Slavoj Žižek and Jordan Peterson: Two meet

First comes the Marx and then the moral: The psychologist Jordan Peterson and Slavoj Žižek quarrel in a philosophical show duel - with livestream in the world.


Despite the reservations, the meeting of the philosopher Slavoj Žižek and the psychologist Jordan Peterson on the last Good Friday evening can not be done without superlatives. 3,000 people came to Toronto's Sony Center, and 6,000 have paid for a live stream worldwide. In this sense, it was arguably the most widely-received philosophical debate in history, including some stadium rocking moments, such as the jubilation over Zizek's two doctoral degrees. The audience should get in the mood of this supposed spectacle with announcements like: " Let's give it up for psychoanalysis! "

As for the reservations: Žižek is left, Peterson right. That was the premise of the debate, which was titled: Happiness: Capitalism Vs. Marxism . However, it seemed to be more important in the pre-reporting and also in advance in the social media, what unites both discussants: the rejection of the so-called Political Correctness. Implicitly, it seemed to some commentators even before the event, is tinkered here on a cross front against progressive forces. The well-calculated provocation is anyway a popularity basis of both opponents.

Jordan Peterson is currently described by some, such as the New York Times , as the most important contemporary intellectual. Above all, this seems justified in quantitative terms. Although the Canadian psychology professor has long been looking for the spotlight in TV shows, for example, hardly anyone knew him until three years ago. The current fame of the 57-year-old goes back to a few speeches he made in 2016 on the occasion of a bill against discrimination against transgender people. In it he said, for example, the language rules to gender-neutral pronouns prepared for totalitarianism. Subsequently, Peterson published the immensely successful self-help book 12 Rules for Life , which was read by many men worldwide. He has close to two million subscribers on YouTube, and $ 80,000 in donations per month on Patreon's crowdsourced website.

A few reading tips

A striking asymmetry between the two stems from the debate initiated by the Slovenian philosopher: Peterson, who railed in almost all his remarks against "post-modern cultural Marxism" responsible for the allegedly destructive LGBT identity policy, had to admit right away, he really does not know what Marxism is. In preparation, he read the Communist Manifesto . And from this he has distilled his shirt-sleeved deconstruction of Marxism: Marx characterizes the bourgeoisie as evil, the proletarians as good. And that was too one-sided, since Marx himself emphasized the dynamics of the bourgeoisie, Peterson said.

That Marxist social criticism has nothing to do with morality, Žižek Peterson tried later to explain again and again. But Marx was the blueprint for LGBT identity politics, Peterson said, and Zizek replied, "I think of Marxists as people who carry out economic analysis, can you even tell me a single Marxist that fits your description?" I ask that not now, to say politely, you're an idiot and you do not know what you're talking about. " Concilially, Žižek provided reading tips for Peterson so he could get a better picture of Marxism.

However, it became clear relatively quickly why Žižek chose this opponent: just as Žižek had already stepped in as a campaigner for the Greek Syriza, he was obviously also interested in setting the mood for Bernie Sanders. Who like Peterson and his followers against the postmodernism, must be against Trump and for Sanders. Trump is a performer, Sanders an old-fashioned idealist politician. Žižek could be sure of the cheering of the left fanbase.

In the end, man is good

Another, somewhat dubious reason for Žižek's interest in this conversation was the close alliance against the so-called Political Correctness. In his introductory remarks, Žižek said: He and Peterson were struck by left-wing speech prohibition and "LGBT ideology". They would be marginalized from academic operation. It is difficult, however, to recognize a marginalization: Žižek is world-famous in his profession, professor of philosophy in Ljubljana, director of the institute at the University of London and a regular author of the world's most important newspapers.

Okay, and what about capitalism? That was bad, even Peterson said, but we would not know a better economic system at the moment. Both agreed that the destruction of nature ultimately had a catch, and Peterson had to admit that dirty seas were not that great. Peterson, who otherwise finds himself persecuted by morality when questioning established forces, sounded like a moralist himself: in the end, he trusts in the ruinous effects of capitalism on the good in man.

ref: zeit