Simplified: Jordan Peterson’s Conservative Manifesto

Renowned Canadian Psychology Professor Jordan Peterson has recently released his “A Conservative Manifesto” This document covers vast spheres of today’s socio-economic life. The need for such a manifesto according to Dr. Peterson has arisen due to upheavals created by the battles coming off from group identities and such. 

According to Manheim, the disappearance of conservative ideas can be traced back to the coming of industrialization and the onset of atomistic individualism. In the old times, social good was given primacy to the individual good, and the individual’s well-being was intrinsic to collective well-being. But the realities have changed in modern times and the four phases of the revolution have further accelerated individualism and principles akin to modern times.

Jordan Peterson called his document “A Conservative Manifesto” in opposition to another similar document “The Communist Manifesto” he cedes the way for others to come up with their conservative vision and his vision is not the last word on the idea. He emphasizes that certain principles need to be emphasized by the believers in conservatism. According to him if enough assertion is given the crisis plaguing our society can be put to the beginning of a cure. Such principles have been provided by our forbearers and are many but some crucially necessary listed by Dr. Peterson include humility, liberty, autonomy, truth, agency, identity, merit, responsibility, tradition, community, stewardship, justice, and unity. 

We shall take what is the meaning of these principles in literal as well as what Dr. Peterson wants to convey by them.

1. Humility:

The quality or condition of being humble; modest opinion or estimate of one’s importance, rank, etc. 

He bases humility on the whole exercise and endeavor of learning, it’s the opponent of arrogance and with humility, one acknowledges the value of others’ opinions. humility is the precondition for learning and growth in life. With humility would come the belief that there is nothing finality in learning and that learning is the process of evolution and only with time, one keeps on getting better in life.

2. Liberty:

Freedom from control, interference, obligation, restriction, hampering conditions, etc.; power or right of doing, thinking, speaking, etc., according to choice.     

Liberty being a vast and important idea has remained at the core of human endeavor. Liberty enables individuals to think freely and dive out of any constraints and produce ideas and objects suited in the best way for the present. No society or civilization can function without liberty and two utmost principles “liberty of thought” and “liberty of expressing” those thoughts and these apply to the realms of both private as well as the public. 

3. Autonomy:

Independence or freedom, as of the will or one’s actions.

 In Peterson’s worldview autonomy of the self emanates from the idea of liberty, autonomy here implies that one is not associated with groups in which one has surrendered his identity and immersed his thinking to that of the collective. Autonomy keeps any kind of collectivism personifying in the form of any collectivist rules in check. The societal moorings also remain in check. As long as the individual is autonomous in himself he shall see the fruition of growth and development.

4. Truth:

A verified or indisputable fact, proposition, principle, or the like.

Truth for Peterson means it can be subjective concerning human society and there could be many reasons for one phenomenon, what matters more is the varying degree of all those reasons and one has to factor in all the factors involved in the social realities. Dr. Peterson also emphasizes that for the individual to be truthful means to humbly have the capability of listening to diverse views and reaching out to all segments of the differentiation in any setup. 

5. Agency:

The capacity for human beings to make choices and to assert those choices.

 It is normally contrasted to natural forces, which are causes involving only unthinking deterministic processes. Agency for Dr. Peterson’s Conservative manifesto implies that human beings believe in the fact that humans have an individual identity and should be recognized as such. Using this Agency, humans take their social decisions in a thought-out manner, these decisions range from adventure towards greatness, the wish to marry, the desire to have a family, and the willingness to shoulder responsibility.

6. Identity:

Condition or character as to who a person or what a thing is; the qualities, beliefs, etc., that distinguish or identify a person or thing.

It’s the quality of an individual built over some time by the practices done by him. If done in the right manner one develops an identity of trustworthy, punctual, disciplined, and more. It molds the moral outlook and over some time permanently attaches to the personality of the individual. 

7. Merit:

Something that deserves or justifies a reward or commendation; a commendable quality, act, etc.

Humans have varied qualities and limitations. Intellect is now widely accepted as the Gift of God, once bestowed people hone that intellect, go through the right training, and master the skill coming out of the particular intellect. Our societies and governments must be in a position to respect merit and do the right thing with merit. It should be awarded if it deems an award and recognition and merit must be separated from the chaff. There is no shame in separating weed from the chaff and if societies move towards building systems and mechanisms where merit is not recognized and mixed with chaff, it starts towards general degeneration. 

8. Responsibility:

The state or fact of being responsible, answerable, or accountable for something within one’s power, control, or management.

The presence of certain duties, goals, and objectives brings responsibility into individuals’ lives. Responsibility in this sense is the antidote to nihilism and epicureanism. Personal responsibility, social to other beings, marriage, family, civic engagement, and citizenship give certain purposes and they must be appreciated and individuals are to be encouraged to take them up.

9. Community:

A social, religious, occupational, or other group sharing common characteristics or interests and perceived or perceiving itself as distinct in some respect from the larger society within which it exists.

Human beings are social animals that draw themselves naturally to some communities with which they find any kind of alignment and commonality. With community, humans find resonance and can relate to and share human feelings. Individual identities are important but the fruition of those identities can only be materialized in communities. Communities provide a sense of belonging and stop the narcissistic feelings of humans. They provide the important aspects of bonding and love in tougher times of trial and tragedy.

10. Stewardship:

The responsible overseeing and protection of something considered worth caring for and preserving.

We must value the traditions and wisdom that have been passed onto us from our forebears. Conservatives must understand the need of preserving and extending the treasures of the historical past. In present times these treasures should be valued, guided, maintained, and passed on to the next generations. It’s of no use to engage in thoughtless condemnation of tradition and see the events of the past with a modern lens putting them to the test of modern political correctness. 

11. Justice:

Rightfulness or lawfulness, as of a claim or title; justness of ground or reason.

In the Aristotelian sense, Justice signifies treating Equals, Equally, and Unequals, Unequally. In no regard two equal and unequal be treated at par. The defeating trajectory begins when this notion of justice is trampled and corruption of any sort is added. Hence justice in rewards, reinforcements of laws, and punishments must be done through the process of rationality. This notion of justice demands constant separation of wheat from the chaff, this system of justice has been prevalent since the beginning of civilization in punitive and distributive notions of justice.

12. Tradition:

The handing down of statements, beliefs, legends, customs, information, etc., from generation to generation, especially by word of mouth or by practice.

Our societies today have inherited a lot from our past, there is continuity in the way our society is structured, law-making mechanisms are provided, the way governments work and the adjudication is done by the judiciary. The tradition of the past must not be compromised for something shiny and new. The Abrahamic tradition provided by our forbearers has value and the strength of standing the tests of times. 

13. Unity:

The state or fact of being united or combined into one, as of the parts of a whole; unification.

Conservatives should focus on the idea of banding together as civilizations have achieved and attained their best only when they were united and faced the worst of unexpected chaos with united might. Disunity anywhere at any level is certain to bring doom and disarray and social catastrophe. It is untrue that unity can be brought temporarily and there is the least chance of bringing any kind of unity with substantial ideation. Unity based on the values of tradition, brotherhood, and community is more attuned to last long.

The vast coverage of principles that Jordan Peterson associates with the Conservative manifesto, he calls are necessary for the restoration of abdicated values of the old times. These are needed concerning society today having lost that sheen and individuals in these testing times craving for direction, guidance, and re linkage to their past and being associated with what their for bearers have achieved.

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