Jordan Peterson’s Appeal is a Political Paradox: Liner Notes

I have a new column up at The Federalist, re-named “Why The Intellectual Dark Web Should Stick With Culture And Not Shift To Politics,” which is an apt headline, though perhaps Peterson’s name would generate more clicks.  The paradox of Peterson and his fellow travelers in the “Intellectual Dark Web” is that they are reaching people with their conversations and ideas — an essentially political endeavor — while de-emphasizing “politics” (other than to oppose identity politics that turn everything into “politics”).

What got left out?  A bit about how conservative institutions “failed” by never serving this sort of function after classical liberalism was routed from cultural institutions, which regular readers have seen before.  A bit on role technology plays in the phenomenon — how something like the IDW would have been difficult to pull of before the development of streaming technologies.  Perhaps people as different as Paul Harvey and Tom Wolfe could be considered oblique forerunners of this phenomenon, but there’s no direct lineage there, obviously.  And perhaps a bit about how the devolution of journalism into infotainment — particularly the Punch & Judy form of staged conflict on cable news and talk radio — created a space for podcasters both within and well outside the IDW to provide a deeper alternative.  Maybe even a bit about how podcasting might be in a very small way be reviving interest in middlebrow culture in a way not seen since the 60s.

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