This is a transcript of a YouTube video clip of a section of a speech or lecture by Dr. Jordan Peterson Ph.D. The clip is from an event held Sunday January 22, 2017 titled “Freedom of Speech OR Political Correctness” The clip is here: https://youtu.be/-XvI6Y5Yq8o. The video is ten minutes long. The longer recording is here: https://youtu.be/aDRgMUoEvcg.
[Dr. Jordan Peterson PhD, speaking]
Big problem here, the problem is, it’s true! You’re oppressed. [pointing]. You’re oppressed. [pointing]. You’re oppressed. [pointing]. You’re oppressed. [pointing]. God only knows why. Maybe you’re too short, or you’re not as beautiful as you could be, or, you know, your parent, your grandparent was a serf, likely, because almost everbody’s grand-, great-grandparent was. It’s like, you know, and you’re not as smart as you could be and you have a sick relative and you have your own physical problems and it’s like, frankly, you’re a mess. And you’re oppressed in every possible way including your ancestry and your biology. And the entire sum of human history has conspired to produce victimized you, with all your individual pathological problems. It’s like, YES! TRUE! OK! But the problem is that, it is true, so if you take the oppressed you, you have to fractionate them and fractionate them, and it’s like… And you’re a woman, yeah ok. Well I’m a black woman. Well, I’m a black woman who has two children. Well, I’m a black woman who has two children, and one of them isn’t very healthy. And then, well, I’m a, I’m a Hispanic woman, and I have a genius son who doesn’t have any money so that he can’t go to university, and you know I had a hell of a time getting across the border. It was really hard on me to get my citizenship. My husband is an alcoholic brute. It’s like, well yeah, that sucks too. And so, well so let’s, let’s, let’s fix all your oppression. And we’ll take every single thing into account, and then we’ll fix yours’ too. We’ll take every single thing into account.
It’s like, NO you won’t because you can’t. You can’t. It is technically impossible. First of all, you can’t even list all the ways that you’re oppressed. Second, how are you going to weight them? Third, who’s going to decide? And that’s the bloody thing. Who’s gonna decide? That’s the thing. Well, what’s the answer in the West? It’s like, in free markets, oh yeah, Christ, we’ll never be able to solve this problem. No one can solve it. What are we going to do about that? We’re going to outsource it to the marketplace. You’re going to take your sorry pathetic being and you’re gonna try to offer me something that maybe I want. And I’m going to take my sorry pathetic being and I’m gonna say, “well, all things considered, as well as I can understand them, maybe I could give you this much money”, which is actually a promise for that thing. And you’ve packed all of your damn oppression into the price. And I packed all my oppression into the willingness to pay it. And that solution sucks. It’s a bad solution. But compared to every other solution, man, it’s why ten percent of us have freedom. And so, there’s a tremendous illogic at the bottom of this, it’s like, [sighs]. You have to fractionate the oppressed all the way down to the level of the individual. Oh that’s what the West figured out. You know, there’s a couple of figures who are at the mythological roots of our culture. And you know, people get upset with me because I bring in religious themes, but I understand some things about mythology and religion. And it’s not an accident that the axiomatic Western individual is someone who was unfairly nailed to a cross and tortured. It’s like, YES! RIGHT! EXACTLY! So what do you do about that? Well, I thought about that for a long time too, it’s like… Well, you don’t get together in a damn mob, because all that does is allow you to be as horrible as you can possibly imagine and suffer from none of the consequences. That’s a bad idea. So how about we don’t do that? Well, there’s a deep idea in the West too. It’s like, pick up your damn suffering and bear it! And try to be a good person so you don’t make it worse.
Well that’s the truth, you know. I read a lot about the terrible things that people have done to each other. You just cannot even imagine it. It’s so awful. So you don’t want to be someone like that. Now, do you have a reason to be? YES! You have lots of reasons to be. God, there’s reasons to be resentful about your existence. Everyone you know is gonna die. You know, you too! And there is going to be a fair bit of pain along the way, and lots of it is going to be unfair. It’s like, YEAH! No wonder you’re resentful. It’s like, act it out and see what happens. You make everything you’re complaining about infinitely worse. There’s this idea that hell is a bottomless pit and that’s because no matter how bad it is, some stupid son of a bitch, like you, could figure out a way to make it a lot worse. So you think, well, what do you do about that? Well, you accept it. That’s what life is like. It’s suffering. That’s what the religious people have always said. Life is suffering. YES! Well, who wants to admit that? Well, just think about it. Well, so what do you do in the face of that suffering? Try to reduce it! Start with yourself. What good are you? Get yourself together, for Christ-sakes, so when your father dies you are not whining away in the corner and you can help plan the funeral. And you can stand up solidly, so that people can rely on you. That’s better. Don’t be a damn victim. Of course, you’re a victim. Jesus! Obviously!
Put yourself together. And then maybe if you put yourself together, you know how to do that. You know what’s wrong with you, if you’ll admit it. You know there’s a few things you could like, polish up a little bit. That you might even be able to manage in your insufficient present condition. And so, you might shine yourself up a little bit, and then your eyes will be a little more open, and then you can shine yourself up a little bit more, and then maybe you could bring your family together, instead of having them be the hateful, spiteful, neurotic, infighting batch that you’re doomed to spend Christmas with.
So when you fix yourself up a little bit, kinda humbly because, oh God, you’re a fixer upper if there ever was one. And then you gotta figure out well, can, can you figure out how to make peace with your idiot brother, and probably not because he’s just as dumb as you, so how the hell are you gonna manage that? So maybe you get somewhere that way and your family is sorta functioning and you find out that well, that kinda relieved a little bit of suffering, although it reduced the opportunities for spiteful revenge and that’s kind of a pain in the neck. So then you get your family together a little bit, and you’re a little clued in then, at least a bit, because you’ve done something difficult that’s actually difficult. You’re wiser so maybe you could put a tentative finger out beyond the family and try to change some little thing without wrecking it. It’s like, our society is complex, and we teach our students that they could just fix it. It’s like, go fix a military helicopter and see how far you get with that. It’s like, what are you going to do, you’re like a chimp with a wrench. Whack! Oh look! It’s better! It’s like, “No”! It’s not better. Things are complicated, and to fix things is really hard. And you have to be like a golden tool to fix things. And you’re not! So, and that’s the other message of the West. It’s like, how do you overcome the suffering of life? I’m not saying it’s only the message of the West. How you overcome the suffering of life is BE A BETTER PERSON! That’s how you do it!
Well, that’s hard. It takes responsibility, and I think, you know, you said to someone – do you want to have a meaningful life? Everything you do matters. That’s the definition of a meaningful life. That everything you do matters. You’re gonna have to carry that with you. Or do you want to just forget about the whole meaning thing, and, then you don’t have any responsibility because who the hell cares? You can wander through life doing whatever you want, gratifying impulsive desires for how well useful that’s going to be. And you’re stuck in meaningless, but you don’t have any responsibility, which one do you want? Well, ask yourself, which one are you pursuing? And you’ll find very rapidly that it isn’t the majority of your soul that’s pursuing the whole meaning thing, because oh look what you have to do to do that. You have to take on the fact that life is suffering. You have to put yourself together, in the face of that.
Well, that’s hard! Christ, it’s amazing that people can even do it. I’m stunned every day when I go outside and it isn’t a riot with everything burning. It could really, God, you talk to people, it’s like… I knew this guy, he’d been in a motorcycle accident and it really ruined him. He was like a linesman, you know, working on the power, and he was working with someone who had Parkinson’s disease. And they had complimentary inadequacies, and so two of them could do the job of one person. So they’re out there fixing power lines in the freezing cold despite the fact that one was three-quarters wrecked with the motorcycle accident and the other one had Parkinson’s. That’s how our civilization works. There’s all these ruined people out there. They’ve got problems like you can’t believe. Off they go to work and do things they don’t even like. And look, the lights are on. My God, it’s unbelievable. It’s a miracle.
It’s a miracle. And we’re so ungrateful. College students, the postmodern types. They’re so ungrateful. They don’t know that they’re surrounded by just a bloody miracle. It’s a miracle that all this stuff works. That all you crazy chimpanzees that don’t know each other can sit in the same room for two hours, sweltering away, without tearing each other apart. Because that’s what chimps do. So, [deep sigh], anyways… so, uhh, what happened? Well, I made some videos, and I got to the bottom of some things, at least as far as I can tell, so I told you what the bottom is. And then I got this idea about what you might do about it, which isn’t my idea. It’s not my idea. It’s an old, old, old, OLD, idea. It’s far older than Christianity. It’s OLD. It’s the oldest story of mankind. Get yourself together. Transcend your suffering. See if you could be some kind of hero. Make the suffering in the world less! Well, that’s the way forward as far as I can tell, if there is any way forward. And that’s what’s under assault by the postmodernists. So, look out, because they know exactly what they’re doing and they know exactly why they’re doing it. And that’s what it looks like to me. So, that’s it.