Bilderberg and Atlanticism

8 June 2011


Tomorrow in St. Moritz, Switzerland the Bilderberg Group will meet for a few days. I wasn’t invited. I could be bitter or angry or frustrated or resentful about my exclusion from this exclusive little kaffeeklatsch, but really I’m not too put out by it, any more than I am not particularly upset about not receiving an invitation to anyone’s Superbowl party or sewing circle.

Though accused of secrecy, and the target of numerous conspiracy theories, the Bilderberg Group has an official website — BILDERBERG MEETINGS — which, although it lists past participants and agenda items, does not list this year’s meeting location, participants, or agenda.

The BBC had a longish story on the conspiracy theorist’s fascination with the Bilberberg Group, Bilderberg mystery: Why do people believe in cabals? While I understand the visceral response to influential movers-and-shakers meeting secretively, secrecy is relative, and I appreciate their interest in being able to speak freely.

I wonder how ordinary folks would feel — and how it would change what was said — if a number of television reporters were present for the typical Superbowl party or sewing circle stitch-and-bitch. I wager that the talk would be a lot less blunt and a lot less honest and even a lot less satisfying. In fact, I would wager that if a Superbowl party or sewing circle event were observed by the media, that the participants would try to put a brave face on it, but they would immediately seek another clandestine meeting — not announcing the location, participants, or agenda — after the “official” meeting merely in order to get together in a context in which they felt secure in speaking their minds freely.

There is nothing sinister, malevolent, or dangerous about the Bilberberg Group. In fact, it is becoming a bit quaint, like the UN Security Council, the membership of which reflects the balance of power after the end of the Second World War, and not the balance of power at the beginning of the twenty-first century. For the Bilderberg Group represents Atlanticism: the common interests of the industrialized nation-states that are the descendants of the Atlantic civilization that emerged from the European Age of Discovery that unified Western Europe and the Americas in one large economic and political network.

Atlanticism is represented informally in the “special relationship” between the US and the UK, which is a trans-Atlantic relationship, and formally in NATO, which is eponymously a North Atlantic relationship. Needless to say, in the Pacific Century, dominated not by the nation-states of the North Atlantic but rather by the nation-states bordering the Pacific Rim, the role of Atlanticism, in both its formal and informal aspects, is on the wane.

I am personally much more alarmed by the Shanghai Cooperation Organization than any business conducted by the Bilderberg Group. Indeed, it could be argued that, in a world in which the Western model of development labors under an onslaught of criticism from both within and without that Westerners need their own organization to reaffirm the principles of Western political and economic traditions, and there is a sense in which the Bilderberg Group represents exactly this.

Besides, meeting as they do in different locations each year, the Bilderbergers don’t even have an owl to dance around like the folks who gather at Bohemian Grove. Pity them.

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