Russian state television’s coverage of the Winter Olympics was interrupted–ironically, during the ice dancing event in which the USA took the gold medal–by an 85-minute program claiming that the United States is involved in a vast conspiracy to take over and occupy Russia by means of instilling “treason.” I remember being told that they did that to us! [Read more…]
Many on the left just know that the Christian right is scheming with big corporations to take over the country and eliminate our freedoms. Many on the right just know that the United Nations is scheming with the liberal media to take over the country and eliminate our freedoms. Ezra Klein, in a piece on how China is trying to understand American schemes by hacking into government and business computers, explains why the kind of elaborate plans necessary for a good conspiracy just can’t get carried out. [Read more…]
Did any of you get your invitation?
Dominique Strauss-Kahn, naturally, isn’t attending this year, and his likely successor Christine Lagarde is in China, but the Bilderberg Conference which kicks off in the Swiss resort of St. Moritz on Thursday retains its conspiratorial chic and pulling power.
The attendee list of Bilderberg is still pretty much the only thing that is not a closely guarded secret, as 120 of the world’s richest and most powerful people meet behind closed doors, this time at the Suvretta House hotel in Switzerland, a venue which not only boasts a “fairytale castle” design, but also its own “Teddy World.” . . .
The first Bilderberg meeting in 1954 was an attempt to stamp out post-war anti-Americanism in Europe, bringing together senior U.S. and European figures to meet and discuss the international challenges of the day.
Since then, the rich and powerful have continued to meet. The 2010 event, in Sitges, Spain, included on its agenda “The Growing Influence of Cyber Technology,” “Security in a Proliferated World,” “Promises of Medical Science,” and “Can We Feed the World.” according to its official website.
Its secrecy only serves to add fuel to the innumerate conspiracy theories that circulate around the event, with Internet message boards often channelling Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown and putting the “club” in the same bracket as the Freemasons and “Illuminati.”
The 120 participants attend in a private capacity and, officially, they do not forge agreements over global economic policy.
“Bilderberg is a small, flexible, informal and off-the-record international forum in which different viewpoints can be expressed and mutual understanding enhanced. Bilderberg’s only activity is its annual conference. At the meetings, no resolutions are proposed, no votes taken, and no policy statements issued,” the official Bilderberg website says.
In which case, you might ask, what is the point of Bilderberg?
Andrew Kakabadse is professor of international management development at Cranfield University. For his recent book “Bilderberg People,” co-authored with Nada Kakabadse and Ian Richardson, Kakabadse interviewed a number of past attendees in order to understand how the network of global influence works.
“It’s a meeting. It’s not an organization. It’s not an official summit,” he told CNBC.com. “It’s basically a meeting of friends.
“The Bilderbergs are probably the most influential global network of all time. It’s an honor to be invited, it’s a tremendous honor. Part of it is recognition for work done and part of it is for contribution to enabling world affairs.
“The people we talked to are quite genuine. Mostly they don’t understand the conspiracy bit, because they say when you go there what you find is people of all sorts of varying views. But the fact that they’ve been invited is indicative of the position that they’ve reached in life,” he saidNevertheless, Bilderberg is where ideas are shared and a transatlantic, capitalist consensus view of the world comes together.
“You do get the impression that what is happening is a shaping of ideas and the shaping of a way forward does take place,” Kakabadse said.
“The name we’d put to this is smart power or shaping, but it is definitely not doing something definite, like ‘we’re going to go and make that investment or conspire against them.’ It’s more about getting a consensus around a position that then infiltrates itself into society.”
I can see the Left saying, “See! The world is being run by the big corporations!” And I can see the Right saying, “See! The world is being run by a secret cabal!” But is this more likely just a pretentious social club? Isn’t the world too complicated for anyone to, you know, run it?
Here is the attendance list. Sounds like the same old Trilateral Commission to me.
Glen Beck has been pushing his conspiracy theories. Now the liberals are doing it. They are unable to imagine that there is anything wrong with their president or with their economic theories. So many of them believe that the Republicans and their business allies, to ensure that the president will not get re-elected, are deliberately sabotaging the economy. From Michael Gerson:
If a president of this quality and insight has failed, it must be because his opponents are uniquely evil, coordinated and effective. The problem is not Obama but the ruthless conspiracy against him.
So Matt Yglesias warns the White House to be prepared for “deliberate economic sabotage” from the GOP – as though Chamber of Commerce SWAT teams, no doubt funded by foreigners, are preparing attacks on the electrical grid. Paul Krugman contends that “Republicans want the economy to stay weak as long as there’s a Democrat in the White House.” Steve Benen explains, “We’re talking about a major political party . . . possibly undermining the strength of the country – on purpose, in public, without apology or shame – for no other reason than to give themselves a campaign advantage in 2012.” Benen’s posting was titled “None Dare Call it Sabotage.”
So what is the proof of this charge? It seems to have something to do with Republicans criticizing quantitative easing by the Federal Reserve. And opposing federal spending. And, according to Benen, creating “massive economic uncertainty by vowing to gut the national health care system.”
One is tempted to respond that it is $1 trillion in new debt, the prospect of higher taxes and a complicated, disruptive health-reform law that have created “massive economic uncertainty.” For the purposes of this argument, however, it is sufficient to say that all these economic policy debates have two sides.
Yet this is precisely what the sabotage theorists must deny. They must assert that the case for liberal policies is so self-evident that all opposition is malevolent. But given the recent record of liberal economics, policies that seem self-evident to them now seem questionable to many. Objective conditions call for alternatives. And Republicans are advocating the conservative alternatives – monetary restraint, lower spending, lower taxes – they have embraced for 30 years.
The Washington Post on Saturday carried two front page stories, side by side, on John Patrick Bedell, the man who shot and wounded two guards at the Pentagon before he was killed. The one story, Pentagon shooter, others strike symbols of ‘power for the powerless’, framed the attack in terms of anti-government groups, such as the Tea Party movement and right-wing militias. “Researchers who track violent groups see Bedell’s rampage as a distorted manifestation of the anti-Washington view that has driven the rise of right-wing militias.”
And yet, the accompanying news article describes a marijuana activist whom friends described as a “peacenik” known for his 9/11 denial and his online rants against George W. Bush. In other words, this mentally-disturbed 36-year-old was a creature of the left rather than of the right, despite the impression created by the feature story.
Yes, Bedell believed in wild conspiracy theories–maintaining that the government was taken over by a “coup” when JFK was assassinated and that it has been run by a sinister non-democratic cabal ever since–but such fantasies are commonplace on the hard left as well as the hard right.