In any group of people, there are those who understand all of the agenda at hand, and those who only know some. Ignore for the moment the decentralized organizations such as triads, and the idealistic communities where honesty is the best policy, for the former lacks even one person who knows every part of the strategy, and the latter consists only of policy knowers. And there is the third type to ignore, those groups with a number of agenda knowers where together they know all that is going on, and where they do not include every member of the group.
Whether a cult, a political party, a dentist's office, or my neighbour's family, such a group's insiders form the inner circle. And of course, many traditional religions have such a tradition - some even have special and differing books written for the different circles to read and study. The inner circle members are those aware of at least two interpretations of the conventions and traditions of the group, one of whichthey keep to themselves, and the other they teach or provide to the outer members. They are able to assign tasks to the outer circle members. These are the commited members within the group but not entirely within the know. In fact, it becomes an obligation on the inner circle members to assign such tasks since otherwise the true gaols of the organization, those known only by the inner circle members, would not be met. In fact, if such assignments are not made, then the inner circle itself might simply vanish as the outer goals become dominant in the behaviour of the group.
Regardless of what my dentist tells me while I am sitting in her chair, I rely on the inner knowledge that she has acquired. In our society, there is a custom that the professional inform the layperson to the extent that that person wnats to be informed, and can understand the information. However, unless I become a qualified dentist myself, I will always be in the position of relying on my dentist's own judgement and skill. Although I can evaluate the trustworthiness of my dentist, I will simply be unable to tell whether her knowledge and skill and diagnosis are actually accurate.
This form of reliance happens constantly. I must rely on the television manufacturers advice about TVs, on the flight attendant's knowledge of crash procedures, and on the PCO for cockroach control (my fingers are really crossed for this one! I met my first one the other day. Yuck.).
So long as I am able to trust the inner circle members, here the dentist, and so long as their real goals do indeed go in the direction that I would have chosen were I better informed, the trust is warrented. In the event that the inner circle goals are antithetical to what is advertised to the outer circle, I should get out fast.
Often though, natural divisions of goals occur as a result of the differing roles that various people play in an organization. In such a case, the differing goals come naturally. An example of such is any really big bureaucracy. The different departments, though serving the same organization, can develop differing traditions, and even redundancies, which tend to look foolish to the other departments.
A fun result of these inner and outer circles is that those on the inside know that there is an outside. Some institutions will use this knowledge to keep the insiders in line too. To be sent back to the outside is to lose power in the organization. So more intricate rings of power can establish themselves. Much as the inner circle can be kept a secret fronm the outer circle members, so a hidden real inner circle can be kept secret from the fake one. Alliances can be formed and broken in this manner. If the rest of the inner circle meets in secret from you, you've lost your membership without even knowing. You can become a pawn of a new strategy. In such ways are thrillers written!