A cabal is a number of people united in some close design, usually to promote their private views and interests in a church, state, or other community, often by . Cabals are sometimes secret societies composed of a few designing persons, and at other times are manifestations of emergent behavior in society or governance on the part of a community of persons who have well established public affiliation or kinship. The term can also be used to refer to the designs of such persons or to the practical consequences of their emergent behavior, and also holds a general meaning of intrigue and conspiracy. Its usage carries strong connotations of shadowy corners, back rooms and insidious influence; a cabal is more evil and selective than, say, a faction, which is simply selfish. Because of this negative connotation, few organizations use the term to refer to themselves or their internal subdivisions. Among the exceptions is Discordianism, in which the term is used to refer to an identifiable group within the Discordian tradition.

Origins of the word

The term "cabal" derives from Kabbalah (a word that has numerous spelling variations), the mystical interpretation of the Hebrew scripture, and originally meant either an occult doctrine or a secret. It was introduced into English in the publication of "Cabala", a curious medley of letters and papers of the reigns of James and Charles I that appeared in 1654. ["Cabala, sive Scrinia Sacra. Mysteries of State and Government in Letters of illustrious Persons and great Agents; in the Reigns of Henry the Eighth, Queen Elizabeth, King James and the late King Charls. In two Parts, in which the Secrets of Empire, and Publique manage of Affairs are contained." [ "Cambridge History of English and American Literature" (1907–21), vol VII, ch. viii.4 "The Compleat Ambassador"] . ]

Association with Charles II

The term took on its present meaning from a group of ministers of King Charles II of England (Sir Thomas Clifford, Lord Arlington, the Duke of Buckingham, Lord Ashley, and Lord Lauderdale), whose initial letters coincidentally spelled CABAL, and who were the signers of the public Treaty of Dover that allied England to France in a prospective war against the Dutch. [ Durant, Will and Ariel. "The Age of Louis XIV." (page 277) New York: Simon And Schuster, 1963.] It must be said, however, that the so-called Cabal Ministry can hardly be seen as such — the Scot Lauderdale was not much involved in English governance at all; while the Catholic ministers of the Cabal, Clifford and Arlington, were never much in sympathy with the Protestants, Buckingham and Ashley, nor did Buckingham and Ashley get on very well with each other. Thus, the "Cabal Ministry," never really unified in its members' aims and sympathies, fell apart by 1672; Lord Ashley, who became Earl of Shaftesbury, later became one of Charles II's fiercest opponents. The explanation that the word originated as an acronym from the names of the group of ministers is a folk etymology, although the coincidence was noted at the time and could possibly have popularized its use. The group, who came to prominence after the fall of Charles's first prime minister, Lord Clarendon, in 1667, was rather called the Cabal because of its secretiveness and lack of responsibility to the "Country party" then out of power.

Use in relation to Computers and Usenet

Valve Software, the creators of games such as Half-Life, use "Cabal Rooms" when working on projects such as new games or bug fixes. These rooms usually comprise 10-15 people, many computers and design technologies, and at least one whiteboard. (See adjacent image).

Current usage

Two recent examples of the use of the word Cabal came in an accusation by former Secretary of State Colin Powell's chief of staff, Lawrence Wilkerson, who claimed that the Bush administration's foreign policy is run by a "Cheney-Rumsfeld cabal" implying a sinister intent. [ [ Former Powell Aide Says Bush Policy Is Run by 'Cabal'] October 21, 2005, By Brian Knowlton ("NYT"); Foreign Desk] And the second by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has rallied the world community to support UN sanctions against Zimbabwe, denouncing the regime's leaders as a "criminal cabal". [ [,,2-11-1662_2354782,00.html Zim led by 'criminal cabal': Africa: Zimbabwe: News24 ] ] Currently on the Comedy Central program "The Daily Show", the phrase "a global cabal of Jews" is referenced from time to time, as a spoof on antisemitic conspiracy theories. The existence or otherwise of cabals has led to the Internet phenomenon originating on Usenet, "TINC" (standing for "There Is No Cabal"). Many Masonic conspiracy theories have pictured Freemasonry as an international secret cabal.

ee also

* Assassination
* Conspiracy (political)
* Emergence
* Espionage
* Controversies about Opus Dei

Other negative words that arose from descriptions of religious extremism or religious sects include:
* Zealot
* Thug
* Hashshashin
* World on Fire/Market-dominant minorities


External links

* [ The Occult Technology of Power] (webbed)
* [ Ken Birdwell, "The Cabal: Valve’s Design Process For Creating Half-Life," (Game Developer Magazine, Dec 1999)] .

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.


Look at other dictionaries:

  • Cabal — Ca*bal (k[.a]*b[a^]l ), n. [F. cabale cabal, cabala, LL. cabala cabala, fr. Heb. qabb[=a]l[=e]h reception, tradition, mysterious doctrine, fr. q[=a]bal to take or receive, in Pi[ e]l qibbel to adopt (a doctrine).] 1. Tradition; occult doctrine.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Cabal — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda Para otros usos de este término, véase Cabal (desambiguación). Cabal es una novela de terror escrita por Clive Barker en 1988. Originalmente fue publicada dentro de un libro que contenía otros relatos cortos,… …   Wikipedia Español

  • Cabal — Entwickler TAD Corporation Publisher …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Cabal — Fréquent dans l Aveyron et le Tarn, le nom est sans doute à rattacher à l occitan caval (= cheval), surnom donné au possesseur d un cheval, ou à celui qui est fort comme un cheval. L hypothèse donnée par Dauzat (riche, puissant, occitan cabal )… …   Noms de famille

  • cabal — adjetivo 1. Que se comporta con integridad y rectitud, según la justicia, la moral o la razón: Tu padre es un hombre cabal, de los pocos que quedan. No podemos fiarnos de las propuestas de esta empresa porque no parece que sea muy cabal. 2. Que… …   Diccionario Salamanca de la Lengua Española

  • cabal — (De cabo, extremo). 1. adj. Ajustado a peso o medida. 2. Dicho de una cosa: Que cabe a cada uno. 3. Excelente en su clase. 4. Completo, exacto, perfecto. 5. m. Hues. Pegujal del segundogénito. 6. ant. caudal (ǁ hacienda). 7 …   Diccionario de la lengua española

  • cabal — (n.) 1520s, mystical interpretation of the Old Testament, later society, small group meeting privately (1660s), from Fr. cabal, in both senses, from M.L. cabbala (see CABBALA (Cf. cabbala)). Popularized in English 1673 as an acronym for five… …   Etymology dictionary

  • cabal — [kə bäl′, kəbal′] n. [Fr, intrigue, society (popularized in England from the initials of the ministers of Charles II) < ML cabbala, CABALA] 1. a small group of persons joined in a secret, often political, intrigue; junta 2. the intrigues of… …   English World dictionary

  • Cabal — Ca*bal , v. i. [imp. & p. p. {Caballed} ( b[a^]ld ); p. pr. & vb. n. {Caballing}]. [Cf. F. cabaler.] To unite in a small party to promote private views and interests by intrigue; to intrigue; to plot. [1913 Webster] Caballing still against it… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Cabal — Cabal, bei den Engländern Name eines Ministeriums unter Karl II. von England 1669–79, das auf die Wiederherstellung der unumschränkten Monarchie hinarbeitete u. im Solde König Ludwigs XIV. von Frankreich stand, aus den Anfangsbuchstaben der… …   Herders Conversations-Lexikon

  • cabal — I noun band, camarilla, clique, coalition, collusion, combination, complicity, complot, confederacy, connivance, conspiracy, council, design, factio, faction, gang, intrigue, junta, league, machination, plot, ring, scheme, secret group, secret… …   Law dictionary

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.