under the veil of secrecy, dangerous plans and harmful teachings can be accepted just as well as noble intentions and profound knowledge; because not all members themselves are informed of such depraved intentions, which sometimes tend to lie hidden beneath the beautiful façade
An absolutist, monarchical government could regularly violate the “rights” of its citizens. The despot decided what privileges each individual would enjoy—and everything according to one’s station. Moreover, if whatever you say or do is automatically scrutinized for possible subversion, what chance is there for a free society? The only recourse, it would seem—short of a revolution—is to operate in the shadows.
The issue also contained a defense of the government’s right to snoop on its citizens—i.e. the opening of letters and private correspondences of people suspected of subversion—and also its right to protect loyal subjects from mail-tampering by secret societies (apparently, Hoffmann was paranoid that the Illuminati were spying on him).
the prudent but strict curtailment of the freedom of the press; the minute police supervision of all teachers and professors; and the ferreting out Illuminism in its most secret recesses…. The result will be that henceforth no one will be able to corrupt the opinion of the people … and that the real happiness of the people will no longer be threatened by the destruction of religion and the subversion of society.
Weishaupt’s concept of virtue stems from his Rousseauian influences. Jean-Jacques Rousseau equated true virtue with the purity of mankind in its infancy before it was corrupted by civilization. This virtue was still apparent in the “savage” races still being encountered by explorers in the forests and jungles of North and South America. By comparison, the despotism of western culture, with its class structures and inherent inequality, was considered inferior and contemptible.
The public character of its meetings, the almost infinite number of its initiates, and the ease with which they are admitted have removed from Masonry every trace of political inclination. And if an exception is made of some very few and almost unknown lodges in which the light is preserved in its purity, all the others are nothing more than entertainment centers or schools of superstition and slavery.
suspected Illuminatus, Lieutenant Franz Hebenstreit von Streitenfeld. The latter attended the meetings often, and expressed such Illuminist, utopian socialist views as “human misery would continue so long as men said ‘mine’ and ‘thine’ and refused to have things in common.”
Rationalism swept through Germany, more especially the illusion that man’s faculty could establish and secure a single, true, and salvation-guaranteeing religion. This rationalism expressed itself in pamphlets, in systems, in conversations, in secret societies and in many other institutions. It was not satisfied—indeed it did not even bother—to deny the distinctive doctrines of the Catholic church; its basis was rather the simple assertion: nothing in positive Christianity is acceptable except its “reasonable morality,” the doctrine that God is the father of all things, and the proposition that man’s soul is immortal; what goes beyond these three assertions is either poetry or superstition or pure nonsense.
“Wer war der Thor, wer Weiser, Bettler oder Kaiser? Ob Arm, ob Reich, im Tode gleich,” the slogan reads, or, “Who was the fool, who the wise man, beggar or king? Whether poor or rich, all’s the same in death.”