Postmodernism — an outgrowth of neo-Marxism — contends that power struggles are the only drivers of human affairs, asserted Jordan Peterson during Joe Rogan’s eponymous Friday-published show:
One of the tenets of postmodernism … is that there’s nothing but power. That’s the only thing that mediates relationships between people, because there’s no real world, everything’s a social construct. And it’s landscape of conflict between groups; that’s the postmodern world.
The only actual means of expression is power.
They look at hierarchical organizations — and they’re stratified, obviously, there’s people at the top and people at the bottom — the only reason that there are people at the top is because they dominate by power. There’s no philosophy of authority or competence.
If you’re cynical about that sort of thing, and you should be, you might say that part of the reason that the only thing that postmodernists believe in is power is because that helps them justify their arbitrary use of it under any circumstances whatsoever.
Bret Weinstein, who appeared alongside Peterson on Rogan’s Friday show, framed Marxism’s social prescriptions as incompatible with human nature:
It’s sort of a tired critique, but I happen to think it’s about right, which is just that [Marxism] does not take account of what a human being is, and what makes society function.
Leftists cultivate resentment via jealousy and insecurity, said Peterson; they frame wealthier persons as immoral exploiters of relatively poorer persons. If such agitation moves forward, he continued, productive persons are destroyed to the detriment of broader society:
[Postmodernists and neo-Marxists] say — this is the pernicious thing — they say, “Well, the reason some people have more than others is because every hierarchy is based on arbitrary [distribution] of power, and [those at the top] are oppressors. The reason they have the money is because they stole it from you,” and there’s some truth in that because there are some criminals. But when you get to the point that you fail to distinguish the productive people from the criminals — which is exactly what happened in the 1920s in the Soviet Union — you better bloody well watch out, because when you radically make things egalitarian, you’re gonna wipe out all your productive people, and then you’re gonna starve.
Universities and colleges are largely controlled by postmodernists and neo-Marxists, said Peterson: “The universities are actively agitating to produce people who believe that all inequality is due to oppression and power.”
“The well-developed individual is the antidote to the tyranny of society and biology,” concluded Peterson in describing the pinnacle of Western Civilization’s understanding of the human condition.
Individual growth through the embracing of personal responsibility is essential to preserving human freedom, said Peterson.
Marxism is a sociological paradigm framing “class struggle” as the driving force of history. Neo-Marxism recalibrates “class struggle” to include power struggles (contextualized within a zero-sum game paradigm) between assorted and arbitrarily defined groups, including but not limited to groupings based on sex, race, ethnicity, religion, and sexual orientation.
Marxism frames human nature as fluid, with the human condition therefore perfectable through technocratic central planning. Competing ideologies such as (American) conservatism are predicated on an essentialist view of human nature, yielding skepticism of increasing centralization of power within the state at the expense of individual liberty.
Peterson is a professor of Psychology at the University of Toronto. Weinstein is a professor of biology at Evergreen State College.
Watch Rogan’s joint interview with Peterson and Weinstein below.
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