Are the Illuminati real? The answer is Yes and No. If you are asking, was there ever a real organisation called the Illuminati? The answer is Yes. If you are asking, is there a currently operating mega-organisation that masterminds a super-colossal conspiracy that encompasses everything from the French Revolution to Jay-Z’s latest album? Then the answer is most certainly No. The term Illuminati has taken on a symbolic meaning in many peoples minds of being any large, well funded secret conspiracy that has the power to influence global political events to benefit those in the conspiracy. As such the wealthiest people in the world are always suspected of being members because their money has the potential to exert the most influence. It’s hard to know what’s real and what’s not.
THE SECRET BEHIND THE NEW WORLD ORDER AND SECRET SOCIETIES
ARE THE ILLUMINATI REAL? WHO ARE THEY? WHAT DO THEY DO? ARE THEY STILL AROUND?
The real Illuminati (as opposed to the bogus conspiracy theory) was founded in Ingolstadt, Bavaria on May 1, 1776 by the German philosopher and law professor Adam Weishaupt. At the time, the Catholic Church played a domineering role in controlling the political and intellectual life of Bavaria. Weishaupt, who was a supporter of the French Enlightenment, decided to create a secret society that borrowed ritual elements from the Freemasons in order to popularize French Enlightenment ideas on an underground level in Bavaria. (In fact, Illuminati is simply the Latin word meaning “the enlightened ones.”) At its height, the Illuminati organization had chapters in several German provinces, as well as Austria and Switzerland, but it never had more than 3,000 members. The group was weakened by factional infighting before being crushed by the Bavarian government in 1787.
According to the historian Vernon Stauffer’s 1918 book, New England and the Bavarian Illuminati,
As a final blow against the devastated order, on August 16, 1787, the duke of Bavaria launched his third and last edict against the system. The presentments of the former interdicts were reemphasized, and in addition, to give maximum force to the sovereign’s will, criminal process, without distinction of person, dignity, state, or quality, was order against any Illuminatus who should be discovered continuing the work of recruiting. Any so charged and found guilty were to be deprived of their lives by the sword; while those thus recruited were to have their goods confiscated and themselves to be condemned to perpetual banishment from the territories of the duke. Under the same penalties of confiscation and banishment, the members of the order, no matter under what name or circumstances, regular or irregular, they should gather, were forbidden to assemble as lodges.
Since participation in the Illuminati could get members “deprived of their lives by the sword,” I think it’s highly probable that the group never reformed after 1787. The only reason that the group has lived on is that some counter-Enlightenment writers in France later blamed them for causing the French Revolution, even though Bavaria was actually slower to adopt Enlightenment ideas than France was.
HOW DID THE CONSPIRACY START? WHO STARTED THESE ILLUMINATI CONSPIRACY THEORIES FIRST?
Fascist author Nesta Helen Webster (presumably one of several with these ideas) revived the concept of the “Illuminati”, a long-expired secret society, as being a part of a hidden worldwide conspiracy that included Jews, socialists and so forth. She wasn’t a nice lady and she had a massive agenda, which included vilifying Jews and claiming that the sort of thing found in the discredited Protocols of the Elders of Zion hoax document was true.
In the 1950s, William Guy Carr further spread these ideas in the USA, and is probably the person most directly responsible for the current fascination with this nonsense. Carr wasn’t big on factual accuracy (see for examples Pawns in the Game).