordan Peterson went Beast mode” or “Jordan Peterson DESTROYS transgender pundit.” I might add that I found more than a few re-cuts of Jonathan Rowson’s session with Peterson labeled in similar ways too.

This of course obscures the broader context of longer interviews, and distorts Peterson’s message at the expense of his critics, so nobody wins. Peterson is not cryptofascist, but a great portion of his audience is. (What does one do when they finally discover a dark truth behind their popularity?)

“So is Jordan Peterson preparing his base for the coming race war? I do not think so. My read of him is that he is actually terrified of what he started. Nobody is more surprised than he is by his fame… he’s on sabbatical after basically declaring war on his own institution. You can’t go home after that. He needs his Patreon now… He has cast his lot with his mob.” — The CANADALAND Guide to Jordan B. Peterson

Brown jokes, calling Peterson “super-Dad” and “Oprah for bros.” Brown says, “though he claims he considers his words very very carefully, the guy says some wacky stuff. His mode, again, is live exploration, free association, long detailed spiels where he thinks out loud.” Brown cites the Paglia conversation as evidence, where Peterson says that men and women can’t work out civil discourse… which gave birth to the awkward gems “I don’t think men can control crazy women” and “I think it’s their unconscious wish for brutal male domination,” which have been recycled countless times by Peterson critics. Similarly, these statements embolden his diehard fans to actually dominate “crazy” women, or at least attempt to.

“Jordan Peterson is not ready for primetime. It’s one thing for a guy like this to lecture psych students and to put some wild ideas out there for the consideration of curious young minds. But for him to be feeding the reductive meme-machine and providing the intellectual underpinning of an growing intellectual throng of angry young white men, is terrifying.” — The CANADALAND Guide to Jordan B. Peterson

But Peterson does reject some aspects of his base. In his VICE interview, he condemns right-wing “pasty-faced” neonazi “losers” in the strongest terms. “Grow the hell up,” he says. And Peterson’s base bears much credit for his infamy too, as they inflame the discussion on the internet once its left Peterson’s lips.

As as someone who’s been active in the Peterson debate for over a year, and has written both a pro- and a con- article about him, I can honestly say that a large portion of his fans are aggressively close-minded and vitriolic against criticism. Almost nobody cares about nuance or ideological conflict resolution, Peterson included. I am insulted and attacked by people who haven’t even read my work. Process that.

“If you tweet critically about him, you can expect comments like this, “Your essence has been accurately distilled to a single syllable — Cuck.”” — A Serious Man, John Ganz and Stephen Klein

This anecdotal poll I took in the Jordan Peterson Discussion Group on Facebook suggests his fans are predominantly Trump supporters.

If I was Peterson, this is something I’d be directly addressing, regardless of the drop in earnings it would trigger. Special appreciation is warranted for the small band of critics in Facebook groups about Peterson who persistently try to argue for conciliation and are rudely denounced. Public intellectuals have a duty to sow unity, not division, as I iterated earlier. You can’t be a public intellectual and a self-help guru Peterson. You have to pick one.

You can’t be a public intellectual and a self-help guru Peterson. You have to pick one.

By the same token, Brown calls bullshit on Peterson’s claim that he wants “real substantive dialogue,” because that’s not what’s bringing home the (Canadian) bacon. I think both things are true; Peterson does want real deep discussion, we’ve seen ample proof of that, but he also thrives in the hot seat, hence the ongoing “paradox of Jordan Peterson.” If he wants real deep discussion, he needs to put a pacifier in his mouth for his logorrhea, and to start listening again.

If he wants real deep discussion, he needs to put a pacifier in his mouthfor his logorrhea, and to start listening again.

Rowdy Rowson vs. Prickly Peterson

Out of the entire table above, the most I have seen Peterson pressed and the closest anyone has come to respectfully challenging Peterson’s blanket rejection of sociology is by Jonathan Rowson, who personally thanked me for drawing some inspiration from my critique. Even then, in what was supposed to be a conversation, Peterson treated it like yet another hostile interview, where the ideas of the questioner could be casually dismissed or countered. The window of opportunity came and went like a soap bubble on a windy day.

One particular phrase Rowson used was a “sociological imagination,” asking Peterson to respond to his critics (like me) who say that he doesn’t have one. The Sociological Imagination is one of the most groundbreaking foundational sociology books that Peterson has never read, so naturally its a very apt critique (not an insult) to say that he lacks that certain research methodology. I could be wrong, but I don’t see how anyone can behold that book and Peterson’s anti-sociological sentiments at the same time.

Rowson: “The critique of you from, not the left because that doesn’t really help us, from sociologists let’s say, is that look you have enormous psychological depth you’re a charismatic brilliant teacher — no one doubts any of those things — but you don’t have any sociological imagination… How do you answer to that?”
Peterson: “They should read the book (12 Rules…), because it’s just not true…”
(there is an impasse; Rowson tries to reiterate)
Rowson: “I sense enormous depth and insight, I hugely admire your work — well I notice two things: one is that, y’know, if I may, you have wonderful folksy charm and a lot of composure when you’re speaking about matters of the psyche, matters of religion, and when you’re speaking about your own experience, then I’m all in. Then there’s often moments where you flip into the social and political domain and then you feel this enormous latent rage and anger that doesn’t feel in keeping with the rest of your character, and I wonder if that’s because you don’t know the material as well…”
Peterson: “Which material?”
Rowson: “The political-cultural-sociological — issues that are not as close to your core of expertise as the rest…”
RSA Replay

Sadly, Peterson missed the question twice in a row. Rowson searched a bit and offered examples of climate change and AI, which Peterson doesn’t comment on much anyway. But then Peterson seized the opportunity to express his skepticism about climate science — right after saying “I don’t claim to be an expert on climate change, that’s for sure…” to boot — aligning himself with Camille Paglia and the Trump administration on this issue, maligning himself with climate scientists. To invoke abstraction again here, I’ve written two articles that address the ‘abstraction’ (extraction and obfuscation, respectively) of climate change— The Abstraction of Water, and The Abstraction of Pollution — so I’ll happily challenge Peterson there as well. See also: The US Policy Environment and Political Climate Change.

Rowson, trying to remain on target with his questioning, also misses the opportunity to challenge Peterson — who is yet again commenting on science outside his field and rejecting the consensus that anthropogenic climate change is real. This puts Peterson doubly in the camp of conspiracy-theorists, in addition to amplifying the “cultural Marxism” paranoia that is already extant.

“I hate to speak in conspiratorial terms, but it’s essentially a conspiratorial movement that’s deeply embedded within social psychology to deny the existence of authoritarian tendencies on the left wing. No one’s managed to produce a good authoritarian left-wing scale…” — Jordan B. Peterson Podcast Episode 41 /w Claire Lehmann

And if Peterson wants to discuss or debate anything on conspiracy theory too, I welcome it, as this is also my area. See Systemic-Conspiracy and Social Pathology, and The Metamodern Mythology of The X-Files for starters. An aside: In my article on systemic-conspiracy, I argued that the concept provides a useful explanation of how totalitarianism occurs, and how to avoid it. What I am theorizing complements Peterson’s message, but his denial of systemic (sociological) approaches prevents any of these ideas even getting on his radar.

“This is relevant and convergent with Jordan Peterson’s oft-repeated warning that we all have the potential for totalitarian fascism in us; to participate in systems of violence. Systemic-conspiracy is sociologically latent, which is arguably the major lesson of the 20th century.” — Systemic Conspiracy and Social Pathology

Peterson is so hellbent on avoiding totalitarianism, that he ironically has a totalizing worldview about “the left” to the point of scapegoating them just like Jews were. Cultural-marxism is the new cultural bolshevism and its stupidly obvious, and glaringly wrong, but conservatives love it because it’s their last resort: blame the people trying to fix the problem conservatives started. Peterson’s stock is artificially inflated because of support for these beliefs. Come for the supreme mythological wisdom, stay for the crypto-fascism. Or is it the other way around? Peterson is ironic — he’s not post-ironic, because he’s not metamodern. He doesn’t get it, and if his fans and critics don’t get it either, then this will remain a stalemate.

Conservatives love it because it’s their last resort: blame the people trying to fix the problem conservatives started.

These sentiments are perhaps better articulated by Noah Berlatsky than myself (below). Again, no one is attacking Peterson here, but rather just logically pointing out the hypocrisy. Peterson gets highjacked by the right, so this information should help him reform rather than retaliate. The term “useful idiot” doesn’t really fit, since Peterson is incredibly smart, but he is nonetheless being used for that very intelligence to spread bullshit.

“But how does Peterson suggest an alternate path to fascism when his philosophy is suffused with barely hidden fascist talking points and conspiracy theories?… And, moreover, why is a supposed anti-totalitarian literally calling for educators who disagree with him to be subject to McCarthyite purges and tried for treason?”
“People who put Leninist posters on their walls to remind themselves to hate communists all day, every day, are leaving a door open to other kinds of hate too. Peterson does not want to be a member of the alt-right. But he shares their hatred of the left, and, as a result, he makes their arguments for them.”
How Anti-Leftism Has Made Jordan Peterson a Mark for Fascist Propaganda, Berlatsky

Anyway, the round with Rowson was as good as it gets: a notable UK intellectual flatters Peterson and asks him a softball question about sociological literature, which he deflects — twice! To be sure, Peterson’s next and final answer was also perfectly true and appropriate, but at the expense of getting to the meat of the original question. In attempting one last inquest, Rowson suggests that perhaps Peterson’s rage could be directed away from people trying to solve the problem (“in their own failing way”) and towards the actual problems, as Peterson jumps in —

Peterson: “When the academics in Canada stop comporting themselves like they did in the Lindsay Shepherd case, then I’ll stop being irritated at their existence… It was a Maoist inquisition.” — RSA Replay

Rowson, unfamiliar with the incident, could not respond. Peterson was basically right though, albeit hyperbolic. In the Lindsay Shepherd case, she was castigated by administrators for showing a video of Peterson debating — well within her purview as a seminar facilitator — and this unjust reprimand exposed the ugly side of postmodern political correctness in institutions, universities or elsewhere (ie. Google). The problem is that the mechanism for handling complaints has no epistemology for this; it is trying to do what’s right by appeasing the plaintiffs, first and foremost. They (university admin, media, corporations), like Peterson, are not up to date on metamodernism or even post-postmodernism, so only respond with superficial prescription.

This and other episodes do not reflect where the state-of-the-art contemporary social thought is actually at, or mean that it’s a sociologist conspiracy. It’s not. As Jesse Brown calls it, this incident was “dumb luck” for Peterson, as it so easily proves his point, but is not as widespread as Peterson believes. But Peterson is wilfully ignorant (and I don’t mean that as an insult) of the nuances of sociology as a discipline, and its current state, not to mention metamodern movements happening in and outside universities.

So Peterson is grossly wrong about the Shepherd case being a microcosm for the problems of society, but there is a systemic problem in it. It’s not so much that the ideas guiding these bad policies are corrupt as much as they are defunct. But this still doesn’t account for why he’s a hypochondriac of sociology proper, figuratively picking at a mole and claiming it’s body-wide Stage 4 skin cancer. We can biopsy it, no need for amputation Doc. Peterson may very well be able to pick out a few examples of sociological or postmodern malpractice, but this is nothing new, and it becomes increasingly untrue and meaningless as a totalizing worldview.

There is a systemic problem in it. It’s not so much that the ideas guiding these bad policies are corrupt as much as they are defunct.

Peterson simply misreads a lot of political and social theory (and the theorists), and it’s an honest mistake. Case in point, as Nathan J. Robinson showed in a side-by-side comparison of Peterson’s reading of Orwell and the actual words of Orwell, it is a staggering juxtaposition that should call into question everything Peterson has ever said about socialism. Much the same could be said about Peterson’s vicious abstraction of Foucault. I’ve paraphrased Robinson’s excerpts below:

Peterson: “I read George Orwell’s Road to Wigan Pier. This book finally undermined me — not only my socialist ideology, but my faith in ideological stances themselves.”
Orwell: “Please notice that I am arguing for Socialism, not against it. […] The job of the thinking person, therefore, is not to reject Socialism but to make up his mind to humanize it…”
— The Intellectual we Deserve
[Peterson’s misread of Orwell] is a staggering juxtaposition that should call into question everything Peterson has ever said about socialism.

Robinson also spends a lot of time lampooning Peterson’s abstractions (diagrams) — which I happen to like — but that’s fine, because the problem is that Peterson ignores the valid critique so he can go after the invalid ones and dismiss his critics altogether. On Twitter, Peterson simply counter-attacks Robinson instead of engaging in the fundamental critique, or any particular point that isn’t an easy win for himself. It’s a case of everyone going too far, overdetermining the paradox of Jordan Peterson. Conversely, Rowson tried to gently introduce Peterson to some of his lighter critics, and was ignored and treated somewhat like a pit stop on the Peterson world tour.

And it only makes it worse that Peterson consorts with people who fully embrace this ‘race realism,’ like Stephan Molyneux and Ben Shapiro. Why do those guys have to undercut their own intellectual fortitude by hanging on to that particular dogma? See also The Unwelcome Revival of Race Science. This, like for many conservative thinkers, makes them utterly incredible, because they won’t or can’t reform their positions in light of a broader truths.

Which brings us back to Rowson’s point about Peterson not knowing the literature outside his expertise, in contempory social or political theory specifically. Sure, he’s read his Locke and Hume like any one has, even a little Marx and Adorno… but when have you ever heard him mention the modern “founding fathers” of sociology Weber or Durkheim? Imagine a sociologist who’d never read Freud or Jung, yet viciously criticized the field of psychology. That’s what Peterson does to sociology. I’m sure he’s heard of them but they are not in Maps of Meaning nor in the hundreds of hours of videos I’ve watched of Peterson. Or how would Peterson react to reading the work of International Relations scholar Alexander Wendt, whom my articles on The Quantum Turn in Social Science and Evolutionary Globalization are largely based on? (crickets)

Imagine a sociologist who’d never read Freud or Jung, yet viciously criticized the field of psychology.

At any rate, Peterson does have a sort of sociological imagination, and many insights from his discussion with Rowson and others reflects that — even Freud was somewhat of an influential social theorist — but there is still a gaping hole to be filled by the basics of social constructivism and critical theory, so as not to throw out the baby with the bath water. What Peterson has is not the proper sociological imagination that he and everyone should have, from the titular book, and the lack thereof should not affect his stature as a psychologist at all, so what’s the worry? A meta- understanding of Marxism (cf. Althusser) wouldn’t hurt either.

Future Authoring: Peterson vs. Zizek

On Valentine’s day, the slovenly Slovenian, Slavoj Zizek, wrote Peterson an ironic love letter, questioning and answering “Why do people find Jordan Peterson so convincing? Because the left doesn’t have its own house in order.” This was partially a concession from one of the top leftist thinkers in the world, as he admits “the left” is somewhat in disarray. Peterson’s response? To kick and scream and challenge a Zizek twitterbot to a debate. Leftists laughed hard at Peterson, but my sentiment aimed for conciliation:

Thankfully it looks like we will get to see this showdown this year. But as I noted in my critique article, up until Zizek’s article it was as if the two had never heard of each other, and yet the internet had wisely already determined they were ideological opponents. The problem with this though is the defecation on one and deification of the other (I used the words dehumanization and canonization in my critique), which in fact reflects the inverse of their contributions to social theory, appearances and stink lines notwithstanding. The question here though is how does Peterson react to such shaming of his opponents (when he’s not dishing it out himself)? Is this an appropriate way for an intellectuals to discourse? Or for audiences to understand?

Will this be a foregone conclusion though, another clusterfuck, based on our current trajectory? Or will anybody learn anything from my attempt at the “resolution of Jordan Peterson”? Will it be a conversation, or a debate? Who knows, and who cares? Because Peterson’s only in it to win it, not for truth. There are least two good parodies of the future Peterson vs. Zizek debate already out there, suggesting we already know how it will go down: Doug Robertson and Chapo Trap House. The upcoming debate has also been pre-analyzed by Zero Books’ Douglas Lane, who was scheduled to interview/debate Peterson as well to defend a Marxist perspective, but keeps getting cancelled on. This allows Peterson to keep repeating his refrain: “They don’t debate me!” I call bullshit. Sign me up.

The quest for truth isn’t just a personal one for anyone, but a risky social endeavour too; one that Peterson eschews. That is, he crusades with his personal-intellectual truth and rejects and and all sociological insights that complicate that. He advocates taking a ‘complexity’ approach, but does not engage the literature that does exactly that in sociology.

All the critics, fans, and Peterson himself have to ask themselves: Does your care for Peterson and his cause match your commitment to a complex inter-subjective truth? Or is it lip service to cover for your loyalty to the comfort of taking sides? Does my balanced table of critics and advocates pique your curiosity? Or does it evoke cognitive dissonance — the pain of not being able to compute conflicting information properly? In the face of new evidence, will you try to change, or will you condemn that evidence as blasphemy? Is Ben Shapiro’s professed love of facts just compensating for his contempt for other facts that don’t fit his worldview?

Missing Metamodernism

And what about that thing which I haven’t even discussed in this article because people just ignore it and scoff at it anyway when I do: metamodernism? Well, as I’ve said, go read about it in the other articles, read the rest of this blog, including the other two articles on Peterson, and other sources on metamodernism. What, the 50 odd Peterson pundits out there don’t have 9 minutes to learn a new word? Do it. It’s still an evolving paradigm, but it beats the hell out of burning effigies of postmodernism.

[Metamodernism is] still an evolving paradigm, but it beats the hell out of burning effigies of postmodernism.

To be sure, Zizek is not a metamodernist either, probably because he hasn’t discovered it yet either. But both of them have great potential to resolve their worldviews into this new paradigm; that is to say, much of their work already points in that direction, just without the word. And the principle of abstraction is to consolidate and compress information in order to get to the next plateau. Peterson is disoriented by his own virulent anti-postmodernism, rather than using the map others are providing.

For example, in my review of The Listening Society: A Metamodern Guide to Politics, I highlighted how abstraction is a major theme in the book, just as it is in Maps of Meaning. Moreover, the specific abstraction they utilize is actually a psychological theory too. I pondered if Peterson knows, considering its not in Maps of Meaning — which is very much a book about hierarchical complexity! This is not a (yet another) cheap shot/ attack on Peterson for Christ’s sake, just an observation that maybe he’s not omniscient, and is missing major theoretical innovations in his own field by denying metamodernism:

“Abstraction plays in the book in a number of ways. It is featured explicitly as one of the main stages in Michael Lamport Commons’ Model of Hierarchical Complexity (MHC), which is a major part of the book. The MHC is a science of information organization and stages of cognitive development, a mathematical basis for psychology (I wonder if Jordan Peterson knows of it?).” — Book Review of “The Listening Society”

Besides, for all Peterson’s abstraction, there is someone who is much better. Me? Perhaps. But I mean Benjamin Bratton, who I’ve also written about. Bratton’s book The Stack is bigger and badder than Maps of Meaning, and my longer article reflects that. The challenge with Bratton is two-fold: he’s not as accessible as Peterson, and he’s not controversial like Peterson. But he’s far more correct than Peterson, and that’s what matters. They are also somewhat opposites with regards to academic perspectives: Bratton is a sociologist, among other things. As I wrote about Peterson in the profile on Bratton:

“Unlike Peterson, The Stack appears to dovetail with Marxist analysis with its emphasis on the relations of production, noted in another deep review The Stack to Come: On Benjamin Bratton’s The Stack, whereas Peterson disdains Marxism altogether for its postmodern incarnation. This is an important point of departure, as Marxism in the abstract sense is an indispensable approach to resolving the inequities and pathologies of capitalism (contrary to the caricature of socialism being inherently untenable and brutal). I contend Bratton’s approach fits within my definition of meta-Marxism.”

Although Peterson is an accomplished genius, he displays petulance and arrogance too, and if nothing else this is the increasingly clear resolution of the image of Jordan Peterson. His macho resolve will be his undoing. He’s an expert on abstraction, but not above reproaching it in others without even reading them.

He’s an expert on abstraction, but not above reproaching it in others without even reading them.

By ignoring and denying the advent of metamodernism, as well as waging psychological warfare on fleeting postmodernism, he throws out the baby with the bathwater and leaves us with the very nihilism he protests against and tries to address with his parochial “12 Rules”:

“When we synthesize postmodernism into metamodernism, we don’t want to leave out anything vital. We want to compress all that is essential. Thus, we can’t simply expunge marxism and feminism, contra the anti-postmodernism of Jordan Peterson, because we have to respect the core premises (even though J.P. often grants this in passing), which are necessary additives to fight the everpresent injustices of modernism (ie. industrial patriarchy, inequality), hence post-modernism. Ergo, marxism (for capitalism), feminism (for sexism), and critical race theory and social justice (for racism).” — The (New) Reproach of Abstraction

Will any of this come to light before the Peterson/ Zizek face off happens? Or will it just be another two intellectuals talking past each other, like him and Sam Harris? Will there be a moderator, or will it be a free-for-all? Will we learn anything from a discussion between them, or will it be hung up on the same old equivocation or words that leads away from consilience?

A Paradox He (Sort of) Understands

Before I finish with some satire, we must highlight a selective strength of Peterson: his composure and even-handedness when talking about the complexity of the Israel-Palestine conflict. My undergraduate degree was in International Relations, and I’m pleased to say this is an area where he doesn’t tread his muddy boots all over — thank god. Add to that, I’ve written a long paper called Israelpolitik: Regimes of Truth and the Clash of Definitions in the “Promised Land,” identifying the conflict as paradoxical.

This is a paradox he at least realizes is a paradox. In this video excerpt (full video here), Peterson starts of by calling himself an “amateur historian.” Bravo on the humility professor! Now say it for sociology. He continues;

“One of the things you learn when you’re trying to teach something is just bloody well how little you know about it… It isn’t the right thing for me to be talking about, it’s not my area of expertise, and to say anything about the political situation… that just seemed like absolute hubris.” — Jordan Peterson on Israel-Palestine

Following on this, it would be great to see Peterson actually teach a course on critical theory or postmodernism and realize how little he knows, rather than demonize it from his soapbox to the extent of actively trying to dissuade people from taking those courses. Let’s not forget that episode in his rise to prominence.

Quoting psychologist Hans Isaac, Peterson wisely says “formulating the damn problem is often a really good step to solving it.” And this is exactly what we try to do best via abstraction. Starting with the paradox of why anyone would fight over this “ratty part of the world… scraped out of useless desert,” he then proceeds to map the problem from a psychological perspective, while joking that the success of Israel is understandably “annoying” to their Arab neighbours. He even ironically calls it a “God-forsaken part of the world.” As edgy as this may seem, he’s trying to defuse the seriousness of the issue.

Noting that the geographical area is small, but the psychological area is large, he discourses on the concept of a “holy city,” which is an ancient idea representing the “sanctity of the community itself… walled in and surrounded by chaos and barbarism… it’s Eden re-established… the vision of humanity.” He says that its remarkable that the world’s three great religious traditions agree on the value of this, but can’t agree on what to do about it. “We’re all involved in a tremendous drama, and watching play itself out in this tiny corner of the world,” Peterson says.

Then comes “the specter of group rights” and the fundamental disjunct between individual and collective interests. He says we have no idea what to do about it, even though some people do. Again, it’s just a matter of listening to the right people, deferring to the right fields of scholarship. He shows sympathy for the complexity of the decision making in the time after World War 1, and how they were “making the best of a bad lot.” And if we “stretch back our historical imagination” thousands of years then the Jews have a just claim to the land. And then he turns;

“But… why take that particular frame of history, you can take any frame of history you want, and then the conclusions you draw from the facts you observe differ substantially and that’s a big psychological problem, because it’s not easy to determine what the appropriate time frame is to analyze the significance of historical events, and no one knows how to deal with that problem.” — Jordan Peterson on Israel-Palestine

Great! He thrusts this thought experiment on his audience, swiftly defeating any notions of objectivity around historical claims. And this is why we are stuck on the paradox, he explains. But, again, some people do know how to deal with that problem. For example, consider the approach of evolutionary globalization, which I write about, which urges us to appreciate macro-history and social evolution in an open way, rather than it being sublimated into globalist ideologies, spawning protest and blowback. Evolutionary globalization is an entirely different paradigm from the current status-quo, hence my push for metamodernism. Peterson’s commentary thus would complement quite well many alternative approaches, but all he can confidently say is “we don’t know,” because its too far outside his wheelhouse.

This is how a responsible intellectual sounds, but he would do much better to take more time to engage with more sociological and international relations theory. They are arguably much harder disciplines than psychology, for the metaphysical ontology and the rapidly evolving structure of society.

In the most dramatic inversion of Peterson’s playbook, rather than telling Palestinians to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, he essentially points out that they are used as pawns on a grand chessboard;

“We don’t know how to solve the problem of proxies. Y’know, it could be that the Israelies and the Palestinians would actually like peace, but it doesn’t matter because they’re surrounded by people who can use them to — especially the Palestinians in my estimation — to continue to agitate for their extra-curricular political motives… that is another indication of precisely why the problem is so absurdly complicated.” — Jordan Peterson on Israel-Palestine

I think this is Peterson at his best. He continues to articulate the problem lucidly. Everything is going fine…that is until he condemns alternatives to the hegemony of Western states as “dubious generally radical leftist utopia… One execution away from utopia — that’s the vision of the left,” which gets raucous applause. After this, he continues to share insight, but also keeps pandering;

“You can look at the historical catastrophes that assaulted the Jewish people, which are absolutely undeniable, or you can take the side of the Palestinians — take your choice. You can do your moral virtue signaling on both sides of the argument and so that’s extraordinarily convenient, especially if you don’t have anything else to do. (audience laughs)”— Jordan Peterson on Israel-Palestine

He then stays close to his usual tack, excoriating leftists for caring about issues that are (seemingly) too far removed from their comfortable lives in the West. According to Peterson, these activists and intellectuals assume they are on the moral highground, but…;

“…never have to lift a finger in anything resembling real effort or put any real risk into it and of course that’s what they’re taught to do in the universities because we don’t have anything better to teach young people than that at the moment.” (thunderous applause) — Jordan Peterson on Israel-Palestine

Okay Jordan. Tell that to Norman Finkelstein, who’s made enormous sacrifices, or for that matter any of the countless student activists who have suffered various kinds of insult and intimidation for merely siding with the United Nations on this issue. There is serious risk involved. Peterson was doing so well until he started leaning into imaginary utopians again.

Surely there are some, and social justice activists who don’t help the cause, as I mentioned in my critique. Peterson is somewhat right to shame those “SJWs” who crash his talks with ugly banners or chant in unison. But Peterson’s perspective of the left is generally through drunk goggles, totally in ignorance and contempt of the humanist cause and the sociological literature behind it. At least he recognizes the Israel-Palestine conflict is a paradox, like he is himself, but in so doing, he shrugs at any attempt to resolve it. I’ll leave you with this:

An Imagined Apologia

At the end of The Detraction of Jordan Peterson, I wrote that I wished my next article could be titled “The Retraction of Jordan Peterson”, based on Peterson sorting out his own contradictions, disclosing that publicly, and allowing me to make a nice sounding trilogy of articles (Abstraction — Detraction — Retraction). That never happened. I wanted to call it that so badly — because I wanted to see Peterson evolve — that I even considered writing an entire article as a meta-fiction, imagining his public retraction. Wishful metamodernism on my part, where problems actually resolve themselves in a timely fashion, rather than deepening the paradox. Instead, I’m just going to append a short version to this article, for fun, so I can speculate what a turned Peterson might sound like.

If the Cathy Newman interview taught us anything, it’s that we shouldn’t put words in the man’s mouth. “So what you’re saying is…” Yet, in sincere-ironic fashion, with the best of intentions, that’s exactly what I’m going to do. Because the world wants to know already, ‘just what the hell is going on?’ We don’t have the time to wait while the world burns. Who’s right or wrong, what’s true or false? We need a resolution to Jordan Peterson, now. And hey, everyone is having fun with this debate, so why not.

In this hypothetical confession, Dr. Peterson finds a way of synthesizing opposing views in a dialectic fashion, coming to a compromise between his own work and that of his critics. I loosely try to steel-man (to strengthen; the opposite of strawman) Peterson’s worldview, politics, and stature, as I’ve been attempting to do from the beginning. Because nobody can do that better than Peterson himself… who has declined my repeated invitations (until now, we are pretending).

Through the very Christian exercise of metanoia, as I recommended to him in my previous article, Peterson does an about-face on some of his charged statements and skewed understandings of social and systemic theories. (Metanoia is very crucial here, and I intend to write a future post on it.) Based on well-known sociological literature, Peterson retracts and reverses some key convictions that made him infamous in the first place, while also buttressing his expertise on myth and psychology that gives him lasting credibility as a public intellectual.

The reason it has come to this absurd gesture is partly the fault of Peterson, for his doubling down against leftist boogeymen, and his avoidance of engagement with serious critics and critical theorists (as well as the marked absence of public sociologists to contend with). It is as much the fault of some of Peterson’s critics, who have also continued to miss the mark in various ways, or tried to meet Peterson with the same aggressive indifference that he doles out. Peterson refuses to retract anything despite the barrage of criticism he gets, like one might refuse to clean their room just because they are told to. Perhaps once in a while its not a bad thing to, as a responsible parent might, to do it for them.

The trajectory of both Peterson and the media reactions since my meta-critique in September 2017 confirms these observations, and the world cannot wait for them to get caught up. The apologia must come now, like a singularity, to quiesce the conflict and forestall the constantly unfolding meta-crisis. Peterson is a paradox because he is struggling with social paradoxes that don’t easily collapse into simple statements. And I am striving for the middle ground, where I’m most likely to get mowed down in the crossfire. I now give you, The Retraction of Jordan Peterson.

The Retraction of Jordan Peterson

(enter Jordan Peterson’s adorkable Kermit voice)

Fake Jordan Peterson:
“Y’know, I’ve been doing some thinking, y’know, and, I’ve been wrong about a lot things, things that maybe I haven’t articulated perfectly, and that’s okay y’know — I’ve been right about a lot of things too — but I guess… (Deep pause) I guess it’s taken me a long while to formulate how to express these complex ideas. I’ve asked for help, and I’ve been careful, but not careful enough as it turns out. It’s just… well… I don’t like being called things like the “The Professor of Piffle” god damnit… but at the root of it Wells was right that I misread the major postmodern thinkers.”
“Hmm… let me start by talking about what I’m right about, abstraction, which after all is the linchpin of my entire book Maps of Meaning, y’know. As Brent pointed out, there is over a hundred references of the word in the book, and in almost every lecture I give I say ‘abstract’ or ‘abstraction’ and wave my hands as a visual aid at least once! I’m sure you’ve probably noticed. That’s really something, y’know, and I guess I could have stopped to reflect on abstraction in my own ideas and other disciplines and not just in mythology.”
“Y’know, and one of the things I noticed when I finally looked at Brent Cooper’s research on abstraction is that it consists of over a dozen articles referencing literature from as many different fields. This was interesting to me, as I had recognized the importance of abstraction, but hadn’t appreciated it’s application under different conceptual definitions.”
“And y’know, Maps of Meaning is really my magnum opus. It took 15 years to write that book. It’s a treatise on the social evolution of our nested cognitive processes, manifest through myth and culture. The abstraction helps us understand how these layers interact, y’know, where we came from, and where we’re going. Why would I want to undermine my own authority by transgressing all over social issues I don’t really understand as well?
“Y’know, and when I finally read his Detraction article, he mentioned how he had already “discussed how abstraction is distinguished and revelant to thinking, body mechanics and fitness, society and alienation, racism, anti-intellectualism, political polarization, globalization, AI, abstract art, meditation, and Benjamin Bratton’s geopolitical Stack,” and this was cleanly laid out and hyperlinked.”
“Y’know, and then the article proceeded to argue that I was using “vicious abstractions” of all these things that I was attacking, namely; “postmodernism, academia, atheism, Marxism, sociology, policy, social justice, veganism, and psychology.” Even my own discipline to some extent, because I’d never really talked about the WEIRD bias in psychology, which I’ll have a lot to say about later! And while I was right about a lot of things, I now understand that the concept of a “vicious abstraction” means to leave out something vital, which I’ve been doing.”
“Y’know, for example, I have no problem saying Marx was right about a lot of things. He was. He was brilliant. But the devastations of 20th century applications of Marxism and Communism are horrors we should never wish to spark a repeat of. However, although my passion is based on wanting to avoid totalitarianism, I now understand that it was misguided to the point of blinding obsession with this notion of Cultural Marxism, which, while there is some truth to it, I no longer believe is the grand conspiracy I thought it was.
“Y’know, and I was shocked that Brent’s critique wasn’t a hit piece, although many of my fans think it is. It was really a meta-critique in that it incorporated other critics and tried to moderate the debate a little. So many other writers have callously lumped me in with the alt-right (and I haven’t the slightest idea why!), which does nothing to move us forward. Brent didn’t do that. His critique isn’t perfect, y’know, there are things I take issue with, but I’ve now processed many insights from other critics as well, and once I saw past the insults — boy, they had my number.”
“And when I got to that last line of Brent’s critique about “metanoia” — wow — that really blew my mind, because, y’know, here’s a concept that’s very prominent in both psychology and Christianity that I’d never really talked about it before. And it’s such a brilliant way to conceptually change one’s mind… but I’ll get into that later. It’s very complex, y’know.”
“And this whole meta- turn really opens up a lot of new lines of research, y’know. There’s only half a dozen books explicit about metamodernism, but hey that’s something man, and hundreds more that fit within this new discourse. I’ve got lots of new reading material to catch up on.”
“And y’know, I just have to say, that once I spoke to Brent, I discovered that he is in fact very “sorted,” has a very clean room, and has done quite well for himself despite severe economic and psychological struggles. My assumptions and categorical condemnations of an entire demographic were ill-informed inappropriate, to say the least, and I apologize. After all, how could I know whether or not someone with a placard had a clean room or not!? I couldn’t!”
“Y’know, I also found it really interesting that what turned out to be rule #1 on my book 12 Rules for Life — “Stand up straight” — Brent had already written about in May of 2017, and did so better than I could. In a double sense, Brent both celebrated and mocked the manifestion of postural success in his article Mindhack: Strengthen Your MetaPhysique: The Quantum Physical Fitness Revolution. He cited a lot of different neuroscience research too. And as Brent pointed out at the bottom of that article, Amy Cuddy’s famous research on Power Posing has been debunked and disavowed by one of its co-authors, for being silly science, if not malpractice, among other things. So I probably should have considered this for my book, y’know.”
“Y’know, not to mention his article was based on what was the central joke of his 2014 film The Abs-Tract: Core Philosophy in which ‘abs-traction’ is taught as a physical technique (to get ripped abs), which helps people mentally abstract as well, and vice-versa. So, there is more to life than being a lobster. In fact, in a rather dark twist, the recent passing of Stephen Hawking really prompted me to pause and reflect on Rule #1 being “Stand up straight!” How ableist of me! I mean, I know they’re all metaphors, but still!”
“And finally, y’know, I’ve realized that as amazing as my own existential hero system is, which you can purchase at right now for $29.90 (promo code “Joe”), other people have developed similar systems, such as Brent Cooper has, in a very profound way. And he did it with abstraction: case in point, as I actually said recently”:
“It’s always a good thing when you take an abstract set of moral principles and unite them with your own experience.” — (real) Jordan Peterson on The Logos, Piaget, Jung, and Ideology, with Jonathon Rowson

Okay, end of fake Peterson apologia and a real Peterson denouement. So, have we resolved the paradox yet? I mean, re-solved it? How many words does it take to get to the center of Jordan Peterson? Or to get Jordan Peterson to the center, for that matter? Only his resolve can… resolve, this clusterfuck of a paradox of the man, so named. You can add my 10000+ fresh words to his resolution, that we can now see through clearer than pics from the Hubble Space Telescope.

something like a tl;dr 
Jordan Peterson is a paradox, needing resolution.
Is the debate over Peterson moving us forward? NO. 
Is he a genius? SURE, high IQ.
Is he publicly intransigent, hypocritical, and hyperbolic? YES.
Is he capable of intellectual humility? YES, shows it on Israel-Palestine. 
What is Peterson right about? PSYCHOLOGY, mostly, and drugs. 
What is Peterson wrong about? SOCIOLOGY, mostly.
Right about feminity and the crisis of masculinity? YES, but misunderstood.
Is his popularity in part for the wrong reasons? YES.
Does Peterson know how to move us forward? NO, he admits it.
What is the solution to postmodernism? METAMODERNISM.
Would I debate him? ABSOLUTELY.

Revolving or Resolving Jordan Peterson?

And what about Truth and Reconciliation? Will Peterson’s “truth” lead us to reconciliation? To the commissions needed to establish peace once and for all? Will his hyper-masculine individualism give way to conflict resolution? Sorry, no. It may only, if men follow him pragmatically, open their eyes a little bit to the mess they make in the world.

Now, I have to sincerely ask all of you… if Peterson truly is the leading intellectual in the Western world, then what does that make me if I successfully take him down and put him in his place? Do I gain his power like in Highlander? Better still if I could, like Luke Skywalker, simply convince angry “Dad” Peterson to turn away from the Dark Side, stop hunting Rebels, and kill the “Empire” of Western hegemony and supremacy within. Then can we get on with it and talk about metamodernism? Do I get a prize? Can I have his Patreon winnings? Will I get my own NYT column? Or are we going to keep playing this stupid paradoxical game?

The Abs-Tract Organization is a meta- think tank for solving the meta-problem, highlighting the utility of abstraction as a critical perspective and knowledge representation framework, and occasionally moonlighting as a foil for Jordan Peterson.

If you appreciate the work we do, please support us on Patreon for $1, ya cheap bastards.

To learn more about us, read our blog, converse on twitter @tato_tweets, and read our Business Plan and White Paper at

Like what you read? Give Brent Cooper a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.