What Jordan Peterson Teaches Us About the Great Man and the Boogeyman

I wrote something on Facebook today that I am going to repeat here. I was thinking about all the posts I’ve seen in my thread about the clinical psychologist turned YouTube star turned SJW vanquisher star turned self-help guru Jordan Peterson.
What I noticed was that 90+ percent of the posts about Peterson either lauded him as a great genius that everyone just MUST ‘bathe themselves in’ (a phrase someone, who will remain nameless, literally used) or he’s an intellectual fraud, an idiot, an authoritarian shill who should be wholly and completely dismissed.
This got me thinking about the Great Man theory, the idea that people begin to ascribe to individuals near-god-like powers and abilities that almost (and sometimes completely) makes them infallible in the eye of the beholder. Rather than taking in the ideas and actions of the individual and assessing them independently, the individual himself or herself becomes the ideas and the actions, and as such, they can do no wrong.
But on the other side of the Great Man theory there should also be a Boogeyman theory, which is where my mini-rant on Jordan Peterson ends. The success of Jordan Peterson has produced some critical backlash, and some of it is certainly deserved. But much of the critical backlash seems to be that he is wrong on this therefore he is an idiot, he’s an authoritarian shill, he’s an intellectual fraud, a dumb man’s intellectual, etc.
My suspicion is that MOST of the people lobbing these epithets towards Peterson (not all, some may very well have well-thought-out, informed reasoning behind their assessments of Peterson) are suffering the reverse symptoms of the Great Man theory.
Jordan Peterson has become the opposite of a noble demi-god, he has become a demi-demon, if you will. In the same way that the folks who have created in Jordan Peterson a great man, and have thus surrendered any objective assessment of the ideas he espouses, so too have the folks who have made of Jordan Peterson a Boogeyman.
My point in writing this post is not so much to defend Jordan Peterson or to criticize him. The point of this post is to use Jordan Peterson and the response he is getting as an illustration of the theory that the Boogeyman is just as powerful a “god” and enemy against objective, logical, reasoned assessment of ideas as the Great man is.
Many of us in the “Liberty” community are already on guard against falling prey to the Great Man. Perhaps we should consider being on guard against falling prey to the Boogeyman as well.
Here is what I wrote on my Facebook wall:

Jordan Peterson did nothing wrong.
Jordan Peterson is not the Messiah.
He’s not evil or stupid.
He’s not the smartest man in the room.
He’s strong on individualism.
He’s weak on “solutions.”
He’s far too sure of himself.
He’s reintroducing old ideas that can help advance the ideational cause for “liberty.”
His popularity is a reflection of a dearth of thoughtful apologists for individualism.
He is in danger of believing his own best press.
He is in danger of being dismissed for his missteps and miscalculations, leaving his “good” points swept away as well.
Don’t throw the proverbial baby out with the bathwater.
Don’t judge this man because of his success.
Don’t stop having a critical ear when you listen to him because one part of his message helped you “grow.”
Don’t worship the man because of his success.
There is the Great Man theory.
There should also be a Boogeyman Theory.
Jordan Peterson is not a Great Man.
Jordan Peterson is not a Boogeyman.
Jordan Peterson did nothing wrong.
Jordan Peterson is not the Messiah.

About Paul Gordon 3009 Articles
Paul Gordon is the publisher and editor of iState.TV. He has published and edited newspapers, poetry magazines and online weekly magazines. He is the director of Social Cognito, an SEO/Web Marketing Company. You can reach Paul at pg@istate.tv