By Robert Howells
This book demonstrates that the old secret societies were driven by the same impulse as Anonymous and WikiLeaks are today. These marginalized groups have always rebelled against the establishments; some subversively by spreading progressive ideas through art and literature, while others are far more proactive, driving revolution and exposing government secrets.
The Illuminati, founded in 1776, aimed to rid Europe of the ruling aristocracy and religious control of education, politics and science. They supported the Age of Enlightenment and were accused of fueling the dissent that culminated in the French Revolution. Since that time the term Illuminati has become a meme, giving a name to a secret network believed by conspiracy theorists to control the world. These were depicted as pranksters, working in the shadows to manipulate society.
It was in this climate of pranks, memes and conspiracy theories that the hacktivist collective Anonymous were born. Their ideals of freedom from censorship and the empowering of societies against their rulers make them the spiritual successors of the Illuminati.
The kindling of the French Revolution by the Illuminati has found a modern counterpart in how Anonymous and WikiLeaks played a key role in the Arab Spring uprisings using the internet as a new weapon against dictatorships.
It is the same battle fought by secret societies for a millennium but the new inquisition has shifted its focus from secret societies to wage a war on the connected communities of the internet age. This is the story of that war and how you need to be a part of it.
I originally decided to request this title because I was intrigued by the blurb. I gave this book 3.5 out of 5 because despite it being interesting and highly readable it was a little bit too out there for me. I found the arguments intriguing and there were elements that seemed plausible.
The bibliography section at the end has some excellent resources for further reading on some of the topics discussed. The authors twenty years investigating secret societies, countercultures and conspiracy theories is shown by his extensive knowledge of the topics he discusses in this book.
He begins by explaining that socialisation is the process by which we learn the rules and social norms that help us fit into society. He argues that, “today is a lesson that I see taught everywhere, from the tide of the mainstream media that vilifies and humiliates anyone who stands apart.”
“In all aspects of life we are told this is how it must be and we have no choice other than to conform and fit into society. But this is a lie.”
“To counter this there have always been secret societies working in the shadows of every civilization to uphold an alternative view, and sometimes the truth, in the hope that one day all humanity would be free.”
This book discussed the origins of the Illuminati, the opposition they faced and the influence of religion and the media upon society. Additionally, he discussed the idea of conspiracy and counterculture.
He says that, “the idea of judgement in the afterlife gives religions undue power to psychologically blackmail their congregation with fear of ‘hell’.” He also argues forcefully that “regardless of any claims of universality or ‘chosen’ status, all major religions began as a cult. As they grow in membership, they began to accumulate wealth and power, which will eventually pervert any cause.”
He also discusses the way the internet has enabled more conspiracy theorists to arise and counterculture to develop, for example, the hacker group Anonymous.
On the whole this was an interesting read but one which seemed more opinion based than fact based.
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