I like Jordan Peterson.

Those four words, in and of themselves, are sufficient to induce some on the Left to call me a long stream of obscenities and nasty names, derogatory (and false) labels, and dismiss me as an irredeemable, deplorable, a bitter clinger, a racist.

In short, those four words are sufficient to establish my “identity” in their eyes. Guilt-by-association may be a logical fallacy, but it’s a sufficient identifier for those whose world view is foundationally about sorting people into “oppressed” and “oppressor” baskets. The fact that I’m a cis-white-hetero-male doesn’t even matter here, and in fact I’d likely face even greater rejection were I a member of one or more of the “oppressed” groups they purport to champion. Nothing I say, nor anything in my history (as a libertarian, I championed the rights of many “oppressed” before doing so became fashionable) would make any difference to those inclined to snap-judge me based on a four-word opinion.

No matter. I am untroubled by and indifferent to their slings and arrows, apart from the utility the provide: someone who’d lambaste me for liking Peterson is someone whose opinion is very unlikely to be of any interest to me.

That he’s standing up against the tidal wave of cultural redefinition makes me like him even more.

A snippet from a chat he had with Ben Shapiro resonated with my on-going assessment of this tidal wave. In it, he offered (and repeated) this assertion:

Tribes fight.

The subtext is that the Left has embraced tribalism – a very specific (and simultaneously arbitrary – despite a veneer of morality, their demarcations are based on utility, skip too many “oppressed” to list, and ignore internal inconsistencies) form of tribalism: the sorting of people into two baskets: oppressor and oppressed. Within each (but far more so in the latter) there are sub-sortings – smaller tribes, but the top-tier division between -or and -ed is the defining principle of their worldview. Everything is reducible to identity groups and their pursuit of power over each other.

Peterson goes on:

The anthropological evidence for that is overwhelming. Tribes fight. It doesn’t even matter if they’re chimpanzee tribes. Even chimpanzee tribes fight. So not only do you regress to a tribalism, but you also invalidate the one proposition that’s been able to help us arise above the tribal, which is the idea that the individual should be sovereign. And so I think the culture war is about what’s the proper framework within which to view human identity, and what’s the relationship between the individual and the group in relationship to that identity. And the leftist answer is, it’s all group, and it’s all power.

As I recently discussed, Richard Delgado, one of the biggest muckety-mucks of Woketopia, informs us that Critical Race Theory “questions the very foundations of the liberal order.” That liberal order is, at its core, “the idea that the individual should be sovereign.” The primacy of the individual is what gave us “all men are created equal,” the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the 13th, 14th, and 19th Amendments (at least), the Civil Rights Movement, and all the other progress that has been made since the era when the world was dominated by hereditary rulers, nobility, feudalism, serfdom, slavery, a dearth of human rights, and a disregard for (most) human life that shocks today’s conscience.

Societies founded on this liberal order still have work to do in pursuit of its ideal form, but it is absolutely without question that enormous progress has been made across the centuries since Hobbes and Locke kicked off the Enlightenment’s elevation of the individual and its premise of equality. That today’s Best-and-Brightest specifically reject equality is a giant red flag that should warn off any person who believes in liberty and the foundational/aspirational elements of Western society.

Three weeks ago, I informed readers that You Don’t Matter. I now think I understated things. To those who embrace this new tribalism, you do matter, in that you provide a hate-focus for those they’ve made part of their tribe. They get to point at you and say “hate him!”

Tribes fight.

Sorting us into tribes is guaranteed to cause us to fight, no matter that those of us who still believe in the individual would rather pursue Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream and seek to live in harmony with everyone, no matter their identity group.

Some of these Best-and-Brightest may actually believe that they can make society better if they drag those of us who believe in the liberal order into their “better” society. They’ve convinced themselves that we cannot rise above our tribal nature unless we embrace it, unless we actually think and act based on the sorting and divisions they’ve decided upon.

Tribes fight.

Others, I’m sure, see this as their new tactic for wrecking Western society, much as the Marxists of the early 20th century saw the fomenting of class division (aka Critical Theory) as the means of tearing down capitalism in favor of socialism, and ultimately communism. The latter, in their defense, didn’t have a century’s worth of destruction and nine-figure death tolls to dissuade them from that horrific ‘dream.’ Today’s Best-and-Brightest have no such excuse, yet they persist.

Tribes fight.

I’ve been roundly mocked, poo-poohed, figuratively patted on the head, smirked and sneered at, and dismissed for suggesting that the culture war is about supplanting not only the nation’s foundational principles, but her economic system as well, even as we witness countless camel’s noses poking into it. Collusion between Big Social Media and the government to curate and censor information-sharing. Handouts and other forms of largesse so substantial that they’re having a major impact on the labor market. Printing of money at an incomprehensible scale. Historical revisionism. Tolerating and even condoning low-level crimes, both against property and against individuals. Teaching racism and suspicion of ‘other.’ A new social order that rejects the principles that have elevated the human condition from the rights-less misery that was the default across thousands of years of civilization.

If you’re still skeptical, ask yourself:

If equality is bad, what is it going to be replaced with?

If individualism is bad, what is it going to be replaced with?

If the aspiration to a color-blind society is bad, what is it going to be replaced with?

Here’s the evil genius of Critical Theory, in its various permutations: It is deliberately specific in its criticisms, but remains deliberately vague about its remedies. Its historic roots in Marxism are obvious, yet because it doesn’t overtly declare them (occasional slip-ups aside), it both enables the willing to fill in the blanks with vague utopianism, aka “transform it for the better” (see: Delgado), and wave off those who assert that it’s a carrier wave for socialism.

If the “foundations of the liberal order, including equality theory, legal reasoning, Enlightenment rationalism, and neutral principles of constitutional law” are Bad (Delgado said they should be “questioned,” but this is a rejection of their truth – don’t be so naive as to think it’s merely “let’s talk about it”), what are they to be replaced with? Certainly not equality, the sovereignty of the individual, equal treatment under the law, and the rest of the foundational principles of the liberal order.

I don’t know how many other ways I can phrase it – we are facing a battle over the nation’s very identity. Rich Lowry phrased it the same way in his recent column, but he didn’t go far enough. The first goal is collapse.

Tribes fight.

They are instigating naked tribalism, an us-vs-them dichotomy where the Left’s “us” incites lizard-brain fear and loathing of all who are not of their tribe. In using the word “woke,” they imply a belief of a higher state of consciousness, when the reality is that they’re inflaming our base limbic system instincts at the expense of our forebrains, rational thought, and all that some of the greatest social thinkers of history gifted humanity with. All id, no superego. All tribe, no individual. All hate, no harmony.

Tribes fight.

It’s working, on both sides of the aisle. The Right reacted to all this by getting tribal itself, by closing ranks around someone who tapped into that tribalism and rode it all the way to the White House, and his acolytes are tearing what should be an opposition unified around principles of liberty apart with their own tribalism, their demands for cult-of-personality loyalty to an untethered orange id, their “with us or against us” absolutism.

Tribes fight.

What can we do? Try our best to cull those who think they should align with the Left from those illiberal ranks. Draw the line between liberals and Leftists, embrace the former, reject the latter. Preach liberty and individualism (and drag those on the Right who think they believe in those but have become reflexively tribal themselves back to individualism). Embrace the big-tent of individual liberty, and don’t allow the Left to gaslight you into thinking that this is just about race history. Nothing less than the essence of Western society is at stake.

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.

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