Contemporary leftists have “performed a philosophical sleight of hand that transformed the class war into identity politics of war,” said Jordan Peterson during a lecture at Harvard University on April 10.
Marxism is a sociological paradigm in which human history is cast as a function of class struggle and warfare. All other forces shaping human events — environmental, geographical, religious, technological, political, cultural, et. al — are cast as derivatives of class struggle and warfare.
As communism fell out of fashion during the 1950’s and 1960’s, following wider exposure of life in the Soviet Union via publications such as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago, leftists adjusted their core axiom of class struggle and warfare to other frameworks of perceived group power struggles: race, sex, religion, ethnicity, and other dichotomies.
Peterson recalled that left-wing agitators seeking to shut down a speaking engagement of his at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, shouted slogans while carrying a “banner that had a hammer and sickle on it.”
Communism and its ideological progeny, said Peterson, were accepted and promoted across university campuses while Nazism was condemned:
“The reprehensible ideologies that are based in fundamental Marxism killed at least a hundred million people in the twentieth century, and there are still apologists. One in five scientists identifies as a Marxist.
What happened in the 1960s, as far as I can tell, and this happened most in France — which have probably produced the most reprehensible coterie of public intellectuals that any country has ever managed, is that in the late 1960s when all the student activists had decided that the real Marxist revolution wasn’t going to occur in the Western world, and had finally realized that apologizing for the Soviet system was just not gonna fly anymore given the tens of millions of bodies that had stacked up, that they performed what I would call a philosophical sleight of hand and transformed a class war into identity politics of war. And that became extraordinarily popular.”
Neo-Marxism and post-modernism, said Peterson, appeal largely to “resentful people,” given the ideologies’ appeal to covetousness and jealousy.
Peterson called for the end of state funding for neo-Marxist faculties, programs and courses such as “women’s studies” that operate under the guise of legitimate academic inquiry. He also spoke of neo-Marxism’s ubiquity across universities and colleges:
“It’s everywhere, it’s not just in campus protests. The campuses are overrun in large part with disciplines that have, in my estimation, no valid reason to exist. I think disciplines like ‘women’s studies’ should be defunded. Any of the activist disciplines whose primary role is the overthrow of ‘the patriarchy,’ which is about as ill-defined a concept as you could possibly formulate … we’ve done enough public funding of that sort of thing.
We’re providing full-time destructive employment for people who are doing nothing but causing trouble. … what they promote has zero intellectual credibility. Their research methods don’t qualify as research methods. Their publications — eighty percent of publications now garner zero citations.”
The humanities have been largely “corrupted,” said Peterson, with fraudulent peer-review processes for the publication of ostensibly academic journals. Ideological myopia via neo-Marxism, he added, is standard fare across many professors and academics in the humanities.
Dissident speakers seeking to avoid disruption from leftists at university and college campuses, said Peterson, should schedule morning events:
“One of the things I did when I was talking to the university administration was to suggest how they might deal with the possibility of protesters. So I said, “Well that’s easy. I know how you can have absolutely zero protesters. Have it in the morning, they won’t get out of bed before ten.” So we had it at nine o’clock in the morning and there was one MPP [member of provincial parliament] who showed up to hand out some pamphlets, and not a single protester. If you want a controversial speaker on campus, just have it at seven in the morning. You won’t get a protestor within fifty yards of it, because they’ll still be sleeping off last night’s alcohol-induced hangover.”
Peterson is a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto.
Watch the entire lecture here.
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