In 1990 George Bush delivered a speech, describing his ideas for post-Cold War relations with other countries. He said, “the world we’ve known has been a world divided—a world of barbed wire and concrete block, conflict and cold war. Now, we can see a new world coming into view. A world in which there is the very real prospect of a new world order. In the words of Winston Churchill, a ‘world order’ in which ‘the principles of justice and fair play… protect the weak against the strong.’ A world where the United Nations, freed from cold war stalemate, is poised to fulfill the historic vision of its founders. A world in which freedom and respect for human rights find a home among all nations.”
This quotation imagines a new world order as a political atmosphere where countries work together for a common good, rather than dividing themselves into supporters of the U.S. or the Soviet Union. But this idyllic political situation is not what a conspiracy theorist thinks of when they hear the words “new world order.”
Rather, conspiracy theorists view the New World Order as a singular, secret government that controls the world and every aspect of the lives of those who live in it. Who are these all-powerful alleged rulers of the world? That is when this theory splinters. Some say that the Communists are behind it all, while others are sure that the Freemasons are to blame. Some point their fingers to outer space to implicate the aliens and still others battle about whether the Jewish or the Illuminati are the chess masters.
Though most of these groups are fundamentally different from each other in almost every way, they all have one thing in common: Americans have feared all of them in one way or another. The New World Order conspiracy theory is a catch-all used to target any group a theorist may be wary of. The NWO is a tool used to combat the fear that some Americans feel of powerful outside groups.
Unlike most other established conspiracy theories, there is little to no evidence that the New World Order exists. The only “evidence” found of the new world order existing is at the notorious Denver airport. Placards and markers around the airport claim that the “The New World Airport Commission” funded its construction. There is no established group with this name, but it is an arbitrary and admittedly slightly fishy name given to a group of local business owners that supported the airport construction. That being said, this is a very small piece of evidence to try and use to confirm the existence of a huge, all-powerful, world-dominating organization. A placard also seems like a shockingly obvious place for a notoriously secretive society to slap on their name for all the world to see.
Seeing that there is almost no compelling evidence of the existence of the New World Order, why has it managed to survive as a well-known conspiracy theory? The answer is that it is easily adaptable to any cause. Don’t like one group or another? Just say that they are part of the NWO.
Some of the earliest mentions of the New World Order implicate Communists as members. In the 1970s, governmental regulations led some people to fear that their individual power would be taken away. The 1971 book None Dare Call it Conspiracy built on these fears of an invisible Communist power that controls the global economy and government. The NWO conspiracy theory channeled fears of a Communist overthrow of the U.S. government.
The New World Order has also been used as a platform for anti-Semitism. A commonly peddled stereotype is that of Jewish people being rich and greedy. The idea that Jewish people control the world “in order to destabilize white Christian identity” played perfectly to the concept of the New World Order. Jewish people are implicated as the invisible puppet masters because they are outsiders and white American conspiracy theorists are scared of the power that they seem to hold. However idiotic and anti-Semitic, this is sadly not an outdated idea. In 2009 a white man killed a Jewish person who seemed to be, in the analysis, “creating a New World Order and planned to, you know, destroy the white race.” The accusation that Jews run a New World Order organization embodies the fear of those who don’t know how to deal with groups other than their own becoming successful.
The New World Order conspiracy theory features no compelling evidence. Since it is not realistic, there must be some reason why it remains prevalent. The reason is that it is easy to implicate any group within the format of the New World Order. It is a way for scared Americans to blame those who they are scared of for what is wrong in their lives with minimal creative effort. It is a rallying cry for anti-this or anti-that groups to implicate anyone who may intimidate them with no factual evidence.