Oct. 19-21: Responding to Peterson
an intervention in lieu of a debate
#JPCON brought together academics, podcasters, and public intellectuals to analyze, challenge, and critique the rise to cultural prominence of Jordan Peterson, using his popularity as a teaching moment to convey important concepts and insights that come out of critical theory, psychoanalysis, poststructuralism, and Marxian theory. We are in the process of releasing better quality versions of the videos, but you can find the live stream editions on our FB here, and on our YouTube here.
Peterson pulled out from a debate with Douglas Lain one month before going on the Rogan podcast to say academic leftists won't debate him or engage in dialogue. Now for the sake of education and reasonable discourse, we are hosting an intervention in lieu of a debate. Update: We found out Peterson's reason for not debating Lain was that he is not popular enough. So we booked Richard Wolff, one of the most famous leftist intellectuals, to come debate Peterson /at cost/. Peterson's response? His minimum speaker fee is $50,000. Now Wolff will also be presenting in lieu of a debate.
This conference provides a public* forum for leftist podcasters, journalists, activists, and academics to respond to Jordan B. Peterson as a cultural phenomenon in a mature and critically rigorous manner. Rather than ad hominems and cheap write-offs, we ask questions such as what does his popularity say about the state of the left, what sort of ideological function does he serve, and what kinds of opportunities present themselves for the left to reinvent itself or educate the newly interested. Specifically, because Peterson spreads this fear-mongering tale of a ‘postmodern, feminist, neo-Marxist plot to undermine Western values’, the leftists have officially been given a pedestal to set the record straight. This conference is an opportunity to clear up common misconceptions for his growing fan base. If you are tired of talking about Peterson, but desire to make a definitive statement that will be heard around the world before closing the case, this is your opportunity.
*A note on “the public” nature of this conference. All panels will be recorded with high grade recording equipment, then shared on a variety of podcasts reaching diverse audiences. Essays and articles submitted will be considered for a publication by Zero Books that will be directed at Peterson’s fan base.
Jordan Peterson made his way from obscurity to #1 bestseller on Amazon by criticizing the the same reactionary factions on the left Mark Fisher addressed in his notorious Exiting the Vampire Castle piece. He’s struck a nerve, and now he’s been fully integrated into the vanguard of the self-proclaimed intellectual darkweb.
Campus and internet left responses to Peterson have fed the impression that we have no intellectual upper hand and instead must resort to rhetoric and silencing. This is fueled by the fact that Peterson only debates people who make him look good or who share his fundamental capitalist realist assumptions; and by spreading this falsehood that no Marxists will debate him while ignoring honest attempts to engage him on the level of ideas (e.g. Zero Books)(PEL). Per Slavoj Zizek’s recent input on the topic, it’s time the left, in Peterson’s already internet-classic terms, “put its room in order.”
Peterson wouldn’t be drawing this kind of popularity if there wasn’t a kernel of truth to what he is saying, or if it weren’t for the philosophically starved and isolated audience he is talking to. Let’s put things in order by responding, clarifying, correcting, and educating. Let’s discuss strategies for outgrowing this increasingly reactionary moment, or at least ways of exploiting this new attention.
Ok, now that you've gotten through all that text it's time we break the spell: We'll also have fun with this. Yes, the live-broadcast stuff is serious and speaks to his fan base, but off camera? We'll write a collaborative book called "___ Rules for Life" (however many we can come up with over the two days), finish an evening around a fire place with a BBQ, and have a couple of nights out on the town with live music and drink.