Opinion piece here from Vincent Browne
MICHAEL NOONAN spent the weekend at a closed meeting outside Washington with “important people” – the heads of major corporations in America and Europe, senior bankers, people from research organisations (aka “think tanks”), the publishers and editors of “leading” newspapers, a few European royals, a clutch of prime ministers, several former members of the George Bush administration, a few EU commissioners and ex-commissioners, and then the usual suspects at such closed gatherings – a representative of the Rockefeller family, which has bankrolled such meetings for nearly 60 years now, Henry Kissinger, Valéry Giscard d’Estaing and Peter Sutherland.
They were attending the annual conference of the Bilderberg Group, an invitation-only meeting of “key” people from the world of commerce, finance, politics and the media, all sharing the same politics or world view, to discuss the important global issues of the day and help shape policy for the coming years.
Extravagant claims have been made about this annual gathering by hyper conspiracy theorists that at the Bilderberg conference in the early 1990s the break-up of Yugoslavia was orchestrated; that the manipulation of oil prices was arranged; and that a world government has been planned.
Some of the regular participants have sought to give lustre to themselves by adding to the paranoia. For instance, David Rockefeller, one of the founders of Bilderberg, said in 1991: “It would have been impossible for us to develop a plan for the world if we had been subjected to the lights of publicity during those years [from the 1960s to the 1980s]. But the world is more sophisticated and prepared to march towards a world government. The supranational sovereignty of an intellectual elite and world bankers is surely preferable to the national autodetermination practised in past centuries.”
While David Rockefeller’s estimation of the power of Bilderberg attendees is fanciful, his remark conveys the pretension that governs such gatherings, notably the claim to being “an intellectual elite” and an underlying conviction that such gatherings can determine world politics. But a claim that such private gatherings of “elites” can set the agenda and influence the mindsets of nations is not at all fanciful and therein lies the insidiousness of such events.
But I want to focus on what such an event may have done to the mindset of the Irish Minister for Finance.
A spokesperson for the Department of Finance said on Friday that Michael Noonan was attending the Bilderberg conference because there would be influential industrialists and financiers there who have the capacity to influence the placement of jobs and loans throughout the world, and also to give Michael Noonan an opportunity to explain the significance of the fiscal treaty ratification to such an audience. No doubt he did that and no doubt Ireland was praised for its responsibility and for its compliance with the troika agenda.
It is also true that Michael Noonan would not have had to be persuaded of the correctness of the politics and perspectives of the other attendees at Bilderberg for he shares those already – a belief that countries cannot defy “markets”; a belief in the cliché that no country has ever taxed its way out a recession (ie that the weight of fiscal adjustments has to be borne by those dependent on public expenditure); a belief that a tax on income is a tax on jobs (ditto) and that any significant attempt to advance towards a more equal society will disturb the fragile balance of economic forces and bring catastrophe upon us.
But this Bilderberg conference of important people will have confirmed Michael Noonan in those convictions, perhaps by the way of a rebirth, and will have won him admiration and applause for so splendidly exemplifying, as Minister for Finance, his commitment to same – maybe they spoke of the “courage” of his convictions. They may not have been quite so crass as to congratulate him on the payment of unsecured bondholders in our banks but, unspoken, that will have won him further warmth and assurance.
Just think of the difference there might be to his perspective had he opted instead to spend the weekend with community workers, activists and other citizens from Moyross, Southill and Ballinacurra Weston in his Limerick constituency and heard from them the effects on those communities of the politics that the Bilderberg elite espouse.
Had he gone from one of the about-to-be-disestablished community employment schemes to another and got reminded of the devastation the expenditure cuts – his expenditure cuts – are doing to those enterprises and the communities they serve, he might have a different perspective.
I am talking not just of a visit to these areas for an hour or two on Saturday afternoon but absorption in the lives, the misery, the perspectives and the hopelessness of people in Moyross, Southill and Ballinacurra Weston for an entire weekend – the same time as it took him to travel to and from Washington DC and the time spent at the Bilderberg meeting.
The people of Moyross, Southill and Ballinacurra Weston should matter more to him than the Bilderberg “elites”, for these are his constituents, the people whose needs and interests he supposedly represents, needs and interests he has reflected hardly at all throughout his political career.
But, then, he is a busy man.