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TV Review

The Plot Thickens

Conspiracies - The Illuminati
Sky Mix, Fri, 9.00pm, Dec 10

“They’re all enslaving you. They call us cattle, but they’re just scum”. So goes one of Alex Jones’ weekly Texas radio rants against that supersecret sect of the centuries, the Illuminati (Enlightened). Established in 1776 in Bavaria as a secular intellectual club but driven underground by the Church, this mysterious society has by now infiltrated into every government organisation including the media. Its aim is nothing less than the dumbing down of a helpless population and then global dictatorship. Apparently.

We follow the narrator Danny Wallace on a wild-goose chase round industrial estates, hoping to meet a real-life Illuminatus, who evidently bottles out of the encounter (or didn’t exist in the first place), and sundry interviews with paranoid amateur journalists who say things like: “They are monitoring my every move. It’s a wonder I’m still alive” (a wonder you’re not locked up, more like).

Conspiracy theorists often gain plausibility by taking established fact and embellishing it, so that one can’t tell where truth ends and fiction begins. There are undoubtedly shadowy societies of the super-rich which are well-documented. The Skull and Bones in America includes many senators, three past presidents, and both George Bush and John Kerry, while in Britain we have the Masonic Lodge. The Bilderberg Group is also given lavish treatment in the programme. But of course, they can’t be very secret or we wouldn’t know about them. The point is, say the neurotic campaigners, they’re all just fronts for the Illuminati.

What’s really interesting – more than the unlikely tales of mock human sacrifices under a giant stone owl – is why some people need to believe the world is really controlled by a secret society, when it is fairly obviously controlled by the not-very-secret capitalist class. Perhaps that’s just too mundane an explanation, or too public, when what is required by conspiracy theorists is something akin to demonic global possession, something so unearthly and powerful that it is quite beyond our ability to exorcise it. Why do they need to believe in this absolute evil? Perhaps in order to cast themselves as holy crusaders.

There are conspiracies all the time, little ones. Big ones tend to spring leaks however, and few are likely to believe in one that has lasted 250 years without being ‘outed’. The capitalist class is not a conspiracy, not because it is open and, more or less, above board, but because it is not united, as the Illuminati presumably are. The disunity of the capitalist class is their Achilles heel, a weakness workers could use. If you believe your enslavers have no weaknesses, you won’t struggle against them. The crusaders against the Illuminati could do with some illumination on that point.