Jordan Peterson on Postmodernism and Cultural Marxism
Here is the text of the first five minutes of the above talk by Jordan Peterson:
I don’t think that you can understand the current situation properly without considering the role that post-modernism plays in this, because post-modernism in many ways, especially as it’s played out politically, is the new skin that the old Marxism now inhabits. So you could think that there’s a postmodern philosophy which we’ll talk about a bit. That really came into its vogue in the 1970s after classic Marxism, especially of the economic type, had been so thoroughly discredited that no one but an absolute reprobate could support it publicly anymore. Even the French intellectuals had to admit that communism was a bad deal by the end of the 1960s, and what happened was that they played a sleight-of-hand game, in some sense, and rebranded themselves under the postmodern guise, and that’s where identity politics came from. That then spread like wildfire from France – especially into the U.S. through Yale University – through the English department there, and then everywhere. What happened was, you know, was this idea that the Marxists had put forth that the natural landscape, the economic landscape, is a battle. It’s a battle between the proletariat – the working class and the bourgeois – and that the that the economic systems were doomed to continue to enslave people and to keep them poor and downtrodden unless there was a radical economic transformation that was predicated on something more like equity policy. That was then put into place, in many places as you no doubt know, throughout the 20th century with absolute absolutely murderous results. It was the most destructive economic and political doctrine, I think, that has ever been invented by mankind, and that includes National Socialism because the absolute magnitude of the havoc wreaked by the communist systems exceeded that by Hitler, and that’s because Hitler didn’t have quite as long a time to pull his stunts off quite as effectively. But it was a catastrophic system, and one of the things that’s quite interesting is that the full breadth of that catastrophe has, is not something that students are taught in our current educational system. This has always made me very suspicious, for example, as the students I teach usually know nothing at all about what happened in the Soviet Union under Stalin and Lenin between 1919 and 1959. They have no idea that millions, tens of millions of people, were killed and far more tortured and brutalized by that particular regime, to say nothing of Mao. What happened was that by the end of the 1960s, the evidence that communism was a catastrophic failure was so overwhelming that even the French intellectuals, and we’ll return to them later, because the French have a very long lasting and powerful public intellectual tradition. The intellectuals there are very influential, even the French intellectuals like Sartre Jean-Paul Sartre, the famous philosopher had to admit by the end of the 1960s that the Stalinist/communist/Maoist experiment and all of its variants, not just those particular dictators, but all of its variants was an absolute catastrophic failure. What then happened was the post-modernists came onto the scene and they were all Marxists, but they couldn’t be Marxists anymore because you couldn’t be a Marxist and claim that you were human being by the end of the 1960s. So they started to play a sleight of hand, and instead of pitting the proletariat – the working class – against the bourgeoisie, they started to pit the oppressed against the oppressor. That opened up the avenue of identifying any number of groups as oppressed and oppressor, and to continue the same narrative under a different name. It was no longer specifically about economics, it was about power and everything to the post-modernist is about power. That’s actually why they’re so dangerous, because if you’re engaged in a discussion with someone who believes in nothing but power all they are motivated to do is to accrue all the power to them, because what else is there? There’s no logic, there’s no investigation, there’s no negotiation, there’s no dialogue, there’s no discussion, there’s no meeting of minds and Consensus. There’s power. So since the 1970s, under the guise of post-modernism, we’ve seen the rapid expansion of identity politics throughout the universities. It’s come to dominate all of the humanities which are which are dead, as far as I can tell, and a huge proportion of the social sciences. We’ve been publicly funding extremely radical post-modern leftist thinkers who are hell-bent on demolishing the fundamental substructure of Western civilization, and that’s no paranoid delusion – that’s their self-admitted goal.