The Peterstorm?

Well we had the shirtstorm over a really cool Hawiian-style shirt worn by a rocket scientist. We’ve had hissy fits over pronouns and a McDonalds sandwich (Jerk Chicken, for those curious). Apparently now Random Penguin’s Simon and Whatever staff are throwing a epic dummy spit because . . . gasp, the horror . . . a Jungian psychologist has written a sequel to his popular first book and it is going to be released in March.


Now, the real problem is that that Jungian is a Canadian named Jordan Peterson, and the first book is about how to straighten yourself out and live as a decent human in the world around you. It’s not religious, although it uses a lot of religious stories (because he’s a Jungian). It’s not aimed at gaining followers and acolytes, although he has, simply by offering hope and accountability. I’m rereading the book, and while I don’t agree with everything in it, there’s a lot of food-for-thought material.

It’s not an easy read. It’s not supposed to be, even though Peterson writes well. The chapters circle around their main points in places as the author looks at archetypes, stories, and patterns in story and in human nature. You have to follow his logic and argument. That might be one of the problems that the Sensitive Souls at the publisher have with him – he makes his readers work and think and chew on his ideas.

Peterson also pushes personal responsibility, not victimhood. The world can be chaotic. Life can be chaotic. Your job is to adapt to the chaos, to take responsibility for what you can control about yourself, your choices of friends and mentors, and how you respond to things (Victor Frankl said the same, from a Freudian perspective). There’s nothing wrong with standing straight with your shoulders back, fixing your house before you try to fix other peoples’ houses, and finding people better than you to copy and admire, rather than choosing “friends” who drag you down. Down is easy. Climbing up is hard.

The current therapeutic victim culture doesn’t like hard stuff. You are a victim and the world needs to become easier for you, more forgiving of your problems, to do everything possible to soothe you and ease your path.

Those of us outside that theoretical bubble tend to roll our eyes, sigh, and make uncharitable comments about the people who insist on wrapping others in layers and layers of padding, blankets, and bubble-wrap. “Suck it up, buttercup,” has probably been murmured on occasion. I feel sorry for the kids who grew up swaddled, or who have been told all their lives that everything wrong in their world is because they are victims, and that they are powerless to help themselves. To do that to someone is cruel. The wake-up call is painful, and you can understand why they lash out. The trouble is that they lash out at the wrong party.

Like the young publisher employees lashing out and having crying fits because their company is going to publish a book by someone who is supposed to be racist/sexist/homophobic/whateverphobic. That’s what they’ve been told is the right thing to do – to stand up for the victims and show their feelings and the depth of their hurt. Except what worked on campus doesn’t do so well in the real world, especially not in a company that is probably looking for positions to eliminate after the next merger or profit/loss announcement.

I’m a story teller. The power of story is amazing. Stories can build people up, help them grow and become better. Stories can tear down, can diminish people, can drive them to destruction if they feel that they cannot escape the tale. If Peterson’s use of story as a way to help people take control of themselves and get out of holes works, then good for him. It’s certainly not worth having a conniption fit over, in my opinion. Shirtstorm led to the shirt selling out and lots of people wearing them. A Peterstorm will probably do wonders for the advanced sales – the opposite of what the young employees intended.


20 thoughts on “The Peterstorm?

  1. It’s darker than that.
    They know stories are powerful, and wish to restrict the stories that can be told.
    That protective bubble they’ve lived in, they want to force others into. Only with even more isolation from consequence. And think themselves beneficent for doing so.
    If their adopted “clients” don’t need them, what would they do for validation?

  2. Except what worked on campus doesn’t do so well in the real world.

    It’s not just campus.

    The oldest among them might be my age– late 30s– so it’s daycare, and school, and after-school care. Works a treat on tired parents, too.

    Because doing what the loudest kid demands is easier, especially if there are a bunch of them.

    So they have been trained, from infancy or close to it, that this is how you deal with problems. Gang up and yell at them.

    They have been trained to have utterly useless responses because that is easier for those given the responsibility to teach them.

  3. A high % of the Peterson-haters probably have that view mainly because hating Peterson what Our Kind of People Do in their peer group. The writer Milan Kundera referred to Circle Dancing:

    “Circle dancing is magic. It speaks to us through the millennia from the depths of human memory. Madame Raphael had cut the picture out of the magazine and would stare at it and dream. She too longed to dance in a ring. All her life she had looked for a group of people she could hold hands with and dance with in a ring. First she looked for them in the Methodist Church (her father was a religious fanatic), then in the Communist Party, then among the Trotskyites, then in the anti-abortion movement (A child has a right to life!), then in the pro-abortion movement (A woman has a right to her body!); she looked for them among the Marxists, the psychoanalysts, and the structuralists; she looked for them in Lenin, Zen Buddhism, Mao Tse-tung, yogis, the nouveau roman, Brechtian theater, the theater of panic; and finally she hoped she could at least become one with her students, which meant she always forced them to think and say exactly what she thought and said, and together they formed a single body and a single soul, a single ring and a single dance.”

    Conforming, and enforcing conformity on others, is far more important than the substance of what’s being conformed to.

    • That’s terrifying. That’s a person building Hell inside herself, and seducing or compelling others to join so that she may be filled. But there is nothing to fill and nothing to be filled; there is only emptiness like an ever-griwing hunger.

      • Yup.

        Possibly what we are seeing is the early stages of breakdown of religious tolerance.

        Obviously, religions like the state cult of the Aztec Triple Alliance are beyond what can make a peace consensus work with Christians.

        What about the left, communists and ‘seculars’? If we’ve hit a critical mass of identifies secular that concentrates problematic religious behavior, then we got issues.

        Lot of folks have hurt themselves following the advice of apparent consensus. How badly damaged are these people? What behaviors can we afford to tolerate?

        Note, this is against personal interest. The denomination I identify as has standards for behavior that matches practice. I do not meet those standards, starting from Church attendance. So, if we have to force behavior or the appearance of practice, I’m an obvious candidate for said force. And a relatively stubborn jerk.

        So, I dunno.

        • Traditionally, as long as lots of people were trying to fit the standard of a religion, there was always a place for the slob who wasn’t trying hard but at least kept showing up. That place may have been sneaking out for a smoke break outside church during the sermon, but there was a place.

          The problem is that for generations now, a lot of the bad Catholics, bad Jews, bad etc., have set up shop as the representatives of what it is to be a good Catholic, good Jew, good etc. And how dare anyone actually do things for the poor instead of talking about it!

          There is a lot to be said for being a bad Catholic who knows he’s bad, as opposed to being part of the Biden family and insisting that you are devout because you take bribes, sleep with your relations (over age and under age), and smoke crack. Or being a Nancy Pelosi, who teaches her grandkids that St. Joseph (yes, the Christ’s fosterfather one) approves of abortion.

          • ”The problem is that for generations now, a lot of the bad Catholics, bad Jews, bad etc., have set up shop as the representatives of what it is to be a good Catholic, good Jew, good etc. ”

            This is so true! You have put your finger on it! And man, do they heap full measures of righteous scorn on , e.g. Catholics who aren’t enthusiastic about euthanasia, or Jews who aren’t enthusiastic about intermarriage.

            It’s sometimes painful to those of us who love our faith traditions to hear the nonsense that is said about them.

          • The Enemy opened his offensive more than a century ago by slowly conquering the seminaries. Once the Church was fully infiltrated, they conquered the media. Then they promulgated mass public schooling, using their certified teachers, of course.

  4. It is important to ask *why* so many people seem eager to throw away free speech principles. Part of it, perhaps, is a hankering for security. David Brooks suggests that:

    “The values of the Millennial and Gen Z generations that will dominate in the years ahead are the opposite of Boomer values: not liberation, but security; not freedom, but equality; not individualism, but the safety of the collective; not sink-or-swim meritocracy, but promotion on the basis of social justice…Distrustful people try to make themselves invulnerable, armour themselves up in a sour attempt to feel safe… start to see threats that aren’t there.”

    I’m not generally much of a fan of Brooks’ analyses and conclusion, but even a stopped (analog) clock is right twice a day. Perhaps he has a valid point here?

    Another factor, I suspect, is changes in family structure. Kids who are put in a day-care situation at a very early age may develop a lifelong or at least long-term tendency to identify with the group…whatever that group might be…more than those who are raised in a traditional family situation, and especially so if there is only one parent in the home. As one data point, here’s an interesting article by someone who was raised in a collective situation in an early Israeli kibbutz.

    And perhaps the threats and realities of Islamic terrorism have also had an influence…for 20 years now, there has been a constant (if low-level) sense that ‘if you say anything that the radical Islamists don’t like, they may kill you.’ Has this led to a habit of speech-guarding that has been generalized into many aspects of life?

    Discussed at my post here:

    • I gotta wonder, what on earth does he think the Children of Divorce are going to do in response to the thing that is supposed to be eternal and dependable, that mommy and daddy love them, is ripped to bits? If not for them, then for at least one of their friends?

      Thing that jumps out to my eye, is that his “boomer values” in the real world look a lot more like tearing down the old fences of morality, and it’s old hat to notice how many of the campus follies look like trying to rebuild traditional morality without the planks of BadThink.

      Hookup culture isn’t good for anybody, but it’s especially hard of the female half, especially those that would otherwise be very strong support to their mate.
      They’re torn apart, one night stand at a time.

      Benefiting the cads, of course, and their Mean Girl enforcers.

      Not so good for people who just want to be happy, and are willing to work hard if they could just find it.

      • I have a strong desire for security, to be able to trust people, but trusting people randomly is not truly reliable security.

        Careful relationships between individuals. Buying the leftwing talk about behavior that fits some arbitrary theoretical standard is one of the mistakes.

        Monogamy really does look like the optimal strategy, and chastity is far from the worst option when one has not found a fitting partner.

        Better to be alone than try to win acceptance from a wicked group.

        • The “trust based on group characteristics” thing is awesome for predators, but nobody would institute that system if the prior (though still imperfect) one had not been destroyed.

  5. I’d be looking at who to fire. Minions don’t get to make decisions on what gets published. They don’t like it, don’t let the door hit them in the ass on the way out.

    • Ayup. And if they do want to try to influence the publication decision, they need to come armed with spreadsheets and financial reasons, not tears and hysteria.

  6. Might not be purely story/learned behavior.

    There’s speculation that certain categories of psychiatric drug are actually weakening the brain in ways that would cause what they are intended to treat. Adjustment of the brain’s neurochemistry in response to how the drug changes the balance.

    In theory, this could happen with pot.

    There are anecdotes that it does happen with pot. That they are mellow when high, and when not high are more irritable and less well regulated in their emotions.

    So if this does happen with pot, and if use of pot has increased sufficiently, there could be an influence on the behavior that is not learned.

    One of those things where one hopes that I’m putting together a tissue of nonsense because I am crazy. If the concerning behavior is biological, instead of learned, we may have a more annoying path to travel to escape the crazy times.

    • It’s not just pot. One third of all boys were treated with Ritalin at one point. The fad seems to be fading, and now it’s down to one out of six. And for every drug treatment, there was counseling to teach them how it was bad to be a boy, and they had better start acting more like the girls.

      The war against civilization has been ongoing for generations.

      • Over 60% of surveyed parents said their kid was on medication for ADHD in 2016.

        Was trying to dig up the stats on how “autistic” became the go-to designation for several years– we’re dealing with an associate in our video game who was slapped with that, he’s 20 and acts like a poorly socialized 14 year old. I’ve seen it happen again and again, they get the diagnosis and then nobody bothers to raise the kid!
        “Oh, he’s like that because he’s {diagnosis}.”
        “No, he’s like that because you’re choosing not to do the work involved in raising him!”


        (Girls, too, but even for someone who’s the next-to-latest in a long line of probably-diagnosable Spectrum gals, our wiring is different and the failures of social training don’t stand out so much and doesn’t involve much medication. Now, the fad for persuading the vulnerable they are the opposite sex and if they just embrace it, they’ll finally be accepted, is horrifying and does…..)

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