Jordan Peterson: Inspiring Philosopher or Right-wing Provocateur?

Author of "12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos" has become a cultural flashpoint.

Jordan Peterson
Jordan Peterson is a controversial figure based on his ideas of society and gender. (Richard Lautens/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
By Rebecca Gibian / May 2, 2018 9:21 am

Jordan Peterson has been called a “bearer of timeless truths” by Random House Canada and has been denounced as a borderline fascist on Canadian public television. The 55-year-old psychology professor at the University of Toronto doesn’t tell people “You are okay the way you are.” Instead, he tells them, “You’re way less than you could be.” His self-help book, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos, begins each chapter with a rule, like: “Treat yourself like someone you are responsible for helping.” The chapters are filled with personal anecdotes, life advice, biblical references, Jungian archetypes, history, and scientific findings. It has become a best-selling nonfiction title in the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand. And his popularity has become a flashpoint in Western cultural debate, writes Esquire.

Peterson first made waves in 2016 when he posted a video stating his opposition to C-16, a Canadian bill that sought to make gender identity and expression protected categories. Peterson said he would refuse to use gender-neutral pronouns (like “they” or “ze”) because he judged those pronouns to be the invention of “postmodern neo-Marxists.” He has also claimed that, despite numerous studies pointing to systemic sexism as the cause, the pay gap between men and women is there because of “multiple reasons,” which are not all being taken into account. He told Esquire that he is “opposed to the radical left” but he understands why the left is “necessary.”

Thanks to his blunt approach, Peterson has become a darling among conservatives, as some people credit him with helping them “grow up” or learn that they needed help and support. So what is Peterson: an insightful, steadfast seer in an era of fluid principles, or just another right-wing huckster trying to repackage anachronistic concepts as original thinking?

Daily Brief

15 Things to Know Today, from RealClearLife

September 20, 2019 September 19, 2019