Jordan Peterson, The Shadow, and Power

Yesterday I linked to four Jordan Person lectures. The first two discus the importance of asserting dominance, and how submissiveness is not a virtue; rather, virtue is from withholding power. By signaling power (what he calls ‘the shadow’), one need not have to use it. Jordan Peterson is a motivational speaker, clinical psychologist, professor, and street-wise philosopher, but the problem is such advice, although convincing in video-form, doesn’t always translate as well in real life. Expressing your shadow doesn’t work if you’re in a situation where you don’t have a leg to stand on, which would be most people and most situations. Good luck asserting dominance to your boss when you’re replaceable and he can just fire you (unless you’re in a position where your job is harder to replace, in which case you have more negotiating power, but that doesn’t apply to the majority of employees). Yeah, partying with friends and family is low-stakes…you can signal power and the consequences of inadvertently offending others is small…maybe you won’t get invited again. Big deal. Losing your job (in which assertiveness is misconstrued as harassment) is worse. Power-dynamics require a minimum of two parties: one that does the signaling and the other the receiving. But signaling power is not enough if the other party is unconvinced. The United States has demonstrable military might to retaliate if wronged. The credible threat of retaliation is enough to dissuade provocation. But most people are are harmless, not because they are failing to summon their inner shadow, but because they have no demonstrable, intrinsic power to begin with and both sides know this (or at least the side with the actual power). An insect that opens its wings to appear bigger is still just an insect.