6. THE CONSPIRATORIAL APOCALYPSE
The conspiratorial apocalypse is a part of the larger phenomenon of conspiracy theory. The expression “conspiracy theory” is frequently used in popular culture to describe secret military, economic or political actions meant to steal power, money or the freedom of the majority. Conspiracy theories are based on the notion that major events are the products of plans unknown to the general public, emanated by an elite which, depending on fears and the level of understanding, is identified with Freemasonry, the Illuminati, New Age occultists, aliens or other imaginary or real groups. As in the case of aliens, there is an entire literary and documentary universe dedicated to conspiracy theory.
While the expression “conspiracy theory” is a modern creation, the idea of conspiracy exists ever since the world has the image of the invisible supernatural battle between good and evil. Conspiracy is seen as a perfidious method through which evil is trying to undermine good. Conspiracy theory is used to blame someone or something every time there is a feeling of a crisis. Each historical context has its conspirators. In the first centuries the Romans saw the secret practice of Christianity as a conspiracy meant to destroy the empire. In the Middle Ages the devil constantly conspired to corrupt Christians or it cooperated with the Jews to undermine the religion of Christ. During the Reformation, when the Papacy was demonized, Protestants portrayed a conspiring Antichrist, who rises from within society through subversive means. On the other hand, Catholics saw the Reformation as a great devilish conspiracy meant to destroy the institution of God. The Puritans feared popish conspiracies. The Salem witch trials is one the first examples of conspiracy theories in the history of America. After the American Revolution there were fears of British conspiracies or satanic conspiracies. Theologians such as Darby claimed that elite groups sold their soul to Satan to gain power and money, becoming the pawns in a supernatural game of chess. Through these agents mankind was pushed to accept a global government, based on the spiritual foundations of a false religion in which the Unholy Trinity – the Antichrist, Satan and the False Prophet – would be adored.1345 During the Second World War Nazi and Neo-Nazi conspiracies circulated. During the Cold War the Americans saw Soviet conspiracies. Aliens conspire ever since they came to public attention, while other current Christian theories state that the False Prophet will be a pope or a New Age guru, and the Antichrist will be the president of the world or a Muslim caliph.
From a Christian point of view, the idea of a global devilish conspiracy is based on the Revelation of John and the words of Jesus Christ: “I will no more speak much with you, for the prince of the world cometh: and he hath nothing in me” (John 14:30). Here, Jesus says that the world is led from the shadows by something or someone. But he does not speak about a secret organization, but about the devil: “Again, the devil taketh him unto an exceeding high mountain, and showeth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; and he said unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me” (Matthew 4:8-9).
Conspiracy theories have mainly targeted mystical and secretive groups of the Enlightenment. The most debated anti-Christian conspiratorial movement of all time is Freemasonry. There is no telling when Freemasonry was actually founded. According to legend, it was established at the time of Solomon by the masons of the Temple. By contrast, historical sources indicate the moment of its appearance sometime between the 14th and the 16th century in the British Isles. In any case, this fraternity is one of the oldest secular organizations. Throughout history countless statements and conspiracy theories have been directed toward Freemasonry; most often it has been said that it has a secret political agenda and conspires to institute a single global leadership by seizing important political and financial positions. At the end of the 18th century, when the madness of the French Revolution and atheism caused panic, the esoteric nature of Masonic symbolism became the target of the accusation of the Scot John Robison. His work about Freemasonry – which aims to undermine religion and to take the control of the world – crossed the Atlantic and influenced the patriotic and religious discourse of the great awakenings.1346 Later, in the 1890s, the French journalist Leo Taxil wrote a series of pamphlets and books in which he accused Masonic lodges of worshiping Lucifer. Despite the fact that Taxil admitted afterward that the accusations had been invented, they were already believed and spread.1347
The Order of the Illuminati is also a well-known conspiratorial subject. This was a secret society founded by the philosopher Adam Weishaupt in 1776 in Upper Bavaria, Germany. The organization was made up of defenders of Enlightenment ideals: rationalism, freedom of thought, liberalism, republicanism and gender equality. All the Illuminati were in fact Freemasons recruited from German lodges and this is why later conspiratorial accounts about the Illuminati and Freemasons have been usually intertwined. In 1785 the order was exposed and destroyed by the governmental agents of Charles Theodore, Elector of Bavaria. Theodore feared that the order might have become powerful enough to overthrow the monarchy and the state religion of Catholicism.1348
There is no solid evidence that the Illuminati survived Theodore’s actions. Yet, toward the end of the 18th century the doctor Scott Robinson and the French Jesuit Augustin Barruel, influenced by the writings of John Robison, speculated that the Illuminati managed to escape the oppression, came to be the leaders of Freemasonry and from behind the scenes they orchestrated the French Revolution and the Reign of Terror. The Illuminati were accused of attempting through subversive methods to generate a wave of revolutions all over the world in order to impose atheism, the cult of reason and the creation of an aristocracy of the Illuminati (noocracy). In the 19th century the fear of an Illuminati conspiracy was a reason of fear among the ruling classes of Europe. And, according to some opinions, the oppressive actions of the monarchs generated by this fear triggered in 1848 exactly the revolutions they were trying to prevent.1349
Today, adepts of conspiracy theory try to prove the subversive actions of Freemasons and the Illuminati by revealing certain patterns, symbols or hidden codes characteristic to these organizations: the all-seeing eye, the pyramid, the obelisk, the compass or the pentagram. There are speculations that some of the founders of the United States, such as George Washington or Benjamin Franklin, introduced patterns of sacred Masonic geometry in American symbols – the Great Seal of the United States, the design of the American dollar or the Washington Monument – as part of a more comprehensive plan. The American Freemasons, together with the Illuminati or any other obscure organization, have been frequently depicted by their compatriots as the instruments of Satan. They have been blamed for using occult powers to implement the plan of the Masonic god: the establishment of the New World Order and the building of the Third Temple from within which the Masonic Messiah, the Antichrist, will preside.1350
The problem of conspiracy theory is that most of the time it relies on fake evidence, pure speculations and especially old ultra-familiar patterns such as blaming the Jews. For example, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion is a false anti-Semitic pamphlet published in 1903 Russia that describes a Judeo-Masonic conspiracy willing to dominate the world. The text was designed as an outline of the plans conceived by the Jewish conspirators who took control of Freemasonry and aim to rule the world in the name of the Jewish people as the chosen people of God. The Protocols… enumerates conspiratorial themes emphasized by Robinson and Barruel, speaking, among others, about plans to subvert the morals of the non-Jewish world, plans of the Jewish bankers to control global economy, plans for a Jewish control of the media and ultimately plans for the destruction of civilization. The subtle message of the work was that, once the Freemasonic and Illuminati barriers are removed, the Jewish rotten core is going to be revealed.1351
Later, the Protocols… proved to be a forgery, in some parts being copied almost word for word from Dialogue aux enfers entre Machiavel et Montesquieu, a 19th-century satire against Napoleon III. The Protocols… was most likely created by the political activist Matvei Golovinski, in order to be used by Okhrana, the secret police of the Russian Empire, as a counter-revolutionary propagandistic paper before the Revolution of 1905. Yet, the pamphlet was treated as an authoritative source of inspiration, fueling the anti-Semitic and anti-Masonic hysterias of the 20th century. The Protocols… has been frequently used to prove the existence and the activity of the Priory of Sion, an alleged powerful Jewish secret society. Both the Protocols… and the Priory of Sion have been depicted as a fulfillment of the apocalyptic prophecies and a solid evidence of the Jewish conspiracy that prepares the coming of their Messiah, the Christian Antichrist.1352
In the conspiratorial apocalypse of the 20th and 21st centuries the expression “New World Order” holds a special place. The main theme of the current debates about the New World Order is that a powerful secret elite conspires to establish a totalitarian world government. By using as cover public organizations, secret societies orchestrate political and economic events meant to gradually concentrate the entire decisional power in the hands of a few acolytes of the Antichrist. But no one can say exactly how this totalitarian system would be established and what it would look like. The form of the speculations and theories regarding these aspects are limited only by the boundaries of imagination. From alien and neo-Nazi conspiracies to Jewish or Chinese ones, most conspiracy theories bathe in an ocean of ridicule.
The truth is that the new world order, as a concept, is very old and it has had multiple meanings throughout history. It is a historical fact that social and political orders have succeeded one after another depending on the movement of the masses or other major events. For example, the collapse of the Roman Empire, the French Revolution, the collapse of the monarchical system or the two world wars – each marked the termination of an order and the beginning of another. On the other hand, people have always aimed to change the current world or order with a new world or order, according to their own ideals. The Romans aimed to impose a Roman world order; the medieval Christians wished a new world order in which everyone was converted to Christianity; Napoleon attempted to establish a new world order with himself as absolute ruler; Hitler aimed to create a uniracial new world order; Stalin imagined a new world order in which everyone was communist, and today the United States promotes the idea of a new world order in which everyone adopts capitalism and consumerism.
After the two world wars the expression “New World Order” was …
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