... the very nature of a secret society is that it is, by definition, secret. Therefore, we can only piece together bits and pieces. Here is one way to look at it:
Back in the day, say 100,000 years ago, humans were nomads following the herds. Although there were tribes with leaders and followers, everyone was focused on survival (mainly, eating and making babies).
Then, about 10,000+ years ago, some humans landed in the Fertile Crescent -- modern day Iraq, but back then it was lush and not a desert. Every kind of crop prospered and large animals (oxen) did, too. This allowed for the invention of agriculture and animal husbandry, which meant not everyone within the society had to worry about eating.
This lead to division of labor. Some people bacame carpenters, some became teachers, some became priests, and some became robbers. The robbers discovered it was easier to invade other villages than to grow their own crops. Eventually, these robbers figured it was even better to promise "protection" (sort of like the Mafia) rather than having to fight all the time. This was the birth of government, which led to the nation state.
Throughout most of history, the vast majority of humans could not read. They didn't know what the Bible said, or ancient Greek texts, or anything else, so they had to rely on others (i.e. clergymen, philosophers, etc.). Eventually, some of these clergymen discovered that they could manipulate and lie to people about what the gods (or God) said or about anything else. These people figured out how human psychology works and how to manipulate the human mind.
This type of information was passed down from generation to generation, but only to select individuals who were on the inside. The two power centers of most people's lives were religion and state. Both of these entities figure out how to manipulate people.
In 1440, the printing press was invented, and suddenly Western Europe was flooded with books. People learned to read, and they discovered the truth was not necessarily what they were told. As the Renaissance unfolded, more and more people became knowledgable about the world.
But people who like to manipulate and who like to be parasites at the expense of everyone else, don't like people to have knowledge. So, secret societies developed to pass information to insiders.
The English Church delcared that usury was against the church rules, which is why the Jews, who followed a different doctrine, became the bankers. Likewise, certain religious ideas were banned, such as Paganism. But that didn't mean those people just gave up. Instead, they formed groups to hide their true nature. They wanted to continue with their beliefs, their secret information, or whatever, but they did so under cover of a different type of organization.
This is where the Freemasons came in. They were supposedly just a group of journeymen (it was illegal for some people to start their own business but they could become journeymen -- the only other alternative was a serf, which is to say slave). The Freemasons were both an organization to promote the carpentry trade and a secret society to promote other causes -- but only for the true insiders.
In 1776, in Bavaria, Germany, an organization was created called the Illuminati. It is well known how they structured their organization and what they were really up to because the place where all their papers were stored was raided. A law was passed making their organization illegal, as well as other "similar" organizations such as the Freemasons (why would the Freemasons be outlawed if they were only about building houses?).
Fast forward to the early 20th Century. Cecil Rhodes was an Englishman with inside contacts. He was appointed the Governor of South Africa (basically, the president of the English colony). Somehow, some way, he became the owner of most of the gold mines and diamond mines in South Africa. Nobody knows for sure, but he may have been the richest man who ever lived.
Rhodes believed that the English were some sort of superior breed (kind of like Hitler thought of the Arians). When Rhodes died, he left wills/trusts that left his fortune for several purposes. One was the Rhodes Scholarship Fund, which would find intelligent students who would ultimately be recruited towards making England the dominant nation on Earth. His other trusts were to set up and fund an orgainziation similar to the Illuminati. He liked the way the Illumiati was structured and wrote about it in his memoirs.
The end result is that these vast fortunes were used to eventually finance organziations such as the Council on Foreign Relations, the Trilateral Commission, several simliar organizations in other countries, and the United Nations.
We know they have done this because they themselves have written about it, and also Carrol Quigley wrote two books about it. He was hired to be their historian, to look through their secret papers and organize them so that the modern day members would better undertand the people who came before them and set up their organizations.
Enter Rockefeller. Especially, John D. Rockefeller's sons and grandsons, who inherited another great fortune. They took Rhode's idea and changed it from English world domination to a one world government where a small group of people would rule over everyone else.
Now, ask yourself a question. What do you think about Paris Hilton? She inherited a lot of money. She has never had to work a day in her life. She can live the good life no matter what. Does money mean much of anything to her? And what does she choose to do with her life? She wants fame and to be "hot."
What would you do if you never had to worry about having enough money to have anything you wanted? There are people in this world who are also born with a silver spoon in their mouths, have never had to work a day in their lives, and find it of interest to think up ways to "engineer society." And they recruit many others, whether it be through the Rhodes Scholarship, Ivy League schools, the intelligence community (CIA), or big business (Herman Cain went to work for Pillsbury for a reason, etc.).
Today, it is the secret Mafia. Certain members are "made." There are people at the top (the godfathers), and most of the people who carry out the agenda don't even know they are part of a bigger, sinister plot (this is due to the organizational structure, which was modeled after the Illuminati).
So, there are people out there promoting an agenda that they try not to talk about too much in public. But they write papers and have meetings and it is partially in the open, but not completely. This is by design.
Is there an "Illuminati" today? Probably not, at least not by that name. But are there organizations that do similar things under different names? Of course, there are.
In David Rockefeller's own words: "Some even believe we are part of a secret cabal working against the best interests of the United States, characterizing my family and me as internationalists and of conspiring with others around the world to build a more integrated global political and economic structure — one world, if you will. If that's the charge, I stand guilty, and I am proud of it."
So, wake up. Smell the coffee. Figure it out.