WHY DO YOU THINK NEO-LIBERALS AND NEO-CONS ARE NOT HOLDING WALL STREET OR CORPORATIONS ACCOUNTABLE FOR FRAUDS AND NOW ARE NOT TAXING THEM? MAGNA CARTA ENFOLDED INTO THE US CONSTITUTION MAKES EVERYONE ACCOUNTABLE TO RULE OF LAW.....EVEN THE RICH AND CORPORATIONS.
Now, I want my labor union friends to think what International labor union leaders like Trumka supporting Clinton neoliberals like Hillary are working towards. Remember, global pols are heading for a far-right Marxist Stalinist Libertarianism.
Maryland leads the way towards this with its state sport being Medieval Times and Jousting. Neo-conservative Baltimore is now installing what is a corporate education reform consisting of vocational apprenticeship K-career college with the churches taking the lead in these K-12 privatization reforms.
Meanwhile, trade unions are working for global corporations and the rich when they support Clinton neo-liberals. Think about today's American labor union structure under social Democracy----and what trade guilds (unions) looked like in the Middle-Ages----and you have where far-right Marxist Stalinist Libertarianism wants American labor to go. As it says below----these guilds worked against anyone not a member of a guild---and it was the only way to advance an economic ladder----only a few became master craftsmen----and only men did.
GuildsBack to Middle Ages
Guilds in the Middle Ages were associations or groups of craftsmen. Each guild focused on a specific trade such as the candlemaker's guild or the tanner's guild.
Why were guilds important?
Guilds in the Middle Ages played an important role in society. They provided a way for trade skills to be learned and passed down from generation to generation. Members of a guild had the opportunity to rise in society through hard work.
The guild protected members in many ways. Members were supported by the guild if they came onto hard times or were sick. They controlled working conditions and hours of work. The guild also prevented non-guild members from selling competitive products. Some guild members were even exempt from paying high taxes from the lords and kings.
Guilds helped more than just their members. They had numerous rules that helped to keep the quality of work and pricing consistent. This helped consumers to know they were getting a good product at the correct price.
In each guild in the Middle Ages there were very well defined positions of Apprentice, Journeyman, and Master. Apprentices usually were boys in their teens who signed up with a master for around 7 years. They would work hard for the master during this time in exchange for learning the craft plus food, clothing, and shelter.
Once the apprenticeship was complete, he became a Journeyman. As a Journeyman, he would still work for a master, but would earn wages for his work.
The highest position of the craft was the Master. To become a Master, a Journeyman would need the approval of the guild. He would have to prove his skill, plus play the politics needed to get approval. Once a Master, he could open his own shop and train apprentices.
Types of Guilds
In a major city during the Middle Ages, there could be as many as 100 different guilds. Examples include weavers, dyers, armorers, bookbinders, painters, masons, bakers, leatherworkers, embroiderers, cobblers (shoemakers), and candlemakers. These were called craft guilds.
There also were merchant guilds. Merchant guilds controlled the way trade was handled in the town. They could become very powerful and controlled much of the local economy.
Baltimore is ground zero for all these policies. It has always kept its connection to aristocracy---that is what makes Baltimore completely separated from Rule of Law and US Constitutional rights. Now all we hear in Baltimore is returning to apprenticeship and guilds-----the Freemasonry is now alive in Baltimore------and we are watching as our Baltimore City pols-----Baltimore City Hall and Maryland Assembly do nothing but work for Johns Hopkins and this small group of rich in the city. This has been the history of Baltimore----but it is now being exported around the nation under neo-liberalism and neo-conservatism. Now, if you are a contemporary labor union member in the US---or a woman ----you should read up on what Middle-Ages guilds and freemasonry look like. Only a few reach master craftsman while most toil as basically free labor for these master craftsmen and the rich who hire them. It is not a pretty sight and not a woman in sight.
Now, what you don't see in this article----the funding and control of these 'grass root' manufacturing co-ops and organizations like the Baltimore Art Realty Corporation is Wall Street and Baltimore Development creating this trade guild and apprenticeship model that will be connected to global corporations like UnderArmour. They are trying to make this sound grass roots and small business when all of it is tied to startups that fold into these global corporations all while citizens toil away doing the hardest work of building a business.
MAKERSPACE----COMMUNAL OWNERSHIP OF TOOLS AND EQUIPMENT----WITH STATE AND CITY REVENUE THAT USED TO FUND PRIVATELY-OWNED SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS BEING SENT TO FUND THESE TRADE GUILD STRUCTURES.
We must have real local economies built separate from these global corporations and financiers-----these are not grassroots economic structures.
Carl and Roberta Deutsch Foundation
Physical Address:Santa Monica, CA 90403
NTEE Category:T Philanthropy, Voluntarism, and Grantmaking
T22 (Private Independent Foundations)
Construction to begin on city's newest 'makerspace'
A rendering of the Open Works, a makerspace that Baltimore Arts Realty Co. will begin developing in a Greemount Avenue warehouse with the goal of filling the building with the hum of craftsmen, artists and other small manufacturers.
(Cho Benn Holbck & Associates / Baltimore Sun)
Natalie ShermanContact ReporterBaltimore Sun
"The way we're going to rebuild manufacturing in the city is from the grassroots up."Baltimore Arts Realty Corp. will begin a major renovation Tuesday on a Greenmount Avenue warehouse with the goal of filling the building with the hum of craftsmen, artists and other small manufacturers.
The $11 million Open Works project would transform the 34,000-square-foot building in Greenmount West with a cafe, computer classrooms, textile, metal and wood workrooms and state-of-the-art 3-D printers and laser machines. BARCO, a nonprofit developer, also hopes to offer space to job training groups, host networking events and partner with nearby schools and universities.
"We really think we can see a lot of small businesses coming out of here," said Will Holman, general manager for Open Works. "The way we're going to rebuild manufacturing in the city is from the grass roots up."
The project is the city's latest so-called "makerspace" — a new buzzword for what is basically a communal workshop where users share tools and real estate they couldn't afford individually.
The concept is not new. The Baltimore Clayworks pottery center, for instance, dates to 1980.
But new technology, bigger markets made accessible by the Internet and the rise of a do-it-yourself culture have brought new attention to the idea. For-profit and nonprofit models have popped up across the country, including in Baltimore.
Their focus ranges from jewelry making to welding and they include organizations like the Station North Tool Library, which lends out about 2,000 tools, offers classes in skateboard making and homecare, and has grown to 1,000 members since opening less than three years ago.
The scale of BARCO's $11 million Open Works project, which is backed with $800,000 in state funding and grants from some of the city's largest philanthropic groups, and its focus on job training and business incubation suggests the movement is pushing into a new arena.
"It's broadening the conversation," said Sarah McCann, Baltimore Clayworks executive director.
Started by the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation, BARCO got interested in building a makerspace because it saw an opportunity to create an amenity catering to recent graduates and other members of the creative class, keeping them from fleeing to bigger arts hubs like New York or Los Angeles and staunching the flow of people from the city, said Laurens "Mac" MacLure, BARCO's managing director.
At a basic level, bringing down real estate and equipment costs — what MacLure called "democratizing the forces of production" — also supports small businesses, boosting economic development.
The group chose the 1400 Greenmount Avenue building because it wanted to extend the development happening in Station North — the group is also working on the Motor House on North Avenue — as well as to allow tenants to tap into the tax credits available to businesses in the district.
BARCO staff said they want Open Works to be a civic institution — like a recreation center or a library — and compare it to the YMCA. They hope to open next year and have between 400 and 500 regular users and as many as 50 people teaching classes.
"We're also looking at this as a community asset," MacLure said.
The founders of other makerspaces, such as the Tool Library and Clayworks, said they believe there is enough room in Baltimore to support all the new spaces. Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank, for example, is renovating a roughly 130,000-square-foot former city garage in Port Covington as a makerspace.
But enthusiasm for manufacturing as a source of business growth and employment flies runs counter to some trends. In Baltimore City, the number of people employed by manufacturers dropped nearly in half between 2002 and 2012, from just over 21,000 to about 11,750, according to Census data.
And while the number of one-person manufacturing shops shot up from about 240 in 2004 to 433 in 2013, revenue during that time actually declined.
Proponents maintain that advanced manufacturing — a term that includes industries such as aerospace, motor vehicle parts and pharmaceuticals — represents a bright spot within the sector and other trends, like buy-local movements, cheaper technology and rising overseas costs may be changing the dynamic, at least for producers working at a small to medium scale.
"Baltimore could stand to pay more attention to this," said Andy Cook, one of the organizers of the Industrial Arts Collective's Made in Baltimore pop-up shop and a sustainable economic development coordinator in the city's Planning Department. "The city needs to shift its perspective from thinking about manufacturing being just a thing for big guys like Bethlehem Steel and think about smaller companies that are producing for the local market."
Amateurs, fine craftsmen and artists supported the first iteration of the makerspaces, but commercial opportunity and a chance for job creation are out there, said Jason Hardebeck, who in 2013 co-founded the Baltimore Foundery, which offers welding classes and other services from a 2,000-square-foot building on Central Avenue and is about to move into a second, larger location.
"A lot of this is speculative but it's analogous to incubators in that we recognize that there are a lot of people that are entrepreneurs doing startups and how can we support that," he said. "What we found is there's never any room … They always seem to be at capacity. … Once you have the resources, the needs emerge."
Some people who have participated in makerspaces are already starting to see business result.
Steve Iannelli, a 28-year-old chemical engineer, went to his first class at the Station North Tool Library for an OkCupid date. The relationship didn't pan out, but the Canton resident now volunteers and teaches there and his woodworking hobby has turned into a $1,000-a-month sideline.
Iannelli said the tool library was critical, giving him access to the materials — as well as knowledge — to take it to the next level.
Now the Johns Hopkins University alumnus sometimes flirts with the idea of relying on his Bmore CreateMore furniture-making business as his primary job.
"You know what they say: 'If you do something that you love, you don't work a day in your life,' " he joked. "We'll see how profitable it becomes."
These Middle-Ages trade guild apprentices and journeymen would go all their lives never owning anything in these guild spaces. They were the worst of impoverished.
There's nothing more neo-conservative and global corporate than the term 'makerspace'. It creates the dynamic of Middle-Ages where corporations in different industries build structures for these guilds (unions) with the premise of citizens as interns, volunteers, apprentices, all working in these common spaces usually under the direction of a 'Master craftsperson' . As you see here-----Koch Foundation just as with the Baltimore Deutsch Foundation-----it is all the NEW WORLD ORDER with US workers as Middle-Ages trade guild. Journeymen toiled most of their lives for free given only room and board for being in these guilds with the Master craftsmen being the only one lifted to what would be today a Living Wage.
THIS IS TO WHERE US INTERNATIONAL LABOR UNION LEADERS SUPPORTING NEO-LIBERAL HILLARY ARE TAKING AMERICAN LABOR UNION MEMBERS. IT IS WHY ALL THE WEALTH AND LABOR RIGHTS TIED TO US LABOR THROUGHOUT THE CENTURY OF PROGRESSIVE SOCIAL DEMOCRACY HAS BEEN NEGOTIATED AWAY BY NATIONAL UNION LEADERS.
Here you see the link of our K-12 to this apprenticeship trade guild structure------all of this tied to corporate education reform and businesses. This is all funded by global corporations and Wall Street investment firms with the goal of having a Middle-Ages trade guild union structure in the US. Again, this is not a European or German union structure----this is really, really, really ancient Medici as a rich global merchant owning the town of Florence trade guilds.
Stocking up School Makerspaces
- By Michelle "Binka" Hlubinka
- August 21st, 2013 9:44 am
Superstar maker-teacher Casey Shea recently unveiled a new-and-improved makerspace at Analy High School, near the Maker Media offices in Sebastopol, Calif.
Lots of teachers have been asking us how to set up a Makerspace at their school. As part of our Back to School series, we’re sharing an excerpt from the Makerspace Playbook: Schools Edition.
Once you have a space where you and your students can work, you’ll want to outfit it with the tools, equipment, and materials your Makerspace needs in order for your students to accomplish their projects.
But before you go on a shopping spree and max out your credit card, assess what your Makerspace will actually require. You don’t necessarily need a fully equipped shop. Sometimes an empty countertop might be more valuable than a fancy new machine. You may be surprised at how many projects can be completed with a few hand tools, along with some simple power tools such as an electric drill, jig saw, and circular saw. For engineering-oriented projects, an appropriate shop would be a traditional woodshop or metal fabrication facility. However, for more craft-oriented projects, a shop could consist of large tables, adequate light, a sewing machine, a quilt frame, and so forth.
The Perfect ListHa ha! We don’t have it! Equipment lists are as individual as the space and its members.
Of course, we have suggestions, but it’s up to you to find the right combination of tools and materials for your students. We recommend you take a look at two other documents we’ve produced for suggestions, checklists, and images of gadgets, tools, workspaces, and more:
- Makerspace Playbook: Schools Edition guides those who are hoping to start a Makerspace at their school or in their community. This edition focuses on schools. The playbook discusses places, tools & materials, safety, roles, practices, projects, startup, documenting / sharing projects, resources. It also describes several schools’ experiences starting a makerspace in four snapshots and a chapter “A Year of Making.” (This post you’re reading has been adapted from Chapter 2.)
- Make: magazine’s special issue, The Ultimate Workshop and Tool Guide. Includes step-by-step photo instructions and reviews of more than 200 tools for the modern maker. A few teachers have told us they’ve used this to design their higher-end makerspaces.
- High School Makerspace Tools & Materials, written by Steve Hoefer, covers a modular build-out of the workspace, general making, woodworking, metalworking, electronics, textiles, computers, 3D printing, laser cutting, CNC cutting. Each module is described generally and accompanied by detailed shopping lists for associated tools and equipment (broken down into the categories of safety, accessories, consumables) and materials and parts.
- Adam Kemp’s forthcoming Make title, The Makerspace Workbench. Singe this book! That’s right. Author (and high school teacher!) Adam Kemp intends this book to be covered in notes, torn, and slightly charred while sitting aside your next amazing creation. The book shows you how to organize your environment to provide a safe and fun workflow, and demonstrates how you can use that space to educate others.
No matter how durable the tool, equipment always begets more equipment. Hand tools need toolboxes or cabinets to organize them. Battery-powered tools need charging stations. A vacuum is needed wherever there are cutting tools. Some equipment has safety considerations, such as fire extinguishers, air filters or eye shields. First aid kits should always be well stocked and at hand throughout the space.
In addition there is maintenance. Filters get dirty, alignments need to be recalibrated, blades become dull, and sometimes things break. Welders use wire and/or gas. A laser cutter’s tube will need to be recharged. 3D printers need filament. Be sure to budget for this when acquiring your equipment. It may be worth looking into maintenance contracts for more expensive tools such as laser cutters and mills.
Strategies for Stocking UpFew spaces can afford to buy all the equipment they want, especially at retail price. Used equipment and tool donations can be a big help. Some equipment makers will offer discounts to educational and non-profit groups. Tool rental or leasing is also an option for larger equipment.
Acquire general-use equipment before task-specific tools. Get simple and affordable tools ahead of advanced and expensive ones. Before getting a major piece of equipment, be sure there is a both a need for it and the expertise to use it. There’s nothing more lonely than a big expensive tool laying unused because no one knows how to use it.
Third-party services can make up for a lack of some tools. Laser cutting, 3D printing, milling and other services that a smaller space might find hard to afford can be hired out. Or you might be able to work out a deal with your local hackerspace or TechShop to use time on one of their high-end machines until you’re ready to purchase one for your space. It’s also possible to get pricing breaks if several project teams combine their orders. If you do hire out the fabrication, keep in mind that the price of these tools drop over time, and there’s really no substitute for hands-on experience using them.
The more you spend on a tool the more speed, precision and capability you typically get. Computer Numerical Control (CNC) tools provide a way to reliably and precisely reproduce items. Additionally laser cutters and 3D printers provide quick and precise fabrication that is difficult or impossible with non-computerized tools.
Makerspaces have taken a few different approaches to equipping their shops:
- Find an advocate with a wallet. Sometimes, you can stock a shop using funding from a foundation or a local corporation who shares your vision for a new kind of shop facility for kids. Our Resources section has a sample proposal and budget to submit.
- Beg and borrow. Do a tool drive in your community. Your neighbors may have some of the tools you need and be happy to share these with a new generation of Makers. You may also be able to find Makers or other Makerspaces that are near enough to you that they’d be willing to loan you a hard-to-find tool for a single use. And don’t forget to check to see if your community happens to have a “tool library”, where you can check out tools the way you can check out books.
- Buy used. Tools, especially power tools, have very long lifetimes, so buying used expensive tools can save you 50% or more on cost with little or no loss of functionality or quality. Keep your eyes open on sites like Craigslist for hobbyists’ estate sales and fabricators who are liquidating their shops. And this is an environmentally friendly approach. (Reduce, reuse, recycle, right?)
- Lure kids in with the latest and greatest. Sometimes, having just one hot new machine to give your students a glimpse of a fab-friendly future world can open their minds to new possibilities in their projects. They may not know what to make on a MakerBot, but the experience of using one may transform their thinking.
- Just-in-time purchasing. You don’t have to have a fully equipped shop to get started. It can be very effective to wait to purchase a new tool only when a project comes along that needs it.
- Wait for critical mass, and for prices to come down. You will surely feel frustrated when your $3000 machine is superseded by more powerful, smaller, cheaper cousins rolling off the manufacturing floors, unless you know that you got $3000 of use out of it before it started collecting dust in some forgotten corner of your Makerspace. If a project “needs” to use a laser-cutter, you might find that it’s more economical to rent time on one or send your digital files out to a service that can create the part for you. Once there’s momentum and you see that your members really can’t create their projects without that tool or machine, you have some great anecdotes and visuals to support your claim that you need it as you fundraise to buy one.
- Build out your capacity modularly. We cover this in Chapter 4 of the Makerspace Playbook.
You could choose to have a few simple tools for some kinds of making, keeping the capacity at a “basic” level there while building out another area of making to a level that might be considered “intermediate” or “advanced.” We define basic as relatively low-cost while still useful and easy to use, while “intermediate” tools and materials add more capability to the Makerspace, allowing makers to create more ambitious projects and work with more materials with greater precision.
In the companion document High School Makerspace Tools & Materials we define several different modules, and each section contains checklists in two categories, and these constitute the bulk of each section. Checklists include the common name of each tool, general pricing information, and when necessary, a more specific description and web link to an example.
- Tools & Equipment — including Safety, Accessories, and Consumables related to those tools
- Materials & Parts — the actual “stuff” that will be used by the students in their projects, that you want to have on hand.
- General tools commonly used on a wide range of projects
- Electronics (from basic circuit design to microcontrollers, robotics, and other electromechanisms)
- Textiles (all flexible materials such as cloth, vinyl, leather, rope and string, including soft circuits and wearable electronics)
- Computers (hardware and software necessary for planning, design and fabrication)
- Digital Fabrication
- 3D Printing (additive manufacturing to build up detailed, complex objects)
- Laser Cutting (cut and etch materials quickly and with high precision)
- Computer Numerical Controlled (CNC) (accurately cut & sculpt various materials.)
A retention policy, such as “first in, last out”, or 6-month expiration dates, keep contributed materials from piling up. Segregate project storage to prevent the accidental dismantling of someone’s project.
For things that aren’t available at local suppliers, consolidate online orders to get bulk discounts and save on shipping costs. Some spaces keep an order form on a clipboard for members to log what they need bought on the next hardware store run.
Organization and maintenance can be very time-consuming and cause burnout. Be careful not to be sucked into it all by yourself! Require users to do their part in maintaining the stockroom. Delegate the task of doing inventory and sorting unused items that have been left behind to a someone you trust (who knows what’s what!) or to a knowledgeable volunteer. Or organize an occasional community cleanup to take care of the background maintenance that may not be done on a day-to-day basis.
Our “Makerspace in a Box” ListWe’ve put together a list of items to add to your makerspace to provide a good range of tools and materials.
- Stocking up School Makerspaces (makezine.com)
- Key Qualities for a School Makerspace (makezine.com)
- Is it a Hackerspace, Makerspace, TechShop, or FabLab? (makezine.com)
Now, I could care less if people have an organization and secret meetings and codes and wear funny hats. What I do mind is a government filled with massive corporate fraud and government corruption dismantling our US Constitutional and Rule of Law with lots of lying, cheating, stealing and SEE NO EVIL, HEAR NO EVIL, SPEAK NO EVIL lawmakers.
So, the American people are being subjected to all of these global corporate tribunal rule pols as Clinton/Obama neo-liberals and Bush neo-cons with the rise of these trade guild organizations partnered with all this corporate fraud. I'm sure this is why Maryland's labor unions are always backing these same 20 year neo-liberals and neo-cons that are killing labor. I think it is why I hear our university fraternity and sorority members who are hired to media and community directorships identifying which frat or sorority they are with-----these being the contracting consultants paid large sums for partnering with our local and state governments.
The point is this-----our American labor union members have been crushed from Clinton/Bush/now Obama because of this goal and national union leaders are partnered to Clinton neo-liberals because of this.
Masonic leaders convene in BaltimoreMembers say it's time to be more open about their charitable work
February 16, 2014|By Jonathan Pitts, The Baltimore Sun
Rep. Charles A. "Dutch" Ruppersberger was considering running for governor of Maryland 12 years ago when an operative for a political foe approached him with a word of caution.
"Dutch, you belong to an all-white, all-male secret society. I'm giving you a heads-up that we plan to make an issue of it," he recalls the operative saying.
"Tell anybody you want," the congressman remembers replying. "The world should know more about what it means to be a Mason."
Ruppersberger, 68, told the tale Sunday as part of the opening ceremonies for the Conference of Grand Masters of Masons in North America, an annual convention of the 500 or so individuals who serve as leaders for the 2 million Freemasons who live in the United States, Canada and Mexico.
The Freemasons, the oldest men's charitable organization in the world, hold the convention in a different city each year.
This year's affair, the 101st in history and the first to be held in Baltimore, began Sunday at the Marriott Waterfront Hotel and continues through Tuesday.
The 60 or so grand masters who head the grand lodges, or main headquarters, within each state and Canadian province, among other jurisdictions, were to compare notes on the progress of their charitable and fundraising activities, from campaigns to help locate missing children to supporting medical centers.
Each brought with him a handful of officers and supporters.
Conference chairman John Cooper, the grand master of California, kicked off the orations by announcing the convention's theme: "reclaiming our heritage for a better tomorrow." It seemed an apt idea for a brotherhood many say dates to the 1300s in England.
Most Masonic scholars agree the organization arose from the stonemasons' guilds during the Middle Ages, labor organizations that declared their members' moral and economic independence from the British monarchy.
Individuals who belonged valued thrift, liberty, strong moral character and a belief in a Supreme Being, traits Masons say are still essential to their mission of volunteering to help the oppressed and the less privileged, particularly children.
By 1717, records show, four lodges in London formed the first Grand Lodge of England, and within three decades, the fraternity had spread throughout Europe and the American Colonies, where many of the men who helped shape the early United States were members, including George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and Paul Revere.
Pioneer Davy Crockett, financier Andrew Carnegie, musical icon Duke Ellington, Presidents McKinley, Truman and Johnson and Gen. Douglas MacArthur are among the influential Americans who have joined the brotherhood.
Then as now, potential members had to first contact their local lodge, then meet that lodge's declared standards of good character.
Once approved, they join during ceremonies that include rituals they are sworn not to divulge.
Members say the secrets are simple matters that help preserve a sense of continuity through time, but some acknowledge the secrecy has helped convince many outsiders that Masons are a cult, that they wield untold political power behind the scenes, even that they're plotting to take over the planet and create a "New World Order."
The idea makes members like Robert D'Antonio laugh.
"I'm not a reptile. I don't eat children. I don't know how we could take over the world when we can't even agree on where to have a fish fry," said D'Antonio, a Ph.D. in tropical diseases who serves as special assistant to Gerald Piepiora, grand master of Maryland.
The only "secret," members say, is their quiet resolve to improve the lives of young people through missions such as the Student Assistance Program, a nonprofit organization supported by Masons that teaches educators how to spot children who may be struggling with hidden problems and get them help before it's too late.
That and their sense of fraternity. "Our real secret is the sense of brotherhood we have as we try to make good men better," said Mark Genung, grand master of Indiana.
Ruppersberger never did run for governor, but he has been a Mason for 42 years.
"We should be more open about who we are," he said. "Masons help build what's best in the human character."
WHILE NEO-CONS PRETEND TO BE FIGHTING IMMIGRATION AND NEO-LIBERALS ARE PRETENDING TO BE SUPPORTING LABOR UNIONS---BOTH ARE PUSHING TPP-----AND BUILDING STRUCTURES FOR TRADE GUILDS.
US labor unions need to think------under TPP with a global corporate tribunal rule-----global corporations will have ultimate power and what kind of labor organization will they install? MEDIEVAL TRADE GUILD ----MAKERSPACES
'The TPP, generally supported by pro-free trade Republicans but opposed by labor union Democrats, contains a barely noticed provision that allows for the free migration of labor among the signatory nations'.
NEO-LIBERAL EDUCATION HAS ALREADY BUILT THIS VOCATIONAL TRACKING AND APPRENTICESHIP SYSTEM IN ASIA THAT WILL
TPP Equals Mass Immigration
By Dick Morris
April 22, 2015Under the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a free trade agreement, Congress could lose the power to restrict immigration. We could find ourselves back in the era before the 1920s when there were no restrictions on immigration and anyone from anywhere could come to our shores. And Republicans, from Mitch McConnell and John Boehner on down, are unwittingly helping Obama achieve this goal.
The TPP, generally supported by pro-free trade Republicans but opposed by labor union Democrats, contains a barely noticed provision that allows for the free migration of labor among the signatory nations. Patterned after similar provisions in the treaties establishing the European Union, it would override national immigration restrictions in the name of facilitating free flow of labor.
The draft treaty, now under discussion among 11 Pacific Rim nations -- including the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Vietnam and Japan -- makes provision for needed labor to move across national boundaries without restraint. While much of the commentary on the deal has been focused on high-skill, white-collar migration, it could easily be interpreted as allowing farm workers and others to flow back and forth without legal regulation.
In seeking approval of the TPP, the Obama administration has proposed giving it fast track authority to conclude trade deals -- a power which would restrict Congress' ability to amend the deal and force an up or down vote. Led by Republicans, the Senate is moving toward passage of fast track as a precursor to ratification of the TPP treaty, immigration provisions and all.
Democrats and unions are staging a last-ditch stand against the bill, which their labor allies condemn as the worst trade deal since NAFTA, pointing to the potential loss of jobs. But Republicans are using their majorities to grant Obama fast track authority.
It is odd, indeed, to see Republicans falling all over themselves to reward this president with more power, voluntarily reducing Congressional oversight and increasing executive authority. At the very least, one would assume that TPP would give the GOP bargaining power to force Obama to backtrack on amnesty for people immigrating illegally and possibly on Obamacare. But far from forcing concessions, Republicans are lining up in support of fast track and, by implication, TPP.
Because foreign treaties are the "law of the land" according to the U.S. Constitution, any provision governing our borders and the flow of immigrants could not be overridden or even modified by the Congress. A new, Republican, president would be able to reverse Obama's amnesty plan, but not the open-border provisions of the TPP. The treaty could lead to the effective repeal of the specifically enumerated power granted to Congress in Article I of the Constitution to regulate immigration and naturalization.
While the treaty is still being negotiated, the current focus on white-collar immigration be sufficiently elastic to allow open borders. What is white collar vs. blue collar? Are we going to set an income limit on immigration?
Curtis Ellis, executive director of the American Jobs Alliance calls the trade deal "a Trojan horse for Obama's immigration agenda." He notes that "one corporate trade association says bluntly that 'The TPP should remove restrictions on nationality or residency requirements for the selection of personnel.'"
In his seventh and eighth year, every president worries about his legacy and tries to control events in the future. But here Obama is enshrining in a treaty -- that cannot be repealed or amended -- an open-border immigration policy for all time.
Those who say that he would never carry the treaty's provisions that far have only to ask themselves the question: Would Obama extend his powers to their maximum limit?
New Economy is the same as New World Order and 21st Century Economy----all neo-liberal.
Singapore is the most raging neo-liberal economy in Asia and as we see its answer to building new union structures look just like that being built in the US by very Republican neo-cons like Baltimore's Johns Hopkins, Koch Brothers Foundation, and the Deutsch Foundation. Is a Medieval Trade Guild really worker-owned-----were almost all toil under extreme poverty while a few deemed master crafts people attain a Living Wage? Of course not. Raise your hand if you believe in a nation with hyper-neo-liberalism and global corporate rule that these 'union' groups will be labor-friendly! Not without coincidence-----Singopore is US Republicans Dream------neo-cons love Singapore.....ground zero for SMART CITY technology.
'Perhaps the most innovation labor union building itself into a force for positive change in the 21st century is the Singapore’s National Trade Union Congress. What’s fundamentally different about the NTUC is the question of ownership and long term development strategy. Certainly the USW/Mondragon partnership is a welcome addition, but NTUC is much more directly applicable to the labor union context than Mondragon. NTUC is a joint venture of many of the nation’s unions to catalyze worker owned businesses for communities all across the country. Over the years, they’ve built thousands of businesses owned by the workers, yet also owned in part by the NTUC, bringing them together into a national federation of worker owned businesses and a broader labor union at the same time'.
Sunday, March 24, 2013
Labor Unions in the New Economy
Atlee McFellinThe future of the labor union is increasingly coming into question with the relentless assault on the rights of workers to organize, resulting in the lowest levels of union membership since the 1930s. Part of this comes from the “Right to Work” or “Corporate Servitude” legislation passed in states across the country, Michigan being the latest victim. The now infamous Citizens United ruling further unleashed the power of corporate coffers to influence politics, furthering a vitriolic hatred for unions by Tea Party dogmatics following the Koch Party line. Labor unions are in dire need of innovation to move past their 19th and 20th century models into a 21st century form that’s capable of weathering economic, political, and environmental turbulence. The future of unions rests with their ability, just like the green economy and new economy movements, to create immediate solutions for marginalized communities along with overarching, systemic alternatives to our broken economic and political systems.
Some of the most innovative work happening in the United States is around organizing low-wage workers at Walmart’s distribution centers and retail stores, domestic workers, and food workers in and downstream of restaurants. All these efforts can help unions build worker power in the 21st century. The strategy of the Blue-Green Alliance and others is to rebuild a unionized manufacturing base around cleantech, green chemistry, and related industries, which will also help grow the labor movement in this precarious century. All these are slow going and have yet to prove their ability to grow to scale no matter how amazing and inspiring they continue to be. On a completely different side of the modern labor union, many are using their pension funds to do some innovative work.
The most often cited example of unions investing in solutions is through what’s known as “economically targeted investments.” Different strategies are included in ETIs from investing in critical infrastructure (that hires union workers), building affordable housing (also hiring union worker), and even the large scale weatherization of single and multi-family housing across much of the state of California (hiring union workers too). Some of the more forward thinking unions like CALSTERS and CALPERS are providing ETIs, while a growing number are utilizing their pension funds to invest in multiple strategies that generate positive social change, while earning a market rate return.
Other investment strategies include moving money out of the big banks and into community banks and credit unions like we saw first with Wisconsin AFL-CIO members who closed accounts at a bank whose CEO funneled money into the Walker campaign. Unions like the AFL-CIO, SEIU, CALSTERS, LIUNA, IBT, and others are using their funds to invest in and push for things like CEO say on pay, disclosure of campaign contributions, disclosure and reduction of carbon emissions, addressing issues of water pollution, workers rights, etc. Between this and investing in funds that screen out many of the worst companies in the world, are a part of a global “sustainable and socially responsible investment” movement with assets under management globally greater than $3.07 Trillion by the end of 2010. Additionally, “shareholder resolution” efforts have grown in the last 40 years to cover a range of topics from animal rights and climate change to diversity, social issues, and more. What we have not seen though are shareholder resolutions demanding the democratic restructuring of the modern multinational corporation to root decision-making authority and ownership in communities and the workforce, which could be an extremely effective strategy going forward.
Other union pensions work collectively through jointly sponsored investment vehicles like Heartland Strategies to provide different forms of financing to cleantech ventures and other “small” to medium sized entities (SMEs). Innovative “worker-owned” venture capital funds like these help build companies with a union workforce and earn a return on investment for the pension funds at the same time. These developments are impactful and meaningful for an organizational model that’s 100+ years old, but unions have a long way to go before they’ll effectively be able to thrive in our rapidly changing world.
Perhaps the most innovative and inspiring development by unions in 21st century U.S. is the partnership between the Mondragon Cooperative Corporation and the United Steel Workers union. The intent of the partnership is to expand what they call “union coops” around the country. This leverages successful worker ownership strategies like Employee Shared Ownership Plans (ESOP) to transfer full ownership of companies to workers through worker cooperative structures, while having a union committee that ensures safe working conditions and builds the national power of worker self-determination on a grander scale. This partnership has been around since late October 2009 and has recently started to help launch start-up worker cooperative development in Pittsburgh and Cincinnati.
Outside of the U.S. International Labour Organization (ILO) has been pioneering work around the world with their “Job Creation and Enterprise Development Project.” This project is at the intersection of a global sustainable development movement many believe is a thinly veiled predatory ‘green capitalism’ (there’s some truth to that but not entirely) with a global social development movement meant to foster solutions for the worst off as the primary goal of development. The ILO works with its member unions from all around the world to drive pension fund dollars and forms of organizing that fall far outside of what unions in the U.S. consider part of their advocacy and development strategies.
From helping communities build microenterprises, non-profits developing social enterprises, launching worker-owned businesses, to more familiar cleantech and related businesses, the ILO is utilizing the power of unions to build a fundamentally different type of economy from the ground up. Right next door in Canada, unions got together during the recession of the 1980s to jointly capitalize something called the Quebec Solidarity Fund to help finance social and solidarity economy entities. They even passed legislation at the national level to allow workers to choose to invest a greater portion of the pensions in this and other solidarity funds that help launch cooperatives, social enterprises, etc. Certainly the Quebec model is one to emulate in the U.S. There are others too.
Perhaps the most innovation labor union building itself into a force for positive change in the 21st century is the Singapore’s National Trade Union Congress. What’s fundamentally different about the NTUC is the question of ownership and long term development strategy. Certainly the USW/Mondragon partnership is a welcome addition, but NTUC is much more directly applicable to the labor union context than Mondragon. NTUC is a joint venture of many of the nation’s unions to catalyze worker owned businesses for communities all across the country. Over the years, they’ve built thousands of businesses owned by the workers, yet also owned in part by the NTUC, bringing them together into a national federation of worker owned businesses and a broader labor union at the same time.
One could certainly say that they don’t focus enough on growth industries in the manufacturing sector like cleantech, but they’re focused on building a federation of service businesses needed by workers and communities of all income levels. This includes credit unions, elder care facilities, day care facilities, recreation businesses, retail stores, grocery stores, health insurance cooperatives, and more that are all worker owned. On top of this, there all federated together through the NTUC’s partial ownership of each, which leverages that additional power of a national union through pension funds, advocacy, and so much more. They’re building their own bottom up economy with an integrated capacity for political change, uniting the interest of unions and communities of diverse income levels nationwide.
This is all to say that unions in the U.S. desperately need to embrace global models like the work the ILO is coordinating, and especially the NTUC. Unions here should revamp their own development strategies to build immediate solutions for local and marginalized communities like the NTUC. By combining pension fund dollars with organizing efforts to direct capital to solutions jointly owned by the workers and a national federation of unions through a central entity like the NTUC, they’d become a vastly more powerful force capable of transcending the turbulence of the crisis-ridden future we are inheriting. Unions and doing some amazing things in the U.S. as we’ll see in the upcoming annual Good Jobs Green Jobs Conference this April. But to thrive in a crisis-ridden century they must focus on building a triple bottom line economy in solidarity with marginalized communities at the national level. Unions must build local economic solutions like the NTUC, expanding a stronger alternative and federated economy that helps workers and communities transition away from destructive corporations that act as the feudal lords of an American Dream turned Nightmare.
Atlee McFellin is a co-founder & principal of SymCenter. Atlee specializes in the creation of innovative economic development strategies and programs. Prior to founding SymCenter, Atlee worked with The Democracy Collaborative to create comprehensive strategies for cities around the country based on the Evergreen Cooperatives in Cleveland, OH. He is also the board co-chair of the New Economy Network, a national network of diverse organizations building a new economy from the ground up.
Baltimore has a great history of Free Masonry because of this undying connection to aristocracy and wealth. The Baltimore Sun even prints names of Free Masons tied to the leadership structure in Baltimore including politicians. This is why Baltimore pols have always worked for rich and conservative Johns Hopkins rather than their own community constituents. When you have systemic corporate fraud and government corruption as a long-term history of government in Baltimore----you see the need for the rich to create this FreeMason membership-----for aiding and abetting these crimes. A funny hat and a secret handshake makes those lower on the economic pole feel they are part of these big guys----it really is simply a modern-day mafia-----with the rich in Baltimore being the Godfather----and these Free Masons being the Goodfellows. Baltimore has a few Free Mason temples that are reopening with all this Trans Pacific Trade Pact and International Economic Zone systemic corporate fraud and government corruption and it is tied to rebuilding those Middle-Ages Trade Guilds.
I don't want to get into all of the jargon of this guild culture---I simply want people to look at the massive corporate frauds and government corruption that hit the US during this Clinton/Bush global corporate rule era and look at the pols who still today are in office aiding and abetting these crimes openly feeling they are immune from justice. All of this comes from the mindset of this Middle-Ages dynamic of society ruled by wealthy merchants (corporations) and these strong trade guilds where people are tracked as mostly free labor with a few rising to master craftsman-----THIS IS TO WHERE FAR-RIGHT UNIONISM WILL GO AND IT IS TO WHERE INTERNATIONAL UNION LEADERS LIKE TRUMKA AND WEINGARTEN ARE TAKING AMERICAN UNIONS.
This is why rank and file American union members are getting creamed by the pols their national leaders support every election. It is why this 2016 Presidential election has rank and file union members going with a social democrat Bernie Sanders while national union leaders are supporting neo-liberals like Hillary. This is not German unionism folks----this is back to the Dark Ages feudalism.
IT IS REALLY OUT OF THE DEEP ARCHAIC PAST.
'Yet whenever there is secrecy, the potential for corruption and manipulation increases dramatically. In this modern era of the Internet and easy access to knowledge, does the secrecy of the Masons and other secret societies play a useful role in our world? Is there a good purpose today for the most rich and powerful people in the world to meet behind closed doors without any public scrutiny'?
Arturo de Hoyos: So they developed a system of secret signs and secret passwords.
De Hoyos says the tradesmen started another system associated with Freemasonry – the so-called "three degrees:" apprentice, fellow of the craft, and master mason, still used in Freemasonry today.
Masons: Freemason Society
The Secret Society of Masons
"George Washington was a Mason, along with 13 other presidents and numerous Supreme Court Justices. Benjamin Franklin published a book about Freemasonry on his own printing press. Nine signers of the Declaration of Independence were Freemasons, including the man with the biggest signature: Jon Hancock."
~~ MSNBC article on the Freemasons society aka Masons secret society titled "Secrets of 'The Lost Symbol,'" 10/27/09
Few understand the degree to which secret societies like the Masons (a.k.a. Freemasons society) wield power and control behind the scenes in our world. 14 out of the 43 U.S. presidents were Masons. That's one out of three presidents. Yet most people know very little about this secretive organization. Key major media articles have given a glimpse of the inordinate power of top secret societies, yet the media in general seem reluctant to investigate deeply and to inform us what's happening behind closed doors with the Freemasons and other powerful secret societies.
In Europe of the middle ages and beyond, the Catholic Church ruled with an iron fist. Galileo was placed under house arrest till the day he died for claiming the Earth revolved around the sun. In those oppressive times, secret societies served a vital function, as they were one of the very few ways to preserve and foster knowledge suppressed by the church.
Yet whenever there is secrecy, the potential for corruption and manipulation increases dramatically. In this modern era of the Internet and easy access to knowledge, does the secrecy of the Masons and other secret societies play a useful role in our world? Is there a good purpose today for the most rich and powerful people in the world to meet behind closed doors without any public scrutiny?
The engaging MSNBC article below discusses key, little-known facts about the Masons and Freemasonry based on Dan Brown's blockbuster The Lost Symbol. Brown's novel paints the Masons in a very positive light, yet it also reveals their immense power. Why is it that so few people know about the Masonic origins of the U.S. and the incredible number of members of the global elite who belong to the Freemasons society and other secretive groups even now.
Key statements are highlighted in bold for those who prefer to skim. And as I have extensively researched secret societies for years, I've added my own comments in italics at various places in this article to present another viewpoint based on reliable, verifiable information I have obtained. Take the time educate yourself on these important groups and help to educate others, so that we can shine light into these shadows. Please help to spread the word on this powerful, yet little-known aspect of our world.
With best wishes for a transformed world,
Fred Burks for PEERS and WantToKnow.info
Former White House interpreter and whistleblower
Secrets Of 'The Lost Symbol'
Inside Dan Brown's latest thriller and the untold tales of our nation's capital
By Matt Lauer: 'Today' anchor Dateline NBC
This report aired on Dateline NBC on Friday, Oct. 15, 2009
Imagine the scene: a mysterious temple, its entrance guarded by massive stone columns and sphinxes. Inside, strange symbols, ancient inscriptions, and mystical numbers lead to a room shaped like a pyramid, with an eye that points toward the heavens, and in the center of the floor, a massive altar.
Some of the most powerful men in the country gather here to enact an ancient, secret ritual, drinking wine meant to represent blood from a human skull, and all of it happening just a mile from the U.S. Capitol.
It sounds like a work of fiction, and it does come from one – the opening scene of Dan Brown's best-selling novel, "The Lost Symbol." But Brown makes a remarkable claim: that the ritual is real, part of the history of the secretive brotherhood called the Freemasons.
Skull and Bones, the infamous Yale secret society, uses similar secret symbols operating out of a foreboding building called the "Tomb." George W. Bush, his father, his grandfather, and John Kerry are just a few of their prominent members. For a short CNN video clip showing the "Tomb," a peek at their rituals, and more, click here.
Matt Lauer: And when they found out that Dan Brown was going to be dealing with Freemasonry in this book, what was their reaction?
Dan Brown: Well, I think they were nervous that I might focus on what some would call the macabre sides of Freemasonry.
Perhaps with good reason. Brown has a history of prying open doors, revealing dark secrets – or at least seeming to. The central premise of his 2003 novel, "The Da Vinci Code," was an earth-shaking secret that Jesus and Mary Magdalene married and had children whose descendants live among us. The book infuriated some Christians. It also sold 80 million copies worldwide, became a blockbuster film, and made Dan Brown a household name.
Now, "The Lost Symbol" brings the same kind of high-profile scrutiny to the Freemasons, the Founding Fathers, and our nation's Capitol. "The Da Vinci Code" comes to Washington. Will it have the same impact?
Dan Brown: There's some very potent philosophical material and absolutely astonishing science that on some level I'm hoping will spark just as much debate.
How much debate? Consider this:
Dan Brown: America wasn't founded a Christian country. It became a Christian country.
Dan Brown: The human mind really does have the ability to affect matter.
"The Lost Symbol" raises provocative questions about the beliefs of the man on the dollar bill, about the power of the human mind, about whether people can become gods.
Government intelligence services have been exploring the powers of the mind and psychic abilities for many decades. They have quietly achieved a remarkable degree of success. Yet they have often spread disinformation to debunk the very things which they have achieved to keep them secret. For lots more on this, click here and here.
Dan Brown: It doesn't matter to me if someone agrees or disagrees with what I say. But I'd like them to at least think about it.
The book is a thriller, a headlong chase through some of Washington's most famous landmarks, and also through puzzles, secret codes, and dark corners of history, starting with the secretive group at the center of "The Lost Symbol": the Freemasons, a worldwide brotherhood that's centuries old, and still active.
George Washington was a Mason, along with 13 other presidents and numerous Supreme Court Justices. Benjamin Franklin published a book about Freemasonry on his own printing press. Nine signers of the Declaration of Independence were Freemasons, including the man with the biggest signature: John Hancock.
The secrecy of the Masons is what allowed prominent disgruntled colonists to gather, to conspire against British tyranny, and eventually to establish the new and independent country of the United States. Yet few history books touch on this important piece of American history. At the time of independence in 1776, Masons were highly respected. Yet as they became more powerful after the revolution, they also became more corrupt. By the late 1820s an anti-masonic movement swept the nation and decimated Masonic membership, though interest returned by the 1850s. For more, click here, and here.
Freemasonry still has millions of members worldwide, and they still conduct rituals like this one performed for our cameras:
Grim Reaper (enacting Masonic ritual): If curiosity spurred you towards us, go away. Do not proceed. If you are capable of deception, tremble. Because you will be found out.
Freemasons have been accused of everything from murder to devil worship to secretly controlling the U.S. government. Take a dollar bill, turn it over, look at the great seal of the United States on the back. Now draw a star of David. One point will match up with the all-seeing eye: a common Masonic symbol. Now look at the letters at the other points of the star:
M... A... S... O... N.
Coincidence? Video: M-A-S-O-N on the dollar bill
Don't miss this intriguing video. Could it be just a coincidence?
Matt Lauer: Freemasons have been accused of being involved in some rather strange conspiracies. A lot of that the result of the fact that you had powerful men, in this case, meeting behind closed doors and not discussing what they were doing.
Dan Brown: Of course. I mean, any time you have powerful people who aren't telling you what They're doing – you're going to assume the worst.
In times of great oppression like that of medieval Europe and the pre-revolutionary American colonies, secrecy was a vital means of sharing banned information and planning to bring positive change to the world. Yet particularly in more peaceful times, that same secrecy can and has been used to forward agendas which support the privileged few. Very few people know about the Bilderberg Group, Davos, and other secretive gatherings of the global elite. Why is there so little media coverage of these powerful conclaves when their influential members are daily fodder for the tabloids?
In Brown's book, the Freemasons are infiltrated by a man who believes they hold a great secret to mystical power. He's a larger than life villain named "Mal'akh" whose entire body is covered with tattoos of occult symbols.
Dan Brown: And there is an animal quality about him. He has feather tattoos on his legs. He's got giant double-headed phoenix on his chest.
Matt Lauer: He saves one square inch of his flesh for something that he is coveting. What is that?
Dan Brown: That is the lost word. The last piece of the puzzle. This word that at least in his twisted mind will be the – the coup d'etat. The cherry on top of the sundae that will be his transformation. That will give him power.
Mal'akh thinks the Masons' secret word will make him an all-powerful agent of evil, and he thinks that he can bring down the government with proof that some of its highest ranking officials are Freemasons. The man who must prevent all that from happening is, of course, Harvard professor Robert Langdon, the hero of "The Da Vinci Code," played by Tom Hanks in the movies. Langdon must find the lost symbol before Mal'akh does in order to save an old friend – and possibly the world – from Mal'akh's evil scheme. We'll hear from Dan Brown about the mysteries of freemasonry, and from the Freemasons themselves about the secrets they've kept for centuries.
We'll take a tour of Washington, D.C. unlike any you've taken before, uncovering secret places with Dan Brown as our guide. And we'll go to the fringes of science and the depths of prehistory in search of what Brown calls the true meaning of his latest book – and why, he says, it actually changed his beliefs.
Dan Brown: I spent a lot of time researching and really had to get to the point where I realized, "You know what? The world's a stranger place then we thought."
Brown does his research well in both "The Da Vinci Code" and "The Lost Symbol." In both books, I checked many of the facts he stated, especially the most surprising and controversial claims. Invariably, I was able to find reliable sources supporting his claims.
"The Lost Symbol" starts with a gruesome discovery. Dan Brown's hero, Robert Langdon, is lured to Washington, D.C. to the U.S. Capitol, where, at the center of the rotunda, he finds a severed hand, tattooed to resemble an ancient mystical symbol: the hand of the mysteries.
It beckons him on a dangerous journey. The hand belongs to an old friend of Langdon's who's been kidnapped by the villain, Mal'akh: a man named Peter Solomon. Solomon runs the Smithsonian Institution. But he's also a thirty-third degree Freemason of the Scottish rite. This is the headquarters of the Scottish Rite Freemasons in Washington, D.C. They call it the house of the temple, and it's where we talked with Dan Brown, who wove the secrets of the Masons into the taut rope of his story.
Matt Lauer: One character is being elevated to the 33rd degree of the Scottish Rite. It's a rather intense ritual. He he drinks wine, which is to represent blood out of a skull. How much of that is fact and how much of that is fiction?
Dan Brown: Well, this is a real ceremony. The ceremony is described accurately. The fiction comes in as to whether or not it still happens at this moment in history in this room.
Brown's villain, Mal'akh, is the man drinking the wine. He's journeyed deep into Freemasonry to find out its secrets – and so will we. Mal'akh is fiction, but how much of the ritual is real?
Arturo de Hoyos: Dan Brown's book is very exciting. And like any good work of fiction, it has to involve both truth and error to make it believable.
Arturo de Hoyos is the grand archivist and grand historian of the supreme council of the Scottish rite and himself a 33rd-degree Mason.
Arturo de Hoyos: One of the things that's wrong is on the very first page. We don't perform the 33rd Degree in this building. We don't confer it at night. The candidates to the members are dressed wrong. And the ceremony's wrong.
Maybe they don't do the ceremony in this building, but there's evidence Freemasons have done it. Brown can quote multiple historical sources. What is the truth? To find out, we have to delve into the distant past.
Mitch Horowitz: Masonry in many respects is a historic mystery.
Mitch Horowitz is the author of the new book, "Occult America." He's a scholar of esoteric religions and secret societies.
Mitch Horowitz: Masons themselves cannot agree on the nature of their own origins and background. Masonry may be the only modern organization for which that's true.
The origins of the Freemasons are shrouded in mystery. Art de Hoyos outlines the simplest theory:
Arturo de Hoyos: Freemasonry developed primarily in medieval Scotland and England with the Stonemasons' guilds and societies.
In other words, the first Masons were literally that: stonecutters, the men who built the great cathedrals of Europe, and who wanted to guard their trade secrets.
Arturo de Hoyos: So they developed a system of secret signs and secret passwords.
De Hoyos says the tradesmen started another system associated with Freemasonry – the so-called "three degrees:" apprentice, fellow of the craft, and master mason, still used in Freemasonry today. So is the symbol of a square and compass, mason's tools with the letter "g", signifying both "geometry" and "God." At meetings masons wear elaborately decorated aprons, symbolic representations of the ones worn by working stonemasons. But some say there's much more to Freemasonry: a deeper, older, more mystical side.
Mitch Horowitz: Freemasonry has been a vessel, a channel, for some very ancient ideas.
In fact, some masons say the group originated in the holy land, in biblical times, with the builders of Solomon's temple. Many Masonic symbols are even older than that.
Mitch Horowitz: The all seeing eye, the pyramid, the obelisk. It drew very deeply upon the symbols of pre-Christian religion because it believed that it was part of a chain of a spiritual search for truth that was older than any modern or contemporary religion.
The Masons are often linked to other secret societies claiming ancient heritage like the Knights Templar and the Rosicrucians. The Knights Templar, reputed to be some of the fiercest warriors of the time, were officially endorsed by the Catholic Church in the early 12th century. Yet they became so powerful (and among the world's first bankers) that by the early 14th century the church was largely successful in destroying the order. Some believe the superstition around Friday the 13th came from a secret edict issued by the King of France on Friday the 13th of October in 1307 to arrest all members of the order.
In the novel, Mal'akh believes the masons know mystical secrets that will make him an all powerful demon. He infiltrates the group, kidnaps its leader, and uses blackmail to try to get what he wants. That's fiction. But in fact, their freethinking about religion once caused the Vatican to denounce the masons as Satanic. And in the 1800's Masons in upstate New York were accused of murdering a man named William Morgan, who threatened to expose their secret rituals.
Today the web is full of anti-Masonic material.
Arturo de Hoyos: I frequently run into people who have heard of a couple of things about Freemasonry and no more. We killed William Morgan and we worship the devil, and that's about all they've heard of us.
Those people might be surprised to hear this:
Arturo de Hoyos: The father of our country was a Freemason. There's no question of this.
And historians agree that some principles of Freemasonry became cherished principles of the United States.
Arturo de Hoyos: Freemasonry was one of the earliest societies to advocate self-rule. We elected our own leaders. We had a secret ballot. We had a separation of powers. We were governed by a constitution. All these elements were very familiar to the founding fathers.
But remember Freemasons also had some radical ideas about religion. And as Dan Brown's hero, Robert Langdon, races Mal'akh through Washington, D.C. to find the secrets of Freemasonry, he reveals little-known facts about the founding fathers that might shock some readers.
Dan Brown: There was a statue that sat in the Capitol. It was George Washington as a god.
Hidden away on the lower level of the Masonic house of the temple, in Washington, D.C., there's a remarkable painting not many people have seen. George Washington, the first president of the United States, wears the decorated apron of Freemasonry. Nearby are the square and the compass, traditional symbols of Freemasonry. The painting is described in Dan Brown's best-selling novel "The Lost Symbol."
Dan Brown: It's a cornerstone laying ritual. And essentially, a date is chosen – that is auspicious from an astrological standpoint. And there will be certain blessings that are given when this cornerstone is laid. And the idea is that whatever is to take place in that building will have a solid and auspicious beginning.
And what building is George Washington, Freemason, laying the cornerstone for? The United States Capitol.
Matt Lauer: And it's not just the Capitol. Those ceremonies, those rituals were used in the building of the Washington Monument and the White House.
Dan Brown: They were. As well as many, many other buildings.
Masonic symbolism is rife in the great monuments and buildings of Washington, DC. Yet not only is this kept hidden from the public, many history books even fail to mention anything about the powerful influence of the Masons throughout the early years of the republic. Brown does a very good job of exposing all of this in his book. For a revealing History Channel documentary which give rare excellent coverage of this, click here.
The lore of Freemasonry marks Washington in other hidden ways as well. Consider, for example, the number 33, cherished by the Masons.
Dan Brown: Thirty-three is a very important number – in ancient mysticism. There's a reason that Jesus Christ was said to be 33. There is a reason that there are 33 vertebrae in our spine and that much of Freemasonry has to do with the concept of the body as a temple.
Thirty-three repeats throughout the Masonic house of the temple.
Matt Lauer: There are 33 columns or pillars, each one 33 feet tall.
Dan Brown: Yes, sir.
And the same number is built into one of D.C.'s most famous sights.
Matt Lauer: Is it coincidence that the cap on the Washington Monument--
Dan Brown: There is no such thing as coincidence--
Matt Lauer: --weighs--
Dan Brown: --when you're dealing with the number 33.
Matt Lauer: --weighs exactly 300 – 3,300 pounds?
Dan Brown: Yeah. 3,300 pounds.
That's right. The capstone matches that mystical number. Brown says the Freemasons influenced the founding of America in profound ways, and what he has to say may change what you think about how this country came to be.
Dan Brown: If you have a group of men who are Masons and simultaneously founding fathers and part of their Masonic ideal is that all men are equal, of course that will be an underlying theme in the founding of a country. Another important aspect of Freemasonry is this idea of freedom of religion. We talked about these books on the altar.
Matt Lauer: It's inclusive. It's not exclusive?
Dan Brown: Exactly. That couldn't have said it better.
Here Brown reveals his pro-Masonic bias. The Masons are far from inclusive. Like the vast majority of secret societies, the Masons do no accept women. And though a few African-Americans were granted membership at the time of the revolution, widespread racism and segregation made it nearly impossible for them to join many mainstream lodges. As recently as 2009, the admission of an African-American to a Masonic lodge in Georgia generated much controversy as reveal in this New York Times article.
Freemasons assumed members believed in a supreme being. But that's as far as it went. Masons could worship Yahweh, Jesus, Allah – or another god of their own choosing. Religious freedom was built into freemasonry. And, many scholars say the Freemasons built it into the U.S. Constitution. One-third of the signers were known to be Freemasons.
Brown says his research led him to a conclusion that might shock some people.
Dan Brown: America wasn't founded a Christian country. It became a Christian country. Important thing to remember with the masons and the founding fathers is that many of the founding fathers were deists.
Deists believe that a supreme being created the universe but that being is impersonal. It won't answer your prayers or even hear them.
Dan Brown: The concepts behind deism, where man is powerful and man is responsible are the underlying, core beliefs of Freemasonry.
Matt Lauer: So, when you talk about the founding fathers, who believed in deism as opposed to theism?
Dan Brown: Almost all of them.
Matt Lauer: Give me names.
Dan Brown: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams.
Matt Lauer: There are a lot of people who say there is no proof, for example, that Thomas Jefferson was a Freemason.
Dan Brown: That is true.
Matt Lauer: Okay.
Dan Brown: But certainly a deist. Thomas Jefferson went so far as to take the Holy Bible and remove all of the – all of the references to anything miraculous – to the resurrection, to the virgin birth. Jefferson himself said that the idea of the virgin birth, Christ springing from a virgin would one day seem as much like myth as the idea of Minerva springing from the head of Jupiter.
The Founding Fathers, Brown says, didn't just read The Bible. They also read Roman and Egyptian mythology. And they read the stars.
It's important to distinguish between the Masons involved in founding the US and those who came later. The founding fathers were not traditional Christians, but rather deists, as even many history texts acknowledge. They were highly focused on morals and values. Yet as the Masons power grew in the decades after independence, morals took a back seat as power and corruption moved to the fore. Considering that literally 1/3 of U.S. presidents were Masons, shouldn't they be getting more attention? And then find out how many were members of Skull and Bones, the CFR, and other secretive groups.
Matt Lauer: This reliance on astrology, what does it tell you? What does it suggest about our founding fathers?
Dan Brown: I think that they had a respect for what they did not understand, a respect for the heavens. The foundations of astrology really have a deep, mystical and spiritual underpinning that that the Masons were very in tune with.
Matt Lauer: it would be hard to imagine Barack Obama, taking a trip or or doing the groundbreaking on a major monument or something and using astrology as a basis for the time and the place, he'd be ridiculed.
Dan Brown: And rightly so, I believe.
Matt Lauer: But why was it okay then and is it not okay now?
Dan Brown: Well, for the same reason it was okay to believe that – if you threw a virgin into the ocean, a storm wouldn't hit you.
Matt Lauer: That's not okay now? (laughter)
Dan Brown: So that's not okay, either? (laughter) You know, science progresses.
In "The Lost Symbol," Mal'akh thinks that by learning the secrets of the Freemasons, he can become something like a god. You might be surprised to learn the founders had a similar idea.
Matt Lauer: There is a painting in the Capitol--
Dan Brown: Yes.
Matt Lauer: Tell me about it.
Dan Brown: Well it's a painting that I was shocked to find was there. I said, "There is a painting called the Apotheosis of Washington," apotheosis meaning, "The god-making of Washington."
Matt Lauer: George Washington becoming a god.
Dan Brown: It seemed almost irreverential. It was like, "How can a man become a god?" And you start looking at this painting and you realize just how strange it is. But it really, to my eye, and to other historians' eye, catches this concept of the power of man.
The Apotheosis of Washington is actually the huge fresco painted on the inside of the main dome of the U.S. Capitol Building. You can view it at this link. The tendency to make the first president into a god shows how easily people can get twisted by power.
Matt Lauer: Again, can you imagine anyone putting forth that notion of politicians as gods?
Dan Brown: Right.
Matt Lauer: Here we are in the 21st century – you'd be run out of town.
Dan Brown: You'd be run out of town. There was a statue of George Washington that sat in the Capitol. He was unclothed – he had a model of a statue of Zeus. It was George Washington as a god.
Matt Lauer: Right.
Dan Brown: And that did get run out of the Capitol building.
When they thought of becoming godlike, the founders were probably thinking about perfecting their minds through science and learning. In Brown's novel, however, the villain Mal'akh believes something much more profound and potentially sinister: that the Freemasons, from ancient times, through the time of George Washington to the present day, guarded secrets that could transform matter, transform a person, unleash incredible psychic and spiritual power. Most modern-day Masons say the brotherhood is not nearly so mysterious.
Arturo de Hoyos: There is no deep, dark, intimate and ultimate secret of Freemasonry which will transform the world in the way that "The Lost Symbol" portrays. It would be exciting if it were true, but such is not the case.
That's what most Freemasons say, but not all.
Cliff Porter: Sometimes it is said we have no secrets. Nothing could be further from the truth.
We'll learn some of their secrets next.
In Dan Brown's "The Lost Symbol," the hero Robert Langdon races through Washington, D.C., trying to unravel a secret Masonic message. He's forced to do it, by Mal'akh. He threatens to kill a man who's both a dear friend of Langdon's, and a thirty-third degree Freemason. Mal'akh also uses blackmail with evidence that some of Washington's most powerful men engage in Masonic rituals so bizarre, revealing them would bring down the government. Could the rituals of freemasonry be that shocking?
Cliff Porter: Masonry is a transformative art. It can be extraordinary in a man's life. It's speculative and alchemical and all those things.
Cliff Porter is senior warden of "enlightenment lodge 198" in Colorado. Brothers here say they are seeking eternal truths, learning ancient mysteries.
Cliff Porter: What I take offense to is the fact that sometimes it is said we have no secrets, or that what can be known about us can be Googled. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Somewhat reluctantly, they opened a few of their doors to our cameras. They practice alchemy here, the ancient art that sought to turn lead into gold. You might think of alchemy as pseudo-science. But it's also been used through the centuries as a metaphor of personal transformation.
Tim: This process of removing impurities to elevate it something greater, and more special, and more potent is very much what we also do within Freemasonry. Take good men, and make them grow into something more special.
Initiates go through a ritual that's meant to be intense and startling. First, the subject's vision is taken away with a "hoodwink" placed over his head. Then a master Mason – dressed as the grim reaper – issues a warning.
"If you persevere you will be purified, you will overcome darkness, you will be enlightened. But if your soul is fearful, do not proceed."
The disturbing part of this that gets little mention is that initiates swear to never reveal any of the secrets of the Masons on penalty of death. The ABC News article at this link states "the penalty for revealing Freemason secrets is supposed to be gory death." Early anti-Masonic fervor was initially sparked by the presumed murder of William Morgan when he was about to publish a book revealing Masonic secrets.
Shawn Beyer, Freemason: If you're not comfortable with what's going on, if you're nervous, if you think maybe you have approached the craft for the wrong reasons, you're given a chance to say I'm no longer okay with this.
Shawn Beyer joined the Freemasons recently and went through the initiation. Those who elect to continue are led into a place the masons would not let us show you ... a "chamber of reflection."
Shawn Beyer: You go into the chamber of reflection, and you remove the hoodwink. And you're presented with what is a very interesting image. And Dan Brown described it pretty well in his book.
As Brown describes it, the chamber includes a human skull and bones, elements used in alchemy, and a pen and paper where the initiate can write a last will and testament.
Shawn Beyer: The symbols are meant to help you think about the fact that your life isn't gonna go on forever. And frankly, it causes a very profound experience.
In one of the most striking scenes in "The Lost Symbol," Robert Langdon discovers a Masonic chamber of reflection at the center of American power.
Matt Lauer: You described it as being located in the bowels of the Capitol. Did it exist?
Dan Brown: No, these – chambers of reflection can exist anywhere.
Matt Lauer: Right.
Dan Brown: Many Masonic lodges have them. There are Masons who have them in their homes.
This kind of macabre symbolism has driven conspiracy theorists through the centuries to think the Freemasons practice some kind of black magic. Brown says Masonic rituals are no stranger than some other, more familiar ones.
Dan Brown: If a Catholic church, for example, pulled the shades and you heard through the grapevine that people were kneeling under a crucifix, an instrument of torture and consuming blood and flesh, ritualistically – you might say, "What a terrible organization."
Yes, the major difference here being that the Masons and other secret societies shroud their rituals in secrecy, while the Catholic church does them in the open.
The Masons in Colorado say they embrace their symbolism and mysticism. But in many lodges across the country, the scene is a little different.
Mitch Horowitz: I often tell people that if you like bake sales join Freemasonry because that's what you're going to be doing.
Mitch Horowitz, author of the book "Occult America," says most Freemasons are far from mystical.
Mitch Horowitz: They run a wonderful network of free children's hospitals around the nation. They raise money for charity locally and nationally. They do continue to use occult and esoteric symbols. But to a very great extent these things are museum pieces in Freemasonry today.
You've probably seen the Shriners – an offshoot of the Masons – riding go-karts and raising money for charity. Freemasons even had the honor of being satirized on "The Simpsons."
Grand Master to Homer: Welcome to the club number 9-0-8. Now let's all get drunk and play ping-pong!
The Masons have also lost some clout since George Washington's day. The last master Mason to serve as president was Gerald Ford. But Brown says whether they know it or not, the Freemasons' secret rituals still connect them to a rich, powerful, mystical tradition.
Dan Brown: I intended this book as a reverential look at their philosophy.
Matt Lauer: And isn't there possibly another side of the coin here, in this day, where it's become a little more humdrum with the bake sales and the charitable drives, you've created a little more mystery. You've given some of their mystery back to them. And they might like that.
Dan Brown: I hope so. As with any organization, there are some who understand the core and some who are on the periphery. I'm hoping it starts to pull people in the direction of the ancient mysteries.
The ancient mysteries. They're the key to the plot of The Lost Symbol. But are they the key to much more?
Dan Brown: All of these texts from all of these different authors tend in a same direction. This idea of the power of the human mind and the ability of thought to actually transform the world in which we live.
The villain of the lost symbol, Mal'akh, is a giant who has covered himself with tattoos he thinks will give him mystical powers: a double-headed phoenix, the pillars from the temple of Solomon, a snake consuming itself.
You might think the symbols came from from Mal'akh's twisted mind. They came instead from a mysterious book called "The Secret Teachings Of All Ages," a favorite of Mal'akh's creator, Dan Brown.
Dan Brown: And that really is a core book for a lot of what I research and a lot of what I believe.
"The Secret Teachings" was written in the 1920s by a Canadian-American named Manly P. Hall who founded the Philosophical Research Society in Los Angeles. It carries on his work, studying the wisdom of the ancients. Its director is Obadiah Harris:
Obadiah Harris: The ancient mysteries are about the divination of man, how it is that you can become more fully human and achieve a level of consciousness beyond the reasoning mind.
Mal'akh believes the Freemasons have guarded the ancient mysteries for centuries. He forces Robert Langdon to race through Washington, trying to decode messages the masons engraved on a stone pyramid, messages Mal'akh is convinced will lead him to the lost symbol of the ancient mysteries – and to unspeakable power.
Matt Lauer: And you draw a pretty straight line from the ancient mysteries to the Freemasons and to another subject that we haven't quite discussed yet. Is it an imaginary line or is it a real line?
Dan Brown: No, it's absolutely a real line. The ancient mysteries deal in the concept of the power of the human mind. The Masons celebrate mankind and the power of the human mind. In fact in the second degree ritual there's actually a line where they say, "Here you will learn the mysteries of human science."
There's a form of "human science" that Mal'akh wants to hijack for his own ends. It sounds like fiction... But it's not.
Dan Brown: Noetic science really is the reason this book took me so long to write. I've said before I'm a skeptic. And I hear about these experiments that are being done that categorically and scientifically prove that the human mind has power over matter.
Matt Lauer: The physical world?
Dan Brown: Power over the physical world.
The term "Noetic" derives from the Greek word for "mind." Noetic scientists study whether age old ideas like faith healing – ESP, mind over matter – actually have a scientific basis. In Dan Brown's novel, there's a secret lab at the Smithsonian doing cutting-edge research to prove the human mind has such power. Mal'akh breaks in, murders one scientist and tries to kidnap another. The secret lab is fiction. But there's a real one similar to it in Petaluma, California's Institute Of Noetic Sciences. Its director is Marilyn Schlitz.
Marilyn Schlitz: I would say Noetic is equivalent to intuition, that sense of feeling that isn't rational. "I just had a gut feeling about something." The science part of it is really bringing that lens of discernment, of rigor, of critical thinking to what is a non-rational process.
Schlitz showed us an experiment in which one subject, using her thoughts alone, tries to alter the vital signs of a second subject in a sealed room. Another experiment seeks to determine if people, again, through thought alone, can affect the formation of ice crystals. A third experiment involves machines called random event generators – which Noetics researchers have placed on almost every continent.
Marilyn Schlitz: They are essentially electronic coin flippers. So if you imagine flipping a coin 100 times, you would expect, based on a normal probability distribution, that you'd get an equal number of heads and tails.
In some experiments, she says, human thought alone has affected these machines, changing the ratio of heads to tails.
The Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) is a cutting-edge research institute exploring the intersection between science and consciousness. Founded by astronaut Edgar Mitchell, the sixth man to walk on the moon in the Apollo moon landings, this group is helping people around the world to develop more fluidity in their intelligence. For more on this, click here.
Matt Lauer: And it's the power of of the human mind? The power of group thought? The power of group focus?
Dan Brown: I don't know. That's the --
Matt Lauer: But how can you this be so central to the book if we don't know? I mean that's a it's a very difficult concept to get your arms around.
Dan Brown: Well--
Matt Lauer: And there are some, let's be honest, who think it's a hoax.
Dan Brown: Sure.
You don't have to look far to find them. Ray Hyman, a former professor of psychology at the University Of Oregon, has made a mission of exposing what he considers scientific fraud – and Noetic science is on his hit list.
Ray Hyman: Noetic science is not the science that we know of as physics and chemistry and even psychology. There's very little science there, as far as I'm concerned.
Nevertheless, the Institute of Noetic Sciences has received a grant from the federal government to study "distance healing" – what you might call prayer.
Dan Brown: I spent a lot of time researching Noetic science and really had to get to the point where I realized, "You know what? The world's a stranger place then we thought." And the human mind really does have the ability to affect matter.
A secret U.S. government program was designed to develop the ability to directly perceive at a remote distance. Called remote viewing, the government initially denied the existence of this program, calling those who talked about it conspiracy theorists. Yet in 1995, declassified documents were released revealing that the government had indeed spent many millions on this top secret program. To learn more, click here.
He says his new belief led to an old fear.
Dan Brown: Every single scientific breakthrough in human development, whether it was fire or nuclear power, has been turned into a weapon. My fear is that we start to learn how to use our minds and that our innate dark sides will use it for evil.
Which, of course, is exactly Mal'akh's goal, one he's willing to kidnap, torture, and kill for.
Matt Lauer: And what you've set up in the book is the people who think about, "Boy, we can change the world in a positive way." Your villain in this book, Mal'akh, says, "Wait a minute. I don't want that renaissance."
Dan Brown: Right.
Matt Lauer: I want this to be a source of evil.
Dan Brown: Mal'akh is the reminder that with knowledge comes responsibility.
It may sound heavy for a beach read. But Brown doesn't seem worried.
Dan Brown: I think my books contain a lot of meat but it tastes like dessert somehow.
He manages that by folding the big ideas into a book-length, high-speed chase, all the while revealing the secrets of a city that seems familiar.
What other secrets does Washington hold? Brown himself will show us next.
"The Lost Symbol" takes you on a high-speed journey to uncover secrets in Washington, D.C. Dan Brown helped us retrace the steps of his fictional hero, Robert Langdon.
Dan Brown: One thing I love to do is to get people to see things through a slightly different lens.
Brown showed us the nation's capital through his eyes – and it does look different.
Dan Brown: This city has all the intrigue of Rome or Paris when it comes to architecture.
The Capitol Rotunda – where the fictional Langdon makes a gruesome discovery has a real-life secret, stumps of iron in the floor that used to be part of a railing. In the 1820's, there was a hole in the floor – leading down to a lower level, the "Capitol Crypt."
Matt Lauer: You also found this labyrinth of rooms in the basement areas and sub-basement of the capital?
Dan Brown: Right. The under stories of the U.S. Capitol are filled with these tiny rooms. The blueprint of the Capitol building is an astonishing document. It – it looks like – it looks like a – right out of a labyrinth of ancient Greece.
Langdon flees through that labyrinth and emerges across the street, in the Library Of Congress, which has its own treasures – hidden in plain sight.
Dan Brown: You've got this astonishing staircase with an anachronistic sort of feature one of these little cherubs, these putti. You've got one up here: It's holding a telephone.
Matt Lauer: It's right – yeah, right there.
Dan Brown: I mean, you've got – and you've got one down here. Over here, you've got an entomologist. He's catching butterflies.
With this bizarre fusion of these little religious figures with with scientific concepts.
And, of course – we had to check out the main reading room, where Brown's hero narrowly escapes his pursuers by riding a conveyor belt meant for books.
Dan Brown: It's my favorite room in all of D.C.
Matt Lauer: Is it really?
Dan Brown: Without a doubt. It's been called the most beautiful room in the world. It's an octagon lit in eight different directions so there are no shadows, no shadows anywhere. The room – room really seems to – to radiate.
Langdon needs a place to hide out – a sanctuary – but to get there he has to solve a riddle: "A refuge containing ten stones from Mount Sinai, one from heaven itself, and one with the visage of Luke's dark father."
The answer really does reside at the National Cathedral... With stones from Mount Sinai in the altar steps ... A moon rock set in a stained glass window, and a gargoyle in the form of Darth Vader. As for the Smithsonian laboratory where Mal'akh commits a terrible murder, it really exists. Video: Secrets of the National Cathedral
Matt Lauer: Almost everyone that's come to Washington knows of the Smithsonian.
Dan Brown: Sure.
Matt Lauer: Very few people know of a facility located just outside of Washington that is the support center for the Smithsonian. Why did it fascinate you?
Dan Brown: What's not to be fascinated? This place has got a giant squid. There's an enormous series of labs that will study everything from fleas to – the baleen from whales.
One of "The Lost Symbol's" greatest puzzles is also the last stop on Dan Brown's mystery tour.
Matt Lauer: At the CIA, there is a sculpture that I don't think a lot of people know.
Dan Brown: There is a – an American sculptor, James Sanborn, and he has created a sculpture that – fascinates me and – and a lot of cryptologists that has – an enormous series of letters on them that appear random but are actually – a code.
Matt Lauer: And – and who knows the meaning of that code?
Dan Brown: Only W.W.
Matt Lauer: That's it?
Dan Brown: That's it.
W.W. is William Webster, the director of the CIA in 1990, when "Kryptos" was installed. Brown says Webster was given the key to the sculpture's secret messages, but he's never revealed it. And not one of the CIA's army of cryptologists has cracked the entire code.
Matt Lauer: It – it's obvious to anybody who's read your books that you love puzzles. You--
Dan Brown: I do.
Matt Lauer: --loved codes. You know, a Rubik's Cube must have been your best friend at some point.
Dan Brown: It was.
Matt Lauer: I mean – it – what – (laughter) what is – is in your opinion the most fascinating code, puzzle, symbol in this book?
Dan Brown: The most fascinating code I left out of this book.
Matt Lauer: Why?
Dan Brown: Be – it was too complicated. It was just too tough to use.
Matt Lauer: Well, you can't tell me that and now not tell me about it?
Dan Brown: Well, I'm not gonna tell you about it. It's in the next book.
Speaking of the next book...
Matt Lauer: Just between us, what's it about?
Dan Brown: Just between us? (laugh)
Matt Lauer: And the Freemasons in this room.
Dan Brown: And the Freemasons. That – that will be laid bare at some point in the future.
Matt Lauer: Yeah? And – and – is it similar subject matter?
Dan Brown: No.
Matt Lauer: Complete departure?
Dan Brown: Not complete. Nothing's complete. Everything builds on something else.
Just as Brown says his current book builds on his previous ones... And asks the reader for something more as well.
Matt Lauer: There's a call to action in this book where you basically challenge the reader to take what you've just told them over the course of the previous 500 pages and decide what he or she wants to do with it. And did you set out to write that ending or did that just happen?
Dan Brown: In some ways it just happened. This amount of research and intellectual growth that went into writing this novel really led to that rather hopeful ending. And thank you for seeing that it is a call to action.
You see, the whole headlong chase through Washington, the secrets of the Freemasons, the ancient mysteries, Noetic science. For Dan Brown, it all adds up to a series of important questions: How well do we know our history? How well do we understand our beliefs? How well do we grasp the powers of our own minds?
Matt Lauer: Last word of the book is one that will surprise people.
Dan Brown: Yes.
Matt Lauer: It is?
Dan Brown: Hope.
Matt Lauer: Hope. And it means what?
Dan Brown: In the context of this book the last word means that we can do better and that we will do better.
And as Brown's millions of fans know, we can also spend hours – or years – puzzling over the secret codes and mystical messages of "The Lost Symbol."
Dan Brown has done a great service by shining so much light into the shadows of Freemasonry with his popular and engaging book. Yet in the end, Brown paints a rather simplistic picture of the Masons. He portrays them as spiritual seekers in search of higher truths and greater achievements for all humanity. In his novel, one evil man attempts to ruin all of the lofty secret achievements of this noble group. Yet other evidence suggests a much less black-and-white interpretation of the Masons. Though the ideals of Freemasonry may be lofty and designed for the betterment of all, in practice, greed and corruption have played a key role in all secret societies. For more on the control and corruption of these groups, see the box below.