The common theme in conspiracy theories about a New World Order is that a secretive power elite with a globalist agenda is conspiring to eventually rule the world through an authoritarian world government — which replaces sovereign nation-states — and an all-embracing ideology that indoctrinates cosmopolitanism. Significant occurrences in politics and finance are speculated to be orchestrated by an extremely influential cabal operating through many front organizations. Numerous historical and current events are seen as steps in an on-going plot to achieve world domination through secret political gatherings and decision-making processes.
Prior to the early 1990s, New World Order conspiracism was limited to two American countercultures, primarily the militantly anti-government right, and secondarily fundamentalist Christians concerned with end-time emergence of the Antichrist. Skeptics, such as Michael Barkun and Chip Berlet, have expressed concern that right-wing populist conspiracy theories about a New World Order have now not only been embraced by many left-wing conspiracy theorists but have seeped into popular culture, thereby inaugurating an unrivaled period of people actively preparing for apocalyptic millenarian scenarios in the United States of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. These political scientists warn that this mass hysteria may not only fuel lone-wolf terrorism but have devastating effects on American political life, such as the far right wooing the far left into joining a revolutionary Third Position movement capable of subverting the established political powers.