Friday, June 4, 2010

Bilderberg 2010: Plutocracy with palm trees

Charlie Skelton
London Guardian -

It would be nicer if the interface between Bilderberg and the world could be softer – if it could turn an open face towards us, rather than the barrel of a machine gun. What I'm hoping is that this year, in the all-new CamCleggian spirit of openness and political transparency, any British elected official who attends the meeting – and I'm talking to you, Kenneth Clarke and George Osborne – will tell us they attended, tell us what they spoke about, and tell us what the next 12 months has in store. I don't think that's too much to ask.

Not that anyone is really asking. I've come along again this year because I had the horrible, nagging thought that no other journalists would.

Not that I'm a proper journalist. Hardly: consider me an interested citizen of the world come to bear witness to a peculiar, important, and unsettling event.

For a long and luxurious weekend at the Dolce Sitges, relishing its "new and creative buffet concepts" (a table with food on it), prime ministers will mingle with European royalty, with various EU commissioners, with representatives from Goldman Sachs, Microsoft, AIB, Deutsche Bank, Chase Manhattan and Royal Dutch Shell.

They'll clink glasses with President Obama's special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke (he is confirmed for this year). And join the Friday night conga line behind the US treasury secretary (Tim Geithner went last year; he goes a lot). We can reasonably expect the head of the Federal Reserve, the president of the World Bank, the secretary general of Nato … they've all attended in the past and many will attend again. So yes, important it is; to think otherwise is painfully naive (see below for the usual "just a big boys' club" comments …)

The conference hotel may be perched above a golf course, and boast two ping pong tables, but this four-day event isn't about who is better at table tennis, Ken Clarke or David Rockefeller (it's Rockefeller). This is about big business, global financial strategy and the economic future of Europe … if indeed it has one.

Read all of it.