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News and Commentary

1 December 2010

Are There Conspiracies? Two Book Reviews

K. R. Bolton

An online survey on the beliefs of 5,700 New Zealanders showed that 22% believe it "likely" that "a secret elite cabal controls world affairs", with 21% responding that they don't know, and 57% stating "unlikely".  (Sunday Star Times, C2, 31 Aug. 08).

Given the ridicule attached to "conspiracy theories" the percentage is encouraging, indicating that a significant proportion of New Zealanders are aware of political realities, or at least discern intuitively that something is amiss.

While such beliefs are lumped in by the Sunday Star Times with superstitions and whether Elvis faked his own death (to which very few responded positively), etc., the ongoing success of alternative news -stand magazines such as Nexus and New Dawn from Australia, and in particular Jon Eisen's Uncensored (NZ) show that many New Zealanders are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with what had been described as the 'village idiot theory of history'—that stuff just happens at random—as portrayed by the mass media.

The following are two book reviews on conspiracy theories, adapted from an article originally appearing in the first issue of Restoration Magazine.

Cycicity of Conspiracy Theory

The popularity of conspiracy theories follows cyclic trends after periods of crises. The French Revolution gave rise to the modern theory of conspiracies in general, ascribing the subversion and breakdown of the traditional order to the influences of Masonic coteries, including the Illuminati, from whence other conspiracy theories have followed, often encompassing communism, Zionism, international finance, and such groups as the Bilderbergers, Council on Foreign Relations, Lodge 322, and Trilateralists.

The 1905 Russian Revolution popularised the hitherto obscure Protocols of Zion, again with a Masonic theme, but with a Jewish façade, although doctrine of the Protocols has nothing of the nature of Zionism per se about it.

Since such theories were generally of a ‘right-wing nature,’ and often linked to ‘anti-Semitism’, World War II drove them into disrepute.

The Cold War revived conspiracy theories, and 9/11 has given impetus to a revival of interest in covert cabals such as Masonry not seen since the Russia Revolution. Impetus has been added with the revival of alternative religions and the questioning of mainstream religion, including the popularity of books such as those about the alleged Prior de Sion by Baigent, et al. They have also revived an interest in the role of the Illuminati.

The best-selling novelist Dan Brown has contributed greatly to the revival with his novel Angel & Demons. This is a thriller about the Illuminati. Although the historical background has little resemblance to fact, the novel has spawned two books which include chapters on Masonry and the Illuminati.

Secrets of Angels & Demons by Dan Burstein and A Sura, includes a chapter titled The Illuminati Illuminated, comprising an anthology of interviews with journalists and researchers regarding their views on Illuminati conspiracy theories.

The Dan Brown Companion by Simon Cox includes a chapter titled Illuminati, in which Cox presents a succinct account of the society.

Included in his references are Nesta Webster’s Secret Societies and Subversive Movements, and Prof. John Robison’s Proofs of a Conspiracy, conspiratorial classics among the “Right” but seldom hitherto heard of by the larger public for decades.

A major publishers has recently come out with a series called “Conspiracy Books”, no doubt to cash in on the renewed interest in such theories. The publisher is Collins & Brown. The series includes: Who Really Runs the World?, Who’s Watching You?, What is Opus Dei?, Who Really Won the Space Race?, Who Won the Oil Wars?, and Who Are the Illuminati?

Who Really Runs the World? and Who Are the Illuminati? are the two books that are reviewed here.

Who Really Runs the World?

Thom Burnett and Alex Games, London, 2005.

Burnett is the pseudonym for a British security and military analyst. Games is a columnist for the Financial Times and former associate media editor for the London Evening Standard.

The book starts with several chapters looking at contenders for the questions ‘who really runs the world?’ However, most of the book thereafter becomes a fairly standard, although well researched work on globalisation.

Burnett considers the Illuminati, Lodge 322, the Bilderbergers, the Trilateral Commission, and Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). Burnett disposes of each until concluding that the CFR is the most likely culprit. In doing so he too readily dismisses the Illuminati. Burnett’s technique of reductio ad absurdum in eliminating the Illuminati from the scene does not do justice to the mostly well-researched bulk of the book.

For example, Burnett ridicules the notion popularised during eh 19th C. by the eminent scholar Prof. John Robison in Proofs of a Conspiracy that the Illuminati survived its outlawing by the Elector of Bavaria, by the expedient of simply re-organising as book societies. Burnett finds it laughable that a sinister conspiracy for the establishment of a new world order could continue via book clubs. However the importance of what was at the time subversive literature was a feature not only of Weishaupt’s Illuminati but of other revolutionary societies, and it was this literature that paved the way for the French Revolution. Books and pamphlets at the time were as influential as TV and the Internet are today. The owner of a printing press was as potentially subversive as today’s Rupert Murdoch and other media barons. One needs only recall Benjamin Franklin as a printer—for example The French Revolution itself was fomented by a coterie of Masons led by Diderot, called The Encyclopaedists. It is naïve to think that the Illuminati was obliterated by a decree and police action, any more than a communist party apparatus is eliminated by a mere state order and police raids. It was the Illuminati that created the cell structure upon which the communist parties were later modelled, as were numerous Masonic-type revolutionary societies such as those of Babeuf, Blanqui, Mazinni, et al.

Burnett then arrives at Lodge 322, a.k.a. The Order of the Skull & Bones, of which both presidents Bush and rival presidential contender John Kerry are initiates. Lodge 322 is widely believed by conspiratologists to be a continuation of the Illuminati. Burnett again resorts to ridicule to eliminate Lodge 322, not only as a continuation of the Illuminati but even as a contender for world power rulership, despite the elite of industry, banking, politics, education…being among its initiates. He cites only one work on Lodge 322, Ron Rosenbaum’s 1977 article for Esquire, The Last Secrets of Skull & Bones. Rosenbaum points to a common initiatory feature of the Illuminati and Lodge 322, the initiation from a coffin and a reference to a line from dramatist and Mason Lessing:

“Wer war der Thor, wer Weiser, Bettler oder Kaiser? Ob Arm, on Reich, in Tode gleich.”

“Who was the fool, who was the wise man, beggar or king? Whether poor or rich, all’s the same in death.”

Burnett dismisses this as inconsequential, a coincidence, while accepting a vague Masonic connection from Germany.

He states that the skull and bones symbol of Lodge 322 probably represents a pirate symbol, seemingly not knowing of the importance of the symbol in Masonry.

As evidence of the unimportant nature of Lodge 322, Burnett states that it’s merely a Yale fraternity, ignoring the fact that members aren’t ‘tapped’ until their final year at Yale, and that the old boy network continues to hold meeting for its ‘patriarchs’ on an island resort, Deer Iland (sic), purchased for that purpose. It is not until after Yale graduation that one becomes a ‘patriarch’ of the Order.

Of particular value is the chapter on the Council on Foreign relations (CFR), entitled New Knights of the Round Table, (chapter 4). While the dominate theme of the book on globalisation has been dealt with by many others, the conspiratorial nature of the CFR is described particularly well in this book.

The knowledge of the CFR was until the advent of the Internet, publicised mainly by sections of the Right, in particular by the John Birch Society. Burnett brings some classic Birchite books to the attention of the general public, namely Gary Allen’s underground best-seller of the 1970s, None Dare Call it Treason, and W. Cleon Skousen’s The Naked Capitalist. The latter is a review and commentary on the magnum opus of the eminent US historian Prof Carroll Quigley, a mentor of Clinton at Harvard. What makes Quigley unique is not only his importance as a ‘mainstream’ historian but that he was on his own account intimately involved with a conspiratorial apparatus he called ‘the international network’ which he identified as stemming from banking dynasties which seek to create a world state. Quigley as a liberal internationalist agreed with the ideal but disputed the need for secrecy. His exposé of the ‘network’ over a few dozen pages of his 1,300 page book Tragedy & Hope was sufficient to have him marked for oblivion career wise, and the book was quietly dropped by publisher MacMillan.

Quigley, Allen and Skousen identify the conspiratorial apparatus as centred around the CFR. Burnett follows this in pointing out the influential role of the CFR in filling Administrations of both Democrats and Republicans, since its founding in 1921, and the role it played in planning the UNO and in formulating post-war foreign policy.

However, Burnett provides an added contribution that is of particular significance. Whereas US conservatives such as Allen and Skousen and even Quigley have sought to identify this ‘international network’ as being ‘Anglophile’ and as having descended directly from the Round Table Group of Cecil Rhodes and Lord Milner, et al, who planned a new world order around the British Empire, Burnett points out that this is a misinterpretation.

Indeed the misinterpretation of this as a ‘British imperial conspiracy’ in origin, has generated other theories about the eminence of the British Royal Family in alleged conspiracies. It has led to fundamental misinterpretations of history and the role of the CRE and other cabals which were pivotal in eliminating the British and all the other European colonial empires, so that the Money Power could fill the vacuum. (See for example this writer’s Building the New Babel, Renaissance Press, NZ, on how the Money Power eliminated the colonial empires).

The CFR was joined by a prior US group The Inquiry, founded in 1917 in the aftermath of World War I for promoting the establishment of a world government via the League of Nations. The intentions of these internationalist bankers, industrialists, and intellectuals were to unite with the British Round Table Group,  which became the Royal Institute of International Affairs. However, as Burnett shows, the globalists around the CFR were willing to co-operate with the USSR in establishing a post-war new world order, although they would concede nothing to British imperial interests.

While Burnett alludes to the role of Pres. Woodrow Wilson’s chief adviser, Edward House, the organiser of both The Inquiry ands the CFR, and mentions the Wilsonian/internationalist agenda, of which the League of Nations was pivotal, he fails to follow through with the pro-Bolshevik activities of this coterie, although mentioning that House’s novel Philip Dru: Administrator was described by House as advocating 'socialism as dreamed of by Marx.' Burnett mentions that House went to a socialist publisher for his novel. It was this cabal for which House fronted (much in the manner that Kissinger fronted for Rockefeller interests during his public service career) that pursued a pro-Bolshevik policy during a time in which the Bolshevik hold on Russia was precarious. It was this influence that secured Trotsky’s release from detention at Nova Scotia, Canada, as a ‘German agent’, so that he could proceed to Russia to help foment the Revolution. Wickham Steed, editor of The London Times, reported on the role of House, and bankers such as Schiff and the Warburgs in trying to secure the diplomatic recognition of the Bolsheviks at the Paris Peace Conference. Samuel Gompers, the US trade union leader, himself a Mason, wrote of this also at the time, stating that there was a criminal nexus between the Bolsheviks and international bankers for the mutual exploitation of Russia. It was left to Prof. Antony Sutton of Stanford to write the definitive account on the funding of the Bolsheviks in his Wall Street and the Bolshevik Revolution. It was also Sutton who wrote a series of booklets exposing Lodge 322, and showing its lineage to the Illuminati. Sutton was no fool or yokel, but a Stanford Research specialist, yet he receives no mention from Burnett, nor from the author discussed below.

Who Are the Illuminati? Exploring the Myth of the Secret Society.

Lindsay Porter, London, 2005

If Burnett provides a convincing case for a globalist conspiracy centred round the CFR, then Porter takes the position that not only is the Illuminati a myth outside a brief existence as a harmless society of intellectuals who didn’t outlast the 18th C., but that any notion of a long running political conspiracy is mere paranoia or the simplification of history by yokels.

Porter is described as an author and researcher who specialises in secret societies. Frankly, her research methodology is shoddy.

Porter’s book is possibly one of the few, which actually reads like an apologia for Adam Weishaupt, founder of the Illuminati. While drawing on accounts that show Weishaupt to have been paranoid, dictatorial, and amoral, Porter, like Thomas Jefferson during the anti-Illuminati scare in American in the 18th and 19th C., nonetheless portrays Weishaupt in sympathetic terms as a misunderstood philanthropist persecuted by reactionaries. Likewise, the Illuminati are portrayed as professing ideals that are nothing more than the democracy now taken for granted.

While authors who refer to long range conspiracies, often traced back to the Knights Templar (see this writer’s thesis From Knights Templar to New World Order, Renaissance Press, NZ) are ridiculed by Porter, she attempts to form a lineage of her own of 'conspiracists' (sic), starting with the French exiled Jesuit the Abbe Barruel, who first wrote of the Illuminati and the French Revolution; closely followed by Dr John Robison, to British historian Nesta Webster, who was the first and most prominent to revive the idea in the early 20th C., then on to Robert Welch of the John Birch Society during the 1960s, whom she claims was the first to revive the Illuminati theory after World War II to explain the rise of communism. Into this she mixes anyone and everyone who ever so much as mentioned the Illuminati, along with many who didn’t but just opposed some subversive tendency such as communism. Hence lumped together are Sen. Joe McCarthy, always good to slander; Father Charles Coughlin the popular Depression era 'radio priest' who challenged Roosevelt; and Henry Ford the auto manufacturer, who published articles on the Protocols of Zion.

But Porter particularly relishes the chance to include special attention to David Icke who has added an extraterrestrial dimension by claiming that the Illuminati are hybrid humanoid-reptilian aliens, that include the Bush, Rothschild, and Rockefeller families.

While Porter scathingly attacks Robison’s Proofs of a Conspiracy, the foundation of modern conspiracy theory, republished by the Birch Society in 1967, she yet has recourse to quote him where she actually attempts to describe the working of the Illuminati. She therefore concedes that Robison is the definitive authority.

In a chapter on what Porter calls the anti-Illuminati ‘hysteria’ in the USA during the 18th and 19th centuries, when the doctrines of the French Revolution were being introduced via Jefferson’s Democrats, she claims that Robison’s work was finally repudiated when a letter arrived from a certain, unidentified Dr Ebeling from Germany, claiming that Robison had been exposed in Europe as a fraud and a bankrupt. Yet this is far from the case. Robison was one of the foremost scientists of his day, the first general secretary of the Scottish Royal Society, who was eulogised by James Watt. Robison was the victim of smear-mongering, including the allegation that he had a form of insanity where he believed that his backside was made of glass. Porter claims that Robison was not sufficiently acquainted with German to translate the Illuminati papers found by the Bavarian authorities. Yet the website of Edinburgh University describes Robison as an eminent linguist. No mention is made of the denigration of his reputation. Robison had himself been a Mason and was concerned at the bad reputation being given to English UGL Masonry by Grand Orient, Illuminati, and other forms of Continental Masonry. Porter also quotes George Washington, himself a high ranking Mason, who fully realised the danger of Illuminati doctrines spreading to America.

Particular venom is reserved for Nesta Webster, whose influence on 'conspiracists' continues. Webster is scorned as 'pseudo-scholarly', and as having been little heeded in her own time. Porter does concede that Webster received commendation from Lord Kitchener as a great historian. Yet one can also add Winston Churchill, and even H G Wells, the famed historian and novelist, who as a Fabian socialist and internationalist on the opposite spectrum to that of Webster, commended Webster’s 1924 book Secret Societies & Subversive Movements as being 'a book that all serious people interested in the British situation should to read and think about. . . I believe that Mrs Webster’s influence has spread beyond the circle of her actual readers.'

Other tributes at the time came form The Daily Express, Chicago Tribune, NY Herald Tribune, Daily Mail, The Spectator, and many others. Webster was asked to lecture to the British Military on subversion, and these lectures formed the basis of her book World Revolution.

William Guy Carr, author of Red Fog Over America and Pawns in the Game, is dismissed as a crank that ‘spent much of his life writing about the Illuminati’. There is no mention of Carr as a distinguished Commander of the Canadian Royal Navy, nor as an acclaimed author on naval subjects as well as subversion, who lectured 1944-45 on subversion to the Navy. Porter fails to mention Carr’s books in her Bibliography, which presumably means she ridicules him without ever having bothered to read what he wrote.

Porter seems to have a lot to say about authors whose books she does not appear to have read.  At one point in attempting o associate Illuminati conspiracy theories with The Protocols of Zion and ipso facto with 'anti-Semitism' Porter claims that The Protocols purport to show 'secret Jewish rituals.' This is hogwash, despite the book being listed in the bibliography. Indeed, as this writer has shown in my Protocols in Context (Renaissance Press, NZ), the Protocols doctrine are strategy parallel to that of the Illuminati, and have scant evidence of what became Herzlian Zionism. There is a direct link between The Protocols, the Illuminati, and Memphis-Mizraim-Martinist  Masonry via de Pasquales, an Illuminatist and founder of Martinist Masonry, Adolphe Cremieux, head of Grand Orient Masonry, Mizraim-Martinist Masonry and the Universal Israelite Alliance, whop was significantly mentor of Maurice Joly, whose novel, Dialogues in Hell, The Protocols were supposedly ‘plagiarised’ from; but none of this is mentioned by supposed authorities such as Norman Cohn (Warrant for Genocide).

Robert Welch who founded the once formidable anti-communist lobby the John Birch Society, comes in for much condemnation as an individual who revived the Illuminati conspiracy theory after World War II to explain communism. Porter quotes from Welch’s booklet The Truth In Time, yet again we find that according to the Bibliography, not only has Porter apparently not even read The Truth In Time, but the only book she records there by Welch is The Blue Book of the JBS, the founding document which does not even deal with conspiracy themes.

Others brought together into a ‘conspiracist’ conspiracy of Porter’s imagination include KKK; Pat Robertson, the evangelist; , the Militias; UFOlogy; along with Webster, McCarthy, Ford, Welch, Robison, et al.

Porter seems to be correct in stating that conspiracy theories on the Eye and Triangle/Pyramid being the symbol of the Illuminati are not correct, despite the widespread belief among ‘conspiracists’. Yet she goes too far in attempting to ridicule the other major ‘conspiracist’ contention regarding the symbol, i.e. that it is incorporated into the Great Seal of the USA as a Masonic contrivance. She mentions that the symbol is depicted on the US Dollar Bill due to the influence of Roosevelt’s Secretary of Agriculture, Henry Wallace. Yet she seems oblivious as to both Wallace and Roosevelt being 32nd Degree Masons, both of whom saw great significance in the Masonic symbolism of the Great Seal. Wallace referred to the Masonic doctrine of the completion of the pyramid as placing the USA in a mission to lead in establishing a ‘New Order of the Ages’, the slogan of the US Great Seal, and one used with frequency by both presidents Bush. As for the Eye and Triangle, although not apparently being Illuminati per se, it is an important Masonic symbol, prominently depicted by the Grand Orient of France for example, and adorning the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen, by the French Revolutionaries, along with other occult, Masonic symbols (see Bolton, From Knights Templar. . . , op.cit.).

It is also significant that the Eye and Pyramid adorn the Israeli Supreme Court in Jerusalem, and that the whole building is replete with Masonic symbolism. The building was funded by the Rothschilds and a plaque, also with an eye and pyramid sign, commemorates their contribution.

If the neglect of Burnett to mention Dr Sutton’s booklets on Lodge 322 is a bad oversight, then Porter’s neglect is outright poor scholarship, and that’s to err on the side of charity. For a book that purports to trace theories on the Illuminati not to mention Sutton’s research, even for the purposes of scorn, is unforgivable—especially his final booklet in the series, The Secret Cult of the Order, which was specifically written to show the link between the Illuminati and Lodge 322.

However, Porter does reserve praise for Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea, whose 1970s Illuminatus Trilogy lampoons Illuminati and other conspiracy theories. Ironically what Porter does not mention is that Wilson is an avid and well-known admirer of and advocate for British occultist and Mason Aleister Crowley, who took over leadership of the Ordo Templi Orientis  (OTO) from the well-connected German spy Theodor Reuss. Reuss himself claimed to have re-established the Illuminati on the basis of family connections. Crowley claimed Illuminati founder Weishaupt, as a 'saint' for his OTO. Hence we come to something of a cycle in which we find Porter lauding Wilson who is an apologist for occultist who claimed the mantle of Weishaupt himself.

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