When Secret Societies Undermine Democracy

“Democracy is a system of government in which laws, policies, leadership, and major undertakings of a state or other polity are directly or indirectly decided by the “people,” a group historically constituted by only a minority of the population (e.g., all free adult males in ancient Athens or all sufficiently propertied adult males in 19th-century Britain) but generally understood since the mid-20th century to include all (or nearly all) adult citizens.”

Encyclopedia Britannica

One of the most prominent and important examples of a secret society is the religious secret society. In this type of group, people have their own values, which are distinct from the values of the larger society, and they keep to themselves and practice them.

Another kind of secret society is a fraternity or sorority. Here, in a college setting, young adults form bonds of friendship and shared values through experiences and relationships that other people do not share.

A third one is the military, for obvious reasons.

A fourth is the intelligence community.

Despite all the negative connotations associated with the term “secret society,” we actually could not do without these groups. The problem occurs when one or a few of them try to usurp the power of the governing structure which contains them: in the United States, democracy itself.

Victor Marchetti wrote The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence with precisely this in mind.

By Dr. Dannielle Blumenthal (Dossy). All opinions are the author’s own. Public domain.