The Nonsense Politics of PragerU | Big Joel

The Nonsense Politics of PragerU | Big Joel

37 thoughts on “The Nonsense Politics of PragerU | Big Joel

  1. Here are some answers to questions I imagine some might have about this video. I might add more later if I need to!!

    1) Is Burt Folsom really claiming that we ought to remember unregulated capitalism fondly in that video? Or is that a straw-man you’re creating to knock down?

    In answering this question, I think we should consider how this video is framed and what his suggestion that we ought to rethink educational practices could possibly mean. Folsom doesn’t say that the Gilded age was exploitive for many people but that Rockefeller stands out from that system as a good dude (a fact which ought to be more recognized by the academy). Rather, Folsom transparently positions Rockefeller as a great product of the times in which he lived, a time when the goodness of one man could be vastly rewarded, allowing his goodness to be widely expressed. As such, it seems obvious to me that when he says, paraphrased, “we ought to rethink our educational practices,” he’s claiming we should stop demonizing the forces that produce men like Rockefeller. Those forces are good because they produce Rockefellers, Carnegies, and Vanderbilts, and academia should stop educating otherwise. This position is functionally identical to the claim, “Unregulated capitalism ought to be remembered fondly because it was a pretty good thing.”

    2) Isn't that quote you used at the end there from Rockefeller Junior, not Senior?

    Yes! Wikipedia gives incorrect information on this and when I looked at the source, I misread what it said. I apologize. That said, John D Rockefeller Senior was aggressively anti worker's rights. He once fired a group of laborers for trying to unionize and felt all attempts to organize were simply laziness. In the case of Ludlow, Senior actively egged on Junior to respond the way he did. And, according to Junior, while tensions were rising and people freezing in the tent colonies, he took "unusual interest and satisfaction" in the events transpiring. According to Chernow (who wrote an interesting biography I'm getting most of this information from) the Ludlow Massacre actually "forced Junior to admit that his father had some antiquated views and that he must take spiritual leave of him."

    It's true that I misattributed the quote to Rockefeller and not his son, but let's be clear. They were on the same side, one raising the other to do the things he did.

    3) In his video on gratitude, Prager doesn’t just say gratitude will increase happiness, but also goodness. You’ve ignored this second claim. Why?

    For Prager in this video, “goodness” is once again defined in terms of the attainment of other values, generosity, honesty, kindness, and every other good thing. The reason I chose not to address this claim is that it once again demands the question: If not happiness, what are these values good in reference to? Do they evidence themselves? And if so, how? I already discussed this objection extensively earlier in the video, so I decided to ignore it here.

    4) You presented the canon of Western art as some homogenous cult of skepticism. I know, for a fact, that not all works of the canon present this skeptical perspective. Aren’t you cherry picking here?

    I am cherry picking, you’re right! The canon is not an object that expresses one idea, it’s a collection of works that are often in stark disagreement with each other. But if we are able to frequently locate these transgressive, skeptical impulses within the works we call “classics,” then it seems strange to me that Mac Donald would think the introduction of new ideas and critical theory are in some way a betrayal of our fundamental, western ideals. These pure ideals never existed. Western history is philosophically and ideologically tense. Let’s not pretend otherwise.

    That said, I don’t think I’m cherry picking that much. More often than not, the history of the enlightenment and beyond, the great humanist tradition that Mac Donald embraces so vehemently, absolutely is one that often rejects power and portrays a certain skepticism. From Descartes to Cervantes to Shakespeare, from Nietzsche, who asked how we could construct morality in a godless world, to Darwin, whose work questions the teleological notion that we are here for a reason distinct from natural processes, to Freud, who questioned our control over our own minds and thoughts, the most formative works of the enlightenment and post-enlightenment canon are all deeply skeptical, particularly of various forms of authority.

    5) I’ve seen many more PragerU videos than you probably have. It seems to me that what you’re describing here isn’t the unanimous position of the channel but just one trend. Doesn’t that take the steam out of your argument?

    It’s hard to see why such a thing would impact my argument. My purpose here wasn’t to examine the entire body of PragerU. Rather, I’m more interested in one specific narrative that seems quite important to the channel.

    6) You've torn down the work of PragerU without introducing any better ideas yourself. What do you think we should design policy around? Is there an objective good, and if so, how do you know?

    First, I think it's important to recognize that not all critical things have to give a better answer. PragerU has a bunch of bad ideas and it's worthwhile to say so on the face of it. Talking about my thoughts on this issue would demand another hour and a half of your time, and I don't think it'd be worth it.

    Second, and I'll keep this brief, I do think there exists an objective morality, but not one that exists outside humanity. When I say "objective morality," I mean morality relative to the human condition. In my view, there are two essential things about human nature to take into consideration when deciding if an act is right or wrong. First, the desire people have to experience good things, to have the things we want and need and to follow the plans we like (consequentialism). Second, the desire people have to be seen as ends unto themselves, to not be used as pawns or instruments (deontology). I won't be substantiating these two claims here, because it would literally take the rest of my day. I highly recommend taking an ethics class yourself, though. It's good to come to your own conclusions on these things, I think.

    7) Euthyphro discusses a pantheon of gods who are neither omniscience nor omnipotent. Prager is discussing the Christian God who not only controls all reality but also constitutes all reality. Considering that, assuming the Christian God, can't our moral facts be grounded in him?

    Well, no. It's true that if God constitutes the entire universe, then of course, any moral law that exists is, in some sense, an invention of god. That said, if God said the sun revolved around the earth, he’d be wrong. The reason for this being that although the claim “the earth revolves around the sun” might be determined by god (he created both, after all), he doesn’t decide whether the claim is or isn't true. If he wanted to change the facts, he’d have to change the orientation of the celestial bodies. If there is an objective morality and it doesn’t function in a similar way, if it’s God’s decrees, rather than facts about his creation, that ultimately determine what is moral, then morality is arbitrary. Put another way, the question is this: How would God change moral facts if he wanted to? By decreeing a change in what is good or by changing the fundamental nature of humanity. The former falls in line with Socrates' first case, the latter falls in line with his second.

  2. Oh, yeah, sure PragerU, J.D. Rockefeller was a fantastic guy.
    Y'know, except that one teeny-tiny little detail where he was literally a fucking eugenist who funded Nazi scientists.

  3. "Stop doing what you know is wrong" but what if I'm not doing something wrong but still in a situation that I am uncomfortable with.

  4. I think it's quite funny how most people think their side is always right. Especially the irony with conservatives (I say as a former conservative) they fail to see their own hypocrisy sometimes. Especially with their influence in younger generation as my own. They all complain about people getting offended and the SJW are to blame. But when you mention one thing they dont like they start to say it's all wrong and their right

  5. You give the tool too much credit to pretend like what he says is really what he means. What he says is important is just a hook to suck you in, then the real important thing is sold to you slowly, which ends up being something horrible.

  6. So, Jordan Peterson, going off your "logic", I guess the window-owner shouldn't blame the activist who threw the brick, then.

  7. Reading the comments here makes us realize how stupid/delusional people are, but the guy commenting on PragerU is great…if you want an unfunny, unintelligent version of Woody Allen.

  8. I'm really glad there is an antithesis of PragerU. I knew there's something off with them but I can't exactly uncover it, until I saw this.

  9. You completely miss the whole point. Theyre not saying that because some capitalists were good than capitalism is good, theyre saying that capitalism gives the abillity of obtaining more for the average person ,and it gives you the option of what to do with it, whereas communism would take it away for you and god knows where it'll go because its certainly not to the people.

  10. "Capitalist is fucking millennial's & the planet" – Economists & scientists.
    "People just need to fix themselves" – Peterson.

    One of these is correct, the other is a batshit crazy god fearing narcissist trying to deflect blame from capitalism unto what ever he can think of at the time. In this case, he blames you for the failures of the systems around you.

  11. Peterson is a fraud. Any academic that appears on PragerU should be stripped of their degree. They are abusing their qualifications.

  12. Gee, it's almost like PragerU doesn't want people to learn how to question the systematic oppression & disenfranchisement of vast swathes of the population under late capitalism…But I'm sure that's COMPLETELY unconnected to the fact that it's funded by fracking billionaries!

  13. @12:27 But do white men love them because they're Old Masters, or are they Old Masters because white men love them? lol

  14. Dude you must be kidding by picking Dennis Prager to criticize , why don't you attack Plan Parenthood or those 2 Muslim enemy of America Congresswoman who infiltrated our Government

  15. What I find most interesting about the Rockefeller quote is this: the thing we most remember Rockefeller for is because it's the thing that had the most historical impact on society. Him being a good father matters to only his family. Him being philanthropic matters to the charities he gave his money to and the people they helped. Him being a brutal capitalist that may well have been a part of a massacre, whose business practices were so unacceptable that legislation was passed specifically to deal with them? That matters to pretty much everyone in the US today.

    History is supposed to teach you the most important things. What PragerU wants to do is redefine what "most important" means. They want to drag in that unpleasant conservative clap-trap about "good people, therefore good deeds" nonsense, and then declare that this is the most important thing.

  16. You seem pretty uncomfortable and awkward in front of a camera but the video itself is good. It feels like when you go back to a good YouTubers old videos and it's basically the same thing but done a bit worse and it feels a bit off. Im not criticizing and I think it will be cool to see you grow as a content creatorp

  17. Big Joel, there's a Big Difference between the Greek gods of antiquity and the nature of Yahweh from Jewish faith. You should know that before comparing the judgement between the two.

  18. the only reason i eat healthy is so that i dont feel bad, so that cant be a value by pragers worldview.

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