The Guardian Newspaper is the go-to source of news and opinion for a wide swathe of UK leaders and opinion formers. From university academics and public sector managers to institutions such as the BBC, the Guardian is the newspaper of choice. So the Guardian has a reach and influence far beyond its meagre 150,000 circulation. For some it is the only newspaper and for all, it is an echo chamber of liberal, progressive, right-on politically correct views.
Everything it reports and everything it comments on has a clear aim of sustaining this world view. For example, you may not have seen much reporting (anywhere) on what is going on in Iran with the protests and it is not only the Guardian that is guilty of this. However, what reporting there has been in the Guardian has promoted the view that these protests are about the economy. Why does this matter? The reality is that the protests are also very much about religion which for the Guardian is off-limits. I have posted previously a link to Maryam Namazie’s video report. She is an Iranian, ex-Muslim, atheist, and socialist. But even with the right political flavour, the views of Namazie are beyond the pale for the Guardian. (She also has the honour of being no-platformed at UK universities).
This week someone called Jordan Peterson has been lecturing in the UK. He is a Canadian clinical psychologist and professor of psychology and has become notorious because of his opposition in Canada to a law legislating to enforce speech relating to transgender pronouns. However, what has caught the attention of millions of followers is his teaching on what could be termed “the meaning of life” and how to live well. His new book is 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos. A number of reviews have appeared including the one in the Guardian.
The review begins by remarking on Peterson’s “hectoring advice” which sets the tone for the entire article. He has “contentious views on gender, political correctness, good and evil”, no doubt contentious for a Guardian readership that has convinced itself that no-one other than the morally degenerate, bigots, and deplorables (with credit to Hillary) could possibly think otherwise. This is clearly a problem for the Guardian. Peterson appears as an intellectual, one of the in-crowd, but he isn’t. The answer must be that he is a fake, far from precise in his speech, and whose foundational concepts slide around until they lose meaning. The opponents set up by Peterson are “straw men” and his use of intellectual history is “highly tendentious”.
The big problem for the Guardian is that this is nonsense. Channel 4 News put up one of their brightest and best, Cathy Newman, to interview Peterson for a full half hour. All respect to Channel 4, but they may have underestimated what they were up against. Here we found straw men, but they were being put up by Newman. Each time they were effectively but graciously refuted by Peterson. The debate (a better description than interview) was feisty and utterly engaging. Peterson has an uncannily quick mind, an all consuming commitment to truth, a scientists grasp of his facts, and an ability to see right through the presuppositions of his interviewer. The coup de grace came 20 minutes in on the subject of censorship at which point Newman was speechless for a very long few seconds. Peterson closed it with “gotcha” which is exactly what it was. I have full respect for Newman to keep going so long, but she was up against an intellectual giant, and she was armed only with the intellectually incoherent dogmas of postmodern liberalism.
Whether this becomes a moment of cognitive dissonance and consequent learning I somewhat doubt. However, it may be one of those watershed moments. The armour of postmodern liberalism has been tested and found wanting.
If the Guardian is seriously damaging your mind, there are things you can do. Get out of the echo chamber. Find out what people you disagree with actually think. Read non-progressive newspapers (sadly TV leaves little choice). And maybe listen to what Peterson has to say. His ideas might just save our culture from self annihilation. And save you.