I’ve just opened a sub to The Age and Paul Kelly is a large part of the reason why

This kind of analysis really is a disgrace: Coronavirus: The West’s civil disobedience — it’s a trend to die for. There is a social divide in the West between left and right, authority and freedom, Pelosi versus Trump. It is having grave consequences for our ability to govern ourselves according to the liberal values that have made the West great. That said, this is how Kelly’s article opens:

For 50 years, popular culture in Australia and the West has mocked authority, glorified rebellion, sanctified the individual’s quest for ever deeper self-realisation and told us that Western governments are dishonest, corrupt, wicked and primarily act as agents of racism, colonialism, sexism, economic exploitation and environmental despoliation.

All this is reinforced by academic culture, which sheets all these sins home not only to Western governments but to Western civilisation generally.

Is it any wonder that these societies are having so much trouble in the coronavirus crisis responding to essential lifesaving directions from their respective governments?

That is, because we are a society whose ethos is based on individual freedom, there are many amongst us who will not immediately do whatever the government tells them to do. Oddly, in his analysis he does not mention China. This is so simple-minded that it is frightening.

The most successful societies in tackling COVID-19 through social distancing and similar suppression measures are Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong and South Korea. The widespread elements of their success are well known — large-scale testing, contact tracing, tough travel restrictions, strict social distancing, strict isolation for those infected or possibly infected, and above all co-operative societies that take what governments say seriously.

Here is the centre of his concerns about our wayward independent ways in the West:

Popular culture in Anglo-American societies, and in most of Western Europe, demonises every traditional institution and demonises government itself, while glorifying the existential rebellious individual who makes a heroic stand, typically against a designated set of pantomime villains: government agencies, corporate greed, property developers, organised religion et cetera.

If you want a tell, here he is quoting David Brooks from The Atlantic. To someone from the more conservative side of the fence, you could not choose a name and a magazine I’d be more ready to ignore than these two.

In a brilliant piece in this month’s Atlantic magazine, David Brooks describes how the American family has collapsed in the past 70 years. Its collapse doesn’t hurt rich people too much because they can buy replacements for family — therapists, carers, tutors. And they can buy assistance to keep their own small families functioning. But it has been a disaster for poor people, who are left with nothing. Brooks argues that over the past 70 years life has become freer for individuals but more unstable for families, better for adults and worse for children. The move from big extended families to ever smaller nuclear and sub-nuclear, so to speak, families has meant the poor have fewer people to help with bad economic times, rough psychological passages, the ups and downs of childhood. Rich folks buy this assistance. Families are also sources of authority and social capital. When they go, the authority and social capital go.

Here’s how he ends.

One difference with Confucian societies is that their governments do everything they can to support families and to promote traditional family structures. Both sides of politics make this impossible in societies such as Australia. The left hates tradition and works to destroy it, the libertarian right can’t stand anything that smacks of government social engineering.

I am inexactly connecting an immediate crisis with long-term cultural trends. But the inability of large numbers of its citizens to accept and yes, obey, simple government directions that are literally lifesaving is a sign of a relatively recently acquired, grave weakness in our culture.

We don’t OBEY government directions. Our cities are ghost towns. If you wander over to the supermarket, everyone you pass, which is hardly anyone, shifts to their side of the pavement to the greatest extent possible. I would not expect anything as stupid in The Age, but for now I am going to spend some time finding out.

Jordan Peterson discussed in The Australian

Jordan Peterson attacked in The Australian: Jordan Peterson regurgitates discredited male chauvinism of the 1970s. The article’s last para:

Waking up at 35, desperate to have a child, is not a good realisation, as Peterson says. That reasonable point prompted the young man hosting the video to chip in with a charmless insight — that the anxieties of mid-30s women keen to be mothers are known as “baby rabies’’ among “plenty of communities of young men … in the dating scene’’. There is no lack of work for psychologists. But young women are not the ones who most need help.

And now from the comments, working from the first of the Top Comments and then down.

Ken

This article is akin to Cathy Newman’s interview of Peterson.  It’s taking what Peterson says out of context or is straight-out inaccurate.  One of the refreshing things about Peterson is that he’s telling home truths, and bases many or most of his observations on decades of being a treating psychologist of both men and women.  What an irony that a female journalist chooses to block the concerns and experience of many women in this rant against him.

Neil

Young women entering law, he claims, will find it “very, very demanding, very, very difficult, very, very stressful and very, very competitive. And you’re not going to find the fulfilment of your desire for intimate, close interpersonal relationships’’. How patronising. Isn’t he just telling it like it is and asking of women in particular “is this what you want”?

“In exaggerating the problems that women can expect to face in demanding careers, Peterson casts doubt on their capabilities” He’s neither exaggerating nor casting doubts on capabilities, he is again asking “is this what you want”.

Jordan Petersen has kept his own practice as a clinical psychologist outside his University work and the points he makes are from experience with many women who have come to him in that private practice with problems created by the real-life trials and tribulations he now seeks to point out to those who will listen.

It’s disappointing, but not unexpected, for the article to refer, in a pejorative fashion that the advice of Dr Peterson appeals to “some conservatives” suggesting extreme right-wingers and thus to be ignored. He claims no political position and an interest only in the truth.

Sarah

@Neil I agree with Peterson – I’m a doctor working 60 hours a week – it is hard, very demanding and very stressful.  Having close interpersonal relationships is extremely difficult – luckily my husband is happy to work as a team to raise children and understood the impact my career would have on family life before he married me.

Thomas

 “By the time you’re 40, if you don’t have a family and children you are one lost soul.’’

That’s true, as a generalisation.  Obviously some women do not ever want to have kids and live happily without them, but the vast majority eventually realise children are what they want most of all.  It’s usually around 35 that it dawns on them they’ve wasted their best years sleeping around with worthless men and obsessing over meaningless work.

This doesn’t affect men as much because there is usually no shortage of younger women willing to date older men, and men remain fertile their whole life.  Women, on the other hand, struggle to find a decent partner once they hit 35 and inevitably have to significantly lower their standards.  The result is more miserable women, more broken families, more neglected children and more socialism to pay for it all..  Feminism is self-defeating and unfortunately it’s women who usually end up worse off.

You might say Peterson is patronising; I say he is realistic.

Greg

Why do people with a left jaundiced view find it so hard to actually listen to what Peterson actually said?

Gordon

He seems to get a lot of support from women in their 50s and over so you cant speak for them as a group. This is the type of emotive shallow analysis that drives people to Peterson. The contrast between Newman and Peterson was embarrassing and your contribution is almost as insipid as Newman’s was.

Denzil

One has always to be careful of an article like this…cherry picking without context is dangerous.  I have seen a lot of Petersons work and I have rarely heard him say anything that would upset a well grounded woman. That is why his interview with Cathy Newman was such a car crash (for her) She tried on the feminist rant only to be met with sensible well researched answers that she could not deal with.

Helio

I don’t find Jordan Peterson patronising. He is realistic and respectful – realistic about the differing natures of men and women and able to recognise, as most feminists do not, that difference does not mean unequal in value.

Helio’s wife

Kathleen

Sorry Tessa, but I can’t fault a single word that JP says in this video.

I know from personal experience that pursuing a career is hard work, often unsatisfying, always competitive…and it doesn’t come without many sacrifices.

Young women are fed a whole lot of aspirational and unrealistic claptrap, which is all well and good for some, but for others, it simply leads to regret and disappointment.

JP’s video dispels some of the myths that are fed to young women about what’s important in life.

More power to him.

cecily

I think the writer must have watched a different video to the one I saw? Either that or she has a problem listening and actually responding to what was said rather than responding to what she wanted him to say!

CRISP

Classic false arguments being used here.

“Straw man” : she misrepresents what he said so she can tear it down.

“Red herring”: he’s trying to tell girls not to work but to just marry and have kids.

“Argumentum ad hominen”: he is an old-fashioned chauvinist troglodyte so we should abuse him and not hear what he has to say.

He would demolish Tess in a debate.

Brian

Tess – this is not a fair analysis of what Peterson has actually said. It is a lazy and biased set of unsupported assumptions.

Etc