Canadian author and psychology professor Jordan Peterson has inspired people around the world with his book “12 Rules for Life: An Antidote for Chaos.” He’s found a special audience in young men who respond to his commonsense structure and encouragement.
On today’s show, Glenn asked Peterson a key question: As men, what should our specific goals be?
Being a good man starts with envisioning a better world while knowing that evil exists and that it’s up to you to take responsibility for your life and the lives you touch. A man should be someone other people can rely on, and he must realize that those burdens are a part of life.
“We all need a vision of the way that life and the world could be,” Peterson said. “The least amount of suffering … the most freedom for everyone and the best for everyone.”
Peterson shared some advice “particularly, but not only, to young men.” He called on men to “accept as much responsibility as they can tolerate and then build themselves into people who can tolerate even more responsibility and to accept that gratefully because that’s where the purpose and meaning in life is.”
EDITOR'S NOTE: This article provided courtesy of TheBlaze.
This is a rush transcript and may contain errors.
GLENN: Dr. Jordan Peterson. Who would have thought that a — a — that common sense would come from a university professor from Canada? But he is probably the — the biggest sensation out there now, with especially — especially with the youth and young males. Because he is speaking common sense and he’s speaking it peacefully. And he’s talking about God.
And he’s got a best-selling book out. Number one best-seller. Twelve Rules For Life: An Antidote to Chaos.
Welcome to the program, Dr. Jordan Peterson. How are you?
JORDAN: I’m good. Yeah, no. A university profess- —
GLENN: You’re breaking up. We had this problem last time.
I don’t know where you were standing last time, but can you stand there because you’re breaking up and we can’t understand you.
JORDAN: Oh, can you hear me?
GLENN: I can hear you now. Yes.
JORDAN: Okay. Good.
Yes. I said, well, Canadian and a university professor, the end times must be near.
GLENN: Yes. It’s the clippety-clop of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
I want to talk to you about a few things. Here — and I don’t want to get you into politics, just common sense.
I don’t know if you’ve been following, for instance, the CNN town hall this week and this debate that we’re having. But we have 16-year-olds that are demanding that America pretty much disregards the Second Amendment and the — we’re not having sensible arguments at all. There’s no reason in — in the debates that we’re having. We’re not listening to each other.
Do you have any thoughts on this?
JORDAN: Well, I think that can be — that’s true on a much wider scale than merely the debate about what’s going on after Parkland. We’re not listening to each other at all. We’re polarized to a great degree.
GLENN: So how do we solve this?
JORDAN: Well, you know, I’ve been recommending — first of all, let me say that in my book, in 12 Rules For Life, Rule 6, I outlined why such things as the Parkland school shooting occur. And it has very little to do specifically with guns. There’s something much deeper and more horrible going on that — that is rather dreadful to look at. I mean, people who are motivated to do the sorts of things that happened in Parkland, they’re possessed by a kind of ill will. An evil ill will, whose magnitude is difficult to describe. And it’s a problem of disorientation and meaninglessness. And it’s expressing itself in gun violence. But it can express itself in all sorts of ways.
And the problem — the deeper problem has to be solved, as far as I’m concerned. And that’s the problem of nihilism in the face of the tragedy of life. And it’s that kind of destructive nihilism that drives the actions of people like the school shooters.
So it’s very difficult for us to have an intelligent conversation about that. Because nobody wants to look at the darkness enough to — to actually understand what motivates people like the shooters. And it’s not surprising, you know.
GLENN: But we —
JORDAN: What happens, of course, is that the discussion gets politicized. And it goes down the same rails that it’s always gone down. Democrats say their thing. And the Republicans say their thing. And it never really ends up — the discussion never really ends up being about the school shootings, for example. So…
GLENN: Well, you know, I’ve been saying all week — you know, I started the — the week with a monologue on, you know, nobody even wants to talk about seven out of the nine shooters that were under 30 came from fatherless homes.
GLENN: We have a breakdown —
JORDAN: Well, there’s something there, I would say. Because these — these men, these young men, they — they lack purpose and direction. And that’s really not a good thing. Because life is very difficult.
As the religious sages have always had it, life is suffering. And you need to set something positive against that suffering, or it corrupts you. And when it corrupts you, you become vengeful and vindictive and murderous and genocidal. Those are the stages. And the school shooters are two-thirds of the way towards genocidal, by the time they perform their actions. And it’s because they turn against life because life is so difficult. And they have nothing to set — nothing positive to set against it. It’s a real catastrophe. And the fact that we’re transforming ourselves into ideologues, both on the right and the left, is a reflection of the same problem. Is that because people lack genuine engaged meaning in their own personal lives, in large part because they don’t understand how necessary it is to take responsibility, they turn to pseudosolutions. And ideology, right or left, is a pseudosolution to the problem of the meaning of life. And it’s very dangerous. We saw that in the 21st century, as you pointed out, just before our talk.
GLENN: So how do we find — how do we find meaning as a group, when — I mean, especially with young men, there is a concerted effort, at least it seems, to eviscerate men. The new catchphrase is toxic masculinity.
JORDAN: I know. In my book 12 rules for life, which is rule 11, don’t bother children when they’re skateboarding. You know, it’s kind of a tongue-in-cheek feel, but it’s a very, very serious chapter. And it’s about the confusion between masculine — (cuts out) — and masculine — you know, the problem is —
GLENN: Oh. You know what, we’re going to have to take a break. We’re going to have take a break and see if we can get you to a better space so we can hear you. You’re breaking up again. We got to send you a hard-wired phone. That’s what we have to do. We’ll come back in just a second.
More with Jordan Peterson.
GLENN: Just so frustrating when he’s on with us. Because there’s nobody I want to hear every single word of more than Jordan Peterson.
STU: One of the chapters is “Speak Precisely,” and yet we can never hear what he’s saying.
GLENN: It’s like, “Yeah, and what — and that — and that’s what really — what really — really need to remember.”
GLENN: Jordan Peterson joining us now on a land line. Thank you, Jordan. I’m sorry for the hassle on that.
JORDAN: Oh, no. No problem.
GLENN: So. So let’s pick the conversation up where we were. Where we left it off. And that’s toxic masculinity and — and how do we find meaning? How do — how do young men find meaning in their life, when society is — is tearing them down and saying, you know, you’re — you’re bad. You’re worthless. You’re not needed.
JORDAN: Yeah. Well, it’s part of an all-out assault as far as I can tell, in some sense, mostly from the radical left on the idea of competence itself. And there’s a confusion between tyranny and power and confidence.
You know, in our society, which is a pretty free society. So let’s say Western societies. Most of our hierarchies are mostly predicated on competence, which means that if you can do the job, you tend to rise in the organization.
Now, that’s contaminated a little bit with tyranny and power, of course. Because no organization is perfect. And what we have is a claim, essentially from the radical left, that male competence is indistinguishable from male tyranny and power. And so that it should be all torn down. Not the hierarchies, but the spirit that generated the hierarchies. And that’s fundamentally the masculine spirit, even symbolically and psychologically speaking.
So what we see is an all-out assault on the masculine spirit. That was actually — that was actually formalized by Jack HEP. He called western culture HEP fellowgocentric. Fellow from HEP felas. And logo from logos. So it was male-dominated and driven by logos. And, of course, that’s the Christian word and also the root — idea behind the word “logic.”
And so it is part of an all-out intellectual — an all-out war of ideas and the people who are bearing the brunt of that at the moment are I would say young men. Yeah. It’s really not good.
GLENN: So what is the — what is the end goal? Is it — I mean, is it as clear as it seems to be, that it is the end goal and the — the — the motivation is just to destroy the West? Can you — with you find any logic in there that is — that is more than that?
JORDAN: Look, if you buy the idea that the West is a corrupt patriarchy, then that’s the logical — that’s the logical end goal. I mean, the more radical disciplines at the universities, women’s studies and those sorts of disciplines have said for decades that their goal was the destruction of the patriarchy.
It’s like, it’s very often, you know, that people tell you what they’re doing. You just to have listen to them. If you read the school shooter’s documents, like the kids from Columbine High School. They told you exactly why they did what they did. If you go onto the websites and read the curricula and the dictates of women’s studies, disciplines at universities, they tell you exactly what they’re doing. If the West is a corrupt patriarchy, then the right thing to do is tear it down.
So it’s not — it’s not a surprise. It’s not a conspiracy theory. It’s just precisely what — what — that’s the doctrine. That’s the dogma. And the university, especially humanities departments, are overwhelmingly left and radical left. It’s actually well-documented by people like Jonathan Haidt, with his hetero HEP dox academy. Jonathan is an extraordinarily reasonable person. He’s no one’s idea of a radical.
GLENN: Yeah. I greatly respect him.
Who is — Jordan, who are the people that we should be reading? Besides you and your book, who are the people that inspire you or can inspire men to be — to be men?
JORDAN: I think that Steven HEP Pinker is doing a fine job. He has a new book out now. It’s in the top ten. So Pinker is a good person to read because Pinker is making a very powerful, pro-enlightenment, pro-reason, pro-science, pro-progress case. Well-documented empirically.
I mean, the empirical evidence is pretty clear. Although there is some evidence that inequality is increasing, first of all, no one knows what to do about that, right or left. There’s a new book by Walter HEP Shidel called the Great Leveling, which I would also much recommend.
Because he analyzes the problem of inequality with dead seriousness. And traces it back to thousands of years. And points out quite clearly that it’s a problem, but that it can’t be led at the feet of capitalism. That’s just foolish. It’s a way deeper problem than that.
But despite the fact that there’s increasing inequality, to some degree in the West, overall, the entire world is getting richer. And there are fewer poor people. There are way fewer people in absolute poverty than there were 15 years ago. Far fewer.
And so what’s happening is our economic system is generating a lot of surplus. And it’s being quite effectively distributed, even to the lowest end of the socioeconomic spectrum. But inequality still remains a problem.
And, you know, that drives a fair bit of theorizing on the left. But I would very much recommend HEP Shidel’s book, The Great Leveling. It’s very great.
And then there’s Pinker. And then, you know, I’m very much a fan of — of — of great classic literature.
I’m a great admirer of Dosieski HEP. Dosieski’s novels, in particular, are unbelievably profound explanations of the rule of human responsibility in the face of the tragedy and malevolence of existence.
And I have a reading list, that Jordan P. period of time son (?) some of them are psychological in nature. Others are littery. Some are philosophical.
GLENN: Let me take a quick break. (?) and I want to come back. And would you define whether a good man is? What is the goal to be a man? And what does a good man look like? When we come back with Jordan Peterson.
GLENN: Jordan Peterson is with us. He is the author of the number one New York Times best-seller, 12 rules for life. (?) an antidote to chaos. I can’t recommend you (?) welcome, Jordan Peterson.
Can you describe what we all should be shooting for as a man?
JORDAN: Yes. Yes.
I was thinking about an image related to that. So there’s a cathedral in Montreal called (?) and it’s built on a hill. It’s a very large cathedral. So it overlooks the hill. It’s a beautiful building. And there are many, many, many steps leading up to it. Hundreds of steps. And pilgrims come there to trudge up the steps one at a time towards the cathedral. And there’s something deeply symbolic about that. The idea that’s being expressed is — is profound and necessary. And that is that we all need a vision of the way that life and the world could be. We want to have a vision that that could be as good as it could be. The least amount of suffering and the most for everyone. And the most freedom for everyone. And the best for everyone.
And the question is, how do you approach an idea like that? And the answer to that is by carrying your burden one step at a time, up the hill.
And that’s what you do in life. You’re not a victim. Or if you are, you carry it. You know, and you take responsibility for it. And you’re someone other people can rely on. You tell the truth. And that way, you make the world a little better instead of worse.
And that’s the alternative to ideological possession and collective action and group hatred and tribalism and all those things that tear us apart. Is to accept that your life is tragic and that you’ll suffer. And that there’s evil in the world. And that it’s your — it’s your responsibility to take that onto yourself and to carry it forward towards the good. That’s meaning in life. And that’s the antidote to chaos and to catastrophe. And the West knows this. This is why — this is why we’re an individualist culture. Because we know that the individual has to be set above the group. It’s not the individual in all his rights, it’s the individual in all his responsibility.
JORDAN: And that’s the part of the dialogue that’s missing from our culture currently. And I believe that’s why my book has become so popular and the lectures as well. Because — because I’m telling people, suggesting to people, and particularly — but not only to young men. That they need to accept as much responsibility as they can tolerate. And then build themselves into people who can tolerate even more responsibility. And to be — and to accept that gratefully. Because that’s where the purpose and meaning in life is.
GLENN: Jordan, I — I have — I’ve gone from a man, you know — for a while, I rejected that I had changed a great deal in the last couple of years. But I have. And I’ve gone from a guy that was very popular because I was certain of things, to a guy who now really appreciates doubt and is — and I kind of view certitude as a — as a dangerous thing. Because if I’m certain of what I believe, then I don’t necessarily believe, you know, anybody else has — has anything to teach me or —
GLENN: And yet, I find — I think this is the message of Christ is humility. And yet, people —
JORDAN: Well, the humility — if things aren’t everything they should be for or around you, then clearly you don’t know enough.
JORDAN: So then you better be looking for what you don’t know, and that’s the opposite of certainty.
GLENN: We are in a situation now that we — it almost feels like we don’t trust that the truth will eventually win, that God is on the side of truth. And so we have to engage in this warfare. And — and we’re engaging online. We’re engaging in tribalism.
And the — the answer seems to be in the opposite direction, of —
JORDAN: Yeah, well, we’re trying to transform the political system into a tribal battlefield. That’s what identity politics is. And that can be accepted on the right as well. The identity Arizona. (?) they just want to play it differently. It’s division into tribes. And it’s a catastrophe.
Division into tribes means that we’ll fight. It’s always been that way. Human tribes have always fought, and terribly. You know, there’s an old idea that the hunter gatherer types, the pre– the prematerialist. (?) hunter gatherers were peaceful. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
JORDAN: They have incredibly high (?) tribal people are unbelievably murderous. And we’re all tribal, except when we decide not to be. And to decide not to be tribal is to decide to be an individual. But that means to take all the weight, the things onto your shoulders. And who wants that? Right? It’s a terrible responsibility. But the paradoxical truth of the matter is that the more you take on that terrible responsibility, the deeper your life becomes. And that justifies the suffering.
GLENN: But the more you take on, the bigger target — I want to read — I want to read this to you. This is an article out of the Mercury News in California. These men, particular Elon Musk, are not only (?) who can get their rocket into space first. But into colonizing Mars. To have unquestioned (?) unchallenged and automatic access to something, to any type of body, and use it as will is a patriarchal one. It is the same instinctively and culture (?) that everything and everyone in their line of vision is theirs for the taking.
They’re destroying a guy —
GLENN: — like Elon Musk. (?) and I believe we can be better than this. And this gives me hope. Let’s go here.
JORDAN: Right. Absolutely.
See, that’s a great — that’s — your reference hits the nail at the head. You see there, the confusion between male competence and desire to — to move forward in the world. And tyranny. Those aren’t the same thing.
They’re not the same thing at all. And Musk is no tyrant. If you can’t see that he’s a hero, then there’s something wrong with your vision.
And symbolically, the author of that article is equating Mars with the unspoiled virgin. You know, and Musk was the rapist.
It’s an appalling vision of masculinity. There’s no excuse for it. There’s no excuse for it. It’s all — there’s nothing in that, except destruction. Good men do things for themselves and for everyone else at the same time. That’s the right balance. You want to do something that’s good for you and good for your family and good for the community and good for the surrounding world, all at the same time. And you can do that, and that takes competence and clear vision and truth. And those aren’t — that’s not tyranny. And those people, the people who wrote the article that you described, they’re the people that think that emasculated weak men will be good, because they’re harmless. And emasculated weak men will be the Parkland shooter. (?) that’s the truth of the matter.
GLENN: When do we begin to see this for what — let me ask you this question: Are we closer to the end of this kind of thinking and movement, or are we closer to the end of the beginning of it?
JORDAN: I don’t know. There’s been this funny idea. It’s been circulating on the internet, about the kingdom (?) where everything is in chaos. And we’re in chaos at the moment. Things could go very well. But they could go very badly. And I think we’re in a situation now, where the decisions that each person makes, at each moment, are of crucial import, in a way that’s not always true.
We’re going to decide which way we’re going to go, in the next three or four years. And there’s lots of positive signs. All the economic growth, for example, that I referred to, that the fact that poverty is being pushed back. And it’s about 300,000 people a day. (?) the power grid. And there are a lot of really good things happening.
But there is this terrible polarization and this demand to return to a destructive tribalism. And this ideological attempt led mostly by the universities, to my utter shame, to demolish the patriarchy. It’s very, very dangerous. And corporations are playing that game too. They’re letting the fifth column diversity equity and inexclusivety types in through the HR back door, (?) failing to see that generating an anti-capitalism fifth column within the confines of your own organization is self-destructive in the extreme.
GLENN: How do you — I’ve watched interviews with you in mainstream media. And they always come with — with an intent. With an agenda. It seems.
You approach these interviews without an agenda. And you’re just trying to explain what you believe, based on their questions. And you always seem to win because you don’t seem to have an agenda, truth doesn’t have an agenda.
Would you say that —
JORDAN: I have an agenda, which is to not say something stupid.
GLENN: Yes. Yes. Yes.
Do you believe the mainstream media has crossed the line from bias to activism? And if so, what does that mean for the media?
JORDAN: Well, I think one of the things that might be happening is that we’re in a transition period from the mainstream media, print and television, let’s say most particularly, to online forms of discussion. And that’s happening very rapidly.
And so it’s killing the mainstream media. And as they spiral towards their death, they become more polarized to draw attention to their remaining resources. And so they’re driving polarization in the broader society, in an attempt to stave off their extinction, rather than adapting to the new media. That’s what — I’m not sure that’s true. But that’s what it looks like. It looks like it might be happening to me. Because we are in the midst of a technological revolution in communication.
GLENN: Yes. Yes.
JORDAN: I mean, YouTube alone has something in the neighborhood of 2 billion people using it.
JORDAN: So it’s — and YouTube allows the possibility of the spoken word to have the same distribution as the written word, which is something unparalleled in human history.
So I think that part of what’s happening is a secondary consequence of a technological revolution. I don’t think that the mainstream media’s desperate attempts to use click bait, let’s say, to attract additional viewership, to exaggerate, for example, the danger of violent crime and to pit the right against the left in a manor that’s more combative (?) than the reality would indicate. I don’t think that that will stave off their demise. I think it will accelerate. But there could be a lot of collateral damage, while that’s occurring.
GLENN: Jordan Peterson, from Jordan Peterson.com. Also, (?) the book 12 rules for life. An antidote to chaos. Did you ever — you have — you’re approaching a million YouTube subscribers. Number one New York Times best-seller. Did you ever see this —
JORDAN: I don’t think I’m on the New York Times. They didn’t list me.
GLENN: Shut up.
JORDAN: No, it’s true.
GLENN: Well, you’re number one.
JORDAN: Yes, I’m number one everywhere, but not on the New York Times best (?)
GLENN: Unbelievable. Unbelievable.
JORDAN: It is rather remarkable.
GLENN: Jordan, did you ever — did you ever see anything like this coming your way?
JORDAN: Well, I knew when I wrote this first book, this book maps Of Meaning. (?) and their relationship to ideological dispute. And I knew that was important. And I knew that my students, in the course I taught in that book, were very, very receptive to the book. (?) both at Harvard and at university of Toronto, was that one of the few courses that completely changed of student’s lives. And it’s not surprising to me to some degree because it’s the idea of themselves. Ancient archetypal religious ideas are of absolute necessity. People can’t live without them.
And so I knew that I was talking about things that have always been of crucial importance to people. But there was no way of foreseeing the magnitude of — of the effect of that.
I mean, it’s — I’m still in complete shock about it, on a moment to moment basis. It seems to be getting larger rather than smaller.
GLENN: Oh, yeah. You have a lot of (?) runway yet ahead of you. I pray for you. And I — I know what it’s like to have great success come quickly. And if there is anyone who can navigate those waters, I believe it is you. And we wish you all the best.
JORDAN: Well, thank you. Thank you. Well, like I said, I hope I can manage this without making any catastrophic mistakes. And so, so far so good, knock on wood and all that.
GLENN: Thank you so much. Jordan Peterson.
STU: You can get Jordan on Twitter at Jordan B. Petersen. (?), by the way, that reading list he mentioned earlier in the interview, you can find that there. And I would say probably at the top of that reading list would be 12 rules for life, antidote to chaos, by Jordan spirit son.
GLENN: (?), you know, it’s amazing, I don’t think I’ve ever interviewed a more careful man. One of his rules is speak with precisely. (?) and you can hear it. He speaks slowly, to not make any errors.