Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Regimentation of Thought

Ronald Knox (1888-1957), Broadcast Minds (London: Sheed & Ward, 1932), p. 3:
If our modern world is built up largely on the medieval invention of gunpowder, it is also largely built up on the medieval invention of printing. And printing is a kind of spiritual explosive, with the same duality of influence. We are accustomed to think of the Press as an instrument of liberation; that is because its effects are more noticed, where they are more sensational. We think of Junius, or Martin Marprelate. But a moment's reflection will suggest that the introduction of printing has made possible a far more exact regimentation of thought, wherever governments, armies, or ecclesiastical organizations have found the opportunity to express their views by this means.
Id., p. 4:
Whenever we see a statement in print, the odds arc that the colour and the setting of that statement are, somehow, official. The thing would not have been printed if somebody or other had not had the money to pay for printing it; would not have been distributed, if somebody or other had not commanded the means of distribution.


The immediate effect of printing, which makes it possible for the man in power to communicate his ideas, without fear of adulteration, not to thousands but to millions of the governed, is regimentation of thought.