Thursday, January 08, 2004


There's this journalist, see? He goes around interviewing loonies of various denominations (such as Omar Bakhri Mohammed and Randy Weaver), and he finds out that the Bilderberg Group plays a central role in their conspiracy theories and worldview. Some think the Bilderbergers are a cabal of evil Jews, akin to the mythical "Elders of Zion" from the fraudulent Protocols; some think that they're shadowy businessmen in league with Satan; some think they're Catholics working for the Pope (who is, of course, the antichrist); and some even claim they are giant shapeshifting lizards. But all share a belief that the Bilderbergers are the Secret Masters, secretly ruling the world from a little room somewhere (usually in a five-star hotel, with a golf-course).

So, the journalist decides to look into this. On the way he talks to some very wierd and scary people. He's trailed by men in dark glasses, hugged by creepy millionaires with a fetish for Nicolae Ceausecu's shoes, outed as a Jew at a Jihad training camp, and observes America's political and financial elite behaving like drunken frat-boys at a re-enactment of a pagan ceremony involving a giant stone owl. But he also pieces together a picture of the Bilderberg group:

the group was created in 1954 by a band of influential post-war internationalists who believed that global capitalism would be the best way to thwart future Hitlers... The central tenet was, presuably, that international businessmen were not affiliated with crazy ideological belief systems. They were not ideologues. In fact the comforting thing about them was that they cared about nothing at all except for profits.

(Yes, that is irony there...)

They network. They have an outreach scheme, bringing together young politicians with financiers and industrialists, who offer them "wise words". As for the secrecy, they claim not to be secret, only private. "Nobody is going to speak freely if they're going to be quoted by ambitious and prurient journalists".

Why am I writing about this? Firstly, because it's a very interesting, funny, and scary book. Secondly, because some of the people mentioned in it are in the news this week (the Rev. Ian Paisley, for example). But mostly, because Crooked Timber has an excellent post about the paucity of the English language in describing groups such as the Bilderbergers:

the English language is amply stocked with words to describe paranoia and irrational fear, but doesn’t have one single concise term to describe a rational fear of political persecution. Similarly, the journalistic lexicon is well stocked with phrases like "conspiracy theorist", "moonbat" "tinfoil hat brigade" and so on, but if we were to want to turn our conversation toward discussion of the facts that people have political views, that people with similar political views tend to flock together, that groups of people with political views tend to want to influence the direction of policy, and that the process of influencing policy is usually most efficient if carried out in an organised manner ... well then we would already find it powerfully difficult to describe our discussion to a third party without using terms which implied by their ordinary usage that we were in some way weird. If we then took the further step of noting that often people have political views which are unpopular enough with the general public that it is prudent for them not to publicly express those views, then we are certainly in the realm of consipracy theory.

All of which is applicable to the Bilderbergers (who I suspect legitimately fear what everyone else might think of the world's richest and most powerful people clubbing together in such a fashion). And it's certainly applicable to discussion of the NeoCons (the actual topic of CT's post).

As for the loonies in Them, they go well beyond a shortage of adequate vocabulary...