Defining the Moment: The Internet Reformation
Earlier today I received an email from one of the Daily Bell's associate editors suggesting that the use of the terminology, Internet Reformation, may be eluding some of our readers. It is a homegrown term, and as such, we have tried to maintain an up-to-date definition of this concept in the Glossary section of the DB ThinkTank. But perhaps it is a good idea to bring it right up front. So here is a concept that we feel is critical for anyone who wishes to fully understand the big picture process of change, at least as we humbly believe it to be:
The Internet Reformation is the culmination of the power and glory of Western civil society and free-market thinking. It is the apogee of all that is best in a sweep of history that began with the ancient Greeks and has culminated in the hearts and minds of millions of young men and women who industriously add to its impact every day via additional code, non-mainstream news or fundamental scientific commentary.
It is NOT an "Internet Revolution." The Internet Revolution is a standard "pat" phrase of the powers-that-be about the so-called empowering effects of technology. The Internet Reformation is a much more deeply disruptive concept. It is truly a revolutionary one, affecting every aspect of human society and human relationships with modern elites. It is focused around the insights generated by the Internet itself.
This concept is based on what happened during the era of the Gutenberg press. Almost from the beginning, the Gutenberg press was a revolutionary technology. As soon as people used the press to print Bibles, readers began to discover that the Holy Word differed considerably from what they'd been taught by the Catholic Church.
Until then, Bibles had been fairly rare. They were printed in Latin or Greek, and copied down by hand with elaborate engravings. The Catholic Church and its important functionaries and bureaucrats possessed Bibles. Priests performed Mass with their back to the congregation. The ceremony was a highly Romanized one, as the West had come to conceive of Rome within its most corrupt and centralizing phase, and highly controlled.
But printing Bibles in moveable type changed the power relationship entirely. Now, anyone could own a Bible and they were easily reproduced and increasingly inexpensive. Almost immediately, then Bibles began to be translated into "vulgate" and eventually the King James Version (English) would become a dominant variant. But in the meantime, the damage was done. First came the Renaissance and then the Reformation and finally the Age of Enlightenment, three powerful rolling waves of free-thinking that transformed the face of human society, first in the West and then around the world.
The changes ushered in by the Gutenberg press were fundamental. The Renaissance began the reconfiguration by allowing for the rediscovery of the scientific orientation of Greece and Rome. This set in motion a series of events that has not yet ceased to reverberate.
The fundamental motivating force of the Renaissance was to emphasize natural observation, and this can be seen in the obsession with great artists such as Michelangelo and Leonardo Da Vinci who returned to the original source of knowledge whenever possible. This led both artists to dissect corpses rather than to rely on the standard anatomy books of the day, such as they were. Da Vinci's great scientific speculations were based on first-hand observation not sterile theory argued in debating halls.
The Reformation launched a second wave of attacks on the West's business as usual. But it actually involved the same animation. The Gutenberg press allowed readers to examine source material by making the sources available. This was the revolutionary act. The Renaissance emphasized conclusions derived from that fundamental inspiration. The Reformation in its way emphasized sources too. It sought, in its most radical incarnations, to strip out the interpretative layer of Church doctrine by emphasizing the Word of the Bible itself.
Martin Luther began this process in 1517 by publishing his Ninety-Five Theses attacking much of the ecclesiastical structure of Catholic Church. Interestingly, the Reformation's initial phase is seen as ending in 1648 with the Treaty of Westphalia that put a stop to the religious wars by emphasizing the primacy of the nation state. The Treaty of Westphalia was overturned by the Security Council of the United Nations in 2005, when that body adopted R2P, which mandates that the "West" in aggregate interfere with a nation's sovereignty to "protect" citizens. The powers-that-be have therefore launched a counterattack on national sovereignty even as the Internet Reformation begins to gather power and undermines business as usual.
The Reformation was also known as the Protestant Reformation because despite its formal end-date of 1648, its ripples continue to spread and ultimately gave rise to the establishment of the New World, and the American and French Revolutions. Each wave of the so-called Protestant Revolt further deconstructed the formalized church and suggested doctrine that brought man closer in touch with God.
This process eventually led to the most radical sects such as the Quakers and "Shakers" that did away with Church trappings entirely and simply allowed the individual worshipper to communicate with God as he or she saw fit. The Quakers sometimes used to shed their clothes and worship nakedly in a penultimate effort to remove barriers to the spiritual conversation.
All across the world, the modern Internet Reformation is beginning to reshape the way people relate to power in the modern age. While it is not so obvious as during the era of the Gutenberg press, there is formal doctrine accepted by Western societies that is beginning to shatter. That formal doctrine may be termed regulatory democracy and it has been leavened with numerous assumptions that on closer inspection turn out not to be true. It is the Internet itself that allows for information to spread that undermines the various precepts of regulatory democracy.
Every social order needs a formal elite to organize and animate it. In the high Middle Ages, the hierarchy consisted of the Catholic Church leaders along with Royal families throughout Europe, as well as powerful merchants and bankers. In the modern era, the hierarchy is much less obvious and consists, from available evidence of the great banking, modern banking families led by the Rothschilds based in the City of London along with attendant Zionist influences and abetted by corporate interests and the so-called Dark Nobility and Dark Church.
It is this hierarchy that promulgates regulatory democracy and its various dominant social themes – the fear-based promotions that the Western power elite uses to control the conversation and to further centralize power and authority worldwide. Just as the Catholic church leaders dreamed of one Pax Romana around the world, so does today's power elite dream of one world order driven by regulatory democracy.
The fear-based themes are many and include many scarcity memes among them. The world is commonly held to be running out of food, water, oil and energy. It is in imminent danger of plagues, unusual weather and asteroid strikes. In these and many other instances, the solutions that are heralded are focused directly on additional governmental agencies, preferably global ones. An entire global infrastructure is gradually being erected that includes an international court, a global legislature (UN), a global military (NATO) and various international agencies to adjudicate trade disputes and the like.
At the center of the new global order is central bank itself, printing money-from-nothing, perpetually devastating the economies of nation states through monetary (and price inflation) and through its ruin, creating the necessity for a global currency and a single global central bank, presumably the IMF. Within this latter meme, gold and silver are held to be barbaric elements, not needed anymore in a fiat money world.
In fact, what the Internet is increasingly showing us is a way to return to basic freedoms. The Internet in its various incarnations has already distributed information showing many of the precepts of regulatory democracy to be false. There is likely plenty of oil and gas around the world and it may be abiotic and reoccurring as well; its availability has simply been manipulated by the powers that be. Alternative sources of energy have likely been suppressed, but over the next decades may become available. Global warming has been shown to be another elite promotion and does not exist as popularly promulgated. Food and water, also supposedly in short supply, are being manipulated by the power elite within its highly controlled global markets. The War on Terror that the elites have begun is an evident and obvious falsity and the Internet reveals this in various ways every day.
Like the radical information that spawned from the Gutenberg Press, the impact of the information available to counteract elite modern memes is not immediately visible but over time has a devastating effect. Human beings do have a kind of Hive Mind (via intimate communications between families and friends and various cultural exchanges) and once additional information is made available, that Mind incorporates it.
There are downsides. The power elite profits from the centralizing effects of technology. Spymasters and dictators profit from aspects of technology as they always have. And yet the positive elements are likely unstoppable as well. There is little possibility at this point of the Internet being shut down as simplistic formulations might have it. Instead, as with the Reformation itself, the Internet Reformation will continue to advance, undermining the memes of the powers-that-be and even creating, perhaps, a critical mass of decentralizing influences.
It is decentralization that the modern power elite fears most because decentralized spheres of influence are impossible to control. Unfortunately the Renaissance and Reformation were all about the decentralization of control built on the availability of real knowledge and a return to primary sources that undermined the "experts" of church and state.
The same process is occurring today. It may not be that any one Martin Luther emerges to create a formal Reformation but the larger evolution continues. (There is apparently some evidence that Luther himself was sponsored by a Venetian banking faction of the day to split the power of the church.) Essentially, however the power of the information being unleashed is what will carry the day in numerous manifestations. It is impossible for power elite memes to stand against the availability of information now presented online. It is beyond control, beyond collecting, beyond dampening.
Tomorrow's knowledge base may look much different than todays – and in fundamental ways. Ironically, the 20th century so celebrated by the centralizers must at least to some degree give way to a decentralized Renaissance in the 21st. Yes, the powers-that-be will fight back as they already are via wars and social chaos, just as the Catholic Church responded with its Counter-Reformation; but eventually they may be forced to take a step back as they have before.
Ironically, the proverbial dye was likely cast when America's DARPA dark-technologists invented the Internet but did not foresee, apparently, the evolution of the personal computer that would utilize it to allow average individuals to gain access to all the knowledge of the world. This may stand as one of the great miscalculations of the modern elite. It helped create a second wave of modern information technology that has already begun to undo a myriad of world-centralizing plans.
A new city (predicted in ancient Indian prophecies) has been discovered underwater off the coast of India – though the news has been much suppressed. Humankind is thousands of years older than the Western powers-that-be maintain. The current apogee of human achievement may not be the current one and certainly not the best-of-all-possible worlds. As the underlying certainties crumble, so do the building blocks of the modern elite themes – and the certainty of ongoing centralization.
In fact, the European Union is failing, various serial wars of conquest are not going well, the fear-based memes of the elite are continually being debunked by an Internet that adds more to humankind's real knowledge base every day. It will take decades if not centuries to control the damage that has already been done (from an elite standpoint), and what has been done cannot be undone.
There is a new Reformation taking place throughout the world, led by electronic communication technology. It is not being commented on by the nightly news, nor written about in the mainstream medial. But if you understand the trends and look closely, you can see it playing out every day in every part of human culture. It is already convulsing the world. Out of these labor pains a new and freer society is being born.
A new enlightenment is taking place – a fundamental reforming of societies' knowledge base. It is far more important and fundamental than a "technology revolution." It is rewriting the basic relationship that human beings have with their knowledge base and with its impact on their lives. The centralizing architecture erected by the Anglo-American elites is even now being undermined. The darkness is lifting as it lifted long ago during the Renaissance. An Internet Reformation is coming. It will have numerous unpredictable ramifications. In fact, its dawn is already here.
Posted by David_Robertson on 07/28/11 01:41 PM
How do your assertions balance with the idea of the hive mind?
Posted by unavailable on 07/28/11 12:02 PM
Quote: "collectively humans became less, smaller and therefore we dropped ourselves from the heavens"
"Collectively" is what got us into the mess. Each of us is an individual who can be represented only by himself. What the next Reformation needs to achieve is the primacy of individual over imaginary entities like "nation", "parish", "collective" - all kinds of enforced group allegiance.
Quote: "Information is not always true, accurate or balanced"
Information cannot be true, accurate or balanced. It's boolean: either you have it, or you don't. What you do with it is what matters. "True, accurate or balanced" happens in one's head - which is why it is at all possible to manage perception. Money is at once dirty and clean - depending on whose eyes see it.
The most miraculous thing that is happening right now is that individuals begin to choose personal judgment over delegated judgment. Protectors of the status quo will go extinct, because such is their physis, while fearless humans will triumph.
(What is the code for blockquote?)
Posted by speedygonzales on 07/28/11 11:45 AM
I agree wit Mr. Wile and DB. Phrase "Internet Reformation" can evoke try of rulling axis to reform internet aka control it. The phrase is use by DB for "Reformation by Internet" and carry idea to diversify cultural and information monopolies run in totalitarian manner. The goal of Reformation by interent is break down rulling axis totalitarian ideology defined by: Competition is a sin. Command and control. My way or highway. No permanent friends no permanent enemies-permanent interests only.
Since we use phrase "protestant reformation" internet reformation in connection with reformation by interent is OK. As soon as rulling axis will start using phrase internet reformation it will be alarm bell.
Posted by Uncledave on 07/28/11 11:00 AM
A couple of points that may reduce your level of pessimism.
1) Populations in most developed countries are falling (some in a demographic death spiral). This suggests as lesser developed nations develop their population growth with recede.
2) Water is of course renewable. Worst case you can desalinate, which is a function of energy cost. (And it's not that expensive in the scheme of things. I read a credible estimate that providing desalinated water for one person's typical annual usage is about $500.)
3) Oil aside, electrical energy will be forever available and likely will drop in cost over the decades. Uranium and thorium will last thousands of years. No doubt new technologies will develop over the decades, fusion, etc. Civilization can likely get by fine without oil if it's transitioned over a century due to market forces and technology improvements.
I think our biggest danger is not from living in a dense anthill but rather bad actors using WMDs.
Reply from The Daily Bell
Us elves pessimistic?
Posted by memehunter on 07/28/11 10:59 AM
The printing press:
Click to view link
"The immediate effect of the printing press was to multiply the output and cut the costs of books. It thus made information available to a much larger segment of the population who were, of course, eager for information of any variety. Libraries could now store greater quantities of information at much lower cost. Printing also facilitated the dissemination and preservation of knowledge in standardized form -- this was most important in the advance of science, technology and scholarship. The printing press certainly initiated an "information revolution" on par with the Internet today. Printing could and did spread new ideas quickly and with greater impact."
Posted by Robert Bentley on 07/28/11 10:36 AM
According to your definitions, memes are believed, but untrue, generalizations and you give examples (running out of water, etc.). Do you really think the world's natural resources (oil, clean water, arable land, etc.) are limitless, that an ever growing population on our planet is sustainable? Common sense, let alone science, says this is absurd reasoning. It may be that science can develop new energy sources and learn to feed people ashes, but the quality of life will be that enjoyed by an ant in an ever more dense anthill.
The fact that ants can correspond over the internet will not alter the fact.
I think you greatly over estimate the power of the net to solve our problems. I sincerely hope I'm wrong.
Posted by Joe on 07/28/11 08:48 AM
The transformation of the world ushered in by the development of the printing press had positive and negative aspects, despite the diffusion of information in some ways collectively humans became less, smaller and therefore we dropped ourselves from the heavens. I have a feeling the Internet Reformation will have a similar effect. Though the destruction of central banking and fiat currency are positive outcomes, it may increase our stupidity in other ways. Information is not always true, accurate or balanced and people can feel knowledgeable when they are not because of the Internet.