• Michael Vlahos

Liberty to Therapy: Don’t Worry Over Civil War, Worry over the Transformation of American Life


Progressives pledge their lives to this mission, while just as passionately, Red voters swear to stop it. This word marks the title, the banner, and the proscenium framing an existential struggle. Transformation is the watchword of our national battleground.


Why is “transformation” — a change in form — so contentious, inspiring both hate and hope? Vigorous societies, after all, are always changing. Yet continuity is most always preserved, enough so that “we change just enough to stay the same.” Somehow, new things and old ways are accommodated together.


This is not what transformation signifies for Progressives. Rather, they seek to ordain a greater significance. When they say “transformation” they actually mean, “metamorphosis.” At first blush, the ancient Greek word seems to indicate “a change in form” just like transformation. Metamorphosis, however, is much more than shape-shifting: It indicates a transfiguration, from something base and imperfect, to something luminous and more beautiful (morphosis = “beautiful form”).


Progressives are in the business of building a just and more perfect world. A world where virtue reigns; in sum, a utopia. The Emperor Caligula was said to have undergone a painful metamorphosis, a physical transfiguration from man to god. Or perhaps America’s passage, like a butterfly, must break out of and discard the pupal carcass of our former national self.


American metamorphosis, in their own words, means freeing ourselves from the dark chrysalis of our past and of our old ways, as a completely new and beautiful form of society.

This metaphor, so visibly woven into Progressive narrative — from the 1619 Project to explicit BLM and LGBT agendas — has brought conservatives (and a number of old liberals) into determined opposition. They know that the Progressive vision seeks to dismantle the former edifice of American national identity, its beliefs, and its way of life.

Thus, when the president elect calls for transformation, he is employing the Progressive meaning and intent of that word. Furthermore, by endorsing and seeming to embrace the word, he was signaling that a strong electoral outcome would unleash an FDR-like 100 Days, in which the constitutional footings of the republic would be swapped out. The Electoral College would be turned into a ritual courtesy following a determinative popular vote. The Senate would be expanded by admitting new states to the Union. The Supreme Court would grow into a small assembly. And then, the transfiguring freshet of legislation would flow.

However, Blue did not achieve a strong electoral outcome, as all the soothsayers assured. Instead, it is now said that the election was a rebuke of the Progressive wave. The FDR option (one giddy wag even bruited a radical de Gaulle “hand”) seems foreclosed.

Washington wisdom now proclaims a “divided government:” A cabinet with only a couple token Progressives, a House leashed by its diminished majority, and a Senate just Red enough to shut down Big Blue legislation. Hence we have entered a lull in the civil conflict, a phase marked mostly by rhetorical bloodletting and internecine fights.

Yet the transformation (metamorphosis) in American life will continue — because this transfiguration is not really tied to the Progressive legislative agenda. It is a transformation of the American way of life, a mission both Progressives and most self-styled liberals share.


The transformation is not dependent on legislation. Progressives are all about legislation, but American metamorphosis is all about the woke conversion of society. Hence, even if the formal Progressive agenda cannot be solidified and made irresistible by amending the constitutional system, the woke mission — as it has taken hold in the dominant institutions of society and the elite — will further entrench its hold on American life, thanks to the legal endorsement that woke momentum receives from House and Executive Branch.


Here is what to expect:

  1. Executive orders will ratify “wokeness” proselytizing and enforcement of employee conduct in academia, government (federal, state, and local), government contractors, health services, the armed forces, and the corporate world.

  2. Social media — America’s dominant information exchange — censorship of conservative worldview will be pervasive, and protected by government. Legal challenge may be titularly successful while remaining practically unenforceable.

  3. Free speech will receive titular lip service, while in daily life so continually encroached upon as to be nugatory. Government, corporate, and social media surveillance will lead to a universal practice of self-censorship.

  4. Religious practice will be continually pressured by federal, state, and local courts to conform to wokeness theology. If H.R.5 is passed by the Senate, and signed into law, many church institutions and believers will be forced to renounce their faith.

  5. It is unclear to what extent executive orders can substitute for the authority of H.R.5. Presidential commandments, however, like the Obama Administration guidance on Title IX, can shift legal norms and practice, ratifying a kind of new customary law.

The historical dynamic in America today may be best compared to the conversion of the Greco-Roman World from “pagan” to Christian, within the space of three generations in the 4th century. I explore this unstoppable process, comparing 4th century conversion dynamics to today’s conversion dynamics among the “Church of Woke.”

Stacking this post-election landscape — or, wreckage — against the revolution of the 4th century, four parallel features leap out:

  1. Woke adherents — ~8% of our society — also have most of the wealth (70%; NB, this is for the entire top decile, but no more than 2% of America’s richest are non-woke!). The woke own it all!

  2. Yet not all woke are self-proclaimed “Progressives” — many call themselves liberals — but all now adhere to the presumption that transformation to a more just and perfect world is necessary, and that said ascendence requires leaving the dark husk of the past behind (just track the BLM signs in Yuppie-Blue neighborhoods).

  3. In the 4th century, a Christian coup among converted aristocrats took over the imperial state. Combining predominant social status, wealth, and positioned at the center of power — even as a tiny minority — they moved an empire to conversion. They had the same package-profile as the Church of Woke today.

  4. Like Christianity, Wokeism paints the past as wayward and deviant, and preaches that a pure and just world requires conversion. Coming to the faith was thus presented in the 4th century, and today, as therapy, the required treatment of an illness or disease. Hence, the old way of Liberty was part of the disease.

At end of this long game, the intended woke outcome for our future is a different civilization: Where old time religion has been disappeared; where gender has replaced biological sex; while the word “sex” only identifies politically correct carnality; where human value is legally defined by race, gender, and sexual preference; where select “communities” are de facto privileged, while “oppressor” gene pools are judged guilty of the crime of privilege. And there will be no memory of the world that was.

We worry over civil war. Yet we must remember that these are episodic intervals of strife within a larger process of cultural transfiguration. Physical and political resistance is not in itself the process — it only marks the flares and flashes along the way. Moreover, if our resistance — and the survival of our past and its traditions — is to succeed, we need to keep our eyes on the big picture, and the long game.

That picture, and that game has only begun.


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