Jordan Peterson comments on Cambridge University rescinding his invitation for a visiting fellowship

Jordan Peterson: I wish Cambridge’s Faculty of Divinity the obscurity it deeply deserves. The sub-head:

I don’t know why the Divinity school has rescinded my visiting fellowship to Cambridge because (and this is particularly appalling) it has not formally notified me of the decision

And this puts it all into perspective:

Since their posting, beginning in May of 2017, these lectures have received about 10 million hits (as well as an equal or greater number of downloads). The first lecture alone — on the first sentence of Genesis — has garnered 3.7 million views just on YouTube, which makes it the most well-received of all the talks I have ever posted online. I have received correspondence in great volume from religious people all over the world, Jews, Christians, Buddhists and Muslims alike — and an equally large number from atheists — all telling me that my psychological take on the Genesis material resonated very strongly with their faith, or that it helped them understand for the first time the value of these stories. You can see this for yourself by reading the comments on the YouTube channel, which are remarkably civilized and positive, by social media standards.

Peterson is clearly insulted by his treatment, and says just what is the case, that it is Cambridge that is diminished by its decision.

What a dud university Cambridge has become!

Having been a visiting scholar there myself, I can attest that the finest thing about the place are its buildings. As for its scholars and scholarship, just bear in mind that I was there to do research in the Keynes Archive at King’s where he had written The General Theory. But it is, after all, a university, you know, a place where scholars can meet and discuss issues of all kinds in a calm and reflective manner. Here, then, is a fine modern example of what universities have now become: University of Cambridge Cancels Jordan Peterson’s Visiting Fellowship Because He Is Not ‘Inclusive’. That is, he does not conform to the lock-step far-left views of its academics and students.

Jordan Peterson, the University of Toronto psychologist known for criticizing political correctness, announced Monday that he would be a visiting fellow at the University of Cambridge’s divinity school.

But on Wednesday, Cambridge’s administration announced that they had rescinded the invitation following a public outcry from students and professors.

“[Cambridge] is an inclusive environment and we expect all our staff and visitors to uphold our principles,” a Cambridge spokesperson told The Guardian. “There is no place here for anyone who cannot.”

Philby, Burgess, Blunt and Maclean, all no doubt in high esteem among staff and students today, but Peterson, among the greatest scholars of our generation, is not even welcome to spend time on campus where others might seek out his views, debate what he says, and deepen their own understanding.

MORE HERE: From The Spectator: Cambridge’s shameful decision to rescind Jordan Peterson’s visiting fellowship.

Jordan Peterson discusses the Nazis in comparison with communists

How does one make the moral distinction, he asks, between the Nazis and the comms with the speaker actually using the term “socialism”? The video shows his answer. But here’s a hint about his answer: I really really like what he says.

Which brings to mind this quote from John Stuart Mill which I ran across today:

Apart from the peculiar tenets of individual thinkers, there is also in the world at large an increasing inclination to stretch unduly the powers of society over the individual, both by the force of opinion and even by that of legislation. And as the tendency of all the changes taking place in the world is to strengthen society, and diminish the power of the individual, this encroachment is not one of the evils which tend spontaneously to disappear, but on the contrary, to grow more and more formidable. This disposition of mankind, whether as rulers or as fellow-citizens, to impose their own opinions and inclinations as a rule of conduct on others, is so energetically supported by some of the best and by some of the worst feelings incident to human nature, that it is hardly ever kept under restraint by anything but want of power; and as the power is not declining, but growing, unless a stronger barrier of moral conviction can be raised against the mischief, we must expect, in the present circumstances of the world, to see it increase.

He wrote that 150 years ago. Just think how much more applicable and terrifying all that is today. If you haven’t read On Liberty, you really should.

Jordan Peterson would have voted for Hillary!

What a dunce! This is from Caroline Overington in The Oz, yesterday:

In an hour-long interview, he tackles a range of topics, including the rise of Trump, which he characterises more as the fall of Clinton. (Had Peterson been an American, he says he would have “held his nose and voted for her”.)

I did look high and low for quite a long time to see what I could discover on his attitude to the American President and nowhere could I find a thing until yesterday. This is an unforced error. He was on Q&A the day before and managed to not answer a question on whether he believed in G-d since, as I see it, he does not want to be pigeonholed as basing his arguments on a Christian platform. I understand why he is wary of such associations, since it makes him an easier target for the left. I suppose in its own way, aligning his political views with Hillary also makes him less vulnerable to attack from the left.

But all that aside, he did not have to answer. Lots of ways to have evaded the question, but he chose not to. And we are not in the middle of 2016 with the election before us, and an unknown untried potentially loose cannon is running for President. We are instead more than two years into the soundest, most sensible presidency of my lifetime, going against a wall of stupidity, that I would have thought would align Peterson with the President’s agenda. Not so, it seems. What a complete goose. Anti-Marxist but pro-Hillary. Truly disgusting and dispiriting. A reminder just how wary you have to be about everyone’s political judgement.

Our modern Solzhenitsyn

The different voice that Jordan Peterson provides to the array of criticism of the socialist utopias so many seem to believe an actual possibility, in spite of the universal and disastrous failures every such experiment has created, is that he brings a psychological dimension to the arguments that are an important and in his hands devastating addition to the economic and philosophical arguments that have been more traditional. His has been amongst the most important additions to the criticisms of the left that may have arisen in the present generation. His ability to explain has been recognised in that he has been asked to write The Gulag Archipelago: A New Foreword for the fiftieth anniversary edition commemorating its first publication in 1968. It is a long intro which is worth the time it takes to read it through.

Why, for example, is it still acceptable—and in polite company—to profess the philosophy of a Communist or, if not that, to at least admire the work of Marx? Why is it still acceptable to regard the Marxist doctrine as essentially accurate in its diagnosis of the hypothetical evils of the free-market, democratic West; to still consider that doctrine “progressive,” and fit for the compassionate and proper thinking person? Twenty-five million dead through internal repression in the Soviet Union (according to The Black Book of Communism). Sixty million dead in Mao’s China (and an all-too-likely return to autocratic oppression in that country in the near future). The horrors of Cambodia’s Killing Fields, with their two million corpses. The barely animate body politic of Cuba, where people struggle even now to feed themselves. Venezuela, where it has now been made illegal to attribute a child’s death in hospital to starvation. No political experiment has ever been tried so widely, with so many disparate people, in so many different countries (with such different histories) and failed so absolutely and so catastrophically. Is it mere ignorance (albeit of the most inexcusable kind) that allows today’s Marxists to flaunt their continued allegiance—to present it as compassion and care? Or is it, instead, envy of the successful, in near-infinite proportions? Or something akin to hatred for mankind itself? How much proof do we need? Why do we still avert our eyes from the truth?

Perhaps we simply lack sophistication. Perhaps we just can’t understand. Perhaps our tendency toward compassion is so powerfully necessary in the intimacy of our families and friendships that we cannot contemplate its limitations, its inability to scale, and its propensity to mutate into hatred of the oppressor, rather than allegiance with the oppressed. Perhaps we cannot comprehend the limitations and dangers of the utopian vision given our definite need to contemplate and to strive for a better tomorrow. We certainly don’t seem to imagine, for example, that the hypothesis of some state of future perfection—for example, the truly egalitarian and permanent brotherhood of man—can be used to justify any and all sacrifices whatsoever (the pristine and heavenly end making all conceivable means not only acceptable but morally required). There is simply no price too great to pay in pursuit of the ultimate utopia. (This is particularly true if it is someone else who foots the bill.) And it is clearly the case that we require a future toward which to orient ourselves—to provide meaning in our life, psychologically speaking. It is for that reason we see the same need expressed collectively, on a much larger scale, in the Judeo-Christian vision of the Promised Land, and the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth. And it is also clearly the case that sacrifice is necessary to bring that desired end state into being. That’s the discovery of the future itself: the necessity to forego instantaneous gratification in the present, to delay, to bargain with fate so that the future can be better; twinned with the necessity to let go, to burn off, to separate wheat from chaff, and to sacrifice what is presently unworthy, so that tomorrow can be better than today. But limits need to be placed around who or what is deemed dispensable.

And when you’ve read the intro you can then watch this.

You have never seen him so angry.

AND THEN THIS: This is Jordan Peterson’s video intro to the book. He states right at the start that writing this introduction is the greatest honour that has been bestowed upon him.

Conquest’s Second Law of Politics and the Heterodox Academy

That’s not necessarily true, Lindsay? And what’s not necessarily true? “That all perspectives in a university are valid.”

But let me work back from where I was to how I found this video. It was in an article on Jordan Peterson fires new salvo against Wilfrid Laurier in already fiery academic freedom battle. The core of the story was:

The fervent debate over academic freedom involving Jordan Peterson is rekindled for a new school year with Peterson saying in court documents that Wilfrid Laurier University’s contention he benefited from the controversy is like saying “those who survived the Holocaust should be grateful to their oppressors for teaching them survival skills.”

Peterson filed fresh legal documents Tuesday, including another lawsuit against the Ontario university — his second in three months — claiming Laurier further defamed him in its public defence against his June claim.

Not hard to believe he was defamed, but let me note where I found this article. It was from The New York Times: Attack of the Right-Wing Snowflakes subtitled, “Angry men go to court to silence their critics”.

The Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson, sometimes seen as a free speech warrior, has twice sued Ontario’s Wilfrid Laurier University for defamation, part of a controversy that arose after a teaching assistant there was chastised for showing a video of Peterson in class. He has also threatened to sue Kate Manne, a writer and assistant professor at Cornell, for calling his work misogynist. The failed Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore sued four women who accused him of sexual abuse.

Defamation is an illegal form of speech. You cannot say anything you like about anyone else. And it is wondrous that Roy Moore ends up, not just in the same story but in the same para, as if these accusations were not highly defamatory if they were untrue. But where did I find this NYT article? It came from The Heterodox Weekly Bulletin where that same quote is found as the lead-in. Heterodox Academy was, I thought, to defend free thought and free speech against those who would shut it down if they could, such as organisations like the NYT. It is Jordan Peterson whose views need protecting, not the NYT nor Wilfred Laurier University. All of which reminded me of Conquest’s Second Law of Politics:

Any organization not explicitly right-wing sooner or later becomes left-wing.

Quoting a New York Times article contra Jordan Peterson makes me think the Heterodox Academy is well on its way.

Jordan Peterson talks with Jonathan Haidt and Greg Lukianoff

The most interesting fact I learned from the video is that Peterson is writing the introduction to 50th anniversary edition of Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago. Perfect person to introduce this masterpiece on tyranny and resistance to actual oppression – not the fake oppression of “the patriarchy” – to a new generation.

As for the discussion overall, JP shows a depth the other two cannot match. He thinks the left is driven by resentment, but he lets them talk their own points although has plenty to say himself. And as he says at the start about our snowflake generation, with their trigger warnings and enforced psychological protections: “You could not invent a more counterproductive mental-health movement if you set out to design it.” Confronting what you fear takes practice and with practice comes bravery. Sounds right to me. The rest is from JP’s notes. Trying to work out how this overprotectiveness has arisen. Maybe siblings make people resilient. And the fact of older parents may make a difference.

Published on 19 Sep 2018

The Coddling of the American Mind on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2QJ20MQ
Consider this book as a gift for your local school board member, teacher or principal. The more educational professionals become aware of the issues it presents, and the dangers of our current hyper-protective preoccupations, the better the chances we’ll change course. I spoke with Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt September 18, 2018 about their new book, The Coddling of the American Mind — a treatise on the counterproductive but increasingly predominant “safety culture” of trigger warnings, safe spaces and microaggression sensitivity. We discussed the psychological and sociological factors that underlie this philosophy of fragility, over-protection and offense, considering the contribution of older parents, fewer siblings, the strange interaction of postmodern philosophy and Marxism on campuses, and the widespread use of social media by young people. We focused on the increasing proclivity of those teaching in the social sciences and humanities to characterize Western culture as patriarchal and oppressive; producing, as a secondary consequence, a pervasive and all-encompassing victim/victimizer narrative (and producing that partly for the purposes of justifying that characterization). We considered what steps might be taken, personally and socially, to produce an alternate culture of resilience, responsibility, strength and courage.

Jordan Peterson and Brett Kavanaugh

One of the major major flaws on the right is the reluctance to the point of refusal to back its side in a fight. Donald Trump is almost unique in his willingness to contest on every patch of disputed territory. On the left, no position is ever abandoned. McCarthyism, an entirely leftist meme when it began, is now used by everyone as a synonym for smearing the blameless as part of a partisan attack more than seventy years since the left began the savaging of his character. The reality is that McCarthy was 100% right about the existence of communist agents in the State Department, and yet, even now, only a handful will say a good word about one of the bravest statesmen who has ever lived.

Jordan Peterson is on our side. He hates the left and he hates their dishonesty and the ruin their march through the institutions has brought. He understands that wherever the left are in control they cause massive harm and destruction. And till now he has not put a foot wrong in fighting our fights and defending, and even extending, our positions. And even before now I have listened to no end of people without one one-hundredth of the influence for good he has had look down on him and his efforts to preserve our Western way of life.

What has now made many dismiss Peterson was his off-the-top-of-his-head comment – now retracted – that perhaps Brett Kavanaugh should be confirmed but then resign and allow someone less divisive be appointed in his place. He didn’t come out in favour of the Democrat position. He didn’t argue that Christine Blasey Ford had made her case. He didn’t suggest that Trump should find some compromise candidate who would be more amenable to his enemies. He just thought that once the confirmation was completed, then perhaps Kavanaugh might resign as a means of bringing the two sides closer together.

When I heard he had said this, I did roll my eyes. But it reminded me, as if I needed to be reminded, how difficult it is to understand politics. I did notice that no one on the Democrat side picked up this suggestion since it really has no potential. There is no possibility for compromise. And it is an oddity that even after all he has been through, that Peterson still thinks there is an ounce of good will on the left side of politics, that there are people who would understand such a compromise and work with the Republicans to find a candidate that would satisfy the aims of both sides at one and the same time.

But you know what? I don’t look to Peterson for his political judgement. His is better than almost anyone I know, but it’s not perfect (and neither is mine nor yours). But what I do know is that ninety percent of everything he says and does is working to roll back the left, from our institutions and from the mind-set of the young. This is hard work which I not only admire him for, but wish that he may long continue his work in these fields.

But to his critics on “the right” I feel only an anger at their wanton stupidity in not backing him to the hilt, and for trying to pull him down and in this way helping to advance the agendas of the left. Look at this:

Typical on the right, and how does this help our side in anything? What a smug jerk this chap is! Infuriating and far far more politically ignorant than anything Jordan Peterson has ever said or done.