June 15, 2013  ·  Lessig

I was invited to the Bilderberg conference this year — embarrassed I hadn’t known anything about it before, and more embarrassed I hadn’t known anything about the controversy around it. 

But having been there, and done that, I confess I don’t get the outrage. 

It’s a conference. There’s no agreements, or planning, or anything beyond people speaking in panels, and people asking questions (or “asking questions”) of the speakers. Or at least that I saw. (Sure, it might have been that between 10pm and 8am (the only time we had off) there were secret meetings held by the rulers of the world. Suffice it, they didn’t invite me to them if they indeed were happening.)

The venue was nice, but not opulent.  The topics were wide ranging. There was a great panel on Syria and on medical research, but every other panel was interesting as well. The audience wasn’t representative of the world, but it was mixed. There were strong critics; there were views expressed that most there didn’t agree; and there were more of that than came just from me. 

True, the meeting is conducted with Chatham House Rules, meaning while the ideas expressed can be shared, the identity of speaker can’t be shared. Again, I don’t get the outrage about this. I’ve been to many conferences with the same rules, and many times I’ve recognized why they make sense. Especially if you’re someone in authority — CEO of a company or minister of a government — while you should be held accountable for your words, it’s fair your words not be taken out of context. Or at least, I get why people would only choose to participate if they were confident of this modest protection.

There’s a business model to protest. I get that. There’s value in rallying the people. But here was yet another time I thought: if only we could get this sort of passion directed against something real, or something that mattered. Outrage about people meeting to hear at least some ideas they don’t agree with doesn’t seem to me to be the highest and best use of outrage. 

(Original post on Tumblr)

  • Shirley somebody

    How can I help with this cause

    i am ready willing and quite able and determined to help in any way i can

    any way i can

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      Shirley, you and I both! I am tired of bringing the light whilst having the ability to trump with the dark, we need like minded souls to begin to assemble. Our futures future, depends upon it now. – sb

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    Hey man, it is about time our nation birthed a lawyer with love. Contact me, world change awaits. -SB

  • Nick

    I had never heard of it before. Thank you for bringing it to light. This conference sounds very interesting and I would love to at least attend this or something similar.

  • Pseudonym

    Whenever powerful people get together and talk in private, someone thinks there’s a sinister (apologies to left-handed people) conspiracy going on.

  • Joe

    but – beware of David Icke’s cult


  • PurrlGurrl

    Saying “Bilderberg” is like waving a red cape at a bull when it comes to conspiracy theory cultists, whether they be far right or far left. It seems to tie into their “New World Order” fears (a phrase always taken out of context and completely misunderstood) of a secret, elite cabal taking over the world.

    You’ve confirmed what I always suspected about Bilderberg; it’s a revolving group of business executives and political leaders getting together annually to try to figure where the world is heading so they can position the entities for which they’re responsible to meet ongoing and emerging challenges. Because, basically, despite their money and power, they’re just as befuddled by it all as us plebes. : )

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  • Lukas

    Dear Mr. Lessig, your innocent view on Bilderberg might be caused by the fact that you have a position inside the establishment. Although your ideas about reform of the electoral process have seduced me I understand now, that there are some other things you would never consider to reform. You in fact don’t want to reform the system, you just want adjustments inside. Look at the long list of all the people invited to Bilderberg and you see there is a picture emerging… You are one of them Mr. Lessig and we will consider your opposition to the electoral system in another way in the future. Controlled opposition.

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    This conference sounds very interesting and I would love to at least attend this or something similar.

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    I have heard of these meetings, some people really think they are planning NWO over there, thanks for highlithing the issue

  • ernstgruengast

    Larry, Since Chatham House rules do allow you to talk about what was discussed (just not who said what), and the published Agenda was woefully inadequate (“Topic: Foreign Affairs” – Ahem), it would be really helpful, especially to diffuse the suspicions of which you speak and about which thousands of people gathered outside this Watford hotel for the whole weekend, if you would write up your experience of the scope of discussion, positions represented, points of approximate concensus / dispute etc.

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