Jordan Peterson’s Conservative Manifesto: A Call To Arms for Free-thinking People (Part One)

The West now fights a culture war over its values and identity. Fights on wokeness, book banning, “child grooming,” and racism resonate in the news and political commentary today, dividing nations between liberal and conservative camps. It has become difficult to stay neutral; this battle has far-reaching impacts on future generations and our civilization.

As one of this battle’s prominent icons, Jordan Peterson (a clinical psychologist and bestselling author) seeks to define what it means to be a conservative. On September 17, 2022, Jordan Peterson released his two-part Conservative Manifesto on YouTube. He read this document he has written in the past four months. His manifesto is a culmination of decades of experience, political insight, and collaboration with people from different parts of the world and the political spectrum.

Entire Series: 2017 Personality and Its Transformations Parts 1-22

The Conservative Manifesto is rooted in Western center-right and classical liberal philosophy. In his introduction, Jordan Peterson declared that the Conservative Manifesto aims the following:

  • To provide a “positive vision for the future” of conservatism;
  • To represent Western foundational virtues of tradition, community, and responsibility, which have been attacked and strained lately;
  • To test how conservatives, liberals, and centrists will treat such a manifesto;
  • To bring Western philosophy’s theological and metaphysical bases into everyday discussions and social policies.

Although the Conservative Manifesto seems to contend with the Communist Manifesto, Jordan Peterson does not want it to become a propaganda tool or have the last word. Instead, the Conservative Manifesto seeks to invite everyone and define what it means to be a conservative today.

A crisis of meaning

The West’s citizens and institutions have started to lose their stability and morality because of “a profound crisis of meaning.” This disorder and doubt destroy this civilization’s sense of willful unity and competition. Unfortunately, this pressure has also spread to the world’s population.

These are the cause of this crisis of meaning:

  • Intellectuals carelessly questioned and sowed doubt about values and work, which provided guidance and stability during crises.
  • People have become ignorant of nature, reality, and moral reasoning principles. They have also failed to communicate about these subjects.
  • Some believe and teach that all beliefs, actions, and social institutions come from “the desire to dominate and exploit.”

This mixture of ignorance, arrogance, and distrust has led to widespread frustration and grievance used to demonize and divide. Furthermore, this idea demands “false and unearned moral virtue.” Ultimately, such beliefs have led the world astray, hopeless, and bitter.

The current narrative has become dominated by battles between classes and identities. For example, men and women are painted as rivals and enemies. Blacks, whites, and brown people are likewise divided. Others have even undermined the worth of humankind and reproduction because of their apocalyptic doom.

Intellectuals believe that proper “education” can end this cycle of guilt and distrust. However, it only deepens cynicism and hatred between them. What, then, can conservatives offer?

The solution given by traditional values

Society’s current misery and discord prove that such intellectuals are wrong. Because their moral replacements only bring joylessness and emptiness, we can say that longstanding Western institutions and values are not fundamentally deceptive and crooked. We must revisit the abandoned moral truths, as many people stumble and suffer in their absence.

These are the important traditional values that conservatives must rediscover, discuss, and preserve:

  1. Humility
  2. Liberty
  3. Autonomy
  4. Truth
  5. Agency
  6. Identity
  7. Merit
  8. Responsibility
  9. Tradition and community
  10. Stewardship
  11. Justice
  12. Unity

These characteristics help us understand and address today’s financial and ethical battlefronts. They provide a lens to poverty, economic inequality, virtue, and social contract. Hence, these values are the foundation of what it means to be a conservative today.

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1.    Humility

Humility includes accepting that you cannot know all things. Hence, this virtue encourages people to listen to others’ opinions and views, no matter how ill-informed they may seem. It contradicts authoritarianism because it counters anyone who pretends to have final and complete solutions. In this regard, humility prompts people to persuade rather than force or demand.

Humility is vital for learning and engaging, which in turn will maintain and improve what has already been built, validated, and esteemed by society.

2.    Liberty

Liberty is not precious because it allows impulses, pleasure, stimulation, and selfish gain. Instead, liberty will enable people to reach their potential in the best, unique ways they see fit. They also have the freedom to interact peacefully, become productive, and speak the truth. Without baseless restrictions, people can constructively criticize and innovate solutions and possibilities that can propel society forward.

However, liberty requires mutual responsibility and truth-based ethics rooted in values promoted by the Conservative Manifesto.

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3.    Autonomy

New problems ceaselessly arise; new solutions must emerge to beat them. Autonomy lets this happen since anyone can come up with unpredictable yet specific answers to these issues. Hence, autonomous people offer their unique experiences, skills, and backgrounds to help their community adapt.

People must be allowed to discuss their ideas and contribute what they know to achieve this virtue. They should also have the opportunity to work with their suitable and timely capabilities.

This bottom-up, distributed variation will lead to the best available solution to society’s problems. Together, these autonomous communities can coordinate and unify to combat looming danger and difficulties. Because they have relevant and particular solutions, self-sufficient people can maximize their resources and options. Ultimately, autonomy makes more room for abundance and luxury.

The free market must protect and promote this autonomy. After all, this economic system and principle have become the bedrock of the West. The free market drives providers and the people to decide willingly, adapt, determine value, and strive. Hence, providing autonomy makes a brighter future feasible despite uncertainties.

4.    Truth

As the world constantly evolves into the future, unexpected problems arise. We can only find the solution through a genuine exchange of ideas. As stated earlier, discussing and weighing different perspectives is a wise strategy to reach an appropriate solution.

However, dialogue does not only lead to specific remedies or answers. As society strives to reach a single direction through discourse, they build an ethic that can unite them. This process helps them get the truth, an objective, undeniable reality they can agree to peacefully and trustfully.

This reality helps us realize that the truth does not strictly reside in one volume of facts. Instead, we can find the truth through the authentic search for what is ethical and valid. The process of truly listening and responding bridges the divisions between races, sexes, and political parties. Therefore, all liberties depend on the freedom of speech. It is not because of impulsive gratification but due to its role in helping us reach the truth.

Lastly, all must realize that finding the truth is the grand quest of life. Without this purpose, one will suffer from nihilism, hopelessness, and irresponsibility.

Must Read: Short Review of 12 Rules for Life by Jordan Peterson

5.    Agency

Leftists divide humanity into intersectional groups based on sexual preference, race, ideologies, and social standing. However, splitting people into classes removes their independence and sovereignty. They become demoralized, chained to their struggles and hatred of other groups.

Conservatives must restore the Western principle of self-agency. They must fight against ideas that demote humankind as inherently corrupt and oppressive. Instead, conservatism must stand for the willpower to become productive, press onward, and cooperate. Such a conscious decision fosters genuine goodwill, friendships, and cooperation. Furthermore, accepting duties brings real rewards, serving as the basis for a sustainable life.

Self-agency gives people a sense of adventure to achieve their utmost potential. This value also encourages them to bear responsibilities and overcome the challenges of their upbringing. For example, self-agency drives men and women to marry and start families despite the world’s crises and demands.

Ultimately, self-agency is the key to happiness and sociability.

6.    Identity

Many people identify and label themselves according to their subjective emotions and feelings. Most of them are driven by imposing their “rights” and “privileges” as members of a social category. Worse, they may inflict this out of hedonism and rejection of give-and-take responsibility.

However, people must cultivate identity not by insisting on how they feel or think. Instead, it is established by how a person treats his loved ones, friends, fellow workers, and everyone he interacts with, even himself.

Someone’s true identity, therefore, does not only spring from his mind; it is a “negotiated agreement” between him and every level of society. Setting it requires carefully reflecting on how you willingly behave and treat others as a “sovereign individual.” Rather than praising yourself on your perceived self-identity, focus on how you treat your spouse, children, business, and the government. Such a mindset frees you from self-absorption and complacency, motivating you to become a better person.

7.    Merit

All people have unique abilities that can contribute to their community. However, in nature, most of society’s progress and productivity comes from a small circle of highly effective people. Thus, we must reward excellence and provide opportunities for people who seek to offer their craft and knowledge.

Merit encourages people to be creative, helping society to flourish. Furthermore, recognizing people’s traits and talents serves as a standard and inspires others. Such a reward system promotes finishing tasks and building social networks in the free market. Thus, our social institutions must be meritocracies that cherish employment, productive choices and collaboration.

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8.    Responsibility

Facing life’s bitter tragedies, we need a valuable anchor to keep us firm. Cynicism, naivete, and short-term pleasures can never provide stability. Responsibility does. So do not evade but bear your burdens!

Amidst the world’s chaos and grief, find stability in keeping relationships, friendships, and commitments. Accept duties and love working; be it religious or spiritual. Strive to stay clear of avoidable conflicts or disagreements for long-term peace.

As conservatives, we must promote marriage. Pursue bonds that enrich companionship, structure, and a sense of purpose that can keep you motivated and uplifted. Moreover, cultivate responsibility by fighting temptations that violate your values. Sacrifice such gratifications, and choose to fulfill complex but beneficial tasks for your future. Responsibility can be your first step to fostering your talents and privileges.

Without responsibilities, a person can feel hopeless and alone. These emotions can lead to danger and resentment. Therefore, responsibility atones people from guilt, helplessness, and the thoughts that limit them.

9.    Tradition and community

Western civilization sprang from individualist philosophies taught in Rome, Athens, and Jerusalem. The West helped usher in an era of relative peace, productivity, and influence by preaching and pursuing individual liberty and rights.

However, conservatives must not idealize isolation or selfishness. Healthy relationships help us, and the community stays sane. Remember: you can never become happy alone. Without other people, you only have your ego—you might fall into a shallow and stunted perspective. Your dealings also help you train your integrity, selflessness, and supportiveness, mainly when you help uplift people from their trials and hardships.

10. Stewardship

The dictionary defines stewardship as “the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care.” As conservatives, we must safeguard our harmony with the natural world because we rely on it to survive. But be on guard to not fall into an apocalyptic mindset that demonizes humankind as parasites. This degrading belief has become the source of reckless global response that may worsen the planet’s plight.

Likewise, we must protect the fruits of culture—our history, trade, and heritage. Pass these down to the next generation, and strive to promote them.

As stewards of nature and culture, we must balance the two.

Human ingenuity has propelled scientific and technological progress, improving social issues and poverty. Thus, instead of focusing on dreadful end-of-the-world scenarios, we must inspire the youth to be brave as they face the future. Tomorrow can never be free of threats and dangers. However, nothing must stop us from growing and appreciating life.

11. Justice

People who strive to excel fairly deserve the benefits of their labor. Society must reinforce productivity, ability, and charity without discrimination.

Justice is deeply linked with merit. Unfortunately, many misunderstand these principles as careless forgiveness and “compassion.” Conservatives, therefore, must hold firmly on to time-tested traditions of morality in society:

  • Justice should be equal to all, regardless of their physical traits or economic situation.
  • Everyone is equal before the law, especially since we share a “divine, intrinsic worth” as humans.
  • People have self-agency; they rule over their decisions and actions. Hence, they will be judged and held accountable based on their behavior and choices.
  • Candid and unrestrained conversations driven by goodwill can lead to the truth. Representative governments must convert these thoughts into legislation.

12. Unity

As we respect and appreciate individual liberties and rights, conservatives must strive for unity. We must keep our households and institutions intact through traditions that bind us. Through this mentality, we can share common ground in cooperation and competition. It also gives us a sense of predictability that keeps us sane during times of uncertainty.

If the community shares the same purpose, its members can hope and work harmoniously. Fruitful peace is the root of social stability. Such an environment makes free choices, responsible behavior, and healthy communication possible.

Therefore, it is dangerous to say that unity is impossible or can only be achieved through power and force. Converting this belief into political action brings nothing but chaos and strife! It is also poisonous for the individual, leading to anxiety and bitterness. After all, what kind of productivity stems from the doctrine that societies can only achieve unity through power struggles and force? How catastrophic!

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Postmodernist thought has brought despair and moral collapse. The West suffers from the assumptions that the truth is relative and that the struggle for power rules over relationships. Meanwhile, our cherished freedoms, rights, and virtues are divine—they did not come from earthly authority. Conservatives must heed the call to renew the traditions and values that helped humankind reach its pinnacle. We must fight for personal sovereignty, authentic service, a sense of purpose, and liberty. Let us work hand-in-hand to restore our Western beliefs to the forefront. Live by them, and lead people to these principles by example.

Entire Series: 2017 Personality and Its Transformations Parts 1-22

Next: Part Two Peterson’s Conservative Manifesto 

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