Two eminent public intellectuals — Jordan B. Peterson, the Canadian psychologist, and Slavoj Zizek, the Slovenian philosopher — sold out the Sony Centre in Toronto with their debate “Happiness, Capitalism vs. Marxism.” What followed had little to do with happiness and less to do with capitalism and Marxism, and with both speakers continuously emphasizing how much they agreed with one another, it scarcely qualified as a debate.
Peterson went first. In 30 minutes, he dismantled The Communist Manifesto, explaining why history ought not to be viewed primarily as a “class struggle.” He then cited the atrocities of the 20th century — and the Soviet Union in particular — as evidence of Marx being a “narcissistic thinker.” (Didn’t Marx worry what might happen if his theories turned out to be wrong?)
Of course, there’s far more to Marxism than The Communist Manifesto. But instead of using the opportunity to clarify what Marxism is, Zizek proceeded to deliver a sprawling (and fascinating) pre-written speech on contemporary politics. He observed the economic “success story” of China and Trump as the ultimate “postmodern president.” All of this was far more “complex,” admitted Peterson.