Monday, 14 May 2018

How Jordan Peterson could have defended patriarchy

First question to Jordan Peterson:

What is the last rule that would go if you all the other eleven had to go?

His answer was that he would have the rule that one is to take personal responsibility, which is a synthesis of the 12 rules.

Sutcliffe says Peterson doesn't believe patriarchy exists, and Peterson did not demur. 

I would have said patriarchy exists as a concept, and that the West is certainly not a patriarchy, but rather a matriarchy. 

A lost opportunity.

When the feminist Irishwoman says patriarchy exists because there is domestic violence and complains that not enough men are convicted for domestic violence, Peterson should have pointed out that patriarchy is primarily about whether society practises marriage, not whether men perpetrate violence on women. There will be more serial killers and rapists of women in a matriarchy, though in a patriarchy where most women are married, the preponderance of violence suffered by women would come from their husband for logistical reasons, as you would expect.

Sutcliffe queries the subtitle of his book THE ANTIDOTE TO CHAOS and asks why not THE MIDDLE WAY subtly suggesting that Peterson is an extremist. 

My answer:

"You are presuming to tell me how to title my book, presumably because you have been instructed to suggest that I am an extremist. So how am I an extremist?"

Sutcliffe goes on to accuse Peterson of "gendering" order and chaos. Why should they be gendered at all, Sutcliffe asks.

"Because feminism has gone too far and we now live in a matriarchy, which is chaotic," I would have said. 

He instead talks about Mother Nature being destructive and plenipotential and says order is patriarchal. 

Sutcliffe immediately says: " I thought you didn't believe in the patriarchy!"

Peterson says "Patriarchy in one sense has become synonymous with arbitrary tyranny and oppression and I don't regard our culture as being arbitrarily tyrannical and oppressive, and I don't believe in the narrative that pits women against men or men against women as the core narrative of our culture which is absurd."

Sutcliffe also asks Peterson why he thinks consciousness is masculine. 

Peterson says it is symbolic. 

Sutcliffe quotes from Peterson:

"It is certain that a woman needs consciousness to be rescued and as noted above, consciousness is symbolically masculine and has been since the beginning of time."

He points out to Peterson "But consciousness is an intellectual concept. It doesn't have a gender." 

Peterson: "Consciousness isn't an intellectual concept, it is a phenomenon." 

Sutcliffe: "It is a thing in the world."

Peterson: "The conceptualisation of it is an intellectual construct." 

Sutcliffe: "In what sense is it masculine?"

Peterson: "It is masculine symbolically. It is a core element of fundamental mythology. It has been a principle of metaphorical cognition forever. It is not an arbitrary decision by any stretch of the imagination." 

Sutcliffe: "It is an inherited decision, but I am curious about the way you treat some cultures. You write:

'We learn to live together and organise our complex societies slowly and incrementally over vast stretches of time and we do not understand with sufficient exactitude why what we are doing works.'

It seems to me that begs a very large question, which is: works for whom? A lot of people think it doesn't work, which is why social change is about. That's why societies and civilisations alter over time. Works for whom?"

Peterson: "It might be better to ask 'Works compared to what?' There's a handful of society in the world - perhaps 30 or 40 - that are functioning at a pretty high level. Those are the countries that everyone wants to immigrate to. There's inequality within those cultures, but you can't lay that at the feet of those cultures. Inequality is a much deeper problem than what you can lay at the feet of a political or economic system, so works by historical standards including works for the past 150 years." 

Sutcliffe: "I assume you agree with female suffrage and that women should have a vote." 

Peterson: "Sure." [Not a word about narrowing the franchise to taxpayers only if he is too frightened to go the whole hog of saying that female suffrage was probably a terrible mistake.]

Sutcliffe: "120 years ago, that would have been a radical and disruptive idea to have. People would have advanced exactly the same arguments you advanced about inherited social traditions, about the way things have been done. Scientists would have advanced information, a phrenologist would have come along and said 'Women's bump of electoral selection is smaller than men ... "

Instead of going down this blind alley, Peterson should just have said

"Men are more rational than women on the whole, and have a more developed sense of justice as well as being generally more forgiving" 

and invited them to disprove it. He probably would have enjoyed a scene of the feminist Irishwoman having a fit of the vapours with Tom Sutcliffe running off to fetch her smelling salts. 

Sutcliffe then suggests he is trying to incite fascism by saying that the more society feminises men, the more likely they are to embrace fascist ideologies.

Peterson says that is obviously true. 

Sutcliffe calls it a classic abuser's exculpation. It is a withdrawal from responsibility: you made me hit you.

Peterson: "It is not a justification, it is an observation of what's likely to happen if you push people too far in a particular direction. It is a warning, not a justification."

Sutcliffe: "The solution to that is not to worry about feminising men, but to worry about them joining fascist organisations."

Peterson: "No, I think it is to worry that steep unequal hierarchies will produce desperate young men and that is a critique of hierarchy, by the way."

My answer would have been: 

"It is about social justice, gender justice and a warning that if enough people get angry enough about the unfairness of the rules, they will want to change them. Allow them the means to change them peacefully, or they will use violence."

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