It’s interesting to note that so-called conspiracy theories are so alive and well. These “theories” center on the idea that the world is being controlled by a secretive group. So many groups are suspects: the Illuminati, the Freemasons, the Bilderberg group, the Trilateral Commission, all said to be creating a so-called New World Order, although the Rothschild Family of bankers is thought to be the kingpins of it all.
The groups are thought to be behind problems such as poverty in third world countries, the thinning of the Ozone layer, the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the current world economic crisis and perhaps even the death of Ninoy Aquino and the unseating of Ferdinand Marcos. More stories say that a police state will soon be imposed all over the world (although I do like the idea of a world government, no more separate nations), that governments will implant a microchip in your foreheads and hands, and all that. Other conspiracy theories include HAARP causing global warming, aircraft spreading harmful chemical trails or chemtrails over North America, AIDS being a manmade disease, the 9/11, Oklahoma bombing, Colorado shooting, Sandy Hook shooting and other shootings and attacks being perpetrated by the U.S. government, cancer cures actually existing (like marijuana) and being hidden by “big pharma,” that the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami was caused by an bomb, the moon landings were faked, and many more.
Some might assume this is new stuff, exciting 21st century information; but it really isn’t. I first learned about them in the early 1990s. A neighbor of mine shared with me from the bulletin boards of that time (the predecessor in this country of the now-ubiquitous World Wide Web) various articles on Freemasonry and other secret groups, with the claim that the Illuminati being founded by Adam Weishaupt actually continued in another form, and all that. At first, they seemed believable.
I even read about the church I attend (the former Worldwide Church of God, now called Grace Communion International), and its founder, Herbert W. Armstrong, getting involved in the plot. The church was thought to be a tool for implementing this “new world order,” since it promoted a world government before. Armstrong was linked to a CIA agent, Robert Lawrence Kuhn, paired with church figure Stan Rader, who was suspected to be a handler of Chinese leader Xi Jinping. Much to my amusement, all that “truth” that my church was part of a plot fell apart. The church revised its doctrines in the late 1990s to accept mainstream Protestant Christianity, and changed its name changed to GCI. So is that a part of a plot to “rule the world?”
Then I find out about a Steven Jackson game called Illuminati which was released in 1982. So the stories have been around that long, probably even reaching to World War 2 (look up Nesta Webster). Modern conspiracy theories as we know them can be attributed to the John Birch Society, especially one of their writers, Gary Allen. Allen authored two books, Revolution in the Streets and None Dare Call It Conspiracy, which gave us the modern conspiracy theories as we know them. Since then, shills from some vested interest groups, and perhaps even the CIA, have been propagating these stories.
Even then, I always felt something was wrong with such ideas. To put it simply, real, beyond-reasonable-doubt convincing evidence is clearly missing. If the stories were true, the secret societies would have been discovered a long time ago.
It’s Always Someone Else’s Fault
While there may be such forces working behind the scenes, I think we’re giving them too much credit. Just look at the picture painted by conspiracy theorists. They make the conspiracies look so big and the “secret cabals” (like the NWO and Illuminati) so powerful, it makes them convenient scapegoats for every problem. I thought former president Gloria Arroyo was a convenient scapegoat. But now we have secret societies! It can reinforce a mentality of “it’s always someone else’s fault.”
I understand why such theories exist, but I can’t understand why such people, the â€œconspiracy theorists,â€ have embraced them so long despite lack of proof. They even get angry and have contempt for people who don’t believe them. They corner themselves into their own little world, where they think everything that does not agree with them is evil except a little shack in the forest (unless that’s a vacation home of someone from the New World Order).
On why such stories seen to be so attractive to people, I guess one answer is that they make it convenient to blame for someone else. One of the themes of Get Real Philippines is that Filipinos shoot themselves in the foot, and then pass the blame to someone else. For example, a person who is a slacker and refuses to work becomes poor. Then he blames other people, like the government and successful people, for his being poor. Conspiracy theorists will say it’s all the secret societies’ fault.
Perhaps it’s also a manifestation of human fascination with the mysterious. This same attitude exists with the belief in UFOs, the Loch Ness Monster and Bigfoot. Some mysteries may be so fascinating, so interesting, people want them to be true.
I think some believers even show a clear disconnect between what they believe and what they do. A person may rant all they want about conspiracies or blame corporatism for world problems while they sip a grande at Starbucks or munch on McDonalds fries. Perhaps these people are either slacktivists, or they’re just fond of spreading gossip. They say “Apple is an evil corporation…” and they may be typing it on an iPad or iBook. And they’re even using the Internet, such as Youtube, owned by world corporation Google, where anyone can post a “revelation” video that is well-made, but is actually home-made.
One other thing that disturbs me is what the conspiracy theorists propose. One of their supporters I engaged in a Facebook group supported the founding of a militia society, or a strong gun culture. The National Rifle Association in the US is thought to be something like this (I have since written a newer article on the matter). However, if such a society was needed, it means the social order has broken down. I would see the warlord culture in the Philippines as what the militia society is all about. But even without warlords, a gun culture would see Filipinos killing each other over mere squabbles. I have heard of so many Filipinos drawing guns just because of a mere traffic altercation. Filipinos have such bad tempers. A Filipino gun society will only provide tools for flared tempers, and more unnecessary violence may erupt.
If this is the fruit of conspiracy theories, it’s not a good tree.
There is some credence however to the idea that some groups may be working behind the scenes to influence political affairs in the world, or at least American affairs. Blogger Lou Kritz (our resident blogger Ben Kritz’s father) wrote about an organization called the American Legislative Exchange Council. It’s a fairly open group that claims to be composed of lawmakers. It’s more of a group made of corporate agents, mostly associated with conservatives, and they actually have been influencing American policy since the 1970s. But unlike the various groups stated above, this one has a website and it is public.
Lou Kritz once replied to me when I commented on his article: “I, too, believe that the New World Order, etc., is a smokescreen. Our ruling class tends to stoke the fires with sideline crap, especially at election time, to divert attention from the real issues. In a recent TV show on the secrets of the Freemasons, they explained that Masonry was brought to America on British ships during the Revolution. Then, the American Masons started to shoot at, and kill, the British Masons, and vice versa. I guess the New World Order Program kind of broke down there.”
But ALEC, despite working quietly behind the scenes, is made of different, separate interests. They are not one group controlling the world. And we can do something about groups like this.
US Urban Legend?
Another thing I notice is that these stories mostly come from the United States. I have never heard such stories come from Europe, Singapore, Africa or anywhere else. For sure, people from other countries heard it from America. Makes me believe that the Illuminati and similar stories come from the same vein as American urban legends.
What also convinces me that it’s all unlikely to be true; the operation is too big to keep secret and seamless. Not only is someone bound to squeal, as one blogger says, like what happened on the CIA operations in South America and Iran. It’s also likely that the conspirators will quarrel among themselves. Put two power-hungry tyrants in one room; they’re likely to kill each other than cooperate. This has been proven time and again; even powerful empires always collapse, because people cannot keep it together without getting at each others’ throats.
Also, all known sources of these stories on the Internet are websites akin to “fan sites.” Nothing seems to come from a reputable, trustworthy source. Even many independent websites not associated with large companies eschew these stories. All the supposed “proof” comes in the form of second-hand data or “clues.” For example, they’ll point you to the Gmail symbol looking like an apron taken at some supposed Freemason event. Or that pyramid with the eye in the dollar bill is the Illuminati symbol. And they’ll tell you this is proof. Really, proof should be confirmation without doubt by someone with first-hand views of the conspiracy in operation.
For example, if people were really implanted with chips in their hands and heads, people would talk about it. They would say, “I’ve been implanted!” Then they would post their own pictures of the chips in their skin or if extracted, instead of passing around pictures on the Net that have been passed over and over again. If they don’t have their own pictorial evidence similar to this, then they would be lying. This chip thing had been talked about since the 1990s, and since no one had come forward to show it, it’s certain not true. You can’t say the secret cabal is successfully suppressing it: people have a way of making reputable information come out.
Some stories are confirmed by former CIA agents and other covert workers who participated in events like the toppling of Mossadegh in Iran, The Tuskegee Syphilis Study and other secret operations of the time have come out and made revelations. More recently, the Gary Webb report of the CIA selling illegal drugs in the U.S. to fund the Nicaraguan Contras was confirmed. Yet not one of them has told of the “secret societies,” nor has anyone else come out to reveal them. All we get is “clues.”
Now the conspiracy theorists will just dismiss debunking as products of corporate or secret society propaganda. They will shout: you are deceived, idiots! But the question remains: if the rumors have been around so long, why hasn’t reputable evidence of these groups come out? Why is the supposed “evidence” coming out in a semi-hushed manner? And that’s just what these conspiracy theories are: rumors. These things circulate through hearsay, and so they can be likened to the tsismis that Filipinos so gullibly gobble up and become dumb with.
One other thing that is funny about these theories is that aliens are supposed to be involved. Yes, aliens in UFOs have made contact with our government and are either fighting with them or working with them for domination of the Earth. Or even reptilian humanoids that live within a hollow earth. Yes, there are people who actually believe in this, despite it all being more appropriate for science fiction rather than fact.
I conclude that many of these conspiracy theories are too big and magical in scale to accomplish successfully. But their being a convenient escape, using vivid and wild imagination, as well as people’s irrational fears, draws attention away from the real issues, like ALEC’s manipulation. I will declare that all these stories are hoaxes and hogwash. They are just distractions from what smaller, but more sinister interests are actually doing in plain sight.
(Last edit, Sept. 11, 2015 with postscript: I also believe the recent suspicions that Syrian and Rohingyan refugees are terrorists or hide terrorists is another more recent conspiracy theory.)