Notes politics

Strategy 25: Occupy the Moral High Ground (The 33 Strategies of War)


Martin Luther attacked the Catholic’s church by creating a law of morals against the pope. He criticized the lavish lifestyles of those who headed the church, and the extraordinary power they were given. He argued that the Bible had no justification for this behavior, and that the Catholic church was not a spiritual organization, but a political one. By pointing out these hypocrisies, he forever tainted the image of the pope and the church in the eyes of the public.

Luther wrote An Open Letter to the Christian Nobility of the German Nation, in it, he claimed that Rome used its authority to bully German people for centuries. A long political struggle between pope Leo and Martin Luther ensued after that, and through his own shrewdness, and the help of his followers among the aristocracy, Luther survived unscathed.

By 1526 a Protestant party was officially recognized in different parts of Europe. This was the birth of the Reformation, and with it the vast worldly power of the Catholic Church, at least as Leo had inherited it, was irrevocably broken. That obscure, pedantic Wittenberg priest had somehow won the war.

Robert Greene, The 33 Strategies of War

Luther won the political conflict against the pope by appealing to the people, and he did so on moral grounds. People will not join your side unless it seems righteous or just. Moral “warriors” know how to play on people’s emotions, they appear fragile, but they are in fact dangerous and powerful.

It is a world not of angels but of angles, where men speak of moral principles but act on power principles; a world where we are always moral and our enemies always immoral.


In a few years, while Luther was constantly being attacked by the church, the support he gained from the people only increased. He led an exemplary life and took it further in his writings – which he refused to take income for – this compelled the public to revere him.

Successful wickedness hath obtained the name virtue…when it is for the getting of the kingdom.

THOMAS HOBBES, 1588-1679

Read The 33 Strategies of War

"Silence is the best expression of scorn" - G.B. Shaw

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