The Soft Coup of the Progressoriat

John McWhorter calls them the “Elect.” Georgetown Palestinian-American feminist law prof Lama Abu Odeh called them the “Progressoriat.” Lacking both the intellectual bona fides of these academics and the identitarian cred, I’ve come up with no new names and have relied on a variety of terms that are invariably seen as pejorative when they come from an old, unwoke, white male liberal lawyer. But then, does the name really matter when someone goes as far out on a limb as Lama Abu Odeh?

Progressive liberals are blind to the fact that there is a regime take-over apace everywhere in academic institutions. A new ruling elite is taking over academic institutions by using its “minority status” to exercise a “soft” coup and is appealing to the minoritarianism of progressive ideology to legitimize its coup—or, if you like, to “manufacture consent.” I will call the adherents of this ideology the “progressoriat.”

What she’s referring to is the reaction of the law profs at Georgetown to the firing of Prawf Sandra Sellers, The faculty had an internal discussion about it, but two prawfs raised concerns.

In the face of this overwhelming support by the non-black faculty, two white professors of the boomer generation with plenty of progressive credentials pushed back.

How did that turn out?

Both of these statements were met by silence.

The silence to my mind is telling. It speaks of the lack of resources within progressive thinking that could be drawn upon to resist the trend that has bedeviled American academia over the past few years. The academy is a different place today than it was only a year ago and was different a year ago than it was five years before. Terror and dread fill academic workers, professors, and staff alike, and it is everywhere. Neither the call for distinguishing between unconscious bias and structural racism; nor for dismantling “merit” so that “minorities” succeed, seem able to do the work the authors of these emails want them to do.

Why? What did these two white boomers with plenty of progressive cred do wrong?

The reason that challenging any aspect of this dominant ideology is taboo is because it leaves you vulnerable to the charge that you are uncomfortable with the project of empowering minorities—not just the transfers of power from traditional elites to historically disadvantaged groups that has already begun to take place in the academy, but further transfers of power.

What, then, should they have done if they didn’t want their responses to evoke deafening silence?

The only acceptable response when confronted by any aspect of the ideology that has facilitated this coup is to enthusiastically endorse it—to celebrate it. If you’re not a minority, anything less risks being interpreted as dread at the prospect of your own imminent loss of status—or, if you are, as evidence that your soul has been “colonized” by white supremacists. As I said, virtue as the other side of dread.

Why would the legal academy allow this to happen?

The ranks of this new ruling class are refreshed by immigrant academics who come to understand themselves in the way progressivism understands them: as minorities who can also act victim-like if they want—a precious endowment in the cultural academic market. Intersectionality awaits to welcome them and give them a warm hug. They can be treated on principle as black-adjacent. To do that, they quickly learn that they have to concede leadership to their black colleagues as having the greatest claim to victimhood. If they don’t play the victim card, they throw away valuable currency when it comes to shinning up the academy’s greasy pole. A colleague of mine commented that I was wasting precious victimhood resources by refusing to sign the statement by non black faculty: Muslim, Palestinian, woman, dadidadida. This is the cleverness of minoritarian rule: a coalition of minorities that, collectively, form a majority but that is nevertheless always able to invoke its minoritatian status to preserve its power. Power is presented as the absence of power to preserve actual power.

Lama Abu Odeh likens this to a Maoist coup in the legal academy.

No hesitation or nuance is allowed: nothing but unequivocal loyalty oaths. The progressoriat can only repeat, “I believe in the cause. I believe. I believe. Believe me I believe.”

If this echoes a Maoist take-over, that’s because it is. It passes the sniff test.

I’m often constrained to wonder why law students and baby lawyers, as otherwise sentient human beings, are so strident in their certainty that they know more and better than anyone else. I’m beginning to appreciate that they never had a chance to believe otherwise.

7 thoughts on “The Soft Coup of the Progressoriat

  1. Jeff L.

    I have been making the same analogy for some time. Mao put the academics in the rice paddies and put the uneducated laborers into the colleges. Anyone who questioned this was banished to the countryside.

    I never thought that it could happen here, but here we are.

    1. SHG Post author

      I’m ambivalent about the Mao analogy, but her fortitude in bucking the academy was pretty amazing.

  2. Rengit

    In the paragraph where she says that unlike the communists, the progressoriat can claim personal victimhood for themselves in addition to claiming their representation of the oppressed, she hints at a troublesome legal wrinkle: if you are uncomfortable with this project, of empowering minorities in this very specific manner put forward by woke minorities or woke allies, then you are uncomfortable with minorities in general. Which makes woke minority professors feel uncomfortable, thus raising hostile environment concerns, so you can be fired and the university will claim necessity in order to comply with civil rights laws.

    So in a proposal to expand affirmative actions and weigh the positives and negatives, there will only be positives, since the negatives are not just disapproved of, saying them could also create legal liability depending on how the progressoriat feels about it.

  3. Elpey P.

    Apologies if I’m missing something (besides the point, of course), but I believe that the term McWhorter has been using is “The Elect.” It’s just a label distinction but it also adds a layer of Calvinism that is most appropriate.

    1. SHG Post author

      In the scheme of my mistakes, this was a particularly dumb one, given the inclusion of the word was for no other purpose than to note his new choice of word, which I immediately fucked up. My lack of intellectual bona fides is thus proved.

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