What Happened To Jordan Peterson? His 'Chinese Communist Milking' Arc, Explained
The best place to start may be 10 months ago, when he tweeted this:
Jordan Peterson's decision to leave Twitter came in the wake of a controversial post about a Sports Illustrated cover model, in which he called out the "authoritarian tolerance" of people who said she was beautiful with the now-well-known line "Sorry. Not beautiful. And no amount of authoritarian tolerance is going to change that."
In his replies, people pointed out that nobody was forcing Peterson to look at the Sports Illustrated cover. They also brought up his long history of angry rhetoric. Peterson argued with many of them as the controversy unfolded on Twitter.
Peterson, who calls on his followers to study "the great books" and clean their rooms, seemed to recognize that spending his days scrolling Twitter and arguing about politics did not serve his higher purpose.
But his Twitter fast did not last very long. In the 24 hours after announcing he would quit the platform forever, Peterson tweeted 27 more times.
Since then, Peterson has only continued to post, often dozens of times a day. While anti-trans posting remains associated among many to his online persona, he also posts about how ChatGPT is leftist, Elon Musk is great and vaccines are bad.
But one of his most recent posts from March 12th is anything but typical. It depicted a frame from an explicit adult film that Peterson claimed to be a Chinese government breeding facility. Rest assured, there is no evidence of the Chinese Communist Party conducting a so-called "male milking operation." The images are actually from a dominatrix sex dungeon in Southwest England, not from a Xi Jinping forced breeding facility.
Peterson's frequent, profane and often conspiratorial posting has led many to wonder how the psychology professor who got famous in 2016 turned into the podcaster who posts horny on main (albeit a bit confusedly) in 2023.
So what happened to Jordan Peterson? Let's get into it.
How Did It All Begin?
The beliefs Jordan Peterson expresses about transgender people, which many perceive as anti-trans, were foundational to his early rise online. He first became famous in 2016 for his opposition to a pronoun rule at the University of Toronto where he taught in Canada. In a viral video, Peterson argued that the rule presented a potential threat to free speech, claiming that those who refused to use preferred pronouns could be prosecuted under the law.
Peterson became part of an ongoing internet and cultural argument about perceived "wokeness" at universities. He might’ve stayed within the bounds of that pretty niche debate, writing editorials for the New York Times and arguing with student protestors, but he apparently had bigger dreams.
A series of big podcast appearances – first on the Joe Rogan Experience and then on the H3 Podcast – catapulted Peterson into the spotlight in 2016 and 2017. At the time, excerpts from these interviews circulated widely online. Peterson also posted his own lectures, interviews and motivational content on his YouTube channel.
But clips of Peterson sparring with journalists and liberals were arguably even more important to his rise than his discussions with sympathetic audiences like some of Rogan's listeners. In particular, his argument in January 2018 with Channel 4 journalist Cathy Newman, generated numerous viral memes.
From there, he became a bestselling self-help author. Books like 12 Rules for Life (published in 2018) appealed to an audience of young people (often but not always men) looking for clarity, purpose and direction. Peterson became a proponent of traditional values and personal responsibility.
He also became something of an internet intellectual, opposing what he called "Cultural Marxism." Like William F. Buckley, who played a similar role in the 1960s and 1970s, Peterson wore finely tailored suits and debated prominent leftist intellectuals.
He memorably debated Slavoj Zizek in 2019. Some accused him of selling out his actual principles and critical thinking skills to make money. Others found his ideology dangerous, while his supporters called him an icon and an important thought leader.
In memes, Peterson's emotionality is also often mocked. Images of him crying in videos have surfaced online in recent years and become notable reaction images.
In early 2020, it was announced that Peterson was in Russia undergoing treatment for a dependence on benzodiazepines. The way his daughter Mikhaila Peterson explained it, he had been prescribed the drug clonazepam and then become physically dependent on it.
The drug is an anti-anxiety drug and was given to Peterson after his wife's cancer diagnosis and a bad reaction to the all-meat and salad diet the whole family had started.
While the story of Peterson's time in Russia is not totally clear (his daughter Mikhaila has sometimes contradicted herself in describing it), Peterson reportedly went there to detox because the Russian doctors would let him quit cold turkey. A hospital in Canada might have suggested a more gradual approach, and perhaps that would've been a safer decision, as while in Russian rehab, Peterson reportedly almost died several times and spent eight days in a medically induced coma.
Rumors abounded about the role that his daughter Mikhaila played since she was in charge of communicating with the press while Peterson was in treatment. Online, Mikhaila is mostly known for promoting her all-meat diet and for a rumored relationship with Andrew Tate, around the same time as Peterson's hospitalization, although these claims are not substantiated.
I'm not saying Mikhaila Peterson runs the internet but she does have contacts who can make things happen behind the scenes. This is evidenced by the fact her dad completely disappeared on a 2 year benzo trip and came back as if nothing ever happened.
— HankHeIl (@HankHeil) August 25, 2022
The evidence most frequently cited is Tate's demeanor in photos of them together and comments both have made on podcasts about spending a day in Romania looking at castles and talking "business." Some online have gossiped that Tate helped Peterson figure out a way to monetize her all-meat diet scheme.
Peterson said he was catatonic after the Russian rehab stint and lost large parts of his memory. He was hospitalized again in Serbia later in 2021. According to reporting, his daughter had taken complete control of his affairs during this time.
Twitter Suspension and Reinstatement
Throughout 2022, Peterson continued to frequently post online. This was the era of "authoritarian tolerance," and Peterson's failed attempt to quit Twitter.
Then, on June 30th, 2022, Peterson actually did leave Twitter — or, rather, he was removed for his comments about actor Elliott Page. This controversial moment included deadnaming him and calling the doctor who performed his top surgery "a criminal." However, arguably, this tweet was perceived by some as probably more like the straw that broke the camel's back, as far as Twitter's content moderators were concerned.
Peterson expressed no regret for his tweet in a video he posted about his ban. This kind of video by a canceled celebrity has become a genre in and of itself, with Andrew Tate famously posting one too. Peterson spent about 10 minutes close-reading the tweet in question and then concluded with an immortal, highly memed phrase.
Up yours, woke moralists! We’ll see who cancels who in the end! Twitter's a rat hole in the final analysis and have probably contributed to that while trying to use, understand and master that horrible toxic platform. No doubt I owe some apologies for that, and I’m trying to learn. But it’s a relief, in some real sense, to be banned, and I regard it under the present conditions as a badge of honor!
The video then ended with a gunshot sound effect and an advertisement for The Daily Wire, where Peterson’s podcast and content are now found. The Daily Wire, famously and recently, became embroiled in a controversy with Steven Crowder (star of the Change My Mind meme) about the massive salaries it pays the personalities it hires. Crowder found the $50 million offer from The Daily Wire lacking and criticized the company as hypocritical for making salaries conditional on creators not getting deplatformed from places like YouTube. The size of his offer shows the amount of money that rightwing content online can make, and the stakes of posting. It also displays the balancing act rightwing content creators must perform, posting content that's controversial enough to get clicks from their base but not controversial enough to get them booted from the mainstream platforms they publish on.
When it initially made the rounds online, many also made fun of the video's "super-villain" aesthetics.
But that fall, Twitter switched hands and the new owner of the platform (Elon Musk) reinstated Peterson in a contentious move. Fans rejoiced, opponents criticized the decision and Peterson immediately got back to posting.
Conspiracy Posting, Chinese "Milking" Factories and Present Era
One thing that sets Peterson apart is how frequently he posts. Often, he'll post dozens of times a day, and several times within an hour. He doesn’t seem to follow a content schedule, instead posting as the wind blows, seemingly buffeted towards whatever grabs his attention and spins his wheels.
The pool of accounts he draws from for quote-tweets is wide — everyone from other mainstream right-wing influencers to niche conspiracy accounts that few people follow. Peterson will frequently wade into the day's debates, or start his own, even with the Pope.
Arguably, remaining in the public eye is important for Peterson, but his constant posting has made him more often the butt of the joke than the wise sage who others seem to want to listen to.
This brings us to the purported Chinese … umm … "milking factory."
Peterson’s post was a quote-tweet of a post from the China conspiracist account Songpinganq, which Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey also happens to follow.
Peterson often serves as a conduit for more out-there conspiracy theories to enter into the mainstream. Recently, 15-Minute Cities, for example, found a lot more visibility through his account. The Chinese Communist party breeding dungeon, however, may just be too ridiculous to catch on.
These conspiracy theories circulate a little bit like memes do. There’s a sort of core narrative that’s a bit like a format (for example, China is doing genetic engineering on its people) and then different accounts add different pieces of “evidence” to it. Posters connect one conspiracy theory to others by borrowing tropes or images, the same way meme formats cross-pollinate.
Just like how GigaChad and Doge may combine to form the magnificent (or horrific) "GigaDoge" seen below, separate strands of conspiracy theory about government labs in China and declining male fertility may combine to make the Chinese male-milking conspiracy theory. Many theorists of QAnon point out that QAnon isn’t just one theory but a big tent conspiracy theory that includes many other conspiracies inside of it, which have multiplied and combined in this way.
Posters like Peterson play an important role in this ecosystem: He is a bridge between the weird online conspiracy world and the world most others are living in.
What he quote-tweets and retweets ends up on the feeds of people who maybe don’t yet believe in conspiracy theories. For some, Peterson's posts are like a gateway drug, and his most frequent posting topic is the one that first got him famous — controversial takes towards trans people.
The day after his since-deleted male-milking tweet, Peterson posted in graphic detail about the private parts of trans people, after advocating to put doctors who performed gender-affirming care in prison.
In reply to this tweet, many people encouraged Peterson to follow his own advice from May and take a break from posting. It seems, however, that he will do no such thing.
Tweeting controversially and frequently is arguably Peterson's main way of getting attention, and in the business he's in (Peterson quit teaching in 2021), attention is currency.
For more information on Jordan Peterson, you can check out our full entry here or peruse all of his memes and viral moments for even further reading.
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