This week, conspiracy theorists
the world over will be descending, either literally or metaphorically, on a rather
grubby, much derided Hertfordshire town called Watford.
There, in a hotel called The
Grove – surrounded by a high metal fence, with the Old Bill and, one presumes,
members of Britain’s security agencies swarming about the perimeter looking
desperately worried – an organisation called the Bilderberg Group will hold its
2013 annual conference.
The Bilderbergers, as the group’s
members have come to be known, will convene behind closed doors to discuss
various issues of global import. I
imagine this year’s topics might include such prevailing concerns as the state
of the world economy, commodity markets, the fight against terrorism, Syria,
the Middle East in general, food shortages, climate change, military
preparedness, and so on.
For all any of us know, they will
also spend some time talking about the Kardashians, what we can expect from the
next series of Downton Abbey and which bartenders, in all their long years of
staying at fancy hotels, mixes the best Negroni.
We shall never know, of course, as
there will be no agenda, and no public reports will be issued.
The attendees will include
politicians, international bankers, industrialists and, if past conferences are
anything to go by, a scattering of representatives from Europe’s
If all the secrecy and security
sounds vaguely sinister, that is precisely what the World Association of
Conspiracy Theorists (there’s no such formal organisation, I should hasten to add)
want us to believe.
Daniel Estulin, an author who has
apparently studied the Bilderberg in depth, refers in a 2009 book to “a shadow
world government … threatening to take away our right to direct our own
destinies (by creating) a disturbing reality”.
What that disturbing reality is he explains thus: “Imagine a private
club where presidents, prime ministers, international bankers and generals rub
shoulders, where gracious royal chaperones ensure everyone gets along, and
where the people running wars, markets and Europe (and America) say
what they never dare say in public.”
I can’t honestly see what all the
fuss is about. Why are we all supposed
to be profoundly disturbed by the kind of conversations that can be overheard,
any day of the week, in the bar of one of the exclusive clubs along Pall Mall – or for that matter in the committee room of
your average suburban golf club?
Admittedly the average Bilderberger is a prominent figure on the world
stage, but I wouldn’t have thought that elevated the proceedings from erudite discussion
to some kind of plot to take over the world.
The Bilderbergers have been at it
since 1954, when they first met in a hotel called the Bilderberg in Oosterbeek,
a suburb of the Dutch city of Arnhem, for the
purpose of aligning the geopolitical attitudes of Europe and America (I
always thought that was supposed to be accomplished by the North Atlantic
Treaty Organisation. But what do I
know?). Since then, I haven’t seen any
signs of an emerging world government (which, incidentally, some might argue
wouldn’t be such a terrible idea). And
there’s no concrete evidence that Goldman Sachs is deeply involved in some form
of alliance with the American Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Dwight D. Eisenhower, leaving
office in 1960, warned of the potential threat of a “military industrial
complex” and we all sagely nodded our heads in agreement. Perhaps such a complex really does run the
world, if only informally, but as true as that may be today, it always has
We know who these Bilderberg
members are, past and present – that much has been revealed. Most of them are capitalists, of course, but
aren’t we all, at least in the post-industrial west? Actually, more than a few Bilderbergers have
been socialists, including, from this parish, Denis Healey and Shirley Williams. I wouldn’t call them sinister, merely nice
but incompetent wafflers. Frankly, most
of the attendees wouldn’t know how to get to Watford
on a train without expert advice, let alone run the world.
I hope they have a good,
constructive meeting. More than that, I
hope they heed the Mayor of Watford’s heartfelt admonition, as reported by a
columnist in today’s Guardian
newspaper, not to allow their chauffeurs to park their limos on the grass
verges opposite the hotel.
and World Conspiracy! It’s not a
combination that sets alarm bells ringing in this household. But what do I know?