CBC asks if Paw Patrol is capitalist propaganda
Six adorable, daring puppies and their whiz kid leader, ten-year-old Ryder, rescue people in the community of Adventure Bay. You would have to be a fool to not love Paw Patrol. And that’s where the Canadian state broadcaster CBC comes in!
A new article by Rebecca Zandbergen explores the groundbreaking new theory by Canadian university professor Liam Kennedy that loveable Nickelodeon show Paw Patrol is an insidious tool of capitalism. Kennedy, from King’s University College, has penned a vital new piece of research called “Whenever there’s trouble. Just yelp for help”: Crime, Conservation and Corporatization in Paw Patrol” in the peer-reviewed journal Crime Media Culture. His child isn’t allowed to watch the show, but Kennedy spent countless hours watching it in his office.
In the show, Ryder is the ring-leader of the pups, each of whom has a job to do as part of their team. There’s Chase, the police dog, Marshall, the fire chief dog who can never quite get control of his hose, Rubble, the builder, Skye, who flies a plane for some reason and is the girl pup, Everest, the extreme outdoor adventuring pup, Rocky, the rescue dog, and Zuma, the pup who drives a boat.
Together, they are the Paw Patrol, and they even have a headquarters, because all kids love a home base. Inexplicably, the grown-ups in town depend on Ryder and the pups to help them when they’re in a jam. Probably because it’s a show for kids, so it’s kid-centric. Kids like that.
Kennedy posits that “Paw Patrol, as a private corporation, is used to help provide basic social services in the Adventure Bay community. That’s problematic in that the Paw Patrol creators are sending this message that we can’t depend on the state to provide these services.”
Kennedy was angry that elected officials are not portrayed as heroes: “Mayor Humdinger and Mayor Goodway—kind of the representatives of the state or the government—are portrayed negatively,” Kennedy argued.
Kennedy also pointed out that, at the age of ten, Ryder should be in school, not saving the world. CBC did not bother to ask Kennedy how he feels about real-life school-skipper and saviour Greta Thunberg. We guess some do-gooders are more equal than others.
He rails against the Paw Patrol’s message that “no job is too big, no pup is too small.” “To me that’s an individualist message,” Kennedy claimed. “Pull up your bootstraps, you can do it if you just try hard enough. That kind of message ignores structural barriers in our society and not everyone can do it.”
Since Kennedy teaches at a university level and not in early childhood education, he can be forgiven for not realizing that learning about the self is a primary developmental stage for very young children. They have to identify their own bodies and place in their family before they can organize their thoughts to encompass the broader electoral system and its responsibilities. Paw Patrol shows each characters’ differences, without judgement, and young children tend to relate to one over the other, clamouring for character-specific merch.
For Kennedy and the CBC, this is apparently serious business. We can’t have a children’s television show spreading messages that elected officials can be corrupt or incompetent; we can’t have a children’s show that suggests that you can take responsibility for your community instead of foisting it all off on the state; we can’t have a children’s show where individualism and positivity are promoted. This is the way Kennedy sees Paw Patrol through his Marxist goggles.
At its heart, Paw Patrol is about community, forging friendships and bonds that bring you together to tackle tough situations. It’s a show about a network of friends, some of them puppies, who can work as a team to solve local problems. Ryder, Chase, and the other pups, each of whom has their own civil service discipline and associated vehicle (which can be bought separately), have complementary strengths that help them figure out how to cooperatively find solutions. For kids, the lessons learned would be more about being able to velcro their own shoes, or pop the straw through their own juice box, than creating an independent fire brigade because they can’t rely on government help.
Many of the problems on Paw Patrol are the kind of problems that, should a person call emergency services for them, would never be sorted (cats up trees). The state is a large tool that is poorly suited to small problems, and where individuals can work together to sort out their troubles, they should. This leftist penchant for relying on the state for solutions, for assuming that you’re not the one responsible to help your neighbour because someone who has already been delegated for that job is better able to handle it, belies the very notion of community.
Paw Patrol was created by Keith Chapman, who was also the creator of Bob the Builder, another wildly popular children’s television show. His primary intentions were to entertain children, and to teach lessons about teamwork, confidence, and capability. The most important lessons we teach our kids are those that ensure they can take care of themselves and look out for the people they love when they grow up.
If anything, this ragtag collective of pups and a kid who looks after them is a statement on what you can do if you face your fears, count on your friends, and tackle life’s problems together. Chapman also created a show called Fifi and the Flowertots, and there’s no telling how problematic Kennedy would find that.
What stands out most (besides the complete batshittery that is Kennedy’s critical analysis of a harmless kids’ show) is the fact that this basically confirms the widely-held assumption that academia is dead. When a prof spends hours in his office watching pre-school television, there’s a problem with not only what’s being taught but what’s being thought about. Chapman wasn’t going into the writing room for Paw Patrol trying to figure out how to indoctrinate kids into conceiving of themselves as proponents of the capitalist hierarchy, and despite what Kennedy may believe about Chapman’s unconscious bias, this is a ridiculous place to create a system of study.
We’re sure that Kennedy’s woke colleagues applaud this kind of scholarship. After all, we need to dismantle these oppressive children’s shows if we ever hope to establish a brave new world of kids’ television featuring new, “progressive” shows like Bobby and Bureaucracy Buddies and The Snitch Squad.
Don’t do anything for yourself that the government can do for you. That’s the insidious message behind what seems to be, upon first glance, just a silly example of useless university research. It is indeed utterly stupid and laughable, but it is also quite scary when you take a moment to identify the authoritarian impulse behind it all.
We’re sure that Kennedy will have a long and fruitful career explaining to students and colleagues that Blue’s Clues is heterosexist metanarrative about the patriarchy and how Lunar Jim is thinly veiled advocacy for anthropocentric space colonialism. But for those of us who are not insane, it would be nice to see institutions like CBC and King’s College University stop their cultural regression and do much better.
CBC Kids News has published an article in favour of Canadian teens embarking on a hunger strike. The hunger strike was scheduled to start on Sunday; its purpose is to protest the now-cancelled Teck mine project in Alberta. The article details famous, historical hunger strikers, their achievements, and what happens to the body when it is denied food.
The fact that CBC decided to cover a hunger strike involving the participation of children is irresponsible to say the least. That this was promoted on their children’s news platform makes it even worse. Teens are already at higher risk than adults for eating disorders, which are typically about a person wanting to take control over their bodies when they feel they have no control over anything else. This hunger strike is in service to something teens absolutely have no control over, energy policy.
It’s absolutely unconscionable to advocate for children to starve themselves to get the government to change its energy policy. And it is absurd to expect the government to change its energy agenda based on this kind of advocacy. The teens are basically taking themselves hostage, holding their breath until they get their way.
Twitter users were quick to point out how irresponsible and dangerous this article is.
It’s been a few years now that people are so freaked out by climate change that they’re willing to sacrifice their children. But while pundits and armchair climate activists may advocate for the Greta Thunbergs of the world to give up their futures in service to environmental activism, parents are not so sure.
In fact, the article on CBC Kids News had to be amended to account for a parent’s concern. One of the students who intends to participate in the hunger strike was noted to have the support of his mom. However, after the article was published, his mother wrote to say that “she is extremely worried about her son going on a hunger strike and, ‘even more disappointed that young adults feel they need to engage in self harm to be heard by the media and government on this issue.’”
She’s right to be concerned. As a matter of fact, all Canadian parents should be concerned. CBC has crossed a line by promoting unhealthy behaviour directly to young people. They should be ashamed of themselves.
CBC has filed a claim with the Department of Industry to trademark the word “Oh” and “Radio-Canada Oh-dio” with the department’s intellectual property office.
Conservative Party leadership candidate Erin O’Toole recently called for the privatization of the publicly funded TV service.
CBC’s potential new “Oh” marketing campaign is reminiscent of the network’s earlier attempts to boost sales with previous trademarks such as“Fall for CBC” in 2014, “Canada’s Own” in 2011, and “Trusted, Connected, Canadian” in 2001.
In 2013 the public broadcaster sued a Montréal cable station for $50,000 over the trademark “Ici” (“here”) which they used for their French-language service according to Blacklock’s Reporter.
“Our public broadcaster is stuck in the past,” said O’Toole in a campaign video on February 14. “An O’Toole government will modernize and reform the CBC,” said O’Toole. “We will end funding for CBC digital and we will cut the CBC English TV budget by fifty percent. Our plan will phase out TV advertising with a goal to fully privatize CBC English TV by the end of our first mandate.”
The CBC receives $1.2 billion grant per year from the government, however, their English-language television ad revenues fell 37 percent last year.
O’Toole said he would keep CBC French-language services and the Crown broadcaster’s national radio network as it is.
In 2017 a Conservative bill to privatize the CBC as an entire corporation was brought forth but was defeated.
Former Conservative MP Brad Trost was a sponsor of the bill, “The Mulroney administration philosophically should have done it, just as the previous Harper administration philosophically should have been prepared to privatize the CBC,” said Trost, in an interview at the time. “Someone needed to take the first steps to get things going.”
“The late former finance minister Jim Flaherty actually broached this subject a few times in the past,” said Trost. “He spoke to me about how it was one of his wishes to privatize the CBC. Jim and I discussed it.”
Bill C-308 An Act To Provide For The Incorporation Of The CBC would have reorganized the network under the Canada Business Corporations Act with plans to have a final sale within the following three years. The bill was shot down in the Commons by a vote of 260 to 6.
Working in the media for over two decades has afforded me the chance to meet many of my heroes. Some encounters lived up to expectation and others were small disasters.
Lighting up an imported stogie with Robert Lantos in his midtown home was delightful. Sitting under a cabana at the Beverly Hilton with Gary Shandling was heavenly. And sitting in the green room with the late Don Rickles in Montreal was emotionally orgasmic.
But how do I describe my exchange with Jordan Peterson?
Let me give it my best shot. Some moons ago, a friend of mine was one of Peterson’s students. She spoke of her intriguing psychology professor and promised that she would let me tag along for a morning lecture at U of T. I passed it off as a flip invite that would never come to be—but I secretly hoped I was wrong.
Sure enough, one day, as I had my face buried in paperwork at my Summerhill intern desk, my friend Sarah stopped by out of nowhere. She told me to pack up my stuff and escorted me to class with her. I should have never doubted her.
Sarah and I did a fast parallel park on Bloor Street West and sauntered over to The Arts and Sciences Building. Cue Sinatra’s “Come Fly with Me.” Sound the trumpets. I was in Peterson’s world.
I guess you might say Peterson was enjoying relative obscurity then, in as much as genius can ever be truly obscure. It tends to illuminate, even under the dim of low wattage bulbs. But compared to his ubiquitous fame now, he was an unknown.
The lecture hall filled quicker than a king-sized beer mug at happy hour. The empty glass of water at the podium was a prolepsis for some of Peterson’s epic rants and proliferating insights. The excitement was palpable. And so was the budding adoration for the professor at the helm.
“This guy’s lectures are dope. The best Prof in Canada. Dude’s got game” proclaimed a well-tattooed man sitting one row under me.
I took another look around as Dr. Peterson made his way to the podium. To my surprise, students were devoid of the glassy film that usually covers the eyes of hopeful graduates. Laptops were fully charged. Pens were dipped in fresh ink. Hangovers were whipped into submission by copious amounts of caffeine and adrenaline.
This was not the lecture hall culture that I remembered. This was a brave new world known as Peterson’s Playhouse. Peterson wore blue jeans with a dark cardigan and a dress shirt underneath. He was clean-shaven with an ashen pallor. He was dark under the eyes and looked quite exhausted— which as I understand it now, was insomnia’s doing.
After gathering his thoughts, Peterson started lecturing. He quickly led us into a comprehensive examination of why both individuals and groups participate in social conflict, and the reasoning and motivation individuals take to support their belief systems (ideological identification) that result in mass killing and pathological atrocity.
Just another day at the office for Alberta’s most influential intellectual export. Midway into his 2-hour lecture, Peterson started to speak about the Holocaust and the horrors of Auschwitz. He did this as an academic adjunct to his primary supposition about belief systems.
Unexpectedly, he went into a searing psychological examination of the Nazis and the hundreds of thousands of German soldiers who were left bereft of human conscience as they dangled in the throws of ideological imposition by the Hitler regime.
Now I have attended many Holocaust remembrance events over the years. Each one, heart-rending in its own way. I have sat with survivors of the camps—each conversation sending shivers down my spine and taking me into the deepest recesses of spiritual pause.
But this was something different. Peterson struck an isolated chord.
Maybe it was the surprise of seeing a gentile Professor speaking with such passion and conviction about a topic that was so personal to me. I am not quite sure. But as Peterson’s voice cracked with raw emotion, I felt my own connection with the worst tragedy of Jewish history, grow deeper and stronger.
“We read about the Holocaust, and study it now, but we have no way to actually comprehend this kind of evil. This kind of unbridled malevolence,” Peterson said, eyes watering and body trembling.
“You don’t think it can happen again, well guess again man,” the professor exclaimed.
“Don’t underestimate the human capacity for evil. And it lives in all of us. You need to know how bad you CAN be, to commit to how good you MUST be,” said Peterson, as though it was his last breath.
I was so taken by the emotional power of the lecture that I waited 40 minutes after class to shake Peterson’s hand and thank him personally. I watched from a distance as he met his perfunctory obligations and shook hands with students.
The line moved quite slowly but I finally got to meet him.
“How can I help you, young man,” he said to me playfully.
“I just wanted to thank you, Professor, for such an amazing lecture,” I said. “As a Jewish person
I found your words about the Holocaust to be soul-stirring. I did not expect such words in a university environment,” I said nervously.
He said, “What is your aspiration? What are you hoping to do in life?”
I said, “I am a poet and aspiring writer, director, producer.”
“Well, history is in the hands of our best writers. So make us proud,” he said with a smile.
I would like to say the chat went on longer but that was it. Over before it really began. Some shlemiel came out of nowhere and nudged me to the side with an oversized Macbook. I could have sued. Diamond and Diamond could have sent me into early retirement with that one.
When I see Peterson on the big American talk shows or speaking at sold-out theatres across the world, I think back to the early lecture I attended. Was there any sign back then of the international fame that awaited him? Was he earmarked for world influence?
I don’t think anyone, including him, could have predicted the Peterson phenomenon. But I do think he was always an eminently smart and compelling character. And his proclivity to hold firm on his beliefs, and still confess deep vulnerability, was so rare.
So yeah, I think the signs were always there from the beginning.
Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos has dominated the best-sellers charts in dozens of countries. Estimates say the popular self-help book has moved in excess of 3 million copies worldwide. The book has given inspiration, insight and hope to struggling folks in virtually every corner of the globe.
Thank you, Dr. Peterson, for doing so much good. I can always say, I knew you—briefly—way back when.
In recent weeks, there has been much written about Peterson’s health challenges (and near-death experience) with a dependency on and severe reaction to clonazepam, a commonly prescribed drug in the benzodiazepine family. He started taking the drug shortly after he found out his wife, Tammy, had terminal cancer.
When a prominent self-help guru loses his footing, I suppose there is a sense of irony and morbid curiosity that naturally ensues. But that does not justify kicking a guy while he’s down. Some of the remarks directed at Peterson and his family, since news of his medical condition emerged, have been downright grisly.
It’s sad that being ill and bed-ridden in Russia gave his political adversaries an opening for rancour and an opportunity to push their own twisted agendas.
But this is the world we live in.
Be that as it may—even if Peterson were to never speak publicly again, I am convinced history would remember him as a brave friend to humanity. Maybe not the kind that one expected or summoned for. But one that said what needed to be said. And one that did what needed to be done.
Jordan Peterson gave his first biblical lecture in the spring of 2017. From the beginning, he designed the lectures to educate himself, along with his listeners, in the rudiments of Western civilization.
“When I’m lecturing, I’m thinking. I’m not trying to tell you what I know for sure to be the case, because there’s lots of things that I don’t know for sure to be the case. I’m trying to make sense out of this… This is part of the process by which I’m doing that, and so I’m doing my best to think on my feet. I come prepared, but I’m trying to stay on the edge of my capacity to generate knowledge, to make this continually clear, and to get to the bottom of things.
“The idea is to see if there’s something at the bottom of this amazing civilization that we’ve managed to structure, and that I think is in peril, for a variety of reasons. Maybe, if we understand it a little bit better, we won’t be so prone just to throw the damn thing away, which I think would be a big mistake. And to throw it away because of resentment, hatred, bitterness, historical ignorance, jealousy, the desire for destruction, and all of that… I don’t want to go there. It’s a bad idea, to go there. We need to be better grounded.” – Biblical Series I
Jordan’s latest University of Toronto course had ended two weeks prior; his Patreon page boomed with new donors; the media buzzed with his hard-nosed approach to free speech detractors. He finally had the trifecta of time, capital, and platform for his deepest ideas to reach an international audience.
But in a time of internet porn, video games, and church closures, who would care about a dense, technically-worded, two-hour lecture on Adam and Eve? Explained with a fusion of evolutionary biology, behavioural psychology, a smattering of world mythology, and Jungian psychoanalysis, the lectures may have seemed suited for a stuffy university classroom, rather than a 500-seat public theatre.
In the eyes of YouTube’s censorship team, a culture apathetic to biblical stories was insurance too cheap. Perhaps sensing a threat to their radical leftist dogma, they sought to stymie Jordan’s popularity. On August 1, 2017, he was locked from his YouTube account, without explanation, as he attempted to upload a two-hour lecture on Abraham. That same day, after popular uproar and a flurry of online articles, his account was reinstated—again, without explanation.
In enforcement, such censorship has been softened by modern technology. In intent, it remains in lockstep with the raison-d’être of Thinkpol. This is hardly surprising, as the Bible depicts stories of absolute moral rights and absolute moral wrongs: ironic as it may be, these strictures are anathema to those who hold moral relativity above all else.
“God, in the Old Testament, is frequently cruel, arbitrary, demanding, and paradoxical, which is one of the things that really gives the book life. It wasn’t edited by a committee that was concerned with not offending anyone. That’s for sure.” – Biblical Series I
Apathy for the Bible could never last in a culture grown from Christian values. Jordan’s biblical lectures sold out; a fact that astonished the now-best-selling author. Moreover, the 15 lectures have been viewed 21 million times on his YouTube channel. But the strangest part was the focused silence of his live audience, and how they unfailingly filled each lecture’s final half-hour with carefully-worded existential questions.
As Jordan’s supporters well know, his psychological analysis can move from ancient Mesopotamian politics in one sentence to lobsters in the next, and then finish by tying it all to a Jean Piaget theory. But there are core messages — rules, if you will — about being that he has extracted from the Bible and colloquially explained, making those who care to listen all the wiser.
Rule 1: Never resent the structure of existence
Life is a “catastrophe from beginning to end”, suffering is the default mode of existence, and our ever-changing environment demands that we toil in order to persist. You will be betrayed, your loved ones will become terminally ill, and whatever beauty you possess will wither and be forgotten in a matter of decades. Equity is unknown to nature. To make matters worse, be resentful, ruminating on the tragedy of it all and cursing the force that made this mess.
Everyone understands these sentiments. But the most successful among us acknowledge the horror of life, along with their capacity to contribute to it, and decide to hold faith that they can improve reality. They are alive, after all. What else is there to do? Opposed to nihilism, we could say that every action alters reality and that we may as well spend our time aiming at the Good.
The dangers of resentment have been told for millennia through the hostile brothers motif. In the Cain and Abel story, Cain fails to achieve an aim. He becomes resentful towards the seemingly unfair structure of existence, while his brother, Abel, uses proper sacrifice to thrive. Abel is simultaneously the embodiment of Cain’s ideal, a glowing reminder of Cain’s failure, and a target for revenge. Fueled by resentment, Cain lashes out and murders Abel. But Cain’s ideal, abstract beyond its manifestation in Abel, lives on and judges him with a punishment too great for him to bear.
Resentment is destructive in any form, only adding to our shared plight. When it comes to alleviating suffering, it simply isn’t practical. Neither is passive nihilism (a supposedly careless and neutral state), which causes a lack of meaningful engagement in the world that is both depressing and anxiety-provoking. Depression then causes the amygdala to grow, increasing emotional sensitivity. Suffering intensifies, and thus, reason for resentment. We fragment in the absence of a unifying aim, and our subpersonalities run amok in the cracks.
Rule 2: Listen to your subpersonalities and be wary of their advice
It has been known since the ancient Greeks — and undoubtedly before — that the human psyche is comprised of a multitude of spirits, gods, or subpersonalities. As Jordan noted, “you’re a loose collection of living subpersonalities, each with its own set of motivations, perceptions, emotions, and rationales, and you have limited control over that. You’re like a plurality of internal personalities that’s loosely linked into a unity.”
Some subpersonalities manifest as raw impulses — heated anger, raw lust, arrogant rationale — while others are more subtle manipulations. A timid child, for example, can decide to enter into an “unholy alliance” with an over-dependent parent, to avoid the pains of personal development.
When such voices arise, it is of the utmost importance to hear them for what they are: forces constantly warring for supremacy. Unchecked, they can guide us down a path of resentment. As Carl Jung said, “everybody acts out a myth, but very few people know what their myth is.”
What we consider to be subpersonalities were, to the ancient Greeks, manifestations of gods, giving rise to both creative and destructive instinct. So, the next time you find yourself inexplicably drawn to a hobby, you can think of it as a divine message, delivered by Mercury, to guide you down a mythical path. The key is to listen and determine if it aids your unified aim, rather than to be blindly led.
Rule 3: Direct personal development with your worst experiences
Order and chaos. Known and unknown. Yin and yang. Darkness and light. These are dichotomies used to describe the abstract field in which we function, and the two sides of a prosperous balance. For those of us living in a democracy, order is usually well managed. The easy part. The task of delving into chaos and using our discoveries to update the order is what puts us at risk. But, uncomfortable as it may be, that is the only way to generate wealth for oneself and one’s community.
No matter the scale of the incident, our worst experiences are, intrinsically, the most instructive. That is because it is within the unknown when we are fools, novices, and most easily dissuaded by anxiety and self-doubt. If a bad experience causes retreat into bitterness and resentment, then chaos has won the battle. But if the experience gives rise to constructive analysis and tenacity, then a new tool has been forged. Superficially, defeat has been the short-term outcome: an aim missed, a pitch rejected, a relationship denied. That could be the end of it. Spiritual defeat, as well as material. But for an individual with faith in their aim, it becomes a lesson that makes them stronger. Wealth has been scavenged from the chaos.
This rule is given to us in the story of Joseph. Betrayed by his brothers, Joseph is sold into slavery, and he later becomes a prisoner in Egypt. However brutal, these experiences do not embitter him. He continues to believe in the good and never uses his misfortune as an excuse to transgress his morals. Each misfortunate strengthens him, and, as a result, his competency becomes indisputable and rewarded.
Rule 4: Have a clear aim, and make it the best conceivable aim
Knowingly or not, everyone interprets reality through an overlaying value structure. Subpersonalities can distort those values and take us down paths against our better judgement. But values can also be clarified by aiming at an ideal. In either case, values limit action, and, as such, they play a substantial role in the creation of aims.
An ideal sits at the top of our value structure, and our relationship to it can cause a great deal of positive and negative emotion. In one example, Cain could not bear to see his brother succeed where he had failed, and so, like a jealous lover, he used his brother’s flesh as a means to attack his own set of values. Immediately, Cain judged that he had become ultimately reprehensible, an inhabitant of the deepest hell, for attacking the successful embodiment of his own ideal.
The opposite of that would be to pursue the best conceivable aim and keep faith that it is worth any sacrifice. But the more ambitious an aim, the more sacrifice and faith required. To make matters more complicated, if one’s aim is merely a crude mimicking of an ideal, motivation (willingness to sacrifice) also proves difficult. Challenging as it may be, the axiom is to embody the best possible set of abstract, transcendent values, and to thereby unite heaven and earth.
“The horrors of life are, of course, that everything eats everything else, and that everything dies, and that everything’s born, and that the whole bloody place is a charnel house, and it’s a catastrophe from beginning to end. This is the vision of it being other than that.” -Biblical Series IV
To enjoy life is to have so much faith in an aim that we are excited to make the necessary sacrifices. This outweighs the default horror of existence and makes living a net positive. In other words, aiming for the highest Good makes life not only bearable, but desirable. Biologically, this maintains the health of the hippocampus and its inhibition of emotional sensitivity. At the same time, taking action against chaos causes dopaminergic activation: the suppression of anxiety and pain. These reactions may be considered an evolutionary basis for fortune favouring the bold.
Unfortunately, the transcendent alignment that comes with pursuing a worthy aim disappears when it is achieved. A vacuum follows, ready to be filled with another aim. We can think of this as having a singular, ever-transforming aim that clarifies as a result of our effort to reach it. But it also means that an ideal can never be fully realized. This could be considered a consequence of our ability to conceptualize the future, and the meaning of original sin.
Carl Jung and Friedrich Nietzsche disagreed on how to conceive a transcendent aim. Nietzsche believed that Westerners, having lost faith in Christianity, had to create their own values. Jung thought the lack of unity within the human psyche made that impossible. Instead, individuals should utilize their subpersonalities and cultural history to make a “supreme moral effort” in their lives.
Following Jung’s advice, we engage in an evolutionary process of discovering a transcendent ideal. The bible is a guide: “these [biblical] stories are trying to express what you might describe as an unchanging, transcendent reality. It’s something like what’s common across all human experience, across all time.” Along the way, cultures have represented their ideals in artistic form. That which remains can and should be used to inform our behaviour.
Rule 5: Maintain a cultural locus
Jordan highlighted the practical reason for having a cultural locus during the 2018 Munk debate: “we need something approximating a low resolution grand narrative to unite us. Otherwise we don’t have peace.”
Thousands of years ago, a cultural locus could have been as simple as an upright stone in the center of a village. Representing that shared values existed, and that their embodiment resulted in prosperity, was enough. Today, the Chartres Cathedral is one example of a cultural locus, representing, with its labyrinth and cross-shaped structure, that voluntary sacrifice leads to salvation. Another is the Pietà, representing the role of the archetypal Mother.
These works of art speak to an optimum human experience. As such, they are densely packed with information on how to embody a set of values that the creator’s culture deemed transcendent, practical, and divine.
Faith in shared values makes cultures strong and united — confident enough, for example, to start 200-year construction projects that represent the divinity of those values. But if that faith is lost, a person or culture will fragment internally and lose its peace. Cultural loci protect against that by reminding us of the value of faith, and by giving us stable measures for recalibrating our aims. From this perspective, art can be seen as a tool to stave off chaos.
We should study and maintain our traditional art and places of worship, because there is too much about the human experience for us to learn in a single lifetime. We are historical creatures, and it would be disastrous to disregard the behavioural patterns by which we arrived at our current standard of living. But relying too heavily on the lessons of the dead would be to “live on the corpse of your ancestors,” reneging the duty of cultural revivification and inviting the same kind of chaos that comes to those who live too long under parental control. Therefore, we must maintain cultural loci by combining traditional values and new discoveries, updating the loci as we clarify our conception of a transcendent ideal.