August 2015        

Who rules the world?

Dónall Ó Briain

The Austrian Alps were the setting in June for the sixty-third annual meeting of the secretive Bilderberg Group, bringing together government ministers and other politicians, heads of transnational corporations, representatives of the corporate media, and academics.
     Approximately 140 participants from twenty-two countries assembled this year to decide political, economic, military and media policy for the world, completely outside the sphere of responsibility to national parliaments and governments.
     How much coverage of the event was there in the mainstream media? Practically none. One journalist commented: “The reason journalists don’t often go is because their bosses are there, and want the secrecy. You’re not going to upset your boss by trying to break their vow of silence.”
     Among the conspirators this year were two serving prime ministers, Charles Michel of Belgium and Mark Rutte of the Netherlands (a former head of “human resources” for Unilever, later state secretary for higher education and science, where he promoted privatisation and the idea of students as “consumers” in the “education market”). Other ministers were the British chancellor of the exchequer, George Osborne, and his Finnish counterpart, Alexander Stubb (educated in an American university on a “golf scholarship” and now a campaigner for Finland joining NATO), as well as the German minister of defence, Ursula von der Leyen, and her deputy.
     Other politicos included Alain Juppé, former prime minister of France, and Ed Balls of the British Labour Party.
     Representatives of transnational corporations and finance capital made up the greatest number of conspirators, including Deutsche Bank, J. P. Morgan, AXA Group, HSBC, Royal Dutch Shell, BP, Siemens, Alcoa, Airbus, Google, and of course Goldman Sachs.
     The corporate media were well represented by the editor-in-chief of Bloomberg, the editor-in-chief of the Economist, an associate editor of the National Post of Toronto (founded to promote the “unite the right” movement), and the chief economics commentator of the Financial Times. Representing state media was Rona Fairhead, chairperson of the BBC Trust.
     Imperialism was explicitly represented by the secretary-general of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, and a member of the Executive Board of the EU Central Bank, Benoît Cœuré, as well as a former president of the EU Commission, José Manuel Barroso, and a former EU commissioner for trade, Karel De Gucht (promoter of TTIP and chief EU instigator of the coup in Ukraine). The secret services of a number of states had official representatives too, including Patrick Calvar, director-general of the French intelligence service DGSI, and Thomas Ahrenkiel, director of the Danish Defence Intelligence Service.
     One of the most revealing categories of participants is that of former politicians and officials who re-emerge through the revolving door as financial speculators and consultants. These included Alfred Gusenbauer, former chancellor (prime minister) of Austria, now director of a number of conglomerates; David Petraeus, former director of the CIA, now chairman of the private equity firm KKR Global Institute (no false modesty there); Robert Rubin, former secretary of the treasury in the United States, previously (and subsequently) of Goldman Sachs; and even the war criminal Henry Kissinger, promoter of the bombing of Cambodia and puppet-master of the Chilean fascist coup, now representing Kissinger Associates.
     Who was there from Ireland? Peter Sutherland—listed not only as chairman of Goldman Sachs (there’s that name again) but also, incredibly, as “UN special representative”—as well as the appalling Michael O’Leary of Ryanair, whose pilots sit in hotel bedrooms around the Continent (unpaid), waiting on a phone call to tell them if they have a flight.
     A flavour of the pseudo-academic credentials that capitalism likes to cultivate can be had from the participation of Anne Applebaum, a professional anti-communist, attending in her capacity as director of the Transitions Forum at the Legatum Institute. This is an organisation that describes itself as “an international think tank and educational charity focused on promoting prosperity,” which it does by “researching our core themes of revitalising capitalism and democracy”; and “transition” is the jargon for bringing countries into the imperialist fold, especially those countries in which socialism has been defeated.
     In the same category is Richard Perle, Reagan’s adviser and one of the creators of the “Project for the New American Century,” now representing the American Enterprise Institute, whose mission is “to defend the principles and improve the institutions of American freedom and democratic capitalism—limited government, private enterprise, individual liberty and responsibility, vigilant and effective defense and foreign policies . . .” well, you’ve heard it all before.
     It would be hard to make up a list of more reactionary or more unpleasant characters than these self-selected and all-powerful manipulators who sit in secret conclave to decide the fate of humanity.

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