The Secret Society That Rules The World

By Bas Spliet

“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen machanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of.”[1]

Edward Bernays, nephew of Sigmund Freud and founding father of modern propaganda, 1928

Since the dawn of civilisation, kings, emperors and other men and women of wealth have wanted to rule the world, but none has succeeded. Every empire that arose on the blood of the people it subjected and enslaved – the ancient kingdoms of Egypt and Assyria, the successive Persian and Chinese empires, the Roman empire, the Islamic caliphates, the Ottoman empire, the various European colonial empires and even the communist regime of the Soviet Union – all eventually fell. Even the United States’ global primacy, a logic result of the end of the Cold War, is now being tested by re-emerging superpowers and increasing calls for a more multilateral world order. But these are all well-known attempts at establishing world supremacy. Since the rise of democracy, people – not tyrants – were suddenly said to be in charge. Therefore, if one wanted to obtain or maintain hegemony, one had to find a way to shape world order through hidden means while simultaneously convincing the people the gradual change was of their own making.


One man who understood this early on was Cecil Rhodes, an ardent believer in British imperialism and white supremacism who aside from his lucrative career as mining magnate served as prime minister of Cape Colony and co-founded Rhodesia, a colony established by the British South Africa Company eventually named after himself. To this very day, De Beers company, the colonial diamond exploitation company he founded, tries to whitewash Rhodes’ legacy thusly:

He had arrived in South Africa as a sickly young lad of 17, and within a few short years, had achieved wealth and power, and had secured not only South Africa’s pre-eminence in the world diamond business, but his own place of honour in the history of the country. He had played a significant role in changing a poor and backward land into a dynamic and powerful country. Cecil Rhodes prospered in a time where personal acquisition and entrepreneurial enterprise were indistinguishable, but the legacy he left was overwhelming in its generosity to his adopted country. […]

Upon his many bequests, he bestowed the renowned Rhodes Scholarship, which is awarded annually on merit to British Commonwealth, American, German and South African students to study at Oxford University. Cecil John Rhodes chose to be buried facing north, at world’s view in the Matopos hills, the granite hills south of Bulawayo. The fact that he was a man of great vision was once again underlined when he uttered his now legendary last words on his deathbed: ‘So much to do, so little done.’

But this is history told by the victors. As he had fought all of his life with severe illness, Rhodes had always understood that, because there was “so much to do,” he could never do it alone in his short lifespan. Thus, already in 1877, at the age of 23, he privately unveiled his true “great vision” when he drafted the first version of his testament. In it, he proposed nothing less than to establish a secret society with the sole objective of world rule by the British empire:

I contend that we are the finest race in the world and that the more of the world we inhabit, the better it is for the human race. […] I look into history and I read the story of the Jesuits; I see what they were able to do in a bad cause and I might say under bad leaders. At present day I become a member of the Masonic order. I see the wealth and power they possess [and] the influence they hold and I think over their ceremonies, and I wonder that a large body of men can devote themselves to what at times appear the most ridiculous and absurd rites without an object and without an end. The idea gleaming and dancing before ones [sic] eyes like a will-of-the-wisp at last frames itself into a plan. Why should we not form a secret society with but one object: the furtherance of the British empire and the bringing of the entire uncivilised world under British rule, for the recovery of the United States, for the making [out of] the Anglo-Saxon race but one Empire. What a dream, but yet it is probable, it is possible.

On a different note, speaking of the use of symbols, in these clubs, most items receive a symbolic significance. This is a common element, in truth, for secret societies – picking out individual items that point towards the societies’ goals, inclinations, purposes, and so on. We could take the example of diamonds, which have been utilized in this respect. At the moment, Heart in Diamond produces synthetic, cremation jewellery, whose specific meaning goes beyond what is seen.

Leaving that aside, thanks to Carroll Quigley, an American professor of history specialised in the evolution of civilisations, we now know that Rhodes’ dream became reality in the formation of an immensely powerful and secretive Anglo-American network which, according to Quigley, advanced Rhodes’ desire “to federate the English-speaking peoples and to bring all the habitable portions of the world under their control.”[2] Quigley was no uncredentialled conspiracy theorist. He was a prominent Harvard-educated historian who taught at the Ivy League universities of Georgetown, Princeton and Harvard, in addition to working as an advisor to both the US Department of Defense and the US Navy.[3] In his own words, he knew of the existence and operation of this secret network “because I have studied it for twenty years and was permitted for two years, in the early 1960s, to examine its papers and secret records.”[4] After publishing Tragedy and Hope, his 1311 pages-strong book on the network’s role in the rise of the Western world, in 1966, however, the secret society members who had approached him were apparently displeased that he published the inner workings of the network, as a result of which the publisher, MacMillan Company, refused to reprint the seminal work when it quickly ran out of stock and prevented Quigley from regaining the publication rights.[5] “Powerful influences in this country,” Quigley concluded in private writing, “want me, or at least my work, suppressed.”[6]

Because of his fascination with secret societies, and because he always remained favourable to the network’s goal despite disagreeing with some of its methods, Quigley was already in 1949 able to write a history of the secret society and its morphing into a truly Anglo-American establishment thanks to testimony of “persons close to the Group” which he juxtaposed to “documentary evidence available to everyone.”[7] Because the architects of this “Group,” according to Quigley, were “satisfied to possess the reality rather than the appearance of power,”[8] they decided to draw their inspiration from similar occult organisations of the past – such as the Illuminati, the Jesuits and the Freemasons – and thus set up a “rings within rings” structure wherein the centre ring would control the outer rings. In The Anglo-American establishment, which was only published posthumously in 1981, he wrote:

The plan of organization provided for an inner circle, to be known as ‘The Society of the Elect’, and an outer circle, to be known as ‘The Association of Helpers’. Within the Society of the Elect, the real power was to be exercised by the leader, and a ‘Junta of Three’.[9]

When the society was founded in 1891 after years of planning, Rhodes was to be the leader, and the ‘Junta of Three’ were represented by Wiliam T. Stead, Britain’s most famous journalist; Lord Esher, confident of Queen Victoria and later the most influential advisor of King Edward VII and King George V; and Alfred Milner, a colonial administrator  who, although he was relatively unknown to the outside world, became the group’s leader after Rhodes’ death in 1902.[10] A fifth member of “The Society of the Elect” close to the top of the pyramid was Lord Nathanial Rothschild, whose financial wealth had helped Rhodes to monopolise the South African mines of the Kimberley area and whose family’s financial and political power over Europe was likely without parallel in history up to that point.[11] As both Milner and Rhodes graduated from Oxford University, college campuses of this prestigious university became the principal recruiting ground for the secret society. While a few inner core players unquestionably knew that they were members of a group devoted to a common purpose, however, Quigley notes that many might not have been aware of their membership and rose through the ranks of society and advanced the network’s interests unaware of the fact that the inner core influenced their thinking, their career paths and their actions by what he called “personal persuasion, patronage distribution, and social pressure.”[12] In his two books, Quigley meticulously explains who’s who in the inner workings of the group and connects the dots between various overt political formations such as the Rhodes Scholarships, the Round Table Group, the Royal Institute of International Affairs and the Council on Foreign Relations. He concludes, however, that the core power always, at least up until the time of his writings, remained in the hands of Milner’s group and his successors.[13] As such, they were able to control both sides of the political isle in Britain:

Until 1890 or so [the secret society] contained members of both political parties, including the leaders, [long-time Conservative Prime Minister] Salisbury and [long-time Liberal Prime Minister] Gladstone. […] After the split in the Liberal Party in 1886, it was the members of the Cecil Bloc who became Unionists – that is, the Lyttletons, the Wyndhams, the Cavendishes. As a result, the Cecil Bloc became increasingly a political force. Gladstone remained socially a member of it, and so did his protégé, John Morley, but almost all the other members of the Bloc were Unionists or Conservatives. The chief exceptions were the four leaders of the Liberal Party after Gladstone, who were strong imperialists: Rosebery, [who was married into the Rothschild family and was one of the trustees of Rhodes’ final will], Asquith, Edward Grey, and Haldane. These four supported the Boer War, grew increasingly anti-German, supported the World War in 1914, and were close to the Milner Group politically, intellectually, and socially.[14]


Unsatisfied with near absolute control over British political life, the powerful financiers behind the Milner Group remained true to Rhodes’ vision “for the recovery of the United States.” Shortly after Cecil Rhodes died, the Pilgrims Society was formed to provide a platform in which trans-Atlantic elites could meet. In Britain, at least 18 members of the secret network – including Lords Rothschild, Curzon and Esher, Sir Edward Grey and Arthur Balfour – attended Pilgrims dinners, while members of the Rockefeller and Morgan financial dynasties joined them from the American side. While these families of international financiers had long been rivals in banking, oil and industry, they started to understand that they had to cooperate if the enormous power they had amassed was to remain in their few hands upon entering the 20thcentury. While disciples from the House of Rothschild had already saved the J.P. Morgan, Kuhn, Loeb and Company and M.M. Warburg banks from bankruptcy in times of need throughout the 19thcentury, John D. Rockefeller and Baron Alphonse de Rothschild reached a tactical rapprochement after they met at Standard Oil’s New York headquarters in 1892.[15]

This American synarchy of wealth and power, however, was, just like in Britain, heavily under the control of a secret society. Founded in 1833 as the American chapter – or Chapter 322 – of a German order by General William Huntington Russel and Alphonso Taft, Skull & Bones is a notorious secret brotherhood which, to this very day, selects 15 new members from Yale University every single year. Next to nothing was known about Skull & Bones until in the early 1980s the full historical membership roster was anonymously sent to Antony Sutton, an economics professor of British descent who during and after his time as research fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institute had conducted fascinating research into the role of Wall Street financial moguls in the rise of Hitler, the Soviet Union and FDR’s New Deal – all these strange activities he was now able to link back to Skull & Bones. The core power of this group, similar to Rhodes’ network, lays with about 20 families. The oldest family trees consist of wealthy families that descended from English Puritans that crossed the ocean in the 17thcentury, such as the Whitney, Stimson, Taft, Bundy and Lord families. To maintain and expand their power after the industrial revolution had produced a new class of ultra-rich, these Puritan families then either intermarried with families of fresh financial power, such as the Rockefellers, the Harrimans, The Weyerhaeusers and the Sloanes, or invited their sons into the order. Together, they have since infiltrated the highest echelons of power in American society, such as law, education, business, finance, industry and – of course – government. Of this latter category, the Bush family is the most well-known example.[16] In his 1999 campaign autobiography, President George W. Bush mentioned his membership in passing:

My senior year I joined Skull and Bones, a secret society, so secret I can’t say anything more.

Although other powerful families, such as the Carnegies, Morgans and Fords, were never part of the Order, Bonesmen often ended up at key managing positions at enterprises that were part of these families’ substantial wealth. Thus, it is no surprise that companies associated with the Carnegies, the Morgans and the Rockefellers all made large contributions to Cecil Rhodes’ cause according to Quigley. Following World War I, this synergy of Anglo-American wealth and power culminated in the establishment of the Royal Institute of International Affairs, commonly referred to as the Chatham House, on the British island, and its sister organisation, the Council on Foreign Relations, in the US – the combination of which represented the reincarnation of the hidden Anglo-American establishment in the post-war era.[17]

Carrol Quigley contends that subsequently, “there grew up in the twentieth century a power structure between London and New York which penetrated deeply into university life, the press, and the practice of foreign policy.”[18] This is not an exaggeration, but  an understatement, for the penetration of the relatively unknown Council on Foreign Relations into every aspect of American life has not been “deep,” but jaw-dropping. G. Edward Griffin, a senior researcher of the network, explains:

Now why is this important? It is important because the members of the Council on Foreign Relations are the rulers of America. Who are they? Well, once in a while their name pops into the news, but very seldom you get them all together. I am going to take a few moments – this might be boring, but I think for the record everyone needs to be familiar with the prominent names of the members who are part of this outer ring of a secret society.

Let’s start with the presidents of the United States: Herbert Hoover, Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, James Carter, George Bush, Sr. and William [Bill] Clinton. Now JFK once said that he was a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, but nowhere can you find him on the membership rolls, so I guess he was a wannabee but did not quite make it in. He actually said he thought he was a member. And of course the presidential candidates John Kerry and Vice-President Dick Cheney are members of the CFR.

Secretaries of States. Now this is a very important position for the group because it is even more important than the president. The president can be controlled, by the secretary of state, secretary of defense and all of his cabinet members, who are pretty much appointed for him. You know, presidents do not appoint their cabinet members from their own private telephone directories. They are not even in their book. They are told who to appoint. Anyway, here are the secretaries of state, perhaps the most important position in the United States government as far as the CFR is concerned: Dean Rusk, Robert Lansing, Frank Kellogg, Henry Stimson, Cordell Hull, E.R. Stettinius, George Marshall, Dean Acheson, John Foster Dulles, Christian Herter, Dean Rusk, William Rogers, Henry Kissinger, Cyrus Vance, Edmund Muskie, Alexander Haig, George Schulz, James Baker, Lawrence Eagleburger, Warren Cristopher, William Richardson, Madeline Albright, Colin Powell and, of course, Condoleezza Rice. Did we leave anybody out? I don’t think so.

Secretaries of defense, also important: James Forrestal, George Marshall, Charles Wilson, Neil McElroy, Robert McNamara, Melvin Laird, Elliot Richardson, James Schlesinger, Harold Brown, Casper Weinberger, Frank Carlucci, Richard [Dick] Cheney, Les Aspin, William Perry, William Cohen and Donald Rumsfeld.

Directors of the CIA, pretty important: Walter [Bedell] Smith, William Colby, Richard Helms, Allen Dulles, John McCone, James Schlesinger, George Bush, Sr., Stansfield Turner, William Casey, William Webster, Robert Gates, James Woolsey, John Deutch, William Studeman, George Tenet, Porter Goss and Michael Hayden.

Some better-known corporations with CFR members at the board of directors or chief executive levels, where they dominate these huge corporations. It is quite a list, I had to trim this down, believe it or not. Here are just a few: Atlantic Richfield Oil Company, AT&T, Avon Products, Bechtel Construction Group, Boeing Company, Bristol Myers Squib, Chevron, Coca Cola and Pepsi Cola, Consolidated Edison of New York, Exxon, Dow Chemical, Dupont Chemical, Eastman Kodak, Enron, Este Lauder, Ford Motors, General Electric, General Foods, Hewlett & Packard, Hughes Aircraft, IBM, International Paper, Johnson & Johnson, Levi Straus & Company, Lockheed Aerospace, Lucent Technologies, Mobile Oil, Monsanto, Northrup, Pacific Gas & Electric, Phillips Petroleum, Proctor & Gamble, Quaker Oats, SBC Yahoo, Shell Oil, Smith Kline Beach and Pharmaceuticals, Sprint Corporations, Texaco, Santa Fe Southern Pacific Railroad, Teledyne, TRW, Southern California Edison, Unocal, United Technologies, Verizon Communications, Warner Lambert, Weyerhaeuser and Xerox, to name just a few.

In the media, also very important in controlling the thinking processes of the American people, you find CFR members in the management and operational positions at the Army Times, Associated Press, Association of American Publishers, Barons, Boston Globe, Business Week, Christian Science Monitor, Dallas Morning News, Detroit Free Press, Detroit News, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, New York Post, San Diego Union Tribune, Times Mirror, Random House, WW Norton & Company, Warner Books, American Spectator, Atlantic, Harper’s Farm Journal, Financial World, Insight, Washington Times, Medical Tribune, National Geographic, National Review, New Republic, New Yorker, Newsday, Newsmax, Newsweek, Pittsburg Post-Gazette, Reader’s Digest, Rolling Stone, Scientific American, Time Warner, Time, US News & World Report, Washington Post, ABC, CBS, CNN, NBC, PBS, RCA, the Walt Disney Company and, of course, Rupert Murdoch.

Media personalities, the talking heads, include David Brinkley, Tom Brokaw, William Buckley, Peter Jennings, Bill Moyers, Dan Rather, Diane Sawyer, Barbara Walters, Katie Couric and Andrea Mitchell, who is the wife of Alan Greenspan, former chairman of the Federal Reserve System. Of course, Alan is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Labour Unions with CFR members in key positions include AFL-CIO, United Steel Workers of America, United Auto Workers, American Federation of Teachers, Brick Layers & Allied Craft, Communication Workers of America, Union of Needle Traders and Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers. All the big ones.

In the tax-exempt foundations and think tanks, the number of CFR members in controlling positions is 443. Some of the better-known are the Sloan and Kettering Foundations, Aspen Institute, Atlantic Council, Bilderberg Group, Brookings Institute, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Carnegie Foundation, Ford Foundation, Guggenheim Foundation, Hudson Institute, John and Catherine MacArthur foundation, Melon Foundation, RAND Corporation, Rhodes Scholarships Selection Committee, Rockefeller Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Trilateral Commission and the UN Association.

In the universities, the number of CFR members who are, or have been, professors, department chairmen, presidents or board members is 563 – my last count. Could be different today, probably more. In the financial institutions such as banks, the Federal Reserve, stock exchanges and brokerages houses, the number of CFR members in controlling positions is 284. Now ladies and gentlemen, this gives you an idea. We could go into different area’s but bear in mind that the total membership of this group is about 4.000 people. Now, there are a lot of churches in your home town with memberships equal to or larger than that. Wouldn’t it be curious if you were to discover that the members of that one church held all of these positions in society? Wouldn’t you be curious as to what is going one? But first you would have to know about it, and how would you know about it if the channels of communication by which you might be informed by it are also controlled by these same people. You see the magnitude of the problem we face.

For the record, Griffin’s lecture stems from the era of Skull & Bones ambassador George W. Bush, but the CFR’s control over American policy has not waned with Obama or Trump, who both have filled their cabinets with CFR members. Hillary Clinton, wife of CFR member and former President Bill Clinton and two times presidential hopeful herself, made this abundantly clear when she spoke at one of the Council’s events in New York in 2009 during her tenure as Obama’s secretary of state:

I am delighted to be here in these new headquarters. I have been often to I guess the mother ship in New York City, but it is good to have an outpost of the Council right here down the street from the State Department. We get a lot of advice from the Council, so this will mean I won’t have as far to go to be told what we should be doing and how we should think about the future.


The Council on Foreign Relations is of course not the sole occupant of the establishment’s outer circle. There are numerous other think tanks and secretive groups that advance the string-pullers’ agenda active around the globe. The Bilderberg Conference, for instance, has been bringing elitists from Europe and North America together every year in near total secret since it was founded in 1954 by, amongst others, Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands with the help of Walter Bedell Smith and Allen Dulles, the latter two both CFR members and directors of the CIA.[19] The attendees – one by one top officials from European and North American royalty, politics, industry, banking, media and academia – are led to be believe that the meetings are organised on the principal of reaching consensus, but, in reality, just like Cecil Rhodes would have done it, the real power lies within the inner core, the Bilderberg Steering Committee, which selects the invitees and puts up the talking points.[20] Past members of this inner ring include Baron Edmond de Rothschild, David Rockefeller and Henry Kissinger, while current members include such big names as Eric Schmidt, long-time executive chairman of Alphabet, YouTube and Google’s mother company; Pieter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal; and the editors-in-chief of both Bloomberg and the Economist, the latter in which the Rothschild family has held major shares for decades.

While the Bilderbergers aim to strengthen the ties between the US’s and Europe’s elites, the Trilateral Commission made the bridge to Asia. Since its foundation by CFR members David Rockefeller and Zbigniew Brzezinski in 1973 after the Bilderberg Steering Committee refused to invite Japanese representatives to the conference, it has been organising meetings to foster ties between the leaders of North America, Europe and Asia by, in David Rockefeller’s words, bringing “the best brains in the world to bear on the problems of the future.”[21] Again, these “best brains” are carefully selected into the membership roster, from which only the brightest minds – read: the best patsies – are selected into the Trilateral’s Executive Committee, comprising a membership of no more than 36.

The Council on Foreign Relations, Bilderberg Group and the Trilateral Commission in their turn are interwoven with a dense global network of financial institutions such as the World Bank, IMF, World Trade Organisation and the Bank for International Settlements; military and political institutions such as NATO, the European Union and the United Nations; think tanks such as the Atlantic Council, RAND Corporation, the Brookings Institute, the Project for a New American Century and the Fabian Society; secret societies and conference groups such as Le Cercle, the Club of Rome and Bohemian Grove; tax-exempt foundations such as the Rockefeller, Ford and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundations; and a whole range of people in government, media, multinational corporations and other positions of power in society. Of course, not all people involved with all of these organisations or at the high-level government positions mentioned by Griffin are aware of the fact that they are part of the outer circle of a secret society, but that right there is the genius of it. Politicians think they are elected – instead of selected – and leaders in industry, finance, media and academia believe they thrive solely thanks to their own ambitions – not because their thinking might in line with the puppetmasters’ master vision. If these patsies in turn convince the public that they live in a democratic country “for, by and of the people” if they just cast their vote every couple of years and merely obey in the meantime, they have come up with a system infinitely more successful than any would-be tyrant from the pages of history could have only dreamt to ever imagine. The question, then, remains: What kind of world do they intend to shape?


[1] Edward Bernays, Propaganda (Routledge, 1928), 9, available at

[2] Carroll Quigley, Tragedy and hope: a history of the world in our time (New York/London: MacMillan Company, 1966), 130-1, available at

[3] Joseph Plummer, Tragedy & hope 101: the illusion of justice, freedom and democracy, chapter 1: “Democracy,” available at

[4] Quigley, Tragedy and hope, 950.

[5] Plummer, Tragedy & hope 101, chapter 1: “Democracy.”

[6] Carroll Quigley, Letter to Peter Sutherland, 09.12.1975, published in Conspiracy Digest in 1976, reprinted in American Opinion, 1983, excerpt available at

[7] Carroll Quigley, The Anglo-American establishment: From Rhodes to Cliveden (New York: Books in Focus, 1981), preface, IX-X, available at

[8] Quigley, The Anglo-American establishment, 4-5.

[9] Quigley, The Anglo-American establishment, 3.

[10] Quigley,The Anglo-American establishment, 3.

[11] Gerry Docherty and Jim Macgregor, Hidden history: the secret origins of the First World War (Edinburgh/London: Mainstream Publishing, 2015), EPUB p. 23-50.

[12] Quigley, The Anglo-American establishment, preface, X.

[13] Quigley, The Anglo-American establishment, preface, IX.

[14] Quigley, The Anglo-American establishment, 30.

[15] Docherty and MacGregor, Hidden history, 479-91; Ron Chernow, Titan: the life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr. (New York: Vintage Books, 1998; reprint, 2004), 247-8.

[16] Antony Sutton, America’s secret establishment: an introduction tot he order of Skull & Bones (Waterville: TrineDay, 1983; reprint, 2002), part I: “An introduction tot the Order,” available at

[17] Quigley, Tragedy and hope, 950-2.

[18] Quigley, Tragedy and hope, 953.

[19] Valerie Aubourg, “Organizing Atlanticism: the Bilderberg group and the Atlantic institute, 1952-1963,” Intelligence and National Security 18, no. 2 (2003), 93-6.

[20] Mike Peters, “The Bilderberg Group and the project of European unification,”

[21]Rockefeller Archive Center, The Trilateral Commission (North America) records, 1972-2001, 1-3, available at

Bas Spliet is a 22-year-old student Arabic studies at the University of Ghent in Belgium, where he previously obtained his bachelor’s degree in History. His journalistic work can be found at and he can be reached at

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