Peterson, as far as I can tell, has built his public career on pulling off a similar trick – but in reverse. The perceived addressee of his self-help (we’ll call him ‘Bucko’), is someone young and useless: directionless and depressed, dissatisfied; perhaps unable to get out of bed. He (it’s usually a ‘he’, but one suspects it is also sometimes a girl with blue hair) feels insufficiently loved – by his parents, by any prospective romantic partners – and feels as if the world is failing to yield any adequate opportunities for him. But, while Peterson’s audience certainly does appear to contain a high percentage of angry young men, I do not get the impression that young Bucko is who he is really helping. Rather, the perceived addressee is the sort of person his audience fears they might be, and wishes to assured they are not. (For older readers I think this probably works more like: Bucko is who they know their kids to be, and they want to be told it’s OK to hate them). By reading Jordan Peterson, or going to hear him talk, his audience are given a sense of their own superiority: they are not the people responsible for making the world go down the toilet, by failing to knuckle down and get on with things; they are not the people poisoning our institutions by trying to get everyone else to subscribe to the Stalinist woke dogma they have bent their will to. They might even be the sort of special hero who gets to transcend all this stuff. They are valid, and their sufferings are real – it’s the petty complaints of everyone else that are not.