Jordan Peterson is all the rage now, both enraging to some and for others the figure to expresses most powerfully the critique of group identity.
I think this video gets to the bedrock of his MO. His critics assert that he does not understand postmodernism. But whether or not he does, his understanding of postmodernists fuels his engagement, as well as his critique of marxism. In a thought, Peterson believes that postmodernism’s overarching analysis is that whereas marxism identified the central struggle as economic, the proletariat agains the bourgeoisie, (a critique fairly well discredit by now, postmodernists have transformed that analysis into a struggle for power between different collectives or groups. Everything is about oppression and dominance between groups. Not individuals, mind you. Individual autonomy no longer matters. It’s about what group you belong to. And whatever group you belong to, you are oppressed.
Who is the oppressor? White, western patriarchy. What do you do with the oppressor? Reason with them? No. Overthrow them. They are not susceptible to reason, since everything is an excuse for power. The normal means of a democratic society-reason, logic, facts, and debate-are no good, for they treat the oppressor as capable of being fair-minded, well-intentioned, and capable of being persuaded. The oppressor must not be given a place, his words not heard.
This has explanatory power of our cultural situation right now, does it not? While some assert that Peterson is overstating and stereotyping postmodernism, the power of his narrative is fairly convincing psychologically.
I don’t think the usual Protestant Evangelical critiques of how a Christian is to be involved in culture shaping grasp this movement and this moment. It’s too pollyanna and gullible. It downplays the danger of this time and how this ideology is to be defeated. While the mass of Evangelicals are engaged and sense the threat, the Evangelical elite continue to counsel withdrawal and not mixing religion with politics. Of course, they usually do this when the Evangelical Right is a leg up. Now, all of a sudden, it’s wrong for Evangelicals to try and influence the political moment. When center-left and left power structures are dominant, the elite quiet down and the warning signals are silenced.
By and large, 80% of Evangelicals don’t listen to their elites. Might not even know who they are, or even care. The elite do not control this movement. They try, both when they do, they find the power of the Evangelical laity. Their giving and support for Evangelical institutions is enormous, and they don’t run without the laity’s resources. Russell Moore found this out big time. To keep his job he toned it down. Which might give you some idea of his MO.