The story is that the Reformation was the result of a GRASSROOTS rebellion. This grassroots rebellion was the direct result of the printing press.

There is a distinction here. It is the sort of distinction I made a good living explaining. It is the lesson I offer you free. But you have been reading Bob's stuff so long you probably consider it obvious. Everything I say is obvious, in retrospect. But the people who paid me knew it in PROSPECT, and they won.

OK, I hope to you it is obvious: The revolt of those who could READ that was the Reformation was anything BUT grassroots. They did read to the illiterate masses, but the basis of the revolt was a new class, middle class that could READ.

Anyone who makes his living in television knows that it is critical to reach the right demographic. Peasants in the days of Luther were largely still pagan. They went to church the way Japanese peasants have icons of Buddha, Christ, and Shinto deities. The Lutheran/Calvin revolt was not grassroots, it was a rebellion on the part of the new ruling demographic.

The reason people paid me money was for observations so obvious that, when they become generally accepted, you wonder why the HELL someone would pay MONEY to a person who claims it was some kind of Special Wisdom.

But if you are fanatic like me, you couldn't care less. It worked. Now to the next problem.

It should be obvious, and isn't, that a Cyberroots rebellion is different from a grassroots rebellion. After a few thousand of us marched for a Confederate flag over the South Carolina capitol building, there was really massive march AGAINST it. Tens of thousands of blacks packed the street to the extent of the Million Man March in DC, to the point where they were jammed so tightly they had trouble breathing. They won, because it was supposed to be a GRASSROOTS revolt.

They were led by the clerics in backwards collars and with Bob Jones's timely support, but it was solid black.

So I asked, "What percentage of the anti-flag masses were SWING votes?" In our few thousand, some hated Beasley and some might still vote Republican. But every single person in those hundred thousand anti-flaggers was a committed liberal.

When it comes to politics, the grassroots are meaningless.

Let's do some real political arithmetic:

Bob Jones IV or XIV or whoever he is will sell out to the highest bidders. All of his slaves will vote Republican. He has family business to run. The blacks and the guys with the backward collars will vote liberal Democrat. So if I were getting paid to advise on POLITICS, I'd say you better forget the apparent grassroots and pay attention to the people who have OPINIONS.

So what is the demographic that sane people are looking for?

MTV's desperate attempt to get its watchers, tens of millions of them, out to vote is one of the best-known failures in popular history.

Those poor bastards! I've BEEN there! MTV is run by overaged hippies. They were Young Radicals in the NINETEEN SIXTIES for God's sake! Has anybody taken a look at a CALENDAR lately? But they figured "I am a young radical in the year 2000 and when I say 'young radical' in 2000 AD all these young folks will sign on and get out there and vote anti-racist."

You never heard about it when a Soviet space shot failed, complete with lots of dead people. You never hear about it when a Radical Initiative goes pfsst. The MTV campaign went pffst.

A Cyber Revolt is entirely different from the Workers' Class crap Jane Fonda dreams about.

I used to get paid for observations like this. Maybe it's worth your thinking about.

Response by Glenn Livett

Bob, let me "think out loud" to try to gel this brain-dump of "obviousness." I'm getting parts of your thought here, but not the whole.

1) The Reformation was brought on by the printing press. But it was not a "popular" revolt. It was a revolt of those who could read. These people in no way, shape, or form constituted a numerical majority. These people did constitute a new ruling demographic. This ruling demographic was in position to effect change and did. These were the people who counted. I gotcha.

I would make the further observation that this new demographic didn't so much "remake the world" as "reform" what was already in existence. That is, they reordered their society's institutions in such a way that they, the de facto rulers, gained de jure control.

But the institutions of the old regime remained, albeit with a new coat of paint, so to speak. This last bit is what all the "history" of the Reformation is about, the irrelevant parts, naturally. The same is true of the "filoque" controversy, as Bob has pointed out.

Similarly, the Reformation was not, as is popularly described, a Soviet-style "intellectual revolution" over mind-numbingly dry theological issues that very few then or since have cared about.

A group had arisen that formed the ruling power, but they didn't have the power. The progression of events transpired so that they gained that power. The Reformation occurred for that simplest and most common of reasons: Its time had come. As I've described it here, it was quite similar in its broad strokes to the American Revolution, no?

2) A "grassroots" rebellion exists only in fantasyland. In the real world, there are opposing groups who vote as a block. In such a scenario- with more or less evenly matched sides-the solution is to identify those who THINK, and sway them to your side. This group, had they been alive at the time of the Reformation, would have been the "revolutionaries," or at least their supporters.

3) The slack-jawed TV-gawkers (Sorry Creative Loafing, that's your demographic. The ability to read isn't what it used to be, eh?) are too sorry even to be prodded by their masters. It is pointless to waste time directly trying to get them to do anything. If they were alive at the time of the Reformation, they would have constituted the mass of the population.

4) This is the part where I have to read-in to get the particulars of what Bob thinks is obvious. A Cyber Revolt would be like the Reformation in the sense that the revolutionaries are those who are A) Aware of Their Disenfranchisement; B) Care; and C) Will do something about it.

The Internet now thus functions like the printing press then as the medium through which revolution ignites. It begets a revolution of ideas toward a very practical and age-old end. The attribute that differentiates these from the MTV types is the ability to think.

But that only identifies the strategy, not the tactics. The mantra is the What. Now is When. The Why is obvious. The Where is the Internet. The How is posting on message boards. But what is the Who? That is, which message boards? Let's put the marketing theory to work on this.