Gepostet vor 2 Monaten, 13 Tagen in
tl;dr: Der Netzfeminismus ist krank, schon seit Jahren. Er muss sich erneuern, denn wir brauchen Euch. Das transkribierte Interview mit Jordan Peterson, ein Psychologieprofessor aus Toronto, unter diesem etwas unsachlichen Rant ist die tiefgehendste Analyse der Probleme des modernen Feminismus, die ich kenne, und sie geht weit darüber hinaus. Lest sie, entkräftet die Argumente, wo sie Bullshit sind, kritisiert das Kritisierenswerte und wo ihr zugeben müsst, dass er Recht hat: Nutzt sie. Fix yourself.
Felix „wirres.net“ Schwenzel hielt in der vergangenen Woche einen Vortrag auf der Republica in Berlin. Darin interpretiert er die Arbeit des Psychologen Erich Fromm und versuchte den Entwurf einer neuen Sichtweise auf Liebe, Respekt und den Umgang der Menschen miteinander. Er nutzt dabei das biblische Bild der Vertreibung aus dem Paradies, der sprichwörtlichen Menschwerdung, und zusammenfassen lässt sich der Vortrag vielleicht mit dem Satz: Das Leben ist hart, genau deshalb findet es immer einen Weg, und wir haben sehr viele psychologische Mechanismen dafür, wir müssen sie nur (wieder)entdecken.
Als ich vor zwei Jahren diesen unbeholfenen Text über Gamergate schrieb, war ich wie der Hund in diesem GIF (Bild rechts).
Ich war fest davon überzeugt (und bin heute mehr als sicher), dass Gamergate zum ersten mal ein Problem sichtbar machte, das eng mit dem Wesen des Netzes selbst verknüpft war und gleichzeitig mit der Psyche des Menschen. Seitdem bin ich diesem Problem auf der Spur und ich denke, ich habe es ganz gut abgesteckt mittlerweile. Ich konnte damals nicht genau formulieren, was es war – also flüchtete ich mich in Anekdoten aus meiner Hardcore-Gamer-Zeit und weirde SciFi-Theory-Comics über lebende Meme. Ein kleines bisschen Unfug, natürlich, aber der Kern des Textes hat bis heute Bestand und die Zeit gab mir Recht: Outrage ist eine Meme, sie verbreitet sich wie ein Virus, am geschmeidigsten im Netz, und unser vergifteter Online-Diskus hat Ursachen, die deutlich tiefer gehen, als Mobbing und Hassrede, Hater und verbale Gewalt oder banale Kriminalität, so furchtbar diese Dinge auch sind für, vor allem für die Opfer der echten Psychos da draußen.
Wir werden unorthodoxe Strategien entwickeln müssen, wie wir damit umgehen. Blocklisten sind ein Tool, das ich persönlich nicht mag, aber wenn es hilft, dann hilft's und dann akzeptiere ich das. Alles was hilft in dieser Situation, vor allem den Leidenden, ist gut. Ihnen sollte unsere zuvorderste Aufmerksamkeit gelten, übrigens einer der Gründe, warum ich mich mit den tatsächlichen Ursachen beschäftige. Nicht nur weil sie mich interessieren, sondern weil's hilft, langfristig. Wir werden das Drachengame komplett besprechen müssen, auf der Oberfläche banales Mobbing, aber manifestierend in beinahe geographischen Ausmaß, ein einfacher Bauer leidet dort und das ganze Dorf mit, eine memetische Verzerrung, wie sie ohne das Internet niemals möglich gewesen wäre. Die Täter wissen das ganz genau, sie wissen, wie ihnen das entglitten ist, wie das alles eine Dynamik angenommen hat, vor der die meisten der Beteiligten selbst ratlos stehen. Sie haben es mir persönlich im Gespräch gesagt. Völliger Wahnsinn!
All das hat nur an der Oberfläche mit Politik oder Ausformungen wie der AfD zu tun, die sind nur das realpolitische Aushängeschild einer viel gefährlicheren und gleichzeitig unzerstörbaren, archetypischen Idee („Blut“, „Boden“, „Ehre“). Die ganzen rechten Emporkömmlinge von Petry bis Trump sind sie nur das langweiligste Symptom, eine Nebelkerze mit Macht-Option. Der tatsächliche Nukleus – die Idee des, nennen wir es mal, neurechten Aktivismus –, sind die National-Identitären weltweit. Bei uns heißen sie Identitäre, in Amerika AltRight, in Frankreich Génération Identitaire. Die erzählen seit einigen Jahren bereits diese uralte Idee in neuen Geschichten. Keine schönen Geschichten, wie ich finde, aber neue.
Die fahren zu ihren AltRight-Brüdern im Geiste, fackeln Boote vor Tankern ab, die besetzen Denkmäler und Bauten und verschwinden dann wieder, als hätte es sie nie gegeben. Ihre Verbündeten von den Neoreaktionären schreiben nebenan Abhandlungen über die „Dunkle Aufklärung“, lovecraftsche Horror-Storys und klauen das Genre der Theory-Fiction von Barthes und Fisher. Ansonsten halten sie die Füße still und werkeln im Verborgenen.
So erschafft man Mythos und die Grundlage dafür, dass er mutieren kann. Und mit dem bringen die neurechten Parteien ihre Forderungen dann auf Hochglanz, wo mich das alles dann nur noch wenig interessiert, und verleihen ihnen diese ruchlose und scheinbare Tiefe. Und das tun sie völlig ungestört, weil nur wenige der hiesigen „Experten“ überhaupt eine Ahnung haben, dass das passiert.
Es war ja auf der Seite der Linken nicht anders, damals, in den 60s und den 70s, nur ein bisschen weniger scheinbar, ein bisschen weniger ruchlos, und am desolaten Zustand der SPD und der Grünen kann man sehr genau ablesen, wie müde und verbraucht und alt und lahm unser Mythos geworden ist, dem von der Befreiung des Menschen durch die Auflösung aller Strukturen.
Und während die basteln, sitzen wir der Ecke, die wir für Mainstream halten, fetzten uns darüber, wer reden und was genau unter welchen Bedingungen sagen darf und wann und wo, während das Internet uns schon vor Jahren überholt hat. Erst jetzt bemerken wir, dass – Huch! – das alles richtig Wirkung entfaltet, Meme-Magic Wahlen beeinflussen kann, in dem sie an den Fringes grindet und in Sprachen spricht, die nur Eingeweihte verstehen. Ich habe Euch schon vor Jahren gezeigt wie das geht, aber für Euch war das ja nur ein „Joke“. Wer hätte das nur ahnen können! Man könnte ja mal die Generation fragen, die das alles etabliert hat und vorgibt, hier zuhause zu sein, die müssten doch Bescheid wissen! Oh, wait!
Ich habe hierfür nur drei Worte übrig: Very bad job.
Wir reden immer noch getrennt über Identitätspolitik und FakeNews und Hatespeech und Trumptrumptrump und Trolle und die AfD und ab und zu über die Identitären weil die sind ja auch ein bisschen verrucht, aber nicht zu oft, denn die sind uns ja doch auch irgendwie unheimlich, wie es wohl auch die ersten Nager waren, die zwischen den Dinosauriern umherhuschten, die ebenfalls auch nur ein „Hä?“ zustande brachten, und Clickbait und Likebuttons und Facebook… das gehört alles zusammen! Es ist ein einziges, riesiges Problem – es offenbart sich nur in tausenden Mechanismen und unterschiedlichen Phänomenen, die ihre gemeinsame Herkunft verschleiern.
Früher konnten wir das ausdiskutieren oder zumindest in langen Statements an festen Permalinks ambivalent stehenlassen, aber heute ist das alles vorbei. Wir haben völlig vergessen, was es heisst, eine ausführliche und differenzierte Debatte über die Ziele und Werte der Tribes abzuhalten – die Dinge auszuhandeln mit den Lesern, den Trollen, den Antikommerz-Fundis, den Pro-Bloggern, den Werbern, den Feministinnen, den Normies, den Journos und sogar ein paar Rechtskonservativen und FDP-Wählern. Die waren mal alle dabei, ein gesunder und lauter Diskurs mit allen Beteiligten. Meta-Diskussionen nannte man das mal, Bloggen ist Punk und so.
Stattdessen drängeln wir uns mit Clickbaitern auf Facebook um Aufmerksamkeit. Linke, ehemals führende Blogmagazine haben keine Lust mehr und der Nachwuchs kriegt nur sogenannte „lustige“ Videos zustande und gleichzeitig hebt auf Youtube und Twitter nichts weiter als eine neue Form der antiken griechischen Agora ab, mit einer Lust an Intellektualität, wie ich sie schon lange nicht mehr gesehen habe. Von meinen Leute bekommt davon keiner etwas mit. Denn sie haben alles weggeblockt, das ihnen etwas wirklich Neues erzählen könnte.
Aber ich will nicht alles schlechtreden (bevor wir uns dem deutschen Netzfeminismus zuwenden).
Es gibt es halt doch zwei, drei, vier, vielleicht 10 kulturelle Online-Institutionen und viele kleine Blogs, die einfach weitermachen, aus Lust am Thema und am Prozess selbst, die alle so ein bisschen auf Social Media scheißen und online vor allem auf ihrem Blog, vielleicht noch Twitter leben und reden und diskutieren. Es funktioniert, irgendwie, für jeden auf seine Weise. Sie sind alle noch da und manche sind enorm einflussreich mit ihren paar tausend Leuten, die übrigblieben.
Und der Netzfeminismus? Nun, sein Einfluss ist vor allem legislativ, nicht kulturell. Das ist sein größter Fehler.
Die Mädchenmannschaft und Kleiner Drei, angeblich die feministischen Netzinstitutionen, veröffentlichen unter der Auferbietung all ihrer Kraft und dem Einsatz ihrer Autorenkollektive von bis zu 15 Aktivistinnen so ungefähr 1 Text pro Woche. BÄM! Dann nehmen sie an, mit einem Engagement diesen gewaltigen Ausmaßes könnten sie hier etwas bewegen.
Aber, selbstverständlich, der lange Marsch durch die Institutionen, nur der zählt. Leider stimmt das nicht. Denn der Marsch ist nichts wert, wenn die Kultur der eigenen Bewegung auf dem Weg erstickt. Dass das eigene Lager sich erst neulich hörbar räusperte, bestätigt nur den Zerfall. Es ist ein Trauerspiel. Der ehemals von gerechtem Zorn motivierte Marsch durch die Institutionen wird so zur trivialen Akkumulation von Macht, denn es fehlt das Fleisch ihrer Rechtfertigung.
Das führende deutsche MRA-Blog postet derweil jeden Tag eben nicht nur Links zu Antifeminismus-Outrage aus dem meist libertären Lager und (immer noch zu eindimensionalen) Bullshit über Comics, sondern eben auch aufrichtig vorgetragene und wichtige Anliegen und nicht nur das: Vor ein paar Monaten verlinkte man auf eine riesige Langzeit-Studie dutzender, wenn nicht hunderter Wissenschaftler, die alle möglichen Argumente des Gender-Aktivismus widerlegten. Aber statt sich damit öffentlich zu beschäftigen, alleine schon aus Selbsterhaltungsgründen, wenn schon nicht aus Interesse, wird alles ignoriert. Alles Nazis, alles Trolle. Und wenn man sich dann mal vom hohen Roß herunterbegibt, dann nur um zu verlautbaren: „Der Diskurs ist schon viel weiter, Du Null.“
Wenn ich eine der bekanntesten Feministinnen Deutschlands in meiner Timeline dabei beobachte, wie sie auf die berechtigte Frage eines Männerrechtlers nach dem Rechtsstaat mit einem herablassenden „troll woanders“ antwortet, dann trübt das nicht nur meine Einschätzung ihrer Kompetenz, es trübt in Konsequenz auch mein Vertrauen in die Bewegung selbst.
Warum sollte ich einer solchen Person vertrauen? Ich sehe keinen Anlass dafür, denn nur in der Auseinandersetzung zeigt sich, was die fein zusammengezimmerten Argumente wert sind. Wenn der Konflikt dann unter fadenscheinigen und faulen Begründungen vermieden wird, kann ich nur drei Dinge annehmen: Die Argumente halten einer Untersuchung nicht stand oder die Nicht-Debattierende ist ein Feigling oder beides. Ein Zeit-Argument lasse ich nicht gelten, ich erwarte von den Leadern einer Bewegung die Auseinandersetzung, grade und vor allem mit bekannteren Vertretern des anderen Lagers, grade und vor allem von einer Führungskraft.
In solchen Minuten bin ich froh, dass sich meine politische Haltung nicht all zu sehr aus derjenigen meiner Social Circles ergibt. Meine prinzipielle Haltung ist von all dem unbenommen. Aber ich möchte nicht wissen, wie es um das Vertrauens innerhalb der feministischen Basis aussieht.
Die feministische Netz-Elite ist sich ja auch bis heute zu schade, auf die Vorwürfe der Emma zu reagieren (vorausgesetzt, ich habe nichts verpasst, was nicht unwahrscheinlich ist). Und zwar nicht nur in 140 Zeichen, hastig retweetet auf Twitter, sondern mit mindestens einem Text erachtenswerter Länge, öffentlich, in einem institutionellen Organ der Bewegung, für alle gut sichtbar, vor allem für diejenigen außerhalb des Movements – ein Statement!
Aber das Blatt ist verbrannt und die alte Hexe sowieso, weil sie islamophobe Polemiken veröffentlicht, was im Kontext seiner Zeit möglicherweise aber auch seinen Platz auch im linken politischen Spektrum hatte – sicher ein gutes Stück weiter rechts als die herkömmliche Gender-Aktivistin, aber immer noch links genug, dass allerwenigstens eine Antwort an die ehemals prominenteste Institution ihrer Vorgänger angebracht wäre, und sei es nur, um sie in der Luft zu zerreißen. Das gebietet schon alleine der Respekt, den man den Leuten zollen muss, die die eigene Bewegung erst ermöglichten.
Dafür hätte man sich aber mit den Vorwürfen auseinandersetzen müssen und man ist dann halt zu beschäftigt mit Reisen und Vorträgen und dem „Consulting“, mit der Hege und Pflege des digitalen Biotops mit Blockschere und KarmaPoints und dem outrage-basierten Hin- und Herschubsen einer veralteten und inkompletten Vorstellung von Macht. Ich verstehe das ja, man muss sich seine Kämpfe sehr genau aussuchen, wen kümmert da schon das wichtigste deutsche Magazin des 2nd Wave Feminismus, wenn man schnell drei neue Trolle auf eine Blockliste setzen lassen kann. Kann man so machen.
Nur verspielt man so in Folge das Vertrauen seiner Mitstreiter und zwar nicht etwa, weil irgendwelche schlimmen Dinge passieren oder weil man sich streitet oder mal einen Fehler macht, es ist viel katastrophaler: Weil die eigenen Ziele schon längst so diffus und unfokussiert sind, dass der ganze große Kampf, das Ideal, die Idee des Feminismus nur noch als nebulöses Nichts erscheint, so dass nichtmal mehr die eigenen Versäumnisse etwas bedeuten.
Doktor Peterson spricht in diesem Interview von Memes als frakturierte Ideen, die in Individuen ruhen und sich erst gemeinsam durch die Handlungen der Gruppe manifestieren. Die Meme des Feminismus ist mittlerweile so dermaßen frakturiert, dass das Gesamtgebilde, die Idee, die Meme, in jeder Teilgruppe und bei jeder Zusammenkunft anders aussieht. Jede Szene frakturiert, formt Sub-Subkulturen und Interpretationen, aber selbst die heterogensten haben immer noch einen gemeinsamen Style, eine bestimmte Art, Dinge zu tun, einen kulturellen Code. Der moderne Feminismus hat all das verloren und in diesem Moment stirbt jede Bewegung.
Der Netzfeminismus erstickt am Grey Goo seiner eigenen postmodernen Dekonstruktion und die Protagonistinnen des feministischen Mainstreams sind nicht in der Lage, aus den Scherben etwas neues zu formen, denn sie sind ideologische Shut-Ins.
Der Druck war da, so gut wie alle haben darauf hingewiesen, alle wissen Bescheid, Leute die ihr jahrelang kennt, die jeder hier kennt, Leute die ihr mögt. Manche haben das nur im privaten Kreis gesagt, andere wie ich haben immer lauter dazu geraten, genauer hinzusehen und irgendwie zu reagieren, wenigstens durch Gesprächsbereitschaft mit dem politischen Gegner. Aber nein, lieber arbeitet man an Methoden, um Menschen in kleinere und immer kleinere Gruppen aufzuteilen. Glückwunsch, ihr Spalter.
Und, in aller Deutlichkeit, nicht nur an die Netzfeministinnen: Es ist nicht mein Job, diese Dinge anzusprechen.
Mein Job ist Magier, ich mache Voodoo, machmal bin ich irre und tanze alle paar Wochen mit meinen Dämonen auf Twitter besoffen ums Feuer. Ich spiele mit Sachen, versuche Perlen aus der Kloake zu ziehen, die man vorher noch nie gesehen hat und dann entwerfe ich komische Gedanken dazu, die allermeisten Bullshit, aber manchmal ist ein Volltreffer dabei. Dann mache ich Feierabend und ziehe mit meinen Kumpels vom Spätie 'nen fetten Joint durch. Mein Job ist es, in Zungen zu reden. Ich bin Deejay, meine Platten sind Wissenschaften, Tech und Kunst, ich kann damit irre Sachen anstellen, wenn ich in Form bin. Mein Job ist Tänzer, ich hab ganze Massen mit Moves angesteckt und zwar mehrfach, nicht nur online.
Was auch immer ich hier zu meiner Arbeit gemacht habe: Mein Job ist definitiv nicht die Überprüfung der Rolle der Postmoderne und des Feminismus im digitalen Zeitalter. Aber auch den kann ich übernehmen, wenn ich muss.
Dass ich dazu gezwungen bin, weil ihr Euer eigenes Gedankenhaus nicht abklopft, und weil die Widersprüche darin vor drei Jahren anfingen, so gut wie alle meine Themen zu beeinflussen und dieses immer lauter werdende Chaos uns allen dann einen dummen Idioten wie Trump als neuen König der Welt vor die Nase gesetzt hat, das macht mich dann erst wirklich und richtig pissed. Nicht, dass ich den Feministinnen den Honk nun auch noch in die Schuhe schieben möchte, das wäre töricht, aber unschuldig sind sie nicht. Keiner ist das.
Dieser sogenannte Netz-„Feminismus“ ist nicht meiner. Er ist nicht clever, er hat keinerlei Ausdruckskraft, die Ästhetik ist bei Tumblr circa 2008 stehengeblieben und hat sich kein Stück weiterentwickelt, er hat keine wirkliche Idee, die Medien-Organe sind lame und er hat keinerlei Motivation zur Selbsterkenntnis. Vor einem solchen Gebilde habe ich keinen Respekt.
Das hier, das ist mein Feminismus, hiervor habe ich Respekt:
Das ist ein Stinkefinger. Er ist deutlich, er ist ehrlich, er ist logisch, er ist stolz, er ist laut, hat Gefühl für Kunst und Kultur und die ambivalente Bedeutung von Abstraktion, dieser Feminismus singt – es ist ein schöner Stinkefinger. Camille ist eine Furiosa, der moderne Netzfeminismus ist alles andere.
Es gibt eine Menge Leute innerhalb der feministischen Bewegung, die das derzeit ähnlich sehen. Die meisten davon übrigens Trans-Aktivisten, zumindest in meiner kleinen Bubble. Ich glaube, sie haben ebenfalls verstanden, dass die Probleme des Online-Diskurses tiefer liegen, denn sie spielen das Spiel der Identitäten auf einem ganz anderen Level, weil sie es leben, im Gegensatz zu den Karriere-Feministinnen.
Und dass ich diese Dinge schreiben muss – ICH! The funny fucktard crazy people! –, weil die Netzkultur den Namen nicht mehr verdient, außer da, wo sie nur noch weh tut, und vielleicht noch eine ganze Weile weh tun wird, spricht Bände über den Zustand von dem, was wir hier geschaffen haben, über Jahre hinweg, nicht erst seit Gamergate. Da ist die Wunde nur zum ersten mal gut sichtbar aufgebrochen, da haben wir das Problem zum ersten mal wirklich gesehen. Dann haben die meisten den „Expertinnen“ vertraut, haben sich die Meme „Hategroup“ in die Schulhefte kopiert und alle ausgelacht, die auch nur ein „Hm“ andeuteten. Schämt Euch.
Immerhin: Die feministische Bewegung im Netz hat die Welt in diesem möglicherweise finalen und völlig vermasselten Move dazu gezwungen, sich endlich mit dem Entwurf einer neuen Gedankenwelt für das 21. Jahrhundert zu befassen. Und dafür bin ich dem Damen und Queers, den Lesben und Schwulen, den Transsexuellen und den Emanzen, den Fett-Akzeptierenden, den Xes und Zers und Theys, den Tumblrs und Anitas und Annes, mit oder ohne Beef – allen Beteiligten bin ich dafür an diesem Punkt nicht ganz unsarkastisch, aber doch aufrichtig dankbar.
Ich gehe davon aus, dass dieser Text Diskussionen auslösen wird, ich werde mich dabei weitgehend raushalten. Ich wäre nur sehr verbunden, wenn sich diese schon lange überfällige Diskussion innerhalb der Szene abspielen würde, denn da gehört sie hin. Nicht auf ein Blog, das sich eigentlich mit Memetik und Netzkultur und Filmen beschäftigen sollte, ich hab's nur deshalb früher gesehen. Und wenn ihr mir hierfür den Kopf abbeißen wollt: Go ahead. Try.
Ich kann nur sagen, in meiner unvergleichlich charmanten Art, dass der Fisch vom Kopf stinkt. Das habe ich hiermit getan.
Das eigentliche Problem, mit dem ich mich wirklich beschäftige, sehen wir grade erst auf uns zukommen, es ist uralt und wir selbst haben es herausgefordert vor 50 Jahren. Und diese komische neue Maschine, die wir erfunden haben, ist nichtmal die Hälfte dieser Story. Dabei ist sie nicht weniger als das größte Massenmedium aller Zeiten – im historischen Maßstab haben wir sie grade mal angeschaltet –, aber kaum gestartet, stürzt sie gradewegs in Zeitlupe in unser frakturiertes, postmodernes Weltbild – und mich interessiert der Grund dafür. In unserem Weltbild bedeuten Worte nichts, es hinterlässt nur atomisierten Grey Goo, mit dem höchstens ein Zitate-Jongleur wie Tarantino wirklich umgehen kann und es verwechselt Ironie mit Wahrhaftigkeit, denn für sie ist in diesem Weltbild kein Platz.
Warum genau und wie das passiert, möchte ich ausgehend von diesem Interview mit Jordan Peterson untersuchen. Der Text hier ist nur der Auftakt, es ist nur ein Rant, eine für mich nötige Entkernung des Netzfeminismus. Ein Null-Punkt, um mit meiner wirklichen Arbeit anzufangen.
In den Gedanken von Peterson sind zu viele zu verschiedene Ideen und Ansätze in und zwischen den Zeilen, um sie in nur einem Posting in die Social Media Jagdgründe zu schicken. Manches davon ist gefährlich, vieles in seiner Kombination luzide, das meiste ur-alt. Ich könnte zu jedem Absatz des Interviews ein weiteres Posting dieser Länge schreiben, tatsächlich sind einige bereits in Arbeit. (Ich möchte auch hinzufügen, dass Peterson generell nicht sehr „exakt“ ist. Er wirft gerne Begriffe durcheinander und mäandert. Hier ein Video, in dem sich ein Philosoph nicht weniger als 7 Stunden Zeit nimmt, die Bullshit-Aussagen von Peterson zu erläutern. Aber selbst er erkennt an, dass das Bild, das Peterson entwirft, hochinteressant und bedenkenswert ist. Ich stimme dem zu.)
Anhand seiner Ideen, für die dieses Interview nur exemplarisch ist, kann man nahezu alle Themen, die ich unter meinem Stichwort „Das Geile Neue Internet“ gesammelt habe, noch einmal ganz anders beleuchten. Vieles, was mich vor drei Jahren noch verwirrte, ergibt im Zusammenspiel mit diesen Ideen auf einmal Sinn und Puzzleteile formen beinahe automatisch ein schlüssiges Gefüge. Ihr werdet es ebenfalls merken, wenn ihr es lest. Das Bild, dass sich dabei formt, ist einem Gemälde von Hieronymus Bosch nicht unähnlich.
Zu Beginn reden Joe Rogan und Peterson über Details der Proteste während seiner Vorträge. Man kann das überspringen, hier ein Link zu der Stelle, an der sie beginnen, über Storys und Mythologie und Burroughs und Evolution und Mesopothamien und Affen und AI und Memetik zu reden.
Die angesprochenen Details der Proteste und des Gender-Aktivismus in Toronto bilden im Text allerdings einen hübschen Kontrast zu dem, was Peterson tatsächlich zu sagen hat und diese Dichotomie bebildert ganz hervorragend die absurde Verzerrung der Relationen im modernen Gender-Aktivismus.
Als ich vor drei Jahren mit meinen Recherchen zu Gamergate begann, stieß ich auf ein Gespräch zwischen Neil Gaiman und Kazuo Ishiguro, eine Unterhaltung über Literatur, Genre und Storytelling. Irgendetwas klickte damals, ich spürte intuitiv, dass das Problem mit dem Erzählen von Geschichten selbst zu tun hat. Ich wusste damals noch nichts damit anzufangen, ich hatte Memetik und „Story“ noch nicht zusammengedacht. Also habe ich den Link nur archiviert.
Heute weiß ich, warum das eigentliche Problem im postmodernen Anti-Verständnis von Text, Mythologie und Ideen selbst begründet ist – daran hat niemand schuld, es ist die logische Folge der Weiterentwicklung unseres Denkens, wir haben Grey Goo aus Storys erfunden, what next?
Erklärt hat es mir Herr Peterson aus Kanada, ein etwas verkniffener, sehr energiegeladener Professor für Psychologie der Universität Toronto, dessen Stimme exakt genau so klingt wie – Kermit, der Frosch, ungelogen.
„Think about that“.
Joe Rogan: How are you?
Dr. Jordan Peterson: Not too bad, how are you?
I'm doing good, man! You're looking like a man who is dealing with a considerable amount of stress, but is handling it well.
Yeah, well, I hope that's true.
I heard that you were denied a grant for the first time in your history as an academic.
And you think this is all based on your outspoken and very public denouncing of political correctness and all this stuff that you've been going through over the past year now.
I don't know, because I haven't got the full commentary on the grant yet. I only found out they denied and it takes the granting agency a while to send out the report. I heard from other people whom I would consider relatively high profile research who also didn't get funded this round, so there might be multiple reasons, but I can't help suspect that the fact that the grant application concentrated on deligniating the personality characteristics of political correct belief might have something to do with it.
Still a taboo subject. It's fascinating that thinking and pondering and examining certain types of behaviour is a taboo subject.
It's amazing and it's becoming more taboo all the time I'd say. The Universities are getting worse still and will get worse for a while before they will become better. I shouldn't say this globally, but it surely is true for the humanities and the social sciences.
It seems globally. Not necessarily in terms of all the different subjects, but certainly in terms of what you teach and what you're involved in. I hate to say the word, but it's so regressive to put restrictions on the examining of thinking in a university. It's kinda crazy! What you went through in one of your most recent public speeches, where they allowed these kids in the room with bullhorns, and you where giving your speech and they backed out, and there's a group of kids, shouting and yelling and blowing bullhorns. Completely disrupting what you're doing.
At McMasters University. And Airhorns too, quite close to me. That was the one I objected to, because airhorns happen to be quite loud.
It's an assault on your ears, it's bad for your hearing, you're not supposed to be in the room with those without hearing protection. They were yelling: 'Shut him down', 'No freedom for Hate-Speech', and the Hate-Speech has a Prince-Symbol meets some sort of martian language, WTF is that?
I guess it's a poly-gender Symbol of some sort, there's a fist in it. One of the things that was really not so good about all of that, was that a lot of the people who were protesting were standing behind a hammer and sichel banner, it's just absolutely amazes me, because I still haven't been quite able to figure out why you couldn't do that with a Nazi-Symbol, but you *can* do that with a hammer and sichel. There's a reason, maybe it's because the Nazi Doctrin was so explicitly racist, but god, it's not like the hammer and sichel wasn't equaly murderous, or actually quite profoundly more murderous as it turned out. How people can not still know that is beyond me and to rally behind a banner like that without realizing what they're doing, or even worse: realizing it and still organizing themselves behind it. And then they complain about Hate-Speech.
I then tried to talk to a couple of them, but, when you look at people who are in that state of mind, they are not looking at you as if you're a human being, you're the target of their conceptualizations. You're the realization of their conceptualizations. Ofcourse they didn't listen to anything I say, hardly anyone did. I took everybody to talk outside and spoke out there for a while.
Were they still yelling?
Oh yeah, but what happened: I went outside and I stood on a couple of benches and the people who wanted to hear formed a circle around me more or less by chance and pushed all the protesters to the back, so I could adress the people who wanted to listen what I was saying.
Did you have a dialogue with them? Did you give a speech and how did that work?
Yeah, that worked out okay, once I got outside. I mean, I wasn't particularly upset by the fact that the protestors had showed up. I mean, practically speaking, because I'm in this peculiar situation: If the protestors show up, that's good, and if they don't show up, that's good too, because I have access to a Youtube-Audience, obviously, and then it gets filmed and the Films get put together and that gets put online, when the Social Justice Types come after me. They've done a pretty admirable job at discrediting themselves. So that seems to be all to the good, and if they let me speak, well then I get to speak and I can put that on Youtube. It's a very strange situation for me, because as long as I don't do anything any stupider than I have done, I seem to come out okay, but I'm certainly not counting on it and I'm surprised by it. But so far it seems to be working out. So, hooray!
You handled it admirable, you kept your cool, didn't flip out, didn't succumb to the provocation.
Yeah, well, one person who was airhorning me was at least very straight forward about it, they were coming close enough to do some damage. But, you know, I've seen the odd person at those rallys that isn't well put together, I look in their eyes and I think 'No, you're definitely here for the wrong reasons.' And I think it's more characteristic for the guys that I see at the events rather than the women, I mean I'm not sure about that, I'm obviously speculating, but I have a reasonably good clinical intuition and some of the guys I see at those events, what are they trying to do? 'Be allies of the women'? For their own nefarious purposes? That what it looks like to me.
There's certainly an issue with that, there seems to be a common thread with men in the male feminist category, they align themselves with these women as allies, they take this moral high ground, to show other men how to do feminism and how to behave with women. They're mining the situation for social points.
Social and sexually, there's something really creepy about it. The recent Berkley Demonstration, the guy who hit somebody with a bike lock, he was hiding behind some women and then he darted out, just nailed the guy with a bike lock.
That guy turned out to be a Professor.
Has that been verified?
They compared, there are photos, they know he was there, he aligns himself with Marxism and he's like this communist/socialist professor who's very adimantly against rightwing ideology and this kind of shit, I'm pretty sure.
As far as I'm concerned: Watching what he did showed the true face of those people. I also thought that it was blackly comic that he hit the guy with a bike lock, I mean, that just figures.
It's so indignitive of someone who looks at a person as 'the other', you're not looking at them as a human being that disagrees with you, and not only that, a young human being. Talk about a lack of empathy. You're expecting this 20 year old guy to have his ideology down solid and not be influenced by peers or not be curious about what this argument is about? I mean the guy wasn't even yelling or anything, he was just standing there.
That's what I thought about, the protestors at McMasters too, why I don't get upset. I look at these kids that are protesting and I think 'Jesus, they've been served so badly by the education system that it's absolutely beyond belief'! They're basically sent out as avatars of this pathological post-modern movement by their professors who are themselves too cowardly to show up and certainly are not brave enough to debate me. It's not part of their post-modern ethos to have a dialog with someone you don't agree with.
You weren't able to talk to anyone who opposed you?
Not so far, not in any serious sense, no.
Could you talk to anyone with the hammer and sichel sign and ask them if they know what this stands for? And what does this mean to you?
No, that wasn't possible at that venue. There was no 1:1 human interaction. I can tell when someone is willing to communicate with me and they kinda got cold eyes, whatever they are looking at has very little to do with me.
So, this thing you're going through, this series of altercations, is the lack of discourse. And there is one where you go on television, where's this person that says there is no biological basis for gender, which is just complete insanity.
It might be insanity but it's Canadian law now, or soon to be. It's the kind of insanity that has legal force very soon. Bill C-16, which was the bill I critizised, is a variety of surrounding policy documents that are derrived from the Ontario Human Rights commission and they indicate quite clearly that you're to regard biological sex, gender identity, gender expression and sexual proclivity as varying independently. Which, ofcourse, they don't, by any stretch of the imagination. They are so tightly correlated! Ofcourse, you can't use correlation to infer causality, but jesus, when the correlations are above .95 you have to start wondering if there's actually not some causal link and it's absurd that we even have to have this discussion. But this is mainstream doctrin, Joe. Lookup the gender unicorn, that's a fun thing to look at. It's a little symbol that's been marketed to children, in elementary school, describing to them the facts biological sex, gender identity, gender expression and sexual proclivity very independently. They're going after them very young, that's part of the school system, in many many places and in many ways it's sort of an indoctrination. […]
Why does the gender unicorn have a double helix DNA symbol where it's penis or vagina should be?
That's to indicate that there's no such thing as biology I presume.
That's a weird place, to put it over the crotch of the Unicorn. […] The whole thing is so bizarre, but what's even more bizarre is the lack of dialogue.
I feel like you're in a weird position, where's a tremendous amount of support for you outside of the academic system. People like me, so many people who support your YouTube videos, some of the people that read about you online and your backlash. These people are not engaging you and the way they're keeping from engaging you is saying that you are demonstrating 'Hate-Speech' and your supporters are racist.
The reason I've been called a racist is because I criticized the University of Torontos decision to use the Toronto chapter of Black Lives Matter as policy advisers, and the reason I did that was because the two women who founded Black Lives Matter in Toronto have questionable reputations. Apparently that makes me racist.
One of them has publicly stated that white people are inferior to black people, because they don't have enough melanin in their skin, and melanin is the chemical that communicates cosmically, so that you're spiritually enlightened.
That was one essential claim and the other one is embroiled in a lawsuit with the University of Toronto students union. Essentially she's been accused of embezzling a couple of cronies about $400000 from the coffers of the students union. So I felt that perhaps those weren't the best people for the University of Toronto to be associating with, when they're formulating their anti-racist policies.
Clearly that makes you racist. But what's really fascinating: You're not saying anything about black people. You're saying something very specific about two individuals. Everybody that makes up a group is the same.
That's right. Except men and women. Men and women can be anything. There's an interesting angle on the transsexual thing too, because these activists stand out and claim that they're standing for oppressed communities. And first of all, they identify group that they're activating and then they imply that it's a homogenous community and then they state that because they happen to be members of that community by their own declaration, that they are now legitimate representatives of that community. And one of the things that's been quite fascinating to me, since this has occurred, is that I have had a comparatively large number of letters from transgender people, about 35 so far, and every one of those except one was positive. They are not happy about that.
My sampling of the trans community is not a random sample or anything, but 35 letters is a lot, when the community of people is actually quite small. And they're not happy at all to be so publicly discussed now. Many of them would just prefer some privacy, they're already having trouble fitting in. They don't regard these people as legitimate representatives. They're not homogenous in their political viewpoints, and they're not necessarily fans of the people who are playing gender bender games. Many of the transsexuals who are serious about it aren't happy that this has become a kind of a fad, essentially, and that they're being used by the politically correct types to further their political agenda. It isn't obvious to me at all that the attitude I have towards this situation is different from the attitude that a substantial minority of the transsexual people themselves have. And there's plenty of them on YouTube who are complaining about the social justice appropriation of their of their identity. Well, I don't even know if they have a movement, they're not a community. A community is in continual contact with one another, they have something that directs their actions in common. But on the postmodern end of the spectrum, if you have some identifiable group feature, then that means you're one of that group and that everything you do indicates only that. I mean, there are believers in race and gender and sex in the Trans Community. They believe in the reality of those categories far more than anybody on the right, as far as I can tell. So it's very peculiar and unnerving and widespread and powerful and all of those things.
It's very peculiar that they are not into labels unless it suits their purposes. They're not into labels or into generalizing behavior unless it suits their purpose. And another thing that's weird to me is that whenever something becomes a hot button issue, there's this thing where a bunch of people seek attention through those issues and these people use whatever issue. It becomes like a part of their identity, becoming an activist and really being very vocal about it. Whereas the actual cause itself gets muddied in the cult of personality and personal wishes and ideas, that people who are seeking attention soak in you. It just becomes a lot about human nature and human behavior more than it is about the actual issue.
It's an opportunity. Each of these hypothetically contentious issues is an opportunity for a certain kind of sterile drama to unfold – and the drama is always the same. You can see that in the demonstrations, it doesn't matter what I'm talking about. And it actually doesn't matter what I've ever said. All that matters is that there is an occasion and an excuse to trot out the ideology and to pathetically mouth the same unbelievably sterile and chaotic phrases. The people at MacMaster could only muster about three chants and two of them were seriously obscene. I don't care about that, except that it's so mindlessly unimaginative. They're operating at such a low level of of intellectual effort and ofcourse egged on by their pathological postmodern professors who are hiding behind them like scared weasels.
'Racist, transphobic, homophobic', that's what they called you. All these things without substance.
'Transphobic piece of shit', it was more specific. Rather flattering and all of that. Yeah.
You don't seem to have any hate towards trans people at all, the idea of you being transphobic seems so inaccurate, because you seem pretty accepting about anybody whether it's a trans person a gay person.
It's not the issue. I'm more concerned about whether or not people are honest. That's my fundamental orientation or my fundamental concern. I don't expect people to be 100 percent honest, because, of course, who is! That's a hell of a standard to hold anyone to. But all of that is smoke and mirrors and I think the people who are after me know it.
Let's get through some of that and establish it for people who don't know. You have any issue whatsoever with being transgender?
No. I don't have any issue with that. What I have an issue with is, I don't like to see the postmodern Neo Marxists use the transsexual issue as a lever for pushing forward their political nonsense. And I said that right from the beginning in the videos, I wouldn't use the words 'xe' and 'zer' and all those other made up words. Because I'm not willing to cede the linguistic territory to postmodern radicals. I'm not doing that. And they say: Well, we're doing it on behalf of the oppressed transsexual people, and I think 'Yeah, that's what you say'. But there's no reason I should believe that. I don't believe anything you say. I think you're contemptible, cowardly, ideologically motivated, cult like corruptors of the youth. So why would I use your language?
One of the things that I find fascinating is, how few transgender people want to use those words. Transgender people seem to want to identify with whatever gender they like. If you are a male to female transgender person you would prefer to be called a she. Like Caitlyn Jenner. And pretty much everybody calls the the artist formerly known as Bruce Jenner Caitlyn Jenner. It's pretty well accepted. But there's not a lot of Z's, right?
Those are all third person pronouns. I'm not going to call you a third person pronoun while we're sitting here. I never would! If I refer to you, when I'm talking to someone else, I could use your name, I might use 'he', but I don't know. I think it's always hard to get the level of analysis for this sort of issue, because the people who were pushing it forward say 'we're against harassment and discrimination'. And they attribute all the moral virtue to themselves. But then they're utilizing a very small minority group, who already have enough problems in my estimation, for for nothing other than straightforward political purposes. I don't buy the warm hearted, all inclusive 'love' that the people who are pushing this sort of thing forward claim to display. I don't see that at all. What I see mostly is resentment and the desire to undermine it. And I'm quite familiar with the postmodern philosophy and reasonably familiar with its underlying Marxism and there's nothing touchy feely about any of that. The best you can do with postmodernist philosophy is immerged nihilistic. That's the best. The worst case is that you're a kind of anarchical social revolutionary that's directionless, except that you want to tear things apart or that you end up depressed which I see happening to students all the time, because the post-modernists like to rip out the remaining structures of their foundations of their ethical foundations.
So, just to be really clear for anybody, your issues are absolutely not with someone who identifies with a gender other than their biological gender.
As long as they're not using that too to promote a political agenda. And I don't care about the gender thing. It's a personal issue, and I would deal with it on an individual basis.
Because just as much as they're extremely masculine men and extremely feminine women, there's a broad spectrum of human beings in between. And each one should be dealt with on an individual basis, based on what they want.
But when you're talking about these made up words, some people are trying to push these and turn them mainstream. Now the question is, what's the motivation behind that. Is this a necessary thing? I mean what would be 'ze'? What is that supposed to be? Is that supposed to be a male or female? Is it supposed to be asexual or is it supposed to be a non-conformist? What is it?
Well it's supposed to be someone who's gender isn't specified, who is neither male nor female. 'May be' they say in the policy guidelines. Anywhere or nowhere on the spectrum. These are policies that are going to determine law, within which the law is going to be interpreted. I don't even know what 'nowhere on the spectrum' means. I don't understand what that means.
All right, Jamie now is a 'she', but when it gets to things like 'zer' and 'ze' and the 78 different gender pronouns, it seems pretty bizarre to a person outside of it, and it seems pretty preposterous, indulgent. And it seems like there's something else going on in this.
There is something else going on. If there wasn't something else going on, a relatively obscure professor's amateurish YouTube videos on a relatively obscure piece of Canadian legislation wouldn't have had any effect, it would have just disappeared. But it didn't.
That's because there's more going on than a straight forward issue surrounding the pronoun use and everybody knows it. Or everybody feels it, at least.
What it seems like from someone who is outside of academia, someone like me, you're pushing back against something that they are really trying hard to establish. And it's some kind of control. It's some kind of control of how people behave and communicate. And it's not like a societal thing, it's a very small isolated group of people that seem to be trying to indoctrinate others into their ways and they become very vocal and very angry and verbally violent about your opposition to their controlling.
They don't like the poking holes in their ideology.
I've been thinking about how to communicate this properly. The thing about the post-modernists and I'm going to speak mostly about Jacques Derrida because I'll consider him the central villain now. He actually made a point.
Explain who he is please?
Well he's a he's a French philosopher who became quite popular in the late 1970s and then was introduced to North America through the Yale Department of English and of course English literature is one of the disciplines that has become entirely corrupt.
Derrida was a Marxist to begin with. But that fell out of favor because it turned out that Marxist political doctrine kept producing evil empires and even radical left French intellectuals were forced to admit that by the mid-1970s. They'd put their head in the sand for 20 years, 50 years really, thoroughly in the sand, and made sure their ears were full too. But by the mid-1970s the evidence was so overwhelming that even a French intellectual couldn't deny it anymore. So they started to play sleight of hand with the Marxist ideas and instead of trying to promote the revolution of the working class against the capitalist class, they started to play identity politics and said: 'Well, we can just separate everybody into oppressed versus oppressor, but we don't have to do it on economic grounds, so we call it power instead of economics'.
And then the other fundamental critique Derrida focused on, that is really worth laying out, the problem that the post-modernists discovered by a variety of people at the same time in other disciplines: Among the people who were studying artificial intelligence since the early 1960s, it was always supposed that we'd be able to make machines that could move around in a natural environment without too much problem. And the reason we could do that was because the world in some sense was just made out of simple objects. There they are. But you have to look at them and you see them and that's vision. The complex problem then is not how to see or what to see, but how to act in reference to what you see. It turned out, that the AI people ran into this problem, essentially known as the frame problem, and the frame problem is, that there's almost an infinite number of ways to look at a finite set of objects. Vision, for example, turns out to be way more complicated than anybody ever ever estimated. In fact, you can't actually solve the vision problem until you solve the embodiment problem. So an artificial intelligence that doesn't have a body can't really see, because seeing is actually the mapping of the world into action. That was figured out (more or less) by a robotics engineer called Rodney Brooks. But at the bottom is the idea, that any set of objects can be seen in a very large number of ways.
There's a bunch of pens in front of me here and when I look at them, my brain basically notes that there's an object with which I can write. I see the function. If you look at a beanbag, you see a chair, not because it's got four legs and a seat in the back, but because you can sit on it.
And most of what we see in the world, we actually see functionally rather than as an object. Then we interpret the object and then figure out what to do. The function of the object constrains our interpretation. But there is an endless number of interpretations!
For example, if I was going to paint the set of pens on canvas and try to do it in a photorealistic way, I would be looking at tiny details of these objects, the multiple shades of red and the multiple shades of white and black. And then I would decompose it in many many ways. The AI guys ran into this problem, which was that looking at the world turned out to be exceptionally complex and that's still being solved now.
In literature then the same thing happened. What the postmodernists realized, if you take a complex book, the Bible let's say or a Shakespeare play, there's an endless number of potential interpretations that you can derive from it, because it's so complex and so sophisticated. You can interpret the word. You can interpret the phrase, you can interpret the sentence, you can interpret the paragraph, you can interpret the chapter. But you have to interpret the text within the confines of the entire work, then within the confines of the entire tradition. And then within the context of discussion that you're currently having and all of those things affect how you're going to interpret the play.
Their conclusion was, because there's an infinite number of ways to interpret a text, there's an infinite number of ways to interpret the world. And there's a way in which that's correct.
The next conclusion was, there is no right way to do it. So you could do it any way.
The next conclusion was (and this is where the Marxism creeped up again): 'Oh, people interpret the world in a way that facilitates their acquisition of power'. And that's where the bloody theory starts to get corrupt.
Because, yes, a bit, but also no! The world is complicated beyond our ability to comprehend, but you have to extract out from your interpretation of the world a game that you can actually play. If the lesson that you extract from Hamlet is, 'You should kill your family and yourself', then that's not a very functional interpretation. Because all people are going to object to that, it ends your life, it ends many people's lives. People are going to object to it and it isn't a game that you can play over and over again in the world. So when we're interacting with the world, we're trying to extract out a set of tools that we can use to function in the world, because we're constrained by the world, so that we don't suffer too much.
And we need to extract those out in a way that other people will cooperate and compete with us in a peaceful and maintainable way. Then you have to extract out an interpretation that allows us to live and thrive over multiple periods of time in multiple environments. And we're doing the same thing with other individuals who are motivated the same way. So there's a tremendous number of constraints on our interpretations and the postmodernists don't care about that at all.
All they do is say, 'You can interpret the way the world any way you want. All people are ever doing is playing power games based on their identity and there isn't going to be no cross talk between the power hierarchies'. It's not even allowed! That's why they don't engage in dialogue!
If you're a postmodernist, just to have a discussion with a heterosexual or what do they call the 'CIS gendered', that's an evil act in and of itself, because all you're doing by engaging in dialogue with that person is validating their their power game.
That these people don't engage in dialogue is built right into the philosophical system. They regard the idea that we can step out of that group, engage in a dialogue, have our worlds meet and produce some sort of negotiated understanding – that's part of your oppressive patriarchal game, that whole idea is part of your game. So if I even engage in the dialogue, I'm playing your game and you win. So it's complete.
People don't understand that postmodernism is a complete assault on two things. One, it's an assault on the metaphysical substrate of our culture and I would say that the metaphysical substrate looks something like a religious substrate. So it's a direct assault on that. Two, it's an assault on everything that's been established since the Enlightenment: Rationality, Empiricism, Science, Clarity of mind, Dialogue, The idea of the individual, everything.
All of that is not only up for grabs, it's to be destroyed. That's the goal, just like the Communists wanted, to destroy the capitalist system.
Not every Social Justice Warrior activist know this, of course not! It's not like every Muslim knows the entire Islamic doctrine or every Christian knows the entire Christian doctrine. It's fragmented among people. But when you bring the group together, the fragments unite and the entire philosophy acts itself out.
This is not a plot by a few, well planned out individuals, that have some sort of an agenda. They just don't understand what they're doing. There's a bunch of different factions, and there could be a lot of it, people feel disenfranchised socially. They are empowered by their positions in universities and by these insulated environments and groups. They're intoxicated by the power they have over young people and shaping their minds and imposing their ideologies. They receive feedback from these kids. It builds up, everything strengthens, they shore up the walls around them, and they push this forward and then when they have something like your speech at McMaster's, they get to actually act, it unites them.
It's like Richard Dawkins idea of Meme. If you imagine that in your neural structure, whatever ideas that are manifesting, they are represented neuron by neuron in a web of neurons, not any one neuron has the entire idea set. This is obviously an oversimplification, but you get the point. There's a network from which the idea emerges. The idea can rest upon multiple individuals, as if each individual is a neuron. I mean, there are people who are more or less fully informed, as to the nature of postmodern doctrine, and they're pushing it forward consciously and unconsciously. They are consciously pushing it forward and acting it out.
And so there are individuals who are more representative of the entire set of ideas and individuals who are less representative. But if you get them together in a group, the thing that animates them and unites them is the common set of ideas. And those ideas were produced by the post-modern French intellectuals and in the mid-70s. Michel Foucault was the person who famously pronounced that psychiatric diagnostic categories were primarily social in origin rather than biological. You can actually read Foucault, not like Derrida. But I just found what he was writing obvious. I knew from my clinical training that psychiatric categories have a heavy sociological construction, partly because psychiatry isn't a science. Medicine isn't a science. It's an applied science. Those aren't the same thing at all! Pure science deals with scientific categories, like atoms, but an applied science is a compromise between all sorts of different things, and mental illnesses themselves are shaped by the social environment. Even though often they have a biological root, the way they manifest themselves is clearly shaped by society and language. I didn't find his work the least bit surprising. Everyone who's a sophisticated medical professional psychiatrist knows that.
There's a book called 'Discovery of the Unconscious' by a guy named Henri Ellenberg, which was written in the 60s. Great book on history of psychoanalysis and he covers the shift in diagnostic categories across time. It's self-evident.
Anyways, there's all these French post-modernists and they were all Marxists. Most of them were student revolutionaries in France in the late 1960s before that all fell apart and they did two things. They they pulled out this frame problem issue, the issue of multiple interpretations and said 'There's nothing that's canonical, there's no overarching narrative, there's no real interpretation', and I already said why that's wrong. And then they did this sleight of hand so instead of the working class against the bourgeoisie, it was race against race or gender against gender. Unbelievably divisive. All they believe in is identity. There's no individual, that's gone with postmodernism, this isn't an accident. All of this stuff, it's not random.
Ideas are always at war. Always. And we're in a war between these ideas. Marxism was a tremendously powerful doctrine and this is its newest manifestation.
What is the motivation behind the individuals that are at the heart of this movement?
I'd say that the motivations are as complex as as human motivations are in general, but they seem to have solidified into a movement.
I think, the dangerous part of it is, that it's like a scapegoat mentality. It's almost like psychoanalytic projection, like: 'What are the things that I've come to learn'.
One of the things I talk about is the battle between good and evil. It's between states and it's not between individuals. Precisely, although it manifests itself at those levels, it's an internal battle, a moral battle that happens inside people and so people have a broad capacity for malevolence and for benevolence. And that's a terrible war for people and it's a terrible thing to understand and realize. In fact, often when people realize their capacity for malevolence, if they're not prepared for it, they develop post-traumatic stress disorder. So that happens to soldiers in battlefields. They go out there, innocent, naive, young guys, they go onto a battlefield, they get put in a really stressful situation and they step outside themselves, do something unbelievably vicious and brutal and then they're broken. They can't take that manifestation of themself and put it together with Iowa corn field nice guy. And no wonder, because one is like a flesh eating chimpanzee on a war rampage, and the other was a relatively well brought up polite farm boy from the middle of the United States. How in the world are you going to put those two things together? Well, you can't. That's post-traumatic stress disorder and my experience with post-traumatic stress disorder is that you have to teach people a philosophy of good and evil, because otherwise they can't recover.
By the way, in the last four months, I've had two letters from people with PTSD and I met them personally. They said that watching my lectures had had brought them back together, because they couldn't understand what they had become before looking deeply at their malevolence.
So I would say with regards to this postmodern movement, it's unbelievably authoritarian. I got a letter today from a university student in Italy, she'd been having kind of a flame war on Facebook with a Social Justice Warrior, and at the end she recommended that this particular Social Justice Warrior seek out a local mental health counseling unit and put a link to it in the exchange. And then she got a letter from the university, I guess the SJW type turned her in. They wrote that she violated university policy and it constituted harassment and that she should seriously consider retracting it and that future employers might be looking at what she posted and it was inappropriate to put that on a public site. I thought: 'WOW! How could you be so clueless as an administrator to think that your monitoring of your students private utterances at an institutional level and your intervention and threat on an institutional level is less dangerous than letting two students troll each other on a public social forum'. I just don't know what to think about it. It's just unbelievable! It happened and it's happening all over the place, this sort of thing. So there's the authoritarian element to it, which is a hatred of competence, because competence produces hierarchies that aren't based on power. I think it's a hatred of clear intellect.
'Hatred of clear intellect'. How so? What do you mean by 'clear'?
You have clear intellect as far as I'm concerned. I think why you're so popular is, because you pay attention and say what you see. And you're not too concerned about doing anything other than that.
Of course you have an agenda, everyone has an agenda. You can't help but have an agenda if you're alive, but you can temper the agenda. You can be clued in enough to try to listen and learn and watch and pay attention to what your own senses are telling you and try to articulate that.
That's what the Logos is technically speaking, and the reason I'm bringing this up is because Jacques Derrida described Western culture in a famous phrase as phallogocentric and it needs to be brought down.
The Phallus is male, the logo part that's Logos. That's partly logic, because the word 'logic' comes from the word logos, but Logos is a deep and much older concept than logic is. It's essentially a theological concept and that's where things get complicated. But you could describe it as 'the manifestation of truth in speech'. And the post-modernists don't like any of that.
So, Phallogocentrism seems to be the ultimate mansplaining.
Yeah, exactly. I saw an example of that in an australian congressional debate, where a guy was accused of mansplaining by one of his colleagues and really tore a strip off her quite nicely. […]
Somebody did an analysis showing that the female Supreme Court justices spoke less than the male Supreme Court justices, and they immediately attributed that to sexism, because you know how oppressed female Supreme Court justices are.
I want to get back to the hatred or the dislike of clear thinking. Do you think this comes from people, who understood that their logic is muddy?
I think they feel, rather than think. There isn't a lot of clear thinking on the side of the social justice types, because a lot of what they're doing is reacting on an emotional level.
We've done this study, although it's not published yet: The best personality predictor of politically correct belief is the trait agreeableness. And Agreeableness is, that's an oversimplification but not much of one, the maternal dimension. The maternal viewpoint is anybody who's part of my in-group is an infant in trouble and anyone who's outside of it is a predatory snake. And so you're seeing that manifest itself in a political doctrine.
You're clearly seeing that today on the left, who you would think of as being pro woman anti violence. They seem more than capable of committing violence against women who support Trump, because then they categorize them as Nazis and we're supposed to punch Nazis. There's been a bunch of instances where we've seen video footage of people getting pepper sprayed and hit with sticks because they were wearing the wrong hat, it wasn't even a MAGA-hat, it was actually a 'Make Bitcoin Great Again'-Hat.
There's a very famous video of a girl getting pepper sprayed and this by people who are supposed to be, you know, 'progressive'. And these people were supposed to be pro women's rights, anti violence against women, anti-domestic violence, but yet they have no problem doing it to this other person, because this person becomes 'the other', because they're on the other side.
This I was talking about, this line between good and evil that runs down people's hearts.
It's a terrible fault line and it can be shocking to see that it's the case. It's much more convenient for people to divide the world into the righteous and – let's say – the damned. And to persecute the damned, it's convenient too. Whatever resentment and hatred bitterness you have in your heart – and you have plenty of that if you are a social justice type, because you regard yourself as oppressed. That's a great starting point for resentment and hatred, to be a victim.
We know one of the precursors to genocide, and I'm not saying at all that we're near that state. I'm not saying that. But one of the precursors in a genocidal state is the acceptance of victim status by the eventual perpetrators. The idea is 'We're innocent, we're being persecuted, those people are going to get us'. Eventually that becomes 'What will get them first'. So you have a target for all your resentment and your hatred and it's a justifiable moral target. So the part of your self, that you don't recognize as contributing to whatever problem you think pollutes the world, you can ignore all that! You're on the side of the good! There's no moral effort required.
And then you have someone to conveniently hit, and hate, and hurt. And all the while you can look at yourself in the mirror and say 'I'm on the side of the good!'
'I'm just punching Nazis'.
Or hitting them with bike locks, while you dart out behind a woman who is conveniently standing in front of you.
Is there some sort of an evolutionary origin for this dissociative sort of thinking and behavior that some people show off? It seems like a very common thing throughout history.
Sure. Anything that isn't part of your dominance hierarchy is the snake. It's that. And it actually makes sense from an evolutionary perspective. First of all, we are tribal primates and our optimal group size seems to be something like 250. We can keep track of about that many social relationships.
That's right, exactly, and Dunbars Number is correlated with brain size. And you might ask 'Why that size?' Well, a hierarchy has to be optimized for two functions and one is: Where do you want to be able to climb the damn thing? If the hierarchy is really really big, the probability that you're going to climb it is really really low, and if it's too small, who cares if you climb it. So you want your dominance hierarchy so that it's big enough to climb and powerful enough to make the climb worthwhile. There's some optimization there now.
Then you think of everything within that hierarchy has explored territory. And the reason for that is that explored territory is where, when you do something, you get what you want.
Think about the conditions under which the limits of your knowledge manifest themselves. There's all sorts of things you don't know. You know a trillion things, but you're not sitting there torturing yourself to death because there's a trillion things you don't know. But then you go out into the world and you act something out and the outcome isn't what you desire, then that registers an error.
Let's say you're at a party and you tell a joke and no one laughs at the party. Think about what happens to the space around the party. When you tell the joke, the second before you tell the joke you're in one place, and the second after you tell the joke, when there's an awkward silence and everybody is looking embarrassed, then you are no longer in the same place. You've stepped outside the protective embrace of that particular hierarchy. You've made yourself an alien. And the thing that people use to process the alien is the snake detector, the serpent detector, the dragon detector, and it's always been that way. Because anything that's outside of the hierarchy is a threat.
Any stranger, any strange idea, any animal manifestation, any noise, any spirit is a threat to the integrity of the dominance hierarchy and in many many ways. It's deeply rooted.
There's a great paper published five or six years ago in a journal on PlosOne looking at something absolutely terrifying in my estimation. There's this idea that part of what motivates the authoritarian end of political conservatism, the right wing fascist, is associated not with fear but with disgust and Disgust is an entirely different demotion.
These researchers did this fascinating study where they went to a number of different countries and also looked at states within the same country, looking at the relationship between the prevalence of infectious disease and authoritarian attitudes at the individual level. The higher the infectious disease rate, the more authoritarian the political views. And the correlation was really high. It wasn't like point one, it was point seven, it's one of the highest correlations between two phenomena I've ever seen in the social sciences and you might say, well, why?
Here's one reason. The strange idea and the stranger and the pathogen are all the same thing because they all are external threats to the structure of the dominance hierarchy. When the Spaniards came to the new worldn ninety five percent of the natives died from smallpox, they died from measles, they died from Mumps, they died from chicken pox, because you don't know what the hell is coming at you when you let something new inside the dominance hierarchy, whether it's an idea or a disease!
'Words are a virus', William Burroughs said that, so we respond to them with the same circuitry that we use to detect pathogens.
Now I'll tell you something even more frightening, because this is associated with the trait called orderliness, which is actually a good predictor of right wing political belief. I went back and looked at the book 'Hitler's Table Talk'. It was derived from notes that were taken by his secretaries between 1939 and 1942 when he was eating dinner and spontaneously expounding on the structure of reality. He was very open. Hitler was a very creative person, but also extremely orderly. I looked at the metaphors that he was using to describe the Jews and the gypsies and all the other people that he burned and destroyed and it was all a pathogen. It's all a pathogen metaphor. The Aryan race is a body. It's a pure body. The blood is pure. The Jews or rats or insects or lice or disease are the gypsies and everyone else and they need to be eradicated and burned out.
Here's something even more frightening. When Hitler first took over Germany he was kind of a public health freak and he also washed his hands a lot every day and he was also a worshiper of willpower, so he was a really orderly guy. And he started this public health campaign in Germany and put together these vans that would go around like screening people for tuberculosis, but then they started a beautification program of the factories! Because he didn't like how messy the factories were! He had people clean them up, sweep them out, and plant flowers out front and fumigate them for rats and insects. And the Jews were always compared to rats and insects aswell.
They used Zyklon B to do the insecticide and it was the gas they used in the death camps. So it went like pathogen, insects, rats, then the jews, gypsies and the insane, it went into the asylums, so that people who were mentally deficient were like parasites and rats. […]
The thing is, we're basically wired in some sense, to the domain of order or the domain of chaos. The domain of order is 'where you are when what you're doing is working', because our environment isn't just natural, it's also social. Not only do you have to deal with the vagaries of the natural world properly, so that it gives you what you are aiming at. That's how you know if you're right, it gives you what you're aiming at. But you have to do it in a way that other people approve of and support. That's a very tight constraint and we talked about that as a constraint on the interpretation of the world.
But then, now and then, something happens to disrupt that stability. That's like the black circle in the white serpent in the ying yang symbol. And that's because chaos can come pouring through into order at any moment and you have a circuit that detects that. And that's the same circuit that detects snakes or predators. Obviously! Why wouldn't it be! An intruding force has to be responded to right now!
So there's a demand for instantaneous response.
Yes. We think that the natural response to looking at a human being is humanization, but that isn't right. The default person in some sense isn't human. The default member of your tribe is human, the name for most tribes around the world is 'the people', implying that they are the people – and all those other things out there are barbarians. They are forces of chaos, they are the stranger. They bring disease and trouble.
Now, I don't want to be too bleak about it. Because this is the basic debate between conservatives and liberals to some degree. Conservatives take the 'stranger equals pathogen'-route more frequently and they're less attracted to the idea that trade with the foreigner has benefits that outweigh the Risks. And liberals have the opposite attitude.
And that's because those two things are both true.
One is 'It's really useful to trade with strangers', because they have all sorts of cool things you don't have. But, two, 'It might be really dangerous', because you don't know what those things are infected with, both realistically and metaphorically.
Here's an example of how an object can be a virus: Think about the automobile as if you wanted to introduce some thing into a communist country that screamed the paramount status of the individual.
You couldn't possibly create something that broadcasts 'Freedom' more clearly than a car. The car is driven by one person, the person is completely autonomous, they're completely sealed off. They don't need any state support or sanction whatsoever to move around in the car. If you wanted to rescue the Communists from their collective pathology, the best thing to do would be to parachute in automobiles, because the automobile just screams individual autonomy.
So, when you when you get an artifact from a foreigner, you don't know what that's 'contaminated with'. And so we have a circuit for dealing with that and it's the thing that associates the foreigner with the force that eats the sun when it sets at night – that's the most archaic way of thinking about it. It's the snake or the predator.
And what do you do with a snake or a predator? You burn it, you kill it, you crush it. It's like there's a destructive force that comes along with it, that's absolutely morally righteous, because if it's a poisonous snake and it's threatening the village, obviously you kill it and then you're celebrated for it.
So the same dehumanizing force that allows people to act that way in war also allows people to disassociate between anyone who doesn't agree with their ideology in a school setting.
That's why I don't like ideologies, because the ideology divides the world into those safely ensconced within our dominance hierarchy and serpents. That's dangerous.
'The line between good and evil is running down the individual's heart', I got that particular line from Alexander Solzhenitsyn. It's an idea that's been developed intensively in the West for thousands and thousands of years. Maybe it's been developed since far before we invented the stories in Genesis.
Genesis is like a paradise, you could think about it as a well-functioning hierarchy and a balance between chaos and order, it's got walls and it's a garden. But there's a snake that pops its head in!
That's the same, the black dot inside the White serpent in the ying yang symbol. No matter how perfect the environment is set up, something that doesn't fit is going to make its way inside. It's one of the oldest stories of mankind and the thing that makes itself manifest inside in the Genesis story is a snake that turns out to be Satan. How the hell does that happen? It's a snake! What? Where does Satan come from? It's not actually in the Biblical writings to any degree, it's part of the surrounding mythology.
It's partly because people started to figure out, that the worst snake wasn't a snake! The worst snake was the snake that was inside a person, because a malevolent person is way more of a threat than just a snake!
The human race has been trying to figure out, where the threat is, forever. First of all, it was external. It was the snake, it was the Barbarian. But then it got localized to some degree inside the individual, 'That's a bad person, that person has a snake in them'. And then the idea kind of came out this.
This is so cool, the idea is that the snake inside Bad Person A and the snake inside Bad Person B is somehow the same.
That's where the idea of an articulated morality starts to come from, there's an equivalence of evil across individuals. Then the idea of evil itself starts to become abstracted at the same time the idea of good does, evil gets associated with Satan and Satan gets associated with the snake. It's mind boggling.
I mean, we were chimps for christ sake! It took us a long time to develop up an ideal. Just to say the word 'ideal' implies 'counter ideal'! Those things were embodied way before they were ideas. Not as 'bad' but as a bad thing or a bad person. 'Bad' had to be extracted out of that. And even that was extracted as a drama first. Like the 'bad guy' in a movie. He isn't a 'bad guy', he's a composite bad guy, he's a literary bad guy and the 'good guy' isn't just a 'good guy' he's a literary good guy. He's a hero, he's got way more heroic attributes than the typical person. And that's where abstract ideas are born.
That was a big rabbit hole. [laughter]
It's a great rabbit hole and it makes a whole lot of sense. […]
You know in a primordial situation, guys are in warrior mode a good part of the time and modern people don't even know what that's like. That's why they go out and they go into warrior mode and they get post-traumatic stress disorder because it's so unlike the way they configured themselves, that they can't even bridge the gap between the two identities.
And for just for sake of clarity, I think for some folks post-traumatic stress disorder actually comes from not just that but also from the threat of being attacked. From what I understand people like Special Ops, Rangers and Navy SEALs and the like are less likely to develop post-traumatic stress disorder because they're acting, versus reacting. […]
Yeah, they're in prey mode, in a very serious way.
There's a dichotomy, because if you're going to encounter a stress situation it's best to do it voluntarily. You use a whole different circuit, the approach circuit. […] In the face of a stressor you're better off psychologically if you act voluntarily. You're either going to be the thing that advances on the anomaly – or it's prey and to be a prey animal is a terrible thing, because it's Doom, it's Paralysis. It's like in the Harry Potter series with the Basilisk. You look at the Basilisk and it turns you to stone. Well, why?
Because that's what happens to a prey animal when a horrible predator looks out, it's frozen, it's turned to stone. That's Medusa with all her snakes. She looks at you. The devouring part of Mother Nature opens her eyes and looks at you, it's like you're paralyzed.
People think it's 'fight or flight', but it's 'fight, flight or freeze', right? I've seen it with people, they don't know what to do when they're in a stressful situation and instead of reacting they freak out.
Yeah. They freak out or they freeze.
They just lock up.
If we go back to that example of 'someone tells a joke', maybe they're kind of socially anxious and they finally managed to mumble out a joke – and it falls flat. To freeze in the face of that is a very common reaction. They freeze, then often they'll break into tears and run if they're socially anxious. Because they know that they've metaphorically been turned into a predator by the whole community and that's very shaming.
Socially anxious people are afraid of that all the time, that they're going to be regarded by the group as an outcast or pariah. It's very hard on people.
And the paranoid amongst them are always thinking that people are talking about them and trying to make them 'the other'.
Right. Yes. A very uncomfortable state of mind.
I think this is important. I think for the open minded whoever's [reading] this, who maybe might have opposed some of your ideas before, I think we'll get a better understanding of what's really dangerous about this lack of dialogue and the lack of engaging in this shutting you out and making you 'the other' as it were.
Yeah. It's what postmodernism is fundamentally concerned about. They don't believe there's any other way of operating in the world.
One of the things I think Western civilization has contributed so brilliantly to the expansion of knowledge in the world, is the question 'What's the cure for the inadequacies of the group?'
You might say it's the perfect state. In the Old Testament for example, the Israelites are always trying to make their peace with God. So they're trying to live in the world without getting walled up constantly by natural events and by invading forces.
On which they attribute to God's will.
Yes. Whatever is beyond their understanding in some sense. They're more sophisticated than merely this, but yes. But they're kind of conceptualizing 'being' as such and trying to figure out how to deal with it. One of the hypothesis they come up with is, you can bargain with it. And you can. That's one of the things that's so cool. The reason you can bargain with reality is because the reality that you encounter, as you move forward in time, is partly the world but partly the abstract social system, so you can bargain with the future abstract social system all the time.
You do that every time you make a promise, you do it every time you sacrifice one thing for another. You forego an impulsive temptation and that gives you a moral claim you can redeem in the future. That's what money is. We discovered the future at some point, then we discovered that you could bargain with the future, as if it was a person. That's amazing and that's partly where the idea of God as a personality came from.
I should flip that.
The idea that you could bargain with the future came out of the idea that God was a personality. Because the idea of god as a personality came first. But it was a developmental stage on the way to even being able to say 'the future'. We have no idea how, it's like a six million year path from chimpanzee to to self-aware human being and we have no idea where these unbelievably sophisticated ideas come from, like the idea of sacrifice. Do you know how much blood was spilled before human beings were able to sacrifice abstractly instead of killing something? We had to act out 'God enjoys you killing something because he's happy with the blood'. We had to act that out for thousands of years. Hundrets of thousands of years before we got anywhere near the idea that you could do that abstractly.
When I look at these old stories, I look at them like an evolutionary biologist. I'm not trying to reduce them in any way, because what we don't understand about evolution could make a very thick book, and there's other strange things about religious phenomenology that we don't have a clue about. Like the fact that psychedelics can reliably produce mystical experiences. No one has any idea what to make of that. You can just discount it.
It's like 'You know, there are drugs'. Yeah. Sure. People are using these things for who knows how long. They might be the source of all our religious ideas. So why do we have a capacity for mystical experience? Who knows! It's associated with the sense of awe, it's associated with the same feeling that you get when you listen to particularly dramatic music or when something moves you deeply and the hair on the back of your neck stands up. You know what that is? That's Piloerection. That's the same thing that happens to a cat when it looks at a particularly big dog. It's awe! You feel that when there's a swell of music, it's like you puff up just like a cat.
What do you make of this reality that these Entheogens [ed: 'a psychoactive substance used in a religious, shamanic, or spiritual context'] closely mimic human neurochemistry?
There's no doubt about it. Part of the reason is that we share an evolutionary pathway with all these things that we eat, plants and fungi. Look. We're linked evolutionarily to every form of life on the planet. Serotonin in lobsters has the same effect on lobsters as it does on human beings, if you up their serotonin levels artificially the lobster stands up more erect and stronger and is much more willing to fight. And if you decrease the serotonin in the lobsters nervous system then it gets all depressed and runs away and hides. Think about that. We split off from lobsters about 350 million years ago and they still live in dominance hierarchies. That's how old the dominance hierarchy is. That's older than trees, it's older than flowers. It's permanent.
We've evolved for the hierarchy and the spirit of the hierarchy and that's the old testament god, at least part of it. These things are mind boggling to me which is why I'm investigating them. All of our wiring is conditional on that.
And women use the dominance hierarchy to select mates. It's so strange, people think of evolution from a natural selection perspective almost always. But sexual selection plays a huge role. We know that you have twice as many female ancestors as male ancestors. People have a hard time with that, but you could imagine that this would happen if every single woman had one baby and only every second man fathered a child. So for men it would be you either have two kids or zero. That's basically what it is on average across time. If you're a man you have two children, maybe with two different women, or zero. If you're a woman, everyone has one. That's how it averages out.
There's more disparity of success among men. That's very common in the animal kingdom by the way. The question is, how do women select their mates. Unlike female chimps, female humans are choosy maters. Female chimps will mate with any chimp. The dominant males are more likely to mate with them, but that's because they chase away the subordinate. It's not because the females exercised choice.
Human females exercise choice and that's one of the things that differentiated us from chimpanzees. How do they do it? Well, they look at the male dominance hierarchy and that's where the men are competing. You could say they're competing for power, but that's pretty corrupt way of looking at it. They're competing for influence. They're competing for leadership. And in some sense the people at the top of the hierarchy, their men are elected by the other men. I know there was brutes and there's predators and all of that, but I'm talking on average across time. The men organize themselves and there are influential men that rise to the top and the women take them.
Think about what it means, that over millions of years a dominance hierarchy with those properties existed. That means that the male dominance hierarchy is the environment that pushes the mating male to the top. And that means the male that's most likely to take precedence in the male dominance hierarchy is the one most likely to leave a genetic contribution. So that means that the male dominance hierarchy is a selection mechanism, mediated by the female. And that means, that as we've moved forward through six million years of time, men have become more and more well-adapted not only to the presence of the male dominance hierarchy, but to the ability to move up.
That's the central spirit of the individual, which is the thing that can move up dominance hierarchies. It's the thing that's at the top, it's the eye at the top of the pyramid and it's been selected for. Then we get better and better and better, for biological reasons, culturally mediated, at figuring out how to climb across a set of dominance hierarchies so we can leave a genetic contribution. That's what's happened to human beings.
Now imagine that that's happened for six million years. Imagine that we started to watch that, because we're curious creatures. We're always trying to figure out who we are.
And then, as we watched that, we started to tell stories about what the people who could climb the hierarchies were like. Those were heroes. That's were Hero mythology came from. And the biggest hero is the person that goes and slays the Dragon, gets the gold, brings it back to the community and distributes it. He's also the person most likely to go up the dominance hierarchy. He's the person most likely to find the Virgin, because it's a virgin that you free from the dragon and you get to claim her. So the dominance hierarchy is a mechanism that selects heroes and then breeds them.
Then we watch that for six million years and we start to understand what it means to be 'the hero'. We start to tell stories about that and then not only are we genetically aiming at the dominance hierarchy, the selection mechanism mediated by female choice, but our stories are trying to push us in that direction. Then we say: 'Well, look, that person's admirable. Tell a story about him. And this person, too!' And at the same time we talk about the people who aren't admirable. Then we start having 'admirable' and 'not admirable' as categories. Out of that you get something like 'Good' and 'Evil' and then you can start to imagine the perfect person. You take 10 admirable people and you pull out someone who's meta-admirable. That's a hero and he becomes a religious figure across time, the hero becomes a savior, a messiah across time, as we conceptualize what the ideal person is.
And in the West, here's how we figured it out: We said the ideal person, the ideal human is the person who tells the truth! That means, that's the best way of climbing up any possible dominance hierarchy in a way that's most stable and most lasting. That's the conclusion of Western culture.
When you're talking about post-modernists and their rejection of these classic male structures, what they're doing is realizing that they're not going to compete in the classic as stated male hierarchy so they're creating their own version of it.
That's the creative element. Sure. They don't compete. They figured out how to compete as allies.
Yeah. It almost feels gross to label them like that. That is the way you think of male feminists, you think of them as sneaky. And it's discriminatory towards classic male behavior.
This is going to be hurtful to a lot of people.
You asked earlier why the postmodernists don't like blunt speech. That's why. The truth is something that burns. It burns off dead wood and people don't like having their dead wood burned off, often because they're like 95 percent dead wood. And I'm not being dumb. It's no joke when you start to realize, how much of what you've constructed of yourself is based on deception and lies. That is a horrifying realization and it can easily be 95 percent of you. Things you say, things you act out.
You see that in Pinocchio, which I often discuss. Pinocchio gets corrupt as he matures. He first learns to lie and then he becomes a braying jackass on Pleasure Island. And he's threatened by the underground authoritarians. They're going to sell him to the salt mines. Then you figure out you're a braying jackass and you're lying all the time. That's a terrible realization. And then all that needs to be burned away and people don't like that.
Do you see any sort of logical conclusion to this process? Do you see any light at the end of the tunnel or do you see it impossible to avoid conflict? What do you see when you look at this whole thing long term.
I can't look at it long term. The reason for that is: I do believe that we're in a period of chaos. That's why I get a kick out of all the Kekistan-Boys.
What's a Kek?
Kekistan is a mythological country that's ruled by chaos and by the god Kek, who's a frog. You need to look them up, it's a big internet thing. They used this symbol KEK to replace LOL because KEK in Korean means LOL, so it was just this little joke. Then somebody found out that KEK was also an Egyptian god and he was a frog and he was between categories. (Sort of like a transsexual by the way.)
Look at this. There's a frog with a MAGA-hat, and he's got like a tombstone. It says 'Those who served in the Meme-Wars 2015/2016. We are the gods of the great Meme-War. We are the shitposters. The legion of KEK. We are the Internet. The death of the Normies. LULZ and KEK. We are one.' What the fuck is going on?!
That is the question. I don't know. We're in a period of chaos and in a period of chaos the time horizon shrinks because the outcome is uncertain.
This seems to be truly embracing chaos. It seems to me a reoccurring feature in this whole chaos ballet that we're watching playing out. That people are enjoying the fact that Donald Trump sucks as a president. They don't feel threatened by it. They like it, they are enjoying that it's falling apart. This is why they are the shitposters.
There's rules for operating in chaos. That's when you're in the belly of the beast or the belly of the whale, and you're under water. You're in the Underworld.
The normal world of mankind is inside that dominance hierarchy, where everything is going well because nothing abnormal is happening you're getting what you need and you want. And your conscious knowledge suffices. But then something tilts and that structure no longer works. So you end up in the underworld.
That's what happens when your partner of 20 years has a long term affair and you find out about it. You thought you knew where you were, but you didn't. And now that you found out, you don't know where you are. When you don't know where you are, you're in the underworld. That's where the unconscious forces play. That's why there's gods in the underworld and people go to the underworld all the time. It's chaos and fear and depression and hopelessness. It's everything, it's terrifying to people.
Terrifying and promising! Promising because dragons have gold! It's always about the unknown, it has two things, just like the future. It's 'Look out, it'll do you in' and 'Look out, it offers everything to you'. That's the underworld. That's why the hero always goes into the underworld to find a cave full of gold and it's guarded by a dragon.
Like in The Hobbit, literally.
And Beowulf, right? It's the oldest story of mankind.
Down there's all sorts of play of possibility. The reason the frog was the guardian of chaos because the frog is this thing that doesn't fit into categories, it's partly water, it's partly land, it's like a fish, then it's like an animal. It doesn't fit. And it's things that don't fit that blow apart the categories. That's what the transsexuals do to the category of gender for example. And that puts you in this state of chaos and that's what we're in now.
So what are the rules for operating in a state of chaos?
As far as I can tell the fundamental rule when operating in chaos is: Tell the truth, it's all you've got as a shield and a weapon. You see that in hero stories all the time. It's allegiance to the truth.
But the truth is a very strange thing! Often the hero in a story has to assimilate their dark side before they're capable of telling the truth. The Hobbit has to become a thief because he has to get tough. That's the thing about telling the truth: It's not for the naive. Not at all.
And partly because it burns off Deadwood. It's partly because it hurts people's feelings. It's a sword. You have to be a warrior.
A Truth-Warrior, in this time of chaos.
What emerges from this?
Sometimes it's catastrophe. That's the thing about these categories: They're real.
The optimists that I hear say 'well, the pendulum swings and then it swings back' and I think 'yeah, well'. Sometimes it it takes 100 years to swing back and it takes a hell of a lot of people out on the way. And sometimes it never swings back at all. Sometimes people go out to fight a dragon and it just eats them. Or burns them. And that's the end of that.
We're in an unstable period of time at the moment. In a transition period of some sort, I can't put my finger on it. But I know that it's the reason why the things I've been saying has been resonating with people because obviously it's not about pronouns. But, well, it is! Language turns out to be about a lot more. You can't take a little thing, like that desire to transform pronouns, and think that's just a little thing. It's not a little thing.
Your disagreement with this use of these new gender pronoun words has opened up this discussion where you can enlighten people on your very deep understanding of human psychology. I mean essentially, they fucked with the wrong dude. [laughter]
People are often pulled in my Youtube Channel because of the social justice warrior stuff. But then they see I have all these other videos and they're curious about me, partly because people are calling me names. And so then they watch a video or two and they think 'Hmm, I haven't heard that before'. Yeah. Then they watch a bunch of them and then they write me and say 'Man, that was really helpful'. And I say 'Thanks', I'm really happy about that. Because I am.
Are you in an unmanageable position now?
Responding to people is not possible, so yeah.
I would imagine, over the last few months it must be just overwhelming.
Yeah. I've given up trying to keep up on e-mail. My wife helps me out, I've had some other people help me. I look around, I try to say thank you to people and write them a couple of lines when I have a moment.
And it's too bad because people are writing me very heartfelt long letters. They're often brilliant, amazing letters telling me their experiences with the authoritarian left or the way they've been cornered in one way or another, or how starting to clean up the room changed their life. That's quite fun, because it's something I always tell people to do, instead of going out and protesting, but just can't clean up the room. My sense is that if you want to change the world, you start from yourself and work outward because you build your competence that way. I don't know how you can go out and protest the structure of the entire economic system if you can't keep your room organized.
Isn't one issue with people who want to enact some sort of control over the outside world, that they're inside all fucked up and it's also those people who are the most adamant about it.
I think there's some truth in that. People try to change the outside world for lots of ways, but many of those ways aren't just pure good. I made a video called 'message to millennials – How to change the world properly'. Bit on the pretentious side, I suppose, but I was trying to produce something that was a counter position to this idea, what you should do is go out and fix up other people. That's just not right. There's a new testament line about 'not worrying too much about the speck in your neighbor's eye' when you have a log in your eye. Yes. No kidding.
You start to tell and act out the truth, locally, within the domain of your actual competence, because the world presents itself as a series of puzzles some of which you're capable of solving and some of which you're not. And you have many puzzles in front of you that you could solve, but you choose not to.
Those are the things that weigh on your conscience. You know that you should really do this, but you don't. What would the world be like if people stopped avoiding the things they knew they should do? The question is: How much are we contributing to the fact that life is an existential catastrophe and a tragedy. How much is our own corruption contributing to that. That's a really worthwhile question. Things you leave undone because you're angry, you're resentful, you're lazy, you have inertia. You consult your conscience and it says: 'You know, that place over there could use a little work'. It's the same as working on yourself. So you clean that up, because you can. And then things are a little clearer around you and you're a little better off because you've practiced a bit. So you're a little stronger and then something else manifests itself and says: 'Well, maybe you could take a crack at fixing me up, too'. So you decide to do that and then that gets a little bit more pristine. It's humble, because you're not exceeding your domain of competence. Don't be fixing up the economy, you're 18 years old, you don't know anything about the economy. It's a massive complex machine beyond anyone's understanding. And you mess with it at your peril. If you can't even clean up your own room, who the hell are you to give advice to the world. […]
This is part of the reason I like the psychoanalysts, Freud and Jung. I haven't read anyone I regard as deeper than Jung. He's terrifying, truly terrifying. But here's one of the things that differentiates him from the typical self-help person: He believes, that the pathway to completion as a human being is through the embodiment of the monster. That's the discovery of the shadow. Jung didn't believe that you could be a good person until you realized your capacity for evil. I don't mean acting it out in the world.
Understand that it's possible.
Not only understand it, but to bring it under your control. There's a big difference between someone who's naive and a good person. They're naive. They're a 'good person' because they can't not be. They're like a domesticated housecat. They don't even have the capacity to be bad. There's no morality in that. The morality comes when you're a monster and you can control it. And that's the Jungian encounter with the shadows. Jung said, the roots of the shadow go all the way down to hell.
What he meant by that, is: If you start to understand who you are, then you understand the Nazis. And who wants to understand the Nazis? You know, I can understand sex criminals. I can understand them. I can understand Nazis. And the reason for that is, because I can see that as an aspect of myself. Truly.
It's terrifying to realize that, which is why it's terrifying to realize the shadow, which is why people don't do it. It's no wonder they don't do it. It's a horrible thing to realize. That you're human. And what being human means.
Christ to Satan, that's the human being. And you might say those aren't real. OK, well, they're figments of the imagination that the human race constructed to describe themselves. Fine. Does that make it less frightening? I don't think so.
And you might say: 'Who's going to take the crazed extreme seriously. It's no problem, man. Dispense with it'. Fine. Try get rid of the other side. See how you do with that.
So the idea that you find so compelling was essentially that one has to understand their potential for horrific behavior that it almost exists in all of us, that it's a facet of the human experience.
Look, I know why you're so popular. It's because you're a monster. I mean look at what you did to the car dash on your comedy show, you did this whole gargoyle thing. [laughter]
Yes you can even laugh about that, but it was horrifying, you were crouched up on the back of this chair, I couldn't believe you did it.
The problem with doing this (this is going to sound fucked up), but while I'm doing it, I'm not thinking 'I'm doing a comedy sketch'. This is what's fucked up about it. While I'm crouched there I'm thinking like a demon and I'm very flexible. I want it to be in a way that human beings usually don't move. This is like explosive, but while I'm doing that, my brain goes into another place.
Yes. You can't do that unless you're a monster.
I was very happy when I retired it by the way.
Comedians are like that, they go into dark places. They're tricksters. They're a mediator between the normal world and the world of the gods. It was very funny to watch you do that and I wondered how far you would let yourself get into it.
I think part of the reason that you're appealing to people is that you're a tough guy, really. And you tell the truth. But it's both of those together! That's what's doing it! People don't look at you and think 'holier than thou preacher'. That isn't what they think. They think: 'Tough guy who's trying to figure things out'. You're a good figure for these times because this whole war against the phallogocentrism needs cause forward people who are like you, if we're lucky. Those are guys who have this warrior end, you know you're a fighter.
And if you're going to be a fighter, you have to want to win and you have to want to hurt people. I mean not for the sake of hurting them, that's what makes you different than an evil person. But you have to have that capacity, you have to develop that, and that's the step on the way to enlightenment, weirdly enough, because that isn't what people think.
I definitely think that truth is a valuable commodity in this very bizarre time. Also, one of the reasons why you're very popular: You stuck your neck out in a world that does not encourage it, not even in academia. Not only does it not encourage, it encourages the exact opposite. It encourages you to go with the tide, whichever way it is. Get your tenure and just…
It's intellectual pride. You know, I don't consider myself an intellectual.
What is an intellectual if you're not?
How about nobody. My ideas aren't disembodied, I act them out. Kinda makes me a romantic in some sense, I don't live in my head.
But what does an intellectual do then?
In 'Thus Spake Zarathustra', Zarathustra came down from a mountain top after being enlightened and he sees this. He goes into the public square and there's this little tiny being there, like an inch high, and has a gigantic ear on it and it's talking and people are gathered around listening. And that was sort of Nietzsches metaphor for an intellectual.
Mostly little, but the rational faculty or expanded to monstrous dimensions, unbalanced in that manner, prone to become the subject of totalitarian ideology. That's the worship of the rational mind that the Catholic Church warned against. I mean, it's not like the Catholic Church… ofcourse I have to say this… I won't even say it. You don't need to know.
The point is, the warning was that the rational mind likes to fall in love with its own creations.
The problem is that the term 'intellectual' identifies one aspect of it. It sort of defines one aspect of behavior and only one.
It's the intellect, that is raised to the status of the highest God. The highest ideal that a person holds, consciously or unconsciously, that's their God. It functions in precisely that manner and people might say 'I don't believe in God', and I'm like 'Well, it depends on what you mean'. I'm not being foolish about that. We're very complicated creatures and we're run by all sorts of very strange things down there in the unconscious.
The Greeks thought we were the playthings of the gods, because we serve lust, we serve thirst, we serve hunger, we serve rage. And those things all transcend us, that's why they are gods. Rage, that's the war god. Why is it a god? Because it exists forever. It exists in all people. It takes them over and directs their behavior. It's a God. You can quibble about the details. 'No it's not a god'. OK, fine. It's a psychological force.
We have to think about it functionally to some degree. We have to think about what that idea means. We've had that idea forever. It isn't just some superstition. Jesus, we've got to be more sophisticated than that, man! This is partly what is unfortunate about the new atheists, they don't take the damn problem seriously. They think, 'Christianity, that's just a bunch of superstition'. Really? No. Sorry. That's just not deep enough.
So what it really is, the accounts of people trying to work out the issues of being human?
Let me give you another example. This is so cool. It's Northrop Frye, a biblical scholar at the University of Toronto. This was one of his elucidations of the structure of the Bible, which is actually a weird story, it's a whole bunch of different books written by a whole bunch of different people edited kind of willy nilly over thousands of years and then assembled by committee. It's a really strange book, but it has a narrative structure, that sort of emerged as a collective decision across these thousands of years.
Here's the rough story in the Old Testament. Israel is sort of a middle power and it rises to power and domination. And then a prophet arises and says: 'Look, you guys, you're all successful now. You started to get corrupt. You're not paying attention to the widows and children. You're not running your state according to the superordinate principle.' You might say: 'Well, the superordinate principle doesn't exist.' OK, keep running it that way and see what the hell happens. That's what the prophet says, usually at the risk of his life, he says that to the king.
Fine! You don't believe in God, you don't believe in the superordinate ethical principle. No problem. Keep doing what you're doing. Let's see what happens.
What happens is: Israel gets wiped out for generations, it's enslaved, its population is being destroyed and then it sort of climbs back up to power and then it gets powerful for a brief period of time and it gets corrupt and a prophet comes up and says 'Remember that superordinate principle that you made a covenant with? You're not paying any attention to it anymore. You better look the hell out!' And everyone ignores it and BANG!
It's order, corruption, chaos, order, corruption, chaos. That happened six times. And there's an idea behind, because the state keeps rising. There's an idea that emerges out of that, the aim is the perfect state. That's an utopian dream that rises out of that learned process over thousands of years. If we could only get the state perfect, if we could only get the state of perfect. Let's say like the state of Israel, or the Russian state, the communist state. If we could only bring utopia in at the political level, our problems would be solved.
Then there's a transition in conceptualisation that happens with the New Testament: The state isn't salvation, the individual is salvation. That was a hell of a discovery. And postmodernists want to throw that out.
And there's more to it, not only is the individual salvation. It's the truthful individual that is salvation! Think of how difficult a concept this is to develop! Because, you would think 'Who's going to run the dominance hierarchy', you'd think 'It's gotta be the biggest bloody monster with a club'. But No!
Turns out, those societies are unstable. They don't work. They collapse into chaos. They get corrupt. They lose sight of the superordinate principle, whatever that is.
The stable solution is the individual that tells the truth and it's taken us forever to figure that out. And that's partly what the postmodernists are after. That's their anti-phallogocentricism. That's why they skitter off and hide in their ideology. They're afraid to come out. They're afraid to be seen. They're afraid to speak, because they have nothing to say.
We have to get sophisticated about this stuff or we're going to throw it away without understanding it. It's unbelievable.
It's the story upon which Western civilization is founded, that's why Nietzsche said, when God was dead, that everything would collapse into chaos. He didn't say that triumphantly! He knew what was going to happen! So did Dostoyevsky! That's why I admire those people so much. They knew what was coming.
Jung was the first who took Nietzsche's problem seriously. Nietzsche said, 'look, we're losing our faith, we're losing our our ability to relate to this superordinate ethical principle'. And he actually blamed Christianity for killing itself with the sort of truth that it had produced. We're going to lose this and it's big trouble, because our whole society is founded on those principles. We get rid of the animating spirit at the base of it, then we're going to lose all of it. And Nietzsche thought, well, we're going to have to become superhuman to manage it. That's where his concept of the Übermensch comes from, which the Nazis pulled out, nearly like a parody. Jung was a student of Nietzsche's, not directly, but very much influenced by him. Jung thought that Nietzsche was wrong, that we couldn't create our own values. Because it's so hard to create your own value.
Let's say, you're kind of an overweight guy and you decide to go to the gym for your new year's resolution. You don't. You go twice and then you stop and it's because you can't create your own values. It's hard. You're not your own slave. You can't just tell yourself what to do. You have a nature.
Jungs said that we have to go back to mythology, we had to go back to the stories, we had to go back into the underground of unconscious chaos and lift out what we had forgotten. He tried that with his psychology and he's done it very effectively. He was a revolutionary thinker, but very difficult to understand.
I've been working with Jung's ideas for a long time, trying to make them more rational and articulate. And believe me, that's no critique! What I've been trying to do is to resurrect the dormant logos, I suppose. And it's mostly in men, they're starving for it! That seems to be what's happening, like about 90 percent of my viewers on YouTube are men! When I go speak publicly, it's all men! What the hell are they doing! Coming to hear somebody speak, men don't do that! Women do that! I talk to them about truth and responsibility, and their eyes light up, because it's like no one ever mentioned that before. It just boggles my mind!
I feel like that's a gigantic theme today, men searching for some sort of reason or some sort of path. Men feel disenfranchised with this world that they find themselves stuck in.
There's a reason that superhero movies are so popular. That's polytheism. That's the return of polytheism for all intents and purposes. What the hell are those things, they're demi gods. Obviously. One of them is Thor for God's sake. How more obvious could it be.
So you might ask 'Who's the leader of the demi gods'? Because that's the person you really want to follow. The evolutionary answer to that is Christ, as far as the Christian route went. But there's been lots of embodiments of that: For Mesopotamians it was Marduk. He had eyes all the way around his head and he spoke magic words. That's what made him different from all the other gods and he was elected by all the other gods to be their king.
And then he went out and fought Tiamat, who's a great dragon, and made the world out of her pieces. One of his names was 'He who makes ingenius things out of the combat with Tiamat'. That's what human beings do. They go out into the unknown, into chaos, and they make ingenious things out of it. That's what we do.
Marduk was the founder of Mesopotamian civilization and all those tribes came together to make Mesopotamia. And so then those gods went to war and out of that war of gods emerged Marduk and Marduk is one of the sources for the figure of Christ. That happened all over the place. You see the admirable man, then you see ten admirable men, and you think wow, those guys have something in common. That's what you remember about them. You remember the heroic things they've done, because they stick in your memory, because they fit the pattern. And then you start telling the story about the heroic things that a bunch of them did, all amalgamates together. You come out with your culture hero, your god and then there's like 50 tribes, they each have their own Gods. What are you going to do then? The gods go to war over centuries. They elect a new god, Marduk, and he's the thing that goes out and fights the dragon of chaos and makes the world. It's like, yeah, that's exactly what he is. And you do that with truth, because truth introduces you to chaos.
Why do you think it's so much of an issue with males as opposed to females in our society?
Maybe females already have enough to do. Maybe men have to take this on voluntarily. That's what it looks like to me, because you can screw around till you're 50. You can still have a family. You've got time, and you can sit down and do nothing. If you want, you can do it. But you shouldn't, because it's horrible to do that. And people who do it, know it. It's meaningless.
Funny thing about meaninglessness. There's no such thing.
When people say their lives are meaningless, that isn't what they mean. They mean 'I'm in pain and anxious all the time'. Those are meanings, you don't get neutral. 'I just sit around and not feeling anything'. No, I'm sorry. That doesn't happen.
What do you mean by doing nothing?
By not accepting any response, by not lifting a great load, not acting out the archetype of the hero. That's what people are. That's what men are. If they're anything, they are mythological heroes.
Through some path, whatever it is.
There are lots of paths.
There's an old medieval idea of the Imitation of Christ, this is something that Jung elaborates on a lot. He believed that the 'proper goal of a Christian' is to enact the meta-pattern of Christ's life in their own, to make it their own story.
So, what did he mean by that. It is one of the things that characterizes the mythological figure of Christ: He takes on the burden of mortality voluntarily. He accepts it as a precondition of existence. And we have to do that, because otherwise we get resentful. Life is hard, make no mistake about it, People's lives are tragic. If you pick a random person off the street and you ask them about their life, man, usually there's things that just beggar the imagination. It's no wonder people are angry and resentful and bitter. But the way out of that is to accept it. To accept your mortality and that helps you transcendent it.
That's partly what the crucifix symbol means, because it was it accepted voluntarily. You have to accept your death voluntarily. That's part of the path of the hero. It's a very difficult thing to do obviously. But, what's your alternative.
People are constantly searching for meaning in this life and that meaning has a different definition for everybody. You kind of have to have your own path, and one of the reasons why people are so confused is, you are thrust into an early age into a very rigid system of education and then of jobs and then of the career structure where you're in this place and most people don't feel like that's what they're supposed to be doing. And we feel very alienated by the very structure of society that we are embedded it.
Ofcourse. There's two primary masculine mythological figures and one is the Wise King and the other is the King who devours his own son. That's the destruct, that's the patriarchy that the feminists are always talking about. Well, ofcourse! It's always there! Society is a destructive force!
Society doesn't care about you as an individual. It needs you to be part of society, it needs you to adopt the norms and to squelch your peculiar individuality to be a cog and to be socialized in, to control yourself and not be impulsive.
But society isn't only a tyrant! That's the thing! How about a little gratitude.
People have a hard time with this, because we like it when a thing is only one thing, but society is always two things: It's the thing that alienates you and it tilts harder towards the tyrant and that's not so good. But that's an archetypical reality, what you have to contend with in life.
This is why these archetypes are realities, because everyone has to contend with them. You have to contend with yourself and the adversary that's inside you, that seems to oppose your every movement, so you just can't move forward smoothly through life without being in conflict with yourself. So there's a hero and the adversary on the individual level. On the social level, there's the wise king and the tyrant. You're always going to run into that. I don't care if you're two tribes from Manoora or a New York lawyer, you're going to run into those things.
Then you're going to run into the destructive element of nature. That's the Gorgon. You you let that thing get a glance at you and you're one like frozen puppy. But there's also the benevolent element of nature, that's feminine, that's Mother Nature. It's always both of those extremes. That's the archetypical world, because it's eternal as far as human beings are concerned. Those things are always there, it's our true environment. It's not these things we see around us, they're lasting no time. These other things last forever. And that's what we're adapted to: We're adapted to the things that last forever.
Yet we go through this finite life searching for meaning.
It's funny to note where meaning seems to locate itself. You want a meaning that justifies the suffering. That's a transcendent meaning. This is hard, but it's worth it.
OK, so what do you do? Pick something worth it. That's partly what I try with that future authoring program [ed: basically, his version of Strunks Elements of Style, just very specific about 'How to write an Essay' for academia.]
What I'm trying there is to say: 'OK, here's a place to start. You got your miserable self right now. Now, three to five years, imagine what your life could be like, if you had what you would give yourself, if you were taking care of yourself. What would life be like. Just come up with an idea.
Then people do that, they write out a plan to attain it. The college kids are 30 percent more likely to stay in university if they do that, especially if they're men! Because men need a purpose. I think women have a purpose! They're going to have a family and that's a major purpose, man, give birth. It's no joke. And then you're devoted to something for 20 years. You got your adventure right there!
But a lot of women find great offense in someone, especially a man, mansplaining that a woman's purpose is to breed.
I didn't say that was the only purpose.
I know, you didn't.
People may have an issue with it, but grow up if you're a sophisticated person.
How many important things are there in life? One of them is family, it's as simple as that. Now you might say: 'Well, family isn't the end all solution'. Yeah, well, thanks for pointing that out. I've dealt with plenty of pathological families.
But it's a huge part of life! You have a mother and a father, you have children, it places you in the world. There's a reason societies worship the Virgin Mother and the child, because societies that don't die.
And people say, that a relationship between mother and child isn't the only thing. OK, fine, it's still a sacred thing. If you're female you miss that at your peril.
That doesn't mean there aren't women who shouldn't miss it. Maybe they have another purpose that transcends that. But that's rare. I would caution any women [reading this], if they're young, not to be deluded into the idea that their career will be of such high quality that it self-evidently trumps having a family. You have to have a hell of a career before that's the case.
Don't you think that's unique to the individual? Depending on what they are doing, artistically or creative or whatever…
Sure, you can always make rules for the exceptional. They do what they're going to do. They are open. Maybe they have a genius level IQ, they're spectacular in some manner. There's a reason they're going to step outside the norm. They're shapeshifters. No problem. There's always going to be people like that and we need them.
How do they know when they're that?
Telling the truth is a good start. Because then you don't fool yourself about who you are.
Another thing I tried to think through is: Why should you tell the truth? It's not self evident! The smarter the kid, the earlier they learn to lie. Lying is very powerful, you can manipulate the world with language. And then you can get what you want or escape from things that you don't want! So why not lie all the time?
And there's a bunch of reasons, one of them is that you can't trust yourself if you lie. There's going to be times in your life where you have no one to turn to except you. And if you've stuffed yourself full of lies, then you're going to be in a crisis one day and you're gonna have to make a decision and you're going to decide wrong and you're going to be in real trouble, because you won't have the clarity of mind necessary to make the proper judgment, because you've filled your imagination and your perception with rubbish.
There is this idea in the Old Testament that 'Fear of God is the beginning of wisdom'. I can understand what that means, because one of the things we do with the future authoring program, we offer people a little heaven, like: 'Construct your ideal. Aim at it. Come up with a plan. You can modify the plan, no problem. You're going to do a bad job, no problem. Just do it.'
Then you've got a goal, now your approach systems, the positive emotion systems that motivate you, are engaged in relationship to a goal. And the more transcendent the goal, the more they're engaged. But that's not good enough.
It's great to run toward something you like, but it's even better to run away from something that terrifies you. We ask people: 'Think about this real carefully. Take all your faults and your inadequacies and your hatred for life, all of that. And then imagine that gets the upper hand and then think about where you could be in three to five years.'
Now everyone knows, some people know they'd be a street person, some people know they'd be an alcoholic, some people know they'd be a prostitute or a drug addict, everybody's got their own little hell they could descend into with a fair degree of rapidity and a fair bit of enjoyment. And people know that, they gotta delineate that out too, so they know where they're headed when they fall off the path.
And then you run away and I'm like 'YES!' That's heaven and hell. And you need it and they're real! They are as real as anything! But it depends on what you mean by real I suppose. They're as real as you make them. How about that. And people can make hell pretty real.
People seem to construct these pitfalls for themselves. Self-sabotage is one of the most common things that you find in people that are struggling.
If you talk to people they say: 'I want to have a meaningful life'. Generally, people want that. Well, then why aren't you? What does it mean to have a meaningful life exactly? Maybe it means that you have to take on responsibility, because your sacrifices have to be worth something, it has to have some meat! What you're aiming at has to be something that can elevate your worm-like self to the level of tolerability.
Then you can say: 'I've got all these flaws, but look at what I'm trying to do!' That's the real ground of self-respect.
Comey just got fired by Trump.
Twitter is ablaze.
Anyways. We were talking about men and what motivates them.
When I'm speaking publicly now, most of my audience is men. We were talking about the necessity of taking on the burden of a responsibility, because people not only should be acting out the archetype of the hero, but we should be carrying a weight while we're doing it. Because we're like pack animals. We're not happy without a weight. I think it's something like 'You have to justify your miserable existence'. Something like that.
I believe that there's certain human reward systems that we have ingrained in us and that have allowed us to survive this long and that these reward systems entail overcoming struggle because struggle was inexorable, was a massive part of existence. Without struggle our body is almost like: 'How come I'm not overcoming something?' It's almost like a trick, you have to trick your body, trick your brain and trick your humanity, your very existence into having some sort of a purpose in order to be at a baseline. Does this make sense?
It makes sense, but I don't think it's a trick. Here's why.
There is something irreducible about suffering. It speaks for itself as an unquestionable reality. Nobody says to a child that's in severe pain, that it isn't going to matter in a million years. The pain trumps everything. So attempts to alleviate suffering trump everything. If you want a responsibility, you got one.
Try argue your way out of that, your suffering doesn't matter then, that's for sure, none of the suffering matters. You're going down that road, fine. You know what the face of someone who says 'No suffering matters' looks like? It's not pleasant. There is no neutral position with regards to that.
The world is full of unrequited suffering and who knows how much of it is unnecessary. So if you need a burden, how about dampening down the unnecessary suffering a little bit. How about trying hard to do that for the rest of your life. See if that'll do it. And God only knows how far you'd get. You might go a long way.
What is going on in the mind that desires this difficult pursuit? Why is that a part of being a person? Why is it a part of your ultimate happiness to have these obstacles to overcome? These character developing moments, in order for you to manage life and to get through life with the most amount of happiness?
There's a story about this. I think it's a frog and a scorpion. The scorpion tries to convince the frog to give him a ride across the river and the frog says: 'You're a scorpion, I'm not going to do that because you're going to nail me with your tail.'
And the scorpion says 'No, if I do that when we're in the river, we'll both drown. Why would I do that?'
The frog agrees to ferry the scorpion across and they get halfway and scorpion stings him. The frogs turns to him with his dying breath and says 'Why did you do that?' And the scorpion said 'It's in my nature'.
And that's the answer to your question, it's in our nature. That's what an archetype is, the hero archetype is the story of man.
Do you think that's nature because I's how we survived? That we needed to have the mechanisms in in our very existence to overcome struggle?
Maybe we chose it. It's part of the evolutionary process. There's a choice in that.
If a group of guys gets together and a leader emerges, someone everyone respects. It's like an election! Everyone voted on it. We chose that particular type of person, the heroic type. Human beings have chosen that. Then women think: 'Oh, look, a heroic type! I'd rather that grab him before someone else!' That's been going on forever.
So, did we choose it? Well, the actions of our choice across millennia selected it. These are things evolutionary psychologists and biologists don't think about: the role that consciousness played in determining who survived and how and why. It's been going on for a long time.
They certainly know about sexual selection by female choice, but the full implications of that haven't been thought through.
I've just really started to grapple with the idea that the male hierarchy is a sexual selection device. Men are voting on who deserves to go to sleep with a woman. It's like: 'Well, you don't, you're kind of a weaselly little snake, but oh, Joe looks like quite the guy. Let's put him at the top of the hierarchy!' That's what men have been doing with each other forever.
Isn't there more to it than that?
There's a lot to that! The question is: Who is it that they're electing?
But is it really just about sexual selection?
[Laughs] That's a good question Joe. Freud thought so.
Let's say half. It's the survival of the individual and the survival of the species. So those are the two things.
But even with that sexual selection, if a person does rise to the top of the social hierarchy in that small Dunbar's number of 250 people, does that person still need purpose? Do they still need some difficult struggle?
For most of human history that just wasn't a problem.
Because you had struggle, constantly.
Is the problem today our lack of problems?
Sure. Kierkegaard pointed out 150 years ago. He said: 'There will come a time when everything has been done so well for everyone that the only felt lack will be lack itself.'
Are you concerned because of that? Because you're concerned with this potential future that we have in front of us with artificial intelligence and virtual reality and this need to live in a world that's not real. I mean, how many kids today [reading this] exist for a massive amount of their day playing video games.
Playing the archetypical hero.
I had a friend and this is a classic story. He was one of the managers of the Comedy Store who's a very nice guy, but he was addicted to video games. […] In the real world he was like very unfulfilled, couldn't find a girlfriend, was struggling financially. In the video game world, he was like some warlock out there slaying dragons and he found great reward in that video game world. I'm very concerned that we will literally be in The Matrix plugged into some artificial electronic thing. I think these video games are a precursor to that. […]
We've decided already that we're in a period of chaos. Part of the reason I'm loath to make any predictions is that many things need to be going sideways at the same time to do that. And lots of things are going sideways at the moment. I have no idea what's going to happen.
We're building autonomous cars. That's the biggest employment category. What then? But why worry about that, there's 20 other things that are happening, that are just as revolutionary.
So what's going to happen? Who knows. I have no idea.
I think maybe I know how to steer the boat. That's all. You try to tell the truth and maybe you'll get through it and act it out as well. Because what else do you have.
Isn't Trump another fantastic sign of chaos? I mean 'Fantastic' not in a positive way, but that Donald Trump is our president now? The president who has had the biggest problem with the truth that we've ever experienced?
Well, he has an unstructured problem with the truth. He was preferred as a candidate to someone who had a structured approach to untruth. Pick your type of lie. You can pick the ideology power aiming lie. Or a more personal lie, say, if you're going to be cynical about it.
A new kind of lie, that didn't fit the standard structure that we're accustomed to and felt very disenchanted with.
Yeah. Or maybe a nakedly self-serving lie. It's like 'Thank God, that's such a relief after the totalitarian ideology lies.' [Laughter]
That's so fucked up. That's obviously it though.
Yeah, that's definitely part of it. Lots of people did. People went into the voting booth, their hand was hovering over Hillary and it was shaking and they thought 'Oh to hell with it!' – Trump. It's a sentiment that I can appreciate. So here we are.
But that's only the tiny tail end of the dragon. Who knows? Who can look ahead? This is a strange time we're in.
Maybe it's associated with Kurzweils prognostications. He talked about the consequence of an ever accelerating technological transformation. In the last 50 years we've had birth control, the hydrogen bomb and the transistor thrown at us. Those alone are some pretty wild tornadoes. And that's just scratching the surface.
If you go back to the beginning of the 20th century, it's unbelievable.
In 1895 the average person in the West lived on a dollar a day. In today's dollars.
Yeah. Wow. No kidding.
When people find out how little the rest of the world lives on, they find out that the top 1 percent of the world makes about $34000 dollars.
It depends. For many people someone who's rich is someone who has more money than them. Which is one of the things I really find funny about the radical left protests on the campus. 'Down with the 1 percent!' Right. I'm like: 'Hey, sunshine, you're part of the 1 percent. You're one tenth of one percent. You're just angry because you're not there yet, but you will be when you're 40. And you know it, so does everybody else. And instead of regarding yourself properly as a fledgling member of the elite, you want to have it both ways.
You want to be fledgeling member of the elite, and champion of the underprivileged. How narcissistic can you get. You want to have all the benefits of having all the benefits. And you want to have all the benefits of having none of the benefits. Because just all the benefits isn't enough for you.'
What do you think about universal basic income? The idea of giving people a certain amount of money.
I don't know what to think about that. It would require a revolution in the way people consider their lives. What do people do with leisure time? What should you do with it? What is leisure time exactly? Is it sitting in a closet like like a discarded Android? That's often how people respond when they retire.
Would they have to retire or would they have their needs like food and shelter taken care of and then be able to pursue something that they actually enjoy and are interested in. Because the job that they were stuck in doesn't exist.
The data aren't great. You know what happens to a lot of men who are unemployed now. They've had that thrust upon them involuntarily. Most people who we would be talking about would be in that situation, they get depressed, they sit on the couch, they develop chronic pain problems, they start taking opiates for the pain problems and then soon they're hooked. I know that it's not everyone doing that, but lots of people are.
But isn't unemployment a different thing?
I don't know.
But if you've got something like universal basic income, we're talking about a complete revolution in the way society is structured. If automation does come along, and artificial intelligence does come along, and it really is a situation where a lot of the things that people do to occupy their time in order to feed themselves and shelter themselves, they don't exist anymore. So you're not talking about unemployment, like 'Bob, you're not a good enough lawyer, you're fired' And now you're a failure, depressed, unemployed. We're not talking about that. We're talking about literally society as we know it, having a complete reset.
I have no idea what to say about that.
I don't either. That's why I asked you.
Here's the optimistic end. I'll speak as a determinist, I'm not a determinist, but I'm going to speak that way anyways.
There are lots of people who are creative. They're high in trait openness from the Big Five, they're going to do creative things. But there are lots of people who aren't creative. I don't know what they're going to do, because it isn't going to be creative things.
What do you think people are creative and noncreative? Are there people that have never been nurtured in them? That they have the potential to be creative?
No. The literature is pretty clear on that. The traits are highly heritable. They may be modifiable, but if you're really noncreative it ain't going anywhere for you.
Creativity isn't all sweetness and light. The reason there are noncreative people is because creative people often died. They're all doing screwy things, they attract attention from people they shouldn't attract attention from, like the authorities. The creative people are revolutionary and tyrants don't like revolutionaries.
There's lots of reason not to be creative. Even now, creative people have a hard to monetize their creativity. Artists have a hell of a time surviving.
Creativity as such is a double edged blessing for sure, because it's a lot. It's a hell of a lot easier not to be decked out in bright colors when the predators come along. You want to stay camouflaged against the herd like a zebra. You don't want to stand out.
I'll tell you a little story about that.
Let's say you're a biologist to go to study some zebras. People think, those zebras are camouflaged because they are black and white stripes. But that's not camouflage. Lions camouflage. It's golden! It looks like the grass. You can see a zebra like 15 miles away!
You might think you need to look at one zebra to figure out what it's doing. So you look at a zebra and then take some notes and look up and you think: 'Oh God, which zebra was that!'
Because the camouflage is against the herd. That's such a useful idea to have in your mind, that camouflage can be against the herd!
So you go up to the zebra and you put a nice dab of red paint on the zebra's haunch, you clip its ear. Then you gotta get the hell out of there, because lion will kill it. Because they can identify the thing that stands out and organize their hunt around it.
That's why there aren't more creative people. […]
Do you feel like excellence is suppressed because people don't like when someone stands out too much?
Yeah. I think that's true everywhere.
People always measure themselves against someone and find themselves coming up short, try to attack that individual someone who has just catastrophic success and some sort of a way?
Yeah. That's another reason for people to be enemies of clear thought, because clear thought is a good pathway to success. If you can go after people who think clearly, it's another way of keeping the dominance hierarchy nice and flat for your delectation. That's the 'enemy of competence'-element that I see as part of the social justice warrior movement.
Even the insistence that hierarchies are always based on power! The hierarchy of neurosurgeons is not based on power. I mean, obviously hierarchies are based to some degree on power. We don't have to be juvenile about it.
But the best neurosurgeons actually know how to do surgery. That's not just a power thing. The best farmers grow food. There's no appreciation for the real world. There's no real world in postmodernism anyway, so that doesn't matter. But there's no appreciation for competence or the fact that there is individual difference in competence, even though they're always talking about diversity.
And there's a downplaying of the importance of competition.
Definitely. Yes. That's something that's particularly hard on men, because men compete and they compete partly because women like winners.
And you're shamed for that and this postmodernism view of the world.
Yeah. Schools increasingly are noncompetitive places. For a guy that means to go play video games, because if I can't win at this, why should I play? Well, 'to cooperate'. Fair enough. But I'd actually like to try to win at something. How evil can you get.
It's 'toxic masculinity', Jordan. That one drives me fucking crazy. Toxic has nothing to do with masculine or feminine. If something's toxic, it's toxic. There's no toxic masculinity. If someone's evil, they do something horrible. Gengis Khan or Hitler, that's an evil person, it has nothing to do with the masculine or feminine.
It depends on what your political agenda is.
I mean, men are more likely to be the type of person that does something awful, in terms of dominating or war or violence.
Men are more likely to do something that's really evident. There's plenty of bullying that goes on behind the scenes among women. It can't manifest itself in naked physical aggression and I actually think that's hard on women in some ways.
My daughter is always mad at my son, because he'd have a dispute with one of his friends and maybe it would get physical and that would be the end of it and they'd be friends again. There is a way of bringing it to a conclusion. Without that, things can smolder on forever. That's really rough.
Sometimes the simplest solution is a fight. I mean, I'm not violent or… I won't say it. I'm embarrassed that I would even think that I have to put some little quote marks around it. So sad.
You're talking about young people and the stewing of disputes, that never get resolved.
Yeah. It's a terrible thing. That's part of hell for sure, to have these things that are just grinding away at you all the time. It's definitely not a good place to be and good motivations don't come out of it.
You've made some statements about your role in academia and that you might not necessarily be in structured academia forever, that this might be an issue where this is coming to a head.
The university reacted towards me because a bunch of people got irritated and organized and said that I was a bad person and something should be done about me. There were enough of them, so the university thought they needed to react to that pressure. That's a charitable way of interpreting it, but reasonable.
Then a bunch of people wrote the university and said 'Wait a second, I agree with what that guy is doing, you should leave him alone'. And not only people from the general populace,. Soon after I posted the original videos, the press was kind of ambivalent about me for a while, but then they started to look into what I was doing and they thought 'Oh, turns out that freedom of speech actually happens to be quite important to journalists, too!'
They came out really radically in support of me, some of the major journalists in Canada and the whole media system which was about 150 or 200 newspapers. So the university had a reason to back off and maybe they were happy to back off. The dean I was negotiating with wasn't a bad guy, he was an older guy in his 70s, responding to pressure. And he didn't want a bunch of trouble, he wanted the problem to go away.
But all this public support gave the university a reason to leave me the hell alone. So they decided to do that. Partly because I was always reasonable during the negotiations, I suppose, because I'm a reasonable person. When they met me they realized that I wasn't the particular kind of monster that I had been accused of and the universities left me off, then I had a health crisis in December that more or less rectified itself by the beginning of January.
Plus, what had happened to me, because of these videos and all the crazy response to them, I wasn't sure I was in a sufficiently position to go back lecturing in January. I didn't even know for a while until December if I was going to be allowed to continue to lecture! It's still uncertain, but I decided that it was better to get back on the horse. I started lecturing again and the students were very welcoming. So thank God for that.
Is it a completely different experience before and after your notoriety exploded?
There's lots of things that are different. Lots of students, lots of people who come to my classes just to sit in the classes. There's people who are stopping me all the time in the hallways, wanting to introduce themselves and that happens a lot in public in the strangest situations. I'm rather unused to that. I haven't processed any of that yet.
I'm about seven months behind in my understanding of my own life, because so many things happened from September to now that I haven't had time to think about any of them. It's just been an absolutely continual treadmill of trying to keep up with requests for speaking and e-mail.
I'm supposed to be making these YouTube videos, because I have people who are supporting me for doing that. I'm trying to keep that up and then I'm trying to go speak when people invite me. Not all the time because, of course, that's a lot of travel. I'm trying to recalibrate my life, I'm trying to figure it out.
I got 10 million views on YouTube. What am I supposed to do with that piece of information? I've got 250000 subscribers. What does that mean? What does that mean for what I should be doing? Maybe I should be doing nothing but making YouTube videos for them. I don't know.
It's a tremendous advance!
It's unbelievable! It's unparalleled!
Is there any other academic that has ever done anything remotely like that? You have 250000 subscribers on YouTube in a relatively short amount of time and then millions and millions of views on your videos.
I don't know. It's ill defined territory. I mean, you told me you're getting something like 70 million downloads a month.
It's more like 120 now.
OK, so you're getting a billion downloads a year.
Something lime that. More than that. So what.
Right. So, what the hell?! I could ask you, what do you make of that? Are you the most powerful interviewer the planet has ever seen? Because the numbers would suggest so. Who has a billion of anything. No one. It never happened.
So what the hell? What are you doing? Why is it working? Where are all these people?
I just keep doing it. That's all I do. I just do what I do. And I don't think too much about it. I enjoy it. I try to talk to people like yourself that I really enjoy talking to or the guy before you was a bow hunter which I enjoyed. Tomorrow I'm talking about a guy who's a debunker or talking to a guy who runs a site called metabunk. We're going to talk about people that believe the earth is flat. We're going to spend about two hours debunking the flat earth theory that is all over the Internet. There's a rabid anti-intellectual vibe that's going on today.
No wonder, because many of the prominent intellectual types have become prisoners of their own imagination. This is partly what breeds that terror of intellectualism. There's something about it.
We don't want to get too far away from our bodies. We don't want to get too far away from our souls. That's another way of thinking about it.
There is this idea that the rational mind falls in love with its own productions or that it tries to elevate its productions to the status of God. That's what Milton was warning in some sense, in his book 'Paradise Lost'.
These utopias are human creations and then people fall prey to them. It's like idol worship. No wonder people get skeptical of the intellectuals, because they're producing these utopias that are fake and that they inhabit. They're almost like the abstract equivalent of video games.
I think there's something more going on. I think people are aware of this chaos and they're terrified and they're clinging to nonsense because of that terror and they're embedding themselves in these fruitless pursuits chasing their own tail.
I'm I'm on board with that. Chasing your own tail, that's a symbol of chaos, the dragon that eats its own tail. It's a downward spiral. And as you retreat from the chaos into your own little prison, you get weaker and weaker and the prison gets smaller and smaller and the chaos gets bigger and bigger. It's really an ugly pathway and you get more and more bitter and resentful and much more afraid of having your prison walls breached.
And you become much less interested in pursuing the truth or any sort of objective reasoning – and much more interested in confirmation bias to the extreme.
That's exactly what happened. I detailed out that process in my book Maps of Meaning. It's a feedback loop, because the weaker you are, the thicker the walls have to be. But the thicker you make the walls, the less challenge you you face, and the weaker you get. So then the walls have to get thicker and then you get weaker and the walls have to get thicker and it's not a pretty picture.
Yeah, that's what I think, too.
Well, thank you, this was awesome. I think you touched on some things that made me think in a very unique way today.
All right, thanks brother.