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Understanding the Viciousness of Jordan Peterson’s Critics

“McManus and Hamilton have each written exceedingly unfair reviews of Jim Proser’s recent book Savage Messiah: How Dr. Jordan Peterson Is Saving Western Civilization.”

Jean-Paul Sartre, the French philosopher and playwright, wrote the script for a screenplay, which would later be turned into a play entitled L’Engrenage (in English, In the Mesh). The name of the main character is Jean Aguerra, and the play opens with the scene of a sign installed in a suburb, which reads: Jean Aguerra, the tyrant.

In the Mesh, in all, is a very insightful play, though it is one of Sartre’s lesser-known works. It is about a wealthy city that has oil fields and all of the necessities for a blossoming economy, as well as a a productive and satisfied society. Still, the city hands its government over to one tyrant after another. Jean Aguerra, the latest in the chain of the city’s leaders, is a bright and thoughtful intellectual, who truly desires what is best for his city and its people. However, he ends up following precisely the same path as each of the tyrants that preceded him.

Jean Aguerra hopes to eradicate poverty, and he also believes that each person should have the same degree of privilege as every other person. For him, the ideal of equality of outcome is so obvious and intuitive that he has a hard time imagining how anyone could possibly oppose that objective. However, as soon as Jean Aguerra establishes his government, he realizes that the other members of his team do not perfectly share his worldview. Even his closest allies have aspects of their own agenda that they hope to implement in the city. And, over time, corruption and mismanagement arise, which, in turn, undermines the unity of his government, giving rise to lies and schemes that permeate each level of the administration. However, Jean Aguerra remains rigid in his worldview, believing inveterately that the other members of his government are clandestine enemies seeking to destroy his masterplan for equality and prosperity.

McManus and Hamilton’s critiques, most of the time, are nothing short of relentless. And there is no one they attack more unfairly than Jordan Peterson.

In response, Jean Aguerra begins to order mass imprisonments, tortures, and killings. He hopes that when all of his enemies are gone that his fantasy for a perfect society will finally be reached—and that his people will, as a result, be happy and grateful. Yet, before long he is, himself, brought to be executed by a firing squad by a band of revolutionaries. Only five years prior, he was the leader of a group of revolutionaries who had executed the previous tyrant, and, within a short time, he had become what he had once existed to replace. The play suggests that this cycle will repeat ad infinitum, as each band of revolutionaries, over time, becomes the very evil that it had once existed to defeat.

The play, thus, shares some elements with The Myth of Sisyphus, the 1942 philosophical essay written by Sartre’s friend and later rival Albert Camus. However, in the case of In the Mesh, there is the additional dimension. The play also examines what happens to those who box themselves into a corner with a certain ideology; no matter how grand or noble their intentions—before long—their single-mindedness leads down the path towards tyranny.

Matt McManus and Conrad Hamilton repeatedly in their writings assert that the Left, as they see it, is all that is great and high. For them, the problems of our society can be explained by tyranny that comes from the Right. They incessantly critique Jordan Peterson—or anyone else for that matter—who even slightly brings up ideas that contradict their views of what makes for a just society. McManus and Hamilton’s critiques, most of the time, are nothing short of relentless. And there is no one they attack more unfairly than Jordan Peterson. As Tony Senatore, Fred Hammon, and others have argued in Merion West, Jordan Peterson is someone who truly helps people; he is not just a conservative ideologue. Yet, McManus and Hamilton even continue their endless criticisms of Jordan Peterson as the man fights for his life, dealing with the most serious and trying of health problems.

Most recently, McManus and Hamilton have each written exceedingly unfair reviews of Jim Proser’s recent book Savage Messiah: How Dr. Jordan Peterson Is Saving Western Civilization. For the value that Peterson brings, look no further than Proser’s own recent words about his subject:

“I was in a very bad period of personal suffering, having lost my wife to cancer just prior to beginning the writing of the book. So, I was very deep into my own personal suffering, and I appreciated the advice to accept suffering as a gateway to finding a deeper meaning in my life, rather than just re-living the mindless and random catastrophes of the past. Rather than accepting it as just a random lot in existence, I actually found a deeper meaning to it that would propel me to a life of greater understanding and greater compassion.”

They also ought to give a detailed and close reading—not like the job they did with Proser’s book—to the 1997 book The Black Book of Communism, which chronicles the horrors that have taken place in collectivist states.

Matt McManus and Conrad Hamilton, in the vein of Slavoj Žižek and other luminaries of the Left, argue for various versions of equality of outcome. A brief look at history reminds us that efforts to pursue that end have had the same result every time throughout history: tyranny, brutality, and suppression. Today’s Left, when faced with questions about such miseries, tends to put forward a version of the same argument: “But that was not true socialism.” Bernie Sanders just articulated that very argument in a recent town hall.

Matt McManus and Conrad Hamilton are, no doubt, smart and well-read men. Yet, they should pay more careful attention to how repressive, totalitarian-inclining governments so often arise in welfare states. They also ought to give a detailed and close reading—not like the job they did with Proser’s book—to the 1997 book The Black Book of Communism, which chronicles the horrors that have taken place in collectivist states. Page after page (and chapter after chapter) tells the story of how people with enormous power—nominally acting in the interest of equality for all—became horrible little tyrants of their own, from China to Ethiopia. Maybe then McManus and Hamilton would be more open-minded towards thoughtful critics of their aims, such as Jordan Peterson.

The story told in The Black Book of Communism, after all, is the same one as that of Jean Aguerra—and the many real life leftists he represents. Dreamworlds belong in fantasy books, where they can entertain and charm their readers. However, in the actual world, sweeping sentimentalities about equality rarely engage with the questions of “How?” and “At What Cost?” But, then again, when it comes to many of these leftist schemes, the answers are hardly attractive.

Kambiz Tavana is an Iranian-American journalist and writer.

29 thoughts on “Understanding the Viciousness of Jordan Peterson’s Critics

  1. McManus is the embodiment of the Left when it comes to criticism of Jordan Peterson: Mis-representation, lies, and strawmen abound.

    All of his articles on Merion West are full of comments debunking his drivel against Peterson. I am perfectly willing to listen to criticism of Peterson; however, I’ve seen nothing from the McManus that could even be characterised as “reasonable”. This can be seen in McManus needing to argue against Peterson “from the Left”; McManus is unable — and unwilling — to even argue against Peterson’s points based on logic, reason, and fact. McManus admits that his own arguments are ideological.

    1. Ironic that this is mere polemic, with no reference to logic, reason, or facts to back it up. Much like most of the angrier comments I see when writing these essays. It would be far more impressive-not to mention original-to actually present some considered objections.

      1. Finally someone has given that charlatan McManus the intellectual licking he so richly deserves. Now, he sees what a true argument does to his faulty claims. McManus must be reeling after having been so thoroughly demolished

      2. Matt, every single article you’ve written on this website with regards to Peterson. The comments in every single article debunk your points. People can decide themselves. I’ve commented on many myself, and you never reply strangely enough.

        As I said, the fact that you need to “argue from the Left” is a sad indictment — and admission — that your arguments are ideological, not based on the facts, logic, and reason.

      3. Arguing from the left is a completely valid criticism given that your role as a Professor is to teach not to evangelize.

  2. Jordan Peterson is a fraud. Kermit the Fraud, as he is known at UofT. He is a run-of-mill clinical psychologist whose only area of expertise is treating alcoholics on the religious 12 step program. What passes for his philosophy is just old, tired Catholic Apologetics.

    1. It is so blatantly obvious when someone relies on third party hit pieces to form an opinion, rather than doing their own research. Fortunately most reasonable people can spot these lazy and inaccurate comments quite easily.

    2. You’re absolutely correct. Peterson is a fraud! He wants to be on stage with a real philosopher where he starts preaching his religion and his fans swoon while real academics puke. Peterson is such a charlatan fraud he doesn’t even deserve to be on a stage by himself. Find him a pulpit to preach to the sheep. That’s more his leagur!

  3. What a poorly written article. I was hoping there was going to be a strong defense of JP but it’s more of the same cultish mischaracterization of the attacks. No one is advocating equality of outcomes but JP loves that strawman representation of some imagined monolithic “left.”

    Even in the rare moments, he points to such occasions of such policies he misconstrues the policies and like all policies, they are mini social experiments. Hardly some grand tyrannical force that he believes himself to be a Christ-like a martyr.

    People hate him because he’s a psudo-intellectual fraud filled with inconsistency and weak logic but his ilk think he has something important to say. All he does is coddle the hurt egos of pathetic white males and other unter-mench. Western civilization is the best. It’s a fucking joke.

    1. Your response for all its arrogance oddly enough use only tautology and ad hominem to support your arguments. “No one is supporting equality of outcome” . If you believe that statement then you are stating their is no one to support communism and socialism because that is the single core visionary element of the ideology. If that is the case what is the point of the debate. No one is a leftist so Petersen is the not controversial.

      This is my problem with leftists and their argument, intellectual dishonesty. They do not care about expanding knowledge or questioning paradigms but instead are about controlling knowledge and enforcing paradigms because the real goal for them is power.

      I find Petersen’s insights to be intriguing and worth my time. It does not matter to me if you brainwash everyone else to hate him like a mean girl in a high school romantic comedy. In the court of my opinion I alone am God!

      1. JP has helped me when I was going through some dark times. I am little bit better. A long way to go. I still listen to his lectures. I am hurt that people have a bad view about him. No human is perfect. Yet he does to be the best not just for his own selfish needs. I feel for him with what is currently happening to him. Yet watching him, even these days. It helps. I watch a lot more of other people speaking and reaching out. I am able to relate to myself and the world better. I thank him for opening the door to that.

  4. The problem with communism is it focuses on consumption and not production. I know they would disagree this is the case as they claim to be against consumerism but consumerism is part of production. How people decide what they want with their resources.

    Consumption is how what is produced is distributed. The focus is on who gets what. The communist thinks fairness means everyone receives their fair share and so it is all about questioning why one should get resources over another. The entire ideology is consumed with consumption and controlling consumption. Why do you need that is their mantra. Actual production is an afterthought. Things just get produced in controlled centralized collectives.

    Capitalism or as it should be termed free market entrepreneurialism is concerned with production. People get the fruits of their labors do those who have needs must work for it. The entrepreneur questions is this the most productive. Work smarter not harder. Is that the most efficient? How can I build a better mousetrap.

    Entrepreneurialism succeeds where communism fails because it focuses on producing more. Even if everything is not distributed fairly, there is more to distribute.

    1. Until you run up against the limits of a finite planet earth, and suddenly it is impossible to produce more without destroying the environment for everyone alive today and in the future, and then suddenly distribution and (over)consumption matters a great deal once again. This is the point where we find ourselves in now.

  5. Hard for me to say more that that to recognize and espress admiration forward, and the Subject line, and the Noble Intentions of Kambiz Tavana (the Wrtiher) that under a Gigantic pressure was capable to tag the Truth and the Evil Sentiment that through Magnetism those posses have become Prisoner of other Negative as well Forces,, what a waste of Time fallowing the Wrong paths printing negative Critics, while they can be so Easily made positive literally “When the Pen comes to Life from the Heart” There’s much more to say about Man and the Connection My an have with the Humanity’s, although for the safety of my own mind and be Spirit I can’t exalt Humanity, that since the Beginings of Time, we have use so lightly and we continue giving it for Granted, “”God greatest Self Achivement was the be “Human Body” not the Human Man” although Man can make Mistakes, although it have not Reason to call it,Human Error while Falling to Recognize that the Evil it’s within the Substances we Carry within our own Body, that can hardly be call Perfect, but a Source for Evil. That can only be fought with God in Mind, Spirit and Soul..

  6. Arguing JBP is validated by the no. of people he’s helped is as inconsequential as those century old snake charmers & oil salesman remedies. Supplying a palliative salve to a disillusioned generation using proverbial truisms & superfluous jargon is the therapeutic equivalent of an opium den. Suggested read: “The Intellectual we Deserve” by Nathan J. Robinson in the political magazine “Current Affairs” for a thorough argument on justified disdain for this so called “Savior of Our Time.”

    1. Would you level your same criticisms against say Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela or President Obama? If not, why? What’s the difference between JP and them in either approach or outcome? All have peddled their own version of “snake oil” which nevertheless salved the psychological wounds of many people, even though none of these men ultimately saw their dreams to fruition or had much effect changing the system they were critiquing. Racial tensions are worse in America today than they were in the 1940s, and South Africa is backsliding into a racial war zone again as its neighbour Zimbabwe already did – so what did these men really achieve other than give a generation or two their own dose of magic opium and empty dreams and meaningless promises? Now if all of that is true, does that mean we should no longer trust anyone with a vision or words that inspire. Shall we become eternally jaded cynics of the power of one man to affect change?

    2. So Henry what do you have to offer that is not a palliative? What grand philosophy will save the world? Intellectualism never has and never will affect hearts and minds. It’s a small, provinciality so disconnected from the bigger world , it touches fewer and fewer people. What’s the point of something that helps noone and affects noone. If an intellectual shits in the woods and there’s nobody there to smell it,did he really take a shit? And disdain requires a certain amount of status which I don’t think you have, Henry. Learning requires humility at any rate.

  7. I would be more inclined to give Peterson credit for having helped people if I had ever seen evidence of it happening. About 98% of what I’ve seen of the effect JBP’s message has had on people is what I read in articles like this, comments on his YouTube videos, and the Reddit sub r/JordanPeterson.

    None of that gives me a positive impression of that effect.

  8. Lol next time one of you guys critiques us you might want to, you know, use arguments to critique what we wrote. More to come soon

  9. This article did not address in any way the criticisms of Prosers book at all, but rather relied on a whooe other book by Proser to defend it. This article was nonsense.

  10. Someone, please text me, if THE HYPED VIRUS toasts this man…because at the mo’, I think of it only as $h!t Happens, but if it takes down this faux-Right destroyer of manhood and distorter of truth, I’ll know it’s divinely ordained. Maybe even start going back to church.

    Serious. It’s laughable, what you all lick up after, Today. No one’s gotten this much mileage off personal opinions as postsecondary fact, since Socrates. And he didn’t even exist.

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