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.
And so what I see is a kind of doomsday cult that seems to have taken over and politically we seem to be pandering to that instead of dealing with the real challenges of the world. And by the way, it clearly has impact all over the place. I mean, if you look at what happened in Germany, Germany for purely political and ideological reasons shut down its nuclear power stations. It’s now a paid South Africa, and Michael Shellenberger covered this on his sub stack, paid South Africa to not use coal. Well, now what? Now they import coal back from South Africa and burn it. And also, of course, they made themselves extremely dependent on Russian gas at the time, which I hope the war in Ukraine is something we get to get on to talking about.
DR JORDAN B PETERSON: Yes, I hope so too. Well, yeah, so what you get in Germany is the worst — and for all those people who are watching and listening who might have environmental concerns, look, if you have environmental concerns, one of your goals is in principle to improve the environment.
Now, if you implement a set of policies that make energy five times as expensive, which is what’s happened in Germany, and you improve things on the pollution front, at least you could say, well, you know, energy is much more expensive and that’s pretty hard on the poor people. But look, we’ve accomplished one of our own goals. And, you’d have to contend seriously with an opponent who put forward an argument like that.
But if the reality on the ground is, well, we made energy five times as expensive. We’ve made ourselves hyper reliant on the Russians and a single point of failure on the energy front. And we’re producing far more pollution, particularly in relationship to coal burning. And the grid is much less reliable than it used to be. It’s like, well, you didn’t just fail according to my definition of failure. You failed according to your definition of failure. And so how in the world is that even possibly justified?
And then I think we get into the religious realm.
KONSTANTIN KISIN: Yes.
DR JORDAN B PETERSON: At that point… And so Alex Epstein has done a pretty good job of laying this out. I like Lomborg on the IPCC front. And we’ll get back to that, you know, accepting the idea that there will be something like two degrees of climate change in the next hundred years and figuring out what to do with that.
But Epstein has pointed out in his new book, Fossil Fuel Future. He laid out something I’d also investigated in my Maps of Meaning book, this underlying religious narrative. And it’s basically a Gaia narrative. It’s an earth worshiping metaphysic. And it is a religious in its implicit structure. And the idea is that the planet is a helpless, fragile virgin threatened by a rapacious, consuming, tyrannical giant in that society. And that the individual is a parasitical predator riding the back of that rapacious monster. And that is a religious narrative.
And it’s religious because it’s a fundamental narrative that frames everything else. And it also partakes of the archetypal underlying structure that makes religious stories religious. And so you could conjure up an opposite story. And this would flesh out the religious landscape. The opposite story would be nature is a hideous, gorgon-like demon who’s hellbent at every aspect to freeze us into terror and devour us. That’s nature red in claw and tooth.
Culture is the walled garden. It’s the walls of the walled garden that protects us from the absolute ravages of nature. And the human being is a heroic enterpriser bent on entering into a relationship with the planet and with culture that approximates something like environmental stewardship. It’s a much more positive vision.
Now, it casts nature into disrepute and probably elevates culture to uni-dimensionally. But you need both sides of that picture in order to have a complete picture of the world. So kids are being offered an incomplete religious view of the world that’s focused on nature as hapless virgin. And so everything is being sacrificed to her.
And that’s complicated by another fact. And Konstantin, I think this has to do with the problem that the conservatives and the liberals, for that matter, real liberals, haven’t been able to come up with a promising vision. While adolescents enter this period that Jean Piagetcalled the Messianic. Now, not everyone gets to that point, but relatively cognitively sophisticated kids do. And so this is about age 16 to 20, let’s say. This is also when you want to induct kids into the armed forces if you actually want to manage it effectively. It’s really when their final touches of their enculturation occur. It’s when their prefrontal cortexes prune themselves most thoroughly.
That happens also between the ages of two and four, but it happens between 16 and 20. You sort of die into your adult self. Anyways, Piaget noted that people of that age, cross-culturally, have a desire to identify with a purpose that transcends themselves. And that would be cultural identity, right? And they need that. They find it in music often. They find it in their subcultures. But they need to be offered that. And there’s something heroic about it, because they actually do want to look outside themselves. And then the radical, envious lefties come along and say, well, all you have to do is wave a placard at an oil company, and now you’re culture hero of the universe and standing next shoulder to shoulder with the messiah himself.
And that’s pretty damn appalling, and it’s certainly not true. But in the absence of an alternative vision, then people are going to gravitate towards that, as they do. And so you can’t blame, you can’t exactly blame young people for that, even though it’s tempting. Now, and then there’s a narcissistic element, too.
So one of the things I really like about Bjorn Lomborg, you know, he accepts the IPCC climate projections, two degrees in 100 years. He’s attempted to model that as decrement GDP production. So he figures, given current trends, we’ll be 400% richer by the year 2100. But then you can knock off some percentage of that because of the costs of climate change. And that’ll be non-trivial. I think he basically concludes we’ll be like 350% richer instead of 400%. And that’s not nothing. But it’s by no means a catastrophe. And he’s pointed out very clearly, too, that even in the IPCC reports themselves, there’s no looming apocalypse. And the idea that there’s a scientific consensus about the apocalypse, that’s a lie.
Now, I think the reason people want to fall for it is because we also like to accrue to ourselves unearned moral stature. And if we can get moral stature by waving a placard while we’re complaining about an oil company while driving to the protest, then that’s a lot easier than doing all the hard work that would be necessary to actually start a family and operate properly in a community and maybe join a church or join a political party and actually tromp through the difficult process of trying to figure out how to do something concrete and real that would actually be of service.
And so this woke enterprise is extremely attractive to narcissists. And that doesn’t mean they’re all narcissists, but it’s extremely attractive to narcissists. And so that’s like a panoply of problems, all of which we’re facing simultaneously.
DR JORDAN B PETERSON: Well, Jordan, let me pick up on a couple of those points. Well, a few actually. So first of all, in terms of this religious worldview, I think one of the other things that’s so appealing about it is human beings crave doomsday scenarios. The idea that we’re living in some kind of unique moment in human history when the world’s about to be destroyed. Whether that’s true or not, by the way, is incredibly appealing. That is something that gives your life meaning and purpose, even if your life has no meaning and purpose.
And the thing with this woke ideology is that and this is something I kind of started to notice. You know, my journey into this discussion in general was through comedy. I was a stand up comedian. And in 2015, 2016 in particular, I started to look around and I just saw a lot of people who seemed for some reason to suddenly hate themselves. Like it was suddenly normal as a comedian, you spend most of your time backstage listening to other comedians. And out of the blue, you’d start getting these kids in their 20s going on stage and going, well, I’m a white guy. Therefore, blah, blah, blah. And then they do a bunch of self-deprecating jokes. The premise of which was because they were white, they were evil.
And this ideology, I think, is fundamentally about self-hate. And if you hate yourself, well, why wouldn’t you crave the punishment that you therefore deserve? Right. And I think the doomsday narrative maps so well onto wokeness for that for that reason as well.
DR JORDAN B PETERSON: We need a place, symbolically speaking, we need a place to put hell and we need a place to put the apocalypse. And the reason we need a place to put the apocalypse is because the human vision is apocalyptic. And the reason for that is that we all die, right? Everything comes to a cataclysmic halt for everyone. And it could happen at any moment. And it could not only happen to you, it could happen to you and everyone you love, and it could happen to your whole society. And that sort of thing has happened and it definitely always threatens.
Standing on the wealth of humanity
And so one of our existential problems is that we always have to face the apocalypse. And the way that’s been handled in the symbolic landscape of Christianity is that the apocalypse is a distant, it’s a distant occurrence in a heavenly place. Now it’s ambivalent, right? But it’s turned into a psychological reality or a spiritual reality. An ever-present spiritual reality instead of being necessarily played out in the here and now. But then there’s a place for it and that’s appropriate because there should be a place for it.
And we’re also tilted as information processes very hard to the over-weighting of negative information. And the reason for that I would say is, well, you can only be so happy, but you can be really, really in pain and then dead. And so you’re more sensitive to a unit of threat than you are motivated by a unit of pleasure. And that’s well documented. And so then we also have to contend with the fact that we’re tilted towards hyper-processing negative information.
And then on the privilege front, this is a really complicated one. I think that some of the guilt that the woke types are capitalizing on and also genuinely experiencing is a consequence of the felt need for some true atonement. So you talked about Western privilege. And so, you know, if you live in the West, you’re in the top 1% by global and historical standards. So you are privileged.
And then you have to contend with the fact that, well, you didn’t really earn that, not to some degree because your pathway forward is going to be proportionate in its success to your work. But, you know, you’re born and there are highways and there are automobiles and there’s an electrical grid and you have this wealth that’s offered to you. And then you might say, well, that’s unearned privilege. And to some degree it is.
And then the question emerges, well, what should you do about that? And one answer is to flagellate yourself and to feel guilty because there are people out there who weren’t arbitrarily rewarded to the same degree you were. And that is an existential problem.
And the other solution is to do whatever you can to earn the gifts you’ve been given, the talents you’ve been provided with. And to say, well, my goal is to justify by my actions the privileges and opportunities I have been granted. And then to work hard to extend those to the degree that’s possible to the people around me and to others. And I would say that’s genuine atonement. And I think everyone has to do that.
And so, you know, if you’re not living a life that’s as moral as you are privileged, you’re going to lay yourself open on the guilt front. And then the woke ideologues are going to tear a strip off you. And certainly these kids that you observe flagellating themselves for their privilege, they don’t know how to atone for the fact that there is an unequal distribution of talents. And that seems to be built into the cosmic structure.
KONSTANTIN KISIN: Well, that’s why I felt it was so important that someone told them that. And everything you said, particularly about how to respond to privilege, it resonates with me so much because I’ve been, you know, my family has been destitute. My family has been very wealthy. I’ve been the son of a very rich family. I’ve also been someone who slept on the street for weeks. Like, I’ve seen both of those.
And what I learned from all of those experiences is that, like you said, you have to make the most of it and then extend that opportunity to other people. And that’s the only way of dealing with it. And there’s no other way if you want to be constructive.
But let’s come back to your point about a positive vision for the future and why conservatives will struggle with that. I think one of the reasons is that inevitably young people do need to rebel against something. And conservatives instinctively want to suppress all rebellion because they want to avoid change. And that’s why as someone who’s kind of, I call myself politically non-binary, that’s why I’m excited about talking about this political vision and positive, not political, a positive vision of the future. Because I think that’s what’s needed.
And I don’t think the anti-woke position, which a lot of us have had to engage in for some time, is going to be the answer. Because you have to have something that people buy into. And it can’t be normative in the way that conservatives often want it to be. You must do this. That’s not going to work with young people. They don’t want that. What they want is something that allows them to channel their rebellion into something heroic and productive, as you said. Which is why I think showing young people the way out of wokeness through what I talked about in the speech and what you and I just talked about, which is work hard, build and create. That is going to be the way.
And I think you probably know my friend Melissa Chen. She tweeted something about this years ago that I thought was so spot on. She said, ‘You cannot remain woke if you build anything, whether that’s a business, whether that’s muscle, whether that’s a family.’ And that’s why I challenge these kids at the Oxford Union and the audience who are watching, of course, to build and create things. Because the moment you start, you suddenly find out that, hey, just whining about stuff doesn’t work. And when you get down to the business of doing things, turns out there’s a reason that things are the way they are.
There’s a reason things don’t work quite the way you’d like them to. Because reality suddenly comes into conflict with ideology. And so that’s why I think it’s so important to give kids and young people a path to doing things. Because it’s only when you’re doing things that you start to realize the limitations.
And I’m a huge fan of Thomas Sowell. And this is one of his things that he always says, that there are no solutions, only tradeoffs. And you only learn this as a young person by the experience of doing stuff. Because when you’re young, you come at the world and you go, well, the world isn’t perfect. I must perfect the world. And no one’s explained to you, and you probably didn’t listen if they tried to explain to you, the fact is the world is not perfectible. The world will always be imperfect. And all you can do is tinker at the edges to try and improve it.
DR JORDAN B PETERSON: So one of the things I’ve noticed on my tour, one of the things that’s perplexed me, let’s say, is that I wrote these books that are full of rules. And you might think that that would turn people off for the reasons that you just described. Young people being turned off by, let’s call it conservative moralizing. And that’s a kind of finger shaking. You should. And should is if you were doing your duty. It’s something like that.
And look, you should do your duty. But you can also understand why young people would chafe against that. Because, well, why should they be certain that doing their duty in exactly the same manner that duplicates the past is the best pathway forward? Because sometimes it clearly isn’t. And there are inadequacies of the past that need to be rectified.
So the conservatives stumble in relationship to establishing a bridge to young people by being moralizing. And the more evangelical types of, say, fundamental Christians fall into the same problem. Now, one of the things I’ve noticed, and this has been very, very cool, and I’ve really tested this in hundreds of venues, is I usually sometime in one of my lectures, in my lectures, talk about the relationship. The necessity of finding meaning as the antithesis of suffering, let’s say, because the quest for meaning becomes most compelling when you’re simultaneously suffering or someone you love is suffering. That’s when the arrow finds its mark, let’s say.
And I walk people through a thought exercise, I suppose, is, well, what do you have when you’re suffering that’s going to sustain you? And you might say, well, you have the work that you’re still capable of doing and the fruits of your labor that might offer you some security. You have whatever creative enterprises you might be able to engage in that still contain the shadow of meaning, at least.
Then you have your intimate relationship and the person who might be caring for you while you’re in dreadful condition. And you have your family and your friends. And that’s really what you have.
And then on the abstract end, you know, maybe you have beauty and truth and justice and, you know, the noble ideal. But then you might ask yourself, well, how do you have the armament of work and creative endeavor and friends and family? And the answer to that is that’s in precise proportion to the amount of responsibility you’ve taken for developing those relationships and those abilities.
KONSTANTIN KISIN: That’s right.
DR JORDAN B PETERSON: And so there’s a clear pathway between the voluntary adoption of responsibility and the meaning that will sustain you through suffering. And that’s a much better enticement to participation for young people than a kind of finger wagging top down morality, which is you must behave this way, you know, or you’re no good.
And even though, as I said, there’s some truth in that, it’s not an invitational vision.
KONSTANTIN KISIN: No. And I think that there’s a way to summarize that very neatly, Jordan, which is what I know would work for me, which is to say there are things that you want. What are they? And if you want those things, this is what you need to do. You don’t have to do it. I’m not saying you must do it. I’m not your dad. But if you want to achieve these outcomes that you care about, then you are going to have to put in the work.
And I’m not telling you which outcomes you should pursue necessarily. But the way to get there isn’t going to be to glue yourself to a road to stop an ambulance, get into a hospital, which is what these Extinction Rebellion people do here in the UK. And I think that once people, young people are on that path, we don’t get to control the art and the culture that they’re going to create. That is their path and that is their duty and that is their job to do.
But if they are doing it from a place of constructive, taking on responsibility, as you say, putting in the effort, building and creating things for the future, then I think that is part of the vision for them. Because, as you say, I think we live in a society, particularly now, you know, I’m not a religious person, but it’s clear to me that with the death of God, you end up in a position where a lot of people lack meaning. And, of course, you’ve got all sorts of other economic disincentives for people to have meaning. It’s harder to start a family. People are deferring it until a later point.
I myself, you know, I just turned 40 and we had our first child only a year ago, less than a year ago. So a lot of young people are in that position now. And it’s having that experience that changes you and makes you more responsible. It forces you to take on responsibility. It also forces you to look at the world in a different way. So that, I think, is part of the vision.
And, you know, talking about family is difficult because, again, you get to the normative position where it’s like you must have children, which is not what I’m saying at all. But, again, I think if you start from the incentive point of view, my experience of life is that people respond first and foremost to the incentives that are in front of them. And if you lack meaning, if you don’t know what to do with your life, then finding an intimate partner and having a family is going to be a big part of that. In addition to meaningful work, etc.
DR JORDAN B PETERSON: So I had lots of clients and students who would come to me who were in search of a meaningful pathway forward who said, well, I don’t know what to do. And I would say, well, what do you want for your life? And they said, well, I really don’t know.
And so then I learned two things about that. The first is don’t do nothing. That’s a big mistake because all you do is get older and weaker and you withdraw more. And so even if you don’t know what to do, pursuing nothing is a very bad idea. You have no hope then because hope comes from pursuit. And you’re anxious because you need to specify a path. So you have no hope and you’re anxious if you do nothing. So nothing is not the answer. That means nihilism is not the answer. And I don’t think that’s shocking to people, but it’s worth laying it out.
KONSTANTIN KISIN: Seems uncontroversial to me, Jordan.
DR JORDAN B PETERSON: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Well, you’re not a nihilist or possessed by that, except probably sporadically. So then the next proposition was something like this. Well, look, you don’t know what to do. So why don’t we just look and see what other people do that seems to work. And maybe you don’t have to do any of these things or all of these things. But if you don’t know where to start, here’s a good place to start. And this is also something conservatives can offer.
It’s like, well, here’s the basic template for a reasonably tolerable life. We’ll begin with that low bar. So there’s seven or eight major domains. So you don’t know what to do with your life. Well, let’s break your life down. Probably want an intimate partner. Most people do. Now, you might not, but probably you do, even if you think you don’t. And so you might be one of those exceptions, but don’t assume that to begin with, because that’s an uncomfortable place to be if it’s true.
Now, maybe you’re a radically creative genius like Leonardo da Vinci or Picasso, and you’re so idiosyncratic that you can’t bind yourself to any one person. But they were one in a billion, and probably you’re not. Now, maybe you are, but that’s a whole different kettle of fish. Probably you want a family of some sort, parents. You want to have a relationship with them, siblings, children. Most people have children. That’s the best relationship you’re ever going to have if you’re fortunate enough to engage in it.
And so you probably need a vision for that of some sort. Friends, helpful to have some friends. You could develop a vision for that. You need a job or a career because otherwise you die, and people think you’re useless. They shun you, and then you die. That’s a bad outcome, unless that’s what you’re after. You should regulate your behavior in relationship to temptations like drug and alcohol abuse and sex, because short-term impulsive hedonic gratification doesn’t play out well across time, and it tends to make you unpopular. So that’s not a good recipe for long-term progress into the future.
You should think hard about doing something on the civic front. You should take care of yourself mentally and physically. You should have a plan for that. You need an educational plan because there’s probably something you could learn and get better at, and that doesn’t have to be academic. It could be extremely practical or creative. And you should figure out how to make productive, generous use of the time you have when you’re not working. And so that’s like a conservative vision, right, because it fleshes out the generic landscape of human striving.
And it’s a good place to start if you don’t know where to start. You could start with one of those things and move towards it, or two or four, and maybe you don’t have to do all of them. But my experience as a clinician has been that if you are failing on all eight of those fronts, you’re not depressed. You just have a terrible life, right?
So conservatives can say, traditionalists can say, here’s the basic template. Here’s the responsibility you can find in meaning. Well, now you got to cobble together something idiosyncratic and unique to yourself. That’s making the archetype manifest in the confines of your own life. But that’s the basic way forward.
And we’ve found if people, if students do an exercise like that, a writing exercise and answer all eight of those questions, the probability that they’ll drop out of university in the first year, about 40% of kids do, roughly speaking, in the first year or two, the probability that they’ll drop out is decreased 50%. So just thinking through, just developing a vision on those fronts is highly motivating and it keeps anxiety at bay and it unites people psychologically and it helps them identify with the pathway forward. It’s not optional. And that’s an antidote to the death of God in some real way too, right? That journey towards an integrated single point of meaning.
False religions and bad religions
Let’s talk about the religious front a bit because we started talking about it with the woke religion. You described yourself as not religious. But you’re concerned about false religions, right? Is that a reasonable way of thinking about it?
KONSTANTIN KISIN: Yeah, well, I’m concerned about bad religions and bad religions take many forms. To me, this seems like a bad one.
DR JORDAN B PETERSON: Does that imply that there’s a good religion? Does it imply that?
KONSTANTIN KISIN: Well, for me, it does in the sense that there are forms of religion that are beneficial to society and to the individuals who participate in them, in my opinion. Even though I myself cannot force myself to believe something I don’t believe, right? But this religion, I mean, it has all the worst elements of other religions and on top of that, it doesn’t do what most other religions do which is offer an actual route for redemption, an actual route for atonement.
Because even if you participate in wokeness fully and you say, I am, well, I’m not, but I am a straight white man and I am guilty and the sins of the world rest upon my shoulders. What can you do? You can never purify yourself because you can’t be transracial because that’s whatever that is, right? That’s the worst form of racism. What can you do? You can’t atone no matter how many times you kneel to BLM or whatever else it is that you do. You’re never going to be clean or purified. It is a religion that says, you, Jordan Peterson, as a straight white man are guilty forever and all you can do is apologize for the rest of eternity. And that’s it. That seems to me like quite a bad religion.
DR JORDAN B PETERSON: Okay, okay. So let’s play this out and you can help me with this and you can take the atheistic stance and hammer away at me, okay? And I’ll push back.
KONSTANTIN KISIN: I’m not an atheist, by the way, but go for it.
DR JORDAN B PETERSON: Oh, okay. Okay. Well, okay.
Let’s start by characterizing. You said you’re not religious. You’re not an atheist, but you’re not religious. So maybe you could clarify that. I’m agnostic. I have no idea what’s going on.
DR JORDAN B PETERSON: Okay, okay, okay. Fine, fine, fine. So it’s agnosticism. All right. So we’re playing with the proposition that there are clearly pathological forms of belief and at a deep level, pathological forms of religion. Okay. So we’ll start with that premise.
And then the counter premise is that there is something that’s the opposite of that. And you started to flesh that out in one dimension, which is that if it’s a ‘genuine religion’, then one of the things it offers is an actual pathway to atonement, which means that you have some means of dealing with your sinful inadequacy that doesn’t crush you. Okay.
So let me tell you something that Carl Jung said about the Catholics. This is very cool. He said he really regarded the Catholic confession as a form of, what would you say? God’s mercy manifested in the world, symbolically speaking. And here’s why. Okay. You’re going to do stupid and cruel and unworthy things, even as you define them. So you’re going to be guilty before yourself. Forget about what other people think. You might also be guilty on that front, but you’re definitely being guilty in relationship to your own conscience.
And then you have to deal with the fact that you’re not who you should be. And that can crush you. Certainly that crushes people who are depressed. It crushes people who are anxious. And it definitely crushes people who have post-traumatic stress disorder because they often develop PTSD because they watch themselves do something terrible.
So, all right. So now there’s an existential problem is you’ve got to stumble forward with your inadequacy. Now, if you’re Catholic, you can go to the church and you can say once a week, or however often you want to, here’s a bunch of ways I’m really stupid. And they’ve hurt me. And I’m trying to detail them out completely. And in principle, I’m trying to rectify those faults, right? First by their admission and second by the determination not to propel them forward.
And then the priest says, okay, as far as God’s concerned, that’s good enough. And you have to go do these rituals of atonement. And the slate’s wiped clean for the week. And you’re going to go out and be a fool again, but you get to start again. And so you’re proposing that one of the hallmarks of a genuinely healthy religion, assuming such a thing exists, a fundamental set of beliefs, is that there has to be a pathway forward to the rectification of inadequacy and flaw. Is that fair enough?
KONSTANTIN KISIN: That is a positive aspect of religion that I can see, yes.
DR JORDAN B PETERSON: Okay, so now you said earlier that you do not want to be compelled to believe things you don’t believe, right? I’ve got that right as well.
KONSTANTIN KISIN: I can’t make myself believe things I don’t believe.
DR JORDAN B PETERSON: Yes, yes. So that’s like that suspension of belief, right? So I think this is a place where both agnostics and atheists do where things stick in their throat in relationship to something like the classic Judeo-Christian traditional belief set. And that’s parodied by the proposition that people who have that faith, believe in a bearded man in the sky, let’s say. And that that’s so preposterous that no one sensible can believe it. And then if faith requires the sacrifice of reason to that degree, then, well, then we’ll sacrifice faith instead of reason, something like that.
And there’s an enlightenment claim lurking at the bottom of that. Does that seem reasonable, all of that?
KONSTANTIN KISIN: Yes.
Abraham: Leaving Your Comfort
DR JORDAN B PETERSON: Okay, so let me set before you a set of counter propositions and you tell me what you think. So I’ve been working on this idea in my new book. It’s called, We Who Wrestle With God. And I’ve been basing this work on the proposition that there has to be a unifying animating spirit. And so unifying means it would unify you psychologically. So it would bring the diverse elements of you together. So you weren’t a house divided unto yourself. And it would also unify other people. And it has to unify the individual and other people simultaneously because, well, you fall into disunion psychologically and then you’re anxious and hopeless. And if you fall into disunion socially, then you fight.
So the alternative to a unifying vision is psychological disintegration and social chaos, right? It’s unity versus multiplicity. That’s another way of thinking about it. Now, you can have a tyrannical unity and that’s not good. That’s a tyrant, literally. So what might a non-tyrannical unity be like?
Okay, so let me just tell you a couple of brief stories and very, very quickly. So I think the Biblical corpus is a metanomic literary work. It takes one story after another and juxtaposes them and in a somewhat non-sequitur fashion, making the case that there’s something in each story that’s emerging that’s the same. And I would say that’s the monotheistic animating spirit. So the Bible is a series of meditations on the nature of the monotheistic animating spirit.
And so the next question would be, what is that spirit? And I would say, well, that’s what those stories are trying to portray. So here’s some examples and you can tell me what you think of this.
So in the story of Noah, the animating spirit, so that’s Yahweh, is the voice that calls the wise to prepare when the storms are approaching. And then belief is whether you abide by that voice or reject it. It’s belief in both cases because you either accept it and act it out or you reject it and act that out. There’s no, no faith decision. Both of those are a faith decision. Okay, so that’s Noah.
Then in the story of the Tower of Babel, which is the next story, the animating spirit, Yahweh, is portrayed as the spirit that totalitarians compete with when they build their towers to the heavens and the spirit that makes everyone speak a different language if that totalitarian enterprise goes too far. That’s why everybody ends up speaking a different language like we do now. We can’t even agree on what constitutes a woman. And so God is — Yahweh is presented as something necessarily transcendent. And then if human beings build something technological to replace that, then the consequences will be, well, that the structure will be devastated and people will no longer be able to communicate.
Okay, and then in the Abraham story, Abraham is privileged. You could say he’s got white privilege even though he was Middle Eastern. And he has rich parents and he can just sit in his tent and eat peeled grapes and do nothing and be an overgrown infant and he’ll be secure and well-fed, sheltered, all of that. So the basic problems of his life are solved in so far as material security can offer that.
But then a voice appears to him that says, you have to leave your comfort, everything, your family, your tent, your tribe, your nation. You have to go out in the world and make your way. And then Abraham does that and of course he’s father of nations but he does that and he has just a dreadful time of it, right? It’s tyranny and starvation, and the Egyptian aristocrats conspire to steal his wife. And he goes right into the bloody mess of life and Yahweh is put forward as the voice that calls him to adventure.
And then I’ll give you one more example. So in the story of Moses, the Exodus story, Yahweh is presented as the spirit that opposes tyranny and opposes slavery and leads the enslaved out into the desert, right? where they’re lost and guides them when they’re lost towards a more positive vision.
And so it’s an animating spirit because animating spirits animate you. They propel you towards movement and you’re always possessed by an animating spirit. There’s no way around that. It’s one spirit or another. And the monotheistic claim is that all those animating spirits need to be integrated into a superordinate spirit and that that spirit has to be characterized and then celebrated.
And so, okay. So that’s my counter proposition to the atheists and the agnostics is that I think that’s all just true. Now, I don’t exactly know what, yeah. So, well, so tell me what you think about that.
KONSTANTIN KISIN: Well, it’s the last step I have a problem with because the animating spirit, why that has to be unified and codified as God is the part of it that I don’t get. For me, those things could be intuition. I, for example, have a very powerful intuition. There’ve been many times in my life when I’ve done things that were actually counterintuitive but something has made me aware that what I must do now is X, right?
DR JORDAN B PETERSON: Okay. So let’s go with that something. Fair enough. So I would say that what you’re characterizing there, that intuition, the hypothesis in the Biblical corpus is that intuition is a manifestation of an underlying unifying spirit.
KONSTANTIN KISIN: Now, I understand that. But why is that necessary?
DR JORDAN B PETERSON: Well, that is exactly the question.
KONSTANTIN KISIN: And that’s where faith comes in. That’s the point of faith, right? And that’s the step that I can’t make myself make because I don’t believe that that is what it is.
DR JORDAN B PETERSON: Okay. Well, I think there’s two elements of faith there. One is if you let your intuition guide you, that’s already a step of faith because you’ve decided that you’re going to go in the direction of your intuition rather than, well, what everyone else is doing.
KONSTANTIN KISIN: Yes.
DR JORDAN B PETERSON: Well, it’s willing to put yourself on the line for something.
KONSTANTIN KISIN: Yes.
DR JORDAN B PETERSON: Right. And so that faith isn’t exactly, here’s what I believe to be a set of facts. That faith is more, here’s the risks I’m willing to take according to this set of principles.
KONSTANTIN KISIN: For me, it’s more of an experiential thing, as in I’ve listened to this intuition before and it has given me good advice before. And every time I listen to it, it gives me good advice that turns out to be true.
DR JORDAN B PETERSON: Okay. Well then I would also say that’s very much akin to the Socratic daemon, right? So Socrates said in Apologia when he was asked — this is his trial when he’s going to be put to death, he’s explaining why he didn’t run away because the Athenians said they were going to kill him and they gave him plenty of warning and they didn’t want to kill him. They wanted him to go away and he knew that. And so did his friends and all of his friends were telling him to get the hell out of town.
And he went and had a conversation with his daemon, which is this spirit of intuition that you’re describing. And his daemon said, you can’t run. And he thought, well, what the hell do you mean I can’t run? They want me to run and they’re going to kill me. But Socrates lays it out in Apologia, he says, it was widely established in Athens and elsewhere that Socrates was a singular person. And even the Delphic Oracle had said that. And she said he was singular because he knew that he didn’t know. He was radically humble, radically ignorant.
But he said that one of the things that made him different was that he always listened to the voice of this daemon. And that’s the same word as demon, but it means spirit fundamentally in that context. He always listened. That’s what made him different from other men. Now, the question is, what is the nature of that guiding spirit?
KONSTANTIN KISIN: That’s right.
DR JORDAN B PETERSON: Well, yeah, your objection is, well, why do we have to consider that God? And I would say that, well, that is exactly the question. And even what would it mean to consider it God is the question.
Okay, so imagine, okay, so here’s a set of problems. Now, you have this intuition that guides you and you’re willing to abide by it, but you have an integration problem. Like everyone does, which is, well, you might be guided by beauty and you might be guided by truth and you might be guided by lust and you might be guided by envy and you might be guided by hunger. And like, there’s a lot of different animating principles that are going to be warring around you. And if they’re not integrated into something that’s unified, then they’re disintegrated and you’re going to be pulled apart.
Now, the other question you’re asking is, why does that have to be conceptualized as God? Okay, so to answer that question, we’d have to do something like a technical analysis of what it means to consider something God. So I would say, well, something has to be put in the highest place. And the highest place is the place that takes predominance over all other places.
And so if you’re going to be guided by the spirit of your intuition, then by necessity, at least at that moment, you put it in the highest place. And that’s to elevate it to the peak of Mount Sinai, you know, symbolically speaking. It’s to allow it to be the eye at the top of the pyramid through which you see. It’s both of those things.
And then I would say technically, and I learned this from Jung, is that regardless of what you call it, this animating spirit that you put in the highest place is functionally equivalent to God. And we could look, the sophisticated religious thinkers know perfectly well that God is beyond both name and conceptualization. So this isn’t a reductive enterprise.
KONSTANTIN KISIN: Jordan, can I ask you a question?
DR JORDAN B PETERSON: Yes, please do.
KONSTANTIN KISIN: Why does this thing have to be outside of me?
DR JORDAN B PETERSON: It doesn’t.
KONSTANTIN KISIN: Right. So if this thing doesn’t have to be outside of me…
DR JORDAN B PETERSON: But we’ll return to that.
KONSTANTIN KISIN: Okay, but let me follow that logical sequence out.
DR JORDAN B PETERSON: Yeah.
KONSTANTIN KISIN: If this thing doesn’t have to be outside of me, is it possible that this intuition is a part of me that is giving me additional information that consciously I’m not present to?
DR JORDAN B PETERSON: Sure, sure.
KONSTANTIN KISIN: And therefore, the idea that we have a God to whom we have some sort of shared affiliation or some shared connection through him seems to me to be unnecessary.
DR JORDAN B PETERSON: Okay, okay. So let’s delve into that a little bit because I think that’s a very germane question. Well, the first point of distinction is what exactly do you mean by inside of you, right? Because that’s a metaphor and it’s not obvious what it means. Do you mean inside the meat of your brain? Do you mean in the neural connections like exactly what does inside mean?
KONSTANTIN KISIN: Yes.
DR JORDAN B PETERSON: It means inside the psychological landscape, right? So is it inside the domain of imagination?
KONSTANTIN KISIN: It means it’s produced by my body and brain, right? This is a product. In the way that my thoughts are constructed by my brain and body to some extent, this is also a product of that just through a different communication system.
DR JORDAN B PETERSON: Okay, so fine. So let’s take the biological route then. That’s fine. Let’s just make it strictly biological then for the time being.
So then you run into the problem of the intrinsic logos of the world. So let’s say that you are conferring with something that’s revealing itself within you that’s biologically predicated. Well, then you might say, well, that’s the wisdom of the world making itself manifest through the material realm. And that’s really what the Greeks believed. Like the Greek notion of logos was that there was an intrinsic order to the material world. And that if you allowed that order to make itself manifest within you, that that would provide you with the most appropriate possible guidance.
And the idea of the Socratic daemon is a reflection of the logos of the intrinsic structure of the world. And so the notion would be, well, if you’re in tune with the structure of the world as it reveals itself to you biologically, then you’re acting in harmony with being itself. I’m perfectly happy with that formulation.
There was a Judeo-Christian logos idea that got overlaid on top of that. When there was the, what would you call it? Reconciliation between the Greek worldview and the Judeo-Christian worldview. And it adds an extra dimension to that. You can tell me what you think about this.
So in the Christian formulation particularly, Christ is the logos. That’s a different idea than the logos or the logic of the world. But the idea there is that forthright confrontation with the catastrophe of existence will reveal the logos of existence to you. And so that’s why those ideas could be overlaid.
So imagine that you’re going to consult your intuition, right? But here’s the precondition. And you tell me if you think this is right or wrong. You have to admit that you have a problem first. So you basically have to admit that you’ve missed the mark and that you’re somewhat lost. So that’s a humility. And it’s an opening up to revelation. That’s an attitude, a psychological attitude.
Now, and that’s a self-sacrificial attitude because if you’re going to learn something from the revelation, part of you is going to have to go. The part of you that’s wrong. So you have to bring the psychological animating spirit to bear, which is humility and openness to correction. And then the voice of intuition will make itself manifest from, let’s say, below. And so that’s the way you bring the psychological element of the logos and the material element together.
And so, and those have to be united as well, or you’re in a state of disunion. So, well, so that’s how I would respond to that.
KONSTANTIN KISIN: Well, what I’m learning from this conversation is I’m a Greek philosopher, Jordan.
DR JORDAN B PETERSON: Yeah, well, that’s a very good thing to know. Like, look, I went and talked to Richard Dawkins about these sorts of things, you know. And Dawkins, I was trying to pin him down so he would talk to me. And it took quite a bit of negotiating back and forth, you know, because he’s a skeptical guy and he didn’t trust me. And he kept writing me these kind of dismissive emails. He’d say, I don’t know why you want to talk to me. I don’t really understand anything you’re saying.
But then eventually he said, but I think maybe it has something to do with this. And he sent me this paper, which I had read three decades earlier, one of his papers. I learned a lot from Dawkins. Like, I think Dawkins is a genuine scientist. And in that paper, he claimed that, he made the claim that every organism has to be a microcosm of its environment. So he said, for example, that if you were an alien and someone gave you a duck, you know, an earth duck, earth duck, that’s an awkward phrase, but you get the point, a duck from earth, that you could infer all sorts of things about the earth’s environment by taking the duck apart. The density of the atmosphere, the fact that it was oxygenated, the amount of gravity that was characteristic of the surface, the presence of water, the relative preponderance of elements in the natural environment. The structure of the environment is built into the organism.
And there’s an ancient medieval idea, it’s even older than that, that the human being is a microcosm and reflects the macrocosm. And that’s exactly the case that Dawkins was making. And I thought, you do know why I want to talk to you because that’s exactly why I wanted to talk to you.
And so following that logic, you could say, well, there’s a reflection of the cosmic order within you. And that reflection is there because you have adapted to the world. You are adapted to the world in the deepest parts of you, in the deepest recesses of you. And if you consult with that microcosmic embodiment, then it will reveal intuitions that will move you forward. But those intuitions, this is where I think the crucial difference in the approach we’re both taking at the moment reveals itself.
See, you’re thinking about that as something that’s personal. And it is personal in the sense that it speaks to you personally, but it’s impersonal in that that thing is there, whether you’re here or not. It’s no different than the Socratic daemon. And it’s no different than the voice of intuition that speaks to other people. Or at least it has important commonalities.
KONSTANTIN KISIN: What’s the evidence for the claim that it’s there, whether I’m here or not?
DR JORDAN B PETERSON: Well, because other people have spoken of the same thing. Now, I’m not saying there isn’t an element of it that’s unique to you. There is.
KONSTANTIN KISIN: No, my point is this. Just because I have a hat and you have a hat doesn’t mean that the hat is something that we share in common that’s given to us from above. We can all have our own hat.
DR JORDAN B PETERSON: Okay. I would say hat’s the wrong metaphor because it’s purely a cultural construct. And so your metaphor falls prey to the inadequacy of a postmodern viewpoint. Let’s think of a different example.
KONSTANTIN KISIN: All right.
DR JORDAN B PETERSON: You have different examples. Anger. Let’s use anger. So then we might say, well, what sort of being is anger? And it’s definitely the case that you get angry in your own way. But it’s also the case that if you get angry, everyone can tell that you’re angry. And part of the reason they can tell is because they get angry enough like you to understand what the hell is possessing you.
KONSTANTIN KISIN: Right.
DR JORDAN B PETERSON: And so this is part of the collective unconscious problem. That’s another way of thinking about it. Or part of the problem that we share universal biologically predicated motivational and emotional structures. There’s an element of it that is idiosyncratic and that’s unique to you. And, you know, religiously speaking, that would be the personal nature of your relationship with God, which isn’t trivial.
But then there’s a universality of it. Right. Because if your intuitions, for example, were so idiosyncratic that no one else at all experienced them, you could not communicate with anyone else. You certainly couldn’t live with other people. Right. You’d be so far afield from the norm. And this does happen to people, by the way, who are absolute creative geniuses from time to time.
But most of the time, that voice that’s speaking to you speaks in a voice that’s similar to the manner in which the voice speaks to other people, which is also why I think we have something like a universality of conscience.
KONSTANTIN KISIN: It’s an interesting thought, but I’m still not persuaded by that. If two cans of Coke both have the same shape, does that mean they’re connected?
DR JORDAN B PETERSON: Well, they’re connected in some ways because you wouldn’t use the word same otherwise. Right. Because you’re implying a connection by the fact of their identity.
KONSTANTIN KISIN: Yeah.
DR JORDAN B PETERSON: Exactly. Well, that’s what I mean. You’re implying similarity and similarity is a very complex concept. I mean, you might say that things are –
KONSTANTIN KISIN: From a spiritual point of view, I’m actually not in disagreement with you. I had a very interesting experience. I studied hypnosis for a long time. And in hypnosis, there is an exercise that you can do. I talked about this when we were on Joe Rogan show called the deep trans identification. I don’t know if you’re familiar with this, but what they do is essentially once someone is in the deep state of trance, your identity can be treated sort of like a set of clothes that you can take off and put on someone else’s identity in that state and try it out. And people will often use this to pick up the habits of people that they wish to emulate or things like that.
And when we were doing these exercises in this hypnosis class, first I did it with a, this very sweet, gentle South African lady who wanted to try on some kind of American preacher. And when we went through the process with her and she opened her eyes, she was that guy, right? I had to run out of the room because that’s how much it scared me actually that this was possible.
DR JORDAN B PETERSON: Oh yeah.
KONSTANTIN KISIN: But when I did it, I had a different — I’m very disagreeable generally. So I try to be difficult whenever I’m doing anything like this. So rather than being a person, I went, what if I try to identify as the universe, whatever that is in this process. Right.
And when I was doing this, all I could feel was my heartbeat slowed down and it was really the only thing that I was conscious of as it was happening. And I could feel my heart expanding. And the two things happen simultaneously. One, I felt an infinite connection with all other human beings in that moment. And the second thing I thought, and this was just, I’m not saying this is what it is and I’m not making any new truth claim about it, but this is what I experienced at the time.
You know how the universe is expanding and it’s expanding at an accelerating rate. The thing that, I mean, I want to say popped into my head, but it doesn’t feel like it popped into my head. The thing that I experienced was what if the universe expanding is a half a heartbeat of some greater organism to which we’re all connected. So I am entirely open to the possibility that we are connected. And the truth is that part of my hesitation to call myself religious is not even the bearded guy in the sky in whom I don’t believe, because I don’t believe in him. It’s also the fact that I’m just very wary of organized religion, being a perverted way of having that conversation that can lead to a lot of problems.
DR JORDAN B PETERSON: Okay. Well, so look, fair enough on all fronts and let me address those points one by one. We’ll get back to the identification with the universe notion here in a moment, but on the — I’m afraid of organized religion front.
KONSTANTIN KISIN: Wary…
DR JORDAN B PETERSON: One of the things I — Hey man, fair enough. And I think that’s the evil uncle problem is that like every organized social unit has a proclivity to degenerate into a blind, a willfully blind tyranny. And that’s part of the existential reality of mankind.
Now, one of the things I’ve observed about Harris and Dawkins, and this is particularly true of Sam Harris is that Harris is very concerned with the problem of evil and validly so, and deeply so. He’s committed his life to it and he would like to establish an objective morality. And the reason he would like to do that is because he believes in the reality of the objective. And he also believes in the necessity of the moral because he’s concerned with evil.
I’m kind of on board with that, which is why Sam and I really actually can talk. But the problem that Sam has conceptually, as far as I’m concerned, is that he identifies the religious enterprise with the totalitarian spirit. And that’s the same mistake the post modernists make when they identify Western culture with the patriarchy. It’s like, look, it is the case that large scale systems can ossify, become willfully blind and degenerate into tyranny. But that doesn’t mean that that’s their central animating spirit.
Now you see the same thing with the 1619 project in the United States, you know, this claim that the fundamental foundation, so animating spirit that drove the formulation of the United States was the tyrannical desire to dominate, oppress and enslave. And you have to say, well, let’s give the devil his due. Every human organization tilts towards corruption by power. But that doesn’t mean that’s the central animating spirit.
And so I would say, well, the same thing applies on the religious front. Like my sense is, and we can certainly discuss this is that this is really useful to think about relationship to Wilbur Wilberforce. So he was a Christian Protestant operating in Britain. And he, in many ways, single-handedly forced the British empire to not only abandon slavery, but to oppose it on the world seas for 175 years. And he did that in a hundred percent as a consequence of being animated by the spirit of Protestant liberalism. And that was a consequence of the dissemination and distribution of the Bible, because the idea was human beings are made in the image of God and slavery is wrong, period. That’s a transcendent truth and economic rationale be damned. There’s no excuse for it.
And so, I think the problem with the skepticism that you’re expressing in relationship to the religious enterprise is that it doesn’t sufficiently separate the wheat from the chaff.
KONSTANTIN KISIN: I see what you’re saying. We’re not disagreeing because let me take you back to the beginning of this conversation when I did say to you that I believe religion is useful. Right. And I’m fond of, I can’t remember who said this, but someone said that the poor believe religion is true. The middle-class believes it’s false and the rich believe it’s useful or the powerful believe it’s useful. I’m not powerful or rich, but I certainly consider it useful. And I can see that the lack of it has its negative impact as well.
I just don’t wish to submit myself to a rigid ideology of that kind combined with the fact I don’t believe in the big guy in the sky.
DR JORDAN B PETERSON: Okay. So let’s not make it. So let’s agree that you shouldn’t subordinate yourself arbitrarily to a rigid structure. Now you might want to do that sporadically to discipline yourself. But the object shouldn’t be submission. Now that what’s weird in the biblical narrative, is that the goal is not submission. It’s so weird. It’s covenantal relationship and covenantal relationship is actually relationships.
So one of the things you see with Moses, for example, and you also see this with Abraham is that they’re constantly negotiating with God. That’s why — the name of my next book, by the way, is WE WHO WRESTLE WITH GOD, it’s a negotiation. It’s not a submission. And so God is always threatening to wipe out the Israelites in the desert. He’s just sick and tired of their idol worship and their whiny resentment in their bitterness and their worship of the past tyranny. And he’s constantly threatening just to wipe them out and start again. And that’s the apocalypse, I suppose.
And Moses is constantly interceding on their behalf and telling God, he shouldn’t break his word. And the odd thing in the story is that God actually listens, which is rather preposterous. But, the reason that’s happening is to mitigate against exactly the problem that you described, which is to have the relationship with the transcendent degenerate into nothing but a blind obedience. And then the danger of that is, well, a blind obedience to who, and I see this as a threat in Islam, in the more fundamentalist forms of Islam. It’s like, you should submit to Allah. It’s like, fair enough. Allah as interpreted by who? Oh, totalitarian, misogynistic mullahs. How about no, I don’t buy your Allah. And I don’t see who made you the good,
KONSTANTIN KISIN: And even if I believe in the bearded guy in the sky, I’m not sure I need the middleman to talk to him.
DR JORDAN B PETERSON: Well, that makes you a good Protestant. Well, we could also go down that rabbit hole a little bit, you know, and it’s worth it because I also think this is how we ended up in this postmodern excess liberal conundrum. So Jung talked about Catholicism, as we mentioned, and he talked about the utility and mercy of the confessional and that possibility of atonement.
But he also laid out — the dangers of that, the dangers of the Catholic structure is what would you say? A tilt towards authoritarian rigidity, which is what the Protestants rebelled against. But then the question is, well, what’s the danger of the Protestant revolution? And the danger is that everybody becomes his own church.
And then here’s the problem. You tell me what you think about this. Here’s the logical conclusion of that. You’re your own church. You’re your own God. Now you can say what God said to Moses out of the depths of the burning bush. You can say, I am what I am. And I would say, that’s what the identity politics types do. They say, look, I am so superordinate in my own self-defining identity that no matter what identity claim I put forward, it is incumbent upon you to accept it as if it comes from an omniscient source.
And I think like, as far as I can tell Konstantin, that’s where we are, right? Increasingly by force of law. If you make an identity claim, no matter how preposterous, which implies that there’s some limit to identity claims, by the way, like I have to accept, well, there’s one example in Ontario right now, this becomes famous for its surreality. So there’s a female teacher in the suburb in Toronto who has decided at the ripe old age of something, approximating 50, that he’s actually a woman, but he’s not just a woman, man. He’s the earth goddess herself. And he wears these like 144 quadruple deep prosthetic breasts. I don’t know if you’ve seen pictures of this character —
KONSTANTIN KISIN: Yeah. I have seen that.
DR JORDAN B PETERSON: Yeah. Well, exactly she’s an embodiment of that primordial God.
KONSTANTIN KISIN: Am I hearing you correctly? If I look at what you’re saying, then are you suggesting that we need God to agree on truth?
DR JORDAN B PETERSON: I’m saying is that spirit, which would enable us to agree on truth is for all intents and purposes, equivalent to God and necessarily so…
KONSTANTIN KISIN: So without that, we cannot agree on what the truth is.
DR JORDAN B PETERSON: Okay. Well, so look, I’ve been having the same conversation I’m having with you with Douglas Murray and with Jonathan Panzo at the same time. Now, Murray was very attracted by outright atheism and he was tempted and invited as far as I can tell, to be part of the four horsemen of atheism coterie.
But it’s been very interesting talking to Douglas in recent years, because he’s got to that point that you described, which is let’s say the aristocratic position that religion is useful, but he’s actually stepped past that and doesn’t know what to do with it. And I think that’s the case for many people on the more traditional front now is that, well, the metaphysic that unites us has to be grounded in something that isn’t merely political and semantic. That’s the right way of thinking about it.
There has to be something transcendental about it, akin to that experience you had of –
KONSTANTIN KISIN: Connection to all humanity. Yes.
DR JORDAN B PETERSON: Okay. Now look, Sam Harris thinks the same thing, which is why he’s off in meditative space half the time, right? He has an unnameable God because then his semantic brain can’t tear it to shreds. He understands that it’s necessary to dip into the realm of the transcendent sporadically in order to renew yourself, you know, and he’ll say, well, that’s not religious. It’s like, well, it’s not totalitarian and it’s not systematic. That doesn’t mean it’s not religious.
And then Harris, of course, his approach falls prey to the same problem as a kind of abstract Buddhism, which is, yeah, well, that’s all well and good on the transcendental front, but how do you make that sell? How do you make that manifest in life? And how do you unite other people in that ethos? And that’s a practical problem. And you need intermediary structures to do that.
KONSTANTIN KISIN: Well, that’s why I think religion is useful for uniting most people, because my experience is they need it. I have many people in my life and in my family who cannot process their fear of death without religion. They just can’t deal with it. And we all — they all mask it and they all kind of deal with it in one way or another, but it is having the sense of something above them in that particular way that gives them the comfort to live their life.
And there are other people who maybe don’t need it. I certainly don’t. I enjoy my life. I know I’m going to die. I know that my life only — this is my experience. In my view, my life only has the meaning that I give to it. And I get to choose that. Now that puts in question the nature of morality. I appreciate that. And for society, there has to be a structure that gives you a sense of what morality is, which is why I say religion is useful. But for me personally, it’s not.
DR JORDAN B PETERSON: So when you say you choose it, but let’s go down that road for a minute, because, so you open yourself up to an intuition and tell me if I’ve got this wrong and the intuition makes itself manifest. And the choice is whether you accept that or not. Does that seem reasonable?
KONSTANTIN KISIN: Yes.
DR JORDAN B PETERSON: Okay. So that doesn’t mean that the source of the intuition is you precisely. It does mean that you have a relationship of choice though.
KONSTANTIN KISIN: Okay.
DR JORDAN B PETERSON: But I don’t think that’s any different than this covenantal idea that I described earlier. I think it’s a reflection of the same. I’m not trying to reduce what you’re saying to that.
KONSTANTIN KISIN: I’m aware of that.
DR JORDAN B PETERSON: Yeah.
KONSTANTIN KISIN: We’re having a good faith discussion. So what I don’t understand, and I’m open to be persuaded is why the leap has to be made to the idea that this thing that I experienced and that I have as a, let’s call it, let’s say it’s a tool, right? I can dip into this source of information that I have access to, that can give me a useful advice. How you go from that to the idea that we are all connected under this one thing, that this is a thing. The fact that other people have similar experiences could also mean like other people have thoughts because they have brains.
DR JORDAN B PETERSON: Okay. That’s a great question. And it’s the same question as let’s assume for a moment that the voice of intuition that speaks to you has a moral element. And the moral element is that it’s going to shape your perceptions and your behaviors. Now you could say that’s idiosyncratic, right? That it’s only unique to you.
And some of that’s going to be true because that’s true in so far as you’re really creative, let’s say, or even revolutionary, but here’s the rub as far as I can tell. Okay. So there’s this idea that emerges in Exodus that the well-constituted polity has to have two dimensions. There has to be a vertical dimension that unites it with the transcendent. So that would be like the king’s fealty to God. The idea that the king himself is subordinate to a set of transcendent principles. And so is everyone else. So that’s the vertical axis. And that would be that feeling of universality that you described, like sort of descending upon you.
But then there’s a horizontal axis and the horizontal axis is something like, well, I have to conduct myself so that I can engage in repeated acts of reciprocal altruism with other people.
Okay. Now you need both of those because sometimes, you know, you might say, well, you should get along to go along or you should go along to get along. You should conduct yourself the way other people want you to conduct yourself. And that’s usually true except when everyone goes crazy. And then you might say, well, what do you need to bind you when everyone goes crazy? And the answer is, well, you need that relationship with the vertical.
KONSTANTIN KISIN: Except the people who run the structure that connects people to the vertical often go crazy too.
DR JORDAN B PETERSON: I absolutely. That’s a big problem, but that’s why it’s a mistake to construe the religious enterprise is something that’s only a consequence of tradition. Like look in the Jewish writings, you’ve got two sources of the religious enterprise. You’ve got the tradition and that goes corrupt. Let’s say in the form of a corrupt king, but then you have the prophets and the prophets are those who stand up and say to the corrupt king, you know, there’s a divine order against which you’re transgressing. And if you don’t get your act together, all hell is going to break loose, even though you’re king.
Now your question might be, well, how do we tell the false prophets from the true prophets? And that’s well, and the answer to that is by their fruits, you will know them. That’s one answer to that, but it does reflect this underlying problem, but you’ve already said in yourself, you know, you’re leery to accept divine revelation in the form of a handed down tradition, right? And that does make you a Protestant in the most fundamental sense.
But you also do note that you have access to something like into like the pool of intuition. Let’s put it that way that can tap you, right? I would say that to the degree that that intuition is a reliable source, it’s also going to be structured so that it facilitates your ongoing interactions with other people in the best possible manner. So it’s not purely idiosyncratic, right? It’s again, it’s subject to its own logos, its own internal logic. It may be upon occasion that that internal voice will do what Socrates did. Socrates voice, which is to say, you have to offer yourself up as sacrificial victim to the mob, right? And God help us from that eventuality. But that may happen upon occasion, but it’s still the case that if that voice of intuition is deep, when it rises within you, it’s going to rise up within you in a manner that facilitates your integration with the social community and the social community’s improvement. At least you better hope that that’s the case.
KONSTANTIN KISIN: Right. But that all those things are to my benefit. And also even the Socrates example, I mean, I think you and I both, you to a much greater extent have offered ourselves up as sacrificial for the purposes of combating this bad religion that we talked about earlier. But even that to me just seems that it’s easier to explain with something as simple as principles that have been inculcated in me by my life experience and by family.
So as someone who’s descended from Soviet dissidents, who spent plenty of time in the Gulag, I’m not prepared to say that a male teacher who has gigantic breasts as a woman, because the concept of truth that is more valuable to me than my reputation or career and whatever else, right? So again, I don’t know that the inclusion of the divine is necessary for those things to be explained.
DR JORDAN B PETERSON: Okay great. So I think there’s a technical answer to that question too. So there’s a scene in the Gospels where the Pharisees and the scribes… So they’re woke bureaucrats really in many ways, they’re trying to trap Christ all the time because they think he’s dangerous. And they’d like to nail him for heresy.
And so they get a lawyer to come up to him and say, ‘Master, which you say you abide by the commandments, which of them is the greatest?’ And here’s the trick. The trick is, well, no matter what Christ says, they’re going to nail him because if he makes any one commandment, superordinate to the others, then he denigrates the others and they can go after him on that front. So they really put them on the spot. And he says something that refers back to this principle of Mount Sinai, this idea of a horizontal and a vertical axis. Right. And he says, ‘You should love God with all your heart and with all your mind, and you should love other people as you love yourself.’ And then he says, that’s the meta principle upon which all the commandments rest. And so it’s an amazing sleight of hand because he answers the question, but he doesn’t allow himself to be trapped.
And what he says is, and this is akin to what you just laid out. You said, I don’t need faith in a religious structure because I can abide by these principles. And so we can think of the principles as your version of the 10 commandments. Maybe there’s 20 of them. I don’t know how many of there are, but, they’re derived from your own experience and I think, and the experience of your family, but then you might think, let’s assume for a moment that all those principles are good. And so we’re assuming that there’s a commonality across the principles. And that commonality is that which allows them to be categorized as good.
And then the question would be, well, what’s the underlying meta principle that unites them as good? And that’s exactly the question that Christ is trying to answer. So he says, well, you want to be oriented towards the highest good conceivable. You want to be open to that. And so that would be something like making the decision in your life that you were going to strive towards whatever was good, whatever that is, right? Just to make that the initial proposition. And then you were going to treat other people as if they were as valuable as you are and vice versa.
And that that’s the underlying two dimensions of the principle that gives rise to let’s say all necessary commandments. And then I would say that the spirit that puts God above all else, puts the divine above all else and that unites us with other people. That is what the monotheistic tendency tilts towards portraying psychologically. It’s an attempt to flesh out what that is. That’s how it looks to me.
KONSTANTIN KISIN: Fair enough.
DR JORDAN B PETERSON: So, the question is, I think Konstantin, the question is pretty simple. If your principles are coherent, then there’s a meta principle that unites them. And then the fundamental religious question would be, well, what is that meta principle? And how do you conduct yourself in relationship to it?
KONSTANTIN KISIN: That makes sense. Which is why it puts in question the very nature of morality and where it comes from. I understand that. But I certainly wouldn’t make the claim that my principles are coherent. I don’t know that they are. It’s something that I tried to follow based on, like I said, values passed down by family and probably a Judeo Christian in origin at one point. So I don’t have a good answer for you.
DR JORDAN B PETERSON: Hey, it’s not an easy thing to like spontaneously generate up an answer for, but I would also say, you know, you said you’re not sure your principles are coherent. And I would say, well, of course they’re not to some degree, right? Because no one is characterized by a state of perfect coherence. I think that would be paradisal in the most literal sense to have that.
And I think now, and then we snap into a coherence and when that happens, well, you have kids now, don’t you?
KONSTANTIN KISIN: I’ve got one so far.
DR JORDAN B PETERSON: We’ve got one. Okay. So, you made allusion to that before. And so I think that one of the things that having children does is it opens you up to a kind of paradisal coherence upon occasion, because you now love someone. Certainly I would say, if you have any sense, more than you love yourself, you value that person more in the end that you’d sacrifice yourself for them.
KONSTANTIN KISIN: Yes.
DR JORDAN B PETERSON: And I would say that in that depth of love, you get a glimpse of what that coherence could be, you know, because then you know that because you also alluded to the fact that when you had a child that also compelled you to take another step forward on the maturation front which is exactly, of course, what happens to you if you have a child, if you aren’t a narcissist right to the core is that you do, you shed a lot of immaturity and you become a lot more mature and you become a lot more coherent. And I think that does reveal itself in love. I really believe that.
KONSTANTIN KISIN: Very interesting.
DR JORDAN B PETERSON: Today. We went pretty damn deep down the rabbit hole on the religious front with Konstantin, but that makes sense because it’s what’s lurking underneath your speech at Oxford. You know, it’s because you’re making the case — you were making the case, essentially that whatever this woke enterprise is, has a quasi religious structure and it doesn’t look like it’s doing the job well.
KONSTANTIN KISIN: No.
DR JORDAN B PETERSON: And you’re implying too, that we need a vision to replace it. And it has to be an invitational, a positive invitational vision. It can’t just be us shaking our fingers at the woke types and saying, you guys are going off the deep end. It’s like, because they can just say, well, Oh, wise conservatives, where do you think the shallow end is? And if we say, well, it’s not where you’re pointing. Yeah. Fair enough. But that’s a pretty,
KONSTANTIN KISIN: There is another reason why that is a bad strategy. In my opinion, Jordan, by the way, we have to do that. We had to understand what was going on. We had to articulate what was going on. We had to explain to ourselves and to the broader public, what the problem was and what was happening. That was necessary. So I don’t apologize or criticize or, or any of that. Those of us who’ve pushed back against this.
And yes, you’re right. A positive vision is needed so that we can say to people, well, this is where you should put your energies. But there’s also another reason, which is that the process of pointing the finger at the woke and say, you are becoming deranged makes you deranged. And you can see that very clearly as you look around the anti woke people.
Now, I say this often. Now you’ll be familiar with the online meme of I support the current thing, which is what all the non-mainstream people use to sort of make fun of the mainstream people who jump from cause to cause to cause, you know, the flavor of the month, whatever. But I see very clearly now that there is the exact and opposite reaction happening where a portion of the anti woke or the right, or whatever you want to call them have become, I oppose the current thing. And it is enough for them that the mainstream media or the corporate media or whatever are saying something to believe the exact opposite without doing any research or any critical thinking applied whatsoever.
And we should be very concerned about that. In my opinion, as much as we’ve been concerned about the woke stuff. So the positive vision is needed, not only to inspire these young woke people to build and make things of this of themselves. It’s also needed so that those of us, so that we do not become the abyss that we’ve been staring into. And I think that is already happening.
DR JORDAN B PETERSON: Right. Well, that’s also because it’s always good to give the devil his due. I mean, people on the left are right to oppose corporate slash government, gigantism and collusion. And people like Bernie Sanders and Russell Brand and Joe Rogan, to some degree, do a quite a nice job of that on the left.
And then also the criticism that the left levies against the right, which is 0 is a valid criticism because of what you just laid out is that if you just become the mirror opposite of that, which you’re opposing, it’s not the mirror opposite. It’s you become the mere reaction to that, which you were opposing. Then you will fall prey to the same set of problems. And this is something I’m worried about on the Florida front, for example, like I’ve talked to Christopher Rufo and, and he’s a good staunch wall. And I would say the same thing about DeSantis, but the conservatives are toying with censorship as an answer to the problem of the woke miasma.
And it’s very complicated because I do believe that no has to be said to drag queen story hour, but by the same token, as soon as you go down the book forbidding route, you instantly introduce into your own ethos, the problem of enabling the censors who are operating by the same principles in principle on your side. And that’s a huge problem.
And so for me, this has to be battled out in the realm of ideas like we’re doing today, right? We’re trying to see where we can get on this front. And it’s very difficult to define a set of ideas and then forbid them without falling prey to the problem of having to forbid all sorts of things that maybe you should be leaving the hell alone.
KONSTANTIN KISIN: And part of it, I think is also the inability to articulate what you are for. Therefore, you have to become destructive about what the other people are saying, because you can’t win the battle of ideas with an absence of ideas. You can’t win a battle of ideas by saying your idea is crap because sure, it’s crap. But if you’re not offering it — if you’re afraid to offer anything in exchange and that’s where we are, I think, I think people on the conservative side of things are afraid to say the things that they ought to say, which is some of the things that you were articulating earlier about the eight, seven or eight different things in life that one ought to focus on in order to make for a meaningful life.
Well if you’re afraid to say any of those things, then the only thing that you have left is to become the destructive mirror version of the thing that you’re fighting. And I see this, the problem I see with this, and this is why I wanted to talk to you about the Ukraine thing as well, is I see the anti-woke instinctively going to a position of, well, whatever we’re being told is automatically untrue and automatically wrong. And that means that they no longer believe in the concept of truth either. If to you, the truth is the opposite of what the mainstream is saying, you don’t believe in truth either. All you believe is in this pointless, destructive battle that in which truth and reality no longer exists.
And I think Jordan, one of the biggest challenges that we face is the technological destruction of the very idea of truth that we’re living through. That is what I think we’re wrestling with. So the conversation that we had obviously did go very deep, and we talked about God and religion. But if your claim is that we cannot agree on truth without God, then maybe I’m going to potentially agree with you that that’s perhaps what the world needs.
Because if you think that’s the only way we’re going to get around truth, we need something because right now, neither side knows what the truth is.
DR JORDAN B PETERSON: Well, the question is, Konstantin, I think to some degree, the question there is, is there by necessity, is the image of God by necessity nested inside the claim that there is such a thing as truth? And I think it might be because one of the things I’ve been seeing happening, and this isn’t — the fact that this is happening isn’t self-evident that it would happen like inevitable, you know, is that, and I think this is what’s put people like Richard Dawkins back on their heels a little bit, is that the hope was that if we got rid of the superstitious totalitarianism of the religious delusion, that everyone would spring forth as an enlightenment scientist.
Now, the problem is, is that most scientists aren’t scientists. Yeah. Maybe two or 3% of them are. It’s really hard to be a scientist. You have to really be oriented towards the truth and nothing else. And I do think Dawkins to a large degree falls into that category. I think Dawkins acts out the proposition that the universe has an intrinsic logos and that the pursuit of that will set you free. Now he believes the religious enterprise interferes with that, but the fundamental ethos that he acts out is nonetheless, I believe a religious ethos.
It isn’t obvious to me at all. I think that if we lose God, so God is dead, we’ll lose science too. And I think that’s playing out right now, man. Is there less of an assault on the idea of religious transcendence than there is an assault on the idea of scientific truth? I don’t think so. I think they’re both under the gun to exactly the same degree. And the STEM fields, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics are, you know, they’re fallen prey to the machinations of the woke left, like a butter stick and, being run through by a hot knife. We could easily lose the scientific enterprise.
KONSTANTIN KISIN: Well, this is why I’ve always said that the trans thing is what will break intersectionality and wokeness, because that is a point at which reality does clash with ideology. And to the extent that reality exists, and I believe it exists and truth exists, that is a focal point where you cannot pretend anymore. Once you’ve cut a teenage girl’s breasts off and she’s not happy about it three years later, that is a point at which whatever ideas you had in your head about everyone gets to define themselves. Well, guess what? That is the point at which reality clashes.
And it’s the same with parents. Obviously we’ve just interviewed somebody about this, a woman who transitioned her child and regretted it. And we’ll be putting that out very shortly.
DR JORDAN B PETERSON: Oh, okay. I did an interview with Chloe Cole.
KONSTANTIN KISIN: I saw that. Yeah.
DR JORDAN B PETERSON: Transition and regretted. Well, look Konstantin, at the beginning of Genesis, when God creates human beings, he does say, well, people are made in the image of God. So that’s the installation of this divine transcendent value that’s part and parcel of, let’s say the eternal soul, right? It’s emblematic of the intrinsic dignity and importance of each person, regardless of status.
But then the second phrase is men and women He created them, right? The notion that there is this fundamental bifurcation that’s built into the structure of reality itself. And you could easily, you can easily make that into — you can easily make a biological case for that. I mean, right. Sex is, I don’t know if there is a conceptual or perceptual category, an orienting category. I don’t think there’s an orienting category that’s more fundamental than male and female. I think it’s more fundamental than up and down.
And so you blow that out with your tower of Babel, which is exactly what we’re doing right now is you blow out everything. And so I do think the T in the LGBT ETC alphabet panoply, the T is going to be the breaking point. I do believe that.
KONSTANTIN KISIN: Because that is the point at which the truth claims are evidently impossible to maintain the identity truth claims that people make. And we have just had this case in the UK, in the Scottish prison where a double rapist was put into a female prison. And the public is starting to realize what’s going on, Jordan. And I have always said this would happen because on the most things, people will go along, as you said to get along, but on this sort of stuff, they can’t anymore.
DR JORDAN B PETERSON: And so not when their children are at stake,
KONSTANTIN KISIN: That’s exactly right. And whether children or frankly, women as well, women’s safeties are at stake. So women’s safety is at stake. So that’s why it seems to me that we’re coming to some kind of head on this position, irrespective of the conversation we’ve had about God or not, the truth claims of the woke identitarians are going to start to crumble over time. And that I think will be the focal points for which that happens.
DR JORDAN B PETERSON: Well, we’re also seeing a clash with the notion of evil, I would say, because the woke narrative is that all oppressed are victimized and innocent. But there’s a real problem with that. And the problem is the fringe of the fringes. And on the fringe of the fringes are the narcissistic psychopaths who are sadists as well, and who are bad right to the bone, perhaps even beyond the point of any atonement or forgiveness, or at least that on the human realm.
And if you don’t think that there are people out there who are sexual serial slayers or predators, who are perfectly willing to adopt a female identity to fool woke idiots into giving them access to women, you are naive to the point of being a danger to yourself and everyone else. And when I watch people like the Scottish prime minister do backflips to try to deny the reality of people like that, I think you bloody well better hope for your own sake that one of those psychopathic deviants doesn’t make himself manifest in your bedroom in the middle of the night one day.
So there’s a naivety there about the reality of evil that is also as deep as the denial of basic, let’s say, both biological and metaphysical slash conceptual reality. And that is a hard wall to run into.
KONSTANTIN KISIN: It’s the main problem with the systemic way of looking at society as they do, because if you believe that people’s behavior is predetermined by structures and systems, then those marginal deviants can’t be accounted for that. This is why at the extreme end of wokeism, they believe in abolishing prisons and the police. And the reason they believe that is they believe that you can only be made into a criminal by a bad, corrupt system, instead of recognizing the fact that criminals and bad people have always existed throughout history, because that seems to be the distribution of skills and talents and predilections and psychological traits. But they can’t do that.
DR JORDAN B PETERSON: And choices.
KONSTANTIN KISIN: And choices. So, yeah, that’s the big one that we can’t talk about. But choices. Exactly right. So that’s the fundamental flaw in the analysis. But it, of course, produces these crazy ideas where people believe that, you know, no one is ever going to be bad unless the system made them so. Well, guess what? That’s not how life works.
DR JORDAN B PETERSON: Right. Definitely. The system makes lots of people better than they would otherwise be. It makes some people worse. And some people choose to become worse of their own accord. They dance with the devil. And they do that voluntarily. When God calls out Cain in the story of Cain and Abel, He basically says to Cain, sin crouches at your door. That’s the temptation to be envious of Abel and to be fratricidally vengeful.
God says to Cain, your sacrifices have been rejected because you didn’t put enough effort into them. And that’s made you bitter. And now sin crouches at your door like a sexually aroused predatory animal. And you’ve invited it in to have its way with you. And all the consequences of that are on you. And that’s exactly right as far as I’ve been able to tell is that people can be alienated and marginalized and pushed out of society. And that can be very unfair.
But then when they get bitter and decide to open the door to the vampire that’s lurking outside, then they enter into a creative bargain with said spirit and all hell breaks loose. And there’s an element of choice in that. And if you don’t see that, then you’re blind enough so that you will be the prey of those predators. So –
KONSTANTIN KISIN: That’s why we need the positive vision, Jordan. That’s why I’m excited about. And by the way, I know where we want to wrap up, but I will just say this, that I think what you’re — in formulating this idea of needing some kind of positive vision, you’re actually channeling something that a lot of people are feeling. I’ve noticed that almost everyone I suggest I talked about, and I’ve been talking to mutual friends of ours for a long time about the fact that we need to start thinking in a more positive way. Everyone gets it. The time is now.
And this is what, in my opinion, the world needs right now. It needs a positive vision of the future that people can unite. And it’s got to be voluntary.
DR JORDAN B PETERSON: Yes, it has to be voluntary. Absolutely. And it has to be based on widespread distribution of responsibility to everyone. It can’t be top down. Well, and that goes along with being volunteer.
Well, what’s been weird about putting together this enterprise, and we’re going to release more details about it soon, is that everyone I’ve talked to in like 25 countries immediately says, we really need to do that. I’m on board. I’ll rearrange my schedule. What can I do to help? And not only that, the group of people that has aggregated itself together around this vision has been able to very rapidly move towards the formulation of six key questions. And even that was uniting. And that’s very strange, right?
Because this is a preposterous enterprise, and the probability that it would produce nothing but fractiousness and resistance is extraordinarily high. And yet that isn’t what’s happening.
KONSTANTIN KISIN: It’s not strange to me at all. It’s not strange to me. And this is where I come back to intuition. Because this is what the world needs, it does not surprise me that everything is aligning to make it happen. And the reason that people are canceling appointments and whatever is they recognize fundamentally that the problem we’ve been trying to solve for the last however many six or seven years at least is not going to get solved by the methods we’ve been using so far. And something new and radical is necessary that is constructive in nature, because the world has become a very destructive place.
DR JORDAN B PETERSON: That’s part of that universality of underlying intuition, right? You can see in that that the time calls for a particular solution, and then that intuition makes it manifest. It makes itself manifest to everyone. And that is part of a uniting… What would you call it? Well, it’s part of the manifestation of a uniting spirit. There’s no other real way of characterizing it.
KONSTANTIN KISIN: I disagree, but we probably don’t have the time.
DR JORDAN B PETERSON: Well, how you regard the nature of that spirit…
KONSTANTIN KISIN: Well, we’re all looking at a world. We’re seeing the problem. And because we’re able to respond to the thing that we’re seeing, we’re generating a solution. And the solution to me is obvious.
DR JORDAN B PETERSON: Yep, right. That seems to be the case. And that seems to be how it’s playing itself out. So now we have to…
KONSTANTIN KISIN: Let’s do it.
DR JORDAN B PETERSON: Exactly. Well, we have to… What would you say? Orient ourselves very carefully so that the temptations for this to be undermined by something that is once yet again top-down don’t make themselves manifest.
All right, Konstantin. And for everyone watching and listening on YouTube or the associated platforms, thank you very much for your time and attention. Thanks for agreeing to talk to me again today. We’ll turn now to the Daily Wire Plus side of the conversation. I’ll spend another half an hour with Konstantin talking about how his particular interests made themselves manifest, that spirit of intuition, let’s say, across his life. And some of you will join me there on the Daily Wire Plus platform. And Konstantin, good luck with TRIGGERnometry moving forward. And it looks like you’ve gone past the point of likely cancellation now. And that’s a nice threshold to have crossed. And congratulations on your Oxford talk. And you said you figured 200 million, 100 to 200 million views? That’s quite the home run. So congrats on that.
KONSTANTIN KISIN: Thank you very much, Jordan. It’s a pleasure. And we look forward to having you back on TRIGGERnometry. And I’d love to talk with you about the other subjects we wanted to cover.
DR JORDAN B PETERSON: Yeah, well, I’d like to talk about Russia and Ukraine at some point. So maybe we can do that sooner rather than later.
KONSTANTIN KISIN: Let’s do it. DR JORDAN B PETERSON: Okay. Good to talk to you, man. And we’ll see. To those of you watching and listening, thanks very much to the film crew who put this together today. Appreciate that. And to the Daily Wire Plus people for making these conversations technically proficient and of high quality in terms of the production values, that’s much appreciated as well.
For Further Reading:
Israel, Russia, China, Iran: The World in Conflict: Walter Russell Mead (Transcript)
The Natural Order of Money: Roy Sebag (Transcript)
AI, Man & God: Prof. John Lennox (Full Transcript)
Where Did The Bible Come From and Why Should We Care: Tim Mackie (Transcript)