In his case, Peterson’s fan base is largely comprised of young, disaffected white men who are looking for an explanation as to why they’re not better off than their fathers and grandfathers. Peterson’s anti-civil-rights rhetoric encourages them to blame women and people of color for getting a bigger share of economic opportunities, which plays into what progressives leaders like Rev. Dr. Barber call “the trick.”
Thank you for your article. The point you’re making here is a difficult one, and I don’t think you represent Peterson’s points here well (which, unfortunately, leads an unbiased reader to doubt how much they can trust you,) and I find you’re immediate response to be a little too diametric and not deep enough.
Your main mistake is one I’ve found most interviewers of Peterson, on both sides of the political spectrum, to make. Peterson says the individual needs to take responsibility. This is not something we should argue against — responsibility is a good thing, it is a necessary thing, for a good society. But upon a closer look, Peterson says that you need to look at what you can take responsibility for, what you can reasonably try and change, and focus on that. This is where many claim he is “self-help” and imply that this is an inherently negative thing. But I find the term itself to be incorrect — if it were self-help, we wouldn’t need a book to tell us how to help ourselves. And Peterson is dealing with Being, in the very Heideggerian sense (translated from Dasein,) and what is ultimately more important, more imminent, and more real, than sorting out Being? If you are to criticize Peterson for this task, you are criticizing a vast amount of the history of philosophy worldwide, which I generally wouldn’t recommend. If you are to criticize the ways in which he performs this task, treat your adversary well. You do a better job than your examples at the beginning, but you’re not dealing with his work, just offering your alternative.
So, Peterson says that you need to look at what you can take responsibility for, what you can reasonably try and change, and focus on that. He does not discount social factors, or racial/gender discrimination. It is wrong to think that both cannot be true. I am, generally, on the left. I do not agree with everything Peterson says, but I do think that much of his work is good, is honest, and that none of it is politically motivated.