A Jordan Peterson evening

I have just finished hosting my latest last Friday meeting. It seemed to me to go very well, despite, and arguably because of, the low turnout. The fewer people show up at a meeting, the more subtle the conversation can be. Each question can get really answered.

Tamiris Loureiro was the speaker. Unusually, she actually spoke for a shorter time than she had in mind to. Usually what happens is that a speaker assembles twenty things they want to say, and gets through about three or four of them, and speaks for twenty minutes longer than they had in mind to. She raced through hers in about twenty minutes, which left lots of time for comments and questions from the rest of us.

Her subject was Jordan Peterson. She described to him as “The Good Libertarian”, which proved interestingly provocative. Peterson spans a lot of political territory between conservative and libertarian, including classical liberalism, classical liberal being what he calls himself. Paradoxically, said Tamiris, a lot of Paterson’s political impact comes from the fact that he approaches most of the problems he tackles in a non-political way. He urges us all to take personal responsibility for our lives, rather than palming our problems off on governments. Which of course is what libertarians recommend.

What did I learn from the evening? Some of what I learned came from finally getting stuck into 12 Rules for Life, by way of preparation. I had been put off from actually reading this book by the fear that I had heard it all, in the various videos and interviews of Peterson’s that I have already heard. I feared being bored. Oh me of little faith. I really enjoyed reading it.

One of the many things about Peterson that strikes me, as I found myself saying at this evening’s meeting, is that he has a very interesting “talent stack”, to use a phrase that Scott Adams likes to use to describe successful people. Peterson has a range of intellectual skills, from digging deep into ancient religious texts and coming up with non-trivial interpretations, to being an experienced councillor of troubled people, to being interviewed on television without losing his rag (think of the Cathy Newman interview), to jousting belligerently on Twitter with the worst of them. He is a self-publicist of considerable talent, and he has deeper stuff that will stand up to being publicised. It comes, I surmise, from his belief that a man’s got to take on the most responsibility he can carry. He needs to reach as many people as he can with his redemptive messages. He shouldn’t be too modest. He should put himself about as much as he can contrive.

Next up, hearing if the recording I made – or tried to make – of the talk, and of the subsequent Q&A, is any good, as a recording I mean. I don’t usually record my meetings, but I recorded this one in order to make the event mean something if the only people present had been Tamiris and me, which for a couple of days earlier in the week looked like it might happen.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

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