What if I told you that every year since 1954 hundreds of the world's most powerful leaders have met in secret, and that we still have basically no idea what they are talking about? That the list of American attendees has included Henry Kissinger, John F. Kerry, Gerald Ford, Bill Clinton, and possibly Barack Obama? And that -- despite all that -- very few people at all are aware of these meetings?
Founded more than half a century ago, the Bilderberg Group haunts the minds of conspiracy theorists but is almost nonexistent in the consciousness of the average person. This is because the group bans the press from its meetings and shies away from any and all media coverage. The organization ensures that its gatherings remain secret by not only hiring impressive contingents of private security, but also indirectly forcing taxpayers to foot the bill to pay for a heavy police presence (despite the fact that these taxpayers cannot actually attend).
The most recent meeting was held earlier this month in the posh Grove Hotel in the UK. The whole scene was incredibly bizarre and would have been at home in any Dan Brown novel. Conspiracy theorists lined the streets to the Grove and chanted slogans as expensive cars with blacked-out windows entered the hotel's gates for the four-day conference. A massive police operation that could potentially cost British taxpayers two million pounds ensured that none of these protestors could actually get into the five-star hotel.
Remarkably, if the list of this year's attendees were its own country, it would boast a GDP in the tens of billions. Participants included everyone from UK Prime Minister David Cameron to Google CEO Eric Schmidt.
Understandably, some people are outraged -- and not just conspiracy theorists. Attending a protest outside the meeting, Labour Party MP Michael Meacher called the attendees "the real top brass of Western finance capitalism."
"These are people who are all in the most dominant positions in the governance of Western capitalism," he said. "My objection is that [the meeting is] being done in utter secrecy with the police keeping everyone else out."
Mr. Meacher said he believes the leaders gather to discuss and manage the future of Western capitalism. While this sounds like quite the accusation, other people present at the protest made even more striking allegations.
Conspiracy theorists -- some of them sporting elf ears and jedi costumes -- accused the Bilderberg Group of everything from conspiring to establish a nefarious New World Order to being a cabal of reptilian space aliens.
Personally, I think that the purpose of Bilderberg is just what it says -- to provide a private forum where powerful people can say what they want, free of "the conventions of office" or "pre-agreed positions."
Whatever the case, the conspiracy theories will almost certainly continue until Bilderberg allows some degree of press coverage.
Something tells me that won't be happening any time soon.