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Jordan Peterson: even the Left isn’t safe from surveillance

Peterson tells congress to clean its tech room

March 8, 2024 - 5:00pm

The psychologist and author Jordan Peterson has warned that “no one will escape the purview” of government surveillance as new technology emerges while making a statement to a Congressional committee yesterday.

Peterson expanded by saying that while the US government is currently targeting people with “more conservative leanings”, it would change “in a moment when the political tides shift”, in a warning to those on the Left.

Speaking in Washington DC to the “Weaponization of federal government” committee, which is investigating the use of US citizens’ personal information by federal government branches, Peterson outlined the risks of monitoring, suggesting that increased cooperation between governments and corporations could create a “super-surveillance”.

The committee was also attended by Michael Fanone, a police officer defending the Capitol building on January 6 who was dragged through a crowd by the rioters and who described his experience as “brutal” and “violent”. Peterson described the storming of the Capitol in 2021 as a “very partisan issue” which produces a “very partisan divide”.

When asked why he didn’t embrace AI and facial recognition for safety, Peterson stated that there was “tremendous danger in too much security”, and that the safety would be short-term while the threats to privacy would be long-lasting.

Yesterday’s committee hearing took place in the wake of Jim Jordan’s announcement in January that he had received documents showing the US government had flagged consumer transactions which mentioned support for Donald Trump. Transactions were marked for including terms such as “MAGA” and “Trump”, indicating an interest in following the financial activity of Right-leaning Americans.

During the course of the hearing, Democrats and Republicans disagreed on the extent to which the government should have access to banking records. Jim Jordan stressed the problems of the FBI analysing rioters bank records without a warrant, while Democrat Stacey Plaskett suggested that the search was justified to prevent a future event similar to the Capitol riot.

The committee later asked Peterson for his thoughts on Canada’s de-banking scandal, in which Prime Minister Justin Trudeau used the controversial Emergencies Act to freeze the bank accounts of those who participated in “Freedom Convoy” protests over Covid measures.

Peterson responded by raising the dangers of de-banking in the US. He said it “was absolutely coming” and that it would be “facilitated by the advancements in technology” that the world is currently seeing, such as ongoing developments in AI.

Citing China as an example of a government using tools such as AI and facial recognition, Peterson described how the Chinese Communist Party has the “most complete apparatus of surveillance in the world”, highlighting the country’s 700 million CCTV cameras. The technology that might then be created, according to the author, would be something “George Orwell could scarcely imagine”.


is UnHerd’s Editorial Trainee.

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Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
4 months ago

I’ve been saying this for years to my progressive and politically-correct acquaintances. They simply cannot see this as they firmly believe that the government is on their side due to its support of feminism, LGBQT activism, and eco-friendly measures.
What I find most disconcerting, however, is that they seem very comfortable shifting allegiances at the click of a switch. One moment they’re (((echoing))) their social media handles, the next they’re virulently anti-Jewish. One moment they’re anti-genital mutilation among women, but then later they campaign for it among children. One moment they’re anti-corporation, the next they’re completely ok with governments and corporations working closely together to dictate policy and interpersonal norms in work spaces. One moment they’re fierce free speech advocates, the next they’re anti free speech. One moment they’re against all forms of ‘patriarchy’, but then go on to declare support for the most patriarchal system on earth. One moment they’re fierce defenders of isolation and lockdowns, but then the next they’re out celebrating gay parades and riots during a pandemic only they believe in.
It suggests to me a complete lack of a cohesive internally-driven values system: people who support causes because their friends do, because it’s trending on social media, or because the media and government tell them to.
And the most dangerous thing about them is the arrogant belief that their educational background and their governmentally-approved views make them 100% correct about everything, therefore all others are wrong-headed enemies.

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
4 months ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

It suggest to me that you fundamentally don’t understand any of the issues that your “acquaintances” are discussing at a level that you will never reach.
Stick to the Trump worship and leave the complicated stuff to the grown ups…

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
4 months ago

You have done remarkably well in proving my point.

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
4 months ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

If your point was proclaiming your stupidity then you are absolutely correct!

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
4 months ago

No Dude. He just embarrassed you. Your stupidity proved HIS point.

Simon Boudewijn
Simon Boudewijn
4 months ago

Champagne Has to be a False Flag – no one could ever believe what he says. He is trolling us all. haha….

laurence scaduto
laurence scaduto
4 months ago

I’m still convinced it’s a robot.
Someone should unplug it, wait a minute or two, then plug it back in. That might do the trick.

Allison 0
Allison 0
4 months ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

For the Left, their misty Utopian ends justify any means.

Nathan Sapio
Nathan Sapio
4 months ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

Wow well done. Precisely.

I was going to say people should copy that and share that online as much as possible, but given the article and the way platforms artificially limit the reach of messages like that, things would probably better served to just print 1000 copies and post them on corners…

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
4 months ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

“One moment they’re anti-genital mutilation among women, but then later they campaign for it among children.”
When I asked my daughter, who was campaigning against FGM in the Middle East, why she didn’t also campaign against “trans” child mutilation, she had absolutely no answer.

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
4 months ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

I imagine her answer was actually “get lost you bigoted old swine. We all hate you and we are glad that mum left you”

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
4 months ago

You sound unstable. Do you have someone who takes care of you?

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
4 months ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

You sound like you are still a bit emotional about me calling you out on your obvious lies.
That will not be stopping.

Francisco Menezes
Francisco Menezes
4 months ago

Thank you so much for you humorous contributions. Love reading them.

Chipoko
Chipoko
4 months ago

You misuse this medium to launch deeply unpleasant, abusive personal attacks against other commentators who are making valid points. I am surprised you’ve not been banned from Unherd for your poisonous presence, as exemplified by your disgusting response to Richard Craven above.

Carl Valentine
Carl Valentine
4 months ago
Reply to  Chipoko

Get a sense of humour…

Andrew F
Andrew F
4 months ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

I have no kids, but should it not be parents duty to counter indoctrination of their children by state institutions, unless they believe that woke views are OK?
Then some of my friends say that trying that will get them and children into trouble.
West is now close to late communism, where protesting against state dogma would no longer had you killed or sent to gulag but you would loose your job etc.

Andrew F
Andrew F
4 months ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

Great post.
But explanation for your analysis is very simple if you read history of communism.
Denial of reality and spouting out moronic slogans is what these people do.
And all the woke idiots are just Neo-Marxists even if they don’t know it.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
4 months ago
Reply to  Andrew F

‘And all the woke idiots are just Neo-Marxists even if they don’t know it.’ Or ‘Champagne Socialists’ . Same thing really.

Betsy Arehart
Betsy Arehart
4 months ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

The thing about the left is that whatever its concerns of the moment are, they are secondary—at its root it is all about power.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
4 months ago

There is no doubt that if the Left represented as much of a danger as the Right then they would be subject to all the same excesses of state power.
The Left are under no illusion about this. Only the Right believe they are being unfairly targeted/persecuted.
If climate radicals started blowing up pipelines of course they would get the ol’ Jan 6th treatment. Or if they actually started doing leftist things like appropriating private assets or making it very difficult for capital to do as capital does it would be the same. As it happens the mollified “Left” just indulges in a form of twisted rainbow neoliberalism with tolerable protests about non-issues giving the illusion of political control and activism.
It is unhelpful to turn this into a Left/Right issue. Rather than complaining about who suffers more and competing to out-whinge the other we should all be acting against it.
We already have mass surveillance of the type Orwell would have feared and scarcely believed. He was not anti-state, he was anti-totalitarian and would have been as uncomfortable with facebook’s database of billions of faces and life histories as with China’s system.
Huxley and Brave New World are closer to our modern world. We gave it all away for comfort and pleasure!

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
4 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

I think this is largely true, but it ignores the BLM riots and its aftershocks. Thousands of businesses were destroyed across the country and there were no legal consequences for the rioters.

Lubomir Poliacik
Lubomir Poliacik
4 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Well this certainly has not been the case here in Canada.
During the truck convoy protest in Ottawa in 2022 the government, with the support of the mainstream media gave the full Jan 6 treatment (including de-baking participants and people who contributed funds) to the truckers.
On the other hand, in February 2022 there was an extremely violent attack on pipeline workers at a camp in northern British Columbia. There have been no arrests.
Similarly, there has been a complete lack of government action regarding the at least 33 Canadian churches that have burned to the ground since May 2021.
So making this a Left/Right issue might not be all that far off the mark. It certainly is right on the money here in Canada.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
4 months ago

By the way, that terrorist attack on the pipeline happened on the exact same day the govt implemented the Emergencies Act. You can’t make this stuff up. They actually caused $2 mill in damage and fired flare guns at people hiding inside their truck.

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
4 months ago

Why would they invite this putz to yammer on about yet another topic he knows nothing about?
Peterson’s 15 minutes have been up for a a long time – we’ll all be glad to see the back of him and his hideous outfits.

Vesselina Zaitzeva
Vesselina Zaitzeva
4 months ago

“We’ll all”? Please, assume some agency and personal responsibility and speak on your own behalf. No need to hide behind the back of the collectivist (and non-existent, btw) “all”

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
4 months ago

You presume to know who I mean by “we”.
You don’t.

Bret Larson
Bret Larson
4 months ago

Another infestation huh? Better hygiene could help.

Vesselina Zaitzeva
Vesselina Zaitzeva
4 months ago
Reply to  Bret Larson

Am afraid that in this specific case, nothing will help. Sometimes I even feel some pity for the CS. He is utterly inadequate and dysregulated, desperately seeking attention by all means possible and, given his manners and IQ, it’s clear that he is not capable of getting even negative attention from anyone in the offline world. Hence he’s trying so hard here, poor guy

Mike Michaels
Mike Michaels
4 months ago

Is it the same definition of “The people” that Mao used by any chance?

Arthur King
Arthur King
4 months ago

The royal we perhaps. lol /s

Stu N
Stu N
4 months ago

Your multiple personalities, because you’re mental?

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
4 months ago

I doubt you do either

Peter Lee
Peter Lee
4 months ago

obfuscation! We all know what you meant by “we’ll all be glad ,..”.

Arthur King
Arthur King
4 months ago
Reply to  Peter Lee

Autistic person here … what do you think he ment?

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
4 months ago

That’s the thing. People don’t understand when the govt goes after your enemy, they will eventually come for you too. Shortly after her successful $500 mill lawsuit against Trump, New York AG Letitia James launched a lawsuit against beef producer JBS Foods for failing to meet its stated emission reduction goals – for 2040!!! She basically argues the company is lying because it intends to increase beef production. You might think this is fine, but the same logic can be applied to virtually any large corporation in the world – car manufacturers, textile companies, electronics manufacturers. The AG has subverted the rule of law to advance her political career by attacking businesses she thinks voters will approve of.

T Bone
T Bone
4 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

You are locked in, Jim. Didn’t see that story. Wow!!!

Andrew F
Andrew F
4 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

All true, but if woke government uses measures which keep it permanently in power while in theory we still have elections etc, then what?
For example by flooding country will illegal immigrants, allowing non citizens and 16 years old to vote etc.
All part of Labour plan in uk.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
4 months ago

There is disconnect among the political galaxy brains who think that the great move they plan to use against their opponents can’t also be against them.

David Lindsay
David Lindsay
4 months ago

Just as the Left has never not been cancelled, we have never not been surveilled. Welcome to our world.

Arthur King
Arthur King
4 months ago

Peterson is a brilliant and lovely human being.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
4 months ago
Reply to  Arthur King

Agreed.

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
4 months ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

He’s a clown in awful suits.
Peterson is the kind of person who dumb people think is smart. Kind of like how Trump is what poor people think rich people are like.
You are too stupid to know any better.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
4 months ago

Have you actually made any positive substantive point, ever? Just a load of moronic, childish abuse. Someone who can’t articulate anything they supposedly believe is actually the stupid person. But fashionable, “progressive” -.natch.

Katalin Kish
Katalin Kish
4 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

Don’t feed the troll please. There is nothing to be gained from these exchanges.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
4 months ago
Reply to  Katalin Kish

Andrew, please dont feed the troll.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
4 months ago

I would hazard a guess that Dr Peterson’s IQ is substantially higher than yours.

j watson
j watson
4 months ago

Ironic isn’t it – there is a v important argument that we need to protect the liberty of others as you never know when tables will turn and you/we need the same protection, yet coming from the Right MAGA/Trumpists who remain determined to move to the Strong Man model of governance and limitations to it’s control. The contradiction v striking but not unique to Populists.
A more general point – always surprises from this side of the Atlantic that US thinks it has a Left and a Right. Maybe on some ‘cultural war’ stuff it does, but on economics it’s all Right, just to slightly different degrees. And therein perhaps lies much of the problem and why there are many prone to fake Trumpist promises.

AC Harper
AC Harper
4 months ago

You can make an argument that, at government level, there is no Left or Right anymore, just a Punch and Judy show to amuse the electorate.
The real government is made up of people who are box tickers, completely removed from real life. Box ticking is the be all and end all of their careers. And since box ticking is not anchored in real life then any box is permissible and will eventually be used against other box tickers.
The map is not the terrain, but it is seductive.

Simon Boudewijn
Simon Boudewijn
4 months ago
Reply to  AC Harper

The Uni party is owned and is the majority – but do not doubt that there is an actual war going on – the war against good by evil, and in USA many great people are deep into the fight for the very existance of the nation, and for all which is good – as the uniparty fights for all which is corrupt and evil.

The thing is the side of good can still win. If the people awake to the wickedness they are being led into and rebel – there exists a set of leaders in USA who could sweep the evil out and restore decency. If only the people wake up before the ‘Hideous Strengthen’ of the tech prison is fully formed. After it is fully created and formed – 5 – 10 years maybe – then it will be too late.

In all UK I do not see one though, not one person of total conviction and strength to fight the gathering darkness. I suspect this is true in most of the West, that postmodernist Liberalism (evil) has replaced Enlightenment Liberalism (good) almost completely from infants to adults. Christianity replaced with Secular-Humanism in all education, Media, Entertainment, and Government. It has been a rout. A planed and executed one. A 5th generation war fought from inside the society to destroy it.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
4 months ago

Good and evil is a massive simplification -.and just doesn’t begin to comprehend what is going on. Apart from anything else, the current cultural revolution going on is all too reminiscent and reflective of the Christian 4th century fanatics who suborned and eventually took over the Roman Empire, destroying in the process the majority of Classical culture.

Andrew F
Andrew F
4 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

How do you think any of Classical culture survived?
By 4th century CE, the Western Rome was gone.
Whatever you might think about Christianity, it carried onwards the culture of Greece and Rome under the onslaught of barbarians.
Eventually, Charlamagne arrived and West recovered.
Would we be any better now if other cultures and religions prevailed?
China, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism?

Betsy Arehart
Betsy Arehart
4 months ago
Reply to  Andrew F

I think the answer is obvious.

R Wright
R Wright
4 months ago

Good to see Unherd has a new writer on staff.

Howard S.
Howard S.
4 months ago

Eventually tyrants and tyrannical systems eat their own. Stalin’s purges, Hitler’s Night of the Long Knives, China’s Cultural Revolution. American Universities and American academia in general are undergoing a Great Purge tight now. The white liberals and white billionaires who for so long funded and pushed for racial and ethnic diversity and advocacy are seeing the results: repression of independent thought, anti-white and anti-Semitic behavior, including physical attacks on students. The chickens are coming home to roost.

Katalin Kish
Katalin Kish
4 months ago

As Australia’s bikers show off with bone-chilling innocence, the biggest threat of surveillance, financial freezing, remote weapons’ grade etc. technology is that it does not remain under the control of elected governments, not even dictators. Opportunity makes thieves everywhere.

Katalin Kish
Katalin Kish
4 months ago

Stop assuming surveillance being done
1) by the powerful
2) for significant, logical reasons
Surveillance tech is so cheap, so easy to use, a bored psycho IT Helpdesk Assistant stalker has been using it for sadistic pervert entertainment since at least 2009, in a leafy Melbourne suburb. Whatever he uses is planted during flaunted building/vehicle break-ins. At no risk of prosecution. I never even dated the stalker. His crimes are ongoing.

Jake Raven
Jake Raven
4 months ago

Decisions made today have unintended consequences tomorrow. The march to greater authoritarianism and big state is accelerating, aided and abetted by socialist policies that younger generations support.
They will live to regret their political ideology – Ye sow, so shall ye reap.

Douglas Redmayne
Douglas Redmayne
4 months ago

The future will be one of full automation of labour which will require a universal basic invome. This will be awarded in return for the right behaviours ( ie not commiting crime or anti social behaviour) and probably fertility control to manage doen numbers in the long run. This wont work without mass surveillance so Peterson is on the wrng side of history.