Illuminism and Freemason Uprising Part I: A Deep Dive into Revolutionary History with Nesta Webster and James Billington

For those going down conspiracy rabbit holes, several of the more suppressed books worth reading are Fire In the Minds of Men: Origins of the Revolutionary Faith (1980) by J.H. Billington and Nesta Webster’s French Revolution (1920), World Revolution: The Plot Against Civilization (1921) and Secret Societies and Subversive Movements (1924).

Webster in particular is a readable historian who has solidly documented and footnoted findings considered taboo among establishment scholars. A good starting point is her Plot Against Civilization, an absorbing read.

Nesta Webster

For treading into the JQ, Nesta Webster (1876-1960) has been thoroughly smeared by doth-protest-too-loudly usual suspects, who clearly have not read her books.

Billington (1929-2018) was the Librarian of Congress from 1987 to 2015. As a member of the club who thanks the Rockefeller Foundation for support in his preface, he gets a pass on the smears as he also avoids the 800-pound gorilla in room. He does dive deep into the occult influences on Illuminism and Freemasonry much more than other revelation-of-the-method insiders, such as Caroll Quigley (Tragedy and Hope).

It’s also obvious after reading these books that Billington drew on Webster’s work while rarely providing attribution to her. There is enough from these sources for us to endeavor several articles. We will draw on these suppressed hidden works to discuss Illuminism and Freemasonry’s role in modern revolutionary movements, focusing in this post on the French Revolution.

Billington’s central thesis:

… the modern revolutionary tradition as it came to be internationalized under Napoleon and the Restoration grew out of occult Freemasonry; that early organizational ideas originated more from Pythagorean mysticism than from practical experience; and that the real innovators were not so much political activists as literary intellectuals, on whom German romantic thought in general — and Bavarian Illuminism in particular — exerted great influence (p. 87).

The essence of Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) and Adam Weishaupt (1748-1830) proposed a state of “peacefully entered” liberty and equality. But to accomplish this, it was necessary to root out all ideas of a hereafter, all fears of retribution for evil deeds, and to substitute the new religion of Reason. The loosening of social ties follows. Both family and national life must cease to exist so to make the whole human race “one good, happy family.” Thus, family clans, localism and nationalism is replaced with internationalism. Sound familiar?

The third slogan was fraternity, but the ideal of social revolution (equality) came to dominate. This also enabled these anti-socials (what Weishaupt called “useful larceny”) to engage in more lethal activities against the people.

Weishaupt, who was active in the French Revolution, soon revealed the irresistible drive toward centralization and enslavement, which is the hallmark of modern revolutions. In order to destroy so called abuses of power, the revolutionary ends up justifying and enforcing absolute power.

Webster and Billington both strongly reveal that the radicals borrowed from Masonry not only the basic metaphor of the revolutionary mission — that of architects building the new society — but also the symbols and forms used in the conspiratorial groups. In the borrowing process, the Masonic orders themselves became fertile recruiting grounds for the conspirators.

The desire for revolutionary simplicity revealed itself in a mad search for geometric harmonies within the Masonic movement on the grounds that the occult mastery of circles, triangles and mathematical laws would lead to the rational organization of society. The use of the term “circle” to describe a gathering of people came into popular use at this time; by drawing all men into the redemptive influence of the magic Circle, man would become God, democracy would become “deocracy” (p. 103).

Still, the Order of Illuminists ideals were often expressed in Christian terms, such as “regeneration” and the “rebuilding of Jerusalem”; but in practice called for a recovery of ancient, pagan, “natural” religion. Man would be liberated from his slavery to God.

As pagans and Luciferians, they were always carping about the limitations of language, seeking a new knowledge through mystical experience. Revolutionism, like all paganism, is essentially the religious substitution of either rationalism or romanticism for the word of God. And at the core of revolutionary ideology is the self-conscious recognition of its own idolatrous character (p. 122).

For Billington, the attraction of Illuminism was enhanced by its right-wing enemies, whose fear of an international Illuminist plot was so constantly expressed that the revolutionaries’ interest in studying and imitating the movement never waned (the Streisand effect).

French radical Louis Antoine de Saint-Just sought a return to “original virtue” and advocated a “renewed communion with the primitive simplicity of nature.” Saint-Just avowed, “That which produces general good is always terrible” (p. 66). Sounds like a Burning Man weekend.

Nesta Webster counters, “Moral aspiration is all that separates man from the brute. Destroy civilization in its entirety and the human race sinks to the level of the jungle in which the only law is the strong over the weak, the only incentive struggle for material needs.”

“Only a dreamer utterly unacquainted with the real conditions of primitive life — the life of  rule by the strongest, of pitiless preying on the weak and helpless — could have conjured up such as vision,” Webster wrote.

She points out that liberty and equality are incompatible:

According to Webster, the union between the secret societies of Illuminism and Freemasonry was sealed in 1782 at the Congress of Wilhelmbad. The other movement that was brought forth at the Congress was pro-Semitism, or the emancipation of the Jews. This, of course, included opening up the Masonic Lodges to them. The Illuminism headquarters was relocated to Frankfurt at the same time. Curiously, this new movement corresponded with the rise of the Sabbattean-Frankist influenced and wealthy House of Rothschild, as well as the Jewish Oppenheimer, Wertheimer, Schuster, Spreyer and Stern families in Frankfurt.

Billington adds, “The art of illuminism lay in enlisting dupes as well as adepts and by encouraging dreams of honest visionaries or the schemes of fanatics; By flattering the vanity of ambitious egotists; By working on unbalanced brains or by playing such passions as greed and power to make men of totally divergent aims serve the secret purpose of the sect. People with money were welcomed but kept oblivious of actual secrets. The purpose is to win power and riches. To undermine secular or religious government and attain the masters of the world.”

Revolutionaries are believers, no less than the major religions past or present. They believe in something called a “perfect secular order” which will come from the ashes of the traditional order (Billington).

The revolutionary drive toward centralization can also be seen as an urge toward simplification, the monistic insistence that all reality can and must be reduced to One. The search for revolutionary simplicity required the destruction of the complex fabric of Christian civilization, the dissolution of the many estates into one unitary State, the substitution of slogans for thought (Billington).

Another nursery of revolution was the press, which was central (or, as Billington observes, left-center) to the Revolution at every point. Radical journalism increasingly took on the Church’s abdicated role as the chief source and instructor of social mores and cultural values. A generation of talented journalist-agitators appeared on the scene, using the new tactics of “linguistic shock” — meaningless vulgarity and the ritual desecration of authority — as a means of bringing a highly traditional, verbal culture to its knees.

The language, and thus the thought processes of those who spoke it, were revolutionized. Words were seen as having mystical power, and were used “for incantation more than explanation” (p. 38); attempts were made to compile the “ultimate dictionary” in order to conjure absolute power.

The Social Circle formed the inner, ruling core of the 6,000-member “Friends of Truth,” a self-conscious, self-proclaimed, power-seeking intellectual elite composed of “superior intelligences” who advocated “permanent insurrection” on behalf of universal social “equality” and “direct democracy.” A standard pattern — elitist egalitarianism — was thus established, to be imitated and refined by dictatorial aspirants for centuries to come.

Long before Pol Pot and the Bolsheviks, Webster states that revolutionaries, including the Weishaupt Illumanists, declared that in the least educated person of the community all wisdom and virtue reside. Education would only be of the most primitive kind. To level society they then closed down the schools and burned the libraries in 1793. By the end of 1794, public education in France didn’t exist.

Next, the Terror, after reducing the merchants and manufacturers, eliminated numerous religious and national holidays aka “days off”. The longer-term manifesto called for only work of essential utility to be performed, with nothing allocated for luxuries. This in turn unemployed marginal labor. It was then that the leadership determined that the population needed to be reduced by one-third (Webster).

According to Prudhomme, the number of people drowned, beheaded or shot throughout France during the Terror was 300,000 of which only 3,000 was nobility. The Revolution, which was brought about ostensibly for the benefit of the lower classes of society, had sunk them to a degree of degradation and misfortune never experience in the Old Regime (Webster).

Meanwhile, the newly rich, who had made fortunes in war profiteering and army contracting, reveled in luxury.

There was a systematic attempt to create exploitable non-organic grievances often through tricks and hoaxes. This same method in our world is in full ascendancy.

Webster writes, “The conspirators blocked food supplies and held up National Assembly reforms. On July 22, 1789, a (false flag) incident called the “Great Fear” was instigated whereby unknown ‘messengers’ arrived in towns all over France calling on the people to arm themselves as ‘brigands are coming.’” Then, under a false edict from the King, they were instructed to burn the chateauxs.

At the same time in 1789, Masonic plotters purchased and hoarded grain, thus setting off hunger in critical parts of France, such as Paris.

A key radical was the pornographer Restif de la Bretonne, dubbed the “Rousseau of the gutter.” Restif virtually worshiped the printed word; his attachment to printing, Billington says, was “almost physiological” (p. 79).

Restif was a hardcore proto-Bolshevik. His detailed blueprint for communist society envisioned fantasies that became essential aspects of the socialist utopia: a total “community of goods” (another term Restif invented), the abolition of private property and possessions, universal forced labor, communal eating, and the abolition of money.

In one of his saner moments, Restif suggested that an appropriate site for the communist experiment might be the planet Venus — a point that brings us to the heart of the revolutionary faith. For, despite their differences and individual idiosyncrasies, the common bond that tied together the revolutionaries was the anti-Christian religion of romantic occultism, or “primitive equality.”

The Babeuf Bobouviste Conspiracy

Francois Babeuf (1760-97) was a member of the Illuminati (his pseudonym was “Gracchus”) and as such his social views reflected those of Weishaupt’s. He formed a Masonic-like association of disciples called Babouvistes (in France) who advocated violence as a means of achieving reform. They met at the dining hall of the Abbey and sometimes in the crypt. The location of the building, which was near the Pantheon, led to the name of the Order that was known as the Pantheonistes. The group at its peak had about 2,000 members.

Babeuf wrote: “In my system of Common Happiness, I desire that no individual property shall exist. The land is God’s and its fruits belong to all men in general.”

One of his disciples, the Marquis de Antonelle, a former member of the Revolutionary Tribunal, wrote: “The state of communism is the only just, the only good one; without this state of things, no peaceful and really happy societies can exist.”

In April, 1796, Babeuf wrote his Manifesto of the Equals, which was published under the title Analysis of the Doctrine of Babeuf. In it he wrote:

“No more private property in land, the land belongs to no one … the fruits of the earth belong to everyone … Vanish at last, revolting distinctions of rich and poor, of great and small, of masters and servants, of governors and governed. Let there be no difference between men than that of age and sex. Since all have the same needs and the same faculties, let there be only one education, one kind of food. They content themselves with one sun and air for all; why should not the same portion and the same quality of food suffice for each of them …”

Under his plan, workers wouldn’t be paid in money, since the owning of personal property would be abolished. Instead, payment would be made through the distribution of products. These products, stored in communal warehouses, would be equally handed out. Another notable aspect of his plan was that children would not be allowed to bear the name of their father, unless he was a man of great importance.

Knowing that people would never allow such a communistic system, they never fully revealed their stated secret plans. Instead, their propaganda centered on “equality among men” and “justice of the people,” while they criticized the “greed” of the government. The working men didn’t fully understand Babeuf’s doctrines; nevertheless, they praised his ideas.

He hailed Robespierre as “the genius in whom resided true Ideas of regeneration” (p. 73). He worked out a plan to organize all of society as a military force, along the lines of the Greek phalanx. All government would be destroyed by revolution; through revolution everything returns to chaos, and out of chaos comes “a new and regenerated world” (p. 75) [“Ordo Ab Chao” –ed]. The names of Moses, Joshua and Jesus were invoked as forerunners of the revolutionary faith.

In August, 1796, Babeuf and 45 leaders of his movement were arrested after the government found out they were making preparations to lead a revolt of the people against them. They were put on trial in a proceeding that lasted from February to May 1797. The Illuminati was secretly directing the Babouviste movement, and Babeuf testified that he was just an agent of the conspiracy:

“I attest they do for me too much honor in decorating me with the title of head of this affair. I declare that I had only a secondary and limited part in it … The heads and the leaders needed a director of public opinion. I was in the position to enlist this opinion.”

On May 28, 1797, Babeuf was hung, and many of his followers were deported.

Billington and Webster adds, “Those who have studied the Russian Revolution have observed that there is little difference between Babouvism and Bolshevism. The Third Internationale of Moscow in 1919, in its first Manifesto, traced its descent from Babeuf. The Russian Revolution may have been the ultimate goal of Babeuf, who wrote: “The French Revolution is only the forerunner of another revolution, very much greater, very much more solemn, and which will be the last!”