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Global Power Project: Is the Bilderberg Group Picking Our Politicians?
By: Andrew Gavin Marshall
27 November 2014
Originally posted at Occupy.com
This is the second installment in a series examining the little known activities and individuals behind the Bilderberg Group. Read the first part here.
When it comes to the secretive meetings of the world’s financial, corporate, political and technocratic elites at the annual Bilderberg conferences, a common criticism from conspiracy theorists and others is that the group pre-selects major politicians – choosing presidents and prime ministers in private before populations have a chance to vote themselves.
Bilderberg participants contest this framing, suggesting that Bilderberg participants simply invite up-and-coming politicians who appear to have a bright future ahead of them.
The truth is that it’s a bit of both. Bilderberg invites politicians who appear to have an influential future in their respective nations, but their attendance at the meetings (depending on their ability to impress Bilderberg members and participants) can itself have a very significant influence on their political futures. This is because the industrialists, bankers and media moguls in attendance hold significant individual and collective power over the political processes across much of the Western world.
The main ideologies that pervade the group are an undeterred commitment to corporate and financial globalization, support of a Western-led world order, and the advancement and further institutionalization of global governance. Politicians who share similar views are more likely to be invited. As former Bilderberg chairman Etienne Davignon explained, “automatically around the table [at meetings] you have internationalists” who support European integration, the WTO and trans-Atlantic cooperation.
The result: invited politicians who impress the attended members and guests through speeches or contributions to debates are likely to gain the support of some of the world’s most powerful individuals and institutions. This is no absolute guarantee of political success for higher office, but there are numerous examples of politicians whose attendance may have provided supportive – or even pivotal – influence in their reaching higher office.
As Bilderberg’s former Steering Committee member Denis Healey explained in an interview with the Guardian, “Bilderberg is a way of bringing together politicians, industrialists, financiers and journalists. Politics should involve people who aren’t politicians. We make a point of getting along younger politicians who are obviously rising, to bring them together with financiers and industrialists who offer them wise words. It increases the chance of having a sensible global policy.”
Of course, the notion of what is “sensible” is clearly biased toward policies that benefit the interests and objectives of financiers and industrialists.
The Thatcher and Clinton Factors
One good example of this is the rise of Margaret Thatcher. In 1975, when Thatcher became the leader of the opposition in British Parliament, she was invited to that year’s Bilderberg conference. A Financial Times article that year by C. Gordon Tether noted that Thatcher and other British participants “were engaging – in company with a handful of British banking and industrial chiefs – in ‘completely private talks on world problems’ with the top-most brass of the international business community – the super-capitalists.”
The article noted that “if Bilderberg is not a conspiracy, it is conducted in such a way as to give a remarkably good imitation of one.”
Jon Ronson interviewed the member of Bilderberg (who remained anonymous) that had invited Thatcher to the meeting. The former Bilderberg member recalled that Thatcher had sat in silence for the first two days of the meeting, leading to some participants “grumbling” about this lady who “hasn’t said a word.” So the Bilderberg member spoke with Thatcher, and then, “the next day she suddenly stood up and launched into a three-minute Thatcher special… The room was stunned. Here’s something for your conspiracy theorists. As a result of that speech, David Rockefeller and Henry Kissinger and the other Americans fell in love with her. They brought her over to America, took her around in limousines, and introduced her to everyone.” Four years later, Thatcher was Prime Minister, and her reign left a legacy of privatizations, neoliberalism and profit for the powerful.
But Thatcher is not the only politician who reached great heights after attending a Bilderberg meeting. Bill Clinton was invited to a 1991 meeting in Germany when he was the Governor of Arkansas. Two years later he would be the U.S. president. Clinton was invited by his friend and Bilderberg Steering Committee member Vernon E. Jordan Jr., a major corporate figure in America who later became known as President Clinton’s “closest confidant.”
As the Washington Post reported in 1998: “Plenty of governors try to make that scene; only Clinton got taken seriously at that meeting, because Vernon Jordan said he was okay.”
Vernon Jordan later recalled that after Bill Clinton won the presidential election and became president, “the steering committee of Bilderberg came to Washington in January, and I called the president up and said ‘Mr. President, they’re here’ – and he came to the Four Seasons hotel, and the Europeans felt like they owned them because they met him when he was totally unknown.”
Shaping Canada, America, the U.K. and beyond
Among the Canadian politicians who attended Bilderberg meetings before they became prime ministers were Pierre Trudeau, Paul Martin, Jean Chrétien and Stephen Harper. Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair had also attendedbefore becoming prime minister of the UK. Virtually all presidents of the European Commission attended Bilderberg meetings before being appointed to office.
In 2004, as John Kerry was running for president against George W. Bush, a potential running mate, John Edwards, was invited to speak at that year’s Bilderberg meeting. According to a report in the New York Times, John Edwards “spoke so well in a debate on American politics… that participants broke Bilderberg rules to clap before the end of the session.” A friend of John Kerry’s who had attended that meeting recalled that the speech by John Edwards “was important… I have no doubt the word got back to Mr. Kerry about how well he did.” Shortly after, Edwards was selected as Kerry’s running mate (though they clearly did not win the more important election that year).
Bilderberg’s Influence on Obama
In fact, it was a Bilderberg member, James A. Johnson, a prominent American corporate executive, who John Kerry tapped for choosing a running mate. And in 2008, that same Johnson “was tasked with spearheading Barack Obama’s 2008 search for a running mate.” As the Financial Times reported in May of 2008, James Johnson was appointed “to head a secret committee to produce a shortlist for [Obama’s] vice-presidential running mate,” though the Obama campaign refused to comment “on this process.”
From June 5 to 8 of 2008, Bilderberg was meeting in Chantilly, Virginia, just as the campaign to win the presidential nomination was heating up between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. As is typical during campaign season, the candidates traveled with a regular entourage of journalists. But on the night of June 5, following a campaign rally in Bristow, Virginia, Obama’s press entourage was “whisked away to Dulles Airport outside of Washington, D.C., to board a flight to Chicago,” as CBS reported.
The press waited on the plane for Obama, who was said to be doing interviews with local reporters. After an hour of waiting, the pilot informed the press that the plane was about to take off, without Obama on board, leading many journalists to feel that they “had all been duped.” Robert Gibbs, Obama’s communications director (and later press secretary) informed the reporters on the plane that Obama decided to stay behind in Washington for “meetings,” though he refused to say whom the meetings were with. Gibbs explained: “It wasn’t an attempt to deceive in any way, it’s just private meetings.” Shortly after the plane landed in Chicago, Gibbs informed the press that Obama had gone to meet with Hillary Clinton, though provided no details of the meeting or where it took place.
At the time, there was speculation that both Obama and Clinton had gone to attend the Bilderberg meeting taking place nearby. Though never confirmed, the question remains, and two days after the “private meetings,” Hillary withdrew from the race and Obama became the presidential nominee. Later, as president, Obama gave Clinton the role of Secretary of State.
In the summer of 2012, John Kerry attended the Bilderberg meeting, and he went on to replace Hillary Clinton as Obama’s Secretary of State for the second term. Forbes noted that Kerry’s attendance at the Bilderberg meeting may have helped his selection as secretary – also noting that Canadian Mark Carney had attended his first Bilderberg meeting in 2011 when he was Governor of the Bank of Canada, and was invited back in 2012 when he attended alongside British Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne. Within a couple months of the meeting, Osborne announced Carney’s appointment as the Governor of the Bank of England – the first time a non-British citizen was appointed to head the institution.
Just prior to being appointed as President of the European Council in 2009, Belgian politician Herman Van Rompuy attended a “secret dinner” of the Bilderberg group’s Steering Committee in order “to promote his candidacy.” He was invited by then-Bilderberg chairman Etienne Davignon, and attending members included other leading industrialists and financiers as well as influential figures like Henry Kissinger. Van Rompuy impressed the audience. He later served as President of the European Council from 2009 to 2014.
Attending Bilderberg is not a guarantee of higher office, but it can often support a rapid rise to state power for politicians who impress the members and guests at the annual meetings. As Etienne Davignon explained, Bilderberg’s Steering Committee “does its best assessment of who are the bright new boys or girls in the beginning phase of their career who would like to get known.”
Andrew Gavin Marshall is a freelance writer and researcher based in Montreal, Canada.
Global Power Project: Meet the Bilderberg Group, High Priests of Globalization
By: Andrew Gavin Marshall
20 November 2014
Originally posted at Occupy.com
This is the first instalment in a series examining the activities and individuals behind the Bilderberg Group.
Meet the Bilderberg Group – an annual gathering of 130 of the Western world’s top financial, corporate, political, academic, media, military and policy elites, held every year since 1954.
They meet behind closed doors, at five-star hotels, where participants are encouraged to speak frankly – meaning “off the record” and away from the prying eyes and piercing ears of the public. Some journalists and media executives are invited, but they don’t actually cover the meetings: they simply attend them as guests.
The famous exclusivity and secrecy of the Bilderberg Group, we are told, is designed to encourage frank and open discussions among some of the most influential people in North America and Western Europe. But unlike its portrayal as a place where powerful people simply “talk shop,” critics for years have considered the meetings a form of secret world government, and a shadowy cabal.
The truth, as it often is, rests somewhere between these extremes.
Bilderberg is a meeting of the movers and shakers, the managers and policy-makers, the plutocrats, technocrats, financiers and imperialists of the North Atlantic powers. Its original purpose was to provide a forum where Western European elites could meet in private with American officials to encourage the strengthening of the “Atlantic Alliance.” The forum has provided the geopolitical and economic framework for behind-the-scenes collaboration and cooperation between the major NATO powers.
Founding members of the group in 1954 included Joseph Retinger, Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands, and David Rockefeller of the United States. Named after the Hotel de Bilderberg in the Netherlands, where the first conference took place, attendees decided to hold a conference annually with locations rotating between Europe and North America. In its early years, much of the funding for the group came from the CIA and American philanthropic foundations such as the Rockefeller Foundation and the Ford Foundation.
These institutions, along with the CIA, other major foundations and the Bilderberg conference itself, were pivotal in the early process of post-WWII European integration, laying the groundwork for what decades later would become the European Union.
In the 1955 meeting of the Bilderberg Group, the topic of “European Unity” was a major discussion point, with attendees articulating the need to eventually create a “common currency” and “a central political authority” in Europe. One American participant reportedly encouraged the European attendees “to be practical and work fast.” Within two years, the Treaty of Rome was signed, establishing the European Economic Community (EEC).
A New York Times article from 1957 noted that the first Bilderberg meeting to take place on U.S. soil represented “an unpublicized backdoor approach to better relations among nations” of NATO, and noted that U.S. State Department officials were “meeting in secret for three days for an unofficial but frank exchange of views.” Among the American participants were former Ambassador to the Soviet Union (and architect of America’s “containment” policy) George F. Kennan; World Bank President Eugene R. Black, and Gabriel Hauge, an economic adviser to President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
The issue of European integration remained important to attendees at Bilderberg, as a Reuters article noted in 1965, when a communiqué was issued confirming that the meeting’s participants “believed that only a united Europe could join the United States in effective direction of the Atlantic alliance.”
How It Works and Who Is Involved
Bilderberg is run by its Steering Committee of roughly 40 members whose responsibility is to organize the annual meetings and invite guests from their respective countries, bringing the average yearly attendance to roughly 130 people.
Participants and Steering Committee members come from the largest banks, corporations and think tanks; they run media empires, military and intelligence agencies. They include European royalty and representatives from some of the world’s most prominent financial and corporate dynasties, including the Rockefellers of the U.S., the Rothschilds of Europe, the Agnellis of Italy, the Wallenbergs of Sweden, the Desmarais of Canada, and the Koc family of Turkey, among others.
These elites meet together with top foreign and economic policy makers from North American and European nations, as well as up-and-coming politicians being groomed for high office and the heads of major international and regional organizations including NATO, the European Union, IMF, World Bank, WTO and some of the world’s most powerful central banks.
Still, its members and leadership contend that there is nothing the public needs to worry about when all these people get together in secret meetings to discuss the major geopolitical and economic issues of the day. Etienne Davignon, one of the chief architects of European integration in recent decades, has been a long-time Bilderberg member and was, until recently, the chairman of the steering committee. In 2005, Davignon was quoted by the Financial Times saying that the meeting is “not a capitalist plot to run the world… If we really believed we were running the world, we would immediately resign in complete despair.” In 2009, Davignon acknowledgedthat the formation of the euro was debated and promoted in annual Bilderberg meetings.
A decade ago, The New York Times wrote that the guest list of Bilderberg meetings “would more or less overlap with the ‘Wanted’ posters of anti-globalization protesters,” noting that a former participant, Will Hutton, once referred to the Bilderberg members and participants as the “high priests of globalization.”
More recently, a 2013 article from the Daily Telegraph asserted that while many members contend the group “is still merely a debating society,” interviews with past guests and steering committee members referred to the conference as among “the most important events they ever went to,” where “the discussions that took place decisively shaped modern Europe.”
Referring to the group as “a club for life’s winners,” the article noted that former steering committee member Denis Healey said he debated the Vietnam War with Henry Kissinger, and that the group brought “the architects of the European integration… together for open-ended discussions with bankers and economists about how the European monetary system might work.” Healey was quoted saying: “The great advantage of the Bilderberg thing was they did not have to reach agreement. You had time to discuss things with people who influence events who normally you would not meet at all… People could talk very freely, much more freely than they would at home.”
Other former participants noted that it was at Bilderberg meetings where they first heard of the intentions of the West Germans to unify Germany, and where British policymakers convinced other nations in attendance to apply sanctions on Argentina during the Falklands War. As Denis Healey explained: “I found it the most useful of all the meetings I attended regularly. The Bilderberg was the best because the level of the people attending regularly was so much higher… Bilderberg was the most useful of the lot.”
Indeed, in a June 1974 Argus-Press article, the then-Chairman of Bilderberg, and one of its founding members, Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands, explained that “the purpose of the conference… is that eminent persons in every field get the opportunity to speak freely without being hindered by the knowledge that their words and ideas will be analyzed, commented upon and eventually criticized in the press.”
Gerald Ford, who attended two Bilderberg meetings long before becoming vice president and president of the United States, was quoted in 1965 saying: “You don’t really belong to the organization: one gets an invitation from the prince,” referring to Bernhard.
It should be noted, however, that there was one year in which the annual meeting was cancelled – 1976 – due to revelations of corruption involving bribes between the Lockheed military contractor and Prince Bernhard, leading to his resignation as chairman of the group.
In 2005, the BBC quoted then-chairman Etienne Davignon as saying: “I don’t think (we are) a global ruling class because I don’t think a global ruling class exists. I simply think it’s people who have influence interested to speak to other people who have influence… Bilderberg does not try to reach conclusions – it does not try to say ‘what we should do’… Business influences society and politics influence society – that’s purely common sense. It’s not that business contests the right of democratically-elected leaders to lead.”
Will Hutton, who attended a 1997 meeting, explained: “On every issue that might influence your business you will hear first-hand the people who are actually making those decisions and you will play a part in helping them to make those decisions and formulating the common sense.”
Former NATO Secretary-General and Bilderberg participant, Willy Claes, said in a 2010 interview with a Belgian radio program, “Well look, it’s not all that secret really. There is an agenda for the day with the most pressing problems the world is confronted with… that is discussed… there is never a vote, no resolutions are being put to paper.” However, he added, “naturally… the rapporteur always tries to draw up a synthesis, and everyone is assumed to make use of these conclusions in the circles where he has influence.”
An anonymous former participant in Bilderberg meetings was quoted by the Financial Times in 2013 saying: “The reason it’s perceived as sinister is because it brings together big international institutions – the IMF, the World Bank and the European Union – with heads of state, royalty and corporate leaders, and they don’t produce a statement at the end of it.”
In 2001, founding member Denis Healey told the Guardian in an interview, “We aren’t secret… We’re private.” Speaking of the meeting’s critics who contend that the member of the conference aim to achieve a type of “global government,” Healey told journalist Jon Ronson: “To say we were striving for a one-world government is exaggerated, but not wholly unfair. Those of us in Bilderberg felt we couldn’t go on forever fighting one another for nothing and killing people and rendering millions homeless. So we felt that a single community throughout the world would be a good thing.”
The key issue, however, is that the world which Bilderberg is helping to shape and support is one in which financiers and industrialists are the key beneficiaries – one in which democratically-elected politicians engage with their real constituents behind closed doors, in “private” conversations that have profound and real effects upon policy and thus upon entire populations who are given no such access to public officials.
Elected leaders and policy-makers don’t meet in secret with the world’s major financiers and industrialists so they can discuss the best ways to serve the interests of the public, or populations, of their respective nations. They meet to serve their own collective and individual interests. It is not a conspiracy: it is a forum in which leaders from the upper echelons of Western power structures aim to establish consensus on priorities and policies for major political and economic issues.
Bilderberg contributes to directly undermining democracy, while further institutionalizing technocracy – the “rule by experts” – at the national and international level. This series of the Global Power Project aims to examine and further bring to light the activities and individuals behind the Bilderberg Group. Stay tuned for the second installment next week.
It’s Time to Expose Global Banking Elites at the International Monetary Conference
By: Andrew Gavin Marshall
Originally posted at Occupy.com
Ever heard of the International Monetary Conference? No, I’m not referring to the annual meeting of the IMF and World Bank but rather to another, more secretive annual gathering – this one hosted by the American Bankers Association and bringing together chief executives from over 100 of the world’s largest banks.
Hailing primarily from Western Europe and North America, the banking chiefs meet for several days along with invited guests who hold prominent “public official” positions – major finance ministers and central bank governors among them. The meetings of the International Monetary Conference are notoriously private, with very little if any news coverage or public accountability regarding what goes on there.
However, significant global financial decisions get made at the IMC meetings, which have been ongoing since 1954. Now in its 60th year as an elite financial and monetary conference – and amid hot global discussions of wealth inequality and high finance colluding with governments – one might suspect the gathering to attract a little more attention. Someone, at least, should answer why the conference doesn’t even hold an official website – but merely a password-protected, members-only page for invited guests.
Nor does the American Bankers Association (ABA), which has long been the host of the IMC, make any mention of the conferenceon its website. A search of academic literature listed through Google Scholar brings up, almost exclusively, references to unrelated international monetary conferences held in the 19th century; if there is mention of the modern IMC, it’s simply as a citation from speeches delivered there by public officials. Most books that reference the conference were written by past participants, and merely reflect on speeches presented there while never exploring the IMC in depth.
We, at the Global Power Project, felt it was time to do just that.
I was first made aware of the International Monetary Conference through references listed on some of the CVs of the world’s major bankers, some of which I catalogued for Occupy.com’s 10-part Global Power Project series. Having compiled the resumes of over 300 bankers and counting, I managed to collect a partial list of bankers who are also members of the board of directors at the IMC. I have attempted to contact multiple sources for comment on the conference, but received zero answer.
Instead, I turned to the archives of The New York Times and other newspapers, as well as copies of speeches by public officials at the conference over the years. The research has enabled me to paint a rough portrait of this secretive, highly influential global conference, both historically and in its present form.
Background on the IMC
A. W. Clausen was a major figure in international banking and finance in the 20th century. He spent a long career at Bank of America, becoming President and CEO in 1970, a position he held until 1981 when he became President of the World Bank. After leaving the World Bank in 1986, Clausen returned to Bank of America as Chairman and CEO until the 1990s. Clausen had also been a long-time participant in the International Monetary Conference, and in the later years of his life Clausen wrote briefly about the origins and evolution of the IMC in his essay, The Changing Character of Financial Markets in the Postwar Period – A Personal Perspective:
Indeed, the interdependency of international finance had become apparent to American business and financial leaders in the early 1950s. To provide a forum for discussion of major economic, monetary, and fiscal issues affecting the international banking community, the American Bankers Association hosted the first International Monetary Conference in 1954. Initially, the conference brought together chief executive officers of the 50 largest United States banks and 12 to 15 bankers of equal rank from abroad as well as central bank and government officials. The number of foreign bankers in attendance increased each year, and in 1970, the by-laws were changed to make the International Monetary Conference (IMC) a truly international body. The membership has broadened considerably in the last decade. It currently comprises 116 banks from 23 countries [as of 2009].
The U.S. Secretary of the Treasury in 1962, Douglas Dillon, attended that year’s meeting of the IMC, which he said had “served a very useful purpose in developing a closer degree of understanding of our common problems between responsible private officials in the banking world on both sides of the Atlantic” (“Financial Abroad Urged by Dillon,” New York Times, 20 May 1962).
In 1971, a few months before the U.S. Treasury broke the U.S. dollar’s link with gold, letting the currency float freely in international markets, the Treasury Secretary John B. Connally, Jr. spoke at the IMC, where he demanded that Western Europe, Canada and Japan “share more fully in the cost of defending the free world” and suggested that the implement “more liberal trading arrangements” which would allow “American exports to expand.” As the New York Times noted, “the heads of most of the world’s major banks were present as well as leading monetary officials.” The Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, Arthur F. Burns, also addressed the conference (“Connally tells Bankers U.S. Will Defend Dollar,” New York Times, 29 May 1971).
During and following the 1973-74 oil price hikes, a major issue for bankers, financial and monetary authorities around the world was the challenge of managing the “recycling” of surplus “petrodollars” that had accumulated among OPEC nations. The oil price spikes generated enormous sums of money for the major oil-producing states, especially Saudi Arabia, and for those funds to be put to “productive use,” they had to be invested.
This is where Western European, American and Japanese banks came on the scene in a big way. Oil-producers invested their new wealth in the industrial world’s major banks, which lent that money (multiplied several times over) to poor, developing nations that were in need of loans to pay for their own increased costs of oil. The petrodollar-fueled loans thus allowed those countries to finance their industrialization and development in a process referred to as “petrodollar recycling.”
At the 1974 meeting of the IMC, David Rockefeller, the chairman of Chase Manhattan Bank, and Wilfired Guth, the managing director of Deutsche Bank, both “expressed deep reservations… about how long the international banking network could carry the burden of recycling the vast flows of money resulting from the huge jump in oil prices” (“Burden of Oil Money Worries Bankers,” New York Times, 7 June 1974).
In 1976, the IMC was held in San Francisco, where the world’s major bankers “expressed cautious optimism… [that] the development of a more stable monetary system was proceeding favorably,” noting the emergence of floating exchange rates for national currencies (which allow financial markets, and thus the big banks, to become major players in determining the value of a nation’s currency, and thus the health of its economy).
While the bankers noted their pleasure at the “strengthening of the International Monetary Fund,” the more than 200 bankers present from over 20 countries stressed their belief in “the need to control inflation” (“Bankers Optimistic on Monetary System,” New York Times, 18 June 1976) – a longtime obsession of bankers that didn’t become an equal obsession of public officials or central bankers for several more years.
In 1978, the U.S. Treasury Secretary, W. Michael Blumenthal, attended the IMC where he discussed the decline of the U.S. dollar in the international monetary system but stressed that “there was no need to abandon the dollar’s role as a reserve currency.” Instead, the so-called “root causes” of monetary instability should be addressed, he said, “through harmonization of international payment surpluses and deficits, inflation levels and growth rates,” meaning that nations should reduce their debts but not through inflation (the eternal boogeyman of global financial institutions) since inflation is bad for lenders and savers though good for borrowers and debtors.
Further, Blumenthal noted, the increased focus on national debts (or “balance of payments deficits”) and inflation could be supported through increased “surveillance” (read: authority) by the International Monetary Fund over sovereign nations (“Monetary System Reform Opposed by Blumenthal,” New York Times, 25 May 1978).
At the same meeting, Blumenthal endorsed plans to create a unified European currency, stating that the United States “had no objection” so long as it was “compatible with the broader financial system.” He added, however, that “the plans or sketches for a new European currency which I have seen so far do not yet show any real promise of operational possibility.”
The second major oil price shock of the decade took place in 1979 and became the key topic of discussion at that year’s meeting of the IMC, where Treasury Secretary Blumenthal warned that developing nations dependent on oil imports for their industrialization would experience major new strains due to the price increases, which “could threaten individual banks or the entire monetary system.” (“Rockefeller Warns on Petrodollars,” New York Times, 14 June 1979).
From this brief introduction we see that the International Monetary Conference – bringing together hundreds of the world’s top bankers with government officials and central bankers from the major industrial nations – has played a significant, if little talked about, role furthering the ideas, ideologies, objectives and policies of global financial elites and their partnering governments. In short: it’s not about “conspiracy” but rather consensus.
We can see, through analysis of the IMC and similar institutions and forums, an increasing interconnection and interdependence between the world’s major banks and the so-called “public” officials responsible for implementing the agreed-upon economic, financial and monetary policies worldwide. In three upcoming installments, the Global Power Project will examine the International Monetary Conference in depth, looking at its key role in the 1980s debt crisis as well as the current leadership that steers the organization.
Andrew Gavin Marshall is a 26-year-old researcher and writer based in Montreal. He is project manager of The People’s Book Project, chair of the geopolitics division of The Hampton Institute, research director for Occupy.com’s Global Power Project and the World of Resistance (WoR) Report, and hosts a weekly podcast show with BoilingFrogsPost.
In this edition of the BoilingFrogsPost.com Roundtable, James Corbett, Sibel Edmonds and Peter B. Collins welcome Andrew Gavin Marshall for a discussion of his recent podcast on “Anarchy, Socialism and Free Markets.” We talk about anarchism as a philosophy and what it really entails, as well as how it links to socialism, libertarianism and other political philosophies. We also delve into some of the questions and critiques that many raise to the idea of anarchism.
The People’s Book Project has been proceeding with extensive research in a number of different areas. In the past week, I have collected roughly 100 pages of research on the recent history of Japan-US relations, specifically related to the military/security relations between the two countries over the past several decades, and in light of Japan’s recent transformation under way in making the country once again a military power in the region. Japan is one of the world’s largest economic, and has been so for several decades. As one of the three ‘Trilateral’ regions of global industrial and economic power (the other two being North America and Western Europe), it is important to understand more about Japan’s economic, political and social history and development, as well as the role Japan plays in the world order and in the region of East and Southeast Asia, a role set to gain even greater importance in light of its rearmament and the U.S. ‘pivot’ to Asia, helping to set off a regional arms race and increased geopolitical tensions between countries of the region, notably Japan and China.
My process of research takes time, but it yields significant results. As I do research, I go through extensive archives from major newspapers dating back decades, as well as academic journals, official publications from think tanks, government agencies, corporate/bank reports, international organizations and watch dog groups, NGOs, as well as declassified materials. As I collect this information, I take notes and extracts of important pieces of text, which I compile in individual databases of information on various topics, so that the research is collected and concentrated in a single space. From here, I can then extract the useful and relevant pieces of information into an actual written text. Using this approach, I have amassed quite literally hundreds and even thousands of pages of information on a wide variety of topics. It used to be that I simply wrote pieces as I researched them, leading to very long and detailed examinations of particular subjects. This relatively new approach (for me) will hopefully produce more concise summaries and analysis of events and issues, but it also means that I actually write less often, as my focus is still on the accumulation of research at present. Though, ultimately, this will also mean that I have a much more organized and greater mass of research from which I can write more concise and useful analyses.
It is these hundreds and thousands of pages of research that funding for The People’s Book Project has been supporting, which, in turn, will provide a very solid research ground on which to write the first volume of The People’s Book Project. But support is continually needed and appreciated. I received approximately $250 in donations over the previous week, bringing the total for the past two months to $1,737, with a goal of reaching $2,500. Please consider donating to The People’s Book Project to help the research and writing continue.
Andrew Gavin Marshall
The People’s Book Project: Finance, Empire, and Globalization’s ‘Game of Thrones’
Apologies for not updating more frequently (or answering emails with more consistency), these are busy times, and I am – admittedly – terrible and terribly lacking the proclivities to make for more consistent management of the technical details required of my job. But then again, I don’t have a typical ‘job’, or a ‘real job’, by most counts. I survive on the generous donations of readers (and family!) who support my research and writing, as well as doing commissioned work and separate projects from that of the People’s Book Project. I am not as good as I would like to be when it comes to answering emails or updating the site and keeping everything neat and tidy and formal (or some might say, professional). This has never been my strong-suit. Ironically, the times in which I am seemingly least-attentive to emails and website maintenance, I tend to be most productive when it comes to doing actual research and writing. This past month has been no exception.
Previously, I had announced a fundraising campaign to raise $2,500 by the end of March to support my time and effort and expenses (multiple news and information subscriptions get expensive) to work on the first volume of The People’s Book Project. I have not updated the financial information since March 17, over one month ago. However, in the time between then and now, many people gave quite generously to the Project, so that the total has reached $1,487, still a distance from the goal of $2,500 (and unfortunately, due to my lack of promotion), the addition of $757 over the past month has already been stretched thin, considering the aim was to raise the full amount by late March. However, I am hoping to continue to reach this goal of $2,500, even if it is reached by late April.
Firstly, I would like to thank all who have donated to the People’s Book Project, your support is greatly appreciated, and I stretch my dollars, so it has been put to good use.
Now, I’d like to tell you a bit about what I have been researching. I have done a lot of work on the recent situation in Ukraine (in part for a series for The Hampton Institute), but also focusing a great deal on studying the financial, corporate and monetary interactions and warfare between nations, the role of the IMF and oligarchs in Ukraine, Russia, and much of Eastern Europe, exposing battles between billionaires over the future control of the region, with central banks and financial markets playing the role of arbiter between powerful states and structures. In the current circumstances, we hear a great deal about “Russian aggression” regarding Putin’s invasion of Crimea. Yet, we hear so little – comparatively speaking – about the fact that Ukraine has – for decades – been gutted economically for the benefit of a few oligarchs, increasingly turning to the west, with the IMF, the European Union and NATO having long been spreading their tentacles into Ukraine, seeking to pull it fully within the Western sphere of dominance. This research – including on the history of the U.S./Western plundering of Russia following the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the concurrent rise of Russia’s oligarchs – will provide excellent contributions to the first volume of The People’s Book Project, analyzing the ways in which corporations, banks, financial markets and the monetary system play significant roles in foreign policy and imperialism.
Further, I have been doing quite a bit of research on the history and roles of corporate and financial dynasties in the modern world: not simply the Rothschilds and Rockefellers (though I have spent a great deal of time studying and documenting their family evolutions), but also of tracking the dominant family dynasties in many of the world’s nations: the Wallenbergs in Sweden, the Agnellis in Italy, the Desmarais’ in Canada, to the oligarch families that rule Latin America, the political and corporate dynasties that have ruled Japan for decades (and centuries!), the ruling families of China (and their relationship to JPMorgan Chase, among others), the powerful corporate families of Turkey, South Africa, Southeast Asia, India and beyond. What is revealed is a complex network of competition and cooperation between the world’s ruling dynasties, primarily invested in corporate, industrial and financial institutions, these families represent Globalization’s ‘Game of Thrones’, and the stories are fascinating tales of Machiavellian machinations, Shakespearean tragedies, of families rising and falling, of imperious patriarchs, subtle yet severe matriarchs, suicides, intrigue, scandal and unprecedented power and wealth, with some individual families controlling upwards of 30% of their entire respective nation’s stock market wealth (such as with the Agnellis and Wallenbergs). Some families, such as Desmarais in Canada, are phenomenons of recent decades, while most trace their dynastic origins to the 19th or early 20th centuries, other – like the Mitsui of Japan – date back over 300 years. The stories are fascinating and revealing a great deal of myths about what we hold our world to be: democracy? I think not. Free market? Not likely.
This is just some of the current study of The People’s Book Project, and should make for an interesting chapter in the first book (though it could very well be a book of its own!). I am hoping to even provide some samples -in the form of research articles – next month, taking a look at some individual dynasties.
So for this work to continue, please consider continuing your support to The People’s Book Project.
Thank you kindly,
Andrew Gavin Marshall
The People’s Book Project has been in the works for a good deal of time. The Project consists of crowd-funding my efforts to do research and write a series of books analyzing historical and present institutions, ideologies and individuals of power and the processes of resistance to those power structures, in various political, economic and social realms. A modern history of ‘Power and People’, if you will. It’s not an easy endeavour, but with the funding – through donations – that have gotten me to the present point, an enormous amount of research and writing on a wide variety of subjects has been undertaken.
Currently, I am in the process of finishing off the research on the central banking/monetary system. Following this, I will accumulate the research I have done on several other issues and begin weaving it all together in a readable, coherent and concise framework to present the first volume of the People’s Book Project, focused on the global economic system. Included in this volume will be a look at the dynastic power structures of our economic system, largely resting in financial and corporate families; the power and function of banks and financial institutions; the development and spread of corporations; corporate and financial profits; global poverty and hunger; the destruction of the middle class; debt as a mechanism of control and domination; the global land grabs; global trade agreements; the global financial and economic crisis, it’s causes and effects; the central banking system and financial markets; debt crises, austerity, adjustment programs and the reshaping of the global order, guided by bankers, oligarchs and unelected technocrats.
This volume aims to analyze and help others understand the nature of the global economic order: how we got here, where we’re going, and just perhaps, what we can do to change our path. Now in terms of the research and writing I have done, all of which is still very rough in terms of drafts, here is a brief summary outlining how many pages of writing/research I have completed:
- the global financial crisis: 55 pages
- the European debt crisis: 300 pages
- central banking: 55 pages
- financial markets: 112 pages
- corporate power: 58 pages
- trade agreements: 58 pages
- global resources, food crisis, global land grabs: 50 pages
On top of that, I have over 100 pages more of dispersed research on several remaining topics. Now, this does not mean that I will be publishing an 800-page book. What this means is that – even as I have not yet finished my research on the central banking system – I will have roughly 800 pages of work to go through in order to put together the first official draft of the first volume for the People’s Book Project, tentatively entitled, “The Empire of Poverty.”
Now, before I go on to ask for money, I want to explain what I have been doing with my time, besides all of the above. I have not done any specific fundraising for the Book Project in a couple months, as I have not had the ability to dedicate as much time as I would like to work on the book specifically. Instead, I have been working on the following: doing research and writing for a continuous project for Occupy.com – the Global Power Project – examining the individuals who govern society’s major institutions and assessing their other institutional affiliations in an attempt to map the networks of influence wielded by global elites; starting a new continuous research project for Occupy.com – the World of Resistance Report – examining the instances and evolution of global protests, uprisings, revolts and revolution around the world; running the Geopolitics Division of The Hampton Institute – a new, up-and-coming U.S.-based think tank with a radical perspective on the world; doing weekly podcasts for BoilingFrogsPost; doing commissioned articles for various sites; and finally, working – with a few select friends – on starting up our own non-profit organization (on which I will be writing in more detail in the near future).
Now, fortunately for myself – and for those who have been consistent supporters of the Book Project – there has been a great deal of overlap between all these ventures: my research and writing for all these projects directly supports my work on the book. This is why I have avoided doing any specific fund raising for the book recently. However, I now have accumulated enough work and research to really push forward to the editing phase (once my work on central banking is complete, on which I will also be writing an exclusive article for a specific website). What I do need, at this point, is TIME: the time to spend adding the finishing touches to the research, and the time to read through, edit, and start putting together the first complete draft of “The Empire of Poverty.”
Unfortunately, in our present global economic order – of which I will provide much more elucidation in the first volume of the series – time… is money. I wish that I could manage to continue all my work for the other ventures (and thereby not be as reliant upon donations to survive), while also doing the work on the book, but I simply do not have enough time to do it all. Thus, I am undertaking a fundraising initiative to raise $2,500 to subsidize the time needed in order to dedicate my efforts to the book. I assure you, NO ONE is more interested in having this book completed than I am, and all the enormous support it has been given from around the world has been a wonderful – and surprising – gift; truly remarkable, and for which I am eternally grateful. But now I am also impatient. I want to be done, I need something to be completed. I have attempted to balance my time with all these new projects, but have been unable to put in the desired time and effort specifically for the book.
Now, that time has come. Please consider donating to – or spreading the word to others about – the first volume of The People’s Book Project: “The Empire of Poverty.”
Thank you, sincerely.
Andrew Gavin Marshall