Richard Wolff responds to Jordan B. Peterson

Richard Wolff responds to Jordan B. Peterson

Through the magic of the internet, it is possible for me to respond to some things that were said by a Canadian psychologist by
the name of Jordan Peterson, who teaches at the University of Toronto. I’m not going to be talking about
the psychology he teaches, or that he preaches, because that’s not my area of expertise, just as it’s clear that Marxism is not his. However, he has made
statements about Marxism — despite not knowing
very much about it, as is evident from what he says — and these have included daring
Marxists to debate with him. (Just for the record:
anytime, anywhere, as long as we can work out the details. No problem at this end.) So what is it that’s wrong with what Mr. Peterson has
to say about Marxism? Well, it’s partly that he’s
recycling old Cold War stuff. The Cold War was over in 1989. Most of us have moved on
around the world. Mr. Peterson seems to be stuck. And he’s stuck with
one of the oldest kinds of arguments imaginable, telling us that we should
not be interested in Marxism — in fact, it’s kind of immoral,
in his words, to be interested in Marxism — in view of what Stalin
did in Soviet Russia. Well, OK, Stalin did terrible
things in Soviet Russia. However, Marxism exists in every country on the face of the earth. It’s been going on for 150 years, and a lot more than
what happened in Russia under Stalin over a
period of 15 or 20 years has to be taken into account if you’re going to make
an assessment of Marxism. To use the one example
that is really horrible over there as the
judgment on Marxism would be about the
same sense as saying Christianity should be dismissed
because of the Catholic Inquisition or the destruction of the
Native American population by Christians, or the Holocaust against Jews, gays, and so forth by Christians in Germany, and on and on and on. Two world wars by
capitalist Christian countries fighting each other may all qualify for the kinds of arguments
Mr. Peterson makes. We don’t make those kinds of arguments because they make no sense, and Mr. Peterson ought not to do that with Marxism. The only other thing to say is he seems to reduce Marxism, when he actually talks about it, to the problem of inequality — that some people are
rich, and others are poor — and he deals with that by
the very sophisticated notion that poor people’s anger at the rich is their envy of the success. This is an insult to those folks who are critical of inequality, but apparently Mr. Peterson
doesn’t worry about that. So let’s respond. Inequality is indeed a social problem, but it has nothing particularly
to do with Marxism. People have been talking about
the problem of inequality for thousands of years before
there ever was a Karl Marx, or a Marxism. The whole point of Marxism was to explain why inequality under
capitalism didn’t go away. And let’s remind everybody: Capitalism comes into the world in the French and American revolutions,
talking about being better than feudalism because under capitalism, you see, we are free, we are equal, we are democratic, and all the rest of it. Capitalism was to bring, in the words of the
French Revolution, liberty, equality,
and fraternity. Well, as you know, and I know, and even Mr. Peterson must know, we have capitalism — we sure do — but we don’t have freedom, equality, and fraternity. Not even close. Mr. Peterson’s own speech is
an indication of that. So the Marxists have always said, “Why is it that? Why do we not have the equality
that capitalism promised?” And the answer
is in the analysis of capitalism, the way in which
capitalism organizes society with employers and employees. The kind of parallel to lords and serfs, and masters and slaves, such that the employees
produce the wealth that the capitalists get into their hands, thereby becoming wealthier while the mass of the
working people are excluded from the very surplus their
creativity puts on this earth. In other words, there’s an explanation. If Mr. Peterson understood that, his critique of capitalism might address that explanation. Instead, he acts as though
there is no explanation, that Marxism is about the envy of the poor against the rich. With this caricature,
with this straw man, which he knocks down with gusto, he thinks he’s actually
done something. For those who know
something about Marxism, listening to him is embarrassing.

100 thoughts on “Richard Wolff responds to Jordan B. Peterson

  1. J. Peterson has only one tool in his tool box: Psychology, with that he pretends to understand and explain everything on earth.

  2. 1. [01:00] It's not that you're not allowed to be interested in Marxism, it's about promoting Marxism/Communism as a valid way of government that is wrong. Just like you can be a history nerd interested in Nazi Germany, as long as you don't actually promote bringing back fascism.
    2. [01:45] Actually the Christian argument does make sense, which is why we separated the church from state long ago.
    3. [02:00] Absolutely false and misinformed. Turkey isn't Christian, China isn't christian, Japan isn't christian, soviet communism isn't Christian, and yet there were all belligerents in the world wars. And some countries were obviously not capitalist either.
    4. [02:35] Wrong, to correct you the notion is that: 'Socialists don't have sympathy for the poor, they just hate the rich' which was coined by Orwell and which addressed Socialist Bourgeoisie intelligentsia, not poor people. Your paraphrase isn't even close.
    5. [ 03:15] Capitalism is not something that was 'ushered in' after revolution with political promises about freedom and equality, that's just completely misleading statement.
    6. [04:40] Dude doesn't realize all his own arguments have been strawmans yet thinks he has dissed Peterson in a 5 minute video, fucking embarrassing indeed.

    Dislike Peterson all you want but I would advice against listening to this idiot just the same.

  3. Would Marxism or capitalism have a greater tendency towards nepotism. Without free and open competition for superior positions there would be less equality. In a government bureaucracy I think there is less competition than in private enterprise. But I could be wrong. As there is more consolidation there is less competition. Anyway utopia ain't happening anytime soon.

  4. I don’t agree with many Jordan views but also is more embarrasing listening people wanting Marxism, a sistem that always have been by force and violence and that by sorprise bring a hugeee difference from the one in the Goverment and the civils

  5. From the very first time I saw Peterson speak (on YouTube not in person), I disliked him because he comes across as arrogant and as a know-it-all. But Prof. Wolf's answer to Peterson tells me my impression of Peterson was correct.

  6. ok i listened to the video again. seems like we have a cult of marxism. because wolff and all the other marxists are not quoting peterson but cutting and pasting and paraphrasing . it is a good tactic to throw confusion on the topic. like the bit about being envious of the rich was said regarding the New Democratic Party not Marxism. he found party members not really wanting to help the poor so much as bringing down the rich.

  7. Marx's whole theory rests on the labor theory of value. A product derived it's value from the amount of labor inputted. So in essence when the company sells the product and receives a profit and the capitalist keeps it for themselves they have stolen the value from the laborers. This is very WRONG. Value is subjective and has nothing to do with the amount of labor inputted. You could dig a big whole all day and if no one finds it useful it will not earn a sale. The capitalist is not stealing the profit. The profit is being returned to capital which the capitalist had to purchase in order to start the business. If it fails he/she takes the losses and not the workers. The capitalist serves a very important function by taking the risk.

  8. But what about the "cultural marxism" that is behind transgenderism and women who speak their mind, which is a zionist plot to destroy western civilization?

    Sorry, I was channeling my inner, Peterson acolyte. These people are called "Petersons" or "Sons of Peter".

  9. it finally occurs to me that wolff needs to put his money where his mouth is (as the saying goes). got an election coming up. put down some money and put yourself up as a marxist candidate. use your expertise and presentation skills to show the ordinary joe that marxism can help them in practical ways not just on the debating floor.,

  10. Marxism is a phylosophy of despair just like socialism, nazis were not christian hitler was a atheist. A far left leaning liberal.

  11. Dam. Everyone is stupider now. Take the top 4 murderous nations ever. 3 of them are communists countries . Respond to my comment pussy.

  12. As long as Marxism is an academic subject, taught, investigated and debated by people like Professor Wolff then there is no real problem. It is when politicians etc attempt to put it into practice that the mass of the people suffer. Marxist derived ideas have been tested in Russia, China, large parts of Southeast Asia, Africa, South America and elsewhere and the result has always been the same; the average worker, peasant etc has suffered. There has never been a situation where large numbers of people fled to a Marxist paradise to escape the evils of capitalism, but there are many examples of the reverse. Perhaps Professor Wolff would like to explain why that is?

  13. If Stalin is a communist, (after killing those who made the Russian Revolution and surely Marx if he could) then I am Bambi. And the leaders of North Korea are communists? the grandfather, the son and the grandson who govern? I would say it is a hereditary monarchy. But if someone calls that communism, it is in an interested way, by manipulation.

  14. Off to a bad start professor. Cold War ended in 1991, not 1989. If I was to do a video on fascism and say that World War II ended in 1947, my credibility on the subject would be lost. Just saying.

  15. Mr. Peterson is miles ahead of you. You have a long way to go within yourself before you have any chance to understand him.

  16. Capitalism does not promise equality. Under a free system people will inherently be different because no one is the same and never will be but Marxism ignores that completely

  17. Well, let's look at some Marxist/Communist countries – North Korea and Cuba come to mind. Such wonderful workers' paradises…. So why don't you move to one ? I remember my old high school history teacher, a retired Army colonel. He quoted Marx – "from each according to his ability, to each according to his need". He then said forget it – it doesn't work. There was an old joke in the Soviet Union, "they pretend to pay us, so we pretend to work". Sorry Richard Wolff, but the horse you're beating died in 1989. Capitalism works. Period. It allows innovation, progress. Bureaucratic systems like communism stifle human progress

  18. Moron, there's a difference between equality of opportunity and equality of outcomes. Capitalism never had the goal of equality of outcomes, only Marxist tyrants promise equality of outcomes and never delivers.

  19. Wolffs' analysis = stupid.

    1. Marxism has never once not resulted in tyranny, the soviet union is not the only example.
    2. Only tyrannical (marxist) governments promise equality of outcomes, democracies only promise the equality of opportunity.

  20. Bro, the reason the Marxists are asserting that equality hasn't been realized is that liberals and marxists have different standards for determining what "equality" is. You're looking for X, and find yourself dissatisfied … but the liberals are looking for Y, and it's already been obtained.

  21. Capitalism creates inequality? Should we just give everyone an “A” in college regardless of effort or testing? Lol. Dumbshit richard Wolff.

  22. Jordan Peterson criticism of poor people envying the rich people is like saying slaves used to envy their Lord's liberty and wealth. This is Neo anglo-imperialism way of thinking, maybe we can start mentioning the "Anglo Saxon disease" or the "American (Canadian) way of life" and "democracy wars, that can teach us about where the problems really come from.

  23. Mr Wolff, your entire argument is false based on your assessment that employers and employees is the same as master and slave or lord and serf. Those two things have no choice, period. Furthermore, in both of those dynamics, the serf can never become the lord or slave the master.

    As for the lack of liberty and equality to which you are referring, I think you need to define what liberty and equality are. I have a feeling your definitions are vastly different than the definitions of those who framed Constitution.

  24. Marxist says Employers exploit the poor because starvation!!!

    So, what you’re saying is that we’re now so rich that starvation isn’t the norm and that’s what your complaining about!?

    Before capitalism
    I work every hour of the day that I’m not sleeping off my exhaustion and pray that I can make ends meet.

    After capitalism
    I work 40 hours a week and can afford food, housing, other basic necessities, and often have some leftover for luxuries.

    Employer employee relationship in the Marxist world

    Employer: “You must work for me for this pittance or you will starve!! Muahahahahahaha”

    Real world relationship
    Employer “I have this stuff and I’ll pay you to use it to make your work more profitable if you agree to give me part of that profit.”

    Literally, they are paying you to make your work more effective. Without employers…. we go back to the subsistence economy where everyone was barely surviving.

    Yeah… no thanks

  25. Emotions of a jeaouls bitch! Marxism sucks! Just looks the results at the countries infected by such a virus! Please get well and do not envy people just because they know better than you! 😂

  26. Money is not just a reward and an incentive. It is also the means by which growth and capital are achieved.

    If your income drops so low that you cannot afford the necessary goods and services for growth and development at current market prices, your needs and desires do not translate into market demand, and production drops accordingly.

    It seems to me that UBI is a mechanism by which we can ensure that all citizens have the necessary income for some minimum amount of development and growth at current market prices. Without it, people end up stuck in poverty and are no longer able to participate in capitalism. They cannot re-tool and re-train, which would benefit everyone.

    Or if they cannot re-train due to automation of their skill set and inability to adapt, at least they wouldn't stagnate in poverty forever, which defeats the purpose of automation in the first place.

    Some small percentage of growth should always be shared.

    We dream of a world where robots enable freedom, not take freedom away by out-competing us. The solution would be to give everyone a share of the profits — as long the the winners of the game still get more of it, and have no limit on growth, preserving the capitalist incentive structure.

  27. Every single system the west knows creates inequality, as they work as an operative processes, capitalism is a system that creates wealth AS WELL AS inequality and so as the rich get richer, the poor get richer too. And that is JP's arguement for capitalism.
    That, and 1:20 , Marxism does not exist in every country on the face of earth. Yes it exists as an IDEA, in discussions. In practice and in it's relatively purer form well…it only existed in disasters like the USSR and currently North Korea etc.
    I mean correct me if i'm wrong

  28. wow i thought this might actually have substance. "Listen to me say something about someone who doesnt know the topic even though I havent seen enough of him to judge whether he knows the topic"…….. cool.

  29. Lots of people want to debate Marxists and other leftists, but they never seem to want to debate you… … …

    I wonder why?

  30. You suggest we should forget about the Cold War in the beginning? We've 'moved on' and we should? What a bloody ignorant statement, we need to look at history or we are 'doomed to repeat it'.

  31. Only arrogance would lead the money wealthy that they are so envied. Peterson totally supports the hierarchy of pathological sadistic social darwinism

  32. The Catholic Church should be dismisses for its atrocities and crimes against humanity just like socialism/communism/Marxism is a damned ideology because of its crimes against humanity.

    Inequality is inherent in nature. Get over it.

    We don’t have capitalism, we have socialism for corporations and banks thanks to central banking and the federal reserve.

    So yes, Marxism should be resisted because it is a dangerous idea that doesn’t allow for individual freedom and autonomy.

  33. Thank you Professor Wolff. Peterson is a misogynist as well. No wonder his wife got soooo sick sooo early in her life. He is arrogant and is making everything worse.

  34. We certainly do have freedom, and we do have equality, defined as equality of OPPORTUNITY. Thre problem for Wolff is that he wants equality of opportunity to result in equality of productivity (meaning income), and that is not realistic, because we are not born with equality of talent, equality of skill, or equality of ambition. Those inequalities, over which we have no control, will always and inevitably produce INEQUALITY of productivity (income).

  35. What are the good examples of Marxism in practice? Who, where, when was Marxism put into practice properly and without disaster?

  36. Listen Wolff, the lobsters have been around for a billion years and they haven't evolved a communist utopia yet, so it ain't gonna happen.

  37. Inequality appears to be based on the rich becoming rich via the energies of the poor. And to keep them poor is part of the way in which they perpetuate that relationship. This is not about envy but terrible injustice.

  38. He does offer a few of the multiple factors that contribute to that problem, actually. The most compelling is the pareto to distribution. I'd be interested in the Marxists take on the pareto distribution. Maybe you could talk a little bit about that sometime? I find your talks compelling, even though I'm not a marxist. Any honest capitalist (I like to think that includes me) can't deny that marxism presents alot of good criticism about capitalism.

  39. Míster! Come to Argentina, Venezuela, Bolivia or Uruguay. ANY PLACE IN LATIN AMERICA who prove ANY idea from the left, make more inequiality and less freedom.
    You claim as a victim, has many the argetinian politics, and execute perfectly your agenda.
    But people who really lives under marxist or the "neo – marxist" ideas knows the misery who bring with that non-señales ideas.
    Clean your own room! And then t alk about the room of others.

  40. True to form Wolff is once again lying. Peterson's critic is not just about Stalin, but about all tyrants in Marxist-run societies. Every country run by Marxist parties has this problem, and there are no examples of Marxist dominated societies which are democracies.

  41. 'Professor Peterson' – why is this man so boorish that he cannot use the Professor's proper title, as recognised by other scholars in his field?

  42. French Revolution: Liberty, Equality, Brotherhood
    American Revolution: Life, Liberty, Pursuit of Happiness or Liberty, E Pluribus Unum (out of many, one).

    The one key difference is that the French wanted EQUALITY, in more than just everyone is free to choose. The American revolution retained the individual as sovereign, holding these truths to be self-evident, rather than imposed on the world by government. The very nature of the French revolution, the way in which it was won and what happened after, speaks volumes about its reality. It was never about freedom, just about power. We can also look at the documents produced by each revolution. Which one remains to this day? Which gives the government very specific, limited powers that cannot be expanded but through an amendment? Which holds the individual as its own sovereign entity above all else?

    It is telling that he speaks only of the French revolution, not of the American, but still ties them together as if they were fighting for the same thing. Fighting tyrants, yes. Fighting for the same values, not in the least.

  43. "As if there is no explanation…"Really? Are you kidding me? It is the NATURE OF LIFE! Inequality is everywhere in nature, and yet species that seem unequal and should be completely gone are still here. Because they fill a niche. Capitalism, unlike any other system created to govern economics, breaks the barriers between people who were born poor to become rich by allowing them the FREEDOM to use their inequality to find their niche. Not everyone can be basketball players or football players. Not everyone can be professors or entrepreneurs. Not everyone can be chefs or business owners. But EVERYONE can be SOMETHING and capitalism allows you to SELL what you are good at, not what you've been stuck with because of your birth.

  44. Professor Wolfe. I could not help notice how you dismissed Stalin as if his mark on history was of little consequence. Stalin was evil as was Lenin before him. They had an axe to grind . They found it in Marx’s work when he wrote. “The Communist Manifesto “ This was the guidelines for men such as Lenin , Stalin, Moa, Pol Pot and the rest to rule their people , their Nation with an Iron Fist. If anyone knows their history as Dr Peterson does and he would know a sociopath when he sees one. As for Marx , he was another one with an axe to grind. He may well have noticed the bargaining gap between the classes, but he did not love the poor he just hated the rich, in my opinion he and his followers Lenin etc are all cut from the same cloth. Capitalism may not be a perfect system but it allows the individual to be free to make something of his or her own life. Communism, Socialism, Fascism these are the opposite. No thanks!!!

  45. yea cause history means nothing appearently, this is complete foolishness how about move to a marxist state then, those with the nuts to do that will be back in no time

  46. One thing is shure…Jordan Peterson never lived in country where socialism was not some intelectual idea but living reallity…In socialist Yugoslavia that was: secure job for every human being, dignity and fair possibility for everybody, high quality health insurance, free education from primary school to Phd, pensions, children day care, maternity leaves, great music, sport, art, culture, all founded with state many, FREE apartments for workers built by big companies, strong industry, little or no inequalities, strong "middle" class, all and all good loking society…Now for the last 30 years we have capitalism…Total disaster…Croatia is poorest country in EU and it was most prosperus part of planet between Italy and Vladivostok as part of Yugoslavia …Inaquality, complete degration of society in every possible way, intelectual, spiritual and material, 500 000 people left country in recent years, unenployment from 15-17%, complete, complete decline in every, every imaginable and possible way…I don' t need Marx or Peterson…I have my own two eyes…Human being is just not made to survive capitalistic paradigm..It is just slavery in diferent package…

  47. Even as a Socialist, I enjoy his talks on religious topics – but every time he mentions Marxism, he‘s just showing that he knows as much about it as I do about brain surgery.

  48. I always believed peterson is a self inflated windbag that is too stoic to listen to another…and he is getting wealthy off his rhetoric….kinda feel bad for his students

  49. No facts here, really. Merely opinions being supported with some rather truistic assertions that I'm sure Peterson would agree with, by the way. For one, the sole criticism on capitalism here is based on the idea that it doesn't grant some arbitrary and idealistic, even metaphysic standard of "freedom" that it had allegedly promised. What is "freedom"? Being able to do whatever you want, or – to give a bit more economic twist – to have access to however many resources you would like? That seems like a sociologically and economically useless notion to adopt. On the other hand, Milton Friedman said many years ago that capitalism is a necessary condition for freedom (in a realistic sense, more aligned with the notion of the pursuit of the individual interests), but NOT a sufficient condition. So, basically another straw man. The fact that some people would come to this uninformative (not even misinformative, as there is basically no information being provided) response and say "Hah, Wolff wins, Peterson loses!" is pathetic to witness.

  50. I get that it's a 5 minute video, and that it's difficult to go into any sort of detail in that time, but he paints with such broad strokes here that it's hard to take him seriously.

  51. Wait.. I thought this guy was the preeminent Marxist scholar? Why is he so rote and perfunctory in his argument? He sounds like a more bass-y Bernie Sanders. Honestly, when I hear a more compelling argument for Marxism, I'll listen, but they always parrot the same talking points. It's so boring.

  52. Inequality has very little to do with capitalism OR marxism. Inequality stems from the fact that people are born with massive inequality – inequality of talent, inequality of skill, inequality of ambition, etc. Why are people suprised when all that innate inequality leads to inequality of income (production) and inequality of wealth?

  53. Peterson is a Randite, a follower of Ayn Rand. One with absolutely no imagination. It's really sad. He makes Trump sound intelligent.

  54. Ever notice how only obscure professors in cushy tenured university positions actually take the Labor Theory of Value seriously?

  55. Richard Wolff may be right, or left ( excuse the pun) but historically speaking, I’m guessing free thinkers such as he, or Peterson, wouldn’t be around for very long in a communist state

  56. I enjoyed your talk in google and would like to hear more. but I don’t think you have read or heard enough of peterson because your take on his point of view is too simple. would have loved a longer talk. I think it would do much good to all if you and peterson could talk about equality of outcome VS equality of opportunity, plus other things. thanks for all the effort. peace

  57. Dismissing Marxism because of Mao or Stalin is like dismissing capitalism because of slavery or any of the capitalist destruction of Imperialism around the world.

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