The Pōneke branch of the International Socialist last night joined the wave of protests against Jordan Peterson, as he tours New Zealand and Australia promoting 12 Rules for Life. Peterson is not a philosopher-king or an intellectual. He’s an egg spreading reactionary ideas. He is a best-selling misogynist, a transphobe, and is regularly courted by the far-right. That’s why he shouldn’t be spreading his message without visible opposition. That’s the job of the Left.
The far right are gaining confidence and visibility globally. Misogyny is mainstream. In the White House, there’s President Trump, a misogynist who brags about harassing women. There is Bolsonaro in Brazil, and the terrifying prospect of anti-gay violence. In this political climate, it’s all the more important that we have our voices heard. We need to be organised not just within Aotearoa, but internationally.
Jordan Peterson’s mumbo-jumbo tap into alienation and despair. He’s throwing some mystical clothing on the age-old ideas of homophobia, misogyny, and transphobia. It’s clear too that from our side we need to be more equipped to fight his ideas intellectually. Justifications for inequality, misogyny and transphobia are a stew of cliches – with some weird asides on lobsters thrown in for spice – but they are given widespread coverage and are giving bigots confidence. We saw that last night with the men happy to shout, sneer and try and intimidate our protest.
But, the most important aspect of the protest is to understand that this fight doesn’t stop with just one event. We have to continue to take the fight against his toxic ideas that come up in our workplaces, our campuses, and on our streets. We need to build the positive left, socialist alternative that offers a genuine alternative. Not Peterson’s bleak, misogynistic dead end. That’s what a protest against Peterson represents: a positive alternative against Peterson’s hate, against Peterson’s misogyny, and against his transphobic views. And for a world where equal pay is the norm, where trans people’s self-identities are taken for granted, and where women are quite-rightly seen as leaders.