The Bilderberg Group, Bilderberg conference, or Bilderberg Club is an annual, unofficial, invitation-only conference of approximately 120 to 140 guests from North America and Western Europe, most of whom are people of influence. About one-third are from government and politics, and two-thirds from finance, industry, labour, education and communications. Meetings are closed to the public and often feature future political leaders shortly before they become household names.
Because of its exclusivity and privacy, the Bilderberg group is frequently accused by conspiracy theorists from both extremes of the political spectrum of being an all-powerful secret society fixing the fate of the world behind closed doors for nefarious ends. Critics of Bilderberg conspiracy theories counter that it is nothing more than a policy discussion forum and social club, which only serves as a means to brainstorm, reach consensus, and create social cohesion within the power elite of North American and Western European nations, to better promote Atlantic free-market capitalism and its interests around the globe.
- BBC News Online (7 June 2011). Bilderberg mystery: Why do people believe in cabals?. Retrieved 14 June 2011.
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- Wilford, Hugh (September 2003). "CIA plot, socialist conspiracy, or new world order? the origins of the Bilderberg group, 1952-55". Diplomacy & Statecraft, Volume 14, Issue 3, pages 70 - 82. Retrieved 28 March 2011.