Jordan Peterson: 12 principles for a 21st century conservatism (analysis)

Jordan Peterson lists his 12 principles for a 21st century conservatism:

1. The fundamental assumptions of Western civilization are valid.

2. Peaceful social being is preferable to isolation and to war. In consequence, it justly and rightly demands some sacrifice of individual impulse and idiosyncrasy.

3. Hierarchies of competence are desirable and should be promoted.

4. Borders are reasonable. Likewise, limits on immigration are reasonable. Furthermore, it should not be assumed that citizens of societies that have not evolved functional individual-rights predicated polities will hold values in keeping with such polities.

5. People should be paid so that they are able and willing to perform socially useful and desirable duties.

6. Citizens have the inalienable right to benefit from the result of their own honest labor.

7. It is more noble to teach young people about responsibilities than about rights.

8. It is better to do what everyone has always done, unless you have some extraordinarily valid reason to do otherwise.

9. Radical change should be viewed with suspicion, particularly in a time of radical change.

10. The government, local and distal, should leave people to their own devices as much as possible.

11. Intact heterosexual two-parent families constitute the necessary bedrock for a stable polity.

12. We should judge our political system in comparison to other actual political systems and not to hypothetical utopias.

Regarding #4, all countries have borders and ‘limitations on immigration’ (to the best of my knowledge, no mainstream politician has ever advocated literal open borders and zero restrictions), but as America’s immigration population surge shows, some countries do a worse job than others at this. Daisy-chain immigration and birthright citizenship are contributing factors to America’s dysfunctional immigration system.

Regarding #1, he probably means Judaeo-Christian values, but maybe also Enlightenment values. Although he’s referring to Ontario (which is where he gave the speech), the speech is applicable to Americans. He is correct about immigrants wanting to come to America, as evidence of how America is superior to other countries despite America’s own flaws, but America’s welfare programs probably also play a role. However, America’s sky-high incarceration rate refutes the idealization that Americans have much intrinsic worth/value and is symptomatic of a low-trust society. Even though I’m on the ‘right’, this is a blemish on America’s ‘national image’ and is one of the ironies of a country that elevates ‘freedom’ yet denies it for so many. Canada does a better job in this regard, but Canada also has better demographics.

Regarding #3, he is also right about egalitarianism and the necessity and inevitability of hierarchy: some will have more money and status than others; men and women are not the same; some are smarter than others; smart, conscientious people tend to rise to the top; some produce more economic value than others. But this also to some extent challenges the idea of everyone having intrinsic worth, because it means some will have more ‘worth’ than others as measured by quantifiable individual results. I think it’s hard to reconcile Catholicism with certain parts of this, but Protestantism and it’s precedence on individualistic ‘work ethic’ is more compatible.

He’s correct about how liberals use the junk science of ‘unconscious racial bias’ as a way of imposing conformity. The Implicit Bias study has been debunked:

that the correlation between implicit bias and discriminatory behavior appears weaker than previously thought. They also conclude that there is very little evidence that changes in implicit bias have anything to do with changes in a person’s behavior. These findings, they write, “produce a challenge for this area of research.”

Agree that rich people ‘deserve’ their money, because of the economic value they produce. Gratitude is important, too, but a concern among both the ‘left’ and the ‘right’ are corporations and the wealthy using their wealth and power to influence politics in a way that many may find undesirable. Tim Cook maybe a competent CEO, but do we want his politics becoming reality? Do we want America to emulate Target and Starbucks’s left-wing business culture? George Soros, as everyone knows, backs left-wing causes.

Regarding #8 and #9, this is a circular logic and possibly contradictory. If #1, #3, and #11 are true, #8 and #9 follow from it: one should emulate the values of Western civilization and resist values that oppose it (such as secular values). If far-left liberalism is presently the norm, is change to restore #1 not unethical.

Regarding #10, what if such devices violate #1, #3, and #11.

Regarding #2, Isn’t that obvious. It’s like saying good is better than bad, and everything in moderation.

Regarding #12, doesn’t #1 already answer this? If we know the correct fundamental values, then we should judge our civilization by them. If a hypothetical political system violates such values, such a system can be discarded.

#5 I hope so. It’s like “I’m showing up to work, but no one is paying me…better keep showing up” lol. What kind of world does Jordan Peterson live in where people don’t get paid for their work. In the video he expounds on this, but taken literally it sounds obvious.

#5 and #6 contradict #7. In #6 he uses the word ‘rights’ and then renounces it in #7. He’s also alluding to the ‘end of entitlement’ and the neologism I dubbed ‘the earnership society‘. One of the problems with mainstream conservatism is the inconsistency of how it simultaneously champions self-sufficiency and individualism and rejects entitlement, yet also promotes ‘collectivist’ ideals such family, community, religion, and intrinsic individual human worth. Such values seem somewhat at odds with each other.

JP is in a position where he doesn’t want to sound too extreme. As shown by the huge successes of Sam Harris, Sargon, Scott Alexander, Scott Sumner, Paul Watson, Gad Saad, Popehat, Scott Adams, etc., being a right-of-middle or left-of-middle skeptic who criticizes both sides rather than being too avowed to either, is a good place and offers more creative freedom than someone who is always expected to toe an ideological line. If you go too far to the right, then you lose the the large classical liberal/libertarian listenership. But also, JP doesn’t want to sound too much like an ideologue. A second way to gain popularity is to raise an issue that the mainstream is ignoring; for example, between 2012-2014, SJWs, gender pronouns, rape hoaxes, gamergate, and men’s rights were popular topics, but mainstream conservatives either ignored such issues or were oblivious, and many blogger and podcasters rose to fame capitalizing on these niches. But the problem is, supporting one aspect of far-right ideology doesn’t mean you support all of them.