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Debunking the mystique of the Bilderberg Group

Peter Vinthagen Simpson · 11 May 2011, 14:22

Published: 11 May 2011 14:22 GMT+02:00

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For some, the Bilderberg Group conjures up images of powerful men hunkered down in a secluded compound, plotting moves that will ensure certain outcomes in the chess game of globalised business and politics.

While many participants are democratically elected leaders or accountable to shareholders in the companies they run, behind the closed doors of Bilderberg's annual gatherings they are free to discuss and decide without any concern of being held responsible, conspiracy theorists allege.

Critics on the left allege backroom deals struck among Bilderberg attendees are an attempt to ensure the world is dominated by profit-hungry capitalists, while those on the right charge the group is seeking to impose some sort of global government.

But according to Dr. Ian Richardson, a visiting professor at Stockholm University's School of Business and author of a forthcoming book on The Bilderberg Group, both sides are relying on faulty assumptions about the workings of global affairs.

“Conspiracy theorists have a black and white view of power and this power is extremely discreet," he tells The Local.

"To suggest that they are consciously coming together to agree on objectives to change the world is wrong."

The Bilderberg was formed in 1954 and first met at the Hotel de Bilderberg near Arnhem in the Netherlands. Since then its meetings, held annually either in Europe or North America, bring together representatives of power elites within business, the media and politics.

“The Bilderberg was a product of its time, with a significance in the Cold War and the emergence of NATO. Its members still share a common commitment to the Anglo-Saxon business and governance frameworks,” Richardson explains.

The Bilderberg is controlled by the steering committee, chaired by Étienne Davignon, the vice chairperson of engineering firm Suez-Tractebel and responsible for organising the annual meetings and selecting the exclusive group of 120-130 invited guests.

The meetings are held under tight security and the utmost secrecy. While members of the media sometimes attend, no interviews are given to the press and the group releases no statements.

“They meet in complete seclusion. Security is very strong. They meet in a private capacity, not as heads of state or whatever - self-interested and self-concerned,” Richardson says.

This secrecy has led to a wealth of speculation about the group and the internet is awash with conspiracy theories pertaining to their power and tentacles of influence, an assessment that Dr. Richardson rejects.

"They have been described as the modern day incarnation of the Illuminati," he says, referring to the Enlightenment-era secret society.

"My book dispels many of these theories and is the first serious attempt to grapple with this group - why do they go? What is the consensus that emanates from the group?”

Dr. Richardson did however confirm that the Bilderberg was influential both in the development of the EU and the talks leading up to the introduction of the euro, but underlined that nothing is actually decided at the meetings.

“They do change the world, but they often don't even know it themselves,” he says.

Those who defend the group argue that it is a merely a brainstorming meeting which helps power elites establish social cohesion and consensus.

Davignon has argued that the secrecy of the meetings enables participants to debate candidly, free of the concern that their comments might generate controversy, a point on which Richardson concurs.

“Without this secrecy Bilderberg would become just another talking shop. There is a myth that Davos is so open. There are journalists all over the place, but the discussions take place behind closed doors,” Richardson argues, referring to the Alpine location of the annual World Economic Forum summit.

The emergence of whistle-blower websites such as WikiLeaks has rendered these more discreet channels of diplomacy even more relevant, Dr. Richardson says.

"This back-room diplomacy continues to have enormous significance. You can’t find the common narratives if you are constantly being held to account. Without these groups how can we create the possibility for change?"

Sweden first hosted a meeting of the Bilderberg in 1962 in the exclusive Stockholm suburb of Saltsjöbaden, known for a 1938 agreement between business and union leaders which still forms the framework for Swedish industrial relations.

The suburb is also closely connected with the powerful Wallenberg family who own the Grand Hotel, the venue of both the Saltsjöbaden Agreement and the first three Bilderberg meetings held in Sweden (the fourth being held in Stenungsund in connection with the 2001 European Council summit in Gothenburg).

Jacob Wallenberg, chairperson of the family’s power base--holding company Investor, is on the Bilderberg steering committee.

He is the fourth Swede to have served on the committee, following his brother Marcus, former ABB head Percy Barnevik, former Ericsson president Björn Lundvall and former Saab-Scania head Sten Gustafsson.

Other famous Swedish attendees through the years have included King Carl XVI Gustaf, current foreign and prime ministers Carl Bildt and Fredrik Reinfeldt, former Social Democrat prime ministers Olof Palme and Tage Erlander, as well as a host of business leaders, such as SKF head Tom Johnstone and current BP chairperson Carl-Henric Svanberg.

Story continues below…

“The Bilderberg has been pretty important for Sweden. In the context of countries (such as Sweden) who don’t wield a great deal of influence, this is an opportunity to exert far more personal influence - to transcend the limits of geo-political status,” Richardson says.

Former Social Democrat leader Mona Sahlin is one of only a relatively few female attendees and US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton was the first woman to have been bestowed the honour of greeting guests as they arrive, prompting rumours in some quarters that this meant she had the blessing of the Bilderberg in her run for the US presidency.

“The Bilderberg resembles an old boys network. Hardly surprising if you look at senior political posts and the boardroom. Then there is the social dimension - boys getting together and being boys,” Richardson says.

The Bilderberg was formed by leaders concerned with the growth of anti-Americanism in Western Europe and who aimed to encourage a renewed spirit of Atlanticism.

This remains its main mission almost 60 years after its foundation and has endured despite the massive changes in geo-politics and the world economy in the intervening period, with matters of economic and trade policy playing an increasingly important role in discussions.

And while conspiracy theorists will no doubt continue to criticise the group as an undemocratic and unaccountable force in world affairs, Richardson believes the Bilderberg will remain an important forum for addressing global challenges.

"It reflects the ongoing commitment to overcoming global problems by transcending the limitations of our office," he says.

Ian Richardson is a researcher at Stockholm University Business School and a Visiting Fellow at Cranfield University School of Management. His book, entitled “Bilderberg People: Elite Power and Consensus in World Affairs”, goes on wide release on May 15th 2011.

Peter Vinthagen Simpson (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

16:35 May 11, 2011 by Ispamnews.com
The Bilderberg Group is for real. And is it not near the description as to what this article by the local.se claims. For real information on the subject I urge everyone to read the articles of veteran journalist Jim Tucker at American Free Press. (www.americanfreepress.net) or find the 2nd most known journalist following the Bilderberg group; Daniel Estulin whom also have a facebook account were you can contact him directly.

Some important points which needs to be addressed here:

- Every Swedish attendee of the Bilderberg group, knowingly or unknowingly commit a serious crime when they attend. The law called "Trolöshet vid förhandling med främmande makt" can yield up to life time in prison and is a diplomatic treason to the native country - similar to the american law called the Logan Act.

Last year a study was made in Sweden in August 2010 covering the number of articles including the keyword "bilderberg". Out of over 100 online media websites only 15% had 1 or more direct hits. 85% of all the Swedish Mainstream Media sites had 0% hits.

With this in mind ask yourself the following question. How does the ownership of Swedish media look like? Are there any big corporations owning large parts? If so can one suspect they are hiding vital information from the Swedish Public?

Find out more on the following websites:






18:36 May 11, 2011 by Freyja14
@Ispamnews.com!! Thanks for that. You took the words right out of my mouth. This article is ridiculous!
20:35 May 11, 2011 by zircon
The question is: who do we fear the most? Secret industrial elite groups make the world of power always a lot more interesting in our otherwise dull existence, and people want this sort of mystical idea of being controled by a wealthy golden point of clear human reference. Military and politics are too abstract for the 21st century world citizens. Never curse the rich and powerful the book of Proverbs says. Now then, who do we fear the most? Is it Free Mason, Skull and Bones, The Templar Knights or Bilderberg? There should not be just the book on Bilderberg, but a movie as well. And I don't mean Danish movie Festen. Or Eyes Wide Shut. Why not about real silver in money again? The Round Table or virgin white heiress?
21:21 May 11, 2011 by technoviking
And... enter the schizo tin foil hat loons from stage left.
22:40 May 11, 2011 by cookiemaster
If you are willing to learn truth about this and other bankers(more than anyone Alex Jones), please google "DICTATOR OBAMA = STALIN = BUSH - USA = SOVIET UNION"

Also, YOU SUCKS THE LOCAL...how come you allow above Ispamnews.com to truly spam per government and are at the same time denying access to raise public awareness to me personally...here is a biggg tang out to The Local editors :p
13:11 May 12, 2011 by lux.veritas
"All truth goes through three stages. First it is ridiculed, then it is violently opposed until it's finally accepted as self-evident." Schopenhauer 1788-1860.

"Think of the press as a great keyboard on which the government can play." - Joseph Goebbels.

"Find out just what people will submit to and you have found out the exact amount of injustice and wrong that will be imposed upon them. These will continue until they are resisted with either words or blows or both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress." - Frederick Douglas.

"Man does not have the right to develop his own mind." - Jose Delgado Neuroscientist, Yale.

"Fear is the parent of cruelty." - James Anthony Froude.

"Almost in every kingdom the most ancient families have been at first princes' bastards." - Robert Burton

"There is no cruder tyranny than that perpetuated under the shield of law and in the name of justice." Montesquieu 1689 - 1755.

"The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society." - Edward Bernays.

"One way or another we will have world government. The question is whether it will be by consent or by conquest." - James Paul Warburg, co-author of the Federal Reserve act.

"We are on the verge of a global transformation. All we need is the right major crisis and the nations will accept the New World Order." -David Rockefeller.

"Governments need armies to protect them from their enslaved and oppressed subjects." - Tolstoy.

"To play on those millions of minds, to watch them slowly respond to an unseen stimulus, to guide their aspirations without their knowledge - all this whether in high capacities or in humble, is a big and endless game of chess, of ever extraordinary excitement." - Fabian society from Oxford University founded by Sydney West.

"In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." - George Orwell.

"When the government fears the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny." - Thomas Jefferson.

"Government big enough to supply everything you need is big enough to take away everything you have." - Thomas Jefferson.

"The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed and hence clamorous to be led to safety, by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary." - H.L. Mencken.

"All problems, depressions, wars, disasters, assassinations, all of them were planned, caused, instigated, and implemented by the International Bankers and their attempt to establish a central bank in every country in the world, which they have now done, thanks to corrupt politicians who have been bought and paid for. This is all you need to know about the history of the world." John Fitzgerald Kennedy.
16:29 May 12, 2011 by zircon
Chess- Murray Head
17:57 May 12, 2011 by stenhuggaren
@ Lux - what's your opinion?
20:16 May 12, 2011 by MarkinBoston
Are these the bastards who keep stealing my odd socks? I have a drawer full of singletons, and I know someone is stealing their twins.
07:14 May 13, 2011 by Marc the Texan
"Conspiracy theorists have a black and white view of power and this power is extremely discreet," he tells The Local.

What a ridiculous statement. The only thing this guy has debunked is the institution that granted him a Ph.D.
10:08 May 13, 2011 by Angry Ami
Well you know I was pretty deep into CT back in the 90's, I got into it because I saw things happening in the world politically and economically that just dint make sense, I was young then, and you could say I grew out of it, I know people though who are still into it to the extent that is has costed them friendships and I know one guy who lost his wife because of his obsession with CT, so the question one needs to ask is: if in fact these organization are so all powerful, then running around digging up info on their existence is more or less a waste of time, because they can't be taken down, or they are not all powerful, but rather private clubs for fat rich guys who like to play at being king.
11:43 May 13, 2011 by johnny1939
Don't forget Agnus Dei and the Bohemian Grove while you are at it. There are so many of these "secret Clubs" one hopes they get together to get it right which has not happened so far. Any Club that accepts Mona Sahlin et al could not be that scary or important. I will continue to sleep nights.
12:05 May 13, 2011 by lux.veritas
What's my opinion? With all due courtesy:

Opinions are like idiots, everybody's got one.

The amount of brainless parrot fashion regurgitated verbal diarrhoea that many people try and palm off as "personal opinion" Warrants my explanation thereafter redundant.

For every 20 opinions, there might be one from an individual who appears to have done some wide independent research, self-instruction and above all critical thinking and reasoning.

But that's not my opinion, it's fact. More quotes to hopefully encourage us to use what is left of our un-brainwashed cerebrum.

"If I were reincarnated I would wish to be returned to earth as a killer virus to lower human population levels." - Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, patron of the WWF along with Prince Berndhart, formerly married to the queen of Netherlands, former Nazi and founder of the Bilderberg Group.

"The state is a group of individuals who claim the right to initiate the use of force against legally disarmed citizens in a specific geographical region." - Stefan Molyneux.

"We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam War." - Zbigniew Brzezinski.

"Democracy is when the indigent, and not the men of property, are the rulers." - Aristotle.

"Government is a kind of legalized pillage." - Elbert Hubbard.

"Governments last as long as the under taxed can defend themselves against the overtaxed." - Bernard Berenson.

"He mocks the people who propose that the government shall protect the rich that they in turn may care for the labouring poor." - Grover Cleveland.

"When the IMF and the World Bank force a country to cut wages, lay off workers, produce for export instead of their own people, and sell off public property to cronies for less than its value, that's called 'economic reform'."

"The prospect of cheap fusion energy is the worst thing that could happen to the planet." - Jeremy Rifkin, Greenhouse Crisis Foundation.

"A total population of 250-300 million people, a 95% decline from present levels, would be ideal." - Ted Turner, founder of CNN and major UN donor. (insanity prevails at the very top of this rotten metaphoric pyramid. Not an opinion, fact! The nihalist, mathusian, eugenics population deception is prevelant in MSM)

"In searching for a new enemy to unite us, we came up with the idea that pollution, the threat of global warming, water shortages, famine and the like would fit the bill." - Club of Rome, The First Global Revolution. ("Came up with the idea???")

The organisations such as CFR, Trilateral, Club of Rome, Royal Institute for International Affairs, IMF, World Bank, Bohemia Grove, Central International Banksters, Bilderberg and certain groups and individuals, do wield a lot of power, but it can easily be torn down and they are terrified of the people and thus the actions, associations, discoveries and provable evidence is unsurprising. These groups, individuals and interests do not always agree.
14:09 May 13, 2011 by tadchem
Some people see the unequal distribution of resources and want to blame those who have 'more' for depriving those who have less.

Some people see the unequal distribution of resources and strive to redistribute the resources in what they believe is a 'more equitable' manner.

The fact is that not all people are equal. Some people are better managers of their resources than others. They will inevitably end up having more than those who are not so good at managing.
16:40 May 13, 2011 by Tanskalainen
Is it true Mona Sahlin rose naked out of a cake at one of these meetings?
18:47 May 13, 2011 by Muff
@ Tanskalainen

10:45 May 14, 2011 by stenhuggaren
@Lux - that is just a list of other personal opinions, more or less related to the point. Just because the opinion was uttered by someone else doesn't make it any less idiotic, to use your analogy.
12:10 May 14, 2011 by zircon
S.N.W.- Sweden New World, could be another secret group not law- writing for the public.
20:06 May 14, 2011 by lux.veritas
@ stenhuggaren

If one cannot understand the mind, intent or message behind and within the words spoken; who spoke them, where they are positioned, purpose it serves, what terrors or wonders accomplished upon their backs, the effected lives today; one has comprehended nothing. Your retort is irrelevant and. This is not an insult or puerile reply.

May peace and reason find you.
19:43 May 15, 2011 by fishpicks


Critical and analytical thinking is based on jealousy of possession and power? My friend, you're not digging deep enough.

Anyway, why would there be a Bilderberg Group conspiracy? If it is so liberal to attendees I doubt anything substantial could be done in terms of "ruling the world in secrecy". Hypothetically, it doesn't stop the occurrence of independent networking and "recruiting", if you will, into some much more private body/bodies.
10:51 May 16, 2011 by RobinHood
The age of the internet has revolutionised porn, gambling and conspiracy theories, and there's big money to be made in all three.

Dodgy journalists, discredited professors and numerous conspiracy theorist wannabes pour over any international event desperately searching for evidence of government, Jewish, alien, intervention. Hordes of foil heads buy their books, and newspapers, are always happy to pay for a good story.

They come so thick and fast these days, even the foil heads must sense they are being cynically manipulated. The Protocols, the Reichstag, Pearl Harbor, Area 51, Marilyn, Jack and Bobby, magic bullets, Chappaquiddick, the Apollo project, 11 September, Osama bin Laden, David Kelly, Elvis, Diana, Michael Jackson, Jack the Ripper, Whitewater, birthers, the Illuminati, the Bilderburg Group, - it goes on forever. If even half are true, these multiple conspiracies have involved tens of thousands of people. And yet not one person has ever come up with one piece of meaningful proof.

Conspiracy theory is a self-sustaining and very profitable industry, and where's there's money there's the usual bunch of cynical "fairground barkers" peddling their snake oil to feeble minded and venerable (see the above posters); people desperate to find some supernatural conspiracy to blame for whatever has gone wrong with their sad lives.

Face the facts guys, conspiracy theory is an industry. You are being manipulated and exploited by rogues who want your money and who do very well out of your gullibility. That's why proponents of the industry abandon a theory once mined out, and move on to a fresh one with better commercial prospects. Haven't you ever wondered why the same names crop up again and again peddling the latest fad? That's why! These charmers examine every international incident for a conspiracy theory marketing opportunity, and brew up more snake oil on demand. Oil which you buy and drink by the bottle, but wonder why you never feel any better.

And it's getting worse. Just this week a book was published explaining the Area 51 "crash" was actually a secret WW2 German jet bomber piloted by Dr Mengele and crewed by deformed dwarfs created by his evil experiments. Can't you see it's ridiculous? But foil heads buy it; they must, or it wouldn't have been published.

Of course rich people get together in privacy to talk about stuff they don't want you to know about. Of course celebrities and politicians die every now and then. The US can even have a black Democratic president, elected fair and square, and one of its greatest enemies can be hunted down and killed by a bullet through his eye.

Drink less snake oil guys. It's making you all sick.
13:38 May 16, 2011 by Kstock

You got your quote wrong "opinions are like @ssholes, everyone has one" that includes you :-O Mr.CopyPaste
19:39 May 16, 2011 by lux.veritas
Many thanks Kstock. I did spell @ssholes correctly in my comment, but alas it was censored by the almighty The Local. Possibly they thought aholes was offensive to some. I take your point and will do my utmost to reduce the amount of copy, pastes and keep them as relevant concise as the news subject item.
21:25 May 16, 2011 by Byggare Bob
The Local edits the contents of comments - now that is a CT if ever I heard one...
16:02 May 17, 2011 by fishpicks

Yes? Does that mean we're not being led astray by governments, big pharma, global banks and other bodies? Your criticism towards the 'conspiracy industry' is the very same as the criticism that some conspiracy theorists have towards those very bodies. Just like in the case of the conspiracy theorists, it is simply a question of what you personally have chosen to believe or to accept. I'm not saying that you're wrong, on the contrary, but who is to say that all conspiracy theories are false?

Instantly jumping the gun and calling something a conspiracy theory is, to me, a very bad thing. There are reasons why these theories come to be and some are very much valid. But these valid points are much too easily dismissed simply because of their label; doomed to obscurity and an ever hovering question mark.
02:07 May 19, 2011 by technoviking
@ fishpicks

Perhaps for some, but considering that the same knuckleheads seem to buy every conspiracy and see conspiracies everywhere, it also becomes clear that predictable kneejerk tinfoil reactions to everything is based on personality type/mental illness rather than logic.
21:35 May 19, 2011 by sgt_doom
Conspiracy theorists....conspiracy theorists.

By any chance does this visiting prof know the origin of that phrase?

No, of course not. It was the disinformation specialist (CIA's head of disinformation) and advertising genius, one Edward Bernays.

Now, the listing for the American Friends of Bilderberg, Inc., c/o Perseus LLC, lists some of the directors as David Rockefeller, Henry Kissinger, Richard Perle, Jessica Mathews, et al.

Now, of course David Rockefeller, and the various Rockefeller corporations and banks (JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, BP, ExxonMobil, Baxter International, etc., etc.) certainly have absolutely no effect on anyone.

Since the credit default swap, and endless variants of the CDO orginated from his JPMorgan Chase, how could that possibly affect anything???

And since Baxter Pharmaceuticals, every few years, "accidentally" ships out pandemic-level infected vaccines, how could that possibly affect anyone or anything?

And as everyone in America knows, Kissinger and Perle are such sweethearts??

And lest anyone forget, it was the Rockefeller bank (Chase) in World War II, which was the only foreign bank allowed to continue operation in Nazi-occupied Paris, chiefly because they fired the French bank manager and replace him with a Swiss neutral, who promptly handed over all the Jewish depositor account records to the Nazi S.S.

Yup, that Prof. Richardson surely knows whereof he speaks???

Now if only he could find his own genitals?
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