My two favourite writers at one and the same time – both, as it happens Canadian, I think only by coincidence but perhaps not – in which one, David Solway, discusses the other, Jordan Peterson, with the title, The Jordan Peterson Phenomenon. My only observation is that David Solway is less astonished at the emergence of Jordan Peterson because they have been friends for a long time and therefore he is used to hearing Peterson, and no doubt others of a similar cast of mind, such as his wife, the equally brave and articulate Janice Fiamengo. He may therefore be less aware than someone such as myself, who has no such close associates, how absolutely rare a Jordan Peterson is. I have only once or twice personally met up with someone anywhere near holding the kinds of views Peterson has expressed so accurately, who is reaching a vast audience that has been hungering for this kind of sustained and intelligent articulation of our values that today can be found virtually nowhere else. Partly this is because few understand these issues even half so well, and partly because very few are willing to stand up in public and make the case to others. Career death is a common phenomenon for those who do.
But Peterson has done something else as well. What he did was transcend discussion of the politics of the day, which is what most of us do. Most of us anchor our observations on some piece of current events that we use as a basis for saying whatever it is we say. He has, instead, stepped out of time and place, into the rarefied atmosphere of the ancient and historical traditions of our own cultural past, placing them within an evolutionary progression as they have developed literally since the Stone Age. It is in part because he is a psychologist, and therefore used to ideas which are philosophically grounded, but also because he has been able to draw down on a vast array of our own literary and religious traditions to explain, at a very deep level, the basis for the ideas each of us has, which allow those of us who come across his work to see past and through the post-modernist, cultural-Marxist conceptions that are doing so much to ruin Western civilisation at the present time, and indeed, almost all of the ancient civilisations of the world. He has explained in unusually accessible terms what the West has stood for, and why preserving this tradition is so crucial. Let me take you to this passage from David Solway to help explain what I mean:
Peterson’s message is not new to anyone who has read and pondered his sources; yet it is new in the sense that he has performed an act of synthesis for a largely illiterate, politically indoctrinated and under-educated generation. As John Dale Dunn writes in American Thinker, Peterson’s “great accomplishment is teaching, counseling, and coaching people to urge them to live the good life, the virtuous life … The only way he might be ambushed is [by being targeted] by the destroyers of the left with their name calling and politics of personal destruction,” deploying tactics straight out of Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals.
I may well be part of that “largely illiterate, politically indoctrinated and under-educated generation” but in that case we all are. Many of us have fought over this same terrain but have made no breakthroughs on the Western Civilisation Front in the ongoing Culture Wars. Jordan Peterson has, and he may have established a new salient that we need to do everything we can to reinforce, defend and expand.