A few of you might have noticed that for the last couple of months I have been writing a serial novel here on Something Awful. Even though the material might not actually reflect it, I have been doing a lot of research on conspiracy theories to incorporate into the novel. One of my greatest allies in this research has been author Jim Marrs. Mr. Marrs is responsible for two of the greatest conspiracy theory books. His "Rule By Secrecy" has been my biggest source of information for my own take on the New World Order. Just knowing that the title of his other book is "Alien Agenda" has inspired me to incorporate relations between aliens and the NWO into my plot.

The Internet is overflowing with various conspiracy theories with extremely disparate levels of believability, but "Rule By Secrecy" compiles the most believable of these and offers a historic backing that illustrates just how interconnected many of these secret societies are. Personally, I think Marrs is just another brand of crackpot with a little more integrity and talent than most. I'm the sort of person who believes that there are closed door meetings and secret groups that shape the world, but that most of these don't even consider themselves as such. I picture Bill Gates, one of the Rockefellers, and Dick Cheney smoking cigars and telling dirty jokes in the wood-paneled library of some New England private club. I don't really imagine them cackling maniacally over a map or planning out a century-spanning plot to seize control of the entire world. Well, okay, maybe Cheney and the New American Century, but not the rest of them.

Since our Awful Links of the Day so frequently center around bizarre conspiracies I felt that our readers might enjoy a brief introduction into what a lot of conspiracy theorists believe to be true.

The Thule Society Just look at how busy their symbol is. Busy=business=evil.The Thule Society is a great starting point for the conspiracy theorist, because it was undeniably real and potentially almost single-handedly responsible for the Second World War. The Thule Society was a semi-occult organization of wealthy and influential Germans that believed the Aryan heritage of Germany was not just some twisted ideal, but rather a concrete genetic link to a super-civilization very similar to Atlantis. The degree to which members of the group believed this fanciful tale varies, but the Thule Society was undeniably about shaping the future of Germany by bringing together like-minded powerful figures. One of the most ultimately influential of these members was Karl Haushofer (he will actually appear in "Untitled Document"), who developed the geopolitical theories of lebensraum and Germania on which the Nazi expansionism was based.

It is also believed that Haushofer hand-picked Hitler to infiltrate the formative National Socialist Party. When the Thule Society realized Hitler's potential and the vulnerability of the party leadership they pressured the Krazy Korporal into taking charge. We all know how totally sweet that turned out.

The Priory of Sion

Some conspiracy theorists believe the Priory of Sion to be one of the oldest and most powerful secret societies. According to a twisting trail of records dating back hundreds of years the Priory was an order of the Roman Catholic Church. Its roster supposedly contains luminaries such as Leonardo Da Vinci and Sir Isaac Newton and it was also reportedly instrumental in the formation of the Knights Templar. Even Marrs admits that the first believable mentions of the Priory began in the mid 1950s in France and the whole thing is so fabulously complicated and pointless that I find it impossible to believe. For example, one of the key "facts" about the Priory of Sion was that a parish priest in turn of the century France traveled to Paris and created an alliance with occult groups in the upper crust of society there. He then returned to his parish a millionaire and built all of these crazy monuments while collecting rocks and stamps. To me it sounds more like the Prioriy of Sion is just a lunatic who won the lottery.

Merovingians

Hideous "Matrix" characters aside, the Merovingians are the dynasty of Franks that are considered to be the first "race of kings" in France. What makes their story interesting is that they supposedly descended from the children of Jesus and Mary Magdalene - a concept that is apocryphal at best and heretical to many. My favorite part of this secret society is that they are obviously just another group of shit heels trying to set themselves up as pharaohs. Divine authority is a big component in a lot of these secret societies. The Merovingians are also directly related to the Thule Society - which lends their fable some believability - as the Thule's early purpose was to establish a descendant of Jesus as the ruler of Europe. One of the key problems with this product tie-in is that most conspiracy theorists who believe this crap also believe that Hitler infiltrated the Thule Society and not the reverse. While Hitler did fall out of favor with Haushofer and the Thule Society, Hitler WAS chosen by them, and not because they thought he was related to Jesus.

Illuminati

Beams out of the eye man. The pyramid eye will destroy us all!The least secret of any secret society, the Illuminati traces its roots back millennia through almost every one of these retarded secret orders. The first actual identifiable existence of the Illuminati was when a group called the Bavarian Illuminati was formed in 1776 by a guy named Adam Weishaupt. Yes, those Germanic people sure love their secret orders. The name for the Illuminati comes from a mysterious merchant known only as Kolmer, who preached a secret doctrine called Mandaeanism that used the word "Illuminated". Weishaupt loved this crazy crap and used the term as the name of his new secret society, which he intended as a consolidation of the confusing tangle of interconnected secret orders. The Illuminati has a number of connections to Free Masonry and, in fact, the founding of the United States (a number of the signatories of the Declaration of Independence are believe to have been members of the Illuminati). The problem with all this is that so much of it relies on speculation. Weishaupt was a real guy, and he really did form the Illuminati, but beyond that so much of it is conjecture the whole mess falls apart.

True or not (place big money bets on "not) the Illuminati is an interesting focal point of conspiracy theorists. The fact that it really existed, the fact that it does have some vague but true connections to the founding fathers (Thomas Jefferson in particular), and the fact that it represents an attempt at consolidation are all big draws for the crackpots. Basically, prior to the Illuminati the mass of related secret orders was so convoluted it was mind-boggling. You've already seen an example of that and believe me it will continue. But with the Illuminati you had a secret society simplification, which makes it easier for the fringe theorists to construct semi-coherent narratives while jumping at shadows.

I agree that it's a fascinating concept. The Old World had become such a complex web of influence and agendas that an enterprising few put their heads together, recognized the potential, and turned the United States into a case study in secret rule. It's clever too; the idea that the supposedly freest society in the world is actually a slave to a century-spanning group of elite secret kings. Fortunately, other than a few pyramids on dollar bills this whole theory does not have a whole lot going for it.

Freemasonry

You know those guys who ride around in the goofy cars at parades and start hospitals? Shriners? Freemasons are like those guys only with "oooooh spooky" rituals and oaths. Think of Freemasonry - in fact think of most of these secret societies - as the Rotary Club with mystique. On the other hand, Freemasonry does have something of a bad history, and it went through periods where it had more in common with the Ku Klux Klan than Kwanza.

Council on Foreign Relations and the Trilateral Commission

Look at those lines drawn on the picture! Proof!Of all of the secret societies the most real (and the least worthy of the term 'secret societies') are the Council on Foreign Relations and the Trilateral Commission. The Trilateral Commission began as the CFR around the time of World War I. It was a group for the power elite (mostly Americans) to get together and talk about world domination. This group evolved into the Trilateral Commission, which has actually made the news a few times in the past for relation to various presidents (hilariously enough most famously Jimmy Carter). The problem I have with these two groups being called secret societies is that they are pretty well known, relatively open about what they do, and not uncommon. They amount to a cross between a think tank and a good old boys club, and while I don't doubt that plenty of scheming goes on I think it's the sort of scheming that would go on whether or not the organizations existed.

Most conspiracy theorists are obsessed with the idea of black-suited agents in sunglasses and jack booted fascists. I would instead agree with one of our forum goers who said a covert neo-fascism in the United States would look like cowboy hats and blue jeans, not silver skulls and black trench coats.

In my novel I have been trying, and will continue to try, to capture the elaborate relations of various secret societies attempting to work together. Marrs does not really mention the New World Order much in his book, which has given me more of a free hand with exploring this wonderful cliché of secret societies to hopefully comedic effect.

To those of you interested in finding out more about all this I do highly recommend Jim Marrs' "Rule By Secrecy". The guy may be a crackpot, but he isn't crazy, and his book is meticulously researched and impressively coherent.

Your Demo Sucks!

After countless months of beating around the bush, Dr. David Thorpe has finally lived up to the name of his article. This week, he'll be telling you why YOUR band sucks. Quite a few people sent in demos after Dr. Thorpe asked for them in his last column, so this week he has prepared the first installment of the Your Band Sucks Demo Roundup.



"Hey, what do you know, I was just hoping I'd get to hear something that sounded like terribly mixed industrial music from 1989. Wait, that was actually in a dream I had in which I had Down's syndrome. Next month when my buddies at NASA finally finish that time machine they've been working on (I know it'll be done next month because they already came back in time and told us) I'll be sure to mail your demo back to a time when people actually gave a shit about music like this. "

If you're worried about the future of rock and roll, read this article now: it will make you significantly more worried, and possibly suicidal.

– Zack "Geist Editor" Parsons (@sexyfacts4u)

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