Conspiracy Theories

“Not every conspiracy is a theory.” So said an ad campaign introducing a new TV series a number of years ago. I don’t remember what the series was about, but I do remember the tag line.

I take it for granted that there are real conspirators afoot in the world who do not have the best interests of average citizens at heart. For reasons I will explain shortly, I doubt that there is one controlling group of conspirators who actually direct world affairs. However, it’s easy to see why some people would subscribe to a belief in an overarching conspiracy to subvert traditional institutions and freedoms. The mystery is why more people don’t believe it.

In light of all the looming disasters on the world stage, it amazes me how many people remain blissfully unaware of the threats. Whether or not the dangers are the result of a concerted global conspiracy, the world that conspiracy theorists envision—an Orwellian world in which the slightest misstep will land you in a gulag—is perfectly feasible. Given that many world leaders seem to have little or no allegiance to their people, the wonder is not that some people are looking for an ultimate explanation, but that so many people see nothing wrong.

But while there is good reason to suspect that evil is afoot, there is less reason to suppose that there is one unified evil agenda masterminded by a handful of conspirators. Assuming that such a group had a unified purpose, it would be difficult to believe that they had much control over world affairs since world governments so often work at cross purposes.

In short, if there is a single ruling elite, one would have to call into question their competence. According to conspiracy theorists, the goal of the masterminds is one-world government. But that is only to their benefit if they control it. It’s beginning to look, however, as though matters are spinning out of the control of those we usually assume to be in control. We tend to think that Western elites are the ones in charge, but, if so, why are they ceding so much power to non-Western forces? If a single world government emerges, it looks increasingly as though it will be an Islamic-run entity. The closest thing we have right now to a world government is the United Nations, and the UN is well on the road to becoming a wholly owned subsidiary of the OIC—the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation. With 56 member states, the OIC is already the largest voting bloc in the UN.

The point is that leftists and communists are not the only ones who seek a unified world government. One of the dearest wishes of many Muslims around the world is to re-establish the Caliphate—the Muslim empire that was disbanded by the secular Turkish government in 1924. The vision of one world under the rule of Allah has always been a powerful force in Islam, and perhaps more so today than ever. As with the Euro elites, the aim is to create a borderless society in which allegiance is due not to nation-states but to a larger whole—the larger whole in this case being Islam.

But what happens when one borderless vision collides with another borderless vision? Right now, millions of Muslim migrants are taking advantage of Europe’s open-borders policy to stake out more territory for the Caliphate. It’s difficult to see how the wealthy bankers, businessmen, and politicians who supposedly control Europe’s destiny will benefit from a flood of Muslim migrants into Europe. Whatever else may result, the importation of millions of largely unskilled people whose interest in assimilation begins and ends with integration into the welfare system is not good news for Europe’s economy. If the aim of the one-world governors is to make the world a more secure and profitable place for themselves, how does the Islamization of the planet further that aim? If they are really in charge, they‘re beginning to look more like master bunglers than masterminds. Like Pandora, they have set in motion forces that they are unable to control.

There are other reasons to doubt that a small secret cabal is running the show. For instance, what looks from the outside like a conspiracy may simply be the effect of like-minded people acting alike. When presidents and prime ministers pursue similar policies or respond in almost identical ways to world events, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are simultaneously receiving orders from above. It more likely means that they have been subject to similar educations, similar media, and similar forms of peer pressure. On the other hand, those who scoff at theories about master conspiracies shouldn’t thereby deceive themselves into thinking that there are no subversive groups. There are, in fact, many different groups with different but sometimes overlapping agendas who seek to control the levers of power. The trouble is, their existence is so well-documented and their aims so apparent that the term “conspiracy” may no longer fit the bill. Indeed, the search for shadowy secret societies may only serve as a red herring to distract us from all the hiding-in-plain-sight organizations that are right under our noses. For example, one of my acquaintances knows all about the Illuminati, the Rothschilds, and the Bilderberg group, but had never heard of George Soros.

Conspiracy? In the U.S., the left’s war against America is so far advanced and the majority so easily deceived that it’s hardly necessary for subversives to go under the radar. Groups like the Soros-funded Center for American Progress, the ACLU, the Southern Poverty Law Center, Media Matters, the SEIU, and numerous other organizations can pursue their leftist agendas confident that they have the full backing of the left-leaning media, the left-leaning academies, and the left-leaning foundations.

They can also count on average Americans to mistake them for mainstream moderate groups whose only interest is the public interest. It is said that the devil’s greatest achievement in modern times is to convince people that he doesn’t exist. The great deception of leftist groups is to convince people that they are not leftists. Likewise, one of the great achievements of radical Islamist groups in the U.S. is to convince people that they are merely moderate Muslim civil rights groups. Of course, the latter have been able to do this with considerable assistance from the former. One of the little-noticed “conspiracies” of our time is the tacit alliance between leftists and Islamists. It tends to be ignored because it doesn’t fit as neatly into the usual conspiracy boxes.

Still, you don’t have to be a CIA agent or an investigative reporter to notice the close cooperation between the two radical forces. You only have to watch the news. The sympathy between the two is apparent in little things (the media’s fawning over Ahmed, the “clock boy”) and in big things (our leftist administration’s fawning over the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and the Ayatollahs in Iran). Since the aims of the two movements are essentially irreconcilable, they will eventually come to a (probably bloody) parting of the ways. In the meantime they can do a lot of harm to the rest of us.

The really astonishing thing about the parallel power grabs by the leftists and Islamists is the failure of John Q. Public to comprehend what is happening and his failure to comprehend it at a time when the “conspiracy” phase of the revolution is largely a thing of the past. What’s the point of talking about a conspiracy to subvert traditional institutions when the Supreme Court openly votes in favor of same-sex “marriage” or when federal authorities are forcing an Illinois school district to allow a transgender male to use the girls showering facilities on the grounds that “this is a basic civil right”? What’s the point of talking about a conspiracy to undermine national security when the president is drastically downsizing our military while at the same time opening a pathway for Iran to develop nuclear weapons?

When so few people are paying attention to what is being done in the open, it may be unnecessary to resort to theories about one grand conspiracy that explains every calamity. On the other hand, there is one particular conspiracy theory it would be unwise to discount. Christians believe (or should believe) that there is a single dark force that aims not at one-world order, but at one-world disorder. Scripture refers to Satan as “the god of this world” and “the prince of this world.” From a Christian point of view, it is perfectly reasonable to assume that various destructive movements are wittingly or unwittingly serving his agenda.

Saul Alinsky dedicated Rules for Radicals to Lucifer, “the very first radical.” Did Alinsky see himself as a conscious collaborator with dark powers, or was he merely trying to be clever? In either case, his work is a prime example of what happens when the master planners of this world unleash forces they can’t control. Dostoevsky understood Alinsky’s type very well. His novel about revolutionaries in Tsarist Russia is aptly titled Demons (sometimes translated as The Devils or The Possessed).

Of course, in suggesting that the one master conspirator is Satan, one runs the risk of being thought more than a little nutty—even by other Christians. While the devil has not been successful in convincing all Christians of his non-existence, he has been able to convince a great many of them that he has little or nothing to do with world disorder. For many clergymen, it is far more fashionable to ascribe all evils to worldly causes such as poverty and oppression than to the devil. Even Christians who are aware of the need to struggle with evil too often conceive of that struggle solely as an interior struggle within each individual soul. As a result, they may tend to ignore the need to battle against worldly forces. When St. Paul wrote that “we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness,” I don’t think he meant to say that we should not struggle against earthly powers, but rather that in order to stand against them we must be aware of the powers that stand behind them.

Even if Satan is the source of disorder, there is a danger in ascribing too much power to him. In a way, it’s akin to the danger that some conspiracy theorists fall into when they ascribe all evils to a secret but all-powerful group of conspirators. In concentrating on the shadowy center of power which is far beyond the reach of ordinary people, there is a temptation to do nothing about all those lesser groups which can be seen, and named, and combated. There is a similar temptation to passivity in Christians who believe that Satan is so fully in control of the world agenda that there is nothing else to do except pray and wait for the Second Coming. Christians should pray. But they should act when they can act, and especially now when so many of the conspiracies have morphed into open warfare.

William Kilpatrick


William Kilpatrick taught for many years at Boston College. He is the author of several books about cultural and religious issues, including Why Johnny Can’t Tell Right From Wrong; and Christianity, Islam and Atheism: The Struggle for the Soul of the West and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Jihad. His articles have appeared in numerous publications, including Catholic World Report, National Catholic Register, Aleteia, Saint Austin Review, Investor’s Business Daily, and First Things. His work is supported in part by the Shillman Foundation. For more on his work and writings, visit his website,