This paper uses the secret society to pose questions about the politics, epistemology and ontology of organizing. Against assumptions of transparency, or the possibility of hermeneutic understanding, I suggest that much organizing is actually invisible and opaque. The paper begins with a consideration of the characteristics of historical and contemporary organizational conspiracies, and then moves on to elaborate what sort of ‘facts’ need to be claimed about a secret society to bring it into existence. After a section on the politics of contemporary organizational conspiracies, the paper concludes with some speculations on what the example of the secret society can tell us about the paranoia required by contemporary organizational researchers, as well as the ontology of organizations. After all, we have still never seen an organization.
- clandestine organizations
- secret societies