The story of Jordan Peterson, a soft-spoken clinical psychologist from Canada, who has become an Internet sensation and something of an icon for a disenfranchised generation of Western males, is fascinating. If you don't know Peterson, you don't spend a lot of time on social media. This Canadian intellectual has something of cult-like following on the Internet and millions of views on Youtube. He is also vilified and hated by progressive politicians and the mainstream media in the US, Canada and Great Britain.
His interview with Channel 4's Cathy Newman became an instant hit on the web, and his book "12 Rules for Life" is breaking records on Amazon. Some hope that Peterson's success and popularity across the Western world (and even China) can help change the current cultural and ideological landscape that is dominated by the so-called "social justice warriors" and the "politically correct Inquisition," that stifles any kind of dissent, free speech and creative expression.
People tired of being forced to kowtow to the latest progressive fad, like "inclusiveness" or "equality" (understood as an equality of outcomes and not an equality of opportunities) see Peterson's popularity as an indication that the pendulum of the culture wars is swinging in the right direction. I hate to say it, and I'd like to be wrong, but it seems that it's too late for such hopes. Again, I'd like to be wrong, because like any other human being on the planet, I have a horse in this race. If the so-called "progressives" succeed in their attempts to establish total control of the US political system, economy and academia, then everyone in the world will be affected in a very negative way. People who believe they have the right to make the world a better place through tyranny, oppression and violence, never ever stop at the borders of their countries. They believe that the whole world is their playground and act accordingly.
It often seems that Peterson and his fans find solace in the fact, that the radical progressives represent nothing more than a loud minority in politics, academia or on university campuses. It may be comforting to hope that the radicals, who want to censor free speech and impose some form of politically correct tyranny, are a minority, but it is a false comfort. Nassim Taleb, in his brilliant book "Antifragility," describes the "Minority rule" which perfectly explains why the most intolerant minorities shape the tastes, politics, laws and even lifestyles of entire societies.
According to Taleb, "It suffices for an intransigent minority – a certain type of intransigent minorities – to reach a minutely small level, say three or four percent of the total population, for the entire population to have to submit to their preferences. Further, an optical illusion comes with the dominance of the minority: a naive observer would be under the impression that the choices and preferences are those of the majority."
The only counterbalance available against an intolerant and militant minority is another intolerant and active minority with a different ideology. It seems that Jordan Peterson is either too polite or too kind to become the leader of such a minority, despite his tremendous popularity and political experience. Western conservatives (I use the term very loosely, because in modern political discourse everyone to the right of Pol Pot is labeled as being "right wing" or "conservative" or "alt right") lack a leader who would be willing and able to leverage the collective anger in order to pressure politicians, academics and business leaders. On the other hand, there is no shortage of such leaders among the radical progressives and social justice warriors.
Conservatives can't do anything similar. Progressives can successfully target tenured professors and can get them fired for "wrongthink."
Conservatives couldn't force Wilfrid Laurier University to fire its professor, who organized an ad-hoc quasi-trial to bully teaching assistant Lindsay Shepherd for showing a Jordan Peterson video in class. That alone shows other "progressive inquisitors" from academia that they can bully anyone with no palpable consequences, and even if they do get caught, they won't receive a punishment more severe than a slap on the wrist. It is obvious who is winning and who is losing in this political and ideological tug-of-war and the consequences of this trend will be dire.
In the aftermath of the world-famous "Cathy Newman scandal," it was easy to see why progressive media managers from Channel 4 were not afraid to publish the whole interview, despite the fact that Cathy Newman had been trounced by Professor Peterson. It is quite possible that they viewed the interview as a success and not a disaster, because in their view it showed Peterson's alleged bigotry, right wing views and misogyny. Only when the negative comments on social media started pouring in did they become angry, scared and frustrated. From their point of view, Peterson was dangerous not because of his intellect or polemical skills, but because he was the only conservative speaker able to use their preferred weapons against them. Progressives don't fear his logic or his ideas, but they fear his followers' ability to use emotional and social pressure for political goals.
Progressives, like all totalitarians, are bullies at heart and bullies hate to be bullied. That's why they make sure that conservatives behave like polite and shy beta males in public or on social media, while progressives bully and harass politicians, companies and universities. It is really hard to understand why Peterson, a psychologist who has helped thousands of men to stop being "nice" and start being assertive, doesn't use the same principles in his political struggles. Maybe he fears being labeled a radical, a bully or an instigator of harassment, but he is already labeled that way so, why bother? It doesn't mean that bullying is an okay tactic, but making sure that progressive bullies from business, academia or politics feel some strong emotional discomfort is certainly a valid approach. Ghandi used and preached no violence, but his political methods certainly packed a powerful emotional punch and played a decisive role in his political victories. Maybe if Professor Peterson rediscovers his inner Ghandi he will be able to turn the tide in the culture wars.
The views and opinions expressed by Ivan Danilov are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.