Conspiracies fail. With that out of the way, we can now move onto fluffy rainbows and majestic cat pictures!
Right, so, conspiracies are a staple of urban fantasy, military fiction, science-fiction, etc., but the focus of today will be on the Grandmaster conspiracies: The Freemasons, MJ-12, The Illuminati, Rosicrucianism, the Patriots (Lalilulelo), and the Milkmen (It’s true!). See, most conspiracies are either defused, fall apart, or never quite take off. The ones we don’t hear about? Yes, they were thwarted.
There’s a difference between criminal conspiracies (organized crime) and ideological (secret societies) conspiracies; although, the two can intersect at times. Before you create a 1000 year old Assassin’s Creed, take time to consider the following possibilities.
People Die: I know, shocking, isn’t it? One of the biggest mistakes in Urban Fantasy and Fantasy in general is long running conspiracies headed by the same person. Unless the person has a naturally extended lifespan, or some bodyhopping power, leaders of conspiracies die. Case in point, the Knights Templar were a monastic warrior-order who gained financial and political independence from various monarchies. In a sense, they were their own autonomous political unit. This upset kings, who at the time were staring to lose central power, because well, monarchs in the 14th century did not want, nor could afford, lesser lords from undermining their authority, in the eyes of their kingdom or God. The Templars were tortured and then executed, and with it, their entire order died in mere moments.
When people die, especially cutting off the power figures, and without a solid exit or backup plan, such orders and societies die naturally.
People Want Power/Factionalism: I’m an American, and as the Founding Fathers themselves (along with the dozen other lesser known signers, supporters, etc.) debated furiously in the Federalist Papers, they realized the dangers of factionalism and aimed to quell it.
Well, they failed that one.
We, us humans, crave power, even if we say we don’t. It’s something we all aim for, even if it’s the power to control the remote. Still, when it comes to politics and power, there is no such thing as an eternal reign. Long-lived? Yes. But all kingdoms, rise, fall, and eras end. So before you create your master plan puppetmaster who’s lived for a thousand years, you have to make sure your organization/society does not allow for the creation of factionalism. Maybe all your agents/enforcers have to take a vow of fealty by binding their souls to their Mistress of Doom, or some pact/security measure to prevent said society’s leader from getting usurped in classic Machiavellian fashion.
If there’s no check against factionalism, power struggles ensue. This is the law of realism, in which nation-states and political actors compete for resources and prestige.
Conspiracies succeed: The goal of any political group is to sustain its existence. But some conspiracies exist for a simple goal: kill the Prime Minister of Malasyia (Zoolander), eliminate Charles De Gaulle (Day of the Jackal), etc. When these conspiracies succeed, the conspirators generally dissolve their alliance. What’s the point in sustaining something that’s accomplished its goal? The more loose ends there are, the worse it is for everyone involved. This isn’t a matter of moral measurements; it’s a matter of common sense and, “Why are we still talking to each other a decade later after we killed that bad guy?” Sometimes, when it is over, it is over.
People go dark for a reason, and they bury their conspiracy in the dirt.
No Money? No Goals: Contrary to fiction, groups need funding. If Director Carmen Ortega can’t secure donations from her mysterious benefactors of dubious banking dynasties, oh no, we can’t supply the evil mercenary army to guard our mining operation of ancient Nephilim tech. Contrary to most conspiracy fiction, especially some evil capitalist venture, if there’s no return on an investment, well, I can fund someone else. Even the glorious anarchist revolution realizes they must use the capitalist system, through manipulation of trade loopholes, obscure economic law arguments from 1905, to bring about their vision of a borderless, nationless world.
If conspiracies don’t have proper funding, they can’t function, simple as cheese eating. There’s no eternal Philosopher’s Legacy. And there’s no microfilm with bank accounts for unlimited monopoly money printing presses, either.
The Clash of Ideologies: Republicans vs. Democrats. Athens vs. Sparta. Greece vs Persia. The KMT vs The Chinese Communist Party. Communists vs. Fascists. For as long as humans have engaged in the political, on the micro and the macro scale, the clash of ideologies is at the heart of our political struggles. “My side is the right way, and you must obey me” is the rallying cry of every single political party, actor, and philosophy since time immemorial. And this last reason solidifies it: there is no perfect world. The vision of a Communist utopia inherently clashes with the vision of a libertarian Objectivist utopia. So long as there are opposing ideologies with sincere proponents of them, there will never be a far-reaching long-standing globalist conspiracy.
There may be local and regional conspiracies, but the extent, and manpower, regulation, funding, and logistics to support it? Utter twaddle.
Without humans’ desire for power? Perhaps.
Without leaders dying? Perhaps.
Without the development of factionalism? Perhaps.
Without a lack of funding? Perhaps.
Without differing ideologies? Perhaps.
But even then, New World Orders have to contend with political actors who have far more reach, far more power, and far more to lose if controlled by a shady cabal.
We call them governments. And the Leviathan will not be controlled by the whispering serpent.