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Everything unknown habitually causes a lot of conflicting versions, hypotheses, and interpretations, especially when it comes to the history of secret communities. The activities of secret societies have always been associated with the conquest of world domination and total control over scientific, financial, and human resources. One of the most ancient and influential societies is the Order of the Illuminati. Thanks to Marvel Comics, a group of characters was created who united to solve the fateful questions for mankind, Iron Man, Doctor Strange, Mister Fantastic, Namor, Black Bolt, and Professor X, all made the cult of the Illuminati an unalienable part of popular culture. The original line-up changed several times and underwent serious changes, but noble and ideological goals remained in the first place. Although Marvel popularized the cult in the early 20th century, the history of the conspiracy theory of the Illuminati is much older, with the first mentions reaching the 15th century.
History of the Illuminati
Once, about 250 years ago, there was a secret network trying to change the world created in Germany just two months before Britain's 13 American colonies declared their independence and created the United States. The organization was known as the Illuminatenorden - the Order of the Illuminati had a great goal and was originally called the Bund der Perfektibilisten, i.e. the League of Capabilities. According to the memoirs of one of its members, the founder intended to create an association that would use the most sophisticated and safe methods and whose goal would be the victory of virtue and wisdom over stupidity and abomination; an association that will make discoveries in all fields of science will teach its members how to become noble and majestic (Edwards). Hence, the Bavarian Illuminati had a goal to spread ideas similar to those of the Enlightenment era, the power of knowledge, science, and art.
Also, the association was to provide them with a reward, in this world they will achieve absolute perfection, which will protect them from persecution, misfortune, and oppression, as well as limit despotism in all its manifestations. "My goal is to ensure the supremacy of the mind," proclaimed the founder of this order. On one hand, the methods they resorted to were educational, on the other hand, the Illuminati had to act as a purely secret fraternity. Members of the order took the code names of ancient Greek and Roman origin, the founder was called Spartacus. The Illuminati developed sophisticated initiation rituals, including a promise to keep a secret, the violation of which was punishable by death. Members of each individual group of initiates reported to a higher level whose real name they did not even know (“Illuminati”). While the Illuminati stood for the idea of the domination of the human mind, scientific methods, and artistic sophistication, they still practiced older components of society, such as rituals and nearly religious beliefs.
Two years after the founding of the order, the number of its members was only 25 people, in a few years, the number of members increased to more than 1,300. In the early 1780s, the Illuminati network spread throughout Germany. However, in June 1784, the Bavarian government issued the first of three orders banning the Illuminati, declaring them guilty of "treason and hostility to religion." Despite all their intentions and tasks, the Illuminati left the scene in late 1787 (“Illuminati”). One of the key factors that made them forbidden is their secrecy. In the fear of the unknown, many political and social leaders of the time would strongly attempt to dispose of them regardless of the cost.
Prussian King Frederick William II was warned that the Illuminati remained a dangerous underground organization operating in all German lands. In 1797, James Robinson published "Evidence of a Secret Conspiracy Against All European Religions and Governments in Masonic, Illuminati, and Readers' Meetings" and stressed that the French Revolution had taken place through the Illuminati (Edwards). Another factor of the Illuminati's perceived danger relied on their partial denial of the rule of the Church, which was deemed unacceptable at the time.
Many people believe in conspiracy theories related to the Illuminati or at least take them seriously. Just over half of the Americans surveyed agreed that "most of what is happening in the world today is decided by a small and secretive group of people." Popular conspiracy theorists, including Alex Jones, have also consistently linked Soros to the Illuminati (Edwards). Whether the organization is still real or not, the fear of it is largely a meme produced through the centuries of religious domination and monarchal despotism protecting its right to rule unitarily.
Illuminati history highlights a key issue in the study of social media, so professional historians are trying to deal with the fact that networks rarely leave archives available. Bavarian archivists have preserved evidence of anti-Illuminati campaigns, such as original documents confiscated from members of the Order, but researchers have only recently systematically studied the surviving correspondence and Illuminati rules, some of which have been found in completely different places, including Masonic lodge archives. This kind of obstacle explains why one prominent Oxford historian claimed that he could only write "about how secret organizations are imagined and said, not about secret organizations themselves."
"Illuminati". Encyclopedia Britannica, 2022, https://www.britannica.com/topic/illuminati-group-designation.
Edwards, Phil. "9 Questions About The Illuminati You Were Too Afraid To Ask". Vox, 2016, https://www.vox.com/2015/5/19/8624675/what-is-illuminati-meaning-conspiracy-beyonce.
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