Brand Luther

While we are reaching for historical parallels to describe the delegitimization of the mainstream media, the so-called “epidemic of fake news” and the waning power of Washington’s liberal establishment, this is by far my favorite one and the most accurate one:

“The print shop was busy with men arranging type and hanging freshly inked sheets up to dry. Johann Rhau-Grunenberg’s operation in the town of a few thousand people on the Elbe River was small, but work was steady because of the new university that had been established in 1502.

Faculty brought course materials to be printed for their students, and occasional books and pamphlets came off the presses. But after 1517, one professor in particular was a frequent visitor to the shop. He also was a writer, a monk and a preacher at the city church, and he tended to micro-manage the editing of his pages and even the look of the type and occasional illustrations.

He was Martin Luther, and almost entirely because of his ideas and his use of the relatively new printing industry, he turned the German town of Wittenberg into the center of European printing for much of the 16th century.

Of course, Luther was responsible for much more than that. We know him as the initial leader of the Protestant Reformation, the radical break of churches from the Roman Catholic establishment that spread quickly across Europe. That swift growth of the ideas of a little-known monk and his supporters came about because Luther understood how to use the revolutionary technology of the printing press, according to historian Andrew Pettegree, author of the 2015 book, “Brand Luther: 1517, Printing, and the Making of the Reformation.” …

Luther was the 16th century equivalent of a social media master. He surely would have used Twitter had it been invented, as his adversaries would have, too. In fact, some of the “95 Theses” would have fit nicely into 140 characters, such as No. 27: “They preach man-made doctrines who say that so soon as the coin jingles into the money-box, the soul flies out of purgatory,” and No. 54: “Injury is done to the Word of God when, in the same sermon, an equal or a longer time is spent on pardons than on the Word.”

His cause ultimately succeeded, but in his day he had enemies as bitter as those opposing Donald Trump and his tweets today. …”

Luther’s biting take on Johann Tetzel’s famous jingle could have been a tweet: “As soon as a coin in the coffer rings / the soul from purgatory springs.” He could have hammered out the 95 theses as a tweetstorm.

Just yesterday, Pope Francis condemned President Trump and the rise of populism:

“Pope Francis isn’t taking the Trump party line.

Just days before the election, he cautioned against “social walls” and “false prophets” fueling fear and intolerance in politics. “No tyranny finds support without tapping into our fears,” Francis said. “This is key. Hence, all tyranny is terrorist.” …

He also condemned the growth of populist and xenophobic movements, calling them a “grave danger for humanity.” And he criticized leaders who rely on “fear, insecurity, quarrels, and even people’s justified indignation, in order to shift the responsibility for all these ills on to a ‘non-neighbor.’ ”

None of these statements are particularly shocking. But what’s notable is the frequency with which the pope is speaking out. Francis has become one of the world’s staunchest defenders of immigrants, Muslims and liberal democracy itself.” …”

The Reformation was a media revolution and populist revolution:

“No surprise that it’s more complicated than that, but a new book by British historian Andrew Pettegree reveals a central and heretofore little-appreciated aspect: Luther’s master role in the imagination and execution of what had to have been the world’s first mass-media-driven revolution. Luther didn’t just reimagine the Christian faith, he figured out how to share his vision through the innovative use and manipulation of a nascent communications technology: the printing press.

“Printing was essential to the creation of Martin Luther, but Luther was also a determining, shaping force in the German printing industry,” Pettegree writes. “After Luther, print and public communication would never be the same again.” …

As “Brand Luther” makes clear, Luther realized the untapped potential of print as a mass medium and used it to broadcast his message to lay readers across the German states, bypassing the traditional gatekeepers via this new social media. He responded to the first scholarly criticism of his theses not in Latin, the language of scholarship, but in German, with a clear, straightforward 1,500-word essay that could be read aloud in 10 minutes. It fit perfectly into an eight-page pamphlet that could be quickly and cheaply printed and reprinted, each copy using but a single sheet of paper, folded in quarto. “It was an instant publishing sensation. …”

The Catholic hierarchy was dismissive of Martin Luther.

“None of this was as it should have been. In 1517 the church hierarchy was very confident of its ability to close down the hubbub around Luther. The usual channels, a confidential letter to persons of influence, underpinned by a judicial process in Rome, should have sufficed to silence a turbulent priest. There was no reason that the criticism of indulgences, fairly commonplace already in intellectual circles, should become a toxic public event. Most of all, there was no reason to believe that Electoral Saxony, a medium-sized state far away from the main centers of European power politics, could incubate an event of European importance …”

Exactly 500 years ago, Martin Luther was the early modern equivalent of a blogger or troll in some out of the way backwater like Nebraska challenging the power of the New York-based mainstream media. Will the liberal world order come tumbling down in a similar fashion?

Note: I’m reading Andrew Pettegree’s Brand Luther: How an Unheralded Monk Turned His Small Town into a Center of Publishing, Made Himself the Most Famous Man in Europe–and Started the Protestant Reformation. Check it out.

About Hunter Wallace 12387 Articles
Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Occidental Dissent


  1. Outside of one pamphlet against the Jews I can t see much of anything good to say about Martin Luther

    Why should we make the Book of Esther the be all of our European people.

    • That phamplet about the Jews came late in Martin Luther’s career.
      What was failed to be mentioned is how the Jew took over the printing presses, it is the modern day newspaper starting in the middle 1600s.
      If this plays out like Martin Luther , the internets days are numbered for us, you can already see it happening.

        • Benjemin Franklin ran a newspaper, that’s up for debate.
          I meant starting in 1600s Europe, till today, they had been printing newspapers.

        • What bothers me is your lack of Jewish involvement on Barbados in your slavery post, where’s Billy Ray when you need him.
          I’m glad my confederate ancestors came to Pennsylvania in the latter 1600s and migrated south, even fighting on kings mountain in the revolutionary war.
          I do believe, just a guess really, the settlers to Barbados became the ruling elite of the south, never have lived in the south myself, I am on the outside looking in, and lack the feel of the history and culture.

          • The Sugar industry was planted there in Barbados by Dutch Jews fleeing Recife…Barbados was a colony from 1627 onward.

            But that expulsion wasn’t before 1654. And at that point the English were actually at war with the Dutch and allied to the Portuguese. The Cromwell government entered negotiations with the Dutch Jews in 1655.

          • Many of the Founders said we should have kept them out of this nation and we should have. The wrongly assumed we would always be as awoken to the truths of the world that they were well aware of…Damn us for our laziness and damn them from assuming so highly of us..

          • Unlike the northern European colonists neither the Spanish nor the Portuguese brought their women folk with them to the New World. Hence their heavy race-mixing with niggers and Injuns.

          • I think it was part of a pacification and Christian conversion program for the savages. We all know how well that worked out.

    • The point of this little article was to show how Luther mastered a new technology to change the face of Europe. It is not about Protestants vs. Catholics. There is a new Catholic Church which has its own orthodoxy, the Cathedral or Synagogue, whatever you want to call it, and it is under siege.

      • It s a good point.

        I m just disapppinted that Martin Luther s supposed German Christian church didn t really amount to much other than hating perfectly decent German Catholics and going back to the highly Jewish ethnocentric Okd Testament Bible.

        • That’s a pretty sweeping generalization.

          I would say the Reformation changed the culture of Northern Europe in all kinds of ways. It was Southern Europe that declined. Anyway, I am going to avoid taking the bait though and starting a longwinding theological discussion when that was not my aim here.

          • Very good

            Hey Hunter give us a true Southerner s view of AG Jeff Sessions?

            John Derbyshire says Sessions is reaching out to Al Sharpton for outreach to Blackliesmatter

            What do you think?

            My vibes are that Southerners feel Jeff Sessions is their guy abort Nam vets thought McCain was their guy .Texans thought LBJ was their guy etc

          • “…give us a true Southerner s view of AG Jeff Sessions?…”

            I’ll give you one. Sessions was one of my Senators. The other, Senator Shelby, I don’t think is evil, Washington wise, but I really believe he has film of him somewhere doing something wrong as he’s been there a long, long time. Shelby doesn’t really rock the boat and while I have no hard reason to say so and I’m probably wrong, I don’t trust him.

            Without Sessions immigration reform would have likely passed years ago and we would have 40 million new citizens at least. Maybe he didn’t do it all but I think without his continuous objections to immigration reform it would have passed. I see him as one of the most important Senators in this age for this reason alone. 100 years from now people will write about Sessions like we now write about the fire eaters having influence before the Civil War. I think he’s been that important. I can’t account for all he’s done but for that we owe him a great deal of thanks. Immigration is why he went all in for Trump while everyone else held back.

          • I agree that Sen. Sessions has been one of THE best US senators on the most crucial issue of mass immigration.

            But, there are other issues like brutal Black Crime against White Americans or just the Black Underclass destroying civilization in so many places that were once nice, our places.

            How is Jeff Sessions on BlackLiesMatter? Can he handle Blacks Mau Mauing him. I read somewhere that some Blacks who like to be on TV doing “protests” occupied Sen. Jeff Session’s Alabama office – I do not think Jeff Sessions did anything to them.

            This wouldn’t happen to any of President Trump’s offices or Mayor Guliani’s offices.

            We need some tough White guys. Jeff Sessions doesn’t look tough. He looks almost exactly like Orin Hatch. Nice old guy.

            Other people say he’s obsessed with White college kids smoking MJ.


        • Um, what? The Reformation created Protestantism, which replaced the Old Testament with the New Testament as the theological and moral centerpiece.

  2. In 1517 few people had read any book other than the Holy Bible, so they were predisposed to think that words neatly printed on paper must be true. My parents still watch the nightly ABCBSNBC propaganda report, because if TV says Donald Trump is a horrible person, it must be so!

    The first generation to consume a new technology is most easily bamboozled by it. By the second or third generation, it fades into the background noise.

  3. Too bad Christianity didn’t die out in the XVI Century altogether. I think it’s still a subject of debate whether Luther prolonged or shortened the life of that religion. If it were up to me I would demolish St. Peter’s palace on Vatican Hill and build a giant temple dedicated to Jupiter and Juno in its place.

    • Sigh.

      As a rule, I avoid theological discussions on this website. the subject is too polarizing. I will say this though: the ordinary person needs a Narrative to give structure and purpose to his life, and in the absence of Christianity they will just turn to secular ones. Oftentimes, we find out that the alternatives are worse. Just look at the feminists in pussy hats who are fighting “the patriarchy.”

      • What would be really cool is a religion that everyone admits is “just a religion” and therefore not really true, but we’re going to go with it anyway because, as you rightly point out, people need that Narrative.

        That’s how I look at Christianity these days. I don’t give the slightest shit about its doctrines (some of which thoroughly repulse) me, but I don’t mind claiming to be Christian and going along with the rituals and celebrations here and there. It’s a part of my heritage, so I may as well make whatever use I can of it rather than trash it completely.

    • Sounds like that would fulfill part of Christ’s prophesy about the end of the world: An abomination being in the holy place.

    • The thing is, as bad as Christianity is, there’s no guarantee that Europeans wouldn’t have come up with something even dumber. The “neo-Platonism” of the Hellenistic age was intellectually stimulating and reasonably sensible (as far as religious thought goes), so of course there’s a chance that something much better than Christianity might have developed. But it might not have.

  4. For the record, I didn’t write the above to rehash Protestants vs. Catholics. I was thinking more along the lines of the liberal establishment vs. trolls in the 21st century. There is a new Catholicism and a new Protestantism.

  5. New York City would be to the Synagogue what Rome was to Catholicism. It’s not too difficult to image New York City losing its cultural sway over large swathes of the Heartland and beyond. Do you see where I am going with this?

    • Its great to see that “difficult” things are been seen as the easy tasks they truly are.

      Their world view is cracking apart under the weight of its own lies, myths and denial of reality.

    • Luther’s translation of the New Testament into common German, not only broke the monopoly of the Roman Catholic Church, but, also answered questions that people had been asking for centuries.

      As I’ve pointed out before, until the Roman Catholic & Jew political alliance in the USA can be broken little will change. The Roman Catholics are as dangerous as the Jews, and a foreign power too.

      I have not seen “Dixie Girl” write here for a long time, but, she was eloquent on our American problem with the two foreign powers—Rome & Israel.

      • The alt right performs a similar service when it translates Jewish newspeak into plain English. Trump’s election was in no small part one of the fruits of that effort.

    • Were that to happen, it’s debatable how “liberal” those people would remain. Cult marx-pc-shitlib cultural claims are tools of social control – intended to result in leftish economic dominance – more than they are ideas that any intellectual actually believes in. If the rest of the country were to undergo a “reformation,” I don’t see why liberals would bother holding onto their shitlib cultural ideas. They may well consider their economic objectives better served by attuning themselves to the reformed cultural alignment rather than continuing to resist it.

    • After the Civil War, the United States was in terrible financial condition. Congress agreed to a Rothschild plan in exchange for financial assistance. This is when Congress passed “The Organic Act of 1871” which created a separate corporate government for the District of Columbia which was called “THE UNITED STATES”. This treasonous act allowed the District of
      Columbia to operate as a corporation called “THE UNITED STATES” outside of the original Constitution of the republic of “the United States” and outside the best interests of US citizens. The 14th Amendment was passed which created “THE UNITED STATES Citizen” and this citizen had certain privileges called “civil rights” which could be removed at-will by THE UNITED STATES corporation unlike the God-given inalienable rights the Constitution guaranteed to state citizens. One being a citizen of the corporation called THE UNITED STATES, located in Washington, DC, or its US territories, and the other being a citizen of the state of residence in the United States. It sounds complicated and it was meant that way so the Rothschilds could fool the common man.

      Our republic is governed by Common Law/Constitutional Law (or law of the land represented by a flag without gold fringe) and the corporation is governed by the Holy Roman Empire’s Cannon Law or Admiralty Law/Maritime Law
      (or law of the seas represented by the flag with gold fringe). We have two courts systems too – Admiralty Law (most courts are Admiralty Law courts) and Common Law (very few Common Law courts exist). If you want the Constitution
      upheld, you’ll need to find a Common Law court and be represented by a Common Law lawyer if you want your rights upheld because they know the score, where most lawyers who are members of the bar, do not. This bar exists in the Vatican-controlled City of London.”

      “The Secret History of the New World Order” Herbert Dorsey (2014)

  6. I had always thought of Luther in terms of theology, not how well he marketed his ideas. Very interesting. I suppose that pamphlets from Protestants ares somewhat akin to social media and blogging today. Cool. The printing press certainly shook up the professing Christian world. It would be nice to see the new Rome of NYC and Tel Aviv loose all their power over the minds of Americans.

  7. The juxtaposition of pseudo-Pope Francis denouncing tweeting Donald Trump, and Martin Luther and the pope of his day, was a stroke of freaking genius!

    Laughed so hard! Great article -thank you.

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