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Aus dem Kapitel „Die fatale Anziehung des falschen Idols“:
In dem Kapitel geht Jordan Peterson zunächst auf Schopenhauer und Nietzsche ein und das Verschwinden der Religion. Er stellt darauf ab, dass Religion eine gutes Mittel gewesen sein kann, um Regeln für die Gesellschaft vorzugeben, weil man eben mit der Belohnung des Jenseits arbeiten konnte und dieses starke Bindeglied der Gesellschaft aber nunmehr weggefallen ist, wie Nietzsche mit „Gott ist tot“ durchaus bedauernd feststellt. Von diesem Punkt leitet er über zu „neuen Religionen“, anderen sinnstiftenden Ideologien, die darauf aufbauen, dass das Kollektiv immer wichtiger wird. Er kommt auf den Kommunismus und die Nazizeit zu sprechen und leitet dann über zu anderen Ideologien:
Consider those who have not gone so far as to adopt the discredited ideologies of the Marxist-Leninists and the Nazis, but who still maintain faith in the commonplace isms characterizing the modern world: conservatism, socialism, feminism (and all manner of ethnic- and gender-study isms), postmodernism, and environmentalism, among others. They are all monotheists, practically speaking—or polytheistic worshippers of a very small number of gods. These gods are the axioms and foundational beliefs that must be accepted, a priori, rather than proven, before the belief system can be adopted, and when accepted and applied to the world allow the illusion to prevail that knowledge has been produced.
Das viele Ideologien eine „Ersatzreligion“ sind, war hier auch schon häufiger Thema. Es geht da teilweise eben mehr um glauben als darum, dass etwas wirklich stimmt.
The process by which an ism system can be generated is simple in its initial stages but baroque enough in its application to mimic (and replace) actual productive theorizing. The ideologue begins by selecting a few abstractions in whose low-resolution representations hide large, undifferentiated chunks of the world. Some examples include “the economy,” “the nation,” “the environment,” “the patriarchy,” “the people,” “the rich,” “the poor,” “the oppressed,” and “the oppressors.”
Auch das wurde hier schon häufiger kritisiert, solche Abstraktionen, solche unscharfen Begriffe, ersetzen eben keine tiefergehende Betrachtung eines Problem, machen es aber greifbarer und übersichtlicher.
The use of single terms implicitly hypersimplifies what are in fact extraordinarily diverse and complex phenomena (that masked complexity is part of the reason that the terms come to carry so much emotional weight). There are many reasons, for example, why people are poor. Lack of money is the obvious cause—but that hypothetical obviousness is part of the problem with ideology. Lack of education, broken families, crime-ridden neighborhoods, alcoholism, drug abuse, criminality and corruption (and the political and economic exploitation that accompanies it), mental illness, lack of a life plan (or even failure to realize that formulating such a plan is possible or necessary), low conscientiousness, unfortunate geographical locale, shift in the economic landscape and the consequent disappearance of entire fields of endeavor, the marked proclivity for those who are rich to get richer still and the poor to get poorer, low creativity/entrepreneurial interest, lack of encouragement—these are but a few of the manifold problems that generate poverty, and the solution to each (assuming that a solution exists) is by no means obviously the same. Nor are the villains hiding behind each putative and differentiable cause the same villains (assuming that there are even villains to be found).
All such problems require careful, particularized analysis, followed by the generation of multiple potential solutions, followed by the careful assessment of those solutions to ensure that they are having their desired effect. It is uncommon to see any serious social problem addressed so methodically. It is also rare that the solutions generated, even by methodical process, produce the intended outcome. The great difficulty of assessing problems in sufficient detail to understand what is causing them, followed by the equally great difficulty of generating and testing particularized solutions, is sufficient to deter even the stouthearted, let us say, from daring to tackle a true plague of mankind.
Das wird schön beim Gender Pay Gap deutlich. „Frauen verdienen weniger weil sie unterdrückt werden durch das Patriarchat“ ist wesentlich einfacher als sich mit den ganzen Gründen auseinanderzusetzen, die zu den Gehaltsunterschieden führen, die „Lösung“ ist ebenfalls angenehmer, wenn man einfach auf die männlichen Unterdrücker zeigen kann statt etwa eine andere Berufswahl und mehr Überstunden, eine ander Work-Life Balance und eine andere Partnerwahl von Frauen zu fordern.
Since the ideologue can place him or herself on the morally correct side of the equation without the genuine effort necessary to do so validly, it is much easier and more immediately gratifying to reduce the problem to something simple and accompany it with an evildoer, who can then be morally opposed.
Das ist in der Tat der große Vorteil dieser Theorien: „Frauen gut, Männer schlecht“ ist sehr einfach und man hat ein klares Feindbild.
After breaking the world into large, undifferentiated pieces, describing the problem(s) that characterize each division, and identifying the appropriate villains, the ism theorist then generates a small number of explanatory principles or forces (which may indeed contribute in some part to the understanding or existence of those abstracted entities). Then he or she grants to that small number primary causal power, while ignoring others of equal or greater importance.
Männer haben die Macht, Es gibt nur Priviligiere und Nichtprivilegierte innerhalb einer Kategorie, etc etc.
It is most effective to utilize a major motivational system or large-scale sociological fact or conjecture for such purposes. It is also good to select those explanatory principles for an unstated negative, resentful, and destructive reason, and then make discussion of the latter and the reason for their existence taboo for the ideologue and his or her followers (to say nothing of the critics).
Das Patriarchat, welches die Frauen warum auch immer unterdrückt darf nicht diskutiert werden.
Next, the faux theorist spins a post-hoc theory about how every phenomenon, no matter how complex, can be considered a secondary consequence of the new, totalizing system. Finally, a school of thought emerges to propagate the methods of this algorithmic reduction (particularly when the thinker is hoping to attain dominance in the conceptual and the real worlds), and those who refuse to adopt the algorithm or who criticize its use are tacitly or explicitly demonized.
Das kann man auch gerade wieder sehr gut daran sehen, dass an allem, aber auch wirklich allem schlechten irgendwie der alte weiße Mann schuld ist und Satire dazu kaum noch möglich ist, weil tatsächlich irgendjemand die Verbindung schon hergestellt hat.
Incompetent and corrupt intellectuals thrive on such activity, such games. The first players of a given game of this sort are generally the brightest of the participants. They weave a story around their causal principle of choice, demonstrating how that hypothetically primary motivational force profoundly contributed to any given domain of human activity. Sometimes this is even helpful, as such activity may shed light on how a motivation heretofore taboo to discuss or consider might play a larger role in affecting human behavior and perception than was previously deemed acceptable (this is what happened, for example, with Freud, and his emphasis on sex).
Um solch dumme Theorien zurecht zu denken muss man, dass habe ich schon vorher vertreten, üblicherweise einigermaßen intelligent sein, sonst gelingt einem das nicht.
Their followers, desperate to join a potentially masterable new dominance hierarchy (the old one being cluttered by its current occupants), become enamored of that story. While doing so, being less bright than those they follow, they subtly shift “contributed to” or “affected” to “caused.” The originator(s), gratified by the emergence of followers, start to shift their story in that direction as well. Or they object, but it does not matter. The cult has already begun.
Das ist ganz interessant zu beobachten bei der Verflachung der intersektionalen Theorien, die früher einfach nur bedeuteten, dass eine „Mehrfachdiskriminierung“ vorliegen kann und jetzt schlicht eine einfache Hierachie darstellen, in denen innerhalb einer Kategorie eine binäre Einteilung in gut und böse stattfindet.
This kind of theorizing is particularly attractive to people who are smart but lazy. Cynicism serves as an aid, too, as does arrogance. The new adherents will be taught that mastering such a game constitutes education, and will learn to criticize alternative theories, different methods, and increasingly, even the idea of fact itself. If an impenetrable vocabulary accompanies the theory, so much the better. It will then take potential critics some valuable time even to learn to decode the arguments. And there is a conspiratorial aspect that rapidly comes to pervade the school where such “education” occurs, and where such activity is increasingly all that is permitted: Do not criticize the theory—and do not get singled out. Do not become unpopular. Even: Do not receive a bad grade, or a poor review, for expressing a taboo opinion (and even when this does not occur in practice, the fear that it might keeps many students and professors, or employees and employers, in check).
Eine künstliche Sprache schaffen um Kritik schwieriger zu machen und das Beherrschen der Theorie eher zu einem costly Signal. Dann Taboos errichten, die Cancel Culture etc.
Freud, as we noted, attempted to reduce motivation to sexuality, to libido. The same can be done quite effectively by anyone sufficiently literate, intelligent, and verbally fluent. This is because “sexuality” (like any multifaceted single term) can be defined as tightly or as loosely as necessary by those who use it for comprehensively explanatory purposes. No matter how defined, sex is a crucially important biological phenomenon—key to complex life itself—and its influence may therefore be genuinely detected or plausibly invented in any important field of endeavor and then exaggerated (while other factors of significant import are diminished in importance). In this manner, the single explanatory principle can be expanded indefinitely, in keeping with the demands placed upon it.
Marx did the same thing when he described man in a fundamentally economic, class-based manner, and history as the eternal battleground of bourgeoisie and proletariat. Everything can be explained by running it through a Marxist algorithm. The wealthy are wealthy because they exploit the poor. The poor are poor because they are exploited by the wealthy. All economic inequality is undesirable, unproductive, and a consequence of fundamental unfairness and corruption. There is, of course—as in the case of Freud—some value in Marx’s observations. Class is an important element of social hierarchies, and tends to maintain itself with a certain stability across time. Economic well-being, or the lack thereof, is of crucial significance. And the damnable fact of the Pareto distribution6—the tendency of those who have more to get more (which seems to apply in any economic system)—does mean that wealth accumulates in the hands of a minority of people. The people who make up that minority do change substantively, regardless of the aforementioned class stability,7 and that is a crucial point, but the fact that the comparatively rich are always a minority—and a small one, at that—seems dismally immutable.
Ein gutes Beispiel aus meiner Sicht.
Regardless of its hypothetical virtues, however, the implementation of Marxism was a disaster everywhere it was attempted—and that has motivated attempts by its unrepentant would-be present-day adherents to clothe its ideas in new garb and continue forward, as if nothing of significance has changed. Thinkers powerfully influenced by Marx and overwhelmingly influential in much of the academy today (such as Michel Foucault and Jacques Derrida) modified the Marxist simplification essentially by replacing “economics” with “power”—as if power were the single motivating force behind all human behavior (as opposed, say, to competent authority, or reciprocity of attitude and action).
Power oder Macht ist in der Tat ein guter Begriff in einer solchen Ideologie, weil er sehr beliebig ist und damit in alle Bereiche eingebracht werden kann.
Ideological reduction of that form is the hallmark of the most dangerous of pseudo-intellectuals. Ideologues are the intellectual equivalent of fundamentalists, unyielding and rigid. Their self-righteousness and moral claim to social engineering is every bit as deep and dangerous. It might even be worse: ideologues lay claim to rationality itself. So, they try to justify their claims as logical and thoughtful. At least the fundamentalists admit devotion to something they just believe arbitrarily. They are a lot more honest. Furthermore, fundamentalists are bound by a relationship with the transcendent. What this means is that God, the center of their moral universe, remains outside and above complete understanding, according to the fundamentalist’s own creed. Right-wing Jews, Islamic hard-liners, and ultra-conservative Christians must admit, if pushed, that God is essentially mysterious. This concession provides at least some boundary for their claims, as individuals, to righteousness and power (as the genuine fundamentalist at least remains subordinate to Something he cannot claim to totally understand, let alone master). For the ideologue, however, nothing remains outside understanding or mastery. An ideological theory explains everything: all the past, all the present, and all the future. This means that an ideologue can consider him or herself in possession of the complete truth (something forbidden to the self-consistent fundamentalist). There is no claim more totalitarian and no situation in which the worst excesses of pride are more likely to manifest themselves (and not only pride, but then deceit, once the ideology has failed to explain the world or predict its future).
Das ist in der Tat ein interessanter Aspekt: Der Ideologe hat durch seine Vereinfachung die komplette Wahrheit. Er muss nicht mehr suchen, andere müssen nur noch einsehen. Er muss nicht mehr verstehen, in seine Vereinfachung kann man alles pressen.
The moral of the story? Beware of intellectuals who make a monotheism out of their theories of motivation. Beware, in more technical terms, of blanket univariate (single variable) causes for diverse, complex problems. Of course, power plays a role in history, as does economics. But the same can be said of jealousy, love, hunger, sex, cooperation, revelation, anger, disgust, sadness, anxiety, religion, compassion, disease, technology, hatred, and chance—none of which can definitively be reduced to another. The attraction of doing so is, however, obvious: simplicity, ease, and the illusion of mastery (which can have exceptionally useful psychological and social consequences, particularly in the short term)—and, let us not forget, the frequent discovery of a villain, or set of villains, upon which the hidden motivations for the ideology can be vented.