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John Robison's Proof of a Conspiracy

Following is from the introduction to Robison's classic, first published in 1798. Authorship of the introduction is attributed to "The Publishers". Edition is the Americanist Classics Edition (Boston: Western Islands, 1967).

Very few people are aware that the intense drama of our twentieth century -- the life and death struggle between capitalism and Communism, freedom and slavery -- has its origins in the late eighteenth century. All Americans are aware that the Declaration of Independence was written in 1776. Few are aware that Adam Smith's *Wealth of Nations*, which provided the ideological foundation for capitalism and for the Industrial Revolution, was published in 1776. And fewer still are aware that in that same year, 1776, Adam Weishaupt, a professor of Canon law at Ingolstadt University in Germany, founded the Illuminati Order, a conspiratorial organization which embodied all of the goals, aims, and methods of what we now call Communism. All history books will tell you of the first event. A good many will tell you of the second. But practically none will even allude to the last. Why? When you know the answer to that question you know history better than the historians.

The two prime source books for our knowledge of Adam Weishaupt's Illuminati conspiracy are Professor John Robison's *Proofs of a Conspiracy*, first published in 1798, and the Abbe Augustin Barruel's impressive four-volume study, *Memoirs Illustrating the History of Jacobinism*, published in 1799, some months after the first appearance of Robison's book. Both men -- one a Professor of Natural Philosophy at Edinburgh University, the other a French clergyman -- writing in different countries and in different languages, without the one knowing the other, basically covered the same subject matter and came to the very same conclusions. Thus, we have two excellent works which tell us virtually all we need to know about the origin of history's most diabolical, long- range conspiracy.

While Barruel's work is the more extensive, better documented, and perhaps more painstakingly accurate, Professor Robison's book is the more literate, sophisticated and reflective. Its documentation is extensive, but its intellectual scope is its chief delight, for Robison, in this work, is more than merely historian; he is a philosopher, moralist, social commentator, wise observer of human foibles, scientist, critic, and stylist.

Robison had all of the virtues of the enlightened, rational, scientific, humane and religious spirit which characterized the founders of our own country and which represented the flower of eighteenth century English intellect. He had traveled widely in the old and new worlds, was one of the century's leading teachers of science -- then known as "natural philosophy" -- and he knew many of the major men of achievement in all the sciences. He was a close friend of James Watt, the inventor of the steam engine, who described Robison when the latter died in 1805 at the age of 66 as "a man of the clearest head and the most science of anybody I have ever known."

Professor Robison was a member of the distinguished circle of intellectuals who at that time enhanced the reputation of the University of Edinburgh. In fact, in 1783, Robison was elected general secretary of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. In short, Robison was one of the leading intellects of his time, deeply interested in every aspect of man's attainments, both scientific and moral, in civilized society.

The French Revolution, with its incredible atrocities, its militant atheism, its reign of terror, its wanton destruction of civilized values, was the major event which shook Europe during Robison's mature years. Its shock was particularly painful because it occurred when science, rationality and enlightenment were making incredible strides. Yet the Revolution, brought on in the name of all of these, plus "liberty, equality and fraternity," resulted in the beheading by guillotine of such scientific geniuses as Antoine Lavoisier, who was well known and greatly admired by his English colleagues.

Men of genuine learning in Europe were well aware that the French Revolution had been preceded by a long period of intense intellectual agitation, in which the very foundations of civilized society were seriously questioned. Ideas and doctrines advocating the abolition of all religion, the overthrow of all civil governments, the creation of utopian world citizenship and the abolition of private property, were to be found in books, tracts and pamphlets, written often at the risk of provoking the authorities. But the main haven for the free expression of such revolutionary ideas on the Continent were certain Masonic lodges, which, departing from the simpler practices of English Freemasonry, had become forums where diverse opinions on morals, religion and politics could be and were freely expressed. This development *was* *a* *peculiarly* *French* *innovation*, but it was adopted by numbers of Masonic lodges in many other parts of Europe, particularly Germany.

Because Freemasonry concerned itself with fundamental philosophical and mystical questions, it was bound to be a gathering place for the philosophically and mystically inclined, especially at that time in history when philosophy was in great ferment. But even more important, the lodges provided the brethren with full protection from the authorities by maintaining their rule of secrecy. Robison, a former Mason himself, found that "this impunity had gradually encouraged men of licentious principles to become more bold, and to teach doctrines subversive of all our notions of morality."

Let us be quick to say that Freemasonry in England, America and elsewhere was historically, and today is, quite another kind and its members characterized by high standards of morality and spirituality.

But it was not surprising that a man like Adam Weishaupt, a professor of considerable renown at Ingolstadt University, driven by an incredible and diabolical ambition to rule the world -- no less -- would be attracted to the Masonic lodges, where he could find secrecy, protection, and a few like-minded colleagues. Weishaupt was not a military man bent on conquering the world via large armies; nor was he a crude gangster who could organize and lead a band of thieves. Weishaupt was an intellectual, a professor of law at a noted university with the arrogant self- conceit of the mentally superior who feel that they should be running the world and everyone in it. And so he devised an ingenious vehicle for world conquest -- a secret Order -- which would prove immensely attractive to other mentally superior beings of a similar frame of mind. He called it the Illuminati Order and *grafted* *it*, *at* *selected* *points*, *onto* *Freemasonry* -- *like* *a* *fungus*.

The ostensible purpose of the Order was to bring universal happiness to the human race. The idea was, in Weishaupt's words to "form a durable combination of the most worthy persons, who should work together in removing the obstacles to human happiness, become terrible to the wicked, and give their aid to all the good without distinction, and should by the most powerful means, first fetter, and by fettering, lessen vice; means which at the same time should promote virtue, by rendering the inclination to rectitude, hitherto too feeble, more powerful and engaging. Would not such an association be a blessing to the world?"

To be more explicit, the Illuminati Order was built around the novel idea that the end -- the happiness of the human race -- justified the means!

That the Order was intended to embrace the entire world was evidenced by Weishaupt's own definition quoted in the Larousse *Grand* *Dictionnaire* published in 1873, in which he said that the goal of the Order was to "unite, by way of one common higher interest and by a lasting bond, men from all parts of the globe, from all social classes and from all religions, despite the diversity of their opinions and passions, to make them love this common interest and bond to the point where, together or alone, they act as one individual."

Members of the secret Order pledged blind obedience to their superiors and only knew about the organization what their immediate superiors would tell them. Their oath read in part: "I bind myself to perpetual silence and unshaken loyalty and submission to the Order, in the persons of my Superiors; here making a faithful and complete surrender of my private judgement, my own will, and every narrow-minded employment of my power and influence." Members were required to spy on one another and submit reports and autobiographies which could compromise them should they decide to leave the Order.

The ultimate despotic purpose of the Illuminati Order was kept secret. Only by degrees -- going from the lower "Nursery" degrees of *Preparation*, *Novice*, *Minerval* and *Illuminatus Minor* to the higher "Mysteries" of *Priest*, *Regent*, *Magus*, and *Rex* -- could the initiated learn of the true mysteries and purposes of the Order. And each step of the way was very carefully plotted and planned by Weishaupt and his colleagues, so that the squeamish and gullible never rose higher than the lowest degrees, while the bold, ruthless and cynical, those ready and willing to dispense with religion, morality, patriotism and any other hindrances, rose to the top.

It was through this process of selection and careful inculcation that Weishaupt, in a mere decade, was able to gather into his Order the cleverest and most diabolical minds in Europe. The true purpose of the Order was to rule the world. To achieve this it was necessary for the Order to destroy all religions, overthrow all governments, and abolish private property. In order to accomplish this it would be necessary to convince enough people that religion, governments, and private property were the real obstacles to human happiness. *This* *is* *exactly* *what* *the* *Communists* *have* *been* *doing* *since* *1848*!

Please note that Robison makes it clear that the Illuminati Order was quite *distinct* *and* *separate* *from* *Freemasonry*. Freemasonry had existed long before Weishaupt had come on the scene. But because the Illuminati *used* *parts* *of* *Freemasonry* *as* *a* *cover*, Robison found it necessary to explain how and why this state of affairs came about. Thus, the first part of the book deals with Freemasonry and provides an examination of the Masonic movement in the places and at the time the Illuminati Order came into being. He gives some of the history of Freemasonry and how it was developed in France, where it had been brought from England. Most important, however, he documents and traces the ideological evolution within the French lodges, which were eventually to become the Jacobin Clubs of revolutionary fame.

With the background on French Freemasonry given, Robison then examines the state of Freemasonry in Germany, where the Illuminati aberration originated. He describes the schisms within German Freemasonry, the great fascination with mysteries, the widespread influence of deism -- the philosophy that the universe is creating God rather than the reverse -- and such utopian ideas imported from France as Cosmo-politism, or world citizenship, and finally the strong influence of French Masonic practices and doctrines through the Lodge of Lyons, the mother lodge of a segment of Masonry known as the *Grand* *Orient* *de* *la* *France*.

One of the lodges in Germany affiliated with the Lodge of Lyons was the Lodge Theodore of Munich. It was in this lodge -- to which Weishaupt belonged -- that the Illuminati Order was organized by him as a secret organization within a secret organization. It took a number of years before the existence of this secret society within a secret society came to light. Its revolutionary doctrines were so zealously propagated that it couldn't be completely hidden for very long. In 1783, a Bavarian Court of Enquiry began its investigation of the Illuminati Order. Much of what we know today about Weishaupt's secret conspiracy is a result of this investigation.

The second chapter of Robison's book, undoubtedly the most fascinating, is devoted to reviewing the evidence uncovered by the authorities, and it is here that we discover that Weishaupt's entire program and methodology was virtually identical with what was later to become known as Communism.

In the third chapter of the book, entitled *The German Union*, Robison attempts to reveal how after the Bavarian Court of Enquiry exposed and banned the Illuminati Order and its leaders, the Order went underground and emerged as a network of Reading Societies throughout Germany. The goal of this literary network was to monopolize the writing, publication, reviewing and distribution of all literature, more effectively to control the minds of the readers. In this chapter, one sees more clearly than ever how the conspiracy used the printed word as its ultimate weapon in subverting the minds of the people.

The fourth chapter of the book demonstrates how all of the foregoing worked to culminate in the horror of the French Revolution, in which Illuminati doctrines and methodology provided the necessary engines of destruction and how members of the Order became the motormen. The pitiful role played by the Duc d'Orleans, the Grand Master of the Grand Orient de la France, reveals the incredible cleverness and deceit with which the conspirators were able to use one royal dupe and his fortune to destroy the monarchy as well as himself.

The final portion of the book is devoted to Professor Robison's General Reflections. He discusses morality and religion, politics and the nature of civilized society, the structure of the British government, the role of women and how the Illuminati planned to use them, the dangers of secret societies, human nature, education, and finally, why he was compelled to write this book. It is all worth reading very carefully, and rereading, for it brims with knowledge and wisdom, and is as pertinent today as it was when it was first published.

What is the value of Robison's work today? First, it sheds light on an important period in history which has been greatly distorted by historians and novelists. It tells us a great deal about the origins of that conspiracy which, by now, has the world almost completely within its grasp. It teaches us how little the conspiracy has changed in either its methods or ideology, and how successful it has been in mesmerizing the masses and covering its tracks. But most important is the revelation that this was a conspiracy conceived, organized, and activated by professionals and intellectuals, many of them brilliant but cunning and clever, who decided to put their minds in the service of total evil; a conspiracy conceived not by Masons as Masons, but by evil men *using* Freemasonry as a vehicle for their own purposes. It is also highly significant that it required another intellectual -- Professor Robison -- to expose the conspiracy.

It is obvious that this conspiracy, appealing to the conceit of half-baked intellectuals, would attract educators, writers, philosophers, publishers, and clergymen. Their counterparts who run America today -- like the Galbraiths, the Rostows, the Kennans, the Bundy's, the Littells, the Lippmanns -- have the same self-conceit, the same arrogance which seems to characterize the overly bright and overly sadistic in any age and any civilization. But the Illuminati offered an even more attractive inducement than its long-range goal: it offered immediate and assured success. For, through its connections and intrigues, the conspiracy was able to place its selected members in positions of influence and power where they could enjoy all the glories of worldly success, provided they used that success to work unceasingly for the advancement of the Order. As Weishaupt explains, once the candidate has achieved the exalted degree of *Illuminatus Minor*, his superiors "will assist him in bringing his talents into action, and will place him in situations most favorable for their exertion, so that he may be *assured* of success."

One tends to think of professors, philosophers, and writers as sitting in their ivory towers, perfectly harmless to the world. Robison and history prove otherwise. Activist scholars and professors like Karl Marx and Weishaupt have had a profound influence in shaping the kind of irrational world we live in. >From Woodrow Wilson -- himself a professor -- to Lyndon Johnson, we have had nothing but Presidents surrounded by professors and scholars, who seem to owe their allegiance to one idea only -- that of world government. All of which brings to mind Weishaupt's plan to surround the ruling authorities with members of his Order. He writes: "These powers are despots, when they do not conduct themselves by its [the Order's] principles; and it is therefore our duty to surround them with its members, so that the profane may have no access to them. Thus we are able most powerfully to promote its interests. If any person is more disposed to listen to Princes than to the Order, he is not fit for it, and must rise no higher. We must do our utmost to procure the advancement of Illuminati into all important civil offices."

Did the Illuminati Order survive beyond its exposure by the Bavarian authorities in 1783? Robison is convinced that it did, and that it was still quite alive and kicking and as dangerous as ever when his book was published in 1798. Between that year and the emergence of the Communist movement in 1848, there is a considerable knowledge gap, which, as far as we know, historians have made no attempt to bridge. However, the nature of the Order would lead one to believe that it was quite capable of surviving the most glaring exposure. Such exposure would hardly have frightened away the hard core who knew exactly what they were after.

In the realm of *ideology*, certainly the line from the Illuminati Order to the Communist Manifesto is straight and unbroken, although modified to suit the new conditions of the Industrial Revolution. Weishaupt, it is interesting to note, lived until 1822; moreover, the Catholic Encyclopedia tells us that he finally repented and returned to the Church. Whether he was sincere or not, we shall never know.

The publication of both Robison's and Barruel's works caused a sensation at the time and proved to have a strong influence on public opinion for the few years they were in circulation. The first printing of *Proofs of a Conspiracy* was exhausted in a few days, and several editions followed. Both works were also quickly published in the United States where they had an immediate and widespread impact. Jacobin ideas and influences had already been noted with alarm in the New World and it was known that the Illuminati had established some lodges in the United States. That the Illuminati would attempt to gain control of the press and publishing industry in this country goes without saying. It was, after all, the hallmark of their method.

It wasn't until 1826 that anti-Illuminati feelings were once more aroused in this country as a result of the disappearance of one William Morgan, an American Freemason, who had written a book revealing Masonic secrets entitled *Illustrations of Freemasonry*. Morgan, apparently, had been abducted and drowned in Lake Ontario. It was alleged that fellow Masons had done it. This caused a nationwide furor, resulting in the creation of an anti-Masonic political party in 1829 by Henry Dana Ward, Thurlow Weed, and William H. Seward. Interest in both Robison's and Barruel's books were revived during that period, with the result that Freemasonry suffered a great loss of membership. The anti- Masonic movement lasted a few years until the furor died down. By 1840, the anti-Masonic party was extinct.

Let it be stressed that the present publication of Robison's work is not intended to open old wounds or create new animosity or distrust toward Freemasonry, whose adherents today certainly number among our staunchest patriots and anti-Communists. The intention is merely to illustrate how a conspiracy of intellectuals, using Freemasonry, got off the ground and grew to its present incredible proportions. The conspirators have long since discarded Freemasonry as their vehicle. If clever conspirators could use -- of all groups -- so fine a group as the Masons, we must open our minds to consider what infinite possibilities are available to them in our own present day society. Their main habitat these days seems to be the great subsidized universities, tax-free foundations, mass media communication systems, government bureaus such as the State Department, and a myriad of private organizations such as the Council on Foreign Relations. If the publication of this book merely serves to convince enough people that conspiracies of this kind have existed in the past, do exist in the present, and should be routed out, it will have served its purpose. All men of good will, we hope, anxious to keep freedom alive, will recognize the value, therefore, of this new edition of one of the most interesting books in history.

 

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