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Literally, the "enlightened".

Now subject of a lot of ConspiracyThinking

Quora Answer : What is the Illuminati, and who are they?

May 13, 2014

The fun thing about the Illuminati is that they show us how humans struggle to explain and reason about the world.

So before there was the Illuminati there was God. And when stuff happened in the world it was because God planned it or decreed it.

Then, as people started moving away from assuming God was the explanation, we got a new thing : Science. And science said that things happened because of the outcome of mechanistic natural processes that followed simple laws.

And that was great because it seemed lots of things DID come out of those simple laws and mechanistic processes.

But not everything was amenable to that kind of explanation. Particularly big social / economic / historical events. Computers and maths help us understand these a bit, but most of the models of society and economies and history are pretty weak. There are way too many variables to be handled. And the models we do have don't predict (or explain very well) wars or economic crashes or other striking events.

So people have supplemented science with a different kind of explanation. That of "great men". Individuals who steer history through their will-power, charisma and clever strategising.

That was fine when you could clearly identify who those people were. Eg. Napoleon, Washington, Steve Jobs etc. But there isn't always someone that's so easy to point at. That's where the Illuminati come in : they're a place-holder, a variable name like x, which represents the people who are making this stuff happen, even though you can't actually put a concrete name to them. We need them for this kind of conspiracy / social-network shaped explanation.

Transcluded from ConspiracyTheories

More detail

What do I mean when I say conspiracy theories play the role for NetoCracy that religion did under feudalism?

Religion has two roles :

  • a body of knowledge (cosmology)
  • a source / explanation / justification of that body of knowledge (epistemology)

In the first place the religion is a collection of cosmological beliefs about the world. That collection of beliefs echoes the political structure of the feudal society, with an absolute ruler at the centre of the moral universe, and subsidiaries, courtiers, champions etc. The ruler creates the order of the universe (and by extension) the politics of society.

Religion also "explains" how we got that knowledge. God reveals it to us - via prophets and priests. The Godliness of this knowledge is it's own justification. (Compare OntologicalArgument) It also explains the errors : the devil's lies and misdirections.

Under ProjectMan, religion is replaced by science. A cosmology without God at the centre pulling the strings. Knowledge comes from and is justified by man's own research endeavour. The political organization of society, likewise. Rulers are justified in ruling the people only if it's for the people. Or better yet, elected by, and at the mercy of the people. Science is justified by the free-exercising of rational enquiry. And the free discussion and collaboration among men and women.

The equivalent for NetoCracy must play both roles : cosmology and epistemology.

Conspiracy theories as we normally understand them : who did what to who? who influenced who? who told who? who was secretly pulling the strings, financing the operation? These are a political cosmology. A body of knowledge to be researched. To be wrenched from the noumenal cloud of unknowing.

As cosmology, I extend the term "conspiracy theory" to refer to gossip of all kinds : celebrity and local; to refer to SocialNetworkAnalysis in the enterprise, to some anthropological and sociological observations. The moral universe is the NetworkSociety.

Equally this new "religion" must have its epistemology. Once again, a broad notion of "conspiracy" serves as a starting point. The media in its guise of investigative journalism rooting out conspiracy, as the fourth estate holding political power to account, is again both source and justification. And media distortions, FakeNews, explain errors too.

In the enterprise, a form of KnowledgeManagement focused on the social is increasingly important. We think of connectors and bridges, mavens and sneezers : the elements of SocialNetworkAnalysis. And again the network is its own justification. A good network structure will make ours a good knowledge organization. A bad explains failure. This is NetworkEpistemology.

Interestingly, as under ProjectMan it appears that free, rational discussion is what's valorized as the source of knowledge. At first sight, this may add weight to the "no netocracy, merely continuation of capitalism" response to NetoCracy.

But free, rational discussion is also noticably spun in a different way in this new economic mode. No longer is free-speech a dialogue between the lone rational agent and a generalized other. (Compare SyntheticMicroAnalysis) The explicit connections count. Freedom is essential but must be supplimented with approval and reputation to be justified. (Note, this isn't the same as appeal to a religious or political authority in the feudal sense.) It's an appeal to free enquiry structured by the social network. (See also DisputationArena)

There's also, of course, a strong focus on trying to discredit by association. "These are all lies because they come from that channel"

(So either replacement or InformationalistReductionOfCapitalism which casts the earlier mode in a new light.)

So, knowledge is no longer created by individualist hero-scientists (Galileo, Newton, Darwin, Einstein) insisting on the right to speculate and publish freely however controversial their theories might be. Knowledge becomes the product of well-organized networks and people well positioned to take advantage of the alchemy of the net : SocialOriginOfGoodIdeas, TheNetworkIsTheBlog / EditorializingIsParallelizable, NetworksCreateValue)

As NetoCracy grows, both these cosmological and epistemological aspects will grow. We'll be interested in the network as object of intense scrutiny and speculation. And we'll appeal more and more to the network as justification for our knowledge.

See also :

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