Jack Edgson • • 9 min read
How Jordan Peterson is Holding You Back
I have deep gratitude for Jordan Peterson. As with so many others, he has had a profound influence on my life. I certainly would not be who I am today without him.
That being said, I have become aware of one limitation of “his” followers.
Do not interpret this to be an attack on Peterson himself, it is not. It is not a critique of his psychology, philosophy, or mythology. I am merely offering a perspective that I may help spur on your own growth as it has my own.
Are you ready for it?
In order to evolve, you will need to become more of a “Post-Modern Neo-Marxist”, not less.
Hear me out!
See, only once you have explored something can you integrate it — only once it has been exhausted, can it be transcended.
Postmodernism is alluring, and in its seductiveness lies its deceptiveness. Jordan Peterson sees the destructive aspects of this philosophy and so has become a vocal opponent towards it.
Postmodernism has its flaws, and it certainly can become dangerous and ideological. I’m not suggesting otherwise, I am merely opening you to the possibility that there is also value in it.
Does Jordan Peterson see this? I have no doubt. Though if you are like me, your opinions on the matter were formed a little rashly, and as a consequence, you threw the baby out with the bathwater.
Postmodern thinking should be integrated, and transcended! But not rejected.
Heard enough yet?
We build our identity on our beliefs and our identity doesn’t like to be challenged. Destroy the beliefs and you destroy the identity. Exploring this article might feel like a step away from suicide for some — a taste of “ego death”. It could certainly be as challenging.
I am here with you, I know how difficult it might be to remain openminded here. Though I am sure you will agree that is the wise course to take.
Don’t worry, I’m not just making this up. I take no credit for these ideas. I am simply offering them to you, should you be in a place to receive them. I offer credit to Leo Gura, who first mentioned Jordan Peterson in this context. I have merely tried to build upon his ideas.
I am basing my understanding off of a model of human evolution called Spiral Dynamics. You might call it a grand hierarchy of development. That’s right, postmodern philosophy and hierarchies can co-exist.
Spiral Dynamics is a complex model. There are different stages, states, blends and lines of development. Both within every individual human being and culture as a whole.
However, there are 4 primary stages that we care about for the purposes of this article. Should you care to learn more about the model (which I highly recommend), I leave that to you.
Let’s take the following stages: blue, orange, green, and yellow. If you are an avid follower of Jordan Peterson, you probably have some yellow thinking but are grounded somewhere between Stage Blue and Orange.
Now, this is not to say that Jordan Peterson is there with you. He is, at least in large part, an integral thinker. I’d rather not make groundless presumptions about where he might be. The issue isn’t with him, it’s with us.
I have no doubt that he is evolving faster than you are, and if you want to keep up, or surpass him, you will have to embrace Stage Green. There is simply no clear alternative.
Stage Green is a beautiful and nuanced stage, with its excesses sure, but it is the solution to the negatives of the Stage Orange value system.
Unfortunately, Peterson straw-mans Stage Green. That’s the phrase you’re all too familiar with: the Post-Modern Neo-Marxists.
I’ll give it to the man, he’s had a series of very bad experiences with the egalitarian, inclusive, feminist types. There’s no denying this, unfortunately, it has skewed his perception of the stage as a whole quite negatively. And consequently, he is passing on his bias to you.
So let’s take a quick look at the positive and negative sides of Stage Green. In the ideal case, you would embody as much of the positive, whilst remaining aware of the negative.
As an evolution from Orange materialism, Stage Green shifts their attention towards emotions and feelings. They care more about exploring the inner self in all its fullness than the external “material” world. A new found need for community, gathering, and inclusivity arises. Out of this communal behaviour comes a deeper acceptance of individual differences. Care and compassion have expanded from the limited self to include all living beings and the Earth as a whole. This stage is especially sensitive towards those which have been historically repressed. They are open, loving, empathic and helpful.
However, Green tends to see their own perspective as the absolute truth, and so if not approached with open-mindedness it becomes limiting and exclusive. It will, ironically, exclude everyone who’s not Green. In this mode of thinking it can be radicalised quite easily and begin to use violence to achieve its ends. There is a tendency to over-embody the flattening of hierarchies and take relativity between cultures to the extreme.
The mistake here would be to confuse Green as a whole, for the hyper-radical individuals who are a very small percentage of Stage Green. To do so is very narrow-minded, and yet I fell into the same trap.
Let’s, for a second, take some Stage Green societies. For example, many northern European countries. As Peterson has pointed out, gender differences polarise in these places. So Stage Green must be wrong right? Well, not exactly. Just like any other stage (including the one you’re at right now) it has a limited perspective. An incomplete picture.
Stage Green’s whole schtick is to become aware that we are all equal, yet this can often be done quite superfically. Dive more fully into stage green on your own and you just might find yourself seeing the same thing. Wouldn’t that be a twist.
But, dive even deeper and eventually, you’ll push into stage yellow.
This is the juicy stage, the one where real systems thinking emerges. This is the stage where I would place the psychological aspects of Jordan Peterson.
His mistake is not in calling out the faults that can come with nihilism, postmodernism or socialism. It’s in creating resistance in those who haven’t yet explored it.
Be honest, do you feel resistance to the idea of postmodernism? If you were like me, the answer is yes. But ask yourself this, have you really understood postmodernism? Do you know what it is, in a nuanced way?
Perhaps, perhaps not. It’s your job to find out what postmodernism actually is.
Postmodernism has flaws, as does socialism, or capitalism, or hierarchies and mythological meta-narratives. If you explore any philosophy long enough you will realise it’s incomplete. That it is one perspective. Don’t think that because there are some issues with postmodernism it is useless.
You may think it’s an ideology, well, of course. But reacting to it is just keeping you stuck in your own ideology. And make no mistake, you are almost certainly caught in an ideology.
The only way to become less ideological is to stop resisting other ideologies. Embrace all perspectives. Integrate them, get their lessons, and transcend them.
The solution to many of stage blue and orange’s issues can be found in postmodernism (though I am not saying to blindly accept it). So too the major issues with stage green will be found in stage yellow’s integral thinking.
Poke holes in the machine from above, not below. Because if it all comes crashing down, the last place you want to be is right underneath it.
Your goal is to get to Yellow. That’s where the party is at.
Neo-marxism is not simply off brand Marxism! Let me explain. Marxism was stage blue, “Neo-Marxism” — which is just a label to make social welfare sounds bad — is stage green. Don’t conflate the two.
You are making a fundamental error in judgment by equating Stage Green universal-income hippies with authoritarian Soviet Marxists. No free-love, psychedelic-using, new-age vegan is going to, or wants to, create large scale wars to promote itself.
Stage Blue was based in fear. Healthy Stage Green, in love.
I’m not saying Socialism is right. But do you even know what you’re against? Have you read through the full Wikipedia page for Socialism? Probably not. That might be a good place to start.
SJWs, feminazis, man-haters, postmodernists, socialists, Neo-Marxists, communists. These are all just labels which are used to box in stage green. They paint a very ugly picture and justify your lack of desire to move up the spiral. They make your current place in life seem comfortable. Homeostasis.
As a follower of Jordan Peterson, I know that’s not what you want. And believe me moving up the spiral is difficult.
Can Stage Green be blind or ignorant to their own hypocrisy and act violently? Of course! Do they start wars on masculinity that end up going too far, clearly. But this has less to do with the stage as a whole, and more to do with the lack of individual development.
Green is a delicate balancing act, requiring an increasingly nuanced self-awareness and social understanding. Please, move to stage green and show the world what a healthy and integrated individual looks like.
A man equally in touch with his Logos and Eros. Who can feel, cry, and stand up for women and for himself equally. A man who can be relied on in chaos, but isn’t afraid to venture into it.
It should be very clear to you that stage green individuals still have many personal issues they have to work through. But this is true of every person.
The internet is filled with young adults, people who are very much still evolving and growing. Growing in their ability to handle their emotions and respond to “threat” rather than merely react
I would make a good bet that you have probably never see the healthy aspects of green. They don’t draw attention. You are seeing the lashing out from a temporary regression to lower stages of the spiral, red and blue — power and dogma.
Don’t conflate this temporary state with all of Green. Healthy Stage Green will rarely be found on YouTube. They are out there in the world, at festivals and meditation retreats.
Do you want to evolve?
You can argue with my ideas, I am fallible and my understanding limited. It may feel as though I am attacking something deeply personal in you; in a sense I am. My only intention though is to help you evolve — but only if you really want to.
In our current political environment. Our current social and economic environment, the solution to our problems is really more Stage Yellow. Which first means more Stage Green.
I am not recruiting followers to join some fringe cult, or a radicalised left-wing movement. What I hope to see is an influx of healthy, mature, and developed stage green individuals. Ones who have truly integrated and transcended stage orange and blue
Perhaps it is not your time, maybe there are still lessons for you in Stage Orange. For many, that is the case. If you haven’t sorted yourself out. If you can’t clean your room or pay your rent or think logically and mythologically. You probably aren’t ready for Stage Green.
But if you are following JP, my suspicion is you have a yearning — subconscious or conscious— for the lessons and beauty which is found at the higher stages.
Because as should be clear by now, at some point, you will transcend Green. And when that happens, there will be no stopping you.
So how do I evolve?
Of course, I am not writing merely for you to intellectualise, or to become a proponent of a new ideology. The goal is to embody green. To let it become a part of you, and you it.
If you feel relatively healthy as a Stage Orange individual. It’s time to start your next great leap.
First, stop demonising Green! Get out from behind the computer, stop consuming left vs right debate videos on YouTube. Meet real, and healthy examples of Stage Green. You cannot move up if you have a mental resistance to what’s next.
Go take some psychedelics, enjoy music festivals, read about postmodernism, read about and explore real femininity and masculinity (not feminised masculinity, and not hyper-masculinity, but about the deeply grounded, loving masculine essence in you). Start meditating, do some Yoga, go vegetarian, talk to real life feminists that are evolved and healthy individuals. Contemplate the limits of capitalism, think about the misery of the rat race, travel internationally.
Start your journey into stage green with whatever way feels right to you. Then once you have crossed the threshold, there is no turning back. Enter the forest and follow your heart.
Each knight enters the forest, to begin his search, at the point that looks darkest to him .”
— Jordan Peterson
But that’s the thing about the forest, it always looks dark until you enter, and then you realise, it was your own darkness all along.
So where do you least want to look? My guess, it’s some aspect of Stage Green.