Tuesday, November 21, 2006

THE BILDERBERG CONSPIRACY

THE BILDERBERG CONSPIRACY: THE TOTALLY BOGUS THEORY OF AN INTERNATIONAL ELITE THAT RULES THE WORLD

For some inexplicable reason, I have found myself drawn to the investigation and debunking of ridiculous conspiracy theories of late. The impetus for this development has been the invasion of the Internet by conspiracy theorists of all stripes. Adherents are invariably folks "out of the flow" of real events. You will not find substantive lawyers, bankers, or serious corporate managers among the conspiracy theorists. They will seldom have viable academic or professional credentials. But the Internet for all of its worth and inestimable value creates a democracy of cyber space, where every man or woman’s opinion can be posted with equal footing. If I have an explanation for doing this article, it is to try to objectively beat back a growing fringe of people who are poisoning the well of ideas with total and unmitigated trash.
The Bilderberg theory holds that a group of international bankers and other elites meets regularly to plan the rule of the world. The theory is rooted, as most conspiracy fantasies are, is some real facts:
Deriving its name from the Dutch hotel where it first met in 1954, the Bilderberg group is an actual, legitimate entity whose members consist of approximately 100 influential European and American figures in politics, business and academia who meet annually to discuss and advocate political, diplomatic and economic policies. Jewish AntiDefamation League web-site (2006).
Some allege that their rule already exists, while others argue that they are just in the operational stages.
Various far-right extremists and conspiracy theorists, however, charge that the group is a shadowy force seeking to control world events, exerting allegedly dominating powers of international influence to promote a "new world order" under their control. The extremists claim that Presidential candidates of both major U.S. political parties are controlled by the Bilderberg group; among those often mentioned in such conspiracy-oriented propaganda are David Rockefeller, the Clintons and Henry Kissinger. Other Bilderberg leaders are said to be members of the Trilateral Commission and the Council on Foreign Relations -- groups which themselves are often central players in far-right conspiracy theories of secret efforts at domination of the world's political and financial institutions and the press Id.
If like me, you have been on "the edge" of the world of these elites in your business or vocation, you will be utterly at odds to find a shred of rationality in this theory. From major corporate takeovers to legislation in Washington DC, I have seen no footprint of a secret elite and international ruling class. Putting aside personal incredulity, this article will review their allegations and their nominal support for the paranoid delusion.
The Bilderberg theory is closely related to the general assertion that a group of Jewish bankers control the world. In recent times, the Jewish issue has been de-emphasized and some other movers and shakers have been added to the core of banking elite as the conspiracy theory evolved. "The Bilderberg has been accused of being everything from a Zionist cabal building a single global government to a secret star-chamber that seeks to fix the price of oil and presidential elections." 1 The heart of the conspiracy theory I simple: "They want you to believe they are simply improving international relations. But they are controlling the world and making decisions that influence all of us with absolutely no democratic control on what they do." 2 Other critiques just blast the Bilderberg meetings as elitist and echo the general anti globalism, anti-business line.3 This article will focus on the conspiracy theory, although the knee-jerk leftist critique of "globalism" is just as impervious to the facts.
The history of the conspiracy theory goes back some time and has evolved into a more sophisticated version over time.
I began my investigation of Bilderberg while in Washington, D.C. in the autumn of 1975. I had read bits and pieces on Bilderberg in right-wing literature and so I went directly to its source, the Liberty Lobby, an ultra-conservative political pressure group located a stone's throw from Capitol Hill. There I interviewed one E. Stanley Rittenhouse, Liberty Lobby's legislative aide. Rittenhouse solemnly explained the existence of a Jewish-communist conspiracy to rule the world by way of a 'New World Order', whose eventual goal is one world government. To prove this point Rittenhouse incessantly recited passages from his handy pocket Bible and explained the evolution of this great conspiracy. It all goes back to the Illuminati, a secret society/fraternity formed in Bavaria in 1776 by Adam Weishaupt, based on the philosophical ideals of Plato. John Ruskin, 'a secret disciple of the Illuminati' and a professor of art and philosophy at Oxford University in the 1870s, revived these ideals in his teachings. Robert Eringer, The Bilderberg Group... the Trilateral Commission... covert power groups of the West, Pentacle Books, 1980. Extract: Chapter 1 (emphasis added).
The history of the group starts with a meeting in the Dutch hotel, from which it derives its name, and then evolved into annual meetings of Western leaders in government and finance.4
Within the list of Bilderberg attendees, one sees a sample of the major players in government, business and finance in North America and Europe.5 A serious observer also sees representatives of groups that are at odds with one another everyday of the week on a host of serious matters. As a Canadian paper commented amidst speculation that the 2006 meeting would be in Ottawa: "Guest lists typically include names like Kissinger, Rockefeller and Soros."6 Given Mr. Soros’ political activities and activities on and off the record, it strains credulity to suggest that he is really secretly working with Republicans behind the scenes to run the world! In the same vein, Bill Gates seems to have attended the June 2006 session in Ottawa, where a very large number of European Union movers and shakers were present. The next month, Microsoft got hit with another $357 million fine from the EU anti competition agency, on top of the 497 million Euro fine already charged to Gates’ company.7 It is very hard to come up with a convincing story that the nearly $1 billion paid out in EU fines is consistent with Bill Gates being part of a financial conspiracy with the same government leaders who pushed to fine his company. Simply, the chairman of Monsanto, Robert B. Shapiro, attended in 1999, heading the company most committed to generically modified food, before a group of European politicians who then went to great lengths to try to ban all of his company’s products in the EU. It is more than a little difficult to see what Gates and Shapiro "got" out of the Bilderberg meetings.
Many of the attendees have spoken out on the crazy theories that surround the meetings.
"But "privacy, rather than secrecy", is key to such a meeting says Financial Times journalist Martin Wolf, who has been invited several times in a non-reporting role. "The idea that such meetings cannot be held in private is fundamentally totalitarian," he says. "It's not an executive body; no decisions are taken there." As an up-and-coming statesmen in the 1950s, Denis Healey, who went on to become a Labour chancellor, was one of the four founding members of Bilderberg (which was named after the hotel in Holland where the first meeting was held in 1954). His response to claims that Bilderberg exerts a shadowy hand on the global tiller is met with characteristic bluntness. "Crap!" "There's absolutely nothing in it. We never sought to reach a consensus on the big issues at Bilderberg. It's simply a place for discussion," says Lord Healey. BBC, supra.
"Norman Spector, a former chief of staff to prime minister Brian Mulroney, says he knew little of the suspicions that surrounded Bilderberg when he attended a conference in the early 1990s. "It's hard to understand the conspiracy stuff. Most of the people were publicly visible," he said. "They weren't like the gnomes of Zurich or shady financiers. They were all people you'd see on a Sunday morning talk show." 8
"Last time I went to a Bilderberg conference, it was held in Athens, about three years ago. Tony Blair was there, not yet leader of the Labour Party [and now, of course, prime minister], Conrad Black and Barbara Amiel were there, the Queen of The Netherlands was there. It was all pleasantly grand. Yet it is hard to think of any subject on which we would be likely to conspire. The Queen of The Netherlands is as Euro-fanatic as Ted Heath, Tony Blair is a modest good European, I have been an anti-Maastricht campaigner and Mr Black is a Canadian neo-realist who owns 500 newspapers. The idea that we all join hands on some witches' Sabbath to manipulate the world is almost as absurd as the belief that I am trying to make the Queen of England the crowned head of Mexico." William Rees-Mogg
" Wall Street, treason and Pat Buchanan," The London Times, March 14, 1996, page 16.9
Other attendees have included those who are not quite on the same page as the alleged Bilderberg "consensus," who presumably would have been well-placed to "blow the whistle" on a conspiracy if it, in fact, existed. "These are carefully selected people of influence, who have been openly critical of globalisation. Examples are Jonathan Porritt (Bilderberg 1999) and Will Hutton (Bilderberg 1997) but there are many others. Most of these kinds of participants are happy to speak about the conference afterwards, and may even be refreshingly critical."10
Conspiracy kooks argue that if the group had nothing to hide, why are their meetings closed to the press and public? The Bilderbergers say that they need to keep remarks off the record to promote a free exchange of ideas.11 There is no reason to question this hypothesis, since anyone who has been involved with serious discussions among high-level people readily will understand this concept. "Contrary to Internet mythology, invitees do not sign blood oaths of secrecy, but they are strongly encouraged not to discuss who said what during the closed meetings, to allow for freer flowing discussions." 12 The corollary question which has no answer from the conspiracy adherents is why would a secret group have just public meetings in the first place. 13
A good question to ask is where is the evidence of this global rule. The self-acknowledged chairman of Bilderberg in 2005, Viscount Etienne Davignon, told the BBC:
Bilderberg does not try to reach conclusions - it does not try to say 'what we should do'. Everyone goes away with their own feeling and that allows the debate to be completely open, quite frank - and to see what the differences are. 14
What policies and decisions allegedly have come from the Bilderberg group? Where is the evidence of their impact?
We have a world that is interconnected by trade, investment, culture, and numerous other factors. The Atlantic community is the dominant global advocate of a rule of law and open economies. We share a vision of a world where everyone can achieve up to their ability and opportunities are open for all to compete. We practically speaking depend upon several mechanisms to allow the normal functioning of commerce, such as international enforcement of contracts and patents as well as multiple currency transactions. That the leaders invited to the Bilderberg meetings would have a stake in the status quo which gave them the power or recognition to be invited is logic and not very unsettling. As Davignon argues: "Business influences society and politics influences society - that's purely common sense. It's not that business contests the right of democratically-elected leaders to lead." BBC, supra.
Major institutions that function in this climate have a serious stake in the status quo and the ordered conduct of international relations, commerce, banking and investment. These commercial relations fuel a good part of the American economy as exports, on the one hand, and foreign investment in our country on the other. This system is very transparent and is subject to the organized and public political systems of each country that is involved. The very transparency and accountability of the elements of the international economic system are what make it attractive to the powerful institutions that function in this system. Checks and balances in the system create stability and help assure that each party’s interest is protected from arbitrary actions. Transparency and accountability are the lynch-pins of the international business world which places the fundamental values of the status quo totally at odds with those projected by the marginal conspiracy adherents. 15 One of the leading conspiracy adherents post alleged minutes of the 1999 Bilderberg meeting which raise the point of whether the IMF is "sufficiently accountable." 16 Policies that stress accountability and transparency are 180 degrees from the policies that any conspiracy worth its name would advocate.
So we have a "conspiracy" that routinely double-crosses its members, like Gates/Microsoft and Shapiro/Monsanto. It also advocates transparent financial and international relations. It includes people from diametrically opposed viewpoints in real life like George Soros and George Bush Sr. as well as European socialists and European free market advocates. So either the entire world as it can be empirically observed is an illusion or the unsubstantiated and illogical notion that there is a secret group of Bilderberg elite that rule the world is bogus. Tough choice......
Randy Mott
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Footnotes:
(1) Ottawa to host top-secret meeting -- or maybe not: Rumours run rampant that ultra-influential Bilderberg to come here," Ottawa Citizen , May 24, 2006. http://www.jonesreport.com/articles/240806_ottawa_host_meeting_or_not.html
(2) Jim Tucker, former writer for Spotlight, quoted by Richard Creasy and Pete Sawyer - Punch - issue 55, May 23 - June 5 1998.
(3) "The ideology put forward at the Bilderberg conferences is that what’s good for banking and big business is good for the mere mortals of the world. Silently banished are the critical voices, those that might point out that debt is spiralling out of control, that wealth is being sucked away from ordinary people and into the hands of the faceless corporate institutions, that millions are dying as a direct result of the global heavyweight Rockefeller/Rothschild economic strategies." Link: http://cacan.blog385.com/index.php/2005/04/
(4) Eringer, supra, quotes an alleged Bilderberg organizer in the United States: "'In the early 1950s a number of people in both sides of the Atlantic sought a means of bringing together leading citizens both in and out of government, for informal discussions of problems facing the Western world. Such meetings, they felt, would create a better understanding of the forces and trends affecting Western nations. 'The first meeting that brought Americans and Europeans together took place under the chairmanship of H.R.H. Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands at the Bilderberg Hotel in Oosterbeek, Holland, from 29th May to 31st May, 1954. Ever since, the meetings have been called Bilderberg Meetings. 'Each year since its inception, Prince Bernhard has been the Bilderberg chairman. There are no members' of Bilderberg. Each year an invitation list is compiled by Prince Bernhard in consultation with an informal international steering committee; individuals are chosen in the light of their knowledge and standing. To ensure full discussion, an attempt is made to include participants representing many political and economic points of view. Of the 80 to 100 participants, approximately one-third are from government and politics, the others are from many fields - finance, industry, labour, education and journalism. They attend in a personal and not in an official capacity. The meetings take place in a different county each year. Since 1957, they have been held in many Western European countries and in North America as well. 'The discussion at each meeting is centred upon topics of current concern in the broad fields of foreign policy, world economy, and other contemporary issues. Basic groundwork for the symposium is laid by means of working papers and general discussion follows. In order to assure freedom of speech and opinion, the gatherings are closed and off the record. No resolutions are proposed, no votes taken, and no policy statements issued during or after the meetings. 'In short, Bilderberg is a high-ranking and flexibly international forum in which opposing viewpoints can be brought closer together and mutual understanding furthered.'
(5) Gosling published an alleged list of attendees, which reads like a who’s who on both sides of most issues of the day. http://www.unclenicks.net/bilderberg/www.bilderberg.org/1999mins.htm#Participants
(6) "Ottawa to host top-secret meeting -- or maybe not: Rumours run rampant that ultra-influential Bilderberg to come here," Ottawa Citizen , May 24, 2006. http://www.jonesreport.com/articles/240806_ottawa_host_meeting_or_not.html
(7) CIO Magazine, "Microsoft Hit With $357M E.U. Fine" JUL 12, 2006 07:00:06 AM , "The European Commission has fined Microsoft 280.5 million euros (US$357 million) for failing to comply with the terms of a March 2004 antitrust judgment against it, the commission said on Wednesday. Microsoft has already paid a 497 million euro fine as a result of the judgment, in which the commission found that Microsoft had used its near-monopoly in the PC operating systems market to gain advantage in the markets for work group server operating systems and media players." http://www.cio.com/blog_view.html?CID=22885
(8)Ottawa Citizen, supra.
(10) Gosling’s site in a headquarters for things "Bilderberg" :http://www.bilderberg.org/bilder.htm#
(11) Lord Healy, an attendee, told the BBC: "Bilderberg is the most useful international group I ever attended. The confidentiality enabled people to speak honestly without fear of repercussions. In my experience the most useful meetings are those when one is free to speak openly and honestly. It's not unusual at all. Cabinet meetings in all countries are held behind closed doors and the minutes are not published." BBC, supra.
(12) Ottawa Citizen, supra.
(13) The BBC stated: "No reporters are invited in and while confidential minutes of meetings are taken, names are not noted." Jonathan Duffy, " Bilderberg: The ultimate conspiracy theory," BBC News Online Magazine. June 3, 2004: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/3773019.stm
(14)Inside the Secretive Bilderberg Group," BBC, September 29, 2005: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/4290944.stm
(15) Indeed, "Transparency International" the group that leads the charge against corrpution and bribery is funded by government agencies and corporations from the same circle as the alleged Bilderberg Conspiracy. See www.transparency.org. The Organization for Economic Development and Cooperation includes all of the "Bilderberg" governments are is also a leading advocate of transparency and anticorruption policies. See http://www.oecd.org/findDocument/0,2350,en_2649_34565_1_1_1_1_1,00.html
(16) Gosling posted the following: "The moderator began by throwing out a number of challenges that set the tone for much of the subsequent discussion. Given the IMF�S increased importance, is it a properly accountable body? What is the G7�s role and is it the right shape? Given the introduction of the Euro, is it really necessary for so many European countries to attend G7 meetings? How can one begin to establish international regulators when there are such conspicuous rivalries between regulators within countries, especially America? And how do you design a system that bails in the private sector?
Several participants returned to the basic theme that the markets have globalised but the regulatory systems have not.’ Link: http://www.unclenicks.net/bilderberg/www.bilderberg.org/1999mins.htm#Participants
If this post is accurate, it contradicts the whole slant of the conspiracy theory: the participants were concerned about IMF accountability and recognized that there was no effective international regulatory system.