The Jordan Peterson interview by Cathy Newmann continues to resonate through the right-side of the internet. I have seen a number of discussions of which this is one: Jordan B Peterson, Critical Theory, and the New Bourgeoisie. Here’s how it starts but the main point is about Cultural Marxism which I will get to after the prelims:
Earlier this week, clinical psychologist Jordan B. Peterson appeared on Britain’s Channel 4 in an interview with TV journalist Cathy Newman. It didn’t go well. Journalist Douglas Murray described it as “catastrophic for the interviewer”, while author Sam Harris called it a “nearly terminal case of close-mindedness”. Sociologist Nicholas Christakis perhaps described it best:
This man @jordanbpeterson is preternaturally calm and composed in the face of a hostile interviewer who also had simply not thought adequately about her ideas and approach. Facts and reason are powerful allies. https://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2018/01/watch-cathy-newmans-catastrophic-interview-with-jordan-peterson/ …
So onto Critical Theory, about which we find this.
Critical Theory draws heavily on Karl Marx’s notion of ideology. Because the bourgeoisie controlled the means of production, Marx suggested, they controlled the culture. Consequently, the laws, beliefs, and morality of society reflected the interests of the bourgeoisie. And importantly, people were unaware that this was the case. In other words, capitalism created a situation where the interests of a particular group of people—those who controlled society—were made to appear to be universal truths and values, when in fact they were not.
The founders of critical theory developed this notion. By identifying the distorting effects power had on society’s beliefs and values, they believed they could achieve a more accurate picture of the world. And when people saw things as they really were, they would liberate themselves. “Theory,” they suggested, always serves the interests of certain people; traditional theory, because it is uncritical towards power, automatically serves the powerful, while critical theory, because it unmasks these interests, serves the powerless.
All theory is political, they said, and by choosing critical theory over traditional theory one chooses to challenge the status quo, in accordance with Marx’s famous statement: “Philosophers have hitherto only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it.”
And it is the central point of virtually all modern university thought which Peterson represents the movement away from.
The identity of the group providing the intellectual foundation for both critical theory and the social justice movement are mostly white middle-and-upper-class intellectuals from the political left in advanced Western economies. It may be more illuminating to see this group’s interests as the driving force of societal change, rather than those of the ever-changing group of the powerless. In effect, the intellectuals of the political left are creating the type of society they personally want to live in. ‘The powerless’ are temporary allies on this journey.
Not only are they temporary allies, but they are unwilling allies as well. Brexit and the election of PDT are two examples of which many more are likely to follow.