A thought-provoking piece in the current edition of The Spectator. Extracts:
Let me say first of all that Dr Peterson’s recent stand against the Thought Police of his native Canada was noble and brave. He refused to be bullied into using gender-neutral pronouns. And by resolutely resisting this pressure, he overcame it — at least for now.
But as a prophet of doom I need to add that I am not sure he has won any really significant victory in the long war against radical speech codes and sexual revolution. I am ceaselessly amazed, as I look at our media, political parties, schools and universities, how formerly conservative people and institutions have adapted themselves to ideas, expressions and formulations which they once rejected and confidently mocked. Almost everything that was once derided as the work of the ‘loony left’ or ‘political correctness gone mad’ is observed daily in grand, expensive private schools and is the official policy of the Conservative and Unionist party, or soon will be.
There is also some good advice for troubled, lost people, given by a man who has had quite severe troubles of his own, and whose face, in some lights and attitudes, looks a little like that of a sorrowing saint on an Orthodox icon. Yet I am perplexed by the fact that Dr Peterson has in the past taken ‘antidepressant’ pills. Is he aware of the scientific and medical controversy surrounding the claims made for them, and the possible disadvantages of taking them? They seem to me (even if they work as claimed) to be a version of Aldous Huxley’s soma, the drug that reconciled the inhabitants of Brave New World to their servitude and ignorance.
Perhaps this is why I am so glad that the whole nature of Dr Peterson’s work is alien to me. I am too keenly aware of the good things which have been utterly lost in recent years to be comforted by what looks like an attempt to reconcile us with the revolutionary order. I find it hard to applaud efforts to help me adapt to a world which I think has gone utterly wrong. His message is aimed at people who have grown up in the post-Christian West. I think it appeals especially to young men. And I think this is mainly because those young men cannot work out how to behave correctly towards modern young women. These young women’s minds have been trained to mistrust masculinity. But in their hearts they still despise feeble, feminised men. The outcome is that men are trapped in a minefield, in the midst of a quicksand. Whether you stand still or move, it will still destroy you. I do not know how anyone copes with it, or ever could.