GOING BEYOND THE 12 RULES
A Review of 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos by Jordan Peterson (Random House Canada, 2018, 448pp)
By now, nearly everybody who reads and thinks in English knows about Dr. Jordan Peterson: a once-obscure University of Toronto psychology professor who first achieved fame—or notoriety, depending on your point of view—for being forthrightly politically incorrect. A few years ago, he made a public point of saying that he would not comply with a proposed law prescribing penalties for refusing to use newfangled pronouns that non-cisgendered people wanted everybody to use for them. That endeared him to me and to many others. He had found his moment, his springboard, and his following still grows apace.
This best-selling book has kept the momentum going and squared it. Peterson is now more than a passing fad; he’s a full-blown phenomenon. Some of his young male fans even style themselves “lobsters,” after his favorite example illustrating his first “rule”. Whether intended as such or not, that’s marketing genius—as was his viral interview with the BBC’s Cathy Newman, in which he came off well by calmly refusing to let a feminist looking for an easy target put nasty words into his mouth. More broadly, we should ignore most of the considerable, sometimes hysterical animus against Peterson coming from academia and the Left. While some of the truly scholarly criticisms are valid, most of the froth is politically motivated and, as such, ignores what matters in Peterson’s core ideas.