It’s all over.
The last armoured limousines have swept back out of the Watford Grove Hotel’s gates, and the helicopters have departed.
The steel fence is being disassembled, and Alex Jones has flown back to his “central command center” in Austin, Texas.
I’m not ashamed to admit that I have a rather acute case of Bilderberg Withdrawal Syndrome.
For a few precious days, at least a segment of the population who don’t normally pay attention sat up and looked at the protesters, covered on television at length for the first time, and listened to what they had to say. They heard about the concentration of power in the hands of a global elite, about our failed financial system, the lack of accountability in the political and corporate worlds, the pervasive nature of the surveillance state, and the efforts underway to undermine the importance of local power and the nation state.
And so for the first time in a very long time we were able to have something of a national conversation about causes rather than effects. About the disease rather than the symptoms (which are covered in one form another by the newspaper headlines most days – crime, immigration, unemployment, income inequality, education).
And it was amazing how widely and enthusiastically the message was received. I was particularly heartened to learn how many of the police officers guarding the meeting venue and the Bilderberg Fringe protest site had listened to the message from the protesters and taken an active interest, some even undertaking to go home and do their own research:
Ellen Grace Jones, writing at The Huffington Post, agrees with my assessment:
A triumph in securing – for the first time ever – wall-to-wall mainstream media attendance, subjecting the meeting to serious enquiry and inspection. And a triumph in hosting a peaceful, joyful Fringe event within the Grove grounds which united thousands of concerned citizens, activists and inquisitive Watford locals. This year felt like a sea change in dragging the shadowy cabal’s club kicking and screaming into the daylight.
On Sunday, with the Fringe winding down and a hundred or so lining the gates as the delegates left, I questioned a police liaison officer if he’d felt awakened by the event he’d witnessed this weekend. “I’ve heard a lot of interesting ideas that I’m going to go away and research. I’ve got a reading list, Agenda 21, Endgame which I’m going to follow up. The one person who really made me sit up and go ‘oh my god’ was one of the audience, a former stockbroker. He was discussing things I’ve thought about like who’s controlling the energy companies, oil company cartels and the Libor bank scandal and he made me think, yeah actually, as someone who’s suffered from the housing crash somebody else should be paying for this but it’s the public sector that’s being screwed to pay for their mistakes – especially the police, we’re being cut.”
Of course, it wasn’t all good. The Bilderberg protests brought out the absolute worst in much of the British mainstream news media, who refused to take the issue seriously at all, treated the protesters as imbeciles and simpletons to a man, and covered the event only as the lighthearted end segment, where you would normally expect to be entertained by a squirrel on water-skis.
The foremost example was the truly dreadful segment from the BBC’s The Sunday Politics show, in which the lead-in to the segment focused only on the lunatic fringe of the protest and wholly ignored the serious concerns of the protesters, and the substance (if it can be called that) of the interview itself, with US journalist Alex Jones, whereupon host Andrew Neil decided to mock his guest from start to finish, fail to ask serious questions and ultimately provoke Jones into one of his famous rages:
There were also reports of Bilderberg-covering journalists being held or turned away at the border, and of harrasment of various kinds.
But on the whole, those wonderful days where we actually got to talk in public and on mainstream media about freedom and liberty without getting bogged down in the minutiae and drudgery of day-to-day political distraction were intellectually refreshing, and invaluable for the movement.
Roll on Bilderberg 2014 – if they dare assemble in public sight again.