A sampling of the rich and powerful of Europe and America gathered in Dresden, Germany over the weekend to discuss, among other things, the “geo-politics of energy and commodity prices” and “technological innovation.” It was the 64th annual Bilderberg Meeting, and despite predictable attempts to maintain secrecy, the conference provided some surprises.
One of the most remarkable moments of the weekend came in the form of tech billionaire Peter Thiel’s bizarre response to a question about his professed libertarian views as he walked through a publicly accessible area of Dresden near the meeting site.
“I believe that it’s always important to exchange views with people, no matter what their perspectives are,” Thiel said, before descending into a stumbling and barely coherent defense of Bilderberg’s secretive nature.
“I believe that I’m, you know, I think that – I think that we have a lot of problems in our society and we need to be finding ways to talk to people, we need to find ways to talk to people where not everything is completely transparent,” Thiel said.
“Libertarianism is not synonymous with radical transparency. That’s often an argument that the Stasi would make in East Germany, where everything had to be monitored by society, and I think often you have the best conversations in smaller groups where not everything is being monitored and that’s how you can have very honest conversations and how you can think better about the future. Thank you very much.”
An ironic statement from a board member of Facebook – a company that profits immensely from monitoring and collecting intimate personal information from its customers – but perhaps not so surprising from someone who clearly values his own personal privacy.
Given the secrecy of the meeting, we may never know whether Thiel shared a laugh with fellow Bilderbergers when the news and gossip site Gawker announced Friday that it was filing for bankruptcy and going up for sale. Late last month it came to light that Thiel had spent millions of dollars financing multiple lawsuits against Gawker over the course of several years after the website outed Thiel as being gay in 2007.
Beyond Thiel’s strange comments, however, the weekend was marked by additional revelations, as a trove of internal Bilderberg documents were published online. The documents, marked with warnings such as “confidential” and “not for quotation,” were assembled from a variety of libraries and provide some insight into the clandestine culture of Bilderberg.
A notice to meeting participants in the 1993 conference in Vouliagmeni, Greece, for instance, cannot stress strongly enough the cardinal rule broken this weekend by Thiel: that attendees should not talk to the press.
“Participants are expected not to give interviews to the press during the meeting,” the document states. “A point which should be strictly adhered to in contacts with the news media, is that no attribution should be made to individual participants of what was discussed during the meeting.”
But the eight-page document doesn’t limit itself to a single friendly reminder of the meeting’s media blackout policy. In a separate section labeled “PRESS CONTACTS,” the notice reiterates:
“Participants are requested not to give interviews during the meeting, nor should any reference be made, in post-conference interviews, to what an individual participant has said during the meeting.”
Another document, the most recent internal conference report in the collection, from 2002, illustrates this odd non-attribution mandate, targeted as it seems to be at plausible deniability, in practice in Bilderberg’s own record-keeping.
“A Frenchman wanted to explore the falling stock market,” the document states, awkwardly defining a meeting participant by his nationality alone. “Were accounting practices to blame? Or the risk of more terrorism? And what lessons have central bankers learned from September 11th? Another Frenchman asked about the dollar’s exchange rate with the euro. A Dutchman wondered why business was not more optimistic if the underlying economy was so healthy.”
Posted along with the notice to participants and conference reports were several other documents, including a copy of a 1956 pamphlet by one of Bilderberg’s orginal organizers, Józef Retinger, which is at times startlingly candid.
“In order to not be accused of starting an unofficial political ‘mafia’, we decided from the outset not to consider ourselves a policy-making body but to have as our principle aim the smoothing over of difficulties and tendencies among countries and the finding of a common approach in the various fields – political, cultural, economic, and social,” the document states. “Moreover, we do not contemplate taking any direct action.”
While this may sound benign enough, it is clear that the Bilderbergers expect results to follow from their annual discussions, whether meeting attendees personally get their hands dirty in the process or not.
“We draw the attention of existing organizations to the points in question; what those organizations do remains their own responsibility,” the document states. “For this side of our work, however, we have always had the tacit approval of the Governments of the countries to which the participants belong.”
The ability to wield power from the shadows, behind the scenes, pulling the strings, while maintaining a thin layer of plausible deniability, is obviously of utmost importance to the Bilderbergers, as is clear from the strange wording of their own records.
“Since the group is not a policy-making body (…) it would be impossible to define what the group has achieved,” the pamphlet concludes. “We certainly provide a meeting-place for various distinguished personalities having authority in their own particular fields of action. We have found that an exchange of views is very helpful, and may sometimes produce new ideas, and that in a way the group may be a factory for initiative. We decided, however, that none of the new ideas and initiatives would be developed by the group, but that they should be passed on to some persons or organization who could further develop them.”
With access to persons in high places and in control of powerful organizations all over the globe, the Bilderberg Group is well-positioned indeed to provide a guiding hand in developing its ideas and initiatives into reality.