Peterson uses lobsters — which share many of the same neurological structures as humans — as an intriguing illustration of hierarchical societies. If lobsters lose fights on the seabed their serotonin drops, they get depressed, and they tumble down the hierarchical ladder. Simply said: humans must fight depression if they are to succeed, and Peterson goes on to suggest how this can be achieved. In other words, we must man up.
The response has been frenzied. There are many people who love him, but a lot who don’t.
The novelist Hari Kunzru wrote: “Reading Peterson is like being shouted at by a rugby coach in a sarong.” Maclean’s magazine called him “the stupid man’s smart person”, while closer to home Richard Poplak in the Johannesburg Review of Books called the book “a self-help book for assholes, basically”. 12 Rules for Life, he summed up, is: “paleo-intellectualism crossed with a Hallmark card.”
From the stools at the back of the cyberpub here — where I’m having a quiet buchu-infused gin and wishing I weren’t, because it is foul and I should have just had a glass of chenin — I think it is all very amusing. Looks to me like a lot of lobsters out there, out-lobstering each other, stirring up the seabed, snatching at Peterson’s feelers, wagging their crusty tails at each other.
Guys, let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water here, or should it be the lobster out with the seawater? I had an (admittedly quick) whip through the 12 Rules and rather liked what I saw: the chapter on not allowing your bratty, undisciplined children ruin a lunch party, for instance. Or how to tackle the admin you’ve been avoiding. Do good. Delay gratification. You know, that kind of thing.
Alt-right? Fascist? I don’t think so.
WATCH | Jordan B Peterson on 12 Rules for Life: