The meanings of "New World Order"

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I was puzzled by apparently mixed messages in the protest sign featured here:

The phrase "New World Order" has been (and continues to be) used by very different groups, with very different referents and very different evaluations.

Wikipedia offers a disambiguation page with several meanings, including "a conspiracy theory referring to the emergence of a totalitarian one-world government", or alternatively "any period of history evidencing a dramatic change in world political thought and the balance of power".

In some sense these are the same thing with different spins, at least if we abstract away from questions like whether The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is a despicable forgery or an important revelation.

Some sources continue to use the phrase in an apparently positive sense, e.g. "The New World Order That President Biden Will Inherit" (NYT 11/15/2020), "Biden's election shows an overwhelming support for a new world order" (Canberra Times 11/9/2020), "NCAA must embrace new world order" (IBJ 10/23/2020), etc. Meanwhile others walk on the conspiracy-theory side of the street, e.g. "Husband Of Reopen NC Leader Says He's 'Willing To Kill' To Stop 'New World Order'" (WFAE 5/24/2020), "Don’t fear Covid-19 — fear the New World Order takeover" (SMN 5/29/2020).

The protest sign comes from a right-wing event, so presumably its author uses New World Order to mean "the emergence of a totalitarian one-world government" promoted by socialistic liberals or Bill Gates or Jewish bankers or etc.. But the people who think that way are generally white supremacists, or at least  not especially concerned to avoid negative outcomes for people of color, so is the warning ironic?

The author of the cited tweet adds

ymmv, but I think the thrust of this is paranoid anti-vax conspiracy theory.

which refers to the widely-held theory that COVID-19 was actually created as part of Bill Gates' nefarious plan to inject everyone with a monitoring chip in an obligatory coronavirus vaccine. If you haven't been following this, you may be interested to learn ("Coronavirus: Bill Gates ‘microchip’ conspiracy theory and other vaccine claims fact-checked", BBC 5/29/2020) that

The head of the Russian Communist party this week said that so-called "globalists" supported "a covert mass chip implantation which they may in time resort to under the pretext of a mandatory vaccination against coronavirus".

He didn't mention Mr Gates by name but in the US, Roger Stone, a former adviser to Donald Trump, said Bill Gates and others were using the virus for "microchipping people so we can tell 'whether you've been tested'."

A new YouGov poll of 1,640 people suggests that 28% of Americans believe that Bill Gates wants to use vaccines to implant microchips in people – with the figure rising to 44% among Republicans.

How and why do the Blacks and Indians come into it? Presumably because they're in more danger from the virus — though the motivations of the sign's author remain unclear to me.



  1. Frédéric Grosshans said,

    November 16, 2020 @ 6:20 am

    The readership of this blog would probably consider the investigation of a new word order more interesting ;-)

  2. Andreas Johansson said,

    November 16, 2020 @ 6:33 am

    Daily gnashing of teeth over the decline of latinity: "and etc" is pleonastic!

  3. Luke said,

    November 16, 2020 @ 6:35 am

    I can only assume that ethnic minorities are more likely to support the political party that represents this "New World Order", therefore the sign could be a warning that they'll become victims to what they support.

  4. ardj said,

    November 16, 2020 @ 7:34 am

    The placard seems unpunctuated. The sense I took from it was "Coming for [ get, to attack rather than to support] Blacks & Indians first. Welcome to the NWO" – so placard writer supports the NWO which will put these inconvenient Blacks, Indians, & other riff-raff in their place.

    Hesitant about introducing possible ambiguities to people better able to detect them than me.

  5. Cervantes said,

    November 16, 2020 @ 7:50 am

    Unfortunately I think ardj is probably right. The placard maker is likely thinking specifically of Kamala Harris.

  6. Ralph Hickok said,

    November 16, 2020 @ 8:14 am

    "Novus ordo seclorum" appears on the reverse of the Great Seal of the United States and on the back of the $1 bill.

    [(myl) Yes, this is featured in Wikipedia's "New World Order (conspiracy theory)" page — with obvious connections to the Freemasonry and Illuminati strands.]

  7. Jenny Chu said,

    November 16, 2020 @ 8:52 am

    And here we thought English wasn't a null-subject language! (not to mention null-object)

    Well, that's where the issue of interpretation arises. Should we interpret this as someone trying to say …

    [We, the marchers] are coming for [them] the Blacks and Indians first; we look forward to imposing our New World Order upon them


    [They, the Jews/Bill Gates vaxxers/Bilderbergers] are coming for [you] the Blacks and Indians first; beware, therefore of the New World Order which they [Bill Gates & Co.] are planning to impose upon you


    [An artificially/unfairly-imposed prosperity] is coming for the Blacks and Indians first [but not for you, the marcher]; beware, therefore, for this is what will then be described to you [the marchers] as the New World Order, a future you should reject


    Never mind – this is a clear case of context making perfectly clear what syntax cannot.

  8. DaveK said,

    November 16, 2020 @ 10:27 am

    “Welcome to the new world order” is a quotation from the Bruce Springsteen song “The Ghost of Tom Joad”. The sign writer may be using a line that popped into their head without too much examination of its applicability

  9. Gregory Kusnick said,

    November 16, 2020 @ 11:48 am

    The anthem of the New World Order will presumably be Dvořák's New World Symphony, which is said to be heavily influenced by Black and Indian (i.e. Native American) music. I'm guessing that's not what the sign is referring to.

  10. Robert Coren said,

    November 16, 2020 @ 12:00 pm

    @Gregory Kusnick: Probably not, but it's a nice way to look at it.

    Unfortunately, I think @ardj's interpretation is correct; it's how I read it initially.

  11. RfP said,

    November 16, 2020 @ 12:14 pm

    ardj is correct.

    These people are ideological descendants of the Nazi regime. According to the Wikipedia article on New Order (Nazism), "The Neuordnung (often translated as the New Order) of Europe was the political order which Nazi Germany wanted to impose on the conquered areas under its dominion."

    "Among other things, it entailed the creation of a pan-German racial state structured according to Nazi ideology to ensure the supremacy of an Aryan-Nordic master race, massive territorial expansion into Central and Eastern Europe through its colonization with German settlers, the physical annihilation of the Jews, the Slavs (especially Poles and Russians), Roma ("gypsies") and others considered to be "unworthy of life" and the extermination, expulsion or enslavement of most of the Slavic peoples and others regarded as "racially inferior"."

    This sign says that in their New Order, they will "come for" those of us who are "unworthy of life."

    Robert Jay Lifton wrote a very good—and truly horrific—book called The Nazi Doctors that goes into how deeply the Nazi ideology was imbued with this doctrine of "life unworthy of life."

  12. Carl said,

    November 16, 2020 @ 1:01 pm

    My interpretation is that "coming for" was really past tense: "Just as They had previous infected Native Americans with smallpox and left African Americans to suffer with syphilis, now under the evil NWO, we the whites are being made to suffer from the artificial coronavirus."

    Perhaps I'm reading too much into it, but I think it's not too much of a stretch to see it as being about past events being revisited on whites.

  13. David Morris said,

    November 16, 2020 @ 2:25 pm

    For many years a major supermarket chain in Australia was called 'New World'. When I first learned about the 'New World Symphony', I thought it had something to do with shopping there.

  14. Adrian Bailey said,

    November 16, 2020 @ 3:40 pm

    I think ardj is wrong. I interpret the placard (held aloft by a conspiracy theorist) to mean that Blacks and "Indians" will ironically be victims of a Biden regime.

  15. KeithB said,

    November 16, 2020 @ 3:57 pm

    I wonder if the sign-writer is a professional headline writer?

  16. Jerry Friedman said,

    November 16, 2020 @ 7:53 pm

    First I thought the punctuation mark after "blacks" was a ? not an &.

    Now I like the interpretation by ardj and RfP. The writer ironically welcomes blacks and Indians (from India) to the New World Order where they'll be "put in their place" or killed.

    (The writer's objection to Indians may be that many Indians are Aryan in a legitimate sense.)

    For others who didn't know "B-roll", "In video production, B-roll footage is the secondary video footage shot outside of the primary (or A-roll) footage. It is often spliced together with the main footage to bolster the story, create dramatic tension, or further illustrate a point." From Caveat: Wikipedia says, "The term A-roll referring to the main footage has fallen out of use."

  17. Assistant Village Idiot said,

    November 16, 2020 @ 9:22 pm

    I think it is the reverse of ardj's interpretation. I think it is "You don't know it, black and Indian people, but the New World Order is coming after you first," indicating that they are vulnerable and unsuspecting. It's a "Wake up, you fools!" warning.

    As for the chips implanted via vaccines, this is why you should ignore all yougov polls. Nothing near 28% of the population or 44% of Republicans believes this.

  18. Maris said,

    November 16, 2020 @ 9:33 pm

    I read it as Ardj does, with no hesitation.

  19. John Swindle said,

    November 16, 2020 @ 10:30 pm

    Whether the sign represents overt hostility or condescension – my first assumption was the former – it isn't a reference to people from India. Many Americans have African ancestry. Fewer are from India or have South Asian ancestry. "Blacks and people from India" isn't a coherent category for abuse in the USA, the Vice-President-elect's Indian ancestry notwithstanding.

  20. AntC said,

    November 17, 2020 @ 12:15 am

    Bill Gates' nefarious plan to inject everyone with a monitoring chip in an obligatory coronavirus vaccine

    Nah. Bill Gates is rubbish at hardware, and not much better at software. The thing'll crash with the blue screen of death before it can establish any order (new or otherwise, world or otherwise).

  21. AntC said,

    November 17, 2020 @ 12:22 am

    Dvořák's New World Symphony, which is said to be heavily influenced by Black and Indian (i.e. Native American) music.

    This is an urban myth, perpetuated in concert programmes. Dvořák's themes are Bohemian, as you can hear by comparing to his other Symphonies, Dances, etc. That someone could set what sounds like a negro spiritual to one of the themes (much slowed down) shows only the universality of folk music idioms. That theme exhibits what's called a 'Scotch snap'.

  22. maidhc said,

    November 17, 2020 @ 1:14 am

    Dvořák said that the future of American music lay in embracing African-American influences. I'm not sure that the New World Symphony was supposed to be an example of this though. He wasn't an American himself.

  23. Luke said,

    November 17, 2020 @ 6:14 am

    I disagree with ardj and RfP, the "New World Order" conspiracy specifically refers to a world order with the neoliberals on top and is not to be confused with the "New Order".

  24. Mark P said,

    November 17, 2020 @ 8:57 am

    It’s probably a futile exercise to try to find logical meaning in what these people say, but I understood it as a direct threat to Blacks and Indians, but on reflection I think it might be a warning that the liberals will harm the interests of Blacks and Indians. The inclusion of Indians is kind of odd, but perhaps not so odd for the West. In the South it was not unusual to find racist comments scrawled on public restroom stalls. In many similar locations in the West, Indians replaced Blacks in those scrawls. But, if anyone really knows what the sign means, it is likely but not certain that is the person holding it.

  25. Philip Anderson said,

    November 17, 2020 @ 11:16 am

    Those are out-on-the-street Trump supporters and I cannot imagine them having any concern for non-white minorities (or any sense of irony). Nor can I see any hint of a past tense.

    The aggression is clearly directed at Blacks and Indians (and people with ancestors in India are surely both more visible and more hated than Native Americans), so these right-wingers are obviously welcoming a hoped-for New World Order where white men with guns rule. They may also believe conspiracy theories about everything being controlled by the Deep State, but that’s for feeding the paranoia that drives the aggression.

  26. Kristian said,

    November 17, 2020 @ 12:04 pm

    I agree with Luke, I have only ever heard right wing people refer to the "New World Order" as referring to the rule of a liberal globalist regime (either an explicit one or a metaphorical one), never to anything they would set up themselves. The Catholic version of this often includes the idea that liberals in the Vatican want to destroy traditional Catholicism and institute a one world religion (remember, Vatican II created the Novus Ordo Mass). This is the setting in which the Antichrist might come (think Benson's Lord of the World). The "microchip" is the Mark of the Beast.

  27. Michael said,

    November 17, 2020 @ 5:29 pm

    "But the people who think that way are generally white supremacists, or at least not especially concerned to avoid negative outcomes for people of color, so is the warning ironic?"
    I completely understand why you would say this, but I think there is a bit more nuance in the situation than you are addressing. In fact, a healthy portion of the current populist right, while still amenable to such theories, spends a good deal of its time trying to argue that that it is in fact the Left and/or Democrats who are the racists, and whose policies hurt minorities. See, for example "Death of a Nation" by Dinesh D'Souza (himself a person of color). I suspect that this is an example of someone trying to "own the libs" by making several connections that are obvious to them, but harder to parse for those not already immersed in their subcultural group-think.

  28. Franklin said,

    November 17, 2020 @ 6:33 pm

    I’m with the people who can only read this as a racist threat.

    Enough of the attendees at this rally were white supremacists that it stretches belief too far to imagine that they were trying to warn ethnic minorities about a conspiracy. Far more likely I think that the ethnicities mentioned were chosen to other the VP-elect, and the phrase “new world order” is merely a cliche, used here to mean no more than “the way the world is going to be when we defeat the BLM/antifa/socialist fraud and keep our candidate in charge”.

  29. Viseguy said,

    November 18, 2020 @ 12:19 am

    I read the sign as ardj did — no punctuation necessary — only stronger: To me, "coming for" clearly means coming to get, kill, exterminate, not just put them in their place. I don't see any irony there at all.

  30. David W said,

    November 18, 2020 @ 9:42 am

    It looks to me to be the same "coming for" as in "First they came for the Jews…", which the sign-painter may have had in mind.

  31. Andrew Usher said,

    November 18, 2020 @ 8:48 pm

    Yes, that's probably the best guess. Some people here are projecting their prejudice onto this, but the fact is that whoever wrote the sign (which is patently ungrammatical) surely _intended_ to convey a message, and that normally (among any political persuasion) 'new world order' is not used to refer to the order _you_ would impose, the only interpretation I can pick out is that it is the 'New World Order' that is supposedly 'coming for the blacks and Indians'; starting that with the wrong words could produce what we see.

    k_over_hbarc at

  32. Gregory Kusnick said,

    November 19, 2020 @ 2:22 am

    "normally (among any political persuasion) 'new world order' is not used to refer to the order _you_ would impose"

    I seem to recall George H.W. Bush promising us a "new world order" of the sort his party had been championing for decades: namely, one free of Soviet Communism.

  33. wanda said,

    November 19, 2020 @ 1:07 pm

    Voting for ardj, Philip Anderson, and Viseguy's interpretation. Aren't a lot of these folks "2nd amendment people" too?

  34. Andrew Usher said,

    November 20, 2020 @ 7:55 am

    Gregory Kusnick:
    Bush was probably using the neutral sense, not "this is what I will impose", but "this is what the future will be". But even if he wasn't, and my statement was too broad, the sign doesn't use it that way – the phrase 'welcome to the New World Order' I take to be a jab at said Order.

  35. Assistant Village Idiot said,

    November 20, 2020 @ 10:42 am

    Wow. Listen to yourselves here. Not just the interpretation you came to, but the reasoning you used. Hey, I didn't make everyone say "It's because those right-wingers are like that" as your reason. Right wing political violence is generally defensive, holing up and daring folks to come bother them, or being visibly armed. Offensive violence is overwhelmingly from the left, and has been for decades. Check your assumptions, folks.

    And no, I didn't vote for Trump. I just care about assumptions.

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