Anti-feminist Caitlin Flanagan insists that sexism guru Jordan Peterson has the left terrified because he’s knocking our legs out from under us by shattering identity politics. Once you take the liberal fixation with identity politics off the table, “it was possible to talk about all kinds of things—religion, philosophy, history, myth—in a different way. They could have a direct experience with ideas, not one mediated by ideology.”
Like Laura Ingraham’s complaints about America, that’s sort of true. If you eliminate race and gender from the discussion of history and religion (as this slacktivist post notes), then we do talk about things in a different way. But it’ll be wrong.
Whether you’re male or female, black or white is massively woven with religion and history, with how they treat you and how you experience them. Even today, we have people who preach that blacks are cursed to inferiority by the sin of Ham, and that women are made by god to have no rights. Peterson’s take on this amounts to Big Whoop, Everyone’s Disadvantaged “Maybe you’re too short, or you’re not as beautiful as you could be, or, you know, your parent, your grandparent was a serf — likely, because almost everbody’s grand-, great-grandparent was. And you’re not as smart as you could be.” Oh, and maybe you’re Hispanic or black and you’ve suffered discrimination, can’t get your kids in a good school, lost a job, but it’s the same thing. Nobody’s got a perfect life. The solution is the free market!: “We’re going to outsource it to the marketplace. You’re going to take your sorry pathetic being, and you’re gonna try to offer me something that maybe I want. And I’m going to take my sorry pathetic being, and I’m gonna say, “well, all things considered, as well as I can understand them, maybe I could give you this much money”, which is actually a promise for that thing. And you’ve packed all of your damn oppression into the price. And I packed all my oppression into the willingness to pay it. And that solution sucks. It’s a bad solution. But compared to every other solution – man, it’s why 10 percent of us have freedom”
As Flanagan says, Peterson reaches this nitwit conclusion by ignoring “identity politics.” If you ignore that it was perfectly legal when I was born to refuse to hire a woman, a black man, a Jew, to shut them out of the free market, to bar blacks from even spending money in the same stores and restaurants as white people yes, that’s seeing things in a different (though entirely unoriginal) way. But it’s wrong. It’s the same-old, same-old about how identity politics is bad, a ridiculous issue, rather than stuff — abortion, birth control, integration, equal rights — that has a massive effect on people.
And, of course, to assume that Peterson is somehow operating from a dispassionate, rationalist stance free of ideology when he glorifies male dominance is just nonsense. Or that Flanagan, a woman who hires a nanny then condemns feminists and working mothers for hiring nannies (see first link in post) is making an objective judgment. She despises feminists and working mothers and here’s a guy who doesn’t have any more use for them; is it surprising she fantasizes he’s going to end feminism?
Liberals don’t fear Peterson’s bad ideas. Speaking personally, I fear the number of people who will swallow them and advocate for them because there are always people willing to embrace the bullshit that white, male supremacy is both right and natural so discrimination is okay. That doesn’t make Peterson any righter. And it doesn’t mean he’s the antidote to identity politics; he embodies them.