Transcript of the podcast titled ‘Konstantin Kisin and the Counter-Woke Revolution’. In this podcast, Dr Jordan B Peterson and Konstantin Kisin discuss western privilege, the self, the nature of God and religion, the necessity of religion for morality, and how we must combat the death of truth with cohesive principles.
DR JORDAN B PETERSON: Hello, everyone watching and listening on YouTube and associated platforms. I’m speaking today with Konstantin Kisin, who’s a Russian-British satirist, social commentator, author, and podcast host, TRIGGERnometry. He has written for publications such as Quillette and The Daily Telegraph, and his book, An Immigrant’s Love Letter to the West, is a Sunday Times bestseller.
Kisin has been a popular guest on Good Morning Britain and has amassed over 100 million views for arguing against woke culture during a filmed recent Oxford Union debate. As I said, he’s also the co-host of the podcast TRIGGERnometry alongside Francis Foster. Together, they have garnered over 400,000 subscribers, having in-depth discussions that center on support for free speech in our society.
Hello, Mr. Kisin. It’s good to see you today. I’m looking forward to our conversation. We’ve talked a little bit before on TRIGGERnometry, and have we met in person?
KONSTANTIN KISIN: A couple of times, yes. I feel honored that you didn’t remember me. Thanks, Jordan.
DR JORDAN B PETERSON: Yeah, well, my memory has its problems.
KONSTANTIN KISIN: And you meet a lot of people.
DR JORDAN B PETERSON: Yes, well, it’s hard, too, when you meet people virtually. It’s hard to remember if you met them virtually or if you met them in person. They’re thicker and taller in person, but other than that, it’s a similar experience.
So you were just at the Oxford Union, and you seem to have managed something approximating a hit, as far as those things go. And so what do you think you did right? And why did what you did have the cultural impact it has had? Do you know how many people have watched that so far?
KONSTANTIN KISIN: It’s very difficult to measure because it goes into private Telegram channels, WhatsApp groups, etc. But I’m guessing somewhere between 100 and 200 million at this point. And in terms of why I think it got the resonance that it did, I think there are a few factors. I think the first one is something that you actually discussed with Joe Rogan recently, which is the world’s crying out for a positive vision of the future. Those of us who spend a lot of time trying to work out what this craziness was happening in the West and why it was happening, we had to do it from a position of critique and criticism. And we’ve spent five years, in our case, on TRIGGERnometry doing that, and you started earlier.
But now I think the world is in a position where it’s looking for a positive message. And that is actually one of the things that I tried to do. I tried to persuade people who were there at the Oxford Union at that debate. And I said to them, look, I don’t want to talk to those of you who already agree with me. I’m more interested in talking to those of you who may be woke. That was the debate I was invited to participate in and who are open to rational argument. So I think that was part of it.
And the second part of it, Jordan, and again, I think this is something you’ll be well aware of. We live in a society in which adults are afraid to tell children what they need to hear. And so I think a lot of people resonated with the fact that this was somebody who was an adult standing up in front of young people and challenging them to be better as opposed to either pandering to their preconceived beliefs and biases or cowering away from having that debate.
So I think those two things combined, plus a rational argument, a few jokes. You throw that in the mix and you’ve got yourself a good speech.
DR JORDAN B PETERSON: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Well, I think one of the things that we could talk about productively on the positive vision front are the comments. We could elaborate on the comments you made in relationship to absolute privation and poverty. And so many people who are watching and listening might not be aware. But we there was plenty of doomsaying in the 1960s with regards to the population catastrophe and prognostications on the part of people like Paul Ehrlich, most famously, who wrote The Population Bomb, that by the year 2000, we’d be out of all our primary resources and everyone would be starving. And none of that happened.
In fact, primary resources became more plentiful and less expensive. And we have twice as many people on the planet as he was paranoid about in the year 2000. So eight billion instead of the dreaded four billion. And while that’s happened, everyone, virtually everyone, it’s seven billion out of eight billion people on the planet now have basic access to basic resources. And so we’ve all got richer and there’s a hell of a lot more of us.
Now, the apocalyptic moralists who want to save the planet, let’s say, still are putting forward the story that what we’re doing is not ‘sustainable,’ that we need five Earths to feed everyone on the planet at the level that the West currently enjoys. And their, what would you call, recipe for future progress is a limits to growth model. And the problem with the limits to growth model is, well, first of all, it’s hypocritical because the people who are proposing it aren’t going to be the people who are suffering from it. That’s for sure.
And second, it’s wrong technically because, and I think you did a good job of pointing this out in the Oxford speech, poor people can’t care about long term sustainability and iterability. They’re so busy scrabbling in the dirt for their next meal, trying to get fresh water, access to basic hygiene facilities, the next meal, that anything approximating a medium to long term vision is out of their reach. And so they sacrifice the future to the present so they can survive.
But if you get people up to about $5,000 per year in gross domestic productivity per capita, they immediately start to take a longer view. And I figured this out about 15 years ago when I was perversely working on the UN Sustainable Development Goals, trying to make them less socialist and destructive than they were.
And it looked to me like we could have our cake and eat it too, that the best policy possible to produce a sustainable planet would be the one that ameliorates poverty, especially on the energy front as rapidly as possible. So that’s part of a positive vision.
KONSTANTIN KISIN: I agree completely. And look, I’m by no means a climate expert, but even as just an outside observer, someone whose primary job is podcast and satirist, I can see that a lot of the narratives that we have, they seem to have more in common with a religious worldview or a cult-like worldview than they do with a practical attempt to solve the real problems that we face. And I was born in the Soviet Union and I’ve lived all over the world in many poor countries.
So, you know, I don’t have the — you know, we talk so much about privilege nowadays in our society, Jordan. We’ve got male privilege and white privilege and all sorts of other privilege. The main privilege that we don’t talk about is Western privilege. And it takes Western privilege to fail to understand that what you just said, which is the poor people don’t care about ‘saving the planet’, because they’ve got more immediate priorities.
And so even if you accept the entirety of the climate change argument, and this is the point that I made in the speech, whining about it or reducing consumption in Britain, which produces 1% of global carbon emissions and is responsible for another 1%, so in total 2%, it makes no difference. It will not solve the problem when China and India are busy trying to get their people to avoid starving to death.
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