From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bilderberg_Group
Hotel de Bilderberg (2007), name-giving location of the first conference in 1954
|Formation||29 May 1954 (1954-05-29)|
|Membership||~150 invitees, smaller core group|
|Chairmen of the Steering Committee||Étienne Davignon|
The Bilderberg Group, Bilderberg conference, or Bilderberg Club is an annual, unofficial, invitation-only conference of approximately 140 guests, most of whom are people of influence in the fields of politics, banking, business, the military and news media. The names of attendees are made available to the press, but the conferences are closed to the public and the media, and no press releases are issued.
Because of its exclusivity and privacy, the Bilderberg group is frequently accused by critics on both extremes of the political spectrum of being an all-powerful secret society fixing the fate of the world behind closed doors. Scholars counter that it is nothing more than a social club which only serves as a means to create social cohesion within the power elite of Western European and North American nations, to better advance the cause of Atlanticism.
The original conference was held at the Hotel de Bilderberg, near Arnhem in the Netherlands, from 29 May to 31 May 1954. It was initiated by several people, including Polish politician Józef Retinger, concerned about the growth of anti-Americanism in Western Europe, who proposed an international conference at which leaders from European countries and the United States would be brought together with the aim of promoting Atlanticism – better understanding between the cultures of the United States and Western Europe to foster cooperation on political, economic, and defense issues. Retinger approached Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands, who agreed to promote the idea, together with Belgian Prime Minister Paul Van Zeeland, and the head of Unilever at that time, Dutchman Paul Rijkens. Bernhard in turn contacted Walter Bedell Smith, then head of the CIA, who asked Eisenhower adviser Charles Douglas Jackson to deal with the suggestion. The guest list was to be drawn up by inviting two attendees from each nation, one of each to represent conservative and liberal points of view. Fifty delegates from 11 countries in Western Europe attended the first conference, along with 11 Americans.
The success of the meeting led the organizers to arrange an annual conference. A permanent Steering Committee was established, with Retinger appointed as permanent secretary. As well as organizing the conference, the steering committee also maintained a register of attendee names and contact details, with the aim of creating an informal network of individuals who could call upon one another in a private capacity. Conferences were held in France, Germany, and Denmark over the following three years. In 1957, the first US conference was held in St. Simons, Georgia, with $30,000 from the Ford Foundation. The foundation supplied further funding for the 1959 and 1963 conferences.
Meetings are organized by a steering committee with two members from each of approximately 18 nations. Official posts, in addition to a chairman, include an Honorary Secretary General. There is no such category in the group's rules as a "member of the group". The only category that exists is "member of the Steering Committee". In addition to the committee, there also exists a separate advisory group, though membership overlaps.
Dutch economist Ernst van der Beugel became permanent secretary in 1960, upon Retinger's death. Prince Bernhard continued to serve as the meeting's chairman until 1976, the year of his involvement in the Lockheed affair. The position of Honorary American Secretary General has been held successively by Joseph E. Johnson of the Carnegie Endowment, William Bundy of Princeton, Theodore L. Eliot, Jr., former U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan, and Casimir A. Yost of Georgetown's Institute for the Study of Diplomacy.
A 2008 press release from the American Friends of Bilderberg stated that "Bilderberg's only activity is its annual Conference. At the meetings, no resolutions are proposed, no votes taken, and no policy statements issued" and noted that the names of attendees were available to the press. The Bilderberg group's unofficial headquarters is the University of Leiden in the Netherlands.
According to the American Friends of Bilderberg, the 2008 agenda dealt "mainly with a nuclear free world, cyber terrorism, Africa, Russia, finance, protectionism, US-EU relations, Afghanistan and Pakistan, Islam and Iran".
Chairmen of the Steering Committee
- Prince Bernhard of Lippe-Biesterfeld (1954–1975)
- Walter Scheel (1975–1977)
- Alec Douglas-Home (1977–1980)
- Eric Roll (1986–1989)
- Peter Carington, 6th Baron Carrington (1990–1998)
- Étienne Davignon (since 1998)
Historically, attendee lists have been weighted towards bankers, politicians, and directors of large businesses.
Heads of state, including Juan Carlos I of Spain and Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, have attended meetings. Prominent politicians from North America and Europe are past attendees. In past years, board members from many large publicly-traded corporations have attended, including IBM, Xerox, Royal Dutch Shell, Nokia and Daimler.
The 2009 meeting participants in Greece included: Greek prime minister Kostas Karamanlis; Finnish prime minister Matti Vanhanen; Sweden foreign minister Carl Bildt; United States Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg; U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner; World Bank president Robert Zoellick; European Commission head José Manuel Barroso; Queen Sofia of Spain; and Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands.
In a European Parliament session in Brussels, Mario Borghezio, an Italian member of the European Parliament, questioned the nominations of Bilderberg and Trilateral attendees for the posts of EU President and EU foreign minister.
In 2009 the group had a dinner meeting at Castle of the Valley of the Duchess in Brussels on 12 November with the participation of Herman Van Rompuy, who later became the President of the European Council.
Claims of political conspiracy
According to chairman Étienne Davignon, a major attraction of Bilderberg group meetings is that they provide an opportunity for participants to speak and debate candidly and to find out what major figures really think, without the risk of off-the-cuff comments becoming fodder for controversy. However, because of its privacy and refusal to issue news releases, the Bilderberg group is frequently accused of political conspiracies. This outlook has been popular on both extremes of the ideological spectrum, even if they disagree on what the group wants to do. Left-wingers accuse the Bilderberg group of conspiring to impose capitalist domination, while some right-wing groups such as the John Birch Society have accused the group of conspiring to impose a world government and planned economy.
For decades, the exclusive roster of globally influential figures who attend Bilderberg conferences has captured the interest of an international network of conspiracists, who are convinced powerful elites and secret societies are moving the planet toward a “new world order”. Their populist worldview, characterized by a deep and angry suspicion of the ruling class rather than any prevailing partisan or ideological affiliation, is widely articulated on overnight AM radio shows and a collection of Internet websites. The video sharing website YouTube alone is home to thousands of Bilderberg-related videos.
Proponents of Bilderberg conspiracy theories in the United States include individuals and groups such as the John Birch Society, political activist Phyllis Schlafly, writer Jim Tucker, political activist Lyndon LaRouche, radio host Alex Jones, and politician Jesse Ventura, who made the Bilderberg group a topic of a 2009 episode of his TruTV series Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura. Other proponents include Russian-Canadian writer Daniel Estulin, and British writer David Icke.
In 2001, Denis Healey, a Bilderberg group founder and, for 30 years, a steering committee member, said:
To say we were striving for a one-world government is exaggerated, but not wholly unfair. Those of us in Bilderberg felt we couldn't go on forever fighting one another for nothing and killing people and rendering millions homeless. So we felt that a single community throughout the world would be a good thing.
In 2005 Davignon discussed these accusations with the BBC:
It is unavoidable and it doesn't matter. There will always be people who believe in conspiracies but things happen in a much more incoherent fashion... When people say this is a secret government of the world I say that if we were a secret government of the world we should be bloody ashamed of ourselves.
In a 1994 report Right Woos Left, published by Political Research Associates, investigative journalist Chip Berlet argued that right-wing populist conspiracy theories about the Bilderberg group date back as early as 1964 and can be found in Schlafly's self-published book A Choice, Not an Echo, which promoted a conspiracy theory in which the Republican Party was secretly controlled by elitist intellectuals dominated by members of the Bilderberger group, whose internationalist policies would pave the way for world communism.
In August 2010 Cuban president Fidel Castro wrote an article for the Cuban Communist Party newspaper Granma in which he cited Estulin’s 2006 book The Secrets of the Bilderberg Club, which, as quoted by Castro, describes "sinister cliques and the Bilderberg lobbyists" manipulating the public "to install a world government that knows no borders and is not accountable to anyone but its own self."
G. William Domhoff, a research professor in psychology and sociology who studies theories of power, sees the role of social clubs such as the Bilderberg group as being nothing more than a means to create social cohesion within a power elite. He adds that this understanding of clubs such as the Bilderberg group fits with the perceptions of the members of the elite. In a 2004 interview with New Internationalist magazine, Domhoff warns progressives against getting distracted by conspiracy theories which demonize and scapegoat such clubs. He argues that the opponents of progressivism are conservatives within the corporate elite and the Republican Party. It is more or less the same people who belong to clubs such as the Bilderberg group, but it puts them in their most important roles, as capitalists and political leaders, which are visible and therefore easier to fight.
- 2005 (5–8 May) at the Dorint Sofitel Seehotel Überfahrt in Rottach-Egern, Germany
- 2006 (8–11 June) at the Brookstreet Hotel in Kanata, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
- 2007 (31 May–3 June) at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, in Şişli, Istanbul, Turkey.
- 2008 (5–8 June) at the Westfields Marriott in Chantilly, Virginia, United States
- 2009 (14–16 May) at the Astir Palace resort in Athens, Greece
- 2010 (3–7 June) at the Hotel Dolce in Sitges, Spain
- Trilateral Commission, established by David Rockefeller in 1972 after the Bilderberg Group refused to include Japan.
- Ronson, Jon (2001). Them: Adventures with Extremists. London: Picador. ISBN 0-330-37546-6.
- Eringer, Robert (1980). The Global Manipulators. Bristol, England: Pentacle Books. OCLC 26551991.
- Estulin, Daniel (2007). The True Story of the Bilderberg Group. Oregon, United States of America: Trine Day. ISBN 0977795349.
- Hodapp, Christopher; Alice Von Kannon (2008). Conspiracy Theories & Secret Societies For Dummies. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley. ISBN 0470184086.
- "Inside the secretive Bilderberg Group". news.bbc.co.uk (BBC News). 29 September 2005. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/4290944.stm. Retrieved 5 August 2008.
- "Elite power brokers meet in secret". news.bbc.co.uk (BBC News). 15 May 2003. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/3031717.stm. Retrieved 5 August 2008.
- Guardian article on the group – an excerpt from Jon Ronson's book Them
- Iain Hollingshead, The Bilderberg Group: fact and fantasy Daily Telegraph 4 June 2010