A spectre haunts left-wing college curricula and its name is Jordan Peterson.
Since Peterson, professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, published a lecture series entitled “Professor against Political correctness,” he has become the favorite guest of conservative and classical liberal podcasters—Dave Reuben, Stephen Crowder, Stefan Molyneux and Sam Harris, to name a few.
Receiving over 100 emails a day, he is among the most highly demanded speakers by conservative think tanks and campus student groups throughout North America.
Peterson speaks truth to their lost power, reviving civil libertarianism from a state of academic impotence. Not since William F. Buckley wrote God and Man at Yale has anyone been able to so eloquently rail against higher education’s progressive and leftist norms, galvanizing a movement to challenge their classroom rule.
“It’s time for conservatives to stop apologizing for being conservative,” Peterson said in his speech at the April 2017 Manning Centre Conference to a cheering crowd. “You young people out there that are university students, you need to take back the student unions because they’re absolute snake-pits and they have been since the 1990s.”
Peterson leapt onto the public stage on Sept. 27, 2016 when he published “Professor against political correctness” to his YouTube channel.
In the videos, Peterson excoriates Canadian Bill C-16 which included transgender people as a protected group by the Canadian Human Rights and Criminal Code. The surrounding legal documents , stipulating how the legislation would be interpreted, regarded misattributing a person’s assumed pronouns to be a form of discrimination and hate speech.
This would mean the government is compelling speech, Peterson said, a fundamental violation of freedom of speech. This is different from the government prohibiting certain utterances, like Holocaust denial, which is a crime in Canada, or speech that incites violence. Legislation mandating certain language inhibits our ability to process the world around us, he said at a rally at the University of Toronto on Oct. 11, 2017, which can be viewed here:
“Free speech is the mechanism by which we keep our society functioning!” Peterson said at a motley crowd of supporters and protesters. “It’s a consequence of free speech that people can put their fingers on problems, articulate what those problems are, solve them and come to a consensus! And we risk losing that!”
Peterson’s primary concern involves his work as a psychologist who, in part, studies the differences between men and women, resulting from evolutionary biology.
But protecting civil liberties wasn’t Peterson’s only rational for criticizing the amendment; in the bill’s hearing on May 17, 2017, Peterson, serving as witness, alleged the bill came from a leftist, authoritarian “vanguard” to control language. Peterson described how university lawyers confronted him with letters urging him to desist his public outcry because they violated both the university’s and the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s policies.
With a chief professional interest in the development of authoritarianism in societies, Peterson purports the ascendance of a neo-Marxist critical theory in the academy, which holds gender to be socially constructed rather than biologically derived, subjugates traditional standards of learning, pedagogy and Western culture.
So, what is this radical neo-Marxist vanguard?
Peterson takes issue with the variety of critical, cultural and political theories which emerged in North America during the 1970s, descending from Freudo-Marxist traditions of the French postmodernists.
Peterson’s theory goes like this: socialist and communist academics were discredited in the 1970s, following the collapse of Maoist China and the publication of The Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, who purported to blow the whistle on the Soviet Union’s atrocities. In a “slight of hand,” they reformed their Marxist, class-based analysis to a power struggle between different genders, sexual orientation and ethnicities.
Marxist professors, said Peterson at the Manning Centre, cling to universities because they are nonprofit entities and many of them are government-funded. Left-wing cultural criticisms against the fundamental pillars of Western Civilization, like capitalism and law, don’t fair well in a capitalist market.
Currently, Peterson is working with a colleague to build a website to recognize the rhetoric of class syllabi steeped in “neo-Marxist, postmodern” philosophy, according to an announcement from his YouTube channel on July 31, 2017. This way, students and parents know which classes to avoid initiating a mass boycott movement.
Peterson hopes to see significant decrease in radical neo-Marxist philosophy throughout western institutions over the course of the next five years.
This article will be updated.