|“||Men are unfit as they are, and must be formed; each class must be the school of trial for the next.||”|
|- Adam Weishaupt, founder of the Illuminati|
A "power behind the throne" secret world government
The Illuminati is a secret society dedicated to the spiritual perfection of the individual and the clandestine domination of all civilized institutions. The name means "the illuminated ones," or those with the means to see that to which others are blind.
The Illuminati are a society founded by Adam Weishaupt in 1776. According to a former member (Stanton Dowd), however, aspects of the Illuminati are claimed to have been in existence since at least the time of the Crusades and Illuminati operations have been largely covertly funded by banks run by the Knights Templar.
Dedicated to controlling or influencing the world from behind the scenes, the Illuminati is believed to have reached the peak of its power during the 20th century according to its former leader Lucius DeBeers. Heavily involved in political intrigue as well as scientific development, the Illuminati leadership at various times has consisted of major captains of industry, important scientists, and political leaders.
The Illuminati leadership realized that it would need to control both financial matters and technology. To this end they created two new branches of the Illuminati: Majestic 12 (in 1947) and the Bilderberg Group (in 1954). Majestic-12, as the Illuminati's technology and communications leader, gave out and suppressed technology, controlled both legal and illegal drug distribution, and introduced diseases. MJ12 was also tasked with influencing (and, if possible, managing) the world's intelligence organizations.
Not much else is known about Illuminati activities during the 20th century, but according to Lucius DeBeers, John F. Kennedy is placed into power with the help of Illuminati conspirators, and later assassinated when he fell out of favor.
When JC Denton and Nicolette DuClare enter the secret cellar while searched the DuClare's chateau, Tracer Tong informs JC that the DuClares moved into the chateau after the previous owner was sent to a Nazi death camp for hiding Jewish families in the cellar, indicating that the DuClares, and by extension the Illuminati, likely were affiliated with Nazi Germany. They could possibly have invested in the Third Reich before and during World War II.
According to the Deus Ex Bible, the Illuminati extensively supported both the Soviet Union and communist China during the Cold War. The Soviet Union was a major power base for the group, but despite this it still collapsed, illustrating that while the group's control is vast, it is not absolute. Meanwhile, the communist experiment in China represented the Illuminati's first genuinely successful experiment in centralized government; a welcome change from the less successful experiment in Russia and Eastern Europe.
Utilizing the vast resources at their disposal, the Illuminati seek to gain complete control over the progress made in mechanical augmentation research by establishing Zhao Yun Ru's company Tai Yong Medical as the market leader. This is achieved through takeovers of other companies, protests and speeches of Humanity Front, biased media reports using the network of Picus TV and clandestine military operations by Belltower Associates and the Tyrants.
In early 2027, the Tyrants attack the HQ of Sarif Industries, to kidnap the companies' head scientist Megan Reed and her team. The researchers are kept at the Omega Ranch in Singapore for six months, tasked with several projects that finally lead to the creation of a new biochip that can be remotely set to severely restrict the functions of the enhancements of mechanically augmented people, which would greatly increase the Illuminati's control of the world. After causing all augmentations to experience glitches, the biochip is distributed as a solution for them by the WHO in all LIMB clinics.
However, Hugh Darrow, who pretended to be an associate of the Illuminati, had different plans and wanted to show the dangers of augmentation technology, to stop people from using it. To do so, he gave Reed instructions that secretly changed the function of the biochip to cause strong hallucinations, driving the user insane.
Shortly after Darrow activates the signal, Sarif Industries' head of security Adam Jensen travels to its point of origin, Panchea and stops its broadcast, killing Zhao before doing so. Jensen afterwards has the possibility to reveal the plot of the Illuminati to the entire world, but does not necessarily have to do so.
Between 2027 and 2052Edit
But all was not well for the Illuminati, however. Between 2027 and 2052, their control began to erode. Plague, disasters, and the dissolution of the middle class weakened the Illuminati's grip on society. Most devastating of all was the rise of the global information net, which allowed people to communicate and exchange knowledge without Illuminati interference. The most determined Illuminati efforts—like the Echelon project designed to monitor all net traffic—met with limited success at best.
At this time the US government seemed on the verge of collapse after being ravaged by several diseases and the 2030 earthquake, which turned much of the west coast into a disaster area. The Illuminati, based largely in Europe and Asia, decided to allow the US to collapse in hopes that it could then be more easily pushed into suspending its constitution and accepting one world government.
When the US failed to collapse, instead righting itself, and a new breed of terrorist arose outside of the control of the Illuminati (even attacking the Illuminati leadership themselves), some among the Illuminati suggested drastic action. The Illuminati chose to do nothing. Lucius DeBeers stepped down from active leadership due to health problems and was put in stasis by his successor Morgan Everett.
Everett's former protégé, Bob Page, became disillusioned with the Illuminati and it's lack of action, and broke away with the Majestic-12, and the Illuminati's bankers and treasurers, the Knights Templar, were destroyed by Interpol with the help of Joseph Manderley.
By 2035, Majestic-12 had taken control of the political, financial, military, and religious arms of the Illuminati. They became the de facto rulers of Europe and Asia. It was decided that the United States would be the first nation to fall before them.
The Illuminati were at risk of being overthrown by Majestic-12, and attempted to recruit JC Denton to help them defeat the more powerful splinter group. They also funded both the NSF and the French resistance group Silhouette.
After the CollapseEdit
|“||We are humankind’s servants, not their puppeteers. We knew that human society could not respond to a single voice, so we engineered these organizations. With these fronts, we can optimally lead civilization toward a bright future.||”|
|- Deus Ex: Invisible War, 2072|
Morgan Everett has either died or stepped down as leader, and Nicolette DuClare and Chad Dumier take over as new leaders. They reform the capitalist WTO and create its rival, the Order Church, a religious group, to disguise their true intentions of controlling the world. They have their own type of elite troopers. Paralleling this, they also own two rival coffee shops, Pequod's and Queequeg's. If Alex chooses to help them, they bring about a new era of control called the 'Age of Light', where they control the entire world from a space station.
An inner-most circle called the Council of Five led the Illuminati (with one Prima Illuminatus among the five). During 2027, the Council of Five consisted of Lucius DeBeers, Morgan Everett, Bob Page, Beth DuClare, and Stanton Dowd. It is unknown if a five-member inner circle still existed in the new Illuminati following the events of 2052.
The organizational structure of the Illuminati shares features with Freemasonry as well as more ancient religious mystery cults such as Mithraism. The hierarchy of the Illuminati is based around "degrees of illuminism" in which higher levels confer greater access to the secrets of the organization. This organizational secrecy is intended to inspire loyalty among new recruits, although the Illuminati are implied to directly recruit leaders of industry and scientists directly into the upper echelons of leadership. In order to progress to higher degrees of illuminism, members are obligated to practice Hatha Yoga exercises. According to Stanton Dowd, the Illuminati's only real secret is a technique of meditation - "a way of imaging your body dissolving into light." At the top of the Illuminati leadership is the "Supreme Enlightened" - a title which has been held by Lucius DeBeers for most of the 20th century.
During Bob Page's restructuring of former Illuminati elements into Majestic-12, he replaced the pseudo-religious "degrees of illuminism" hierarchy with "secular" security clearances - each of which is named after angels. According to Stanton Dowd, Page never progressed beyond 'Master of Tyre' due to consistently sleeping during morning yoga exercises. Curiously 'Master of Tyre' is also the name of one of the real world Allied Masonic Degrees.