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26 April, 2010

Profiles in Conspiracy: Abbe Barruel

"In 1797, an embittered French Jesuit, Abbe Barruel, set down in print his theory of why the French Revolution had occurred. Where other historians would attribute that social explosion to the sufferings of the poor, or the ambitions of the rising merchant class, or the alienation of the nobility (who mostly despised their king and called him "the fat boy" behind his back), or some combination of these forces aided by the new ideas of Reason and Democracy, the angry priest had a simpler theory: The revolution had resulted from the machinations of a literally Diabolical Conspiracy.

"The notions of this extremely reactionary priest might seem a matter of only historical interest, except that his Jumbo Conspiracy Theory, as developed ca. 1797-1808, gradually grew to include so much that it has directly or indirectly influenced all the conspiracy buffs who have written since Barruel's day.

"First of all, the Abbe blamed the Revolution on the Bavarian Illuminati, a secret society that had existed between 1776 and 1786, when the Bavarian government banned them. Maybe they had lingered, under other names, and had indeed played a role in the uprising of '89. This thesis appeared around the same time in another book, "Proofs of a Conspiracy" by an earnest Scotch academic (and former Mason) named John Robison, who claimed the Illuminati had infiltrated most Continental Masonic lodges.

"But Barruel's works went much further than Robison. Not only had the Illuminati wormed their way into control of Continental Freemasonry, he insisted, but they had also existed long before they surfaced under the name of Illuminati in Bavaria. In fact, they had existed for over a thousand years and had used the title Knights Templar when founded in the ninth century. The Inquisition had found the Templars guilty of devil worship and sodomy. Abbe Barruel did not regard the Inquisition with any "secular humanist" skepticism. The devil-worshipping Templars, he decided, had lingered as an underground Satanic cult from their alleged dissolution in 1308 until their resurfacing as the Illuminati in Bavaria in 1776. The Templars became the allies of the Assassins, the Islamic group that used hashish in its rituals and taught some weird variety of Sufism that sounds like the "Pantheistic Multi-Ego Solipsism" later invented by Robert Heinlein for a science-fiction story. "Nothing is true, all is permitted," an alleged Assassin slogan, gives you the flavor of their mystical nihilism.

"Eventually the Abbe encountered a mysterious Captain Simonini who told him "the Jews" as a fungible group were behind everything; the jumbo conspiracy theory emphasized the international bankers, especially the Rothschilds. By 1808, more or less, Barruel had made a permanent contribution to the ideology of the Far Right by his unified Conspiracy Theory in which everything right-wingers don't like results from the machinations of Satanic/Sodomite Knights Templar, godless Freemasons, Arabian hashish fiends, and sinister Hebrew bankers.

"The whole Barruel Jewish-Masonic-Arab conspiracy appeared occasionally among the 1840s Anti-Masonic Party in this country, and has influenced all right-wing politics in Europe ever since, including Italian Fascism and German Nazism." --Robert Anton Wilson

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