Can the might of Bilderberg be worn down by this torrent of testosterone, megaphones and blatantly eaten goji berries?
A police officer quietly apologises for making such a pointless arrest. Photograph: Hannah Borno
– Bilderberg 2012: real men don’t like oligarchs (Guardian, June 3, 2012):
I handed the goji berries to the cop. “He dropped these.” The cop thanked me, tossed the gojis in the trunk, and bustled away his captive amid a cacophony of outrage from the crowds. Moments earlier, the man with the berries had called out to the crowd: “They can’t arrest us all! Let’s stand together!” Moments later, poignantly, he was grabbed by the police and bundled into the squad car.
It was a silly arrest, really. He wasn’t doing anything at all. He was eating goji berries, standing on the edge of the road. Jaysnacking. A token flex of muscle from Fairfax County police. I’m not sure this constitutes a legal defence, but I’m pretty sure that if you’re eating a bag of organic goji berries, you’re probably not much of a threat to society. As the police pulled away, the bullhorn sirens started up and I walked away from the noise.
There was a little too much testosterone on the sidewalk this afternoon – a few too many megaphones for my liking. But hey, you want to shout about the tyranny of a corrupt transnational banking oligarchy, you go right ahead. I’m not about to tell you to hush. It’s horses for courses. Two years ago, a group of Spanish activists sat in silence on the beach and sent a white ring of positive energy up the hill to encircle and cleanse the Bilderberg hotel. Whatever gets the job done.
As I left the crime scene, I met a member of Oathkeepers trotting down from their gazebo to check on the arrest. “We’ll be looking at the video evidence,” he assures me, puffing past.
The Oathkeepers are a posse of military veterans and retired police officers, who have come to keep an eye on things at Bilderberg 2012. They’re an incredibly reassuring presence; tough, avuncular – darn it they just want to make you go up and shake them by the hand and say: “Thank you, sir, for being here.”
The aim of Oathkeepers is encourage anyone who has sworn to defend the constitution – so that’s military, law enforcement officers, and first responders – to honour their oath. They’re here at Bilderberg to keep a grizzled eye on things.
“We try to stay mission specific,” says John Oetken, an Oathkeeper from Orange County – although at Bilderberg, their mission has crept a little to include overseeing not only the police, but also the protesters. “We’re a neutral party. We’re here to make sure it’s a peaceful process, and to keep the knuckleheads in line, from both sides.”
I had breakfast this morning with three other veterans – retired Navy men – who have taken a road trip up from Florida to be here at Bilderberg…
Dr Rick Davis is about the calmest person I’ve ever met. A former Flight Surgeon, he spent 9 years in the military, can fly an F16 and carried out missions with the Navy Seals. I ask him why he’s come here. He takes his iPhone and shows me a quote from the anthropologist Margaret Mead:
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
Rick and his fellow veterans, Wayne Fritzsche and Bob Romanko, are about as far from whatever lazy caricature of ‘Bilderberg activist’ might exist in the mind of an idiot. Wayne is the chairman of a publicly traded pharmaceuticals company. “I understand what having a full diary means – and let me tell you, the people who go to Bilderberg aren’t going to block off three or four days just to have a ‘chat’. They wouldn’t give three or four days to a state visit. A couple of hours, dinner and you’re done. Bilderberg is a co-ordinated effort on a huge scale”.
But an effort to do what? Rick answers.
“At Bilderberg are the apex predators of the world crime syndicate. Now, I’m a physician. These people display all the classic symptoms of psychopathy. They exhibit an obsessive compulsion towards the exercise of power. These are extremely ill people, they have a culture of negativism and death. And I’m here to stop their agenda. It’s the agenda that’s killing us.”
The risk is that great? Rick nods matter-of-factly. “I’m a trauma physician – which is all about assessing risk. I have a considerable knowledge of nuclear, biological and chemical warfare. I’m CEO of a company, and in business you’re always asking: where is my nearest risk? Risk assessment is my job. And right now, we’re at risk from the biggest threat to humanity there’s ever been.”
These men feel a moral imperative to stand up and square off against the threat. As Bob says: “I simply cannot do nothing.” A former Navy historian, Bob worked in sports radio and has the voice to match. His growls his frustration at the fact that his son, a journalist, can’t get his head round the seriousness of the crisis. “He’s married a doctor, he’s lives in a fabulous city, he’s living the American dream. He just doesn’t see that the American dream is heading off a cliff.”
I ask Rick why he thinks that the ‘first responders’ to the threat, the activists outside the hotel gates, are so predominantly male. “I’ve thought about this,” he says. “Men protect the clan. We’re hard-wired to look outwards for a threat. Women are hard-wired to protect the family, the house. Men are looking at the horizon. What’s coming down the road?”
A mile up the road at Bilderberg, the crowd has grown to around 500 people (a new Bilderberg record!) and I’d say well over 80% of them are men. One of them is Matthew Medina from We Are Change San Antonio – I ask him why there are so few women around him. “Dang, dude, that’s a good question,” he says. “It’s heavy on the soul to protest against the global elite, about a superclass meeting in secret. But listen, women are paving the way in protesting against food laws and GMO, additives and fluoride. We all do our bit.”
But at Bilderberg – it’s the men. “In a way, maybe this is our sports. This is our challenge – to make some noise and bring media attention to this event. Bilderberg is our football field.” Do you play any sports yourself? “I breakdance. I used to be heavily into the underground hip hop scene – my crew was Public Zoo, out of Corpus Christi, Texas. It’s still around, 10 years after I started it. B-Boy Spaceboy, that’s me. Mainly I do tricks – I freeze. You want a see a freeze?”
He holds the pose, and snaps back to his feet, acknowledging the whoops. Oh yeah, B-Boy Spaceboy’s still got it. But he no longer competes. “These days I’m an electrician, I’m a blue collar guy, I work 40 hours a week, but what do they know about that?” he says, jerking a thumb towards the security fence. “And what do they care?” He heads off to rejoin his We Are Changer buddies, who force this confession from a passing limo: “Are you guys globalists? No? Oh… you’re hairdressers.”
If Bilderberg is our football field, where does this leave ‘sports’ in the life of the activist male?
Collin Abramowicz is 22, and comes from a background soaked in sports: “My stepfather watches baseball, my father watches football, all my friends are obsessed with sports. I used to do wrestling at school, but now my priorities have shifted. You cannot get passionate about something when you’re being deceived. They’re magicians – they are doing something with one hand while you’re watching the other. Sport is a distraction.”
“Look at the newspaper,” says his friend Aaron Wolkind, “it’s half sports. Billions of dollars are poured into this stuff, ramming it into the public psyche. People’s primal competitive urges are focused onto a false, superficial sports-reality. My friends who are still into sports, I can’t relate to them any more. They channel all their passion and energy into something meaningless. And they know so much about it: all the statistics; who might or might not get drafted into which team. I’ve got friends who will literally fight over sports. Me? I’m passionate about the real world.”
Noam Chomsky made exactly this point in a 1992 interview featured in Manufacturing Consent. Chomsky describes sports as:
…another crucial example of the indoctrination system, in my view… it offers people something to pay attention to that’s of no importance… And in fact it’s striking to see the intelligence that’s used by ordinary people in [discussions of] sports [as opposed to political and social issues]. I mean, you listen to radio stations where people call in — they have the most exotic information and understanding about all kind of arcane issues. And the press undoubtedly does a lot with this.
A study of Bilderberg’s rich (in every sense) history chimes with a peculiarly male hunger for sports-facts. Daniel Kirby, 28, is one of the few Brits here, a history student from Chester. Daniel’s got the hunger. “If I read something, I have to find the source, to trace things back.” As for Bilderberg: “This means looking at the interlocking directorships of the delegates, reading the think tank documents. Have you read ‘Which Way to Persia?’ from the Brookings Institute?” I confess I haven’t. “It’s a hugely complex subject, obviously, but let’s just say – the road to Tehran goes through Damascus.” I mention that Bassma Kodmani, a senior member of the Syrian National Council, is at Bilderberg this year. Daniel gets out his notebook. “I’ll have to check that.”
This is what I love about Bilderberg. Having conversations that can swerve from the Brookings Institute, to Hegelian dialectics, to Daniel asking me: “Do you know the Olympic torch relay was invented by the Nazis?” This sparks a quick five minute chat about Goebbels, propaganda and Edward Bernays. Once we’re on the Nazis it’s a short hop and a skip back to Bilderberg.
Me: “So, you know Prince Bernhard worked for IG Farben?”
Daniel: “NW-7, their intelligence unit. And you know about Allen Dulles and the Nazi money?”
Me: “Oh my God – Harriman, and the Bush family. It’s incredible.”
God I’ll miss this place. I do slightly worry that I’ve become a Bilderberg nerd, reading transcripts of Henry Kissinger’s phonecalls with David Rockefeller from the ’70s, and knowing which Bilderbergers sit on the board of the Institute of International Finance – the body that represents the private holders of the Greek debt. I’ve started to plan holidays around international research archives.
“There’s kind of a nerd aspect to the research,” admits B-Boy Spaceboy. “I come from a nerd background – I collect comic books. You know Jason Bermas, the documentary maker, he’s a massive fan of The Simpsons. I’m more in The Amazing Spider-Man myself. We’re like the guys from The Big Bang Theory. Like a lot of nerds, I’ve had to stand up to bullies. And that’s what we’re doing here.”
Nerds versus bullies. That’s a description of Bilderberg I haven’t heard before, but a good one. Nerds and veterans. Liberty’s best hope.