A Place to Stand | March 2021
Jordan Peterson in the maelstrom | Always outnumbered, always outgunned | Does government even work? | Gaining the road and losing our souls
Jordan Peterson in the maelstrom
The response to Jordan Peterson unmasks the true character of public discourse
Recently, I learned the original meaning of the word “hypocrite.” It comes from ancient Greek and means an actor, someone speaking from under one of the masks that were used to signify the roles in a play. Not long afterwards, I remembered that Jordan Peterson has a new book about to come out, and my mind made a connection—not with the controversial Canadian professor, but with the response to his work. Peterson once again faces a maelstrom of invective and hostility, in the process revealing the true character of much of our public discourse. Continue reading
Always outnumbered, always outgunned
Conservative thought is a maligned and minority position in New Zealand. Should we try to redeem it?
Conservatism has a bad rap in New Zealand. Perhaps that shouldn’t be surprising; from the rolling omnishambles that was the Conservative Party, to the roiling controversies of the culture war and the culture warriors, conservatives here and overseas haven’t exactly distinguished themselves lately. There are, of course, honourable exceptions. Bill English spoke convincingly about “collective as well as individual traditions,” though that was as long ago as 2006. These days, conservatism looks like a maligned and minority position in our politics, and no-one of English’s stature has emerged to carry the conservative torch since he largely retired from public life. More to the point, should they? Is conservative thought still relevant, and is the term itself so tarnished that it’s beyond retrieval? Continue reading
Does government even work?
We were promised transformation and we got KiwiBuild, but that’s just one example of a deeper problem
Not long ago, the Minister of Housing, Megan Woods, posted a video proudly announcing that the Government’s Progressive Home Ownership Scheme had housed a grand total of 12 families. While this is great news for those families, it’s somewhat underwhelming on the face of it. After all, the scheme was started in July last year with $45 million, after being announced in 2019, and first promised in 2017. That’s a slow train coming, so slow that it made me wonder: does Government even work? Continue reading
Source: B. Lipson, New Zealand’s Education Delusion: How bad ideas ruined a once world-leading school system (Wellington: New Zealand Initiative, 2020)
Gaining the road and losing our souls
What does it profit us if we have driverless cars but lack opportunities to develop virtue?
You may have heard that Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do.” Although it’s apparently a misattribution, the quote captures something important: our personality and our character reflect the moral and practical choices we have to wrestle with. This was a theme of Matthew Crawford’s 2009 book, Shop Class as Soulcraft, which I reviewed last month. Now Crawford is back with a new book, Why We Drive, which has been reviewed in The New Atlantis by Adam White. Continue reading
Matthew Crawford, Why We Drive: Toward a Philosophy of the Open Road (New York: HarperCollins, 2020)