Fraternal organizations. The Elks, the Moose, the Oddfellows, all that. Considered kind of obsolete in modern life, right?
Used to have an economic “function” - sufficiently large risk pools for the procurement of life, health, unemployment, and disability insurance, but were later displaced in that role by governments, employers, and unions.
You don’t see much of them anymore. There’s still the American Legion and VFW, but they draft off the military services’ collective identity formation (initiation rituals, shared experiences, collectively sung songs) rather than doing their own in-house.
But, you know, there’s potential there. Fraternal organizations can pull off some serious shit. You get a bunch of guys drinking and singing songs together, throw in some woo-woo mystic aesthetics, add a hierarchy with absurdly pompous titles and you get… the Nazi Party. (Beer Hall Putsch, and all that.)
Or the Freemasons. (Who no, don’t rule the world, but have been pretty important to several national revolutions.)
Or the Ku Klux Klan.
It’s interesting to see particularly where each particular one lifts their goofy aesthetic from. College fraternities invoke Greece, or at least the platonic Greece of Platonic Greece. I guess that makes sense for the intersection of academics, drunkenness, and homoeroticism, but other than the three letters and the occasional toga party they don’t push that too hard and their everyday mytho-aesthetic is pretty much civic Americanism - leaders are called “president”, “secretary”, “treasurer”, etc.
The Nazis were all into German palingenesis so obviously they went heavy on the historic Germanicness as a theme, something I didn’t pick up on until it was explained to me was that a lot of their everyday terms - gau, gefolgschaft, etc. - would have come across as archaic and medieval even by the standards of a culture that had been a feudal monarchy in living memory. The American equivalent would be like if the government was conquered by renn faire types who started giving things goofy-ass D&D names.
EXCEPT OH FUCKING WAIT, THAT’S THE KU KLUX KLAN. Wizards and Dragons and Realms and Provinces and Giants and Cyclopses and Goblins. The Klan was also really into being 2spooky4u. Like, as I write this, it is Frightful PM on the Wailing Deadly day of the Sorrowful month, as the Kalendar reckons it. But then that was always the schtick: “We’re knights! Or are we… ghosts?! ~oooOoOoOOOOoOoOooo~”
And I mean “really, who could take this seriously?” Well, tumblr, who could take your whole Halloween spoopy Skeleton War shit seriously? The answer is no one, so you don’t, but you keep doing it anyway, and so did they.
The Freemasons were weeaboos! I mean not as we know it now, Masonry predates the opening of Japan and subsequent Japonisme, but it’s the same thing, a goofy appropriation of an idealized version of the exotic Orient, using the then furthest-east culture they were in contact with, the Ottoman empire. There was some Moorish stuff too, so maybe the theme should be “Mediterranean Islam”. Temples and fez-wearing Shriners (ahem, “the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine”) and the Moorish Rite. THE FREEMASONS WERE ISLAMABOOS.
(Actually, you know what more recent organization has combined fraternal socialization, revolutionary potential, and a cod-Islamic theme? The Nation of Islam.)
On the one hand, fraternal organizations have been able to wage campaigns of violent subversion capable of overthrowing or supplanting governments; on the other they have always been total fucking nerds getting drunk and geeking out, the two are in no way exclusive.
Do you any fics that involves any secret societies or fraternities or something like that? I've searched you tags and the whole blog 😇