We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Dr Norman Doidge on the contrasting fates of his grandparents (and on his friend Jordan Peterson)

In his foreword to Jordan B. Peterson’s Twelve Rules For Life: An Antidote To Chaos (page xv), Dr Norman Doidge writes:

To understand ideology, Jordan read extensively about the Soviet gulag, but also the Holocaust and the rise of Nazism. I had never before met a person, born Christian and of my generation who was so utterly tormented by what happened in Europe to the Jews, and who had worked so hard to understand how it could have occurred. I too had studied this in depth. My own father survived Auschwitz. My grandmother was middle-aged when she stood face to face with Dr. Josef Mengele, the Nazi physician who conducted unspeakably cruel experiments on his victims, and she survived Auschwitz by disobeying his order to join the line with the elderly, the grey and the weak and instead slipping into a line with younger people. She avoided the gas chambers a second time by trading food for hair dye so she wouldn’t be murdered for looking too old. My grandfather, her husband, survived the Mauthausen concentration camp, but choked to death on the first piece of solid food he was given just before liberation day. …

I was going to leave it at that, but this next bit is worth quoting also, hence what’s between the brackets in the title at the top of this posting:

… I relate this, because years after we became friends, when Jordan would take a classical liberal stand for free speech, he would be accused by left-wing extremists as being a right-wing bigot.

Let me say, with all the moderation I can summon: at best, those accusers have simply not done their due diligence. I have; with a family history such as mine, one develops not only radar, but underwater sonar for right-wing bigotry; but even more important, one learns to recognize the kind of person with the comprehension, tools, good will and courage to combat it, and Jordan Peterson is that person.

“With all the moderation I can summon …”. Nice one. How to shout without shouting, so to speak.

16 comments to Dr Norman Doidge on the contrasting fates of his grandparents (and on his friend Jordan Peterson)

  • Runcie Balspune

    The good Dr Doidge does not understand left-wing extremists.

    Their strategy is, in simple terms:

    (a) declare fascists as legitimate targets for no-platforms, abuse, violence, etc
    (b) declare anyone they don’t like or disagree with to be fascists

    Its a simple and well-tested formula, and ironically decidedly fascist in its mechanic.

    The actual elements of fascism do not enter the equation.

  • Sam Duncan

    Precisely, RB. They don’t care if he’s really a “right-wing bigot” or not. He’s saying things they don’t like, and throwing such accusations is a proven strategy for removing inconvenient voices from the public sphere. Of course, some of them – the “useful idiots” – actually believe it, and that’s what makes it work: it makes them feel better about their censorious, intolerant attitude.

  • Brian Micklethwait (London)

    RB

    I don’t think the above quotes supply evidence for your claim that Doidge doesn’t understand left-wing extremists. He merely doesn’t go into the details of how they operate even at the length that you do, or not in these quotes. I, in contrast to you, think that Doidge’s “At best” makes it clear that actually he understands these people very well. If he didn’t think that a lot of them are they’re lying scum who lie on purpose for the reasons you say, why would he have had to summon all that “moderation”? He makes your point, but with a rapier rather than an axe.

  • Clovis Sangrail

    @Brian

    He makes your point, but with a rapier rather than an axe.

    I think you are right, but speaking as a former fencer, the problem with a rapier is that, after you’ve fatally stabbed him with it, your opponent may still have time to beat you to death with his axe.
    The left is often too stupid to realise that it’s been beaten and thus goes on to win by absence of central nervous system.

  • CaptDMO

    “…and who had worked so hard to understand how it could have occurred.”
    Really REALLY?
    Standing on the shoulders of giants.
    (In MY paltry research) Beginning with Aesop. Probably Asians before THAT. And Incans
    And if it takes “hard work” to do that, well…..

  • Julie near Chicago

    “…[O]ne develops not only radar, but underwater sonar for right-wing bigotry….”

    “Rightwingbigotry” is not all one word, and leftist bigotry is not unknown.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Speaking for myself, i doubt that psychology has much to offer in understanding how events such as the Holocaust can and do happen. As much as i loathe Hobbes’ political prescriptions, it seems to me that Hobbes said most of what needs to be said about human psychology (relevant to the above question) in the 2nd half of Book 1 of Leviathan.

    As for Doidge’s rapier: there is scope for a combined-arms strategy, combining rapiers, axes, and Trumpian maces.
    And if you think that maces are too blunt, wait until somebody starts using flails.

  • bob sykes

    Adam Piggott and Vox Day have published numerous unsympathetic reviews of Peterson and his ideas, and they derve a hearing.

  • Henry Cybulski

    bob sykes

    Care to tell us why considering they are already being heard by the people who read and/or listen to what they have to say.

  • The Pedant-General

    Bob sykes,

    Criticism totally fair enough; suggestions that JP is a white supremacist or otherwise some kind of racist, not so much. That’s the only thing that matters in the context of this post.

    Given that, what’s your point?

  • Lloyd Martin Hendaye

    The NSDAP’s National Socialism was not a “right-wing” phenomenon, but part-and-parcel of leftist totalitarianism. Though Theodore Adorno attempted to depict authoritarianism on his “F-scale” (1947), we amplify this murderous communo-fascist mindset as follows:

    A – Power at all costs, to ourselves.
    B – Means over Ends: Antinomian “end justifies the means”, inevitably degenerating to extermination of opponents by reigning officialdom’s diktat.
    C – Hate-mongering attitudes, born of frustrated narcissists’ inordinate, psycho-pathological conceit, a blanket syndrome foreclosing any objective, rational (“factual”) counter-argument or evidence whatever.

    On this basis, totalitarian power-hunger invariably advocates three themes: Divide-and-rule, or ruin; something-for-nothing; us-against-them. Since classical times (see Aeschylus, Aristophanes), this Thanatist deathwish has proceeded in three phases: “Squeegee” (take-it-or-leave-it); “Herpes” (gender-bending “free love”); and finally “Einsatz” (death-squad extermination, after Nazis’ special forces on the Ostfront vs. Soviets).

    Over history, these ghastly tropisms surface at intervals during periods of internecine conflict, societal change. Either halfway decent citizens take action, or they die.

  • Lee Moore

    Speaking for myself, I doubt that psychology has much to offer in understanding how events such as the Holocaust can and do happen. As much as I loathe Hobbes’ political prescriptions, it seems to me that Hobbes said most of what needs to be said about human psychology (relevant to the above question) in the 2nd half of Book 1 of Leviathan.

    Peterson’s psychological analysis is certainly different from Hobbes. While he accepts the idea that there is evil in every heart, he’s a firm believer in “the incorporation of the shadow” – the idea that the only good defence against that evil is to recognise it, and learn how to incorporate it, with our Jekylly side, into a capacity for violence and aggression that is under control. A capacity for evil that is merely suppressed by external forces, such as Leviathan or social pressure, leaves us naked to its power, if ever the external forces weaken. Or, likelier yet, if the external forces start making darker suggestions to us.

    According to Peterson the people who carried out the holocaust were “ordinary men.” And if you and I had been there, the odds are strongly on us being perps, not heroes. We are mostly weak creatures who have never had the opportunity to do real evil – not morally strong creatures who have learned to control our dark sides.

    Most unHobbesian of all, the psychological driver was an excess of order not the chaos of masterless men. The first thing Hitler did when he came to power was to issue a “clean up” order to German factories – a “health and safety” edict. The Jews were not an enemy, they were a disease. The motivating emotion was not fear but disgust.

  • Snorri Godhi

    While [JP] accepts the idea that there is evil in every heart, he’s a firm believer in “the incorporation of the shadow” – the idea that the only good defence against that evil is to recognise it, and learn how to incorporate it, with our Jekylly side, into a capacity for violence and aggression that is under control.

    I might well agree with this (although i’d have to read Peterson to be sure that i agree), but that is of little practical concern to me.
    It is not my concern to be sure that i do not become a mass murderer: the likelihood of that is infinitesimally small. (And not because i am more virtuous than average: just because of reality.)
    My concern is to be sure that i do not become a victim; and in as far as i can, to prevent other people from becoming victims — meaning, victims of people other than me.

    Most unHobbesian of all, the psychological driver was an excess of order not the chaos of masterless men.

    I can agree with that: Hobbes clearly did not understand the potential for Hayekian order emerging from chaos.

  • Paul Marks

    Good post – Norman Doidge is clearly correct about Jordan Peterson, and expresses himself well.

    Clovis S. – I take your point about the rapier (even though historical rapiers were, as you know, rather more effective weapons than modern ones). How about a “cut and thrust” sword from the 1600s – such as the Munich Town Guard sword, the point of balance is basically at the hilt (so you can use your fencing skills), but the blade will do more damage than a rapier tends to do – both in a thrust and in a cut.

    I agree with you that, for example, in a fight in a alehouse (Three Musketeers style – with flying bar stools and men with axes) the rapier is not correct weapon, but the 17th century cut-and-thrust sword may be.

  • Snorri Godhi

    A bit late for further comment, and somewhat off topic, but i’d like to put on record a disagreement that i have with Jordan Peterson’s claim that radical Leftists turn to Marxism because they lack structure in their lives.

    The disagreement consists in this: the people that Peterson calls “radical” “leftists” are in fact tools of the ruling class, and therefore neither radicals nor true Leftists.

    This is not to say that there is nothing to think about in Peterson’s opinion, though: in this, i probably differ from Vox Day.

  • Kristina

    All I want to say is Dr. Doidge, your grandmother was awesome! What a survivor. I just completed a paper in my Forensic Psychology graduate class about Dr. Mengele. I’ve always been fascinated by the fact that so many people followed/worked for Hitler. I admire anyone who takes the time, like JP to delve into the data from the Nazi period and Auschwitz., to try to determine why and how it happened. The plasticity of the brain can be positive and unfortunately negative too. Thank you Dr. Doidge for your hard work and curiosity. Stroke survivors like me have hope because of you and others like Paul Bach-y-Rita. Kristina

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>