What Jordan Peterson Overlooks About Ideology and Power

What Jordan Peterson Overlooks About Ideology and Energy


Though I’ve highlighted the deserves of Jordan Peterson’s ideas on relationships, I’ve turn out to be annoyed along with his discussions relating to energy, ideology, and social dynamics. Starting along with his first Rule of Life, exploring “lobster hierarchies” (2018), Peterson usually focuses on the dynamics of competence and advantage inside hierarchically-ordered social programs. On the similar time, he downplays or omits the interpersonal dynamics (and energy) related to cooperation, collective motion, and “the ability of the powerless” people on the backside of these hierarchies. Consequently, his criticism of “woke” ideology and collective motion doesn’t precisely account for the ability and enchantment of such actions—usually simply dismissing them as “the deadly attraction of the false idol” (Peterson, 2021). Apart from citing over-simplification and pseudo-intellectualism, he additionally fails to supply explanations for why these types of energy and social change would possibly really result in among the detrimental penalties he states.

Understanding Energy and Social Dynamics

As I focus on elsewhere, there are differing types and bases of energy. Inside that framework, Peterson focuses primarily on competence and advantage, which will be labeled as Skilled Energy and Reward Energy. These varieties of energy could certainly result in the creation of ordered hierarchies, as he suggests. Up to now, so good.

Sadly, nonetheless, these hierarchies will not be simply primarily based on competence. Generally, as his dialogue of lobsters signifies, these hierarchical constructions will be primarily based on dominance too (i.e. Coercive Energy). Moreover, as a hierarchy adjustments to a “laborious energy” construction primarily based on dominance and coercion, it additionally slips into oppression and tyranny.

In reality, that state of affairs will be described by what Peterson usually refers to because the Tyrannical Father archetype (2002). Giving respect the place it’s due, I imagine that’s the reason he’s cautious along with his language to advertise hierarchies of competency and advantage solely, hoping to keep away from the pitfall of tyrannical order. Nonetheless, you will need to acknowledge that such hierarchies can turn out to be coercive and rotten (therefore the archetype)—and to understand that they promote a backlash after they do.

Reversing the Hierarchy

So, what occurs when “dad” turns into tyrannical—when hierarchies turn out to be too steep, dominant, and oppressive? Properly, those that are crushed on the backside get fed up, push again, and group collectively to overturn the system. They’re motivated to create what anthropologists name a Reverse Dominance Hierarchy as a substitute (Boehm, 1993).

They accomplish that by tapping into totally different types of energy, just like the connections they’ve with one another (Referent Energy) and present legal guidelines and norms (Professional Energy). Utilizing that energy, they kind a gaggle, robust sufficient to oppose these on the prime. Basically, they unionize, to collectively discount and maximize their energy by way of relationships.

Finally, this motivation is the driving power behind woke ideology. It’s a social dynamic that arises when hierarchical order turns into too oppressive and must be re-balanced. As Peterson (2021) suggests, this course of will be fueled by resentment (usually justifiably so). Extra to the purpose, nonetheless, the social dynamics are additionally fueled by the need to reconnect, cooperate, and kind relationships with others—particularly for individuals who are alienated and marginalized.

Can Woke Go Too Far?

Who does not need to join, kind relationships, and love a little bit extra? Who would not profit from the safety (and energy) of a giant group supporting them? It’s laborious to see the draw back. Nonetheless, as Peterson (2021) argues, such ideologies can result in unintended break. However, why precisely?

Reverse dominance hierarchies get their energy from the amount of relationships. In different phrases, extra individuals within the group is best—and extra highly effective. Sadly, that focus tends to neglect the competence of every particular person concerned. In any case, if you’re motivated to incorporate everybody (and acquire energy, cash, or standing by doing so), then any requirements that would presumably reject somebody would really feel counterproductive, exclusionary, and detrimental. A gaggle with out requirements can stop to be purposeful, nonetheless, turning into extra like an aimless mob than a productive group.

Like Peterson’s lobsters, right here too we will higher perceive the state of affairs with a metaphor—on this case, concerning the crab. If you happen to put a single crab in a bucket, it should simply climb out. Nonetheless, in the event you put many crabs in a bucket, none can climb out. This happens as a result of the crabs maintain onto one another and drag one another down. The overwhelming energy of the group prevents any competent particular person from ever climbing up. On this method, the constructive and highly effective connections of a gaggle can turn out to be chaotic and coercive, smothering particular person effort and productiveness. That is what Peterson (2002) himself alludes to in his dialogue of the Damaging Mom archetype.

Discovering Stability

By including the above metaphors and dynamics to the items Peterson does focus on, we get the total image. Each side have advantage, and but, each can go too far. An excessive amount of deal with competency and competitors and you find yourself in a snippy lobster hierarchy, with people feeling remoted, relationships fractured, and tyrannical order bearing down. In distinction, an excessive amount of deal with connection and cooperation and you find yourself in a crab bucket, caught within the chaos of a mob that smothers particular person efforts towards competence and achievement. Put merely, one facet sacrifices relationships for experience, whereas the opposite does the other—and each bases of energy are wanted for a balanced life!

On condition that, in our private lives and our societies, the best way ahead is to know one another and endeavor to strike a stability between particular person competency and interpersonal connection. We accomplish that by studying to share energy with others, constructing each competence and connection, and refraining from utilizing bases of energy for coercive management. In that method, we keep away from turning into Tyrannical Fathers or Damaging Moms, and create the highly effective social dynamics that assist us finest reside, love, and prosper.

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© 2022 by Jeremy S. Nicholson, M.A., M.S.W., Ph.D. All rights reserved.


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