Jordan Peterson #325

Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson is an American classicist, military historian, and commentator known for his scholarly work in ancient warfare and contemporary politics. Born on September 5, 1953, in Fowler, California, Hanson grew up on a family farm and developed an early interest in history and literature. He received his BA in Classics from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and his PhD in Classics from Stanford University. Hanson is a senior fellow in residence in classics and military history at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and a professor of classics emeritus at California State University, Fresno. He has written or edited over two dozen books, including "The Western Way of War: Infantry Battle in Classical Greece," which is highly regarded for its analysis of Greek warfare. Hanson is known for his conservative political views and his frequent contributions to national publications, where he addresses issues related to modern warfare, foreign policy, and American culture. His work often blends historical perspective with contemporary analysis, offering insights on current events through the lens of history. Hanson's contribution to both classical scholarship and modern political discourse has made him a prominent and respected figure in both academic and public circles.

Books Mentioned on The Jordan B. Peterson Podcast #325 - Victor David Hanson:

Book Title: The Second World Wars

Author: Victor Davis Hanson

Book Title: The End of Sparta

Author: Victor Davis Hanson

Book Title: The Soul of Battle

Author: Victor Davis Hanson

Book Title: Carnage and Culture

Author: Victor Davis Hanson

Book Title: The Case for Trump

Author: Victor Davis Hanson

Book Title: The Dying Citizen

Author: Victor Davis Hanson

Book Title: The Gulag Archipelago

Author: Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

The Bible

Exploring Literacy, Universities, and Citizenship: Insights from Jordan B. Peterson’s Podcast with Victor Davis Hanson

In this article, we delve into the first part of an enlightening conversation between Dr. Jordan B. Peterson and Victor Davis Hanson, featured in episode 325 of the Jordan B. Peterson Podcast. They discuss the transformative power of literacy, the changing role of universities, and the concept of citizenship in historical and modern contexts.

The Power of Literacy

The podcast opens with a discussion on how the translation of biblical writings significantly boosted literacy worldwide. Historically, literacy was not common, with the pastor’s home often serving as the first school. This segment underscores the role of religion, especially Christianity, in fostering literacy, with songs playing a crucial role in preserving scriptures.

Historical Role of Universities

The conversation shifts to the traditional role of universities. Historically, universities were envisioned as places where students learned the inductive method, allowing them to draw conclusions from examples in art, literature, and history. Universities provided an arsenal of knowledge, equipping students to understand and interpret human experiences effectively.

Concept of Citizenship

 Peterson and Hanson delve into the concept of citizenship, contrasting modern citizens with pre-modern residents or tribal members. They explore how citizenship, a relatively recent idea in civilization, emerged around 700 BC in Greece, emphasizing self-governance and clear definitions of citizen responsibilities. Hanson discusses the evolution of American citizenship, highlighting the distinction between a citizen and a resident in terms of voting rights, holding office, and other civic duties.

Impact on Modern Society

The podcast touches on how the modern notion of citizenship is being eroded by factors such as progressive elites, tribalism, and globalism. This erosion is marked by a shift from merit-based systems to a focus on identity politics, leading to challenges in maintaining societal cohesion and effective governance.

Institutional Trust and Ideological Shifts

Peterson and Hanson discuss the paradoxical shift in the left’s perspective towards large institutions. Initially critical of these institutions, the left now finds them appealing as tools to advance their agenda, such as promoting green energy or equity. This change, Hanson points out, is rooted in a broader historical context, where progressivism and movements for radical egalitarianism have led to an increased reliance on institutions to enforce these ideologies.

The Role of Humanities in Education

The conversation emphasizes the vital role of a humanities education in developing wise citizens capable of preventing the deterioration towards destructive ideologies. Peterson highlights that deep literacy and historical knowledge are crucial for empowering individuals to make positive changes in their lives and society. The discussion also touches on the failure of universities to uphold their role in imparting this essential knowledge.

Political Correctness and Intellectual Capacity

 Peterson shares findings from his research indicating that politically correct beliefs are more prevalent among individuals with lower verbal intelligence. This trend suggests that simpler, unidimensional worldviews are attractive to those seeking easy answers to complex social issues.

Decay of Democratic Institutions 

Hanson brings up the issue of ignorance among the younger generation about the past and the unique nature of the American system. He points out that there’s a collective amnesia, fueled by a lack of civic education and understanding of history, leading to a disdain for the past and an erosion of democratic principles.

Future of Education and Universities

The podcast concludes with Peterson expressing optimism about the potential for new educational institutions to emerge as traditional universities abdicate their responsibility for proper education. He mentions that places like Hillsdale College might be at the forefront of this educational revolution.

The Conservative Dilemma

Peterson identifies a critical issue within contemporary conservatism: while conservatives traditionally support institutions, there’s a growing distrust due to perceived corruption and ideological manipulation. This paradox poses a challenge: how can conservatives advocate for institutional integrity without inadvertently supporting the leftist critique that all institutions are fundamentally corrupt?

Institutional Corruption and Leftist Ideologies

 Hanson discusses the left’s increasing embrace of once-skeptical institutions like the military and intelligence agencies, now seen as tools to implement ideological agendas. This shift reflects a deeper transformation within these institutions, from being ideologically neutral to becoming platforms for leftist policies.

The Role of Humanities in Fostering Wise Citizens

 Both Peterson and Hanson stress the critical role of a humanities education in developing informed, principled citizens. They argue that without this education, society risks repeating the mistakes of the past. A deep understanding of history, literature, and philosophy is essential for nurturing wise, responsible citizens capable of sustaining democratic values.

Political Correctness and Intellectual Capacity

 Building on earlier discussions, Peterson highlights research findings indicating a correlation between politically correct beliefs and lower verbal intelligence. This suggests a preference for simplistic narratives over complex, nuanced understanding, further emphasizing the need for a solid humanities education.

Future of Traditional Institutions

Hanson expresses concern about the future of traditional institutions, noting a trend of ideological capture by leftist agendas. This development, he argues, risks undermining the very foundations of democratic society, as institutions lose their neutrality and become instruments of particular political agendas.


In this final segment of their conversation, Jordan B. Peterson and Victor Davis Hanson explore the complex challenges facing conservatism and the broader crisis of citizenship in contemporary society. They highlight the indispensable role of humanities education in cultivating informed, principled citizens capable of navigating these challenges and upholding democratic values.