Beyond (pre)Order: Jordan Peterson's controversial new book set for release

With his latest book to be released next month, Elizabeth Meade has her say on the Jordan Peterson phenomenon

Elizabeth Meade
9th February 2021

After an extended period of illness, controversial academic and conservative commentator Jordan B. Peterson is publishing another book, entitled Beyond Order: 12 More Rules for Life.

Called "humanity's greatest thinker" by conservative thought leaders Vox Day and Milo Yiannopoulos in their 2018 book (whose purchasers, Amazon informs me, also viewed Julius Evola's Handbook for Right-Wing Youth), touted as a saviour of Western civilisation in a new book by Jim Proser, and near-worshipped by hordes of disillusioned young men looking for a leader, Peterson and his new release have attracted much attention. Following his 1999 debut, Maps of Meaning, and his hit 12 Rules for Life, which was published in 2018 after Peterson gained viral fame from his 2016 refusal to use gender-neutral pronouns and based on a highly-upvoted 2012 Quora answer, Beyond Order features 12 more rules from the infamous Quora answer. The new book is already available for pre-order via Amazon, Waterstones, and several other major booksellers, and has generated excitement among supporters.

"Excited" is not the right descriptor of how I felt upon reading the news of Peterson's latest release. Having begrudgingly read a few chapters of 12 Rules for Life in an overly optimistic attempt to understand the perspective of someone I disagreed with and found myself unswayed by the professor's false equivalences between religious symbols, universal application of "Western" (that is, white and European, or what he perceives that to be) archetypes and platitudinous life advice that he attempts to support using conservative sociopolitical theory. Having passionately despised this book, I was disheartened by the November announcement of Peterson's new book, which led to staff complaints due to Peterson's infamous transphobia, and wondered what would happen next. I figured it would play out something like this: "Penguin Random House Canada refuses to publish the book. Peterson's fans cry about free speech while conveniently ignoring that the Constitution applies to government officials and institutions rather than private businesses. Peterson eventually self-publishes or turns to a niche right-wing publisher such as Arktos or Castalia House that will welcome the profits and publicity."

However, despite employee protests, Beyond Order has indeed been published and will come out on 2 March 2021.

I can't say I'm not surprised. After all, Penguin Random House Canada is a business that is seeking profit, so will almost always prioritise a work's potential financial success over the views of those who don't support it. However, given the massive controversy the book has caused, it would have been simple enough for Penguin to refuse to publish it, if only on the grounds of wanting to avoid public backlash. PR executives could easily have written a halfhearted statement about how they didn't support Peterson while also subtly implying that they didn't want the criticism to cut into their bottom line. Unfortunately, the capitalists' profiteering motives have triumphed once again.

With just under a month to go, the pot is at full boil and the lobster is red, steaming and nearly ready to eat. Will Peterson's newest book prove a hit with the fans? Will they be disappointed and look elsewhere for someone who shares their views? Or will they ultimately realise that Peterson is a fraud upon finding that this book and his others are just collections of trite and contrived statements masquerading as intellectualism? Only time - and how convincing Peterson manages to be - will tell.

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AUTHOR: Elizabeth Meade
(she/her) Head of Current Affairs (News, Campus Comment, Comment, Science). Chemistry major. Avid reader. Chaos theorist. Amateur batrachologist and historian. Rock fan. Likes cybersecurity and cooking. Wrote the first article for Puzzles. Probably the first Courier writer to have work featured in one of Justin Whang's videos.

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