I would like to thank Twitter user @IbrahimKaher for suggesting this vomitous meme, and the website from which it came. I would also like to apologize for taking so long to cover it. Unfortunately, professional concerns have kept me from updating my blog as frequently as I would like to. But enough excuses…on we go!
Let’s talk about The Illuminati. I used to think that the Illuminati were sort of a joke, the go-to reference for people who wanted to goof about vague, shadowy conspiracy organizations. To blame the Illuminati for anything is sort of like claiming that Earth is flat, or that the Moon landings were faked. The rest of us look at you and laugh, because we know you can’t really be serious, right? Nobody actually believes in the Illuminati, do they?
Apparently some people do believe, and they believe hard. (And some people believe – or claim to believe – that Earth is flat, and that the Moon landings were faked…but those are memes for another day.) So before we address the Ebola nonsense, it behooves us to take a close look at the Illuminati. If this blog disappears forever shortly after this is posted, you’ll know it’s because they got me!
The original Illuminati were a secret fraternity founded in Bavaria in 1776…and shut down by the authorities nine years later. During their brief run, they were populated by the intellectual elite of Bavarian society: doctors, lawyers, judges, and politicians. Despite their limited membership (at the height of their power, the Illuminati claimed between 650 and 2,500 members, depending on how you count them), the Illuminati had their fingers in many aspects of upper society. Ironically, it was their pervasive presence in politics that would lead to their ruination. As their numbers swelled, loose talk among their ranks precipitated an unintended transition in their status as a “secret” society. The existence of the group, and its perceived influence in the court and in the political arena, became common knowledge. This sparked considerable unrest among the uninitiated. In 1785, Charles Theodore, duke of Bavaria, issued an edict banning all secret societies, including the Illuminati. Officials raided the homes of known Illuminati members and published their secret documents. With their cover blown and their influence dissolved, the original Illuminati effectively ceased to exist.
Some modern fraternal organizations have assumed the name Illuminati; some of them even claim dubious links to the original Bavarian Illuminati. There is no evidence that any modern Illuminati organizations enjoy the same power and influence allegedly wielded by their namesake, nor that the original Illuminati persist.
But what does evidence matter to a conspiracy theorist?
Ask a true believer, and you’ll learn that the Illuminati are still alive and well; that they are more pervasive and influential than ever before. To a conspiracy theorist, the Illuminati are a worldwide group of politicians, bankers, celebrities, and other high-profile, high-power individuals who serve as society’s puppet masters. (Check out this delightful Gawker article for a partial list of the more visible Illuminati members.) Apparently, the Illuminati start and stop wars, manipulate currency, and rig elections. Their ultimate goal: nothing less than the establishment of a New World Order, a worldwide authoritarian government.
Of course, the Illuminati know that a one-world government will never succeed without the complicity of the governed. And what better way to generate compliance than through fear…particularly fear of a deadly virus? Yes, that’s right, folks: Ebola is an Illuminati tactic to disrupt the natural flow of business and politics. Presumably the world’s most elite movers and shakers will swoop in and assert their authority over the crumbled remains of society, and we’ll all be glad for them to do so.
Before we proceed, I would like to point out an interesting bit of irony: the meme’s author suggests that the Illuminati seek to instill fear and panic via their controlled release of Ebola, but what does this meme spread if not fear? I mean, look at it! Creepy faces, skinless humans, spatters of blood everywhere? I know: this meme is the work of the Illuminati! Those crafty bastards!
Moving along: the major problem with this meme (other than the questionable design choices) is that Ebola was eventually brought under control. Despite its frightening spread, including into the United States, it did not result in a worldwide closure of borders. Governments did not collapse; on the contrary, they did what they could to ensure the health and safety of their people. And they were eventually successful; in the past day, Sierra Leone has been officially declared Ebola-free, according to BBC News. Only a handful of Ebola cases persist in neighboring Guinea; even so, the border between Sierra Leone and Guinea remains open, albeit with heightened health screening in place.
Ebola had an enormous impact on the lives and cultures of the people in the hardest-hit nations; that much is certain. Yet despite the devastation wreaked by the virus, life marches on. Governments, whatever their shortcomings, remain intact; there is no evidence that any shadowy organizations have seized control. No evidence, the conspiracy theorist would argue, is exactly how the Illuminati want it. But that’s the problem with arguing for the continued existence of the Illuminati as a worldwide governing body: you can’t use zero evidence…as evidence.