2017/08/13: What happened today (not Charlottesville)...
Hi everyone, I should really be editing my book today, but I thought I’d take a bit of time to respond to something that happened in the media today in the aftermath of James Damore’s Google memo and all the coverage it received.
A journalist named Steve Kovach wrote a story for business insider called “Silicon Valley’s liberal bubble has burst and the culture war has arrived”. In that article, which discussed the memo, he characterized myself and
Stefan Molyneux a well-known YouTube personality as far-right. What his article said specifically was, and I quote: “YouTube which is ironically owned by Google and has become a hot spot for right-wing vloggers was the outlet of choice for Damore himself. His first public interviews were to Stefan Molyneux and Jordan B. Peterson, far-right figures who have built up large followings on the video site” and I felt that that was inappropriate let’s say to say the least and so I tweeted that and emailed him and said that that was a mischaracterization and asked him to justify his claims, and so what I’m going to do is to read our email exchange to you, okay?
You don’t have one iota of proof for that statement, and it is patently untrue. I’ve been lecturing, for example, about the dangers of National Socialist ideology for decades. Find a single thing I’ve said that places me on the far right.
I’m seriously unhappy about your careless and false characterization. Watch this for example, and see if it’s “far-right”. I linked to a Youtube video of a lecture I gave on the temperamental basis of right-wing belief.
Then he said “Just saw your tweets. Please let me know what you would prefer”, and so I said I would prefer the truth I would prefer that journalist such as yourself use absolute precision of language It’s not up to me to tell you what that is
It’s up to you given your choice of profession, and this is no laughing matter, Mr. Kovach as you seem to imply with quote “Please let me know what you prefer.” End quote. I’ve been fighting an intellectual war against radicals on the right and left for three decades.
I have a very clear and public track record with regards to my attitude to the far right. I spend a lot of time and efforts, for example, in my first book, Maps of Meaning, outlining the psychopathology of National Socialists and have made my opposition to such things known in a manner both public and widely distributed.
I’m seriously unhappy about being carelessly lumped in with people I despise and have spent my life fighting. He wrote back and said “Thank you for your response, so the article is truthful and accurate, how would you like to be characterized?”
I said I said very clearly you mischaracterized me as far right. On what grounds whatsoever can you make that claim? And having made it, it is your responsibility to either justify the characterization with some investigation or to withdraw it and apologize. Politically, I’m a classic British liberal
Temperamentally, I’m high in openness which tilts me to the left although I am also conscientious which tilts me to the right. Philosophically, I am an individualist not a collectivist of the right or the left. Metaphysically I’m an American pragmatist who has been strongly influenced by the psychoanalytic and clinical thinking of Freud, Jung and the
Psychotherapists who have followed in their wake There is simply nothing I have said or done that makes me far right quite the contrary I’ve warned thousands of students over the course of three decades that the spirit of Auschwitz concentration camp
Guards dwells in their heart and that they should do everything in their power to recognize its existence and overcome it Every single lecture of my maps of meaning course various versions which have now been watched or listened to by millions of people Make some variant of that point
I’ve also produced a series of individual self development programs now used by thousands of people to strengthen themselves as individuals Determine their proper and honorable destinies and live productive meaningful lives You didn’t do your homework you cast a serious dispersion on my character
I don’t deserve it in the least I want you to do something about it He responds. Thank you for the clarification Jordan. I will correct the story and identify you as a classic British liberal I Responded I wrote this one before I received his response
But I sent it after so I’m keeping it in the order that it actually emerged Rather than in the order what it makes precise sense Dear Mr.. Kovach do you really think that if I were far-right I could have placed 200 university lectures online and taught for three decades at Harvard and at the University of Toronto without someone making a devastating case for my ideological
Perversity? In what universe could that possibly occur I’m a university professor Clinical psychologist and a public intellectual whose primary goal is the psychological and metaphysical strengthening and fortification of the individual I was still trying to clarify
How I would like to be referred to literally nothing about that is far right I don’t even care though that you called me that name in the last year I’ve been called names by people And we made that kind of behavior a well practiced part of their professional
Specialty what I care about is the fact that the name is wrong, and seriously wrong. You’re engaged in a very important public debate. Handled incorrectly That debate will degenerate into conflict when you make an error Willful or otherwise you increase the possibility of catastrophe. I’m calling your attention to such an error to put it bluntly you
Are contributing to the dangerous political polarization? increasingly typifying discourse by vilifying my views and my character It appears that you have done so either carelessly or to add some narrative punch to your story Neither of these reasons are in the least justifiable post our email dialog publicly if you’d like let the readers sort it out for themselves if you want to stick to your guns and
Went online and changed his description of both ((((((Stefan Molyneux)))))), and I from as I had mentioned previously far-right to the current description which is Right leaning ((((((Stefan Molyneux)))))) and classic British Liberal Jordan B
Peterson which I might point out is quite a substantial departure from the initial far-right You might think I’d be pleased about the change and I suppose it’s better the way it is than the way it was but I’m not pleased at all with the fact that it happened or Really with the fact that it was changed so easily. It’s like
It’s not a straightforward matter It’s not a matter of no import to mischaracterize someone as far-right especially in today’s political climate And it’s indicative of what I would describe as loose journalistic ethics to put it mildly to then
Be so willing to transform your terminology with no explanation to your reader and no apparent let’s call it crisis of conscience or Or serious consideration of the meaning of your actions. Well, that’s not good. Let’s put it that way
Anyways, you guys can apart from that commentary which I couldn’t stop myself from making you guys can draw your own conclusions, and then one last thing I’m not exactly sure what to make of the alt-right and and then one last thing I’m not sure to what and
Then one last thing I’m not sure how to understand the alt-right or to characterize it or even to think know what to think about it’s hypothetical existence Or my association with it but I can tell you that I’m not in favor of people banding together in ideological groups and instead would much rather see people live
Fundamentally productive and meaningful and honest individual lives and in that manner be a light unto their neighbors so to speak to Show the way to live in the world without Undue ideological possession and to move forward things productively in that Manner
I don’t know of any pathway forward through this Increasingly polarized political landscape that we find ourselves in that isn’t absolutely rife with the possibility of conflict And if I haven’t made that clear so far, I would certainly like to make it clear now
So I would encourage those of you who are considering yourself say on the alt right for that matter as well as on the radical left to transcend your dangerous and impersonal ideological identification and start to live as true individuals in the world