Postmodernism in the Twenty-First Century: Jordan Peterson, Jean Baudrillard and the Problem of Chaos

  • Brett NichollsEmail author


After a highpoint in the late 1980s and 1990s, postmodern thought seems to have run its course. The controversial debates within Marxism have dissipated, and the influence of postmodern theory has faded. However, in the popular imagination, postmodernism is undergoing a revival of sorts. The term once signalled the collapse of hitherto fixed social and aesthetic categories and the problems and ontological possibilities this collapse opens up. With the deepening of the New Right, it now reductively stands in for dogmatic relativism, or, in other words, for the notion that individuals can thumb their noses at what is evident, choose their reality and be dogmatic or even militant about it. If we follow popular pundits such as Jordan Peterson, who is at the forefront of this reduction, postmodern dogmatism is currently causing a current crisis in (white, North American) social and moral values. The chapter considers how this revival of postmodernism works in the current conjuncture in the global North and consists of three overlapping components. The first provides a brief outline of the use of postmodernism as the figure of the irrational and dogmatic other. The second unpacks Jordan Peterson’s extreme conservative thought. And the third considers what happens to Peterson’s thought when it encounters an actual, so-called postmodernist, Jean Baudrillard. I turn to Baudrillard because he shares a set of overlapping concerns with Peterson, but takes these concerns in entirely different directions.


Postmodernism Baudrillard Jordan Peterson Jung The New Right 


  1. Abcqanda. (2019, February 26). Jordan Peterson Calls Out the Pseudo-Moralistic Stances of Activists [Video file]. Retrieved from
  2. Ansell, A. E. (1997). New Right, New Racism: Race and Reaction in the United States and Britain. New York: New York University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bandits, R. [Rubberbandits]. (2019, January 31). Jordan Peterson Calmly Dismantles IKEA Furniture [Tweet]. Retrieved from
  4. Baudrillard, J. (1990). Fatal Strategies. New York: Semiotext(e).Google Scholar
  5. Baudrillard, J. (1996). The Perfect Crime. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  6. Baudrillard, J. (2003). Passwords. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  7. Baudrillard, J. (2005). The Intelligence of Evil or the Lucidity Pact. New York: Berg.Google Scholar
  8. Baudrillard, J. (2011). Impossible Exchange. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  9. Benhabib, S. (1991). Feminism and the Question of Postmodernism. Praxis International, 11(2), 137–150.Google Scholar
  10. Bhabha, H. (1994). The Location of Culture. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  11. Bloom, A. (1987). The Closing of the American Mind: How Higher Education Has Failed Democracy and Impoverished the Souls of Today’s Students. New York: Simon & Schuster.Google Scholar
  12. Butler, J., Laclau, E., & Zizek, S. (2000). Contingency, Hegemony, Universality: Contemporary Dialogues on the Left. Verso: London.Google Scholar
  13. Callinicos, A. (1991). Against Postmodernism: A Marxist Critique. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  14. During, S. (1987). Postmodernism or Post-colonialism Today. Textual Practice, 1(1), 32–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. EducateInspireChangeTV. (2018, December 14). Jordan Peterson Completely Destroys Feminist Narrative [Video file]. Retrieved from
  16. Fraser, N., & Nicholson, L. J. (1990). Social Criticism Without Philosophy: An Encounter Between Feminism and Postmodernism. In L. J. Nicholson (Ed.), Feminism/Postmodernism. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  17. Fuller, D. (2017, 20 May). Insisting on Truth in Times of Crisis. Perspectiva. Accessed 20 January 2019.
  18. Habermas, J. (1992). Postmetaphysical Thinking. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  19. Haider, S. (2018, January 23). Postmodernism Did Not Take Place: On Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life. Film for Action. Retrieved from
  20. Hardt, M., & Negri, A. (2000). Empire. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Jameson, F. (1991). Postmodernism, or, the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism. Verso: London.Google Scholar
  22. Jung, C. G. (1960). On the Nature of the Psyche: Collected Works (Vol. 8, pp. 159–236). New York: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  23. Jung, C. G. (1980). The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious. New York: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  24. Jung, C. G. (2009). The Red Book: Liber Novus. New York and London: W. W. Norton.Google Scholar
  25. Koizilla. (2018). Lazy Hazy Dayzy. Lazy Hazy [Music]. Retrieved from
  26. Laclau, E., & Mouffe, C. (1985). Hegemony and Socialist Strategy: Towards a Radical Democratic Politics. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  27. Meeker, N. (1995). Rethinking the Universal, Reworking the Political: Postmodern Feminism and the French Enlightenment. Women in French Studies, 3, 21–33. Scholar
  28. Nicholls, B. (2016). Baudrillard in a ‘Post-truth’ World: Groundwork for a Critique of the Rise of Trump. Medianz, 16(2), 6–30.
  29. O’Neill, J. (1995). The Poverty of Postmodernism. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  30. Paglia, C. (1991). Sex, Art and American Culture: Essays. New York: Vintage Books.Google Scholar
  31. Peterson, J. B. (1999). Maps of Meaning: The Architecture of Belief. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  32. Peterson, J. B. (2018). 12 Rules for Life. London: Penguin.Google Scholar
  33. Peterson, J. B. (2019, May 15). Marxism: Zizek/Peterson: Official Video [Video file]. Retrieved from
  34. R/badphilosophy. (2018). Postmodernism Defeated. Reddit, n.p. Accessed 10 January 2019.
  35. Reklmpt [Reklmpt]. (2019, May 14). Jordan Peterson Calmly Destroys a Large Tub of Hummus for Him and Six Pittas [Tweet]. Retrieved from
  36. Remo [remOlino]. (2019, February 9). Me: Youtubers—Jordan Peterson Calmly DESTROYS/DISMANTLES/STUMPS/GOES FULL LOBSTER/TRIGGERS/EVISCERATES/OBLITERATES Feminism and Postmodernism in a Debate [Tweet]. Retrieved from
  37. RobinHoodUKIP. (2018, 17 May). Jordan Peterson Calmly Dismantles Feminism in Front of Two Feminists [Video file]. Retrieved from
  38. Sheridan, S. (2019, 23 March). A Manifesto for a Dark Age. The Australian, p. 20.Google Scholar
  39. Spivak, G. C. (1988). Can the Subaltern Speak? In C. Nelson & L. Grossberg (Eds.), Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture (pp. 271–313). Urbana: University of Illinois Press.Google Scholar
  40. St. Pierre, E. (2013). The Posts Continue: Becoming. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 26(6), 646–657. Scholar
  41. Tacey, D. (1997). Remaking Men: Jung, Spirituality and Social Change. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  42. The Spinoff. (2018, December 5). Angry Feminist Schooled by Jordan B Peterson Logic! [Video file]. Retrieved from

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of OtagoDunedinNew Zealand

Personalised recommendations