Jordan Peterson: Why Globalism Fails and Nationalism is Relatable

Jordan B Peterson (born June 12, 1962) is a Canadian clinical psychologist and professor of psychology at the University of Toronto.

This is part of his Biblical Series VIII: The Phenomenology of the Divine and he is talking about globalism and why large systems fail. Full video quoted under fair use:

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and so in 2008 when the politician said too big to fail they got something truly backwards as far as I can tell and that was it was a reverse the statement was reversed it should have been so big it had to fail and that’s what I think the story of the Tower of Babel is about it’s it’s a warning against the expansion of the system until it encompasses everything it’s a warning against totalitarian presumption so what happens for example when people set out to build the Tower of Babel as they want to build a structure that reaches to heaven right so the idea is that it can it can it can replace it can replace the role of God it’s something like that it can erase the distinction between earth and heaven and so there’s a utopian kind of vision there as well as we can build a structure that’s so large and encompassing that that that it can replace heaven itself not too interesting the fact that that doesn’t work and that God objects to it is also extraordinarily interesting and it’s an indication to me of the unbelievable profundity of these stories it’s like I think one thing we should have learned from the 20th century but of course didn’t was that there’s something extraordinary dangerous about totalitarian utopian visions at something Dostoyevsky wrote about by the way in his great book notes from underground because dossiers kids figured out by the early 1900’s that there was something very very pathological about a utopian vision of perfection that it was profoundly anti-human and and notes in notes from underground he demolishes the notion of utopia one of the things he says that I loved it’s so brilliant so imagine that you brought the socialist utopia into being and Dostoyevsky says and that human beings had nothing to do except eat drink and busy themselves with the continuation of the species he said that the first thing that would happen under circumstances like that would be that human beings would go mad and break the system smash it just so that something unexpected and crazy could happen because human beings don’t want youto be in comfort and certainty they want adventure and chaos and uncertainty and so that the very notion of a utopia was anti human because we’re not built for static utopia were built for a dynamic situation where there’s demands placed on us and where there’s the optimal amount of uncertainty well we know what happened in the 20th century as a consequence of the widespread promulgation of utopian schemes and what happened was a ham on a scale that had never been matched in the entire history of humanity and that’s really saying something because there was plenty of mayhem before the 20th century I guess there wasn’t as much industrial clout behind it and so so early you see so early in the biblical narrative you have a warning against hubris and and some indication that properly functioning systems have an appropriate scale I read an article in The Economist magazine this week about the rise of nationalist movements all over the world as a counterbalance to globalization maybe its most marketed with the European Economic Community and The Economist writers were curious about why that counter movement has been developing but it seems to me that it’s also a Tower of Babel phenomena is that maybe this is most evident in the European Economic Community to bring all of that multiplicity under the what would you call it under the umbrella of a single unity is to simultaneously erect a system where the top is so far from the bottom that the bottom has no connection to the top you know your your your social systems have to be large enough so they protect you but small enough so that you have a place in them and it seems to me perhaps that’s what’s happened in in places like the EEC is that the distance between the typical citizen and the bureaucracy that runs the entire structure has got so great that it’s an element of destabilization in and of itself and so people revert back to say nationalistic identities because it’s something that they can relate to it there’s a there’s a history there and a shared identity a genuine identity an identity of language and tradition it’s not an artificial imposition from the top an artificial abstract imposition in in the Egyptian creation myth the version I’m from the most familiar with in the previous creation that’s an older one the immense of Damian creation myth mostly what you see menacing Humanity is tile Matt she’s the dragon of chaos and so that’s nature it’s really it’s really mother nature red in tooth and claw but by the time the Egyptians come along it isn’t only nature that threatens humanity it’s the social structure itself and so the Egyptians had two deities that represented the social structure and one was Osiris who was like the spirit of the Father he was a great hero who established Egypt but became old and and willfully blind and and and and senile and he had an evil brother named Seth and Seth was always conspiring to overthrow him and because Osiris ignored him long enough Seth did overthrown chopped him into pieces and distributed all around the kingdom and his son Horus had to come back and fight Cyrus his son Horus had to come back and defeat Seth to take the kingdom back now how that story ends but the Egyptians seem to have realized maybe because they had become bureaucratized to quite a substantial degree that it wasn’t only nature that threatened humankind it was also the proclivity of human organizations to become too large too unwieldy too deceitful and to willfully blind and therefore liable to collapse and again I see echoes of that in this story of the Tower of Babel so it’s a calling for a kind of humility of social engineering one of the other things I’ve learned as a social scientist and I’ve been warned about this by I would say great social scientists that you want to be very careful about doing large-scale experimentation with large-scale systems because the probability that if you implement a scheme in a large-scale social system that that scheme will have the result you intended is negligible what will happen will be something that you don’t intend and even worse something that works at counter purposes to your original intent and so and that makes sense because if you have a very very complex system and you perturb it the probability that you can predict the consequence of the perturbation is extraordinary low obviously if the system works though you think you understand it because it works and so you think it’s simpler than it actually is and so then you think that your model of it is correct and then you think that your manipulation of the model which produces the outcome you model will be the outcome that’s actually produced in the world that doesn’t work at all I thought about that an awful lot thinking about how to remediate social systems because obviously they need careful attention and adjustment and it struck me that the proper strategy for implementing social change is to stay within your domain of confidence and that requires humility which is a virtue that is never promoted in modern culture I would say it’s it’s a virtue that you can hardly even talk about but humility means you’re probably not as smart as you think you are and you should be careful and so then the question might be well okay you should be careful but perhaps you still want to do good you want to make some positive changes how can you be careful and do good and then I would say well you try not to step outside of the boundaries of your competence and you start small and you start with things that you actually could adjust that you actually do understand that you actually could fix I mentioned you at one point that one of the things Carl Jung said was that modern men don’t see God because they don’t look low enough it’s a very interesting phrase and one of the things that I’ve been promoting I suppose online is the idea that you should restrict your attempts to fix things to what’s at hand so there’s probably things about you that you could fix right things that you know that aren’t right not anyone else’s opinion your own opinion that aren’t right you can fix them maybe there’s some things that you could adjust in your family that gets hard you have to have your act together a lot before you can start to adjust your family because things can kick back on you really hard and you think well it’s hard to put yourself together it’s really hard to put your family together why the hell do you think you can put the world together right because obviously the world is more complicated than you and your family and so if you if you’re stymied in your attempts even to set your own house in order which of course you are then you would think that what that would do would be to make you very very leery about announcing your broad-scale plans for social revolution well it’s a peculiar thing because that isn’t how it works because people are much more likely to announce their plans for broad scale social revolution than they are to try to set themselves straight or to set their family straight and I think the reason for that is that as soon as they try to set themselves straight or their families the system Italy kicks back at them right instantly whereas if they announced their plans for large-scale social revolution the lag between the announcement and the kickback is so long that they don’t recognize that there’s any error there and so you know you can get away with being wrong if if nothing falls on you for a while and so and it’s also an incitement to hubris because you can now see your your plans for large-scale social revolution and stand back and you don’t get hit by lightning and you think well I might be right even though you’re not you’re seriously not right I might be right and then you think well how wonderful is that especially if you could do it without any real effort and I really do think fundamentally I believe that that’s where the universities teach students now that’s what they teach them to do I really believe that and I think it’s absolutely appalling

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