This was posted in response to a friends blog who argued that Jay-Z and Rihanna’s apparent membership to secret societies was absurd. It is a subject I want to return to, so in the meantime you can get the gist of my position from here (though I want to revise certain parts).
From my reading into the Freemasons, they were a rebellious collective formed around the 17th Century to achieve Liberal goals. With the success of Liberalism and its omnipotence through the American military and intelligence services, the Freemasons no longer exist to incite revolution but maintain the status quo. Who are they? Well, a secret society formed of some very powerful people, for example 14 US presidents have been Freemasons. Do they hold power? Undeniably yes. What is there core belief; liberty, equality, fraternity (for those who are ‘born free’). In my view I think it easy to equate freemasonry with liberal democracy, a system that establishes rights through the exclusion of others; their model is a micro-model of our whole society.
Now, my problem with the conspiracy theorists mirrors your own, to some degree. Power is understood as a kind of binary, you have it or you do not. They run the world, we live in it. This model is too simplistic for my liking. There is not one source of power. Power is disbursed amongst society. We hold power, our inability to recognise this is the problematic. Power is not concentrated in one area, i.e. the state. In our corporate, globalised world, power transcends institutions. It appeals to our unconscious, we subconsciously support power. Like you say, to jump from one way of rationalising the world to another is to continue to support power. The desire to be at peace, to have an end point where the world is harmonious, is a desire that is unchecked. Unchecked desires are where power is proliferated. Those who see the Freemasons as the problem (and their defeat the solution) to all of life’s problems are ignorant and are a construct of the system they are attempting to rally against. The power to support the system or act against it exists for all of us. We have a life deciding choice to make (in certain conditions, the UK being a place where all conditions can be satisfied); we either perpetuate the system, wanting what it offers, jumping through its hoops, or, we want to change the world. Alain Badiou, a French Philosopher I have got a lot of time for, claims that actively perpetuating a status quo like ours, with as you say obscence levels of poverty and opulent levels of wealth is ‘evil’, being faithful to the pursuit of change is ‘good’. So, are the Freemasons evil? On this understanding, yes they are. Is Jay-Z evil on this reading? – yes. ‘Empire State of Mind’ is typical propaganda, the myth of New York being a place where all can make it, the tip of the American Dream. We all know from bumping Mobb Deep, Cormega, Saigon, Papoose, Immortal Technique, Jeru, Gangstarr, Biggie etc. that New York is not this place for all, but some. Some make it, some take it. Some rap, some sell crack. Some are sellers, some are addicts. Jay-Z and Rihanna are part of an industry propagating a lie. Their songs are propaganda being used to perpetuate an unjust system (whether they do this unconsciously, whether it is a clause in their record contract, whether they have opted to join a secret organisation to get their success…I am ambivalent about).
What matters is: do you want to be free, or do you want to jump through the hoops? This whole Freemasonry debate is ideological, it does not challenge the central problems that need to be addressed. Is it possible that Jay-Z is a Freemason? – of course. Yet, as you say, credulity of the Freemason conspiracy theorists can be challenged. My biggest problem with the whole debate is that some people are so ignorant, they cannot even fathom the idea that maybe these signposts to Freemason hegemony are themselves a construct of the powers-that-be. That Freemasonry is a diversionary ideology constructed to stop one looking at what is really going on…and what is that? America is currently bombing four countries, have openly declared that Somalia is next and Iran is not far off. Israel continues to build settlements in Palestine and the siege on Gaza continues. Sri Lanka committed genocide against the Tamils last year. Preventable diseases have killed over 2,000 children in the time it took me to write this…but the conspiracy theorists are right, all of this does not matter…the Freemasons are the real battle.