OP-ED: Occupy Bilderberg
Do you have to be xenophobic, paranoid, isolationist, or libertarian to protest a secretive gathering of over 100 billionaires, industrialists, media barons, and politicians working to shape our public sphere, or has the left dropped the ball? Is it time for Occupy to step in?
From May 31 to June 3, 2012, at the Westfields Marriott Washington Dulles Hotel, in Chantilly, Va., the Bilderberg Group is expected to gather behind closed doors. This exclusive club will rent the entire hotel, encircle it with armed guards, and keep everyone far away, including the media -- except for those special members of the media who will take part but never report a word of what goes on.
Wikipedia calls Bilderberg: "an annual, unofficial, invitation-only conference of approximately 120 to 140 guests from North America and Western Europe, most of whom are people of influence. About one-third are from government and politics, and two-thirds from finance, industry, labour, education and communications. Meetings are closed to the public."
Bilderberg calls itself: "leading citizens on both sides of the Atlantic that Western Europe and North America" who hold "regular, off-the-record discussions" of "common problems - from trade to jobs, from monetary policy to investment, from ecological challenges to the task of promoting international security. . . . There usually are about 120 participants of whom about two-thirds come from Europe and the balance from North America. About one-third is from government and politics, and two-thirds from finance, industry, labour, education and communications."
Does this group of "leading citizens" look representative of the people's interests?
Bilderberg says this was its agenda four years ago:
* Cyber-terrorism * A Nuclear-Free World * Managing Financial Turbulence * US Foreign Policy Without Change * How Serious Are the Threats on Our Economies * Islam in Europe * Africa * Afghanistan, Challenge for the West * Iran-Pakistan * A Look at the Future * The Mounting Threat of Protectionism * Russia * After Bush: The Future of US-EU Relations * Current Affairs: US Elections
Scholars have credited Bilderberg with significant influence in all sorts of disastrous policies from NAFTA to the current push for war with Iran.
One analysis comes from Andrew Kakabadse, a management professor at the UK's Cranfield University:
"There is no conspiracy in Kakabadse's eyes, as Bilderberg has no formal influence whatsoever. 'On the other hand, it has the most tremendous influence since it shapes opinions at the highest levels. Bilderberg is for leaders what the annual medical conference is for doctors. In the latter, certain delegates are more active than others and at some stage the prevailing medical thinking is driven in one particular direction. These regular meetings shape the way the dominant medical theory and practice develops, to the point that the way things are going feels normal and nobody asks for the alternative to the dominant medical paradigms anymore.' The same can be said for world leadership, Kakabadse argues.
"British journalist Jon Ronson, who was invited to a conference by Bilderberg organisers, described the relationship between conference organisers and aspiring political leaders in attendance: 'They'll get an up-and-coming politician who they think may be president or prime minister one day, and as globalist industrialist leaders who believe that politics shouldn't be in the hands of politicians, they try and influence them with wise words in the corridors outside sessions.' Kakabadse calls this process 'smart power'. The shaping of the prevailing opinions amongst the world's leading decision-makers is 'so smart that people don't even know that they are being led', he says. 'In the end, they don't even realise that there are alternative questions to be asked.'"
Is this healthy for democracy?
Or is there a desperate need here for somebody to be mic checked?* * *
David Swanson's books include "War Is A Lie." He blogs at http://davidswanson.org and http://warisacrime.organd works for the online activist organization http://rootsaction.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook.