June 3, 2012 | Guardian UK
In Charlie Skelton’s latest, a surprise guest slips into Bilderberg, and gets a warm reception from the ‘Golden Bullhorn’
Yesterday at 4pm a limousine with a police motorcade entered the rear entrance of the Bilderberg hotel. Heavy security, heavyweight politician. Let the guesses commence: was it Romney getting the green light for the presidency? Was it Hilary, nipping in to sign off on Iran?
4pm – time to freshen up, before a mix and mingle over cocktails, and a place at the top table for an extremely noisy dinner. The noise was courtesy of the Bilderberg bullhorn disco – an iTunes playlist, blasted out at the hotel.
Money can’t buy you quiet: the bullhorn soundtrack to Bilderberg 2012. Photograph: Hannah Borno for the Guardian
During cocktail hour, the delegates chatted amiably about Greek asset stripping to the tune of Killing In The Name by Rage Against The Machine. Over dinner, they divided up the post-invasion Iran restructuring contracts to Uprising by Muse. And just before the noise curfew kicked in, they sipped their coffee to the gentle sway of Megadeth’s Endgame.
The Bilderberg bullhorns went head-to-head mid-afternoon, in the ‘Best Rant’ contest, for the chance to win a golden bullhorn. The rants were judged by We Are Change San Antonio and guerilla moviemaker Mark Dice. The winning rant was delivered by Steve Milroy, who said modestly, as he collected his prize: “They only voted for me because I was packing heat.”
Packing noise: the weapons of choice of the 21st century patriot. Photograph: Hannah Borno for the Guardian
The security fence shook on its hinges as Milroy blasted Bilderberg. “The world is onto you!” he boomed. “We’re going to grab hold of your leg like a rabid dog and we won’t let go. You’re choosing our next president! You’re trying to tell us we have a choice between Goldman… and Sachs!” Although that’s not entirely fair, as I’m sure JP Morgan and Citigroup have a say.
So, was it the next US president who was escorted inside to give the after dinner speech? Obviously we’ve no idea who was in the limo, but we can be certain it wasn’t Kissinger. Henry’s been gliding in and out with untinted windows all weekend. So much so, that people have been worrying about the effect of the sunlight on his skin. “Maybe he has a special cream that stops him melting,” suggests someone from the crowd, as Henry disappears inside again and the catcalls fade.
“It’s weird. He seems to feed off the energy,” says Steve Davies, from Press For Truth. Steve has travelled down with his colleague Dan Dicks. I ask what prompted the trip. “Lots of big Canadians here this year,” explains Dan. “We’ve got Alison Redford, the Premier of Alberta, Mark Carney who’s the head of the Bank of Canada – he was a managing director of Goldman Sachs before he took that job. And there’s the private bankers, of course. Edmund Clark and Frank McKenna – one and two at the TD Bank Group.”
“It’s a giant bank” explains Steve with a sigh. “But that’s what Bilderberg’s all about: the merging of state and corporate interests – government serving corporations. There’s not much coverage in Canada of Bilderberg – but people are hungry for this info and they’re not finding it.”
At Bilderberg, every distinction melts away: banking/academia/ownership/leadership/politics – they all just mudge into one. Twenty-eight-year-old activist John Colonna objects to the mudge. “What we need is a separation of banking and government. We need to pull them apart. Bilderberg is where they come together. The ideology of Bilderberg is the fusion of big corporations and big government. This is fascism. This is what commentators on the liberal left don’t get. They’ve got a blind spot.”
John shakes his head tiredly. “Big corporations have taken over the government. It’s actually pretty easy to figure out.” The history is long and complicated, the scale of cronyism and control can be giddying, but somehow it can be made to fit on a single placard.
Sixty years of Bilderberg history on a single placard. Photograph: Hannah Borno for the Guardian
Speaking of giddying, I would be failing in my duty as a responsible journalist if I didn’t bow to pressure from readers to stick in another photo of activist Collin Abramowicz. Here he is, smouldering angrily at the New World Order. Seriously, if there are any modeling agents watching this – every single picture I’ve got of Collin practically melts the screen. Oh, and I’m taking 15%. Gross, not net.
Temperatures rise at Bilderberg 2012, but Collin remains cool. Photograph: Hannah Borno for the Guardian
Photos and footage from this year’s protest have been pouring out onto the web, and people are tired and sunburned today – but a duty to go record and protest the event has dragged them back to the action. “I shouldn’t be standing here with my camera,” laments Michael Agyeman, 22, an aeronautics student from New Jersey. “But if I’m not here, who’s going to cover this? Where is CNN? There’s a job to do, so I’m going to do it.”
Standing strong: aeronautics student Michael Agyeman. Photograph: Hannah Borno for the Guardian
Students have been a big part of Bilderberg 2012. I meet Matt Bobeng and Sam Porter, both 19, from North Carolina State University. I tell Matt, a chemistry major, something that I’ve noticed over the years: that I find the people outside Bilderberg peculiarly intelligent. “I like to consider us smart people,” he laughs. “Me and a bunch of idiots? I don’t like that idea.” I ask Matt what happens when he talks to his friends about Bilderberg. “People typically don’t like the idea of government conspiracies. Government is their safety blanket. You tell a toddler their favourite blanket is full of lice and disease, they’ll be resistant to that, they find it uncomfortable.”
Sam is studying computer programming: “I have a very analytical mind, and I think it’s important for everyone to make their own analysis. Go home, and do your own research.” Always, from everyone here, this is the message at Bilderberg. Go and study. Look stuff up. Don’t take my word for it. To which I would add, don’t take Robert Kagan’s word for it.
The ‘party line’ quote that has been doing the rounds this year is from Robert Kagan, who’s a Romney advisor, arch neo-con, and co-founder of the Project for the New American Century. Of Bilderberg, he says:
“With all due respect … it’s a lot of vaguely uninteresting people giving vaguely uninteresting lectures and then having nice meals in nice places.”
Well, with all due respect Robert, not only is Chantilly, Virginia, not a ‘nice place’ (it’s really, properly ghastly – a tarmac dystopia, an arms company Mecca), but maybe not everyone finds the attendees of Bilderberg “vaguely uninteresting”. They might find it “interesting” that the chairman, vice-chairman, and CEO of Shell are meeting up, for a three-day conference, with the chairman of Barclays, the White House national security advisor, the head of the NSA, the head of HSBC, the Chancellor of Austria, the Lord Chancellor of Britain, the governor of Indiana, the CEO of Unilever, the director-general of the World Trade Organization, the president of the World Bank and the head of the Dow Chemical Group.
Who has to show up before Kagan finds it noteworthy…? Kermit the Frog? Rihanna? George Washington? The cast of Ghostbusters? What if Henry Kissinger promised to give the CEO of Airbus a lapdance? What could possibly make Kagan stop yawning at the sheer boredom of Bilderberg?
You must be stark staring crazy to think there’s anything to worry about at Bilderberg. Matt Bobeng bristles at the fact that there’s still a stigma attached to taking this summit seriously. “People say to themselves: what will people think if I start talking about that? This is effectively an ostracism of ideas.”
Yesterday, at breakfast, I asked businessman and navy veteran Wayne Fritzsche if he felt ‘crazy’ being here – talking about Bilderberg? He smiled. “No. I feel informed.”
This article was written by Charlie Skelton.