Crackpot Conspiracies: Bilderberg Group Circa 2013

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in at 6/17/2013 03:15:00 PM
I think it's Hollywood's fault: In any number of action/spy/suspense/thriller movies, there is a good chance that they will depict some kind of shadowy secret organization that really runs the world--usually to fulfil nefarious ends. (You can't sell movies if they were a bunch of do-gooders, can you?) One version of this storyline is that little-known but powerful masterminds get together to plot the global future to suit their purposes. Another version is that well-known public figures in politics and business are ultimately networked to an organization that decides the fate of the world that put them in places of power.

During the years of Bush the Younger, the evil organization du jour was of course the Carlyle Group. With the ebbing of American military adventurism, however, it has receded from the public eye (for now). Bereft of that military-industrial complex, conspiracy theorists have been left with more traditional bogeymen to ponder when their minds naturally wander into evil machinations being hatched.

Given that we now have a Democratic presidency, it's about time the conspiracy theorists revived the Carter-era Trilateral Commission [TLC] whose American component of a North America-Europe-Asia triad was composed mostly of Democratic instead of GOP operatives. Given Obama's seeming penchant for mounting drone attacks, engineering computer viruses, and invading Internet privacy, it's about time someone asked on whose behalf be did all of those things. I was rather amused by the Straight Dope's take on the subject matter:
The TLC's first executive director was Zbigniew Brzezinski, and such well-known figures as Walter Mondale, Caspar Weinberger, and Paul Volcker have been members. Also on the rolls at one time, mainly because the commission needed some representation from the South, was the then-governor of Georgia, Jimmy Carter. The prospect of spending hours cooped up with the likes of Walter Mondale would probably send most of us screaming for the exits. But Carter was an impressionable sort who found both the commission's meetings and its members deeply fascinating. He got chummy with many of the latter and appointed more than a dozen to posts in his administration, including Cyrus Vance, Michael Blumenthal, and of course the redoubtable Brzezinski.
This short guided tour of shadowy organizations thus brings us to the eponymous Bilderberg Group. Just as the Carlyle Group is named after the hotel its members prefer to meet at, this one is named after the venue of their first gathering. In terms of membership, however, Bilderberg resembles an older Trilateral Commission. Whereas the TLC is an North American-European-Asian gathering, a more apt name for Bilderberg would be the "Bilateral Commission" since its was intended to be an American-European gathering. But hey, it bears mentioning that the Bilderberg Group was formed in 1954--the world's powers were rather more Western then.

No matter, though. Recently, the Bilderberg Group meeting in London became an occasion for the crackpot conspracists to have a jamboree. Yes, they were partying like it was 1954 as they pondered what sort of dark machinations were being plotted in sequestered grounds...
More than 100 of the world's most powerful people are at the former manor house near London for a secretive annual gathering that has attained legendary status in the eyes of anti-capitalist protesters and conspiracy theorists. The guest list for the Bilderberg meeting includes Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde and former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. British Prime Minister David Cameron is due to drop by Friday.
The Bilderberg Group was set up in 1954 to support military and economic co-operation between Europe and North America during the Cold War. Named for the site of its first meeting — the Bilderberg Hotel in Oosterbeek, Holland — the forum for prominent politicians, thinkers and business leaders has been held annually at a series of secluded venues in Europe and North America.
I honestly doubt whether the Bilderberg Group is anything but a slightly less transparent World Economic Forum-style gathering where self-important VIPs are willing to spend top dollar to feel ever-so-important hobnobbing with other poo-bahs. While protesters at WEF events are of course ubiquitous, I believe that conspiracy theorists are less prone to ascribing dark, romantic connotations to what is ostensibly an "economic" meeting that videotapes most of its events. Let's just say that the reality of a bunch of guys talking about non-tariff barriers and other dry topics doesn't quite capture the fancy of the conspiracy set used to a steady diet of faceless characters known to viewers only by the plumes of smoke emanating from their tobacco pipes. Lemme put it this way: Do you think a runt like Paul Krugman could be cast in a Tom Clancy film adaptation? I didn't think so.

And so the "mystique" continues. Actually, the delusion is mutually reinforcing: On one hand, the erstwhile secret society members delude themselves into thinking they actually have a hand in shaping the global agenda while gathering with fellow Masters of the Universe. On the other hand, the conspiracy nutters actually buy into the idea that that's what really happens at these gatherings.

In the end, that's probably all the truth out there to be found.