Monday, May 14, 2018

Jordan Peterson On The Jewish Question

jordanbpeterson |  The players of identity politics on the far right continue ever-so-pathologically to beat the anti-Semitic drum, pointing to the over-representation of Jews in positions of authority, competence and influence (including revolutionary movements). I’m called upon–sometimes publicly, sometimes on social media platforms–to comment on such matters, and criticized when I hesitate to do so (although God only knows why I would hesitate 🙂

So let’s take apart the far-right claims:

First, psychologically speaking: why do the reactionary conspiracy theorists even bother? This is a straightforward matter. If you’re misguided enough to play identity politics, whether on the left or the right, then you require a victim (in the right-wing case, European culture or some variant) and a perpetrator (Jews). Otherwise you can’t play the game (a YouTube video I made explicating the rules can be found here). Once you determine to play, however, you benefit in a number of ways. You can claim responsibility for the accomplishments of your group you feel racially/ethnically akin to without actually having to accomplish anything yourself. That’s convenient. You can identify with the hypothetical victimization of that group and feel sorry for yourself and pleased at your compassion simultaneously. Another unearned victory. You simplify your world radically, as well. All the problems you face now have a cause, and a single one, so you can dispense with the unpleasant difficulty of thinking things through in detail. Bonus. Furthermore, and most reprehensibly: you now have someone to hate (and, what’s worse, with a good conscience) so your unrecognized resentment and cowardly and incompetent failure to deal with the world forthrightly can find a target, and you can feel morally superior in your consequent persecution (see Germany, Nazi for further evidence and information).

Second, in what manner (if any) are such claims true? Well, Jews are genuinely over-represented in positions of authority, competence and influence. New York Jews, in particular, snap up a disproportionate number of Nobel prizes (see this Times of Israel article), and Jews are disproportionately eligible for admission at elite universities, where they, along with Asians, tend to be discriminated against (see this Newsweek article). It’s possible that we should be happy about this, rather than annoyed: is the fact that smart people are working hard for our mutual advancement really something to feel upset? What, exactly, is the preferable alternative? In any case, the radical/identity-politics right wingers regard such accomplishment as evidence of a conspiracy. It hardly needs to be said that although conspiracies do occasionally occur, conspiracy theories are the lowest form of intellectual enterprise.