Freemasons, Bilderberg, Skull and Bones-what do they actually do? Matt Schwartz peels back the curtains of the world's top secret societies.
Every so often some aluminum-foil-hatted nut will pull you aside at a party and tell you the Freemasons are a powerful secret society bent on controlling the world. He'll point to the all-seeing pyramid on the one-dollar bill, run down the list of Masonic presidents, and trace supposedly Masonic symbols on the streets around the Washington Mall. From these premises he will argue that the gentlemen you may have seen strolling into your local lodge on a weekday night are actually officers of a 291-year-old international conspiracy.I am a Freemason. I can't tell you much, but I can assure you that all of the above is pure paranoid fantasy. A meeting of Masons is as benign as a meeting of good friends around the fireplace. And yes, I know, that's exactly what a Mason would say, which is why conspiracy theories are so hard to kill off. It is impossible to disprove the notion that somewhere out there is a roomful of people, bound by an oath of secrecy, pulling the invisible strings that make the world dance. The only way to know for sure is to become one. Along the way you learn things that can't be shared. This sounds rather ominous, of course, and the endless cycle of paranoia, curiosity, and secrecy is again renewed.In the 19th century, the Masons were the favorite scapegoat of frightened jingoists who found themselves at the mercy of history and wanted someone to blame for their problems. In the early 20th century, it was the Jews-I'm one of those, too. These days, the conspirators of choice are the internationalist elites who arrive by chartered jet to mingle with their fellow Murdochs, Soroses, Gateses, and Wolfowitzes (I'm a few dinner parties away from becoming one of these).With that in mind, we present six organizations that have been accused of plotting world domination, along with an assessment of who they are, what they do, and just how powerful they actually are. From what we can tell, no group on this list is running the world from behind its locked doors. But those without keys can never be sure.The GOOD Guide to Shadowy OrganizationsThe FreemasonsThe Trilateral CommissionThe Order of Skull and BonesThe Bohemian GroveThe Bilderberg GroupThe World Economic Forum