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The Bavarian Illuminati: Will 2012 Bring Mandatory Lederhosen?

Illuminati founder Adam Weishaupt

When looking at the groups that may be behind the coming 2012 catastrolypse and doom-a-thon, one of the most frequently mentioned likely conspirators is the elusive secret society known as the Illuminati. While it may sound innocent like a new kind of Italian sports car or a high-tech flashlight with built-in MP3 player, it is in fact a sinister cabal which has dedicated itself to clandestine operation in the service of a new world order for hundreds of years. And not in a good way.

Springtime for the Illuminati

The "Bavarian Illuminati" was a society founded on May 1 1776 in Ingolstadt, Upper Bavaria, by a professor named Adam Weishaupt. The group called itself the "Order of Perfectibilists," and modeled its structure after that of the freemasons but with a greater emphasis on secrecy and hiding its members' identities. The group was influenced by many of the common Enlightenment ideals of the age including Deism, empiricism and the abolition of monarchies.

Illuminati founder Adam Weishaupt, Zombie Litigant

But Weishaupt also had a more radical vision of the future where man had been "perfected" and lived in harmony with nature, freed from government and organized religion. (Little-known fact: nearly 200 years later, Weishaupt would rise from the grave as a zombie to sue John Lennon for copyright infringement over the lyrics to the song Imagine.)

The Illuminati grew over time to include many notable German intellectuals of the day, and drew many of its members from Masonic lodges. It reportedly had more than 10,000 members at its height. However, in 1784 the ruler of Bavaria banned all secret societies. Weishaupt was exiled, the group was infiltrated by government agents, and by 1785 it had ceased to exist in its original form.

But the image of the Illuminati - with its secretive ways, elusive membership and stridently anti-religion, anti-government philosophies - lived on in many conspiracy theories long after after the organization itself had disappeared. In 1797 a Jesuit priest (unsurprisingly not a huge fan of the anti-religion Illuminati) published claims that the French Revolution had secretly been directed by the hidden group. (After this was revealed, no emperor of France ever sent a Christmas card to the Illuminati again.) The 1921 book World Revolution, the Plot Against Civilization ascribed to the Illuminati every revolution over the previous 130 years, possibly even including the Industrial Revolution and the Evolution Revolution. The founder of the right-wing John Birch Society once publicly claimed that the Illuminati controlled both sides in the Vietnam War, which seems like terrible indecisiveness to me. Claims of Illuminati plans for world domination have proliferated dramatically in the past 30 years, including many suggestions of an Illuminati hand behind the New World Order which will enslave the globe in 2012.

Great Seal of the United States - an Illuminati reference?

Some readers might suggest that there is no hard evidence that the Illuminati survived beyond 1785 as a group, and that conspiracy theorists have inexplicably attributed vast global powers to what was in fact a tiny regional debating society which has been defunct for more than two centuries. These readers are wrong, and stupid. And they smell like poo-poo.

You be Illin'-luminati

But who are the modern Illuminati? Speculation ranges widely, including:

So what do we really know? By taking this research and evaluating it critically, we know that the Illuminati are a society of Jewish bankers, born-again Christian politicians and black hip-hop moguls. Their methods include faked terrorist attacks, global economic sabotage, and alterations of the US one-dollar bill. They are dedicated to bringing on the 2012 apocalypse, dominating the MTV video charts through intimidation and assassination, posting "pro-Hedwig" materials on Harry Potter fan sites, and mercilessly harassing sawmill entrepreneurs. If that doesn't clinch the case for 2012, I'm not sure what does.

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