Monday, December 12, 2016

Peterson on Biopolitics

Jordan Peterson gave this really good interview with Rebel media with regard to the origin of Social Justice Warriors. It's a very good talk because Peterson is able to expand upon several topics that this blog has touched upon in the past.

In the past, this blog has tried to raise awareness on the subject of System 1 and System 2 thinking. System 1 thinking, the "low effort cognitive state" is strongly influenced by personality and disposition, System 2 being less so. As Peterson--and his assistant--point out in this video, the dividing lines between Conservative and Liberal are based primarily in their dispositional states. In other words, for most people the political divide is as a result of motivated "low effort cognition" and is not the product of dispassionate reasoning on the various aspect of the political economy.  What this means is that politics, for many is an instinctive response, something Orwell directly alluded to when he wrote, "Ingsoc bellyfeel good."

Prior to the First World War, when at least in Europe, power was held by the ruling cultured and educated elite, there was a good chance that political decision making had a degree of rationality about it. However, with the democratisation of the West, the enfranchisement of the masses has meant that when it comes to political decision making, the center of gravity has drifted from the rational to the instinctual.  For the majority, Left and Right are "bellyfeel"--intuitive--associations.

Peterson also goes into the dispositional states which lead to totalitarian personality types, especially with the need for order. Interestingly, Peterson recounts how the Frankfurt school was able to influence psychology in denying outright the existence left wing authoritarianism which has hampered the study of it. This in turn ties nicely with Griffin's recognition that our understanding of Fascism has been strongly influenced by the Marxist nature of academia.

What's really interesting is the how the "maternal" dispositional type steers politics to the Left, or more significantly to "compassionate" societies.  From a biopolitical perspective, Testosterone is the hormone of the Right and Estrogen the hormone of the Left.  Restricting the democratic vote to men resulted in a battle between High T and low T, adding women to the franchise, shifted it profoundly towards "compassionate" big government. That's universal suffrage for you.

Peterson recognises that there are a lot of similarities between Left wing and Right wing totalitarians. The Right aims at homogeneity by exclusion, whereas the Left aim at homogeneity by inclusion. The important point here is that action is strongly influenced by biologically inherited disposition modified by environment.

Peterson recognises that that people see the world through their temperament and some are able to get beyond it, but as the work of  Stanovich, Kahneman and Tversky demonstrate, very few are capable of rationality.  The "temperamental" lens, I think, should be a foundational instrument of the Dissident Right with regards to analyzing the effects of democratic movements in the 20th Century.

It's a very good presentation which I'd strongly recommend my readers to view.

14 comments:

Undocumented Pharmacist said...

Prior to the First World War, when at least in Europe, power was held by the ruling cultured and educated elite, there was a good chance that political decision making had a degree of rationality about it. With the rationale being that whatever benefited the ruling elite was the go-to option, which is understandable from their viewpoint.

However, with the democratization of the West, the enfranchisement of the masses has meant that when it comes to political decision making, the center of gravity has drifted from the rational to the instinctual. This effect is felt most strongly in the female portion of the electorate. Most males still lean on reason rather than feeling.

Greg said...

"From a biopolitical perspective, Testosterone is the hormone of the Right and Estrogen the hormone of the Left."

Interesting, then, to read in the news that male testosterone has been dropping year after year. One could easily believe any number of conspiracy theories surrounding that fact alone.

To add to your point, from the Rogan interview, Peterson notes that women are more prone to political correctness:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=04wyGK6k6HE#t=43m1s

MK said...

Agree with the left wing authoritarianism part of the clip, how they desire to force everyone into the same level due to "compassion". Man have I seen this everywhere.

I've always thought one needs both left wing and right wing authority to make any group function. But what was left unsaid in the video is that today, it's all left wing, all the time. Myself, I distaste both. But the right wing is so far gone today, anyone concerned about it is merely projecting their own left-wing bias.

I've always found the worst thing you can do to a liberal is 1) ignore them, and 2) live well and enjoy life. It seems to drive them nuts. This video helped me understand why.

The Social Pathologist said...

@Undocumented Pharmacist

Most males still lean on reason rather than feeling.

I'd say that most males, like most females are intuitive thinkers. Most people are really bad at reason.

@Greg

Women are more "herd" inclined whereas men are more individualistic. As a result, women are more inclined to maintain herd "norms" whatever the prevailing orthodoxy.

PC is an interesting phenomenon since it taps several intuitive processes as once. PC conflates nice with good and is thereby able to exploit good behaviours--such as compassion and tolerance--towards the service of nice. Women are particularly prone to this since, by and large, most of them want to be nice/good. However, being majority intuitive thinkers they have difficulty distinguishing the two. Furthermore, the habit of niceness conditions them to think that nice IS good. Hence when someone hurts someones feelings, most women intuitively feel unease at this state of affairs.

What I've found really interesting in my clinical practice, and as Peterson also alludes to in this video, is that many women can't say no to their children and are always making excuses for their bad behaviour. I lost many a patient when I've called out their child's bad behaviour. It's like they don't want to see the evil in the object of their cares.

One other interesting thing that has been playing at my mind is the notion that the given the current boom in the number of single women, is "minority care" a proxy for children that these women have not had? Just a thought.

@MK
I've always thought one needs both left wing and right wing authority to make any group function.

I wouldn't put it that way, I think that successful societies know the limits of authority and allow some "authoritarian free zones" in their society. The purpose of these zones are not so much as to provide an escape valve as to allow new ideas space to grow, which if shown to be good over time, can be incorporated into the authoritarian structure.

You're quite right, though, that the Left has almost complete cultural control, but you've got to ask yourself how did the Left get to the position it has, given that 100 years ago, society was very conservative. I think traditional society, especially amongst the Catholics, gave no "authority free zones" with the net result that it was unable to update and develop new cultural forms which would have combated the modernists.

David Foster said...

"Prior to the First World War, when at least in Europe, power was held by the ruling cultured and educated elite, there was a good chance that political decision making had a degree of rationality about it"

The Kaiser? The Tsar? The Austro-Hungarian empire? Together with their courts and sycophants?

MK said...

SP, current boom in the number of single women, is "minority care" a proxy for children that these women have not had? Just a thought.

Sheese, my wife watching said the exact thing. She just went much further (I call it her "Children of Men" moments after PD James novel) adding in the pet-to-replace-kids craze. But it's not only single women. Nearly all women who have less than 2.1 children begin to feel the evolutionary pull to being a nosy aunt. And women are living longer now too. It's a perfect loneliness storm. Look at the seatbelt, anti-smoking, helmet, anti-drunk-driving craze. And these were pushed by the lower-fertility boomers. Same trade.


SP,I'd say that most males, like most females are intuitive thinkers. Most people are really bad at reason.

Wouldn't call it intuitive. I'd call it emotional thinking instead. I'm an intuitive thinker (hell, so was Einstein) but test said intuition with logic/data.


SP, how did the Left get to the position it has, given that 100 years ago, society was very conservative. I think traditional society, especially amongst the Catholics, gave no "authority free zones"

I think the primary reason for the Left's power today is just technology and wealth. But nobody likes the Left when under stress (e.g. Churchill).

I agree on the RC failure to build independence into the flock. A major part of this was that the high-IQ Church (English, German) went into heresy (as the proud are wont to do). The remainder lower IQ left (heh) needed fences, structure, etc. Look at VII, supposed to inculcate this independence you refer to...what a disaster. Kids + car keys. It's easy for smart folk to project and think everyone is just like them.

The Social Pathologist said...

@David

The Kaiser? The Tsar? The Austro-Hungarian empire? Together with their courts and sycophants?

For better or worse, under their patronage civilisation reached it's apogee, it's been downhill since then. There were no concentration camps in the Kaiser's Reich.

By the way, I know you're a reader. Have you read Diary of a Man in Despair by Friedrich Reck-Malleczewen? I can't recommend the book enough. He puts a lot of things in perspective. The european monarchs may have been dunderheads but savagery was not part of their repertoire.

The Social Pathologist said...

@MK

It's easy for smart folk to project and think everyone is just like them.

Agree, it's been a big problem with regard to political theory. Also a big problem in theology. Aristotle's "rational man" is false for most of humanity most of the time.

MK said...

SP, Diary of a Man in Despair...I can't recommend the book enough.

Thanks for recommending this book a while back. Btw it just came out on Kindle (replaced my paperback last month) so digital folk don't let that stop you.

I'm very wide-open with my kids, even young ones. Curious what you think about me having kids read Reck for [home]school (or even stuff like your Heart of Darkness series, or Rollo's books, etc.).

The Social Pathologist said...

MK

I think Reck is best appreciated by an older audience. Simply because the nuance is lost on younger audiences. Even most reviewers of the book can't beyond the Hitler hate and miss much of the very perceptive social commentary.

As for the other stuff, how old are your kids. Generally speaking, I like to keep them innocent for as long as I can.

Greg said...

To save people time, here is the link to the PDF version of Peterson's book (both English and Russian editions): http://jordanbpeterson.com/2016/11/maps-of-meaning-intro/

The Social Pathologist said...

Thanks Greg, Will have a look at it.

Jason said...

Your essay doctor made me think about a history I recently read, concerning the Dreyfus case. Very much with those on the Right at the time, although to a degree also those on the Left, Frenchmen were simply unable to look at the situation rationally, since to do so would mean their questioning long-accepted shibboleths. Hence Charles Maurras argued that even if the Jewish officer was innocent, it was proper to convict him because doing othersise would be disputing the sanctity of the Church, the Army, the Fatherland. (Talk about falling for the great error you often mention, of substituting ideology for truth!) Needless to say this intellectual's words had resonance, leading to the decades-long popularity of his Action Fran├žaise.

Speaking of that organization and paper, I've started Eugen Weber's Action Francaisse: have any of the writers on fascism that you've perused mentioned him? It's really good, with Weber's secularism not preventing him, at least in my mind, from depicting Maurras (and his followers) fairly. Again, that curious motley crue of royalists, nationalists, believers, and anti-Semites illustrate a theme that you often espouse on your blog: of twentieth century thinkers being unable to constructively grapple with the challenges of modernity, with their thus falling into a foolish traditionalism.

Best

The Social Pathologist said...

@Jason

They Dreyfuss case is extremely interesting. On the whole it really was a nationwide exercise in cognitive bias. The period in question deserves more study, especially by the Dissident Right, since contemporary events in the U.S. eerily mirror the moral/political atmosphere in fin de siecle France.

Indeed, the Radix crowd, and NRx share many ideological similarities with Action Francaise, and its (AF) historical trajectory illustrates the limits of a "Right Positivism". This blog takes the position of Peguy, Blondel and De Gaulle.

I have not heard of Eugene Weber before, though, after having a breif look at his some of his works yesterday, he seems very interesting. His book on the transformation of French peasants into contemporary French men seems particularly interesting. I actually ordered it, L'Action Francaise and another book yesterday and I look forward to reading them in the new year.

Thanks a lot for the recommendation.

Best wishes and a Merry Christmas!