Jaques Barzun, author of the marvelous history of modernity From Dawn to Decadence (1500 – present), makes the point that the Catholic Church as a pan-European political force was done in by the Protestant Reformation, itself fueled by the printing press. Once the Church lost the ability to control the direct perception of scripture, thanks to the printing of (relatively) cheap bibles in languages other than Latin, their loss of political hegemony followed.
This is what we are seeing now relative to the military�s control of information. A year or so ago, someone in the DoD told me that the thing that would most affect the prosecution of the war in Iraq would be images of DAB�s � Dead American Bodies. The unplanned spread of photos of coffins, and now of torture victims, means that control of this part of the war is outside the military�s hands.
I’ve been babbling about this same basic parallel for the past 3-4 years, though my focus has been on the absurd extension of copyright as compared to the Catholic church’s control of scripture.
Its good to see a related meme gaining some hold.