Peter Hitchens

A very minor prophet

The Canadian psychologist may speak to millions – but not to me

Now that I seem to have become a prophet of doom, I wonder whether I should have been a guru instead. Doom doesn’t sell. Bookshops hide my books in back rooms. My recorded harangues and TV appearances reach a few thousand dedicated YouTube enthusiasts. But Dr Jordan B. Peterson, supposedly as reactionary as I am, speaks to millions. His new book 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos adorns the front table of every Waterstones. Annoyingly, friends of mine recommend his lectures to me, people on Twitter tell me incessantly that I ‘must’ explore his work. They become positively rude if I express reluctance.

How has he done this? Is he a cult? Should I too be a cult? Is it the way to reach minds otherwise closed to conservative thought? I sometimes receive rather moving letters from readers who assure me that I have changed their lives for the better, which I must confess I never set out to do.

Should I then write a self-help manual of my own, with the working title Pull Yourself Together! and bracing chapters such as ‘A brisk walk — the cure for almost everything you think you’ve got’ and ‘They put your face on the front of your head for a good reason’ (this is directed at the users of smartphones)? Perhaps not. I suspect it would not be soppy enough. I suspect this especially after spending several days glowering at the pages of Dr Peterson’s new volume.

Let me say first of all that Dr Peterson’s recent stand against the Thought Police of his native Canada was noble and brave. He refused to be bullied into using gender-neutral pronouns. And by resolutely resisting this pressure, he overcame it — at least for now.

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