Left and Right on Climate (and so much else)

I just happened upon the video above, which explains so clearly the Left and Right orientations of people in society.  Transcript below in italics with my bolds.

Jordan Peterson Responds to Question about Social Issues like Climate

Q: So what is your advice to young people, when you talk about you need to be individually responsible, but when they’re things that are so far out of our control, like climate catastrophe, like the precarious job economy, like, what is your answer?

JP: Things are not so far out of control as you think. Do you think that you’re worse off than your grandparents?
(I think they’re a different challenge.)
Do you think you’re worse off than your grandparents?

Q: The argument, I think, is that individual responsibility does not fix some things.  The climate problem needs global collective responsibility. So I think that’s the core of the question. Do you have a theory about that?

JP: Well, fundamentally, I’m a psychologist. And my experience has been that people can do a tremendous amount of good for themselves, and for the people who are immediately around them, by looking to their own inadequacies and their own flaws and the things that they’re not doing in their lives. By starting to build themselves up as more powerful individuals, and if they’re capable of doing that, then they’re capable of expanding their career.

JP: And if they’re capable of expanding their career and their competence, then they’re capable of taking their place in the community as effective leaders. And then they’re capable of making wise decisions instead of unwise decisions when it comes to making collective political decisions. I’m not suggesting in the least, and have never suggested that there’s no domain for social action.

I’m suggesting that people who don’t have their own houses in order should be very careful before they go about reorganizing the world, which happens in many ways.

Q: If a young person believes that the climate the global warming problem on the climate is something that needs to be tackled quickly, and they can’t wait until they grow up and become prime ministers to do it, do you think collective responsibility overrides individual responsibility in a huge issue like that?

JP: No. I don’t think that is generally the case. I think generally people have things that are more within their personal purview that are more difficult to deal with and that they’re avoiding. And generally, the way they avoid them is by adopting pseudo moralistic stances on large scale social issues so that they look good to their friends and their neighbors.

Commentary by Dennis Prager

That’s a major difference between the right and the left, concerning the way each seeks to improve society. Conservatives believe that the way to a better society is almost always through the moral improvement of the individual by each person doing battle with his or her own weaknesses, and flaws. It is true that in violent and evil society such as fascist Communist or Islam is tyrannies, the individual must be preoccupied with battling outside forces. Almost everywhere else, though, certainly in a free and decent country such as America, the greatest Battle of the individual must be with inner forces, that is with his or her moral failings.

The left on the other hand, believes that the way to a better society is almost always through doing battle with society’s moral failings. Thus, in America, the left concentrates its efforts on combating sexism, racism, intolerance, xenophobia, homophobia, Islamophobia, and the many other evils that the left believes permeate American society.

One important consequence of this left right distinction is that those on the left are far more preoccupied with politics than those on the Right. Since the left is so much more interested in fixing society than in fixing the individual, politics inevitably becomes the vehicle for societal improvement. That’s why whenever the term activist is used, we almost always assume that the term refers to someone on the left.

Another consequence of this left right difference is that since conservatives believe society has changed one person at a time, they accept that change happens gradually. This isn’t fast enough for the left, which is always in everywhere focused on social revolution. An excellent example of this was a statement by the then presidential candidate Barack Obama, just days before his first election in 2008. To our rapturous audience, he declared, we are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America.

Conservatives not only have no interest in fundamentally transforming the United States of America, they are strongly opposed to doing so. Conservatives understand that fundamentally transforming any society that isn’t fundamentally bad, not to mention transforming what is one of the most decent societies in history can only make the society worse. Conservatives believe that America can be improved, but should not be transformed, let alone fundamentally transformed.

The founders of the United States recognized that the transformation that every generation must work on is the moral transformation of each citizen. Thus, character development was at the core of both child rearing and of young people’s education from elementary school through college. As John Adams, the second president said, our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people, it is wholly inadequate to the government of any other. And in the words of Benjamin Franklin, only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. Why is that? Because freedom requires self control, the free or the society, the more self control is necessary. If the majority of people don’t control themselves, the state, meaning an ever more powerful government, will have to control them.

From the founding of the United States until the 1960s, schools and parents concentrated on character education. But with the ascent of left wing ideas, character education has all but disappeared from American schools. Instead, children are taught not to focus on their flaws, but on America’s social issues have replaced character education. An example is a new K through 12 science curriculum, the next generation of science standards, which will teach young Americans starting in kindergarten about global warming. And when they get to college, American young people will be taught about the need to fight economic inequality, white privilege, and the alleged rape culture on their campuses.

Ironically, if there really is a rape culture that permeates American college campuses, the only reason would have to be that there was so little character education in our schools, or for that matter at home. Fathers and religion, historically the two primary conveyors of self control, are non existent in the lives of millions of American children. We are now producing vast numbers of Americans who are passionate about fixing America while doing next to nothing about fixing their own character.

The problem, however, is that you can’t make society better unless you first make its people better.

Footnote:  Background Resource Cosmic Evil: Peterson’s Pearls (4)

Or take note of Bob Dylan’s advice:


  1. Virtual Reality · September 29, 2020

    Good article!

    Good common sense is that you first make sure your own life is in order before you meddle in other peoples live if at all. This has nothing to do with left or right, it applies to both sides and everything between.

    Having been forced to grow up in a fundamentalist environment, this is, the first thing that jumps out at you, activists have problems in their own lives that they don’t want to face. They therefore go out and try to change the world to fit their vision of what it should be like. They will deny anything that doesn’t go alone with this narrative and will constantly point out the failings of others, while they ignore their own failings.

    I would go even so fare as to point out that this is a form of narcissism. Only our influence can have a negative impact and mother nature is out to punish us for our so called negative influence. The world revolves around us, something that has always been part of our human nature. In the past is was the gods that punished us, now its mother nature. But at the center of it all is mankind. This is pure narcissism is you ask me.


    • Ron Clutz · September 29, 2020

      Thanks for commenting VR. Add to this the obvious projecting of bad intentions onto others instead of examining oneself to purge those desires.


      • Virtual Reality · September 29, 2020

        Spot on!


  2. Pingback: Why Team Left Cheats More than Team Right – Climate- Science.press

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