The world’s most secretive meeting took place on June 9-12. At an undisclosed location in Dresden, Germany, heads of states, politicians, tech luminaries and finance’s top names will convene for the 64th annual Bilderberg Summit. The invite-only conference featured no press, no cameras and no quotes. Led by a steering committee, helmed by Henri de Castries, French Count and CEO of multinational insurance firm AXA, the Bilderberg provides its attendees with a forum for informal discussions about the major issues facing the world, without the need to propose resolutions or pass any votes deciding any outcome.
Naturally, the veil of secrecy has stimulated the imaginations of conspiracy theorists, who view the Bilderberg Meetings as a forum for a cabal of the world’s elite to influence the future course of humanity. One of the most popular conspiracy theories behind the purpose of the meetings, is the furthering of the so-called “New World Order”—a homogenous single government that seeks to impose its dominion over every sovereign nation on the planet.
However, real life is not as nefarious. According to the Bilderberg’s official page, the key topics discussed included:
- Current events (most likely with an emphasis on Brexit)
- Europe: migration, growth, reform, vision, unity
- Middle East
- US political landscape, economy: growth, debt, reform
- Cyber security
- Geo-politics of energy and commodity prices
- Precariat and middle class
- Technological innovation
Perhaps the SPECTRE-esque plots were on the other memo. Rather, the remarkably tame list is reminiscent of other exclusive meetings such as Davos. Of note however, is the discussion around the “precariat”, which according to British economist Guy Standing, who popularized the term, are:
“…the perpetual part-timers, the minimum-wagers, the temporary foreign workers, the grey-market domestics paid in cash… the techno-impoverished whose piecemeal work has no office and no end, the seniors who struggle with dwindling benefits, the indigenous people who are kept outside, the single mothers without support, the cash laborers who have no savings, the generation for whom a pension and a retirement is neither available nor desired.’
In other words, the marginalized and alienated groups that are fueling the rise of demagogues such as Donald Trump and new Philippines president Rodrigo Duerte, is a cause of concern amongst the global elite.
Some of the big names on this year’s guest list includes, several finance ministers, professors, 30 plus heads of companies, such as John Cryan, CEO of Deutsche Bank AG (DB), David Cote, CEO of Honeywell (HON), Ben van Beurden CEO of Royal Dutch Shell plc (RDS), Peter Thiel, President of Thiel Capital and co-founder of Paypal (PYPL) and Eric Scmidt, Executive Chairman of Alphabet Inc (GOOGL). And finally, before we get too dismissive about the conspiracies, note that two attendees from 1991 and 1993 were a young Senator from Arkansas by the name of Bill Clinton and a lowly minister by the name of Tony Blair. Coincidence? You decide.