No Such Thing as Paranoia

On the culture of conspiracism

Freemasonry, whose date of origin is somewhere in the 16th or 17th century, purports to be (according to its adherents) a benign organization, albeit with a mystical element, which served for much of the 19th century to disseminate rationalist learning among its members in the days before public education: geometry, architecture, astronomy, and similar subjects. Its members aren't allowed to discuss politics or religion within the Lodge. As Brother Roscoe Pound, a Mason and current professor of jurisprudence at Harvard, puts it, "Every lodge ought to be a center of light from which men go forth filled with new ideas of social justice, cosmopolitan justice and internationality." All the same, Masons have been periodically accused of satanism, manipulation of global finance, and secret influence among the world's movers and shakers. Robert Anton Wilson, in Everything Is Under Control, reports that the P2 society in Italy, founded in the 1970s (purportedly as a subsect of the CIA's Gladio operation), which allegedly engineered the Bologna railway bombing in 1980 and financed itself by fraud and drug running, "recruited exclusively among third-degree members of the Grand Orient Lodge of Egyptian Freemasonry."

Mumia Abu-Jamal, the death row activist, reports in his column that the "CIA hid massive stockpiles of weapons and explosives throughout Italy. They amassed an army of 15,000 troops in something called Operation Gladio . . . to strike vital targets and overthrow the elected Italian government if they dared to vote against Washington's will."

Well, who knows?

Skull & Bones Society
Skull & Bones Society


  • Part Two: Opus Heyday The success of Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code excites interest in a secretive Catholic lay groupóand further notes on the culture of conspiracism
  • Part Three: Disorganized Conspiracy When you've got money and power, who needs meetings in secret boardrooms?
  • Lost in America
    From Nicholas Berg to Abu Ghraib, the search for something to trust
    by Kareem Fahim

    First in a three-part series

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