Who are Jordan Peterson’s followers?
Justin Murphy is a self-described Left-libertarian who has collected some statistics from Reddit which enable him to see who are the supporters of Peterson. He does some analyses which I don't entirely agree with but it is clear that the most popular politician among Peterson supporters is Donald Trump, followed by Gary Johnson, the libertarian party candidate who many other libertarians dismissed as too Leftist (on gun control etc.)
So Murphy shows that there is a large silenced population and that Peterson has picked up the ones who are put off by Trump's very simplistic approach. He sees both Peterson and Trump as having similar messages but with Peterson being the intellectual and impeccably scholarly representative of the same basic ideas. And from Murphy's eigenvector analysis it seems clear that the suppressed ideas are on the whole simply traditional conservative ones
I wrote a book in 1974 under the title "Conservatism as heresy". It seems that not much has changed since. Excerpt only below
In many educated circles, support for Donald Trump is seen as somewhere between insane and evil, quite seriously. Yet, about 50% of the Americans who voted did so for him, so we know at least a non-trivial number of educated people voted for him. But who are they? I haven’t really had strong intuitions about this, and my sense is you just don’t really see or hear from educated and highly thoughtful Trump supporters. I’m aware this could definitely be “my bubble,” but I don’t think it’s just that. I think there exist thoughtful educated Trump supporters, but I think they are systematically unlikely to appear in mainstream culture.
But I have been watching closely the explosion of popularity enjoyed by academic psychologist Jordan Peterson, and it has seemed to me that his constituency might just be some of the educated Trumpians. It is also consistent with my “long-term mass suppression” thesis, because this helps to explain how a random academic psychologist achieved genuinely extraordinary, anomolous levels of fame, all of a sudden. It’s the same pattern with Trump (though I’m not, at all, equating the two individuals): a massive unexpected and rise-to-power indicating a massive reservoir of public interest in something that has hitherto been systematically under-supplied by the status quo.
As an ultralefty who is also 90% on board with Peterson’s key messages, I honestly did not expect this many of the Peterson disciples to be Trump supporters. I was thinking I’d find a sizable minority and say “Aha! A little evidence for my hypothesis.” But Trump is far and away the most favored candidate.
The reason this is important, in my view, is that Trump and Trump supporters are genuinely seen as unworthy of intellectually serious debate in progressive educated circles. But Peterson is an undeniable intellectual master of the most authentic kind. What this means is that genuinely educated progressives who are opposed to Trump need (if they are serious and sincere) to go through Peterson and his intellectual community. In other words, educated progressives cannot pretend there are no serious intellectual forces associated with Trump. There is at least one, and it’s the cluster of ideas Peterson has been working on for decades.
To be clear, I am not saying Peterson has caused support for Trump and I’m not saying Peterson himself supports Trump (I don’t know, but he generally avoids naïve blanket identifications.) I am just saying that, as far as I can tell, his perspective represents a major, public intellectual force that coincides with at least some vectors of support for Trump.
And the sizable minority of left libertarians makes sense to me (because that’s me, basically). So it’s interesting that left-libertarians are communicating thoughtfully in a community with many Trump supporters. I want to show this to all the left libertarian activists I know (who are very different than left libertarian people in general). To show them there is serious intellectual content in the new seeming “right-wing” ecology of ideas and figures