So I'm titling this after the greatest secret society in video game history, the Keepers, from the Thief franchise. They were an awesome society of
super stealthy persons who relied upon prophecy and a mass of accumulated knowledge to forestall imbalanced conflicts and tipping of the scales in
favor of one group or another. In the game it happened to be the groups were nature v. industrial progress.
Well, the question then is begged. What role and function does a secret society play? A lot of talk about such societies as the Illuminati or the
Freemasons, while speculative, we can reason from other real secret societies that had real impacts. Obviously we want to examine the ability of a
society to influence events, one example is the:
Afrkianer Broederbond. en.wikipedia.org...
The AB was described as a cunning fascist mastermind, it instituted and is directly responsible for Apartheid. It took control of the South African
Government in the form of the National Party and so Afrikaners became the dominant political force in SA for 50 years.
A common theme seems to be influential members. But there is no direct evidence of ideological influence, which tends to suggest that powerful secret
societies are powerful because of the members it has, not because of the ideology it proposes, and this suggests that the power of a society is its
ability to network individuals and not to indoctrinate them. That is to say the AB had an ideology but it was a general ideology of most
All the AB facilitated was the ability for the influential members of society to get closer together and network and coordinate their efforts outside
the society within the state.
I think another role is Charisma. Can a secret society or affiliation improve your credentials and charismatic appeal. Especially in a Democracy?
Does a secret society even want to be so public? Some are.
The Ku Klux Klan managed to get many people elected to political office by promoting them as upstanding, protestant, loyal citizens.
The power of the Klan in the 20s was immense, and directly influenced politics in America. I think this serves as an example where in South Africa
members of the AB were secretive but influential, members of the Klan were mundane and unimportant, but because of their membership in a strange
ritualistic fraternity became more charismatic and influential by being put into influential places through recommendation.
So a society can be secretive to internally network individuals, or it can be open to create influence.
Without digging up examples, I'm going to postulate some other criteria.
A secret society can hold secret information in the form of a secret library or through its rituals. But this only provides power and influence if
the information is actually worth something. For instance in Freemasonry, while the rituals are elaborate, maybe even artistic and poetic, they are
far from influential ideas, and are most entirely drawn from the Bible. Being a Master Mason does not intrinsically give you knowledge that can make
you more influential than you once were.
But such a potential exists, a secret knowledge that makes members more influential, I would liken this to inside trading. A secret society would
secretly let its members know which stocks to trade and when so that they become immensely wealthy.
This knowledge could translate over to other persons in the form of blackmail. Knowledge about someone used to promote influence of the members of
the society. This would be "Intelligence" in modern governmental lingo.
Counter intelligence would be knowledge on its own members, to ensure loyalty.
But such a secret society would need to have the ability to remain autonomous, secret, and influential at the same time.
So to summarize a wealth of criteria we have:
1) Influential members networking within the society.
2) The society promoting members to be influential.
3) The society providing secret knowledge to members to become influential.
4) The society using knowledge of others and members to control influence.
5) The society remaining secretive or not, to further these objectives.
6) The society having a monopoly on something others cannot gain access to on their own.