Bilderberg Group

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The Bilderberg Group, Bilderberg conference, or Bilderberg Club is an annual, unofficial, invitation-only conference of approximately 120 to 140 guests from North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

 and Western Europe
Western Europe
Western Europe is a loose term for the collection of countries in the western most region of the European continents, though this definition is context-dependent and carries cultural and political connotations. One definition describes Western Europe as a geographic entity—the region lying in the...

, 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 and often feature future political leaders shortly before they become household names.

Origin


The original conference was held at the Hotel de Bilderberg, near Arnhem
Arnhem
Arnhem is a city and municipality, situated in the eastern part of the Netherlands. It is the capital of the province of Gelderland and located near the river Nederrijn as well as near the St. Jansbeek, which was the source of the city's development. Arnhem has 146,095 residents as one of the...

 in the Netherlands
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

, from 29 May to 31 May 1954. It was initiated by several people, including Polish
Poles
thumb|right|180px|The state flag of [[Poland]] as used by Polish government and diplomatic authoritiesThe Polish people, or Poles , are a nation indigenous to Poland. They are united by the Polish language, which belongs to the historical Lechitic subgroup of West Slavic languages of Central Europe...

 politician Józef Retinger, concerned about the growth of anti-Americanism
Anti-Americanism
The term Anti-Americanism, or Anti-American Sentiment, refers to broad opposition or hostility to the people, policies, culture or government of the United States...

 in Western Europe
Western Europe
Western Europe is a loose term for the collection of countries in the western most region of the European continents, though this definition is context-dependent and carries cultural and political connotations. One definition describes Western Europe as a geographic entity—the region lying in the...

, who proposed an international conference at which leaders from Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

an countries and the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 would be brought together with the aim of promoting Atlanticism
Atlanticism
Atlanticism is a philosophy of cooperation among Western European and North American nations regarding political, economic, and defense issues, with the purpose to maintain the security of the participating countries, and to protect the values that unite them: "democracy, individual liberty and...

 – better understanding between the cultures of the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 and Western Europe
Western Europe
Western Europe is a loose term for the collection of countries in the western most region of the European continents, though this definition is context-dependent and carries cultural and political connotations. One definition describes Western Europe as a geographic entity—the region lying in the...

 to foster cooperation on political, economic, and defense issues. Retinger approached Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands who agreed to promote the idea, together with former Belgian
Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

 Prime Minister Paul Van Zeeland
Paul van Zeeland
Paul Guillaume van Zeeland was a Belgian lawyer, economist, Catholic politician and statesman born in Soignies....

, and the head of Unilever
Unilever
Unilever is a British-Dutch multinational corporation that owns many of the world's consumer product brands in foods, beverages, cleaning agents and personal care products....

 at that time, Dutchman Paul Rijkens. Bernhard in turn contacted Walter Bedell Smith
Walter Bedell Smith
Walter Bedell "Beetle" Smith was a senior United States Army general who served as General Dwight D. Eisenhower's chief of staff at Allied Forces Headquarters during the Tunisia Campaign and the Allied invasion of Italy...

, then head of the CIA
Central Intelligence Agency
The Central Intelligence Agency is a civilian intelligence agency of the United States government. It is an executive agency and reports directly to the Director of National Intelligence, responsible for providing national security intelligence assessment to senior United States policymakers...

, who asked Eisenhower adviser Charles Douglas Jackson
Charles Douglas Jackson
General Charles Douglas Jackson was an expert on psychological warfare who served in the Office of Strategic Services in World War II and later as Special Assistant to the President in the Eisenhower administration....

 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
Conservatism
Conservatism is a political and social philosophy that promotes the maintenance of traditional institutions and supports, at the most, minimal and gradual change in society. Some conservatives seek to preserve things as they are, emphasizing stability and continuity, while others oppose modernism...

 and liberal
Liberalism
Liberalism is the belief in the importance of liberty and equal rights. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally, liberals support ideas such as constitutionalism, liberal democracy, free and fair elections, human rights,...

 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
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, and Denmark
Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

 over the following three years. In 1957, the first US conference was held in St. Simons, Georgia
St. Simons, Georgia
St. Simons is a census-designated place located on St. Simons Island in Glynn County, Georgia, United States. Both the community and the island are commonly considered to be one location, known simply as "St. Simons Island", or locally as "The Island". St...

, with $30,000 from the Ford Foundation
Ford Foundation
The Ford Foundation is a private foundation incorporated in Michigan and based in New York City created to fund programs that were chartered in 1936 by Edsel Ford and Henry Ford....

. The foundation supplied further funding for the 1959 and 1963 conferences.

Role


The role of the Bilderberg meetings in the flow of events since its founding in 1954 is a matter of debate among scholars and journalists, such as G. William Domhoff
G. William Domhoff
George William Domhoff is a research professor in psychology and sociology at the University of California, Santa Cruz...

 and Caroline Moorehead
Caroline Moorehead
Caroline Moorehead is a human rights journalist and biographer.Born in London, England, Moorehead received a BA from the University of London in 1965....

. In his 1980 essay The Bilderberg and the West, researcher Peter Thompson argues that the Bilderberg group is a meeting ground for top executives from the world’s leading multinational corporation
Multinational corporation
A multi national corporation or enterprise , is a corporation or an enterprise that manages production or delivers services in more than one country. It can also be referred to as an international corporation...

s and top national political figures to consider jointly the immediate and long-term problems facing the West. According to Thompson, Bilderberg itself is not an executive agency. However, when Bilderberg participants reach a form of consensus about what is to be done, they have at their disposal powerful transnational and national instruments for bringing about what it is they want to come to pass. That their consensus design is not always achieved is a reflection of the strength of competing resisting forces outside the capitalist ruling class
Ruling class
The term ruling class refers to the social class of a given society that decides upon and sets that society's political policy - assuming there is one such particular class in the given society....

 and within it.

Organizational structure


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
Ernst van der Beugel
Ernst van der Beugel was a Dutch economist, businessman, diplomat, and politician.-Education:...

 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
Lockheed bribery scandals
The Lockheed bribery scandals encompassed a series of bribes and contributions made by officials of U.S. aerospace company Lockheed from the late 1950s to the 1970s in the process of negotiating the sale of aircraft....

. The position of Honorary American Secretary General has been held successively by Joseph E. Johnson
Joseph E. Johnson
Joseph Esrey Johnson was an American government official who served with both the United States Department of State and the United Nations....

 of the Carnegie Endowment
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace is a foreign-policy think tank based in Washington, D.C. The organization describes itself as being dedicated to advancing cooperation between nations and promoting active international engagement by the United States...

, William Bundy
William Bundy
William Putnam "Bill" Bundy was a member of the CIA and foreign affairs advisor to Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. He had a key role in planning the Vietnam War. After leaving government service he became a historian.-Early years:Raised in Boston, Massachusetts he came from a...

 of Princeton
Princeton University
Princeton University is a private research university located in Princeton, New Jersey, United States. The school is one of the eight universities of the Ivy League, and is one of the nine Colonial Colleges founded before the American Revolution....

, Theodore L. Eliot, Jr.
Theodore L. Eliot, Jr.
Theodore Lyman Eliot, Jr. was the United States Ambassador to Afghanistan . He is a member of the American Academy of Diplomacy....

, former U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan
United States Ambassador to Afghanistan
The United States Ambassador to Afghanistan is the official representative of the President of the United States to the head of state of Afghanistan....

, and Casimir A. Yost of Georgetown's
Georgetown University
Georgetown University is a private, Jesuit, research university whose main campus is in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C. Founded in 1789, it is the oldest Catholic university in the United States...

 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
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

.

According to the 'American Friends of Bilderberg', the 2008 agenda dealt "mainly with a nuclear
Nuclear weapon
A nuclear weapon is an explosive device that derives its destructive force from nuclear reactions, either fission or a combination of fission and fusion. Both reactions release vast quantities of energy from relatively small amounts of matter. The first fission bomb test released the same amount...

 free world, cyber terrorism, Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

, Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

, finance, protectionism
Protectionism
Protectionism is the economic policy of restraining trade between states through methods such as tariffs on imported goods, restrictive quotas, and a variety of other government regulations designed to allow "fair competition" between imports and goods and services produced domestically.This...

, US-EU relations, Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

 and Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

, Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

 and Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

".

Chairmen of the Steering Committee

  • Prince Bernhard of Lippe-Biesterfeld
    Prince Bernhard of Lippe-Biesterfeld
    Prince Bernhard of Lippe-Biesterfeld , later Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands, was prince consort of Queen Juliana of the Netherlands and father of six children, including the current monarch Queen Beatrix....

     (1954–1975)
  • Walter Scheel
    Walter Scheel
    Walter Scheel is a German politician . He served as Federal Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development from 1961 to 1966, Foreign Minister of Germany and Vice Chancellor from 1969 to 1974, acting Chancellor of Germany from 7 May to 16 May 1974 , and finally as President of the Federal...

     (1975–1977)
  • Alec Douglas-Home
    Alec Douglas-Home
    Alexander Frederick Douglas-Home, Baron Home of the Hirsel, KT, PC , known as The Earl of Home from 1951 to 1963 and as Sir Alec Douglas-Home from 1963 to 1974, was a British Conservative politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from October 1963 to October 1964.He is the last...

     (1977–1980)
  • Eric Roll, Baron Roll of Ipsden (1986–1989)
  • Peter Carington, 6th Baron Carrington
    Peter Carington, 6th Baron Carrington
    Peter Alexander Rupert Carington, 6th Baron Carrington, is a British Conservative politician. He served as British Foreign Secretary between 1979 and 1982 and as the sixth Secretary General of NATO from 1984 to 1988. He is the last surviving member of the Cabinets of both Harold Macmillan and Sir...

     (1990–1998)
  • Étienne Davignon
    Étienne Davignon
    Étienne Francois Jacques Davignon, Viscount Davignon is a Belgian politician, businessman, and former vice-president of the European Commission.-Career:...

     (1998-2001)
  • Henri de Castries
    Henri de Castries
    Henri de La Croix de Castries, 5th Comte de Castries is a French businessman. he is Chairman and CEO of AXA since May 2000. His father is probably Christian de Castries, the commander of the doomed French garrison at Dien Bien Phu...

     (since 2001)

Participants




Historically, attendee lists have been weighted towards bankers, politicians, and directors of large businesses.

Heads of state, including Juan Carlos I of Spain
Juan Carlos I of Spain
Juan Carlos I |Italy]]) is the reigning King of Spain.On 22 November 1975, two days after the death of General Francisco Franco, Juan Carlos was designated king according to the law of succession promulgated by Franco. Spain had no monarch for 38 years in 1969 when Franco named Juan Carlos as the...

 and Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands
Beatrix of the Netherlands
Beatrix is the Queen regnant of the Kingdom of the Netherlands comprising the Netherlands, Curaçao, Sint Maarten, and Aruba. She is the first daughter of Queen Juliana of the Netherlands and Prince Bernhard of Lippe-Biesterfeld. She studied law at Leiden University...

, have attended meetings. Prominent politicians from North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

 and Europe are past attendees. In past years, board members from many large publicly-traded corporations have attended, including IBM
IBM
International Business Machines Corporation or IBM is an American multinational technology and consulting corporation headquartered in Armonk, New York, United States. IBM manufactures and sells computer hardware and software, and it offers infrastructure, hosting and consulting services in areas...

, Xerox
Xerox
Xerox Corporation is an American multinational document management corporation that produced and sells a range of color and black-and-white printers, multifunction systems, photo copiers, digital production printing presses, and related consulting services and supplies...

, Royal Dutch Shell
Royal Dutch Shell
Royal Dutch Shell plc , commonly known as Shell, is a global oil and gas company headquartered in The Hague, Netherlands and with its registered office in London, United Kingdom. It is the fifth-largest company in the world according to a composite measure by Forbes magazine and one of the six...

, Nokia
Nokia
Nokia Corporation is a Finnish multinational communications corporation that is headquartered in Keilaniemi, Espoo, a city neighbouring Finland's capital Helsinki...

 and Daimler.

The 2009 meeting participants in Greece
Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

 included: Greek prime minister Kostas Karamanlis; Finnish prime minister
Prime Minister of Finland
The Prime Minister is the Head of Government of Finland. The Prime Minister is appointed by the President, who is the Head of State. The current Prime Minister is Jyrki Katainen of the National Coalition Party.-Overview:...

 Matti Vanhanen
Matti Vanhanen
Matti Taneli Vanhanen is a Finnish politician. He is a former Prime Minister of Finland and a former Chairman of the Centre Party. In the second half of 2006 he was President of the European Council. In his earlier career he was a journalist...

; Sweden foreign minister Carl Bildt
Carl Bildt
, Honorary KCMG is a Swedish politician, diplomat and nobleman. Formerly Prime Minister of Sweden from 1991 to 1994 and leader of the liberal conservative Moderate Party from 1986 to 1999, Bildt has served as Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs since 6 October 2006...

; United States Deputy Secretary of State
United States Deputy Secretary of State
The Deputy Secretary of State of the United States is the chief assistant to the Secretary of State. If the Secretary of State resigns or dies, the Deputy Secretary of State becomes Acting Secretary of State until the President nominates and the Senate confirms a replacement. The position was...

 James Steinberg
James Steinberg
James Braidy "Jim" Steinberg is an American academic and political advisor, and former Deputy Secretary of State. He is currently Dean and Professor of Social Science, International Affairs, and Law at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University.-Early career:He...

; U.S. Treasury Secretary
United States Secretary of the Treasury
The Secretary of the Treasury of the United States is the head of the United States Department of the Treasury, which is concerned with financial and monetary matters, and, until 2003, also with some issues of national security and defense. This position in the Federal Government of the United...

 Timothy Geithner; World Bank
World Bank
The World Bank is an international financial institution that provides loans to developing countries for capital programmes.The World Bank's official goal is the reduction of poverty...

 president Robert Zoellick
Robert Zoellick
Robert Bruce Zoellick is the eleventh president of the World Bank, a position he has held since July 1, 2007. He was previously a managing director of Goldman Sachs, United States Deputy Secretary of State and U.S. Trade Representative, from February 7, 2001 until February 22, 2005.President...

; European Commission
European Commission
The European Commission is the executive body of the European Union. The body is responsible for proposing legislation, implementing decisions, upholding the Union's treaties and the general day-to-day running of the Union....

 head José Manuel Barroso; Queen Sofia of Spain
Queen Sofía of Spain
Queen Sofía of Spain is the wife of King Juan Carlos I of Spain.-Early life and family:Princess Sophia of Greece and Denmark was born in Psychiko, Athens, Greece on 2 November 1938, the eldest child of the King Paul of Greece and his wife, Queen Frederika , a former princess of Hanover...

; and Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands.

In 2009 the group hosted a dinner meeting at Castle of the Valley of the Duchess
Castle of the Valley of the Duchess
The Castle of Val-Duchesse is a former priory situated in the municipality of Auderghem in the Brussels Capital Region of Belgium. The castle is owned by the Belgian Royal Trust....

 in Brussels on 12 November to promote the candidacy of Herman Van Rompuy
Herman Van Rompuy
Herman Achille Van Rompuy is the first long-term and full-time President of the European Council...

 for President of the European Council.

The membership of the Bilderberg group is drawn largely from West European and North American countries. Writing in 1980, policy analyst Holly Sklar
Holly Sklar
Holly Sklar is an author and syndicated columnist, policy analyst and strategist whose articles have appeared in hundreds of newspapers and online outlets as well as The Nation, and other publications.- Books :...

 noted that, from the 1950s, elites in the West became concerned that the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 was no longer controlled by Western powers, and that this concern was expressed in the participant selection process of the Bilderberg group. Sklar also quoted observations from human rights journalist Caroline Moorehead
Caroline Moorehead
Caroline Moorehead is a human rights journalist and biographer.Born in London, England, Moorehead received a BA from the University of London in 1965....

 in a 1977 article critical of the Bilderberg group's membership, who in turn quoted an unnamed member of the group: "No invitations go out to representatives of the developing countries. 'Otherwise you simply turn us into into a mini-United-Nations, said one person [a Bilderberger] with scorn. And more revealingly, 'we are looking for like-thinking people and compatible people. It would be worse to have a club of dopes.'" In her article, Moorehead characterized the group as "heavily biased towards politics of moderate conservatism and big business" and claims that the "furtherest left is represented by a scattering of central social democrats"

Recent meetings


Recent meetings:
  • 2005 (5–8 May) at the Dorint Sofitel Seehotel Überfahrt in Rottach-Egern
    Rottach-Egern
    Rottach-Egern is a municipality and town located at Lake Tegernsee in the district of Miesbach in Upper Bavaria, Germany....

    , Germany
  • 2006 (8–11 June) at the Brookstreet Hotel
    Brookstreet Hotel
    The Brookstreet Hotel is a modern luxury hotel in suburban Ottawa, Ontario, located north of the Queensway, near the intersection of March Road and Carling Avenue, in the Kanata Research Park...

     in Kanata
    Kanata, Ontario
    Situated in the Ottawa Valley, Kanata is located about west-southwest of Downtown Ottawa along Highway 417 at a latitude of 45°18' North and a longitude of 75°55' West, with an area of . Its northern end is just to the west of the Ottawa River....

    , Ottawa
    Ottawa
    Ottawa is the capital of Canada, the second largest city in the Province of Ontario, and the fourth largest city in the country. The city is located on the south bank of the Ottawa River in the eastern portion of Southern Ontario...

    , Ontario
    Ontario
    Ontario is a province of Canada, located in east-central Canada. It is Canada's most populous province and second largest in total area. It is home to the nation's most populous city, Toronto, and the nation's capital, Ottawa....

    , Canada
  • 2007 (31 May–3 June) at the Ritz-Carlton
    Ritz-Carlton
    The Ritz-Carlton is a brand of luxury hotels and resorts with 75 properties located in major cities and resorts in 24 countries worldwide...

     Hotel, in Şişli
    Sisli
    Şişli is one of 39 districts of Istanbul, Turkey. Located on the European side of the city, it is bordered by Beşiktaş to the east, Sarıyer to the north, Eyüp and Kağıthane to the west, and Beyoğlu to the south...

    , Istanbul
    Istanbul
    Istanbul , historically known as Byzantium and Constantinople , is the largest city of Turkey. Istanbul metropolitan province had 13.26 million people living in it as of December, 2010, which is 18% of Turkey's population and the 3rd largest metropolitan area in Europe after London and...

    , Turkey
    Turkey
    Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

    .
  • 2008 (5–8 June) at the Westfields Marriott in Chantilly
    Chantilly, Virginia
    Chantilly is an unincorporated community located in western Fairfax County and southeastern Loudoun County of Northern Virginia. Recognized by the U.S. Census Bureau as a census designated place , the community population was 23,039 as of the 2010 census -- down from 41,041 in 2000, due to the...

    , Virginia
    Virginia
    The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

    , United States
  • 2009 (14–16 May) at the Astir Palace resort in Athens
    Athens
    Athens , is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state...

    , Greece
  • 2010 (3–7 June) at the Hotel Dolce in Sitges
    Sitges
    *Church of Sant Bartolomeu i Santa Tecla . It houses two Gothic sepulchres , belonging to the an older church located on the same site...

    , Spain
  • 2011 (9–12 June) at the Suvretta House in St. Moritz
    St. Moritz
    St. Moritz is a resort town in the Engadine valley in Switzerland. It is a municipality in the district of Maloja in the Swiss canton of Graubünden...

    , Switzerland
    Switzerland
    Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....


Privacy


The meeting hotels are inaccessible for any other guest for the full period of the conferences and sentineled by private security staffs as well as by local police authorities and secret services. Journalists attempting to cover news of the conferences have reported being subjected to reprisals. During the Bilderberg Meeting at Vouliagmeni
Vouliagmeni
Vouliagmeni is a seaside town and former municipality 20 km south of Athens, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Vari-Voula-Vouliagmeni, of which it is a municipal unit. Its population was 6,442 at the 2001 census. Vouliagmeni is among the most...

 (Greece
Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

) in 2009, for instance, the British The Guardian
The Guardian
The Guardian, formerly known as The Manchester Guardian , is a British national daily newspaper in the Berliner format...

reporter Charlie Skelton
Charlie Skelton
Charlie Skelton is a comedy writer and actor from Suffolk, England.An Oxford University graduate, he started out as a journalist, writing features for the Evening Standard and The Guardian...

 was arrested twice after having taken pictures of vehicles. On June 9, 2011 the Italian Lega Nord member of the European Parliament Mario Borghezio
Mario Borghezio
Mario Borghezio is an Italian politician from the Northern League. He is a Member of the European Parliament, and sits with the eurosceptic Europe of Freedom and Democracy group. He is a member of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairsand of the Committee on Petitions...

 was arrested by the police, remanded for some hours and then banished from the Canton of Graubünden
Graubünden
Graubünden or Grisons is the largest and easternmost canton of Switzerland. The canton shares borders with the cantons of Ticino, Uri, Glarus and St. Gallen and international borders with Italy, Austria and Liechtenstein...

 for the full period of the conference. Thereupon the Italian embassy at Berne
Berne
The city of Bern or Berne is the Bundesstadt of Switzerland, and, with a population of , the fourth most populous city in Switzerland. The Bern agglomeration, which includes 43 municipalities, has a population of 349,000. The metropolitan area had a population of 660,000 in 2000...

 appealed to the Swiss government and demanded investigations on that subject.

Conspiracy theories


According to chairman Étienne Davignon
Étienne Davignon
Étienne Francois Jacques Davignon, Viscount Davignon is a Belgian politician, businessman, and former vice-president of the European Commission.-Career:...

, 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 in the media. However, partly because of its working methods to ensure strict privacy, the Bilderberg group is accused of conspiracies. This outlook has been popular on both extremes of the political spectrum
Political spectrum
A political spectrum is a way of modeling different political positions by placing them upon one or more geometric axes symbolizing independent political dimensions....

, even if they disagree on what the group wants to do. Some on the left accuse the Bilderberg group of conspiring to impose capitalist
Capitalism
Capitalism is an economic system that became dominant in the Western world following the demise of feudalism. There is no consensus on the precise definition nor on how the term should be used as a historical category...

 domination, while some on the right have accused the group of conspiring to impose a world government
World government
World government is the notion of a single common political authority for all of humanity. Its modern conception is rooted in European history, particularly in the philosophy of ancient Greece, in the political formation of the Roman Empire, and in the subsequent struggle between secular authority,...

 and planned economy
Planned economy
A planned economy is an economic system in which decisions regarding production and investment are embodied in a plan formulated by a central authority, usually by a government agency...

.

Politico journalist Kenneth P. Vogel reports that it is the "exclusive roster of globally influential figures that has captured the interest of an international network of conspiracists," who for decades have seen the Bilderberg meetings as a "corporate-globalist scheme", and are convinced powerful elites
Power elite
A power elite or The Grand Elite, in political and sociological theory, is a small group of people who control a disproportionate amount of wealth, privilege, and access to decision-making of global consequence. The term was coined by C...

 are moving the planet toward an oligarchic “new world order”. He goes on to state that these conspiracist's "populist
Populism
Populism can be defined as an ideology, political philosophy, or type of discourse. Generally, a common theme compares "the people" against "the elite", and urges social and political system changes. It can also be defined as a rhetorical style employed by members of various political or social...

 paranoid worldview", characterized by a suspicion of the ruling class
Ruling class
The term ruling class refers to the social class of a given society that decides upon and sets that society's political policy - assuming there is one such particular class in the given society....

 rather than any prevailing partisan or ideological affiliation, is widely articulated on overnight AM radio shows and numerous Internet websites. Proponents of Bilderberg conspiracy theories
Conspiracy theory
A conspiracy theory explains an event as being the result of an alleged plot by a covert group or organization or, more broadly, the idea that important political, social or economic events are the products of secret plots that are largely unknown to the general public.-Usage:The term "conspiracy...

 in the United States include individuals and groups such as the John Birch Society
John Birch Society
The John Birch Society is an American political advocacy group that supports anti-communism, limited government, a Constitutional Republic and personal freedom. It has been described as radical right-wing....

, political activist Phyllis Schlafly
Phyllis Schlafly
Phyllis McAlpin Stewart Schlafly is a Constitutional lawyer and an American politically conservative activist and author who founded the Eagle Forum. She is known for her opposition to modern feminism ideas and for her campaign against the proposed Equal Rights Amendment...

, writer Jim Tucker, political activist Lyndon LaRouche
Lyndon LaRouche
Lyndon Hermyle LaRouche, Jr. is an American political activist and founder of a network of political committees, parties, and publications known collectively as the LaRouche movement...

, radio host Alex Jones, and politician Jesse Ventura
Jesse Ventura
James George Janos , better known as Jesse Ventura, is an American politician, the 38th Governor of Minnesota from 1999 to 2003, Navy UDT veteran, former SEAL reservist, actor, and former radio and television talk show host...

, who made the Bilderberg group a topic of a 2009 episode of his TruTV series Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura
Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura
Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura is an American television series hosted by Jesse Ventura and broadcast on truTV . It premiered on December 2, 2009, and is produced by A. Smith & Co. Productions. A second season premiered on October 15, 2010...

. Non-American proponents include Russian-Canadian writer Daniel Estulin
Daniel Estulin
Daniel Estulin is an author, public speaker, whose main interest is the Bilderberg Group, an annual invitation-only conference of the elites in the fields of business, finance, media, military and politics...

.

In 2001, Denis Healey
Denis Healey
Denis Winston Healey, Baron Healey CH, MBE, PC is a British Labour politician, who served as Secretary of State for Defence from 1964 to 1970 and Chancellor of the Exchequer from 1974 to 1979.-Early life:...

, 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
BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

: "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 the Political Research Associates
Political Research Associates
Political Research Associates , named and known on the Web as PublicEye.org, is a non-profit research group located in Somerville, Massachusetts.-Mission:...

, investigative journalist Chip Berlet
Chip Berlet
John Foster "Chip" Berlet is an American investigative journalist, and photojournalist activist specializing in the study of right-wing movements in the United States, particularly the religious right, white supremacists, homophobic groups, and paramilitary organizations...

 argued that right-wing populist
Right-wing populism
Right-wing populism is a political ideology that rejects existing political consensus and combines laissez-faire liberalism and anti-elitism. It is considered "right-wing" because of its rejection of social equality and government programs to achieve it, its opposition to social integration, and...

 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
Republican Party (United States)
The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery expansion activists in 1854, it is often called the GOP . The party's platform generally reflects American conservatism in the U.S...

 was secretly controlled by elitist intellectuals dominated by members of the Bilderberger group, whose internationalist
Neoliberalism
Neoliberalism is a market-driven approach to economic and social policy based on neoclassical theories of economics that emphasizes the efficiency of private enterprise, liberalized trade and relatively open markets, and therefore seeks to maximize the role of the private sector in determining the...

 policies would pave the way for world communism
World communism
World communism, also known as international communism or global communism, is the terminal stage of development of the history of communism in Marxist theory. It has also usually been equated to the Comintern . This is the meaning that typically and historically has been meant by opponents of...

. Paradoxically, in August 2010 former Cuban president Fidel Castro
Fidel Castro
Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz is a Cuban revolutionary and politician, having held the position of Prime Minister of Cuba from 1959 to 1976, and then President from 1976 to 2008. He also served as the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba from the party's foundation in 1961 until 2011...

 wrote an article for the Cuban Communist Party newspaper Granma
Granma (newspaper)
Granma is the official newspaper of the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party.Its name comes from the yacht Granma that carried Fidel Castro and 81 other rebels to Cuba's shores in 1956 launching the Cuban Revolution.-Editions:...

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
G. William Domhoff
George William Domhoff is a research professor in psychology and sociology at the University of California, Santa Cruz...

, a research professor in psychology
Psychology
Psychology is the study of the mind and behavior. Its immediate goal is to understand individuals and groups by both establishing general principles and researching specific cases. For many, the ultimate goal of psychology is to benefit society...

 and sociology
Sociology
Sociology is the study of society. It is a social science—a term with which it is sometimes synonymous—which uses various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop a body of knowledge about human social activity...

 who studies theories of power, sees the role of international relations
International relations
International relations is the study of relationships between countries, including the roles of states, inter-governmental organizations , international nongovernmental organizations , non-governmental organizations and multinational corporations...

 forums and social clubs such as the Bilderberg group as a place to share ideas, reach consensus, and create social cohesion
Social cohesion
Social cohesion is a term used in social policy, sociology and political science to describe the bonds or "glue" that bring people together in society, particularly in the context of cultural diversity. Social cohesion is a multi-faceted notion covering many different kinds of social phenomena...

 within a power elite
Power elite
A power elite or The Grand Elite, in political and sociological theory, is a small group of people who control a disproportionate amount of wealth, privilege, and access to decision-making of global consequence. The term was coined by C...

. He adds that this understanding of forums and clubs such as the Bilderberg group fits with the perceptions of the members of the elite. Domhoff warns progressives
Progressivism in the United States
Progressivism in the United States is a broadly based reform movement that reached its height early in the 20th century and is generally considered to be middle class and reformist in nature. It arose as a response to the vast changes brought by modernization, such as the growth of large...

 against getting distracted by conspiracy theories which demonize
Demonization
Demonization is the reinterpretation of polytheistic deities as evil, lying demons by other religions, generally monotheistic and henotheistic ones...

 and scapegoat such forums and clubs. He argues that the opponents of progressivism in the United States are conservatives within the corporate elite and the Republican Party
Republican Party (United States)
The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery expansion activists in 1854, it is often called the GOP . The party's platform generally reflects American conservatism in the U.S...

. It is more or less the same people who belong to forums and clubs such as the Bilderberg group, but it puts them in their most important roles, as capitalists
Capitalism
Capitalism is an economic system that became dominant in the Western world following the demise of feudalism. There is no consensus on the precise definition nor on how the term should be used as a historical category...

 and political leaders, which are visible and therefore easier to fight.

Author James McConnachie comments that conspiracy theorists have a point, but that they fail to communicate it effectively. He argues that the Bilderberg group acts in a manner consistent with a global conspiracy, but does so without the same "degree of nefariousness", a difference not appreciated by conspiracy theorists, who "tend to see this cabal as outright evil." McConnachie concludes: "Occasionally you have to give credit to conspiracy theorists who raise issues that the mainstream press has ignored. It's only recently that the media has picked up on the Bilderbergers. Would the media be running stories if there weren't these wild allegations flying around?"

See also

  • Trilateral Commission
    Trilateral Commission
    The Trilateral Commission is a non-governmental, non-partisan discussion group founded by David Rockefeller in July 1973 to foster closer cooperation among the United States, Europe and Japan.-History:...

    , established by David Rockefeller
    David Rockefeller
    David Rockefeller, Sr. is the current patriarch of the Rockefeller family. He is the youngest and only surviving child of John D. Rockefeller, Jr. and Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, and the only surviving grandchild of oil tycoon John D. Rockefeller, founder of Standard Oil. His five siblings were...

     in 1972 after the Bilderberg Group refused to include Japan.
  • Them: Adventures with Extremists
    Them: Adventures With Extremists
    Them: Adventures with Extremists is a book by British journalist Jon Ronson published in 2001. The book accompanied Ronson's documentary series The Secret Rulers of the World, which covered similar topics and depicted many of the same episodes...

     & The Secret Rulers of the World (2001 book and film)
  • List of Bilderberg Group participants

External links