This piece was prompted by one of this blogger’s favorite whipping posts: Jordan B. Peterson’s credibility and incomprehensibility. Those of us waiting for the other shoe to drop have been vindicated, at least until the other-other shoe drops and the entire network of these clowns, Peterson included, are revealed to be part of the very machine they were organized to stand in opposition to. I don’t think that has happened yet, but rest assured, it will soon enough.
And what do I mean by that? Simple: this network of people, started by Eric Weinstein, was formulated as a torpedo intended to sink the surge of right-wing sentiments online. To some degree, it’s succeeded, since all of the people involved with it have had or gained fairly significant support bases; on the other hand, those that see through their impotent rhetoric have only been further encouraged to move close to whichever radical end of the ideology they find most attractive. That said, however, I do believe that ultimately the latter category will witness an explosion of interest sooner rather than later, in part because I think this ridiculous Intellectual Dark Web is going to collapse within the next several months.
How long can charlatans like Peterson knowingly lie to their audiences about the items they’ve been called out on before? Not too much longer, apparently, after the major fumble involving their opinions on the Brett Kavanaugh appointment to the Supreme Court. But I’ll get to that.
What the IDW Did Wrong From the Start
Why is this network going to fall apart? What should it have done in order to stay afloat? Could it have stayed afloat?
The first problem should have been obvious: don’t associate with lefties. It’s one thing to have a cigar with them, to share a desk with them, or to discuss the weather or the place on the corner that makes a good gyro. It’s something else to share a political platform that ostensibly has as its foundation some sort of intellectually rigorous ethic. Political views stem from moral and ethical views; morality stems from your beliefs about the world and man’s place in it. While unity across large swaths of the political spectrum ought to be encouraged, it must be remembered that alliances formed in reaction to a common enemy remain allies out of strategy, not necessarily out of genuine goodwill. As I talked about previously, an atheist and a Catholic may both wish to preserve the traditions and histories of their common ancestry, but only one of those two will be able to make a lasting impact that won’t somehow collapse back into outright modernism. On a person-by-person basis, such unity should be used as attempts to bring people into the fold and into communion with the truth, not just as an opportunistic tactic to smite the enemy. But on the larger scale, the overall strategy takes priority.
But what the IDW idiots did was the exact opposite. Under the guise of adhering to classical liberal values, the group came together in order to have conversations, resulting in the sort of cringe-inducing shows that are just talking about talking, back-patting, and self-congratulatory nonsense. Instead of confronting legitimate problems that people on both the right and the left are worried about and suffering from—such as the loss of national identity and the worrying trends in the unaffordability of living—they’d rather regurgitate old talking points about transgenderism from four years ago. But what can you expect from a bunch of modern liberals with no foundational moral fabric?
Which is what gets to the second problem: the IDW has no foundational moral fabric. There are relativists there alongside next to moralists, under the pretenses of preserving an open forum for dialogue. When the platform refuses to acknowledge the objective nature of morality, then it makes no difference whether certain key people on that platform do or not. The platform will disintegrate because those principled enough to acknowledge the objectivity of morality will have little patience for the obscurantist rhetoric of the relativists.
Most of the people on the IDW platform won’t seem like relativists. Sam Harris, for instance, makes overtures to an objective morality when he criticizes certain barbaric practices of primitive cultures, such as mutilation or oppression. But Sam Harris, known best for his popular books on atheism and absurd attempts to derive morality from science, is completely unequipped to answer the question “why don’t you believe these things are good or at least worthy of toleration?” He says it himself in the New York Times piece about the IDW:
“I remember she said: ‘That’s just your opinion. How can you say that forcing women to wear burqas is wrong?’ But to me it’s just obvious that forcing women to live their lives inside bags is wrong.
“It’s just wrong.” Well, Sam, it’s only wrong because there’s an intrinsic order to the universe that includes a moral dimension, and that intrinsic order originates causally from the existence of an intelligent state of being capable of formulating it. And yet Harris ignores and rejects all evidence of Logos as a divine being. In fact, he seems to reject the concept of Logos even as he defends it in other areas. So he doesn’t have the option of saying “it’s just wrong” without also admitting that his entire atheist background has been a psychological reaction to some personal grievances with God, rather than genuine philosophical expositions on the nature of reality.
And Jordan Peterson himself isn’t much better. His attempt to split truth into different categories, as if myths are true but not like empirical data is true, yet somehow both are true, remains as mystifying an explanation for the reality of objective moral standards as anything I’ve seen. Truth is truth in part because it is simple, it’s singular. Claiming that there are different versions of truth is a miscategorization of whatever he’s on about; myths are necessary and important, but truth claims are truth claims and myths do not operate in the way that reality does. For a man who claims so ardently to have studied and admired the works of Carl Jung, he seems completely off-base as to the sort of thing Jung was talking about when it came to the process of individuation and the formation of the unconscious. Peterson’s effectively saying that morality, being derived and synthesized from this alternative truth-spectrum of mythology and storytelling, is real in my mind! See if you can spot the problem there for yourself.
The Impending Breakup
In last week’s post, I mentioned how the modern morality has become shaped around the principle of self-preservation, and I talked briefly on how that can manifest down the line as the will to power. Self-preservation is certainly an important instinct to have, but properly-ordinated morals place the pursuit and defense of what is true above that. That can take a variety of different forms, but the discernment of what is true, and then to act in defense of that, remains the linchpin of virtue ethics. For those who are already Christian, this effectively means living in the service to God, since God is truth and He is love; those who follow His commandments are living as morally as is possible.
I repeat this here because what you see in the IDW are allegedly intelligent people divided across this line while holding onto the pretenses of unity. Disagreements about opinions or preferences or whatever are healthy to have in a group, but disagreements over what is true—much less whether truth even exists—lead to disagreements in moral viewpoints. Any group that has disagreements over what is moral cannot even be called a group so much as a collection of people or a collection of other groups. It is the agreement over what constitutes acceptable behavior and to what end our actions should be ordered that form and maintain social cohesion.
I don’t know for sure what sort of truth Sam Harris believes in, and he may even pay lip service to the notion that truth can be relative. I don’t know. But at the very least, he is aware that the world has order, and that this order entails a moral dimension. He knows it’s wrong to butcher people in the streets or to carry out barbaric practices of mutilation as primitive rites of passage. Most of us know this. That he can acknowledge this reveals that he at least has an intuitive awareness that truth is real, that it is knowable, and that certain objective moral values can be inferred from its existence. This is, again, why I mention that the cognitive dissonance he displays with regard to his writings on the existence of God says more about his psychological state than they do about the real world.
Peterson, on the other hand, does not seem to share this idea. Truths of morality exist on an axis wholly separated from the empirical truths of tangible reality. Truth is something deduced from myths, which are stories and folk tales synthesized through the observation of empirical data and the reiteration of stories across generations. But this truth remains altogether different from an empirical truth. If you don’t understand what that means, then you’re in good company, because I don’t either. Truth is true, no matter how it’s spun. That a story about Theseus killing the Minotaur of Crete isn’t true the way that the phrase “water is wet” is true is self-evident, but to try and say they’re both “true in different ways” strikes me as missing the point. Mythologies and stories can’t be judged according to truth values the way axioms can. That’s one of the reasons aesthetics even exists.
What this reveals is Peterson’s inability to commit to a moral framework. His uncertainty about the reality of truth necessitates the formation of a moral system built according to the principle of self-preservation. His book 12 Rules for Life states this rather clearly; a worldview built upon the idea that the world is fundamentally chaotic and essentially unknowable makes Peterson the frightened protagonist of a life that can only be navigated with self-preservation in mind. Apparently, he fails to see the irony in that.
The Kavanaugh Stuff
This division of moral positions has been made clear during the course of the Brett Kavanaugh hearings. I’ve refrained from commenting on them over the past couple of weeks for a couple reasons, but my nightly blog has a few posts. The truth is I think that everything that could be said has already been said on the subject, and in particular during the hearing with that Dr. Ford woman whose absurd testimony should never have been allowed to make it past the doors of that room. How anyone could rally behind her in the wake of that testimony defies imagination.
But, almost on cue, the clowns of the IDW go ahead do exactly that. Sam Harris, again revealing his cognitive dissonance, ponders aloud what it would take to motivate Ford to lie. Bret Weinstein took a daring stand by saying he just wasn’t happy. And Jordan Peterson made the ludicrous statement that Kavanaugh should just step down. It’s almost like they’re fed talking points.
Now, everyone who watched Ford’s testimony knows that she was full of crap. Everyone who followed the hearings knows that she’s one of the least-credible people to have ever testified before a Senate panel—and that’s saying a lot, given who else has occupied that seat in the past. She couldn’t remember anything, she named witnesses who, under oath, denied her events, she got caught lying about a fear of flying and, later, coaching someone on how to take a polygraph—she was a mess. And Kavanaugh, rightfully, offered an impassioned testimony burning with the indignation of a man falsely accused of being some kind of gang rapist.
So what you have here is the outright attack on the rule of law. These things have a process. Accusations need to be substantiated in order to be taken seriously. Substantiation can take the form of physical evidence, credible witnesses, and in some cases, the credibility of the accuser. An investigation takes place to assess the weight of these things and then, eventually, a verdict is released.
We had that with Ford and Kavanaugh. The result was the complete and total vindication of Kavanaugh. His vindication wasn’t the result of political machinations, it was the result of the obvious reality. His word was more credible than hers. Her own witnesses denied her accusations. Her own story didn’t make any sense. She wasn’t able to explain how she could be so certain. And she was a liar on top of it all. Kavanaugh, on the other hand, had a long career as a federal judge and six previous background checks run by the FBI.
What people who attack Kavanaugh are doing isn’t merely attacking due process. It’s worse than that: they are denying that due process even exists. All politics, according to them, is power play and machination. All politics is a matter of self-preservation. All politics is governed by fear—not the imposition of it, but the reaction to it. Kavanaugh is not accepted by these women shouting about believing survivors because his opposition can’t tell the difference between a conspiracy and the proper judicial process.
But it’s one thing to expect that sort of ignorance and malice from the extreme left. It’s something else to hear it from moderates, because it is only on issues like this that the moderates ever tip their hands. And in the case of the IDW, they did: the three I pointed out above have revealed their adherence to fear and intimidation. If the mob speaks, they say, capitulate, back down, and go away, even when you know beyond a shadow of doubt that you’re on the side of truth. Despite their words, these men don’t believe in truth, and if they do, they are so repulsed by it as to flee from its presence wherever it is.
This is the only explanation to this sort of centrist position. I’ve heard it before: the country needs healing, so we have to compromise on certain issues and make amends with our opposition. Or sometimes the defense takes this form: the integrity of the Supreme Court would be marred by the inclusion of this man who has been disgraced in the public eye. These defenses are more than absurd; they are flirtations with evil. There is a truth to the events that marred Kavanaugh’s image in the public eye, and the reasonable mind will acknowledge the baselessness of his enemies’ claims. Claiming that the opposition can lie to get what it wants, and if it lies loud and hard enough, then the right will be willing to just give up and cave in—and then to call that healing, to call that making amends! The madness of such a statement is beyond reckoning.
This is what has made the Kavanaugh hearings so damning, and it is what will destroy this stupid platform of intellectual wannabes in the IDW. The shamelessness with which the accusations against Kavanaugh were published betrayed the utter transparency of their intentions. It was never about Kavanaugh himself. It was only ever about power.
What the right needs—what the country needs, in fact—is not a mediation of extremes and a migration of radicals toward a moderate center. This concedes far too much to the people so deluded and blinded by the mainstream narratives that they forsake and disbelieve even the existence of something as basic as the rule of law. What the country needs is to double down on what is true. It needs radicalism of this sort. It needs extremists who will look at someone like Peterson, whose self-professed love of the Bible seems to have blinded him from the irony of his questions about truth, and call him out for being a disingenuous fool.
What we are told in schools is the progressive take often attributed to Martin Luther King, Jr.: “The arc of history bends toward justice.” We take it as self-evident that technological and moral progress go hand-in-hand, that we intuitively know what is true, and that truth is real even when we are taught by people who rationalize truth into being some sort of imaginary value assigned to statements either arbitrarily out of convenience.
What we are not taught in schools is that truth has never been popular, and that those who pursue it the most eagerly are too frequently the ones rounded up and shot, or tortured, or fed to lions. What we are not taught in our secular, progressive schools is that the truth is not actually knowable through the use of reason, but that it is actually recognizable through the use of reason, and that it is knowable at all only through revelation. What we aren’t taught in schools is that the truth transcends even human understanding and that its edicts—His edicts—are objective and supreme beyond dispute. And it was Him, the truth, which hung on the cross at Cavalry for three hours, tortured and bloody, until he was dead, before he rose again after three days.
You will always encounter those who flee from the truth rather than run towards it. This is the response of the people who run this Internet Dark Web. This is the position of the people who seek to moderate the political discourse of those seeking an alternative to the mainstream right. Moderation. Centrism. Obfuscation. Capitulation to liars and slanderers and frauds. Indecision. Absolutely disgusting.