The First Rule of Bilderberg is…

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Surrounded by the world's largest arms manufacturers, Austin's own Alex Jones led hundreds of protesters over the weekend at this years Bilderberg conference in Chantilly, Virginia. Alex has done his part to keep Austin weird having become an international icon for conspiracy theorists. The annual Bilderberg conference started in 1954 in Holland and was so named for the hotel where Europe and North America's most rich and powerful first officially gathered to discuss global matters “off the record”. The event has become a Super Bowl of sorts for anti-globalist protestors because of its high profile guests and secretive nature. 

The official mission statement of the group is to assemble “leading citizens on both sides of the Atlantic” to discuss “common problems of critical importance”. Their website also lists a host of broad issues as topic discussions from previous conferences. Activists claim the group is in violation of the Logan Act, the law that forbids unauthorized citizens from negotiating with foreign governments. The law requires the infringing negotiations to specifically be, “in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States.” Because it is a private group it would be almost impossible to prove (or disprove) such a claim. According to Bilderberg's website “About one-third [of attendees]are from government and politics, and two-thirds from finance, industry, labour, education and communications.” They go on to say, “Participants attend Bilderberg in a private and not an official capacity.” Those skeptical of the group’s influence point to a long list of relatively unknown political figures that rose to prominence shortly after attending the conference. Some of their alum includes Bill Clinton in ‘92, John Edwards in ‘04 and Tony Blair before becoming Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Protesters were concerned that this year’s agenda items included picking Romney’s running mate and ultimately the next President of the United States. The fact that the conference was held in the same location in 2008 where Obama and Hillary Clinton were thought to have been guests after ditching the press corps doesn’t help to dispel any rumors.

A combination of secrecy and a strong distrust of government and big business provide the perfect opportunity for theorists imagination to run wild, but its no conspiracy that the rich and powerful want to gather privately to talk with other rich and powerful people. Those who receive an invitation to the Bilderberg conference tend to be well within the 1% of money and influence and if private jets and resorts are any indication – the wealthy really value their privacy. Instead of just protesting the “elite”, maybe we can learn something from them. Having more private conversations with our peers, encouraging them to be politically engaged and aware of their role in the market place is our best opportunity to have real influence over the system.

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About Author

Joe Deshotel

Joe was born and raised in Beaumont, Tx, but live music and politics brought him to Austin. He has worked in and around government and elections for over a decade including for a member of US Congress, the Texas Legislature, the Mayor of Austin. He currently serves as Communications Director for the Travis County Democratic Party. He is most interested in transportation, energy and technology issues. He also likes Texas Hold'em and commuting on his electric skateboard. Follow me on Twitter at @joethepleb.

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