III. The Conspirators
America's Unknown Enemy: Beyond Conspiracy
Editorial Staff of the
American Institute for Economic Research
Despite the skepticism with which conspiracy notions often have been
greeted in professional circles, interest in contemporary conspiracy
theory no longer can be regarded merely as an exercise in eccentricity
or obscurantism. For example, Globescan, an international news
and financial report (whose parent is the investment research
organization, Realinvest S.A. of Geneva, Switzerland) published a
handsome pamphlet with the title Futurewatch; Your Freedom and
Wealth Versus the International Establishment. In it, at the top
of a list under a bold heading "Perpetual conspiracy is printed
the word Illuminati. For readers of that pamphlet unfamiliar with the
term Illuminati -- or Club of Rome, Group of 77, Bilderbergers, IFAD,
SATO, UNITAR, WIPO, CER, RIIA, and a multitude of others a good
portion of what subsequently was presented would have had little or no
meaning. Attempts to link conspiracy theory and investment practice
demand that the "uninitiated" gain at least some
acquaintance with the origins, methods, and terminology of conspiracy
literature if they are to comprehend what is being presented and
assess its usefulness.
The central tenets of contemporary conspiracy theory owe much to the
British author Nesta H. Webster's World Revolution; The Plot
Against Civilization (1921), a book that testifies powerfully to
the endemic flaws of conspiracy notions. World Revolution
describes minute similarities (differences receive little or no
mention) found in a variety of secret societies and intellectual
movements between the late 18th century and the early 20th century.
These, it says, are "proof" that the source of revolutionary
upheaval in the modern world "is not local but universal, it is
not political but social, and its causes must be sought not in popular
discontent, but in a deep-laid conspiracy" (emphasis
added). Accordingly, parallels between the rituals, methods, and
symbolism of various societies, and the teachings of individuals as
various as Rousseau, Robespierre, Owen, Fourier, Marx, Bakunin, and
Louis Blanc are interpreted as evidence of an "occult force,
terrible, unchanging, relentless, and wholly destructive, which
constitutes the greatest menace that has ever confronted the human
According to Mrs. Webster, one man started it all: Adam Weishaupt, a
renegade Jesuit priest and professor of canon law who founded the
Order of illuminati of Bavaria on May 1, 1776. By this account,
Weishaupt was the principal architect of internationalism as it became
manifest in the 20th century. World Revolution terms him the
mastermind of the "terrible and formidable sect" that
launched "the gigantic plan of World Revolution" and so
earned him a place on the dark side of history as "the
profoundest conspirator that has ever existed. " At least some
mention of Adam Weishaupt or the Illuminati is found in virtually all
contemporary conspiracy literature.
The accompanying "Chart of the World Revolution," from
World Revolution, illustrates the extent to which this
conspiracy allegedly overcame the restraints normally imposed on
conspiracies by time, space, and culture. World Revolution asserts
there are "connections" between Adam Weishaupt's Bavarian
Illuminati, Egyptian Occultism, Manicheans, French and German
Freemasons (though not British Freemasons), the Knights
Templars, British Syndicalists, Russian Anarchists, Irish Republicans,
British Socialists, Owenites, Bolsheviks, Mensheviks, the German
General Staff, the Wobblies, and a handful of Utopians. The "gigantic
plan" purportedly functioned continuously for at least 145 years,
embraced three continents, and spanned several political and economic
systems. It should be noted, however, that the chart fails to include
any mention of, for example, Garibaldi, Mazzini, or the "red
shirts," the Spanish anarchist movement in the first decade of
the 20th century -- or any parallel developments in what has since
become known as the "Third World." The Webster thesis
limited the course of "World Revolution" to Northern
European cultures and their North American variants.
To attempt to refute the Webster account of global conspiracy by
pointing out every historical fallacy of the work would be an enormous
waste of time. It would be so not because there are no factual errors
but because she does not offer support, by references to verifiable "facts,"
for the crucial aspect of her thesis -- that the key people involved
conspired to achieve a common purpose. That critical notion is an
inference she makes from the evidence presented, but it is not the
only plausible inference. Indeed, other inferences seem more
Thus, to attempt to refute Mrs. Webster's conspiracy thesis and those
of other conspiracy theorists -- one must contend with facts not
presented more than with those offered. And to prove a negative --
that is, that there is no conspiracy -- is virtually impossible. That,
however, in no way suggests Mrs. Webster's thesis is accurate. Her
method is fundamentally flawed; it permits neither verification nor
refutation. Consequently, "believers" can accept the
conspiracy theory and "nonbelievers" can reject it.
Let us illustrate the bankruptcy of Mrs. Webster's "proof"
of a conspiracy by reference to her commentary on the relationship
between the "programme" of the Illuminist Adam Weishaupt and
the Anarchist Michael Bakunin and hence, the "evident connection"
between the two. A portion of her argument asserts:
We have only to compare the
programme of the International Social Democratic Alliance with the
plan of Weishaupt to recognize the evident connections between the
two. Placed in parallel columns the aims of both will be seen to be
The order of the Uluminati
abjured Christianity.... In the lodges death was declared an
eternal sleep; patriotism and loyalty were called narrow-rninded
prejudices incompatible with universal benevolence; further,
they accounted all princes usurpers and tyrants, and all
privileged orders as their abettors. They meant to abolish the
laws which protected property accumulated by long-continued and
successful industry; and to prevent for the future any such
accumulation. They intended to establish universal liberty and
equality, the imprescriptible rights of man, and as preparation
for all this they intended to root out all religion and ordinary
morality, and even to break the bonds of domestic life by
destroying the veneration for marriage vows, and by taking the
education of children out of the hands of the parents.
The Alliance professes Atheism.
It aims at the abolition of religious services, the replacement
of belief by knowledge and divine by human justice, the
abolition of marriage as a political, religious, and civic
arrangement. Before all, it aims at the definite and complete
abolition of all classes and the political, economic and social
equality of the individual of either sex. The abolition of
inheritance. All children to be brought up on a uniform system,
so that artificial inequalities may disappear....
It aims directly at the triumph of the cause of labour over
capital. It repudiates so-called patriotism and the rivalry of
nations and desires the universal association of all local
associations by means of freedom.
The final aim of this society was "to accelerate the
Now how is it possible to suppose that the
extraordinary similarity between these two programmes can be due to
mere coincidence? In the Alliance of Bakunin, as in the Communist
Manifesto of Marx, we find again all the points of Weishaupt --
abolition of property, inheritance, marriage, and all morality, of
patriotism and all religion. Is it not obvious that the plan had
been handed down to the succeeding groups of Socialists and
Anarchists by the secret societies which had carried on the
traditions of the Illuminati, and that Bakunin, and still more his
coadjutor Netchaieff, was simply an Illuminatus?
Aside from the observation that this comparison is based on secondary
rather than primary sources (these are not citations of Weishaupt and
Bakunin, but of others who have interpreted them), several criticisms
can be made. First, there is absolutely no evidence offered supporting
the assertion that "the plan had been handed down to succeeding
groups of Socialists and Anarchists by the secret societies."
That is Mrs. Webster's interpretation.
Second, there are many possible explanations for the similarities
mentioned between the programs of numerous radical groups. Most of the
writings of the activists alluded to in World Revolution were
available in the libraries of Europe and the United States. It would
have been extraordinary if internationalists from Weishaupt to
Bakunin, to Marx, and to Engels, had not drawn on earlier similarly
disposed writers for intellectual stimulation and reinforcement. What
Mrs. Webster interpreted as the operation of a sinister conspiracy
more likely could have been the simple process by which intellectual
currents -- including wrongheaded ones -- take root and develop. That
process continues today. That persons have similar (mistaken) views
does not by itself constitute evidence of a conspiracy.
Nor is there much evidence of conspiracy in Mrs. Webster's list of
secret societies that all seemed to have roughly similar structures
and rituals. Many secret societies in the modern Western world --
benign and otherwise -- have drawn their basic forms from the
Freemasons, the earliest and most widespread of the secret orders. The
Dogma and Rituals of the Ancient Scottish Rite of Freemasonry,
for example, which had been revised by the 33rd degree Mason Albert S.
Pike, was widely available in the United States and Europe throughout
the late 19th century. It served as a model of organization for a
variety of college fraternities and civic organizations. By applying
Mrs. Webster's use of evidence regarding similarity of structures and
rituals, the Shriners, the Patrons of Husbandry (the Grange), the
Oddfellows, Phi Beta Kappa -- even the secret orders of the Boy Scouts
of America -- must be connected to the Illuminist conspiracy.
The use of similar terms also is far from persuasive evidence of
coordinated intents or purposes. In economics, for example, advocates
of the "free market" have used much the same language and
arguments since Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations (published in
1776, incidentally), yet their activities have not been coordinated.
Furthermore, the same word or words ("internationalist" for
example) can be used by different persons to create a desired effect.
Nearly all power seekers will direct their appeals to the prejudices
of the intended audience in similar language. Activists in the United
States often enlist the quotations of such personages as Abraham
Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson in support of causes that those men
almost surely would have opposed vigorously. The full context in which
words and arguments are presented must be considered in order to draw
useful conclusions. Consider this: with the exception of the name of
the countries and rulers in question, the Vietnamese Declaration of
Independence issued by Ho Chi Minh in 1946 was a verbatim translation
of the American Declaration of Independence authored by Thomas
Jefferson in 1776. According to Mrs. Webster's use of evidence, Thomas
Jefferson, Ho Chi Minh, and anyone who celebrates the 4th of July may
be part of one huge conspiracy.
"Coincidence" vs. History
World Revolution further violates useful method by neglecting
the context in which historical events occurred. For example, Mrs.
Webster again employs the rhetorical question to suggest conclusions
about a coincidence of dates: "Was it again a mere coincidence
that in July 1889 an International Socialist Congress in Paris decided
that May 1, which was the day on which Weishaupt founded the
Illuminati, should be chosen for an annual International Labour
demonstration, or that it was with a demonstration organized by the
Anarchists on May 1, 1881, that the periode tragique began?"
Fantastic coincidence? Evidence of conspiracy? These are not the only
possibilities. The month of May is derived from the Latin Maia,
a goddess to whom the Romans sacrificed on the 1st of that month. This
practice was transformed, after the Roman conquest of Europe, into a
spring festival in celebration of the season of growth, and it was
eagerly anticipated by peasant laborers as a time of revelry and
relief from toil. (This holiday coincided with the reduced labor
demand that followed seeding but preceded cultivation of crops.) In
Tudor England, May Day became a festival dance known as Morris Dance;
Celtic May Day was known as Beltane, when celebration fires were
kindled on hilltops; in Europe generally, the 1st of May was by the
17th century known simply as "Labor Day." Mrs. Webster's
question more appropriately might have been framed, Is it any wonder
that Weishaupt chose May 1st as the founding date for his order? Or,
Is it any wonder that the International Labour demonstrations
orchestrated by anarchists in 1889 and 1891 took place on May 1st? Or,
Is it any wonder that "May Day" would be chosen to
commemorate the Bolshevik Revolution?
As in much conspiracy writing, World Revolution contains an
anti-Semitic current. Although Mrs. Webster declares that the
conspiracy against civilization was not solely the work of Jews, she
asserts they played a large part in it: "Already England and
France are, if not actually dominated by Jews, very nearly so, while
the United States, by the hands of those whose grip they are ignorant
of, are slowly but surely yielding to that international and insidious
hegemony." Also, "Whatever the Jewish Press may say to the
contrary, the preponderance of Jews amongst the Bolsheviks of both
Hungary and Russia has been too evident to need further proof."
World Revolution further maintains that "Jewish gold"
financed the Bolshevik Revolution and that Jewish participation in the
"plot against civilization" signified a larger commitment to
the destruction of Christianity and the establishment of Jewish "domination
in religion, property, and power."
Evidence is skimpy at best that Jews "controlled" many of
the events in the alleged world conspiracy plot. Antony C. Sutton has
observed: "The list of Jews involved in the Bolshevik Revolution
must be weighed against lists of non-Jews involved in the revolution.
When this scientific procedure is adopted, the proportion of foreign
Jewish Bolsheviks involved falls to less than twenty percent of the
total number of revolutionaries." As we discuss later, the
issue of Jewish participation in the Revolution was far more complex
than any of the "Jewish conspiracy" thesis acknowledge.
More Recent Writings
World Revolution alone would not warrant this discussion of
the abuses of useful method were it not that its two central themes --
(1) that secret societies provided the primary institutional support
for "world revolution" and (2) that international bankers,
especially Jewish ones, financed and profited therefrom -- have
appeared in variant forms in subsequent writings about an "international
socialist" conspiracy directed by bankers. These writings reflect
the same methodological defects as does World Revolution.
A widely recognized work on the subsequent operation of the
conspiracy, particularly in the United States, is Gary Allen's and
LarryAbraham's None Dare Call It Conspiracy, first published
in 1971. In their book, Allen and Abraham (Abraham subsequently
published the Insider Reports financial newsletter) relied on
the same methods of "proof" as did Mrs. Webster. Their chart
on "World Supra-Government," reproduced here, bears
resemblance to Mrs. Webster's "Chart of the World Revolution."
Like Mrs. Webster's chart, this one uses the device of simple lines to
promote alleged connections between a diverse group of institutions
and thousands of individuals who lived over a period of centuries
(Meyer Amschel Rothschild, who heads the chart, was born in 1743).
Would a listing of these persons and institutions in a table without
the arrows and lines have the same impact? We doubt it. Yet, the
arrows and lines do not add an iota of supporting evidence to the
Allen and Abraham's book also asserts that secret societies have
advanced the conspiracy. None Dare Call It Conspiracy
maintains that the present conspiracy of international bankers began
with the founding of Cecil Rhodes's Secret Society in the 1890's.
Nevertheless, Adam Weishaupt is implicated in the general conspiracy:
"It should be noted that the originator of this type of secret
society was Adam Weishaupt, the monster who founded the Order of
Illuminati on May 1, 1776, for the purpose of conspiracy to control
the world. The role of Weishaupt's Illuminists in such horrors as the
Reign of Terror is unquestioned, and the techniques of the Illuminati
have long been recognized as models for Communist methodology.
Weishaupt also used the structure of the Society of Jesus (the
Jesuits) as his model, and rewrote his Code in Masonic terms."
In brief outline, Allen's and Abraham's book traces the growth of the
conspiracy from the Rhodes' Secret Society, to the Royal Institute of
International Affairs (RIIA), which -- with the American Council on
Foreign Relations (CFR) constituted an international Roundtable Group.
Through the participation of the principal English and American
international bankers, this group allegedly controlled world events
until World War II. After World War II until 1973, the Council on
Foreign Relations, and since 1973 the Trilateral Commission, have been
the alleged secret instruments of the elitists' conspiracy to rule the
In 1985, Larry Abraham published a sequel volume titled Call It
Conspiracy. This work traces the development of events relating to
"the conspiracy" through Nixon, Ford, Carter, and (to 1985)
the Reagan presidencies. Despite its title, the new chapters in this
book (the first part of the book is comprised of the original text of
None Dare Call It Conspiracy) show somewhat greater caution in
attributing specific developments to conspiratorial behavior per se
than those of the parent work. For example, the Trilateral Commission
(see Chapter VI) is described as being an "open Conspiracy."
The conspiratorial connections" alleged in Call It Conspiracy
are implied rather than explicitly asserted.
Similarly, Professor Antony C. Sutton's recent volumes on The
Order (Yale's Skull and Bones) provide illuminating evidence of
the globalist views and ambitions of some of its members. But that
material relies on methods of "proof" that are flawed in
many of the same ways as Mrs. Webster's World Revolution.
It is beyond the scope of this discussion to review in great detail
all of the volumes that so far comprise the results of Professor
Sutton's research on Yale's Skull and Bones society. Even so, it may
be useful to place the primary evidence he has uncovered in the
perspective of the larger methodological problems that seem to infect
most works on the worldwide conspiracy.
Sutton asserts in The Secret Cult of The Order that "The
Order, a secret society also known as Skull & Bones, is a clear
and obvious threat to the Constitutional freedom in the United States.
Its secrecy, power and use of influence is greater by far than the
masons, or any other semi-secret mutual or fraternal organization."
Unfortunately, the only "evidence" Sutton provides to
document the above assertion is a tract written in 1871 that, in his
words, is "the only source of documented information on the
cultic aspects of The Order." It scarcely needs saying that a
great deal can and does happen to organizations even secret ones over
the course of more than a century. By an extension of Sutton's
reasoning, a careful reading of the manual of orders from virtually
any fraternal or benevolent order (Skull and Bones actually seems to
have been tamer than many), to say nothing of the acts of
incorporation of any number of business enterprises during the 19th
century, could be called a threat to constitutional freedom in the
United States. Why Sutton neglects possibly more fruitful research
into, say, the secret goings-on in the boardrooms of any number of
hugely influential multinational corporations in preference for the
view that a relatively puny (in terms of numbers and resources) secret
fraternity rules a world conspiracy escapes logic.
This is not to say that Sutton has not uncovered useful sources.
Although they provide no evidence of a cultist conspiracy today (by
virtue of the fact that they were written more than a century ago,
they cannot provide such), they are a useful account of the sociology
of the senior society system at Yale a century ago, and furnish at
least some clues respecting the behavior of those excluded from
participation in the societies' secrets. They are most revealing as a
window into distance campus status relationships. A careful reading of
Lyman Bagg's 1871 volume Four Years at Yale, which is one of
Sutton's primary sources, strongly suggests that many of the charges
made against Skull and Bones in the 1870's stemmed from the lingering
resentments of the privileges accorded to members of that society (as
they generally still are to the "big men on campus" at most
colleges.) What seems to have heightened feelings against that
organization per se was the fact that it was the first and most
successful of such societies. (Except for Scroll and Key, for many
years prior to the 1870's it was the only such society on the Yale
campus -- having itself been founded by disgruntled students
responding to the exclusivity of Phi Beta Kappa elections decades
earlier.) But, again, these documents are worthless as "proofs"
of any present-day conspiracy.
Sutton's account of the operation of The Order in American
educational circles, How The Order Controls Education,
contrasts sharply with the foregoing volume. In this brief volume, he
traces in broad strokes some of the main currents in late 19th- and
early 20th-century higher education, particularly as they may relate
to Hegelian notions of relations between the individual and the State
-- and many of his comments and criticisms respecting the failures of
American education are thought-provoking. But they do not constitute
evidence of a conspiracy. His insistence that the corruption of
American education is attributable primarily to The Order again
depends on the most tenuous "connections." (John Dewey, whom
Sutton goes to considerable lengths to identify with The Order's
alleged educational objectives, was not a member of The Order.)
Of the several volumes in Sutton's series on Skull and Bones, the
most extensively documented is that entitled How The Order Creates
War and Revolution. In this work, Sutton draws heavily on his
earlier studies of financial relationships between the Wall Streeters,
the Russian Revolution, the Nazi movement, and present-day Angola and
China. This volume contains irrefutable evidence of the involvement of
Wall Street bankers and financiers in the major anti-democratic
movements of the 20th century, as we discuss below. And there can be
no question that some of those involved were members of Skull and
Bones. There were also a great many others who played central parts in
the various intrigues who had no demonstrable connection to that
organization. Even in Sutton's scenario, Wall Street involvement in
the financing of war and revolution appears to extend far beyond the
confines of a narrowly laid conspiracy. His attempt to focus
exclusively on The Order simply detracts from the larger -- and much
more foreboding -- story that is contained in the pages of his compact
Suffering from the same methodological flaws as Mrs. Webster's work,
the more recent conspiratorial works centering on the Federal Reserve,
international bankers, the CFR, the Trilateral Commission, and Yale's
Skull and Bones defy refutation. Conspiracy theorists can point to
enough verifiable evidence to make their cases plausible, but the
essential conspiratorial element can be neither corroborated nor
refuted. But opponents of the would-be "world managers" who
rely on allegations of conspiracy seem an unlikely source for the type
of critical analysis that must precede the development of informal
judgment respecting the desirability of the globalists' ideas,
policies, and programs.
- Webster subsequently became a
leader of the British fascist movement.
- The chart included in the
original pamphlet is not reproduced here. The reader is encouraged
to contact the American Institute of Economic Research for a
- Mrs. Webster wrote in an
author's note: "at the moment of this book going to press, it
has been brought to my notice that I am represented as having
attacked British Freemasonry. This can only have been said in
malice, as I have always clearly differentiated between British
and Continental masonry, showing the former to be an honourable
association not only hostile to subversive doctrines but a strong
supporter of law, order, and religion."
- Anthony C. Sutton, Wall
Street and the Bolshevik Revolution (Arlington House, 1974),
p.189. Anthony C. Sutton, Wall 5tn'et and the Bolshevik Revolution
(Axlington House, 1974), p.189.
- Antony C. Sutton. The
Secret Cult of The Order (Bullsbrook, Western Australia:
Veritas Publishing Company Pty. Ltd., 1983), p.2.