Thursday, December 30, 2010

Wikileaks and the Protestant Reformation

I have long subscribed to the idea that Martin Luther's Reformation was the logical outgrowth of the invention of the printing press.  It was a social revolution that followed and was likely caused by a technological one.  It is kind of a convoluted argument that has produced its share of dog-watching-a-ceiling-fan looks.  Or worse.  Some folks think I am being too casual about the religious ramifications of the Reformation which leads the secularists to believe I am not taking the problems of extremism seriously enough and the devout to believe I am ignoring the mighty hand of God.

So even though I am absolutely convinced of the historical accuracy of my argument, I don't bring it out very often.  Too many possibilities for a misunderstanding.  So when I saw one of my favorite arguments applied to the current phenomenon of Wikileaks, I was delighted.  Let someone else do the heavy lifting.

Wikileaks: This Is Just The Beginning
December 22nd, 2010 
“An invasion of armies can be resisted, but not an idea whose time has come.” Victor Hugo
There is much agitation about Wikileaks on the chattering channels in the US and elsewhere. The politicians are up in arms, many commentators are aghast and the legal eagles are pontificating. The press is having a field day, at least as regards the stories it can publish from leaked material. But all of them seem to be missing the import of what is happening.
History is on the march.
There’s a strong analogy in this with the Diet of Worms and the doomed attempt by Pope Leo X to silence Martin Luther.
Let’s eliminate some of the noise that is currently clogging the air.
  1. The Julian Assange extradition to Sweden is almost irrelevant. It is generally perceived as an attempt to harass Assange and all it has done is provide him with a dramatic stage upon which to perform. The only relevant element in this is the fact that it has become global news.
  2. The extradition of Julian Assange to the US will possibly make his life uncomfortable, but it will provide him with an even more powerful public stage. If it doesn’t happen the US government will be perceived as weak. If it happens it is unlikely to result in his conviction. If there’s no conviction it will be a victory for Assange and if he’s convicted, it will be an even greater victory for what he represents. For the US government, in terms of perception; it’s lose-lose-lose.
  3. Julian Assange’s only importance is that of figurehead. If he’s pulled down from that position, by any event at all, whether it’s accidental, a conspiracy or the result of a legitimate recourse to law, it will not stop what has now started any more than finding Luther guilty at The Diet of Worms stopped the genesis of the Protestant movement. more

No comments:

Post a Comment