Looking at Thomas Michaud’s Essay (2021) “Anatomy of the Progressive Revolution” (Part 1 of 9)

0001 The article under consideration appears in a special issue of Studia Gilsoniana (volume 10(5), pages 1107-1120), covering economics and politics.

I downloaded the article from academia.edu.

The article addresses issues raised in How To Define the Word “Religion”, as well as in contributions to the Intimations of Political Philosophy series.

0002 The structure of Michaud’s argument follows Greek textual structure.  Greek textual structure seeks certainty by eliminating possibilities.  

Here, Michaud presents two options: (A) the traditional view of religion as the foundation of morality and culture and (B) the Progressive view, where politics transforms culture by imposing revolutionary ideological social justice through a collectivist economy.  Then, Michaud questions the Progressive stance (B) by considering one implication, the integrity of the individual as a person.  This leaves (A) as the only viable option.

0003 Of course, I oversimplify.

Why am I interested in this essay?

Features in Michaud’s argument may be re-conceptualized as category-based nested forms.

See A Primer on the Category-Based Nested Form and A Primer on Sensible and Social Construction, available at smashwords and other e-book vendors under the author, Razie Mah.


Looking at Thomas Michaud’s Article (2021) “Anatomy of the Progressive Revolution” (Part 2 of 9)

0004 In the twilight of the Age of Ideas, a traditionalist slogan captures the order of social things.  Politics is downstream of culture.  Culture is downstream of religion.  To that, Michaud adds two more.  Morality flows from religion.  Economics goes with politics.

Surely, America’s founders, living in the heyday of the Age of Ideas, would sympathize with this snapshot, which may be encapsulated in a hierarchical diagram.

Figure 01

0005 How does the following flow diagram associate to a category-based nested form?

Religion is the normal context3.  A normal context3 belongs Peirce’s category of thirdness.  Thirdness brings secondness into relation with firstness.

Morality and culture are both actual2.  Actuality2 belongs to the dyadic category of secondness.  Secondness consists in two contiguous real elements.  Here, the two real elements are morality and culture.  I can write the actuality2 as morality [contiguity] culture2.

0006 What label describes the contiguity?

This is a great question.  It is at the heart of a series titled, “Peirce’s Secondness and Aristotle’s Hylomorphism”.  I could label the contiguity, “substantiates”.  But, here, I will use a less technical term, “sustains”.

0007 Finally, the possibilities inherent in ‘politics and economics’ underlie culture.

0008 Thus, I arrive at the following category-based nested form.

Figure 02

Looking at Thomas Michaud’s Essay (2021) “Anatomy of the Progressive Revolution” (Part 3 of 9)

0009 Where does the individual fit into this category-based nested form?

The individual resides on a lower form.  Looking up, “he” sees a relational dynamic within the social paradigm.

Figure 03

0010 The hierarchical flow in the traditional slogan becomes a double dynamic, where the normal context3 flows into one dyadic actuality2 and the potential1 rises into the other dyadic actuality2.  The category-based nested form displays its own transcategorical flows.  Religion3 motivates morality2.  Politics and economics1 enlivens culture2.

What does this imply?

The traditional slogan depicts a flow down a hierarchy.  This flow conveys an aura of determinism.In contrast, the corresponding category-based nested form presents two transcategorical flows.  One flows “down” from normal context3 to actuality2.  The other flows “up” from potential1 to actuality2.  These flows convey a picture of dynamism.


Looking at Thomas Michaud’s Essay (2021) “Anatomy of the Progressive Revolution” (Part 4 of 9)

0011 The progressive agenda showcases a similar hierarchical flow diagram.

Figure 04

0012 Politics3 can change a culture and save it from itself.


In the normal context of politics3, economic interventions2 transform the culture… or rather… its morality into one that conforms to the ideological ideals of an educated, judicious and articulate cadre of enlightened, “woke” and true believers1.

Here is a picture.

Figure 05

0013 Michaud elaborates nine points.

First and second, the Progressive’s devotion to political ideologies exhibits a type of religious zeal.  Yet, the progressiveself-identifies as “not religious”.  Progressive political movements3 are thus “not religious” religious enterprises3.

Third, fourth, sixth, seventh and eighth, economics is a tool for progressive revolutionary politics.  Economic interventionis a lever that transforms culture.  This requires the use of sovereign power.

Today’s progressives desire to identify and privilege groups who are victims of past and present exploitation, both real and imagined.  This fortifies allegiance of such groups (remember, this is democratic politics) and encourages individuals to identify as members of a victim group.  State education, the justice system and corporate media serve as ideological apparatuses that convey moral and cultural information to acolytes.

Fifth, the morality of social justice does not conform to traditional morality, because, in both theory and perception, people following traditional morals victimize(d) now-privileged groups.

Ninth, the progressive agenda is a permanent revolution.

0014 These nine points suggest that there are levels in the progressive agenda that are not envisioned in the traditional flow diagram.

Politics3 belongs to the situation level.

Social justice and permanent revolution are located above the situation level.

Progressive affiliation, victim group, individual, and identity reside below the situation level.

Figure 06

Looking at Thomas Michaud’s Essay (2021) “Anatomy of the Progressive Revolution” (Part 5 of 9)

0015 Now, I associate the elements above and below the situation level to nested form.  The result is an interscope, as described in A Primer on Sensible and Social Construction.

0016 The perspective levelc stands above the situation levelb.

On this level, an unnamed, “not religious” normal context3c brings the actuality of a permanent revolution2c into relation with the potential of ‘social justice’1c.

The potential of ‘social justice’1c contextualizes the entire situation levelb.

0017 The content levela stands below the situation levelb.

On this level, the normal context of affiliation3a brings the dyadic actuality of group [contiguity] individual2a into relation with the potential of ‘identity’1a.

How should I label the contiguity between the two real elements of group and individual?

I choose the word, “subsumes”.

The group [subsumes] the individual2a.

0018 These associations yield a three-level interscope for the progressive agenda.

Figure 07

Looking at Thomas Michaud’s Essay (2021) “Anatomy of the Progressive Revolution” (Part 6 of 9)

0019 At this juncture, I stand at the threshold of the section titled, “Progressive Depersonalization”.

Michaud claims that the progressive agenda depersonalizes the individual.  He starts with the ironic, progressive slogan: The personal is the political.

0020 In order to appreciate this slogan, I start with the virtual nested form in the realm of actuality.  A virtual nested form is a feature of a three-level interscope.  It consists of a column in one of the three elements.  

Here is a picture of the virtual nested form in the realm of actuality for the progressive interscope.

Figure 08

0021 This virtual nested form may be spoken as follows.

The normal context of permanent revolution2c virtually brings the dyadic actuality, economics [transforms] morals & culture2b, into the potential of group [subsumes] individual2a.

This nested form operates as a demiurge.  A demiurge is a gnostic divinity that is forever building its world.  It is typically opposed to another demiurge that is forever building an opposite world.  So, it is always one demiurge against another.

0022 Of course, I can easily guess the identity of the opposing demiurge.

The opposing demiurge is the one that victimizes individuals who do not conform to morality or culture, thereby inspiring them to identify with a victim group.

Here is a comparison of the actuality2 of the traditional slogan and the actuality2b of the situation-level of the progressive agenda.

Figure 09

0023 Clearly, economic intervention2b is a tool for the permanent revolution2c to use, in order to transform the ways that traditional morality sustains culture2b.

Also, of all the groups that subsume the individual2a, none can involve traditional morality and culture2.

0024 Why?

In Christian morality, the individual is called into mystical union with Jesus Christ, one of the three Persons of the Triune Godhead.  So, the “group2a” is actually the divine oikos, or the economy of God.  This is discussed in the second interlude in How To Define the Word “Religion”.

The individual2a does not adopt an identity1a.  The individual2a becomes an identity1a.

0025 What is identity1a?

Ah, in the Christian schema, identity1a is the person that I call “me”.  It1a is not a group2a affiliation3a.

In Jungian terminology, the assumption of the individual into the divine oikos is called, “individuation”.  It is not called, “subsumption”.

0026 So, Michaud is on target in claiming that the progressive agenda depersonalizes the individual.

It does so by re-defining the word, “identity”.

In the progressive ideation, identity1a is the potential underlying group affiliation3a and supports the subsumption of the individual into a political group2a.

The personal2a is subsumed into the political2a.


Looking at Thomas Michaud’s Essay (2021) “Anatomy of the Progressive Revolution” (Part 7 of 9)

0027 The personal is the political.

In the progressive agenda, the content-level actuality2a is a dyad, group [subsumes] individual2a.

The word, “individual”, no longer means a person who stands before God.   The individual reduces to someone carrying a group identification tag.

Similarly, identity1a potentiates group affiliation3a, not the person that I call “me”.

0028 Michaud calls this, “depersonalization”.

With this in mind, I consider the virtual nested form in the realm of possibility for the progressive interscope.

Figure 10

0029 The normal context of social justice1c virtually brings the actualities of ideological apparatuses (such as state education, justice system and corporate media, to name a few)1b into relation with the possibilities inherent in identity1a.

If “justice” is a virtue for traditional folk, then “social justice1c” is a hegemonic, demiurgic alternative.  Social justice1ccontextualizes the actuality of economics [transforming] morals [&] culture2b and answers the question, “When is justice (in the traditional frame) injustice (in the progressive frame)?” 

0030 Here is one of the resulting twists.

The category-based nested form for the traditional view appears below.

The arrows, however, depict trans-categorical flows from the progressive point of view.

Figure 11

0031 Is this a misperception?  Or, is this an accusation?

To the progressive, there is one deterministic flow to the traditional schema.  Religion3 flows through morality and culture2 and pours into alienating political systems and exploitative economic arrangements1.

To the traditionalist, there are two transcategorical flows.  Religion3 flows into morality2. Politics and economics1 enliven culture2, through cooperative and laborious human action.


Looking at Thomas Michaud’s Essay (2021) “Anatomy of the Progressive Revolution” (Part 8 of 9)

0032 According to progressive doctrine, traditional morals and culture2 yield economic and political structures1 that inherently victimize groups that do not adhere to the morals and the cultural expectations of the dominant tradition.  That is, religion3 promulgates a morality2, that sustains a culture2, bent on victimizing those who are “not religious”.  The victimization occurs through political and economic means1.

0033 In response, progressives encourage the sovereign state to expand in every fashion.  According to How To Define The Word “Religion”, progressive institutions are infrasovereign religions calling on sovereign power in order to implement their objectives.  They call on the sovereign to regulate the organization tier, through economic interventions.  They also call on the sovereign to fund ideological apparatuses1b that promote the doctrine of social justice1c and popularize the necessity of possessing an identity1a (as a badge of group subsumption2a).

0034 Consequently, the progressive (situation-level) category-based nested form has the same flows as the original, traditional category-based nested form.

In the original, religion3 flows into morality2, morality2 sustains culture2, and the potential of ‘politics and economics’1underlies the dynamism of culture2.  In terms of Adam Smith’s model, the first transcategorical flow corresponds to “moral sentiments” and the second transcategorical flow associates to the so-called “invisible hand”.  So, the arrows go from normal context3 and potential1 towards actuality2.

In the progressive, politics3 flows into economic interventions2, economics2 transforms (traditional) morals [&] culture2.  At the same time, the potential of ‘ideological apparatuses’1 undermines (traditional) morals [&] culture2 and reinforces (progressive) morals [&] culture2.

0035 Here is a picture.

Figure 12

0036 In sum, the progressive misrepresents the transcategorical flows for the traditional schema, while practicing the identical transcategorical flows as the traditional schema.


Looking at Thomas Michaud’s Essay (2021) “Anatomy of the Progressive Revolution” (Part 9 of 9)

0037 Michaud concludes that the progressive revolution hinges on redefining the human person.

Can “subsumption2a” be the sine qua non of the permanent revolution2c?

Does “subsumption2a” characterize infrasovereign religions?

Michaud writes, “The progressive revolution aims to change the way people understand themselves, understand their very humanity as collective beings.”

These category-based re-articulations picture the relational dynamics of Michaud’s argument.

There is much more to ponder in these diagrams.

But, these considerations are left to the readers.

0038 I conclude with the virtual nested form in the realm of normal context.

Figure 13

0039 A “not religious” normal context3c virtually brings the actuality of politics3b into relation with the possibility of group affiliation3a.

Surely, this “not religious” normal context3c fits the definition of the term, “religion”.

Plus, this normal context3c grasps for sovereign power in order to implement its objectives.

0040 I thank Thomas Michaud for his excellent essay.

Perhaps, this brief examination will lead to a more profound understanding of the nature of our current Lebenswelt.