A select group of some of the world’s richest and most powerful people is getting together this week for the annual Bilderberg Group meeting, attracting controversy and conspiracy theories due to its elite and secretive nature.
This year’s gathering, which will be the 66th annual meeting of the mysterious group, takes place in Turin, Italy, between June 7-10.
The meeting will be attended by American and European business leaders, current and former government officials, politicians, university professors, think tank analysts and even some journalists — but don’t expect them to talk about it in public.
What happens at the Bilderberg meeting stays at the Bilderberg meeting.
Topping the agenda will be the challenges of “populism in Europe,”“inequality” and the “future of work.”
The group will also discuss the scourge of “fake news” and a “post-truth” world, as well as the state of play in the US before the 2018 midterm elections and US world leadership more generally.
The list of topics also includes “Russia,” but it provides no further detail.
Some have pointed out that Turin is an appropriate location for this year’s meeting, given Italy’s recently installed anti-establishment government and a wave of populist uprisings across the European Union, which has worried those in favor of maintaining the status quo.
Others have noted the irony of a group of billionaires and politicians holding a secret meeting in a fancy hotel to discuss inequality.
Among the 2018 attendees are former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) David Petraeus, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Governor of the Bank of England Mark J. Carney, CEO of Ryanair Michael O’Leary and CEO of Airbus Thomas Enders.
Virulent anti-Russia Washington Post columnist Anne Applebaum will also be there, alongside her husband Radoslaw Sikorski, who was forced to resign as Poland’s minister for foreign affairs in 2015 after damaging recordings of him and other politicians were leaked to the public.
So, why is the Bilderberg meeting so controversial?
Well, for one thing, the meetings are notoriously secretive. Almost no information is available to the public; no minutes are taken and no report is written up after the fact.
Meetings are held under the Chatham House Rule, which means that attendees can discuss the meeting and information gleaned from the meeting, but they cannot identify any of the speakers.
The meetings are regularly picketed by protesters, and many critics of the event liken the gathering to a shadow world government of sorts – where powerful people go to dictate how the rest of the world lives.
Conspiracy theorists are convinced that the meetings are used to discuss the creation of a one-world government and a ‘New World Order,’ away from the prying eyes of the plebeians and unwashed masses.