Skip To Content


March 06, 2024 | In The News

Jordan Peterson: Government-Corporate Collusion ‘Threatens Everyone’s Freedom Equally’

DAILY SIGNAL — Famed psychologist and author Jordan Peterson warned Congress about a potential “superstate” in which collusion between government and corporations may be “eliminating the private sphere.”

Peterson was a witness Thursday in a hearing held by a special House panel on government “weaponization” that focused on the Biden administration’s working with large banks to surveil private financial data and, in some cases, “debank” Americans.

A total of five witnesses, including Peterson, appeared before the House Judiciary Select Subcommittee on Weaponization of the Federal Government.

Peterson and the others testified about cases in which banks refused to do business with a Christian charity and other conservative-leaning organizations as a result of government pressure. They also noted instances in which the FBI used bank records to monitor gun purchases.

During the hearing, subcommittee Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, asked: “Dr. Peterson, do you think they are just going to stop with conservatives?”

Peterson responded that Americans’ concern should be about ever-expanding control rather than a specific political party.

“The danger posed by this increasing ability of governments and large corporations to collude threatens everyone’s freedom equally,” Peterson testified. “It could well be at the moment—and I think this is the point Republicans here are trying to make—is that the people in the sights of that collusion tend to have more conservative leanings, but that will shift in a moment whenever the political tides shift.”

Jordan noted that his subcommittee’s investigation uncovered government surveillance without a court warrant that wasn’t predicated on evidence of criminal conduct but rather on flagging transactions deemed related to Americans’ constitutionally protected rights to political and religious expression.

However, Democrats on the government weaponization subcommittee insisted that both the hearing and the panel were created to minimize the importance of the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021. That day, supporters of then-President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol, apparently to stop Congress’ certification of Joe Biden’s 2020 victory over Trump in the Electoral College.

Peterson acknowledged the preoccupation with Jan. 6.

“We are concentrating a fair bit in this hearing on the specific events of Jan. 6, a very partisan issue that produces an intense partisan divide,” Peterson said. “But we’re not addressing the fundamental issue here directly, which is [that] our new technology enables a mode of surveillance that is so intense and all-pervading that no one will escape its purview regardless of their political views.”

Democrats’ hearing witness was Michael Fanone, a D.C. police officer who responded to the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol and wrote a book about it titled “Hold the Line: The Insurrection and One Cop’s Battle for America’s Soul.”

“The distortions, mischaracterizations, and lies about Jan. 6 resulted, or at least partially played a role, in me leaving my job as a metropolitan police officer,” Fanone told the subcommittee. “They have inspired fellow Americans to threaten me, threaten members of my family, simply because of the statements I have made about my experience both on Jan. 6, 2021, and in the aftermath.”

Del. Stacey Plaskett, a nonvoting Democrat representing the Virgin Islands who is the ranking member of the subcommittee, said law-abiding citizens have nothing to fear.

“I’ve shopped in a Bass Pro Shop plenty of times. I read the Bible on a regular basis. I happen to be and my family happen to be gun owners,” Plaskett said. “But I’m not afraid that the FBI is going to be searching my account, because I was also not a rioter on Jan. 6.”

Other witnesses included Brian Knight, director of innovation and governance at the Mercatus Center, a think tank at George Mason University; Jeremy Tedesco, senior counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian legal group; and Norbert Michel, director of the Cato Institute’s Center for Monetary and Financial Alternatives.

At one point in the hearing, Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., sarcastically asked Peterson: “Why are you such a Luddite? Why don’t you embrace artificial intelligence and facial recognition and massive computer surveillance and cameras on every street corner, so that we could all be safer?”

Paterson gave a serious response about the dangers of too much security.

“If the emerging collusion between government and gigantic corporations continues in the manner it is continuing, there won’t be anything that you do that can’t be used against you and will be used against you in very short order,” Peterson said, later adding:

The concerns that are expressed here about the local consequences of that, let’s say with regard to Jan. 6, seem to me to fail to take into account the much broader threat that lurks underneath that everyone should be attending to.

We are in danger of eliminating the private sphere in its entirety. It’s already happening in places around the world, particularly China, which is why I made reference to that. We have technologies at hand, and it appears both giant corporations and giant governments are utilizing it in every way that they can manage.

It’s often motivated by the claim that that’s forestalling an immediate, proximal threat, while that is a short-term justification for engaging in a tremendous long-term danger. It should be perceived to those on the Left as a danger, because it will be the politically committed who are first identified by such systems.

Last year, Canada’s College of Psychologists of Ontario ordered Peterson to undergo reeducation therapy to keep his license to practice, after the Canadian clinical psychologist made public comments on culture and politics. When Peterson sued, the Divisional Court in Ontario ruled against him.

Massie said jokingly that “the reeducation has not been successful.”

Rep. Greg Steube, R-Fla., said that it’s “absolutely insane, the level of the deep state acting to go after pro-life groups, pro-gun groups.”

“The U.S. Department of Treasury told banks to be on the lookout for use of debit and credit cards for the purchase of legal firearms,” Steube said. “It’s appalling that a federal agency would ask private companies to spy on legal business transactions.”

Steube also noted that the Treasury Department issued a report, “Bankrolling Bigotry,” that identified several conservative groups—including Alliance Defending Freedom—as hate groups. He asked ADF’s Tedesco about that.

“It’s unbelievable that that has been used by the federal government to advise banks on domestic terrorist threats,” Tedesco testified. “I think the bigger point here is that the concept of hate is a tool of suppression. That kind of language, hate speech and similar vague language, are permeated throughout the financial industry [and] used to shut down and debank people.”