Jordan Peterson: Why You Have To Fight Postmodernism


Professor Jordan Peterson of the University of Toronto explains why young people need to organize and rise up against nihilistic postmodernism. The full video and event details are below the transcript:

JORDAN PETERSON: I want to recommend a book first to everyone here: It is called Explaining Postmodernism by Stephen Hicks. You need to understand postmodernism, because that's what you're up against. You're up against it far more than you know or think, and it's a much more well-developed and pervasive, pernicious, nihilistic, intellectually attractive doctrine than has yet come to public realization. It absolutely dominates the humanities and increasingly the social sciences in the universities.

Someone once said, I can't remember, it might be Friedrich Nietzsche, he said that everybody is the 'unconscious exponent of a dead philosopher,' and fortunately the postmodern philosophers, most of them are dead, so that's a good thing, but that doesn't mean that their words aren't continually being spoken by people who are following in their wake.

It's not like any given person is absolutely possessed by the spirit of postmodernism, because often they're not educated enough to know all the details about what it is that has them in their grip, but if you get 20 of them together and they're all 5% influenced by the postmodernist ethos, you basically have the spirit of the mob. It's a mouthpiece for that particular philosophical doctrine.

And if you understand the doctrine than you understand why things are progressing the way that they are progressing.

So I'm going to tell you little bit about doctrine, because it's not optional to understand this. This is crucial to understand this, you can't underestimate the power of ideas and also of words, of course, because ideas are expressed in words.

See the postmodernists completely reject the structure of Western civilization. And I mean completely, so I can give you an example, in one term -- Jacques Derrida. He is head trickster for the postmodernist movement, and he regarded Western culture -- let's call it the patriarchy -- as phallogocentric. Phallo comes from phallus, and so that's the insistence that what you see in Western culture is the consequence of the male-dominated oppressive self-serving society.

You might say societies do tend to be self-serving, and people in power do tend to act in their best interests, but a tendency is not an absolute. That is one of the things that these people need to consider continually. There are no shortage of flaws in the manner in which we have structured our society and compared to any hypothetical utopia, it is an absolutely dismal wreck. But compared to the rest of the world, and the plight of other societies throughout the history of mankind, we're doing pretty damn well, and we should be happy to be living in society we're living in.

So the first thing that you might want to know about Postmodernism is that it doesn't have a shred of gratitude -- and there's something pathologically wrong with a person that doesn't have any gratitude, especially when they live in what so far is the best of all possible worlds. So if you're not grateful, you're driven by resentment, and resentment is the worst emotion that you can possibly experience, apart from arrogance. Arrogance, resentment, and deceit. There is an evil triad for you.

And if you're bitter about everything that's happening around you, despite the fact that you're bathed in wealth, than there is something absolutely wrong with you.

The black community in the United States is the 18th wealthiest community -- the 18th wealthiest nation on the planet.

That doesn't mean there is no such a thing as relative poverty, which matters. It is an important political economic issue, and it is very difficult to deal with. But absolute wealth matters too.

Western societies have been absolutely remarkable in their ability to generate and distribute wealth. As you can tell by just looking around, taking a brief bit of consideration for the absolute miracle that even a building like this represents.

So you have to educate yourself about postmodernism.

So here's what the postmodernists believe: They don't believe in the individual. That's the logos. Remember, Western culture is Phallogocentric. Logo is logos. That's partly the Christian word, but is also partly the root word of logic.

Okay, they don't believe in logic.

They believe that logic is part of the process by which the patriarchal institutions of the West continue to dominate and to justify their dominance. They don't believe in dialogue. The root word of dialogue is logos -- again, they don't believe that people of good will can come to consensus through the exchange of ideas. They believe that that notion is part of the philosophical substructure and practices of the dominant culture.

So the reason they don't let people who they don't agree with speak on campus, is because they don't agree with letting people speak.

You see it's not part of the ethos.

Okay, so what else do they believe or not believe?

They believe that since you don't have an individual identity, your fundamental identity is group fostered, and that means that you're basically an exemplar of your race.

Hence, white privilege. Or you're an exemplar of your gender, or your sex, or your ethnicity, or you're an exemplar of however you can be classified so that you are placed in the position of a victim against the oppressor. Because that's the game, and it's a post-Marxist sleight-of-hand. Right? Before, the Marxist notion was that the world was a battleground between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, and that failed to have any philosophical or ethical standing, that argument after the working class actually saw its standard of living massively elevated as a consequence of Western corporate democracy/Western free enterprise democracy, and also as a consequence of the revelations of everything terrible that happened and every bloody country that ever dared to make equity and the Marxist Communist dogma part of their fundamental structure -- right, nothing but murderousness and oppression, and so by the 1970s, it was evident that that gig was up.

And so the postmodernist Marxists just basically pulled a sleight-of-hand, and said, 'Okay if it's not the poor against the rich than it's the oppressed against the oppressor.' We'll just re-divide the sub-populations in ways that make our bloodied philosophy continue in its movement forward, and that's where we are now.

So for the postmodernists, the world is a Hobbesian battleground of identity groups. They do not communicate with one another, because they can't. All there is, is a struggle for power, and if you're in the predator group, which means you're an oppressor, than you better look out, because you're not exactly welcome. Not exactly welcome, and neither are your ideas. So that's what you're up against.

I would say it's time for conservatives to stop apologizing for being conservatives.

You don't apologize to these people. It's a big mistake. They read apology as an admission of guilt. You don't apologize, and you don't back down.

You young people out there who are university students, you need to take over the student unions, you need to take them back, because they are absolute snake pits, and have been since the 1990s.

With regards to the universities, I thought at one point that the best thing to do would be to cut their funding by 25% and let them fight among themselves for the remnants, because it would force universities to decide exactly what's important and what isn't.

So I would say the humanities, and much of the social sciences have turned into a postmodernist neo-Marxist playground for radicals. The scholarship is terrible.

80% of humanities papers are not cited once. Once!

And so what that means is that they write papers for each other, and they sell them to libraries, and that's a how the publishers are making money. No one reads them, but the publishers can print them and the libraries have to buy them -- And they are buying them with your tax money. And so all of you who are sitting here are funding a postmodern radical neo-Marxist agenda that has its roots in the university, and your tax money is going towards it.

And if you want proof of that. Just go online and look at the websites, especially of disciplines like 'women's studies' which is pathological right to the core. But it's not just women studies, it is all the ethnic studies groups, it is anthropology, it is sociology, social work, and most of all, it's education. And OISE, for example, in Ontario is perhaps, apart from the Ontario human rights commission, the most dangerous institution in Canada.

It should it should be defunded, it is as simple as that. They don't do the research they purport to do. They're not interested at all in education. They are interested in the indoctrination of people as young as they can get their hands on, so to speak.

Our society needs to figure out how to stop shunting public tax money to radical left-wing activists. If we were doing that for the radical right-wing activists, there would be an absolute storm, but it's happened incrementally since the 1960s and needs to stop.

So that's what conservatives and also liberals --true liberals in the English sense-- are up against me. What's happened also as a consequence of this postmodern neo-Marxist intellectual invasion, is the center keeps moving way to the right now, so if you're a classical liberal, you've become a conservative.

And so for all of you who are interested pursuing the conservative agenda. There's a lot of classic liberals that you could be talking to.

And then finally with regards to talking to young people. You finally have something to sell to them. It is not easy to sell conservatism to young people, because they want to change things. That's not what conservatives want to do, they want to maintain things. Well now you got something to sell -- you can sell them freedom of speech, and you can tell sell them responsibility.

The left is selling them rights, you can sell them responsibility.

I can tell you, because I received many letters of this sort ... young people are absolutely starving for someone to provide them with a sense of responsibility, and say look here, here's something worth living for, man.

You can find meaning in life with freedom, but freedom. Freedom is a chaotic sort of meaning, right, and freedom isn't sort of thing makes people happy. It is the sort of thing people troublesome -- troubled. Because freedom expands your series of choices, and that makes you nervous and uncertain... not to say that that's a bad thing. It's a good thing but it requires that you shoulder the responsibility of the freedom, but responsibility per se is what gives your life meaning, genuine meaning in the face of suffering.

And young people is really there starving for that. I've been teaching young people for 30 years, and mostly what I've been teaching them about is responsibility.

Like, you're heirs to a great tradition. It's not perfect. Obviously. But comparatively there's nothing else like it, that's ever been produced, and it represents a tiny minority of the human polities, most of which are are run by murderous antisocial psychopathic thugs, and seriously, and so what kind of alternative is that?

We've got this beacon of freedom and wealth in the West, which works, although it doesn't work perfectly. And one of one of the responsibilities of young people is to find out what's at the core of that, the great core of that. The paramount importance of the individual, and the divinity of speech, man. That's something to sell its what our whole culture is predicated on.

In this session at the 2017 Manning Centre Conference (February 23-25 in Ottawa), Professor Jordan Peterson, Professor Gad Saad and John Carpay share their thoughts on how to respond to those trying to suppress free speech on Canadian campuses.

Show commentsHide Comments

Latest Political Videos

Video Archives