This year’s Bilderberg Group Summer Camp, held in idyllic Switzerland, has come to an end. It’s a shame that their discussions are secret and still largely unreported. As any simple comparison of viewing figures for Youtube videos of pop stars and silly dogs vs. geo-politics and philosophy will tell you; hardly anyone cares. And those who do, probably can’t do much about it. Therefore, discussions that include and engage more than an hundred ‘successful’, busy people over several days would be stimulating reading, the release of which shouldn’t hinder subsequent efforts. JFK spoke of secrecy as abhorrent; Chatham House rules put forward a compelling case for its necessity.
The digital age has taken privacy, shrouded it as a concept, sensationalised it, and effected a fatal wounding. Facebook’s ‘why’ wasn’t about keeping in touch with friends; that was its engine. If I meet someone, in fact, even with just a name, I can peer into their past and keep my eyes on their present; and from a mobile device the size of a bar of chocolate. It is a perpetual, interactive database of more than 500,000,000 people; what they look like, known associates, habits and whereabouts, employment and education; an investigator’s dream. With advances in facial recognition technology – see Google Goggles et al – it becomes a formidable raw data resource.
But it’s not a bad thing. The utility outweighs, in the majority of cases, the trap that the increased visibility necessarily presents. It is a simple truth that the majority of the world’s population are oblivious to your existence, and even those that do take an interest, do so fleetingly. It is the anonymity of a metropolis. Masturbate on Chat Roulette, if you wish; no one really cares, and nothing that you can ever do will make any appreciable difference on a timeline not measured in 30 minute sitcom episodes.
Therefore, it is not because I believe that there is some annual conspiracy afoot; people are too prone to blab, too impotent to effect far-reaching change. My interest stems from a natural curiosity, and is amplified by the ‘Private’ sign painted high above the door. To see these stirring fellows, for it is predominantly a boys’ club, chat earnestly amongst each other in hotel conference rooms, would be interesting, a snippet of our time. From schoolboys on the games pitches to frail spectres with hacking coughs, they are shining happy in the middle of their lives, thrown together by success and circumstance.
They speak of Europe; the passed-down power of hereditary bloodlines mixing with the politicos of late nights in the library and surging business leaders. Take a Queen or two, arrayed in repeated facts and half-thought hearsay and set the scene with some young leader, cutting out an image of himself as he might cut the nostrils of a pack animal to drive her higher into the mountains than her nature would allow. Set the scene, start the banging on the pots; but lift the curtain up. The people are on the back rows texting and fucking, ignoring; but those who make themselves actors must expect a duty to perform.