In America’s hyper-efficient, hyper-capitalistic, results-orientated economy and society that is increasingly dominated by capital and wealth, individual opinions matter less and less. Moralizing is on the way out. No one cares what you think about things. That is not to say that there isn’t a distinction between right and wrong or that morality doesn’t exist–there is and it does–but that your opinion of how society ought to be, matters less than ever.
I see Jordan Peterson’s popularity as indicative of a new type of conservatism and secular moral system that borrows from Christianity, that eschews judgmentalism and moralizing. The emphasis is on self improvement than trying to tell others how to live or creating an unrealistic idealization of morality. There is an implicit understanding that good and evil exists, but rather than expending all of one’s energy opposing evil and striving for good, one finds a balance between then two, aiming for the ‘highest good’ but not letting one’s indignation turn into ideological zealotry. Political extremism, on either side, arises from the need to rectify perceived wrongs.
It’s not just the social-justice left that has been in decline since 2013, but since 2017, so too has the alt/dissent-right. People are tired of others trying to impose their values. They are tired of the ideological zealotry, from both sides of the aisle. Most people, unless they are smart , clever, and erudite (Moldbug and Michael Anton come to mind), sound ranty and dumb when they try to convey their opinions.
Consider the immense popularity of Dr. Peterson, again. He evidently is very opinionated, speaking out against feminism, unconventional pronoun usage, Marxism, postmodernism, etc., which has made him a major target by the social-justice left and has endeared him with conservatives, from the far-right all the way down to moderates and centrists in the middle and center-right. He rose to fame as a public intellectual in late 2016 by taking a strong stand against Canada’s C-16 bill, yet because of Dr. Peterson’s academic credentials, nuance, and even the inflection of his voice, was able to convey opinions but not sound obtuse and pushy and shrill while doing so, which helped his popularity and broad appeal immensely, especially online, where his videos and speeches went massively viral on Reddit and YouTube.
Dr. Peterson’s criticisms of the left are not new–conservative pundits, talking heads, politicians, pastors, etc. have been criticizing feminism and liberalism for decades–yet Dr. Peterson was able to inject much needed intellectual rigor into his opinions, dropping names such as Foucault, Freud, Jung, and Derrida into his lectures, but it is never mean-spirited, taunting, or vituperative. The smart people online with large platforms who shared Dr. Peterson’s lectures and made him as popular as he is, didn’t want to listen to a sermon or be spoon fed Fox News talking points; they wanted to learn and a new perspective, and that is what Dr. Peterson delivered on. And, again, the self-improvement angle helped a lot, too. Society has no shortage of opinions, but there is a shortage of guidance for young men, and Dr. Peterson also delivered on that, too.
But even being eloquent isn’t enough as shown by the incapability of the intellectual-right over the pasty half century, in spite of thousands of articles and books, to reverse the tide of cultural-liberalism (although they have had some success regarding supply side economics).
Quantifiable results are what matter–be it money, return on capital, social media followers, sales, etc.–not opinions.
Like an unstoppable force of of nature, the people who are making money everyday consistently in the stock market, online, at work, etc. are undeterred by the latest blathering and empty threats by Trump and others about China, or the latest ‘outrage porn’ by the media, or who said what about whom.