Moreover, “a secret lodge is then created”—the Lodge of the Philadelphes—who decide to turn their backs on esoteric folly and commit themselves, in a Masonic setting, to the happiness of man
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
This war is as ancient as the world; the Greeks figured it under the symbols of Eros and Anteros, and the Hebrews by the antagonism of Cain and Abel. It is the war of the Titans and the Gods. The two armies are everywhere invisible, disciplined and always ready for attack or counterattack. Simple-minded folk on both sides, astonished at the instant and unanimous resistance that they meet, begin to believe in vast plots cleverly organized, in hidden, all-powerful societies. Eugène Sue invents Rodin; churchmen talk of the Illuminati and of the Freemasons; Wronski dreams of his bands of mystics, and there is nothing true and serious beneath all that but the necessary struggle of order and disorder, of the instincts and of thought; the result of that struggle is balance in progress, and the devil always contributes, despite himself, to the glory of St. Michael.
Éliphas Lévi, trans Aleister Crowley, Liber XLVI The Key of the Mysteries
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.