The much-hyped debate between centrist Jungian philosopher Dr. Jordan B. Peterson and the leftist Lacanian philosopher Dr. Slavoj Žižek was a very much unexpected exercise in open talk and agreement on both the strengths and weaknesses of Capitalism. Though this was not what most expected, those on the anti-Marxist side of the table were quite pleased to have been gifted with such an enlightening talk on Happiness and Capitalism. However, even as the debate was in it’s infancy, far-left edges of the internet were brimming with chagrin.
Very soon after the debate ended (and indeed to some extent well before) public Jordan Peterson and IDW-related communities were being flooded with posts suggesting that this debate had entirely turned the poster away from Jordan Peterson. One post in the /r/jordanpeterson subreddit read: “I am pretty much done with peterson at this point”. The text of the post was a few sentences simply stating that his supposedly “poor understanding” of Marxism completely turned this individual off to Peterson.
However, there was something not right about these posts. Immediately it must be said Peterson did very well at the debate, at least by the standards of the debate topic itself. As for the posts themselves, most of these styles of posts were either some very short text saying something to the effect of “jordan peterson is a dumb quack” or a meme directly reposted from “edgy” and comedy-oriented leftist subreddits. Furthermore, each post’s comments were almost 100% people debunking the vapid claims of Jordan Peterson being some manner of quack. These comments were upvoted highly, while the actual post was upvoted higher.
What was happening here? Had Jordan Peterson truly humiliated himself, or was there something more complicated at foot? Further inspection would suggest the latter. First, all of the very highly upvoted posts were posted by either an account that was very young, and had no previous posts in /r/JordanPeterson or an account that was blatantly just somebody who was extremely active in edgy leftist communities like /r/ChapoTrapHouse without ever previously having posted to any IDW forums. Secondly, in private Jordan Peterson or IDW-related groups that required some waiting period to join (but openly allowed all ideological persuasions in on request) there were no such posts. There were some occasional leftist commenters, who offered criticisms of Jordan Peterson’s words in the debate, but nothing quite as dramatic as what was seen in the analogous public communities.
To finalize this point, these sorts of posts from people who were supposedly embarrassed by Jordan Peterson at the debate very quickly vanished. The next morning, very few new posts were being made, and even after the debate was made (illicitly) public on YouTube and watched by hundreds of thousands, again, no new embarrassed ex-Peterson fans.
All of this suggests that on the night of the debate expectations were high for leftist communities who were hoping for Žižek to “destroy” Jordan Peterson and show the world for who he truly was (in their minds): an idiot quack. Instead, the debate demonstrated quite the opposite, and there was a certain love shared between Žižek and Peterson by the end of the event. Of course, in spite of this, the leftists obviously had their plans already in place to “vote brigade” Petersonian communities. Luckily, this disinformation campaign very quickly have fizzled out – and while there are likely some critiques that could be made of both Peterson and Žižek’s performance at the debate – certainly don’t believe anybody was genuinely so appalled by the debate that they became a socialist.