Home > Book Walkthroughs, conspiracy theory, Proofs of a Conspiracy > The Sages of France: Proofs of a Conspiracy…pp. 137-139

The Sages of France: Proofs of a Conspiracy…pp. 137-139

The German Union conspiracy is in full description, and again, I have to comment that it is about damn time. The entire book has been about tracing relationships, the neophytes in Continental Masonry, and gossip about Weishaupt’s failed Illuminati, but it’s been lacking in an actual conspiracy. Sure, there have been the occasional comments that they were spreading documents relating to the falseness of Christianity or the Church; and documents concerning the virtues of democracy; that however is not a conspiracy as they did this in the open. 

Now, Robison from his seat in Scotland is going to discuss a German reading society that wants to expand literacy throughout the German-speaking states. Remember, this is the conspiracy–and it has to be a conspiracy because some of the documents that they will encourage to be read will be banned by order of whatever regional monarch is in charge. Their plan is also to set up an interconnected library system to facilitate reading. 

Robison gives us the descriptions of the various ranks and duties of the members of this German Union: Alderman, Mesopolites, Men, and Cadets. Each of these has a varied role but it is as uninteresting as what a normal alderman does so the various ranks I’m skipping over. 

Robison references the book (which if we remember from last week he admits is incomplete) and its list of names. The list though is surprising because we should not have expected certain names to be one the list, but also that there were names left off the list. Robison clearly has an idea of who he thinks is supposed to be part of this vast campaign of literacy and document sharing. The documents that this union is going to publish and share are the works of the Enlightenment–as I have discussed, Robison does not like the ideas of the Enlightenment. Perhaps my favorite reason is that the women attend the Opera bare-armed in France. 

The list of names cannot be confirmed. One person on the list, the only woman, swore that she had nothing to do with it. She could be lying, but I’m more of the disposition to believe her. This list comes from a work that Robison admits is incomplete, that appeared at the publisher anonymously, and may just be a list of people that whoever wrote it would like to slander. We have no way of knowing who wrote it. 

What’s also of interest is that Robison again tips his hand: 

Some of these (authors) have in their writings given evidence proofs of their misconception of the simple truths, whether dogmatical or historical, of revealed religion, or of their inclination to twist and manufacture them so as to chime in with the religion and morality of the Sages of France.”

The “Sages of France” is telling. He can only mean a few people like Diderot, Voltaire, Montesquieu, and Rousseau. These were the people whose writings influenced the revolution in France and the American Colonies (especially the latter two). There is not a group of thinkers more infamous for the criticisms of autocracy, theology, and the relationship between the two. Rousseau wrote that man is born in liberty, but is everywhere in chains. Montesquieu believed that a separation of powers through the law was the only method to maintain liberty. Diderot wrote, “let us strangle the last kings with the guts of the last priests (though he is popularizing a sentiment by Jean Meslier who wrote a similar idea about fifty years prior that Voltaire had published). Voltaire himself had no love of the church or the kings; it was he that wrote that “if they can make you believe in absurdities they can make you commit atrocities (borrowing a sentiment of the Roman Lucretius).” 

Would the writings of the German Union try and emulate the style of the French philosophers? YES. They would do so during this time period because the dominance of German philosophy is still in the precooking phase (yes yes, Kant is writing about this time, but his work isn’t going to catch on for a little bit–Kant still needs to read Hume in order to get inspired). The intellectual force in Europe at this period is in France. Unlike other intellectual circles, the French philosophers had a very tangible impact in the Revolutions that even people who would normally ignore such things were acutely aware of. The Scottish Enlightenment is going to create such revolutionary ideas as Hume’s skepticism and Adam Smith’s capitalism–and is in direct competition with the French. This is probably another reason that Robison is singling them out. 

He then moves on to the most important document from the book. Number 5 (V). And I’m…not impressed. This most important document concerns the group addressing how they are going to pay for all of this. This is the important part? Uh, ok. The biggest problem is that the group recognizes that all of this printing is going to cost money and that there should be some sharing of this burden. This solution comes from the entire group as a conference…and I’m super confused as to why this is the important part. Is Robison objecting to proto-socialist solutions to a group’s economic issue? That would be silly, but then again, he is objecting to learning that is outside the approval of religious authorities.  

This book is really failing at providing a conspiracy qua conspiracy. The closest we are getting right now is this reading society. I’ll take it because we are only halfway through the book but for something that is so influential, I still think we should be getting more out of it. Though I am entirely convinced that even Nesta Webster has not read it.

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