“But good or bad, the extent of discourse around Myth and Mayhem at Merion West would have been edifying for any author, and we are very pleased the book has generated such interest and strong feelings, even before its release.”
his week marks the release of our book Myth and Mayhem: A Leftist Critique of Jordan Peterson with Zero Books (available here). It is authored by Conrad Hamilton, Marion Trejo, Ben Burgis, and me—with an introduction by Slavoj Žižek. The initial previews of the book at Merion West and elsewhere have sparked a spirited debate on the controversial academic’s work and influence. Many have been angered that we have chosen to criticize Peterson, but a surprising number of people have also defended our work. Many have accused us of not understanding Peterson’s work, misrepresenting it, or presenting valid but ultimately unnecessary criticisms. Our defenders have commended the detailed nature of our arguments and our references to specific texts and positions presented by Peterson. These defenders have criticized our accusers for not bothering to actually respond to what we say but simply reacting to the mere thought that anyone would criticize the Canadian psychologist. At times, the quality of discourse has been very high, though, frustratingly, a great deal of it has descended into rhetorical grandstanding and empty polemics. But good or bad, the extent of discourse around Myth and Mayhem at Merion West would have been edifying for any author, and we are very pleased the book has generated such interest and strong feelings, even before its release.
The authors have enjoyed many of the engagements, including with those who disagree with us. We look forward to many more fruitful debates and discussions in the coming months.
Given this, we wanted to take the opportunity to call for submissions to our website, which is intended as both a forum for discussing the book and a place for more general debates about Peterson’s work, its virtues, and, of course, its limitations. Submissions do not need to respond directly to our book—so long as they address or criticize relevant topics. We are especially interested in commentators who can defend different strands of left-wing critical theory (such as feminism, Marxism, and queer theory) from Petersonian-type objections. Anyone who is interested in writing a piece defending Peterson is also welcome to submit an article so long as it is well-reasoned and well-written. Being able to situate Peterson’s work in the broader intellectual history of disputes between the Left and Right (particularly through comparisons with other conservative and reactionary ideas) would be ideal. We will not be accepting polemics from any side of the political spectrum; analytical rigor and specificity are vital qualities. With that in mind, make sure to refer to specific texts, lectures, or other relevant material. Footnotes are not required, but hyperlinks or in-text references to books and articles are helpful. Our hope is that this website will be useful to those intrigued or angered by Peterson’s work—and to those who are looking for undogmatic approaches that run the gamut of opinions.
In closing, we want to thank the editors and community at Merion West one final time for the interest in Myth and Mayhem. The help and feedback have been invaluable and often spirited. The authors have enjoyed many of the engagements, including with those who disagree with us. We look forward to many more fruitful debates and discussions in the coming months.
Matt McManus is Professor of Politics and International Relations at Tec de Monterrey, and the author of Making Human Dignity Central to International Human Rights Law and The Rise of Post-Modern Conservatism. His new projects include co-authoring a critical monograph on Jordan Peterson and a book on liberal rights for Palgrave MacMillan. Matt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or added on twitter vie @mattpolprof