Every time I give a talk outside a Masonic setting, be it in a University, College, a history group or a writers circle, and I get asked about my Masonic work, you can guarantee at least one person in the audience will say something like ‘Aren’t the Masons a bit like the Bilderberg Group or the Carlyle Group…’ So, I give the usual answer on how the Masons are completely separate and different, give to charity and have a rich cultured history…and I always get someone coming up to me after the talk and they ask for the real answer. Thus, I was influenced to write this list of three well-known, powerful but secretive groups and organisations that often get mixed-up in the popular mind with Freemasonry….
The Bilderberg Group
Of all the secretive groups and organisations, the Bilderberg Group is perhaps the most written about, with its links to a secret one World Order (indeed one of its founders, British Labour politician Dennis Healey, once said ‘To say we were striving for a one world government is exaggerated, but not wholly unfair’, a quote that seems to fuel the conspiracy theorist fire). The Group first held its conference in the Bilderberg Hotel in the Netherlands in 1954, and drew its members from the political elite of Europe and North America. Dennis Healey’s 2001 interview with the British newspaper The Guardian revealed how future British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher gave a speech at the 1975 conference and won the admiration of the likes of Henry Kissinger and David Rockerfeller – two other Bilderberg ‘members’, and the rest, as they say, is history. Another incident remembered by Healey was how British MP David Owen gave a passionate speech about sanctions against Argentina during the Fauklands conflict, and won the crowd over. A list of Bilderberg ‘members’ is a ‘who’s who’ of the political elite of the West; Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, Peter Mandleson, George Osborne, Prince Bernard of the Netherlands, Gerald Ford (also a Freemason), George H.W. Bush, not to mention a host of bankers and company directors of leading corporations such as BP and Barclays Bank. The annual conference is supposed to be a exactly that; a conference, where discussions on politics and business can take place away from the eye of the media, but it is exactly this secrecy that attracts the conspiracy theorists….
The Carlyle Group
The Carlyle Group is an American multinational private equity, alternative asset management and financial services corporation, founded in 1987 in Washington DC that has received investments from powerful Saudi princes, the Bin-Laden family and other multi-national corporations. Former President George H.W. Bush had been an advisor to the group in 2003, ex-British Prime Minister John Major had been a chairman to Carlyle Europe between 2001-2004, and Karl Otto Pöhl, former President of the Bundesbank also served as an advisor. It has been labeled by The Guardian as the ‘ex-presidents’ club’ and a number of defense firms have benefited from Carlyle’s success over the years, such as United Defense, which made vertical missile launch systems. They have also been described as being big, quiet, and secretive, dealing with arms and munition manufacturers, and having close relationships with men of power:
‘…what sets Carlyle apart is the way it has exploited its political contacts. When Carlucci arrived there in 1989, he brought with him a phalanx of former subordinates from the CIA and the Pentagon, and an awareness of the scale of business a company like Carlyle could do in the corridors and steak-houses of Washington.’
Henry Kissinger, George H.W. Bush (again), Ronald Reagan and Theodore Roosevelt have all visited Bohemian Grove. The club was formed in 1872, and the summer encampment was established six years later. They currently meet at 20601 Bohemian Grove in California in mid-July every year, for a two week event. The club started as a gathering for artists and actors, but now attracts the rich and powerful, for an event which has been described as ritualistic and secretive. There is an Owl shrine within the grove, and a ritualistic ceremony takes place with a High Priest and the ‘cremation of Care’; a ceremonial symbolical sacrifice of sorts that ensures success during the encampment. Though discouraged, business deals and political discussion have occurred at Bohemian Grove, one of the most reported of such discussions was a meeting concerning the Manhattan Project, which took place there in September 1942. Meetings still take place and are still surrounded by secrecy.