One of the many organizations named in modern conspiracy literature as parts of a global plot against humanity, the Club of Rome was established in 1968 by Aurelio Peccei, former CEO of Fiat, and a select group of industrialists and social scientists to discuss responses to what Peccei termed “the problematique” – the converging crises of industrial society produced by the attempt to sustain infinite material growth on a finite planet. Shortly after its founding, the Club commissioned a group of scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to run computer simulations of future economic and demographic trends. The results were published in 1973 as the bestselling book The Limits to Growth. The study’s results – that unrestricted economic growth leads to inevitable collapse due to resource depletion and pollution – sparked an immediate firestorm of criticism, but 30 years after the original study, its models remain among the more accurate predictions of the likely course of industrial society, with recent concerns about peaking oil production and global warming only the latest examples of “the problematique” in action.

Since the evasion of unacceptable facts is a driving force behind many modern conspiracy theories, the Club of Rome and its predictions have been grist for a good many conspiratorial mills. Several recent theories identify the Committee of 300, an alleged secret society of European industrialists, as the hidden power behind the Club of Rome. These theories claim that in order to bring about a new Dark Age and global slavery under a worldwide government, the Club publicized a fictional crisis to force the industrial countries of the world to de-industrialize and prevent Third World countries from undergoing an industrial revolution in the first place. The closure of most of America’s industrial plant during the Reagan years is said to be their doing, as was the collapse of the Russian economy after the fall of Communism in 1989.

The Club of Rome, like most policy-making organizations and think-tanks in the industrial world today, is a secret society only in the imaginations of conspiracy theorists. Still, the widening social chasm between educated elite groups and downwardly mobile middle and working classes in the developed world has increasingly pushed class antagonisms into a conspiracy-theory mold. As resource depletion and environmental damage become even more obvious problems than they are today, claims that such problems are the result of conspiracies will doubtless become more common still.


The Element Encyclopedia of Secret Societies : the ultimate a-z of ancient mysteries, lost civilizations and forgotten wisdom written by John Michael Greer – © John Michael Greer 2006