In various social media echo chambers there is growing anticipation for a debate between Jordan Peterson and Slavoj Zizek.
While assorted seconds argue the relative merits and snipe at each other we can already point to the conclusion.
Neither camp will be persuaded by the other’s evidence*.
Peterson who is both a poster boy for and increasingly a victim of the youtube ecosystem*(2) is rushing headlong towards a cliff and in Zizekian terms will come to inhabit some sort of Warner Bro cartoon meta-reality where he will go off the edge, look down and then realize that he is about to fall.
The reasons for this are that he has consistently demonstrated not only a complete lack of understanding of basic terms in Postmodernist theory and Marxism, but has also demonstrated a slipshod grasp of any number of historical facts, and worst of all has at various times made use of basic Postmodernist and Frankfurt School ideas, and has done so either without realizing he’s doing it or, has used them because he’s a charlatan.
While Zizek is an accent train wreck and a bag of tics that make him difficult to listen to and watch, and while Peterson has the advantage in being a native speaker of English, the facts are all in Zizek’s corner.
The true issue then is the extent to which social media has empowered atavistic pathologies and magical thinking. A complete absence of understanding in regards to definitions of what constitutes evidence, let alone the evidence itself rob the debate of meaning, except as a test for an explosive that does not destroy anything.
In an episode of the original Star Trek the crew uses the imagined/fake to confound and defeat a computer. This is a standard motif in several episodes in which Kirk, as tribal chief, JFK in space, Cold Warrior and Don Quixote all at the same time, confounds a machine by telling it: Everything I say is true. (followed by) I’m lying. Included in this episode (I, Mudd) the crew uses a fake explosive that they respond to as if it were genuine. In other words, the fact of the metaphor and symbol, based on a true thing, is more than the machine can handle and it self-destructs.
In the case of Peterson and his followers his rhetoric is full of basic demagoguery and as such relies on not just an absence of evidence, but a dismissal of evidence qua evidence. That this is ironically, the very thing he rails against in the imaginary Neo-Marxist/Postmodernists hiding under his bed is not without its amusements. But what strikes us as more important is that demolishing Peterson’s rhetoric by making the case, will fail to achieve its goals.
We already know Peterson’s ACME Road Runner Kit will explode in his face. We already know Zizek is the Road Runner. But the truth is we also know the atavistic, sucks to your asmar gang of malignant trolls who support Peterson, are immune to logic.
Fascism appeals to an inverse logic. We might call it an anti-logic. It is logical within the subjective pathology of the tribe but when confronted by the truth it screams fake news, or reaches for its keyboard or its gun. (or does all three).
The conch shell, the idea that this time (vs the endless failures reaching to the horizon) the ACME Road runner Kit will work and so on represent a never-ending battle between the truth and magic.
Road Runner Zizek has already won the debate and Wile E Coyote Peterson has already lost.
Stay tuned. In next week’s episode, Wile E will build a rocket and…
*Evidence here is provisionally used as Peterson actually has no evidence of anything relative to what he claims except that there are some annoying people on various university campuses who have hijacked the patois of assorted Postmodernists and are using it for their own ends.
*2.Peterson has thrived because of youtube. But youtube is truly democratic and as a result a growing number of people have posted examples of Peterson’s freshman level failure to grasp basic Postmodernist/Marxist ideas and facts. Again this is of no concern to the alt-right Hogwarts base which waves its magic wands at the truth and wills it away.