Some applying for grants the Illuminati...
Well as far as being a secret society goes the Illuminati haven't done a great job at remaining secret lately have they?
As far as history is involved I think it is true to state that the Illuminati were a secret society, said to have formed within the late 18th Century in Bavaria - well while we are trying to be correct to start dating ? of 1776 has been proposed. It is not easy to piece together any meaningful reputation this 'society' as the whole subject has become tainted with poorly referenced conspiracy paranoia, pseudo-historical analyses and the odd fraud (hoax) or two.
You start with the choice of name - Illuminati - it appears that the society professed to be in line with some type of information or approach that made its members 'the enlightened'. Chances are that they had a republican political agenda which included the abolition of monarchies. It really is further suggested that they can tried to bring about change by way of subterfuge, secrecy, and conspiracy, such as infiltration of other organizations. They weren't very successful and were destroyed, at least outlawed, within 15 years of their origin (Pipes 1997).
The founder is reputed to get Adam Weishaupt from the University of Ingolstadt plus it appears that the society's aims were closely related to ideas from the Enlightenment i.e. to combat religious thinking and promote and encourage rationalism. Wieshaupt was an anti-monarchist and secularist which, obviously, informed the nature of the society he created. In 1777, Karl Theodor became ruler of Bavaria and, in 1784, his government banned all secret societies including the Illuminati and they disbanded (or perhaps were imprisoned, 'destroyed' or else dispatched!)
There is no empirical evidence that this society survived the 18th Century.
What we hear of today is really a melange of conspiracy theories that have at their core the concept of some kind of elite, powerful and in all likelihood wealthy 'secret society' behind veils of other 'secret' or at best 'clandestine' groups.
Like an onion skin, although conspiracy theorists would rather the image of a pyramid, the outer layers are the lowest amounts of the New World Order movers and shakers and at the core can be found the Illuminati.
Sometimes we are told that this inner core of is given by a number of key families (13 can often be quoted for effect over genealogy) whose 'bloodlines' are linked and possibly manipulated by visitors from another world.
This inner core of individuals is so secret that this families are actually named on several websites...Their existence can be so shadowy that they insist on leaving indicating their very existence behind for all of us mere mortals to discover...
This then will be the real Illuminati!
Seems like they are not doing a very good job at keeping their manipulative presence hidden!
What i'm saying is stop for a moment to take into consideration some simple ideas.
The bloodlines of monarchy and aristocracy are very likely to be linked no matter the reason, what with marriage to be the vehicle by which alliances were created. Such links not one of them the organising agents of 'secret' human societies let alone the interference from some passing aliens - or shall we be held missing the point?
Of course there are 'symbols' which seem to survive and be repeated every now and then and place to place. Like a species we are excellent at creating symbolic language and meaningful patterns (you're reading some right now)... AND of course some 'magical symbols' will form part of our everyday society while they have been a part of our psyche to get a very long time. Assuming these symbols need to have any other significance is a little a stretch. The 'Great Seal' upon us currency is often quoted being Masonic or Illuminati in origin being designed by Illuminati, or at least High Degree Freemasons. In case you really check this story out (see Skeptoid) there are many than enough questions raised which will question the key assumptions from the conspiracy theorists rhetoric.
What can Governments do?
They rule, they plan, they organise, they fight, they assert sovereignty!
There's no need to imagine a global conspiracy to describe the actions of Governments.
Now here's high is, perhaps, a component of truth in all of the Conspiracy Theories you've ever heard. It seems obvious in my opinion that Governments cannot inform us the truth all of the time, truth element a relative concept, and there are things that must be over a need to know basis. Most importantly some major Governments have shown to be involved with somewhat dodgy dealings and definitely individuals within Governments are certainly not above corruption, error and being wrong.
Be simple fact the 'the truth outs' from many of these accidental, and not so accidental, cover-ups usually belie the existence of ability to 'keep' tricks of any real magnitude.
Perhaps there's a rule of thumb that is worth exploring - the more people who need to be linked to any form of cover-up or covert action the LESS likely it is to be possible.