The Illuminati are the supposed overlords controlling the world's affairs, operating secretly as they seek to establish a New World Order. The Order of the Illuminati started in Germany in 1776 and was a Bavarian secret society for intellectuals to privately group together and oppose the religious and elitist influence over daily life. But along with the Freemasons, they found themselves gradually outlawed by conservative and Christian critics and the group faded out of existence.
However, The Illuminati of the modern era began in the 1960s when a small, printed text emerged: Principia Discordia. The book was a parody text for a parody faith - Discordianism - concocted by enthusiastic anarchists and thinkers to bid its readers to worship Eris, goddess of chaos. The Discordian movement wished to cause civil disobedience, practical jokes and hoaxes and the text itself was immortalised by one writer, Robert Anton Wilson.
One of the authors of the Principia Discordia, Kerry Thornley, decided that the world was becoming too authoritarian, too tight, too closed, too controlled. The movement wanted to bring chaos back into society to shake things up and the way to do that was to spread disinformation and to disseminate misinformation through all portals, through counter culture, through the mainstream media, through whatever means. And they decided they would do that initially by telling stories about The Illuminati.
At the time, Wilson worked for the men's magazine Playboy. He and Thornley started sending fake letters from readers talking about this secret, elite organisation called The Illuminati. Then they would send more letters to contradict the letters they had just written.
Wilson and another Playboy writer wrote 'The Illuminatus! Trilogy', which attributed the 'cover-ups' of our times, such as who shot John F Kennedy, to The Illuminati. The books became such a surprise cult success that they were made into a stage play in Liverpool, launching the careers of British actors Bill Nighy and Jim Broadbent.
Today, it's one of the world's most widely spread conspiracy theories; even with the realisation that it's all fake, which the proponents of Discordianism had originally intended. It's that simple - The Illuminati simply do not exist. The modern version was a prank instigated by Robert Anton Wilson and a few friends and somehow a lot of gullible people fell for it and they are still falling for it.