Re: ARE THEY WHO THEY SAY THEY ARE? And that is...?
"MT, does your organisation have a secret handshake or 'secret' attributes of any kind?"
I think I mentioned it before, but if not - The only oath we took was to adhere to the teachings of Jesus the Christ. We did not take an oath to ourselves or any other earthly entity. Therefore, we wouldn't perjur ourselves for another KC, seek retribution for an act against a KC, etc.
Catholics aren't supposed to take any oath to another individual because that places the possibility of said individual to come first before God in our decisions. So, if you wanted to know what teachings or ideals we're supposed to exemplify, just check out what it's like to be a Catholic. I'm not saying you need to convert or anything - far from it. I'm just saying that there's nothing hidden. The only thing you wouldn't see is the actual initiation ceremony. I can tell you that there isn't anything in the ceremony that you wouldn't know. But, there's a certain theatrical way it's presented that is meant to be a surprise for the initiate.
As for the Fasces, it's used in the terms as our fight against sin - generally speaking our own sins. It's not meant to mean that we want to institute a fascist hegemon over the world. That would be giving us too much credit. In every council, we pray the rosary before each meeting and then we organize what we have to do for the upcoming "coffee and donut" Sunday we're in charge of or figuring out what churches we need to attend when doing our Mentally Handicapped Tootsie Roll Drive or who's going to be able to help out at our annual retired nuns Christmas party or who's going to be able to serve soup at the local Catholic Charities Thanksgiving foodline. We're supposed to be humble servants of charity - that's pretty much it. I am a 4th degree KC. Out of the 12,000 councils that exist, we're in the first 300 formed and our council has existed for 110 years. For the higher councils that oversee the organization as a whole, there aren't a whole lot of people from the aristocracy. I think you would be hard pressed to find any. There are some people who have money, but for the most part we're a bunch of poor bastards even in our national leadership positions.
I have come across a couple of guys who were both a mason and a KC, but in order to do that he has to lie to his council about being a member to a lodge (no I didn't rat them out - neither one of them were elite by any means, nor did they hold key officer positions where their affiliation would affect their council decisions - nice guys really).
There are other organizations, like the masonic network, that have much more influence than the KCs. The KCs hit their high point shortly after WWII because many who fought the war turned to religion as a means of coping with their experiences. That's why they had some influence in the changing of the Pledge of Allegiance in the 1950's, and that is why the 4th degree (which was a new addition) is the Patriotic degree. The membership numbers have dwindled since the old guys are dying off and the number of young guys can't make up for the difference.
Back to the whole symbolism thing, it's a lot easier to find masonic imagery in our everyday lives than it is for anything else. Do all of the uses of these symbols mean the same thing they did back at their incepetion? Do the people who decide to use the symbols always know what the original meaning was - not usually. You'd have to know the background of the organization and its past and current members, employees, officials, etc. before you could make any guesses.