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Peterson, Murphy, and Alienation

Recently, Jordan Peterson did an extended interview with Bob Murphy (linked below, and clip attached). Peterson begins the interview by pitching it as a “two hour lesson in Austrian Economics”, but mainly, it was an overview comparison of the principles of Austrian economics against Marxism. It was difficult to dispute much of it. I’m already a proponent of free market capitalism, and I’m also fairly partial to Friedrich Hayek’s work (at least, as it is represented in The Constitution of Liberty, and Law, Legislation, and Liberty). I’m not quite as versed in Ludwig von Mises, but from what I’ve heard said by folks like Murphy and others, it dovetails nicely with Hayek. Murphy says the key difference between them, is that one took an analytical approach, and the other a more empirical or (dare I say) sociological approach. That seems to square with what I’ve read, to date.

In any case, the point of this post, is that one segment of the interview did stand out as significantly disputable. Namely, neither men seemed to know what they were talking about, when they got on to the topic of Marx’s theory of the Alienation of Labor.

To be fair to Bob Murphy, he disclaimed any scholarly knowledge of Marx’s work, and admitted he was working from only a surface level understanding and second-hand accounts of Marx’s theories. But Peterson made no such disclaimer. So, let’s begin with Jordan. Opening the segment, he begins by making a basic assertion that he wants Bob Murphy to respond to:

“…Marx… said that… specialization alienated us from our labor. You know, there’s some truth in that…”

He then interrupts himself in order to provide an extended example from his teenage years, in which he worked as a low-skilled laborer in a lumber mill. After describing the 8 to 16-hour days of flipping green lumber onto a conveyor belt feeding a block long drying furnace, he says it gave him “some sense of what it meant to be alienated from my labor“, adding that he’d known people working there as long as 20 years, and says “that would just drive me stark raving mad!

I can sympathize with the experience he described. Early in my work life, I spent many hours in factories. I worked in plastics extrusion, tin stamping, aluminum knocking, assembly, QC, and packing. It’s work that is not especially cognitively complex, but it does put cognitive stress on you, because it often requires constant close attention (or risk losing fingers or eyes), and its repetitive nature can put you into a kind of hypnotic state if you’re not careful. By the end of a single night (after a few months at the same job) you will begin to hear disembodied voices outside your headphones (ear protection, not music), will forget names and phone numbers, and you will struggle to stay awake on your drive home. But, as I’ll show in a moment, this is beside the point.

As Peterson turns the problem back toward Murphy, he laments that “…the problem of specialization is that you have to sacrifice all the other things you might be, to do this one narrow thing…”, and this diverts into a brief exchange about the problems and benefits of specialization. But before we get on to the question of specialization, I want to address the first point.

Alienation Is Metaphysical

What Peterson is describing, as one might expect since he is a psychologist, is psychological frustration. For anyone with a high cognitive ability, it is quite literally painful to have to engage in mindless menial work like this, and can lead to psychological dysfunctions like depression and dissociation and a kind of schizophrenic alienation from the self. But this is not really the core of Marx’s Theory of Alienation, particularly as he puts it in his 1844 Paris manuscripts (where the theory originates). Rather, Marx was describing a metaphysical problem, not psychological one.

In his early writings, Marx was attempting to re-interpret Aristotle through the lens of Feuerbach and Fichte. That reinterpretation included a theory of human nature of his own, following the template of Aristotle, but applying very different concepts and reaching very different conclusions. Aristotle argued that the defining characteristic of man was his capacity for rational deliberation as a basis for his actions; in a word, man was the “rational animal”. Man’s purpose or “end”, therefore, was to achieve excellence in his deliberations and as a result, exhibit that excellence in his actions. For Marx, however, the defining characteristic of man is not the source of his actions, but the end result of them – i.e., the product of his actions – in a word, man was the “productive (or creative) animal”. Man’s purpose or “end”, for Marx then, was to perfect his capacity to create what he needed for his own sake, and in doing so, achieve a kind of self-satisfaction as a result.

It is in this context that Marx takes issue with what he called at that time, the “commodity society”, arguing that when a man is forced to surrender what he makes to a capitalist, in exchange for tokens of value he must then subsequently use to scrounge for his daily sustenance, he is alienated from his nature as a productive animal. The products of a man’s labor are literally a part of his metaphysical self, and the capitalist appropriation of those products alienates the laborer from himself.

When Peterson says he is “alienated from his labor”, he means that he is, in some sense standing in psychological opposition to what he is doing (and that this is what would actually drive him mad, if he did it for too long). It is true that Marx describes something like this in the 1844 essay. He says of the labor performed by the commodity society factory worker:

“…[in doing this labor,] he does not affirm himself but denies himself, does not feel content but unhappy, does not develop freely his physical and mental energy but mortifies his body and ruins his mind. The worker therefore only feels himself outside his work, and in his work feels outside himself…”

But this passage begins with “the fact that the labour is external to the worker, i.e., does not belong to his intrinsic nature“. In otherwords, Marx is not denying that alienation is psychologically destructive, but his point is that the psychological destruction is the consequence of being alienated from one’s nature as productive animal, not that the psychological destruction is the alienation itself.

Specialization Is Secondary

Moving on to specialization, Marx famously says, in The German Ideology:

“…in a communist society, where nobody has one exclusive sphere of activity but each can become accomplished in any branch he wishes, society regulates the general production and thus makes it possible for me to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticise after dinner, just as I have a mind, without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, herdsman or critic…”

It is easy to see why Peterson (or even Murphy) might see a quote like this, and think that Marx is saying that specialization is at the root of alienation, or at least, somehow concurrent with it. But, again, that is not the point that Marx is driving at. Going back to Marx’s theory of human nature, it should now be fairly clear what is meant by this passage. Marx thought that we should be endeavoring to fulfill our own needs and desires with the products of our own hands. In doing so, we fulfilled our nature as productive animals, and (as Engels actually mocked sarcastically) enabled a life of pastoral bliss.

Specialization was just the available tool by which the capitalist could appropriate those products, and in doing so, exploit us for profit. But for specialization to work, the workers had to be willing in the first place to alienate themselves. In otherwords, they have to be willing to submit themselves to “wage slavery” – the process of accumulating the money by which the “wage slave” would acquire the commodities he needed to survive (since he was denied the means of attaining his own survival in surrendering to the wage-earning job, in the first place). This is where later ideas about “false consciousness” get their early beginning. Marx believed that once we all awoke from our false consciousness, we would begin to repair the broken relationship we had with ourselves, and in doing so, rise up in unison to overthrow the commodity society masters that enslaved us all through wage penury.

Peterson’s Jungian Marxism

Four minutes into this section of the interview, Bob Murphy had still only had time to address a few secondary questions. So, searching for something that He and Murphy could grab onto together, Peterson brings up Jung’s Psychological Types. Peterson says:

“…one of the propositions [Jung] put forward [in Psychological Types] was that, when slavery was eradicated in the west, we each became our own slaves… we slaved away for some portion of the day, the consequence of that was that we had some time where we could be free citizens pursuing our liesure at will… the advantages of specialization are such that its worth harnessing yourself to the sled for a certain amount of time per week, so that you can be relatively free in everything else that you do – and the reason that that’s acceptable, is because there isn’t a better alternative…”

Peterson thinks he is offering up this insight from Jung as a retort to Marx. But this just is precisely the complaint that Marx is originally making in the 1844 Paris essay, and in The German Ideology: that workers are forced to alienate themselves, in order to labor “harnessed to the sled” (as Peterson so flouridly puts it) in exchange for a wage which could be used to “pursue at will” subsistence commodities like food and water and various entertainments. In short, Jung isn’t objecting to Marx. Jung is just restating the Marxist critique of commodity society in metaphorical terms.

What Murphy offers in response to this re-interpretation of the alienation critique of commodity society, is a consequentialist argument, defending commodity society itself on the grounds that it led to a “hockey-stick” increase in living standards, population growth, and city size. Peterson tries to redirect this back to first principles, but couches his understanding entirely in materialist terms:

“…the fundamental exploitation is our subjugation to the demands of our biological vulnerability, not the tyranny of the social institutions that acutally ameliorate that..”

What is frustrating about this, is that it’s so close to the right answer and yet so far away. It’s almost painful to listen to. Rather than refuting Marx, by staying anchored in the language of materialist science, Peterson hands the win back to his opponent. Marx would say that the “demands of our biological vulnerability” are to be met face-to-face by ourselves, through our own capacity as productive beings. If I need ot eat, then I should hunt in the morning. If I need to drink, then I should draw water from the river. If I wish to have food for the future, then I should raise a garden and keep some cattle. If I wish to satisfy my intellectual longings, then I should write in the evenings. All of these things I am to do myself, for my own benefit, and in fulfillment of my nature as the productive animal. Social institutions that provide mountains of commodity goods in exchange for a wage are only providing the illusion of plenty, by appropriating the products we labor to produce, alienating us from our fundamental nature in the process.

Bob Murphy’s response to this was to praise “mass producing, for the masses”, again missing the fundamental point. His implication again, is the consequentialist argument of the material benefit of mass-produced goods since the industrial revolution. He says:

“…if you want all of this cornucopia of goods available, that wouldn’t wouldn’t be available in the year 1500, it’s because of this new way of producing!…”

To which, Marx would simply respond: at what cost? Is it worth the destruction of our intrinsic selves, and the universal misery this creates, for the sake of a wage which is the only way you could acquire your Hungry Man Fried Chicken dinner, and your iPhone X? Is that really being “free citizens pursuing our liesure at will“? Or is it surrendering your nature in exchange for an opiate?

And the answer to these questions, from both Peterson and Murphy, is to say, yes it is worth it. I am forced to be a cog in a machine, but I get to choose which cog in which machine, and in exchange, I get the Hungry Man Fried Chicken, and the iPhone X. Huzzah!

How disappointing. Such big brains, but such a myopic response to Marx.

The Answer Was Staring Them In The Face The Whole Time

The historical discrediting of metaphysics is fundamentally the source of the problem here. But that assertion is going to take another blog post to explain. Suffice to say here, that the “first principle” that Peterson was so desparately grasping for — and that Bob Murphy, ever the consequentialist economist, could not even see — was a proper definition of human nature.

It is no longer credible to speak of such a thing as a human nature, in today’s reductive post-modern society. Such a thing is derided as “essentialist”, and scholars of Marx work double-duty to obfuscate his early writings, in order to bury the fact that the quintesential materialist philosopher, actually had a theory of human nature that underpinned everything he wrote. He was following in the tradition of the last great systematic philosophers: Kant, and Hegel.

Too bad for Marx (and indeed the rest of us in the 20th century), his theory was wrong. Aristotle was not entirely correct, but he was far closer to the truth than Marx. Products are incidental to an essential nature. It is the arche that defines a nature – the source, or fundamental form, or essential property. The potentialities that need to be realized derive from your substance, rather than being identified in the detritous you generate along the way.

But again, Marx was reading Aristotle upside-down, trying to reverse engineer metaphysics entirely through a materialist lens. Over, and over, and over, I see incredibly smart men like Peterson and Murphy falling down the ant-lion hole, because they are themselves, trapped in Marx’s materialist universe. So, there’s no way out except to make an appeal to consequences — which they then conflate with first principles. They don’t realize they’re doing this, because they’ve never been required to read the ancient masters. They weren’t required to, because the ancients had been discarded as “irrelevant”, some time in the late 19th century. Curiously, about the same time that Marx rose to prominence in the west (along with John Stewart Mill, and the American sycophants of Kant, Thoreau and Emerson, but that’s another story).

I will at some point write a defense of Aristotle’s metaphysics and the De Anima, but the thought of it is still too daunting. For now, I’ll have to leave you with this string of assertions. The point is just to point out how our ignorance of our own culture is making us vulnerable to seductive sophistry of intellectual exploiters like Marx.

Snippet:

Peterson and Murphy Discuss Alienation

Full Video:

Published inancienteconomicsmetaphysicspsychology

3 Comments

  1. Kevin Byrne Kevin Byrne

    Hello Greg

    The first time I read one of your articles (about Aristotle and Plato) it was posted on Think Spot which Dr. Peterson had something to do with initiating, or, perhaps, to which he “migrated”. So why didn’t you publish this particular critique on Think Spot as well? Do you fear that, perhaps, the big brains of Murphy or Peterson might be offended? Peterson, at least, doesn’t take offence easily and seems to not mind being challenged, while demonstrating a fair ability to rebut the arguments of critics.

    So, again the question: Why not publish the above on Think Spot?

    Personally, I think that little was learned about either Marx or Austrian Economics via the podcast (so your criticism re. Marx has some validity). But I know that all of you [Peterson, Murphy and Gauthier) never answered Peterson’s major question in the video [mentioned 3 times perhaps], which was about SYSTEMIC RACISM. And the answer to that question has to be a “slam dunk” by just reading the Communist Manifesto — with which at least you and Peterson must be fairly familiar.

    I don’t think the answer to Peterson’s question about systemic racism and the term “systemic” meaning a “central tendency” to Peterson requires anything remotely resembling an Aristotelian Metaphysical explanation of human nature to clarify Hegel and Marx’s ideas about alienation/ Aufheben / sublation.

    The contradictory meanings of the German Term are covered by Aristotle (in other contexts of course) when he talks about various persons insisting on their “right” to contradict themselves — and nobody does that better than German idealists, with “respect” to themselves and to each other, or their lifestyles in comparison to their words for that matter. After all, Greg, without those exploitive capitalist linen and thread mills in Germany and England, Marx and Engels would have starved to death before demonstrating their ingratitude to the “system” that fed both of them.

    So, what do you think, if anything, of the systemic racism question, at around 1:40:02 of the podcast? We could discuss that question, and your thesis on Marx’s view of human nature on Think Spot as well. Maybe. Maybe not.

    Kevin

      1. Re: Thinkspot – I don’t really respond to high-school level taunting. But I will say this, today: I don’t owe you, Peterson, or Murphy, anything. Either you got something out of the post or you didn’t. That’s it. Either way, I don’t give a flying fuck what you think of my choice of publishing platforms.

      2. Re: “systemic racism”: That wasn’t the focus of this post. So, of course that’s why its not in here. The concept is horseshit from the word go. When I get time, I’ll write something about it, but I don’t have time right now. If that’s not good enough for you, then again, in the immortal words of Tommy-Lee Jones: “I don’t care!”.

  2. Kevin Byrne Kevin Byrne

    Hello Greg

    The first time I read one of your articles (about Aristotle and Plato) it was posted on Think Spot which Dr. Peterson had something to do with initiating, or, perhaps, to which he “migrated”. So why didn’t you publish this particular critique on Think Spot as well? Do you fear that, perhaps, the “big brains” of Murphy or Peterson might be offended? Peterson, at least, doesn’t take offence easily and seems to not mind being challenged, while demonstrating a fair ability to rebut the arguments of critics.

    So, again the question: Why not publish the above on Think Spot?

    Personally, I think that little was learned about either Marx or Austrian Economics via the podcast (so your criticism re. Marx has validity). But I know that all of you [Peterson, Murphy and Gauthier] never answered Peterson’s major question in the video [mentioned 3 times perhaps], which was about SYSTEMIC RACISM. And the answer to that question has to be a “slam dunk” by just reading the Communist Manifesto — with which at least you and Peterson seem to be familiar.

    I don’t think the answer to Peterson’s question about systemic racism — with the adjectival term “systemic” meaning a “central tendency” to Peterson — requires anything remotely resembling an Aristotelian-Metaphysical explanation of human nature to clarify Hegel and Marx’s ideas about “alienation/ Aufheben / sublation”, which is your central question or problem, as you seem to “insist upon” in your post, as in, quote:

    GREG: The historical discrediting of metaphysics is fundamentally the source of the problem here. But that assertion is going to take another blog post to explain. Suffice to say here, that the “first principle” that Peterson was so desparately grasping for — and that Bob Murphy, ever the consequentialist economist, could not even see — was a proper definition of human nature.

    TO DIFFER: Metaphysics, as understood by Aristotle, is the solution to the problem (i.e. the problems of all 3 of you), but hardly “the source” of this particular problem (since you have a problem with “alienation”, in relation to “human nature”, and Peterson has a problem with “systemic racism” in relation to “economics” of Marxist vs. Austrian varieties). Human “nature” has nothing to do with any of our various “problems” because Aristotle points out that human beings, when perfected by law and justice, are the BEST of all animals, but when bereft of law and justice, they’re the WORST of all animals, which applies to human nature in either case [good/bad; better/worse]. [Politics; Bk I, Ch. 2., 1253a lines 31 – 37 for the full quote.]

    Those contraries [“best and worst” (of all animals)] are typical of both individual substances and secondary substances [Genera and Species] or “natures”. Aristotle teaches that “contrariety”, at different times, is the peculiar “mark” of substances, in his first logic treatise [The Categories]. And contrariety is the subject matter of 3 of the 4 questions with which the “Primary Philosopher” [a.k.a. “metaphysician”] is usually engaged [Metaphysics; Book IV, Ch. 2., 1004a line 34 to 1004b line 4]. Hence a definition of “nature”, especially human nature, is not going to resolve anything about human conflicts or opposites of any sort in, or among, reasoning beings.

    Aristotle mentions those contrary attributes [best vs. worst] in The Politics at Book I, Ch. 2. The full quote is very instructive, as well as everything Aristotle wrote in Chapter 1., since Aristotle looks at States “in their first growth and origin”, whereas Marx looked at States when they were old, corrupt and going into the “ashbin of history”. Thus Marx’s mention of the distinctions between “freemen and slaves” [ancient Greece], “patricians and plebeians” [ancient Rome], “lords and serfs” [dark/feudal ages], “guild-masters and journeymen” [Renaissance] and, finally, “Bourgeoisie-Capitalists and Proletariat-Workers” [in the 19th century], for his thesis on oppressor and oppressed classes, in states (page 3, Communist Manifesto). [i.e. “States” in decline/decadence!]

    The contradictory meanings of the German Term, “Aufheben”, (often translated as “sublation”), which you and Peterson name “alienation”, are covered by Aristotle when he talks about various persons insisting on their “right” to contradict themselves. And nobody does that better (contradiction) than German idealists, with “respect” to themselves, each other, or their lifestyles in comparison to their words for that matter. After all, Greg, without those exploitive capitalist linen and thread mills in Germany and England, Marx and Engels would have starved to death before demonstrating their ingratitude to the “system” (at least a family business) that fed both of them and gave them their leisure to think, write and “revolt”. So, to assert, as you do, Greg, that, quote:

    GREG: “In his early writings, Marx was attempting to re-interpret Aristotle through the lens of Feuerbach and Fichte. That reinterpretation included a theory of human nature of his own, following the template of Aristotle, but applying very different concepts and reaching very different conclusions.”;

    is to assert “non-sense”.

    Nobody can “interpret” Aristotle from the musings of his detractors and/or contradictors. However, to assert that German atheists and/or German Idealists have very “different concepts and … conclusions”, contrary to Aristotle, is entirely true. You go on to assert that man is a “rational animal”, according to Aristotle. But he actually defined human beings as “Zoon Politikon” or political animals, with all sorts of “ratios” which have little to do with reasoning, but much more to do with contrary habits, which he described as virtues and vices. Admittedly, according to Aristotle, there is a rational principle (“truth in agreement with right desire”; N.E. Book VI, Ch. 2. 1139a line 31] which justifies the good habits of humans. However, again according to Aristotle, quote,

    ARISTOTLE: “Now, the mass of mankind are evidently quite slavish in their tastes, preferring a life suitable to beasts … (but they get some ground for their view, etc.). [ Nicomachean Ethics Bk. I, Ch. 5., 1095b lines 19 – 20 ]

    So when you assert, Greg, quote:

    GREG: “Man’s purpose or ‘end’, therefore [given the definition of man as a “rational animal” KB], was to achieve excellence in his deliberations and as a result, exhibit that excellence in his actions.”,

    you are (immediately above) confusing or contrasting, the “happy and good/excellent” human being [Man, at “her” best as an animal.], who deliberates well and then excels in action or production, with Aristotle’s mentioned “mass of mankind”, who, often, are “slavish in their tastes”.

    The great thing about habits, Greg, is that they economically dispense with the need “to deliberate” in a virtuous or excellent manner. Habits relieve us humans of difficult thinking about what we ought to do or ought to refrain from doing, which is why Aristotle tells us in the Nicomachean Ethics [Bk. I, Ch. 3, end of the 1st pgph.] that you can’t expect the precision of mathematics in ethical matters. It is an interesting quote because Aristotle knocks “probable reasoning” in mathematics, while, at present, “probab-ILISTIC reasoning” or “statistics” is very popular, among both economists and so-called “climate scientists”. [Liars, damn liars and/then statisticians, according to critics of statisticians.]. I digress.

    The point, Greg, for Aristotle (me too), is that human beings will choose to be either good or (slavishly)-bad PRODUCERS of things, good or (slavishly)-bad DOERS of things and/or good or (slavishly)-bad SPECULATORS about things. Aristotle, and his scholastic interpreters, described the above as the speculative, practical and productive “intellects” of humans — which means one intellectual power directed toward 3 different sorts of “ends” (goals; final causes). To recapitulate:– Making good things; Doing good things; Understanding all things!

    The note of “rationality”, in Porphyrian “trees” associated with scholastic-classification systems, may be where you get your focus on man’s nature as a “rational animal”. Rationality is the additional “note” which distinguishes human animals from brute/merely-sentient and instinctual animals. But rationality wasn’t Aristotle’s primary focus, in defining human beings, because his focus was always on CONTRARIETY in both substances (individual humans or their genus & species; or non-human substances) and sciences.

    You focus on Karl Marx’s alleged emphasis on what Aristotle would call the “productive intellect” and the alienation, according to Marx, of human beings from their products/productions. You say that our “big brain” professors focus too much on psychology (Peterson) or consequences (Murphy; The greatest production of material goods for the greatest number of consumers — sort of an economic variation of Consequentialism, with a “hockey stick” output of produced material “goods”), thereby missing Marx’s point of alienation from our own “natures”. They very well may have missed that Marxist point. But they’re dismissive of Marx’s thinking because of all the well-documented failures of Marxism and Socialism in the 20th century. Modern Marxists, of course, argue that Marx’s “sound theory” has been “hi-jacked” by bad individuals.

    In sum, the phenomenon is called “ships passing in the night”. Nobody, including you Greg, is addressing Karl Marx’s fundamental point, which is, according to the Communist Manifesto, “class struggle”. [“The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles”; Marx and Engels circa 1847] So, according to those fellows, every political system; every economic system; and/or every society or social “system”; privileges one class as exploiters and another class or classes as exploited or oppressed.

    That is such a simple and apparently obvious thesis that any person of even a “slavish”, or lazy, intellect can “get it” and furnish him or herself with numerous “supportive examples” of the thesis. It is a wonderfully simple appeal to what the Roman Catholic Church has deemed to be 4 of the 7 deadly sins, to wit, 1. Anger (at oppression), 2. Envy (of “their” oppressive power), 3. Greed (for what has been “taken” from “us” exploited folks) and 4. Pride [“We” are in the right and “they’re” evil oppressors who are in the wrong].

    I suppose one could leave gluttony, sloth and lust (completing the “big 7”) to the oppressive class, although all 7 sins allegedly belong to all classes, depending upon various circumstances. e.g. “Sloth” isn’t a common vice in a mere subsistence economy, nor is “Gluttony”. On the contrary, in luxurious and rich societies, such sins/vices may abound. In sum, for “The Church”, the 7 “deadlies” are part ‘n parcel of what “She” would call “fallen human nature” in all possible classes of humans in all diverse societies.

    For Marxists, in contrast, SYSTEMIC OPPRESSION, “explains” almost everything, since that is the “history” of all previous societies and the systems which they established. Hence, if you posit European/Caucasian, male, cis-gendered individuals as making up the oppressor class, then their contraries (in colour; or other distinctions not actually “contrary”) are constituted by BIPOC, female and fluid-gendered oppressed classes. Thus you have SYSTEMIC RACISM [White Colonial Settler oppressors.], SYSTEMIC SEXISM [Male Patriarchy vs. Female Oppressed people] and various SYSTEMICALLY PHOBIC individuals who are “oppressing” differing classes. It’s so simply-easy to “understand”. It may be a wrong-headed theory, but there is no difficulty in apprehending such simple-mindedness. Yet our “hero”, quote

    JORDAN PETERSON: 1:40:02 I’ve been thinking about this idea of “SYSTEMIC RACISM” … very treacherous term — purposefully so, or maybe it has evolved that way, in some sense because terms that are particularly treacherous are difficult to dispense with. It isn’t the racism part of it that’s the problem, although it’s the heavy-weight (part of the binary term KB) You say racism and everyone responds — That’s a terrible thing. Then to object to anything that has racism appended to it is a very treacherous enterprize, because it looks like you are objecting to something that is obviously terrible.

    COMMENT: Peterson is confused in his terminology above. Given the “badness” of racism, it seems prudent to object to anything with racism in it. Thus to DENY systemic racism is THE “treacherous” thing to do, while OBJECTING to systemic racism is the politically correct option. He continues [N.B. the typing may not be exactly accurate.]

    [1:40:40] I mean, even if you are a filthy greedy capitalist you are going to want to exploit each member of every race to the maximum degree possible. So even for you racism is going to be a terrible thing. But, then there is this SYSTEMIC issue, see, and that’s sort of SNUCK IN there, SYSTEMIC. Well “systemic” implies central tendency. … That implies that the central tendency of THE INSTITUTIONS is RACISM, rather than an aberration in their behavior or a deviation from the central tendency.

    COMMENTARY: Of Course, the central tendency for Marx is OPPRESSION of one class by another class. What Peterson is doing is attempting to “steel man” a supposed Marxist thesis by mentioning “filthy greedy capitalist/(s)”. But all he does is weaken the Austrian’s economic arguments concerning the benefit and goodness of so-called “free” markets, while missing the Marxist “central tendency” which is POWER, more than economics.

    I read somewhere that our “hero” has a verbal IQ above 150. But he’s blown it on this one, for as Louis the 9th was heard (according to G.K. Chesterton) to say:- “I must argue with man on his own grounds, or immediately run him through with my sword!” That means, of course, that you cannot defeat an opponent on your own “grounds” of, in this case, equally “exploiting”, or contrariwise, equally “benefiting” all races. [Ergo no “racism” in this “free” market SYSTEM, but YES there are non-systemic racists.] BUT: You have to argue with Marxists on their central thesis of Class oppression and on that SYSTEMIC ground.

    So, back to Louis’s argument about arguments-in-general, if you don’t want to argue on Marx’s grounds, then you might as well go to war [run him through] because you are not going to out-argue him or her on “your own ground”. You have to meet him or her at their most salient rather than “treacherous” point, which is in Marx’s case, class oppression in institutional-SYSTEMS. Of course, once you admit (for the sake of argument) the OPPRESSOR CLASS thesis in a system, it is pretty easy to see that the alleged oppressor class is mostly one RACE (in North America and Europe) and the allegedly oppressed classes consist of other races. Ergo Systemic Racism. Q.E.D.

    So, what do you think, if anything, of the systemic racism question?

    Kevin

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