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Protest against Jordan Peterson in Berlin: This is how his supporters tick

The Canadian psychologist and bestselling author appeared in Germany for the first time. Why do so many people want to listen to him, and why are they mainly young men? We asked her.

The balance between order and chaos – this motif runs like a red thread through Peterson’s work.

Don Arnold/WireImage/Getty

Because ideology is one of Jordan Peterson’s favorite topics, he has repeatedly brought up Germany and National Socialism for years. The Canadian psychologist and author’s tours have taken him around the world; but there was never a stop in Germany – until this Thursday. The 60-year-old spoke in the fully occupied Berlin Tempodrom; he had performed in Zurich the night before. Tickets for the better ranks cost almost 80 euros in Berlin.

With his books and YouTube videos, Peterson reaches a huge audience worldwide. His mostly young and male followers see him as a figurehead in the fight against political correctness and cancel culture, his critics describe him as a misogynistic right wing.

The formation of camps could also be experienced in the German capital. Young leftists protested against Peterson’s appearance in front of the Tempodrom. It’s been like this for years; the confrontation made Peterson great. In 2016, he protested against a transgender law enacted in his native Canada. Peterson did not want the state to tell him how to approach trans people. He sought the public and quickly became popular on the Internet.

Why do so many young people still want to listen to him today? We asked around:

No answer – that can also be sovereign

Alina, 19 years old. “I was just interested in whether he could also deliver live like in the videos on the internet. I also wanted to know what he says about totalitarian systems. Not much was added to that, but of course it’s difficult to do justice to everything; he speaks and writes on a wide range of topics. I particularly liked the moment when he was asked from the audience what psychological advice he would give to a young man being drafted into the Russian army for the war against Ukraine. After a moment’s thought, he declined the answer, probably because he couldn’t think of anything relevant. I found that sovereign. »

Someone who only wants the best for me

Aaron (right) became aware of Jordan Peterson on Youtube.  He has no sympathy for the demonstrators who call the Canadian a Nazi.

Aaron (right) became aware of Jordan Peterson on Youtube. He has no sympathy for the demonstrators who call the Canadian a Nazi.

NZZ

Aaron, 26 years. “I became aware of him on YouTube. When I listen to him, I always have the feeling that there is someone who understands me – who only wants the best for me and other people. I don’t understand why so many are demonstrating against him here. Yes, Jordan Peterson is not an enemy of capitalism. Perhaps I can understand why people are offended by this. But all the other allegations – he is a Nazi and a misogynist – I have zero understanding for that.”

The state shouldn’t dictate what I can say

Osman, 37 years old, from Munich. “I agree with a lot of what Peterson says. But not everything. I just throw away what I don’t like. For example, I like his approach that the state shouldn’t forbid what you say. As an artist, I am constantly confronted with this. When I perform today, I have to gender – even if my personal opinion is different. His sentence also helped me a lot: Be the person at your father’s funeral that everyone can lean on in their grief and suffering. When my father died early, I had to wash him according to Islamic law. I would have done that anyway. But Jordan Peterson prepared me for it.”

Ticket bought because of the protest

Daniel, 17 years old, from Berlin. «I discovered Jordan Peterson on YouTube last year and read his book ‘Beyond Order’ shortly afterwards. When I was recently looking for current texts about him, I came across a newspaper article about the demonstration against his performance in Berlin. I immediately bought a ticket. Peterson really convinced me that evening. His introduction was impressively profound and yet easy to understand. His responses to audience questions were extremely thoughtful, detailed and insightful. I was particularly touched by his words about dealing with guilt and raising children morally. Seeing Jordan Peterson live has been a very valuable, enriching experience for me.”

No red thread and too long answers

Helen, 22 years old, from Berlin. “I thought I could take a lot with me because I study psychology myself. But then I would have wished for something more tangible and more practical examples. In the beginning, Peterson didn’t find the common thread. Later the questions came from the audience, which I thought was great. However, he took a long time to answer some questions. More topics and shorter answers would have been useful. I particularly liked his thesis that all people are ‘social eaters’. As such, Peterson believes regular family meals are extremely important, and I agree.”

understanding of the critics

Hannes describes himself as a follower of Peterson - and yet does not always agree with him.

Hannes describes himself as a follower of Peterson – and yet does not always agree with him.

NZZ

Hannes, 27 years old, from Potsdam. «I became aware of him on YouTube five years ago, where he was commenting on the Canadian C-16 law. It was about gender identities, pronouns and also freedom of expression. Later I came across his other content, such as personal development. That really fascinated me, and I’ve been a big fan ever since. Today I just wanted to experience him personally. Of course he also has theses – especially those that go into politics – that are not undisputed. That polarized people, which is probably why people are demonstrating here today and taking offense. I can’t stand behind everything he says either. But that doesn’t justify simply rejecting everything.”

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