Conspiracy of the Enlightenment: Augustin Barruel and his “Memoirs Illustrating the History of Jacobinism” (pt. 1)
What we nowadays call “conspiracy theory” is sometimes being refuted by simply pointing out the “fact” that people desperately need to make sense of the world, blame others for their own shortcomings, rationalize the unbearable randomness of history, etc.
However, this refutation by patronizing – because psychology employed in it is just a thinly veiled attempt at treating people like children – doesn’t always hold water.
First of all, it rests on assumption that “conspiratorial” mindset stems from a flaw buried deep in the human nature that symbolizes our essential inability to understand the world. Hence, “there always was and there always will be conspiracy theorists” trying to make sense of the world.
This is not true.
“Conspiracy theory” or research of occult(ed) politics is a completely modern approach to historical reality. There was a time when there were no conspiracy theorists, and this time is rather recent: it reached it’s end in the wake of the Modernity, i.e. at the moment the Western civilization accepted what we now call “the light of reason” as a guiding principle, driving it’s Progress from the darkness of myth, religion and metaphysics towards the New Age of the World – the secular age.
Interestingly enough, this historical moment, which we can roughly place at the beginning of 18th Century, coincides with the grand, albeit rather silent, entrance on the historical and political stage of a society of people devoted to furthering the cause of the age of reason – the Freemasonry.
We hereby present first in the series of podcasts devoted to arguably the first conspiracy theory, expounded by French secularized Jesuit Augustin Barruel in his voluminous work Memoirs Illustrating the History of Jacobinism.
To this day, Barruel’s book remains one of the prime sources for dangerous and troublesome research of occult history of modern world. It is usually, and quite improperly, dubbed the first anti-masonic conspiracy book. In reality, Memoirs presents us with the thesis that real agents behind Novus Ordo Seclorum, surging into light of day in the form of French Revolution of 1789., were not primarily Freemasons but people who called themselves “philosophers” – the members of the intellectual movement now celebrated under the moniker of French Enlightenment.
Barruel argues that the French Revolution was just a visible result of concentrated effort of intellectuals, European crowned heads and subversive secret societies to bring about the Age of Reason – a radically anti-Christian political project of the global scope. He proceeds to prove his assertion through analysis of sources, above all vast correspondence of Voltaire, D’Alembert and other Enlightenment “philosophists”, as he calls them, as well as Friedrich of Prussia. He furnishes detailed analysis of the project of Encyclopedia – in his eyes, one of the main vehicles for winning over the public opinion to revolutionary cause, exposition and analysis of teachings of various lodges of Freemasonry and, finally, one of the most complete expositions of the history and original documents of Bavarian Illuminati, the group he considers to be the linchpin in creation of revolutionary cells in France.
In the first podcast we’ll provide the introduction to Barruel’s methods and peculiarities of his approach, and explain who exactly where the ‘philosophists’ he considers to be the instigators of conspiracy. Finally we’ll point out why Memoirs are still relevant and why Barruel’s conclusions about ‘Illuminism’ should sound very worrisome to postmodern ear.
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