Chloe Westley is the Campaign Manager of the TaxPayers’ Alliance.
Much has been written about Jordan Peterson. The Canadian academic has been accused of being ‘sexist’, ‘misogynist’, ‘racist’ and worse of all – a ‘white man’. As a reaction to a recent interview with Peterson in GQ, Marina Hyde published a Guardian piece expressing concern that “Peterson (spent) most of the interview looking like he’s about to urinate out of his face. ”
It’s a wonder that these many compelling and thoughtful counter-arguments have so far failed to debunk Peterson’s academic work. Perhaps if more of his critics had the attention span to look beyond the fact that he happens to be a white man, and listened to what he is actually saying, we would take them more seriously.
For when Peterson challenges the idea of an imposed patriarchy he does so on behalf of women like me. I’ve been told my whole life by modern feminists that I should be resentful of men, that I should fear discrimination at every opportunity, and that the world will always treat me badly because of my gender. Whilst that may be true in some countries, particularly in the Middle East, it’s certainly not the case in modern Britain.
Young women in Britain are being misled by feminists. Take the stories over the weekend based on “Equal Pay Day”. We’re told that there is a “gender pay gap” between men and women, and that this is due to rampant discrimination. But this gap is simply a comparison of the average salaries of men and women: it’s not indicative of any kind of discrimination. Equal pay for equal work is guaranteed by law. It is illegal to pay women less for the same work if they are equally qualified.
The difference in average earnings are more likely down to women’s choices. The ‘pay gap’ between men and women aged between 22 – 39 is virtually non existent, it has fluctuated between -0.8 per cent and 2.2 per cent during 2015-2017. What is a more likely indicator of the difference in average earnings is that women are choosing, at a certain stage in their life, to raise a family and opt for more flexible or part-time work.
And I don’t think that’s a bad thing. To say that it’s somehow wrong for women to choose different kinds of work to men implies that we are not fully entitled to make their own independent choices. What right do do feminists have to look down on women who prioritise family life over the pursuit of a higher salary at a FTSE 100 company? Feminism used to be about opportunity and choices for women. Now I fear their aim is to socially reconstruct society, regardless of the cost to the rights of the individual.
But whilst the media obsess over Peterson’s views on women and gender, they are actually the least interesting thing about him. His academic contributions are really about how human beings can live in the world with dignity, and without destroying each other. He explores the history of human societies and theology in order to identify what it might mean to be human, and the best way to preserve human life and prosperity.
At nearly every opportunity, he argues passionately against the doctrines of Postmodernism and Marxism – and almost any ideology which seeks to destroy and rebuild society in its own image. Marxists aspire towards an ‘ideal’ order of human life, in which unjust hierarchies are torn down and replaced with a utopia of fairness and equality. The only problem is that in order to overthrow the system you have to kill a lot of people. And in the end, you’re left with another hierarchy – one that is based on loyalty to the regime.
Peterson rejects collectivist doctrines, and instead emphasises the importance of the individual. This is why, I believe, so many people say they have been inspired by his work. Instead of seeing people as victims, he praises our potential for greatness and compassion.
But individualism isn’t just about the actualisation of the individual. It’s our defence against evil. Authoritarian regimes have relied on the abdication of individual responsibility in order to rise to power. Things go wrong when enough people absolve themselves of being informed citizens who are awake and capable of stating the truth.
And in order to have informed citizens who are capable of stating the truth, you must protect free speech. On BBC’s Question Time last week, Peterson warned against the dangers of a government regulating speech. There is no question of whether hateful speech exists. It does.
But who decides what to criminalise? In socialist Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro uses a ‘Law Against Hatred’ to imprison political opponents, who are accused of ‘promoting fascism, hatred, and intolerance’. Those who speak out against the regime in media outlets or on social media can be accused of hate speech, and put in prison for up to 20 years. Some of us may dismiss or laugh at ‘Social Justice Warriors’ in the UK, but their attempt to shut down debate and dismiss any opposing argument as ‘fascism’ should alarm us all. This isn’t just a phenomena on University campuses: even an elected politician has pathetically called for me to be banned from TV.
The ad hominem attacks on Jordan Peterson are lazy. He’s not interested in dividing society into group identities, and pitching them against each other: that’s the goal of the identitarian Left. Instead, Peterson offers a thoughtful defence of the individual, and warns against the tyranny of the collective. It’s not a “patriarchy” that women in the west should fear. It’s Marxism.