Jordan Peterson’s refusal to kowtow to modern liberal pieties makes him a star — and a marked man, by James Varney

Jordon Peterson has emerged as a superhero for many on the right. From James Varney at

For someone who’s become rich and famous for his speech, Jordan Peterson spends a lot of time saying, “that’s not what I said.”

A clinical psychologist and scholar, Mr. Peterson has taken the Internet, along with the publishing and speaking-tour worlds, by storm. His lectures and books now command enthralled audiences worldwide. Fresh off sold-out appearances in Australia, a 12-city North American tour to promote his latest book started Sunday in Manhattan.

But away from the crowds, his point of view isn’t always welcome. Whether it’s a confrontational interview with the BBC, a haughty dismissal in The New York Review of Books, or an inability to get listed on The New York Times’ best-seller list, the media gatekeepers seem to want Mr. Peterson kept outside.

“That’s because he’s a massive threat to them,” said television news host Tucker Carlson, who added he’s enjoyed every appearance Mr. Peterson made on the host’s Fox News Channel program. “That’s all an effort to make him be quiet.”

Thus far, the effort earns an “F.” Mr. Peterson’s “12 Rules for Life: An Antidote for Chaos,” is a runaway global best-seller. Months after its publication, the book sits at No. 2 on Publishers’ Weekly nonfiction list, and on Amazon it still holds the No. 2 spot in all books, while ranking as No. 1 in three categories. On YouTube, the 225 lectures Mr. Petersonhas posted have attracted more than 460,000 subscribers and 30 million views.

Exactly what Mr. Peterson imparts in his speeches and prose isn’t easily classified. His website proclaims his new book, “shattered the modern commonplaces of science, faith, and human nature while transforming and ennobling the mind and spirit of its readers.”

He jumps nimbly among multiple sources, from mythology to history, and from literature to psychoanalysis. There’s talk of “archetypes,” and a resurrection of themes that last held sway when disciples of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung ruled the academy. His books are nonfiction, yet they are also self-help with more than a dash of philosophy.

Mr. Peterson’s public relations team said it could not arrange an interview with him as he embarked on his speaking tour. But his rise is easily tracked on YouTube: from the young Peterson at Harvard, talking about Alexander Solzhenitsyn with minimal production values, to a more assertive and confident professor teaching mid-level classes at the University of Toronto, to a kind of new-age guru appearing solo on stage before a rapt audience.

Mr. Peterson’s philosophy boils down to what he describes as a mature attitude and concomitant “competence.” While much of what Mr. Peterson dissects is universal, he often addresses himself to younger men and what he calls “a crisis in masculinity.”

To continue reading: Jordan Peterson’s refusal to kowtow to modern liberal pieties makes him a star — and a marked man


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