What do Scandinavians think of Jordan Peterson

The first applause breaks out onto the still empty stage. Anyone who disturbs has to leave the hall, the loudspeakers boom. Then Jordan Peterson steps into the spotlight. For him, the appearance in the Canadian provincial city of Saskatoon is the 68th of his book tour, but for many of the 2,000 visitors a dream has come true. "The man changed my life," says Nick Caldwell. He dropped out of university at the age of 19 and found himself in a "dark place" before discovering a lecture by the psychology professor at the University of Toronto on YouTube. Then he read Peterson's "12 Rules for Life" guidebook, which said it aloud New York Times made him "the most influential intellectual of our time". The book will be published in German in autumn.

The hopes of many conservatives who want to counter the supposedly overpowering left-wing thinking in the media and universities rest on Peterson. Then he's on stage, 56 years old, wiry, made-to-measure suit, pocket square. "Pull yourself together", he demands and means the young men, his most important target group. If women reject them, it is because they have too little to offer. For Peterson, life is suffering, and readers should not blame others but seek something that will give "meaning" to their lives. So easy.

Much of his advice is banal and can be found in many self-help books: "Stand up straight", "Tell the truth or at least don't lie", "Clean up your house before you criticize the world". And yet: two million copies have been sold since January, part of a real Peterson cult. Vanity Fair called him the "gateway drug for the alt-right movement", essays such as "Why the left is so afraid of Jordan Peterson" appear every week Atlantic.

One magazine called him a "father figure for the generation that hates political correctness"

The weekly videos and podcasts are more important than the book; Peterson's YouTube channel alone has 1.4 million subscribers, Peterson, according to Washington-based Insider magazine Politico, is a "father figure to the generation that hates political correctness", one of the "50 most influential political figures".

Conservatives do not worship him because he praises capitalism and doubts climate change, but because he questions the ideas that dominate universities. in the Atlantic Caitlin Flanagan describes how her sons cried when Trump won the election, but now consume a lot of Peterson: "He talks about everything that is taboo because of identity politics and in the protected rooms. You suddenly notice that history, philosophy, mysticism and Religion is allowed to speak. "

These topics are also included in "12 Rules for Life". Peterson mixes the advice with personal anecdotes, study results on evolution and neurology, and examples from his time as a therapist. He often goes back to his idol, the dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn, and recalls the millions of dead who were murdered in the gulags - something completely new for young Americans. He advocates strict child-rearing practices, including the occasional slap in the face. Marriage is important for stability in everyday life, as is punctuality. Yet the insistence on manners and its beliefs, while conservative, are neither new nor radical. So what is it then?

First of all, Peterson is a master of the spoken word. Anyone who listens to a lecture or the audiobook perceives it differently. Jumps in thought that tire you while reading appear more natural. With a lot of pathos he brings structure to the chaos out there. And: He uses the media of the present perfectly. He describes the boom in independent podcasts, in which he talks about his topics for hours, as the "Gutenberg moment".

His agent declined an interview request. In return, Peterson enjoys the role of the star guest with Joe Rogan, Ben Shapiro or Sam Harris, the other stars of the "intellectual dark web". When the psychologist Peterson and the philosopher Harris discussed their theses for ten hours, 20,000 people paid admission to one of the live broadcasts in Vancouver, Dublin and London.

"Nowadays people can get two hours of training every day, which was unthinkable in the past."

"The problem with books is that you can't do anything in parallel. But if you're listening to a podcast, you can do the dishes or drive the truck at the same time," says Peterson . " And of course it is clear who should take on the role of teacher.

He has been recording his lectures for years, and newcomers will find enough videos to follow his 15-part Bible lecture series. The entire material is freely accessible, and so his fans put out short videos every hour with titles such as "How to silence a Marxist" or "Peterson dismantles a feminist reporter". On YouTube in particular, the Canadian rebukes other professors for spreading their "murderous ideologies" of Marxism and deconstructivism.

More preacher than professor

Peterson: the fighter against political correctness. In the fall of 2016, he became a star when he declared his protest against the "C-16" law, which required the use of gender-neutral pronouns in Canadian universities, via video. His right to "freedom of expression" was violated and he would go to prison rather than subordinate himself. Protests and appearances followed Fox Newswhere he was celebrated for the fight against excessive minority protection. He took a vacation from college, wrote his book, and went on a promotional tour.

This was followed by an interview on the British broadcaster in January 2018 Channel 4 about salary differences between men and women. Peterson stressed that "patriarchal structures" were only one factor. It is just the case that women prefer social professions and only want to work a few hundred hours a week. The moderator was poorly prepared, interrupted her guest and put twisted quotes in his mouth. Peterson, however, never lets himself be provoked and, if necessary, overwhelms the other person with a wealth of information that hardly anyone can counter. Insulting him as a "smart guy for stupid people", as some media do, does not expose him, but rather helps him to present himself as a taboo breaker.

A VIP pass costs $ 200, a fair price, according to Saskatoon fans

In Saskatoon, it only takes minutes for Peterson fans to hear that Channel 4- Raise the video as evidence of the laziness of the left, parroting the slogans and ignoring Peterson's demand: to take responsibility as an individual.

It is "intellectually inspiring" to follow Peterson, say Dustin and Jason. Both are in their mid-twenties and have spent hours in the car shaking hands with him. A VIP pass costs $ 200, a fair price to thank the man who opened their eyes, they think.

Others are alarmed, such as Bernard Schiff, who previously headed the University of Toronto's Department of Psychology. "I was Jordan Peterson's greatest sponsor. Now I consider him dangerous," read the headline of an article he wrote in the Toronto Star. In it, the 79-year-old accuses Peterson of twisting studies, especially on evolution. What does not fit - such as how important cooperation is for the continued existence of living beings - is left out. He prefers to use the example of lobsters to explain the mechanism of the reproductive male dominance hierarchy that has existed for billions of years. They shape men to this day, so Peterson, so it is scandalous if they were insulted as "tyrants" because of their "normal" behavior. Worse in Schiff's eyes: Peterson abuses the title of professor, even though he acts like a preacher. And: He defames every critic as "evil".

For a long time he defended Peterson. When he applied in Toronto in 1998, Schiff gave him a job, although colleagues thought he was "eccentric". At that time, Peterson's first book "Map of Meaning" appeared, which received little attention. The two became friends. The break occurred when Peterson launched his campaign against the C-16 law.

Since then, the 79-year-old has followed with a mixture of horror and amusement how the internet fills with new texts, tweets and videos about Jordan Peterson. He now receives almost $ 100,000 from fans every month via the Patreon donation platform. Peterson's daughter Mikhaila is equally enterprising. She suffered from chronic pain for a long time, but since she, like her father, only eats meat, she is said to be doing great.

In Saskatoon, Peterson doesn't hide how comfortable he feels on stage. "These appearances are better than any interviews," he says. Here he can "test ideas" and see what captivates the audience. The accusation of escalation comes to nothing: Peterson acts like a professional entertainer.

In the second part, when it comes to questions from the public, he becomes more aggressive: the universities are "rotten" from the inside, and students are being "brainwashed". This is where we have to start in order to save Western civilization. The applause is huge.

An anarchist, an engineer and a bicycle courier discuss his ideas in debate circles

Bernard Schiff reminds Peterson's admission of "testing ideas" of methods used by demagogues like Stalin and Hitler, the very demagogues against which Peterson's books warn verbally. His followers, on the other hand, are fascinated by how he develops his theses and see this as evidence of his honesty. Meetup groups of 15 to 20 participants debate Peterson's work. In Toronto, an engineer and a former anarchist sit next to a curator who was bullied for her belief at the academy, plus a bicycle courier who always tells the truth: "Peterson showed me how accepted lies are in society." The résumés are different, they all formulate the same message: "We don't follow him blindly, of course he says strange things, but he challenges us." And everyone in the group is convinced: "Anyone who deals with him realizes that the man does not want to divide society."

The restless Peterson is currently touring the USA before visiting Great Britain and Scandinavia in October and traveling to Australia in 2019. He recently announced that he would soon sign a new book deal. The work with the working title: "12 more rules. Beyond mere order" should appear in 2020. He also raises money for an online university that teaches all those things that the "radical left" wants to hide.

There's nothing to suggest that Peterson is fed up with fame. He flirts with going into politics at some point. In the spring he called the then Prime Minister of the Province of Ontario "the most dangerous woman in the country", and most recently attacked Canada's prime minister, the proud feminist and ex-teacher Justin Trudeau, for its energy policy. He tweeted "Make Trudeau a Drama Teacher again" to his 850,000 followers.

Younger conservative thinkers in Washington in particular hear such statements with horror: They know that Jordan Peterson as a politician could achieve much less than the culture fighter with his own media empire.