Freemasonry for centuries has been more influential than any other known secret society. Among its prominent members have been five kings of England, fourteen US presidents (including George Washington), and a veritable Who's Who of writers, artists, and politicians. Masons helped with everything from founding the United States to starting the Sicilian mafia, from connecting distant parts of the British Empire to coordinating revolutions, from being the bogeymen for the Catholic Church and fascist dictators to performing great works of charity. NASA's Buzz Aldrin even founded a Masonic lodge on the Moon.
Through it all, Freemasonry has featured in conspiracy theories about subversion, perversion, and world domination. Some of these claims, such as those positing Masonic plots to kill John Kennedy and to start the Russia-Ukraine war, are laughable. Other associations between Freemasons and nefarious deeds are more plausible; there was, for example, significant Freemason involvement in modern Italy's most explosive political scandal.
Historian John Dickie, author of the deeply researched history of Freemasonry called The Craft: How Freemasons Made the Modern World, recently joined David Priess to discuss it all. They talked about the secret rituals of Freemasonry; its origins and development in Europe and America; the importance of George Washington and other early American Masons; Masons, the French Revolution, and the Illuminati; the complicated relationship of Freemasonry and race relations in the United State; Dan Brown's bestselling novel The Last Symbol; the rise and fall of Masonic influence in 20th century America; why Freemasonry is such an easy target for conspiracy theorists; and the links among Italian Freemasons, organized crime, and political elites.
Chatter is a production of Lawfare and Goat Rodeo. This episode was produced and edited by Cara Shillenn of Goat Rodeo. Podcast theme by David Priess, featuring music created using Groovepad. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
Among the works discussed in this episode:
The book Blood Brotherhoods: A History of Italy's Three Mafias, by John Dickie
The book The Craft: How Freemasons Made the Modern World, by John Dickie
The movie The Godfather Part II
The book The Lost Symbol, by Dan Brown
The TV show The Flintstones
The book American Freemasons: Three Centuries of Building Communities, by Mark Tabbert
The book A Deserving Brother: George Washington and Freemasonry, by Mark Tabbert
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