Jordan Peterson Explains Why He Filled Home With Soviet Propaganda Art Pieces

Jordan Peterson has explained the "comical" reasoning why he decided to cover the walls of his home with Soviet art.

While appearing on the The Glenn Beck Program podcast, which aired Saturday, the Canadian psychologist and author was asked about the "pretty dark" propaganda he had inside his home in Toronto.

"I had 250 pieces of Soviet realist art. It's not hanging in my house at the moment, but it was for years," Peterson said.

Beck, a controversial former Fox News host, described how he is also fascinated by Soviet art because "if you don't understand the darkness, you can't really understand the light." Beck added the artwork itself can be "beautiful," which can be lost as people focus on the message the pieces are representing.

In response, Peterson said this was "one of the reasons" why he also chose to adorn the walls of his house with the art.

"Some of it was just sheer shock, that I was able to purchase these items," he added. "When I grew up, we never saw anything from the Soviet Union. I mean, that was just impossible.

"It was so comical to me that I could buy portraits of Marx on eBay, it was so unlikely that was the case. It was a miracle."

Peterson also described how his daughter once bought him a Karl Marx doll at a scientific toy store that was half price, describing the incident as "the same kind of comedy."

"I can buy a picture of Lenin and Marx on the most free market platform that's ever been devised for next to nothing, how could I pass that opportunity up," he said.

Peterson added that he was also interested in the artifacts themselves, describing the paintings as "high quality."

"My house was literally covered with paintings, every square inch, virtually ceiling as well, paintings everywhere. Technically, they were very sophisticated. And there was a battle between the propaganda and the art going on in the canvas all the time.

"That was really fascinating. Because over time, as we move farther and farther away from the Soviet Union, the art won out over the propaganda."

This is not the first time Peterson has spoken out about his vast Soviet collection.

In an interview on the H3 podcast in 2018, he described how he first purchased a silk flag that had been awarded to a factory for meeting its quota.

After noting the irony over the fact that he was able to purchase such items on eBay—which he called "the world's most capitalist enterprise"—Peterson said he has been "obsessed with totalitarianism and the human capacity for atrocity" and that having the paintings around "keeps that in my mind, and that all of this happened."

The collection was also mentioned in the foreword of his book 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos, which was written by psychiatrist Norman Doidge.

Doidge described how Peterson was living in the "most fascinating and shocking middle-class home" he had ever seen.

"They had art, some carved masks, and abstract portraits, but they were overwhelmed by a huge collection of original Socialist Realist paintings of Lenin and the early Communists commissioned by the USSR," Doidge said.

"Paintings lionizing the Soviet revolutionary spirit completely filled every single wall, the ceilings, even the bathrooms.

"The paintings were not there because Jordan had any totalitarian sympathies, but because he wanted to remind himself of something he knew he and everyone would rather forget: that hundreds of millions were murdered in the name of utopia."

Jordan Peterson
Jordan Peterson addresses students at The Cambridge Union on November 02, 2018 in Cambridge, Cambridgeshire. The Canadian psychologist explained why he had Soviet art in his home. Chris Williamson/Getty Images