People still believe in secret societies because there are secret societies - some groups just don't want attention, even if they do anonymous charity work - but secret cabals that control a nation or the world are irrational, yet belief in them persists.
Go ahead, ask some left wing kook about George Bush and they will trail off into gibberish about the Skull&Crossbones and list all all these other people that were in it, as if being in a dinner group made them successful as opposed to being smart enough to get into an Ivy League school. Really, if I am believing some secret Yale cabal is controlling America, I am going with The Whiffenpoofs. Nothing else explains the popularity of "Glee".
If you are not American, perhaps those names mean nothing. If you are European, and inclined to believe in secret cabals, the Bilderberg Group may mean more.
The Bilderberg Group first met in 1954 to discuss ways to keep Europeans from killing each other again - and maybe they did. Something worked, since the 65 years Europeans have complained about American imperialism are the longest period of peace in European history - but later the Bilderberg Group meetings became a four-day Swiss vacation where business leaders, politicians and whatever get together and throw out ideas over warm cheese and booze.
Like the Skull&Crossbones, the Bilderberg Group is more of a dinner club than a place where world leaders plot to kill off poor people or control world finances, but there is no reasoning with some. Ask any war protester (2001-2008 anyway, war protests stopped once a Democrat got elected and now imperialism in Libya is 'supporting democracy') about Bush and they will tell you he invaded Iraq for cheap oil. When you note the price of oil has skyrocketed, they will tell you he did it to make oil expensive. An older kook will say it's because Hussein tried to kill Bush 41 and he was in the Skull&Crossbones too. You can't win when a secret cabal is the excuse they use to explain things. Some people just like to have dinner together.
My favorite secret society remains The Illuminati and I was reminded of them for three reasons recently - if you can explain the significance of being reminded of them three times in three weeks, you are onto something; one, I visited Bruce Damer about two weeks ago and, along with his exhaustive personal museum of computers and game systems, he showed me he had the collected books and albums owned by Timothy Leary - which included every bit of craziness ever written by Robert Anton Wilson, including the books of The Illuminati. The second reason is because Danna Staaf got some props at old school gaming company Steve Jackson Games and the Illuminati has always been their secret gag too. The third is because I saw a BBC article that the Bilderberg Group was meeting again and that always brings up conspiracy topics.
So if you are an Arab, you may want to believe the Freemasons are propping up Israel, which is the same in America as believing Col. Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken fame is still alive and running the Pentaveret:
"So I Married An Axe Murderer" is the funniest movie me and only 10 other people watched.
And Hillary Clinton became famous during the sex scandal of her husband, Pres. Bill Clinton, for claiming a 'vast right wing conspiracy' had invented the entire thing.
Now, certainly 150 people who all get together and share ideas have some influence on each other, but so do highly-paid shills that walk the halls of government on the payroll of Big Oil And Environmental Corporations. That doesn't make them secret cabals.
The Bilderberg Group has different people every year, and it's people on both the left and the right, so if you want to believe the left is promoting a conspiracy to be one big, distant, socialist government, you will find it, and if you want to believe the right is trying to create one big, capitalist free market, you will find that also.
I persist in the idea that Hitler is holed up in an Antarctic Fortress plotting his Fourth Reich and he is going to unleash an army of Mayans armed with strangelet-powered weapons next December, but only the crazy guy on the corner with a ping-pong ball for an eye will listen to me. Maybe December 2012 we will be right.
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