The Bilderbergers. The Trilateral Commission. The Council on Foreign Relations. The Illuminati. The Freemasons. Common Purpose. The secret politbureau. The elite. You’ve heard of them. Some say they run the world. Others dismiss such claims as a conspiracy theory.
What is the truth?
In the olden days, power was simple. Someone was the strongest, he had the best weapon and he extorted money from his victims by threat and, if necessary, by the use of, force and violence. With time, the thug became more sophisticated and replaced robbery with “rule”, extortion with “taxation”, but still the source of his power remained his physical strength and his sword.
Even in those days, another source of power soon emerged. The priests. Although not physically strong, the High Priest would manipulate the King by creating an illusion that he had special powers over the supernatural world, through which he would instill fear in the King and exert power over him, and, indirectly, over his subjects.
Religion – certainly organized monotheistic religion – has always been about nothing other than power and politics. Religion is a game of power indistinguishable from politics.
Throughout the history of the Holy Roman Empire, the Holy Roman Emperor and the Pope held a balance of power in which the Emperor was the master of the classical power game of the sword, and the Pope the master of the power game of religion, collaborating and competing at the same time. Collaborating in the knowledge that by doing so, they both gained power at the expense of their subjects, competing over who would have more influence between the two.
In recent years, another source of power has emerged. Information. Collecting vast troves of information about people (overtly or covertly, legally or illegally), putting it together and using it in ways which are legal (e.g. by using knowledge about people to manipulate them psychologically by targeted messages through various PR and media outlets) or illegal (such as using the information for blackmail) – is the modern day paradigm shift in the game of power akin to the one religion, when it was first thought of, represented compared to the power of the sword. I know a mafia man who owns a large European software company which supplies entire IT infrastructures to banks and telecommunications companies. This company – on the pretext that this is necessary in order to provide technical support – has live access to customer data of all those organizations. Its owner makes good use of this information, both in his own dealings, and by trading it on the black market for other information and favours with other mafiosi. When in 2008, the BND, Germany’s secret service, paid off Heinrich Kieber to steal data belonging to customers of Liechtenstein’s LGT Bank, this data was also offered to other world governments. Some countries declined to have anything to do with the stolen inforamation. Other countries’ law enforcement agencies also bought it. But in some countries, the data was reputedly offered to the highest bidder and was sold to organized criminals in the black market. It has since allegedly been used to blackmail leading elected politicians. A number of countries where this has allegedly happend have since then, as a matter of fact, been taken over by organized crime.
Physical force is very visible. It is brutal, primitive. For the amount of energy expended, it is not very efficient. It is not deniable. And, particularly in the day where realms are great and have large populations and the opinion of the people matters, rule by force and violence makes one look bad and unpopular. Challenging established power through the means of force and violence is also very difficult, because it is very visible and can easily be stopped by the dominant player (provided he is not too stupid).
Religion is more subtle. Smarter. It represents a much better return on the amount of energy expended. Its use as a way to power is somewhat deniable. It does not make one look obviously bad. At least not to everyone. Indeed, to some, it can even make one look good. Yet religion is still visible. Many people will see through religious leaders and recognize their true motives and their desire for power. Religion can lead to religious wars. All of this is bad for the reputation of relgions, their practitioners and leaders.
The information power game, on the other hand, is genious. It can be almost competely invisible (spy it wherever you hear the words “big data”). Except when a scandal erupts – such as the phone hacking scandal in Britain which brought down the News of the World and the freedom of the press, and the exposure of NSA’s spying by Edward Snowden – no one (except possibly other spies, and even them with difficulty) needs even know you are doing it. It represents a tremendous return on the amount of energy expended. The amount of personal energy required is almost none – almost everything can be delegated to computers, which cost only money. Since the information can be monetized, in the long term, its cost is low or can even be negative. Engagement in this kind of power play is almost entirely deniable. Because it is completely invisible, it does not have any adverse effect on the actor’s reputation. And because it can be done in stealth mode, the dominant player (if there is one) can be challenged without getting on his radar.
You could say, in a sense, that Hitler, Stalin, the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany were first generation power brokers, while the Fabians, Gramsci and the European Union are third generation power brokers.
Who engages in this kind of stuff? All security agencies for sure. White collar criminals also are major players. Large corporates like Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo. Why do you think the NSA wants access to all the information Google owns? Anti-terrorism? No. Power. By getting automatic access to this information, the NSA makes sure it stays on top of Google in the information game and that Google does not become a threat to the U.S. government – or the spooks’ own grip over it.
Of course, the big data game is no more a dominant power meme over religion and physical force than religion or physical force is over the other. The world is engaged in a constant series of interlinked power struggles at all levels.
Is there a central secret politburo in charge of all this information, which calls all the shots in a worldwide co-ordinated fashion, which a secret elite knows about, but the rest of us do not? I used to think so. But the more I have thought about it, the more I have come to the eerie conclusion that the truth is subtly different.
With physical force, there is no central power, no one man or one country in charge of everything, whom everyone else blindly follows and obeys. The same is true with religion. The information power game is, I submit, no different. Yet, with military might, and with religious power, while there is constant struggle for control, there is also usually a dominant player – or a few oligopolistic dominant players – who effectively control everything that matters. I believe the same is true in the field of information power play.
There are large numbers of ever competing centres of power struggling for dominance — the largest ones probably include the mafia, secret service organizations, Moscow, the EU. Some wax, some wane. There are probably one or two dominant ones. In my opinion, nobody truly knows for sure who all the major players are. Those who play the game, probably have an idea that they themselves may be an important player (although they may not even be sure of that), and have a much better idea who the other key players are than the rest of us. The rest of us are almost completely oblivious and clueless – beyond a vague feeling that something like it may be going on – if that.
Let me give a few examples. Today:
(1) the EU Commission is headed by Manuel Barroso, who claims to be a “centre-right” politician. Yet, in his youth, he was a well known Maoist.
(2) the German Chancellor is Angela Merkel, who claims to be a “centre-right” politician, and heads a centre-right political party. Yet, in her youth, growing up in East Germany, she was a keen fan of the communist regime.
(3) the British Prime Minister is David Cameron, who claims to be a “centre-right” politician, and heads Britain’s traditionally right wing party. Yet, his policies are consistently seen as socialist, and he is widely perceived to be a socialist.
(4) until he was ousted, the French president was Nicolas Sarkozy, who claims to be a “centre-right” politician, and headed France’s centre-right party. Yet, his policies were highly socialist and some have accused him of being a mole who was placed into that party in order to destroy it from within.
When before in history have so many right wing political parties been led by people who were all suspected of being socialist moles, who were placed into those parties in order to destroy them from within? Rising in all the main European powers to power, all at the same time?
Let’s have some more.
Between 2006 and 2013, bans on smoking in all or essentially all indoor public places were introduced in: Albania, Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Bahrain, Bermuda, Bhutan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Denmark, Estonia, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Greece, Honduras, …, Russia, United Kingdom, and many other places (I’m sorry, there are too many and I gave up). There is no international treaty to ban smoking. There was never any discussion of such a treaty. If there was, it surely would have taken a lot longer than 7 years to agree its terms, and even longer to achieve such a worldwide co-ordinated implementation. Yet the outcome has arisen spontaneously, the world over. How can this be? Maybe it’s a joint initiative of an international alliance (such as the Liberal International or the Communist International) of political parties? But no single such alliance was in power in all those countries during that period. So this cannot be the explanation.
Are these coincidences? It seems unlikely.
Are they the result of secret plots orchistrated by the Bilderbergers? By Brussels? By the KGB?
I believe the answer is that there has been a plot, by the dominant player, or perhaps a series of (dependent or) independent plots by several major players in the information power game, which have substantially, not wholly, but to a frightening extent, contributed to this state of affairs. The smoking ban – which faced strong opposition among the electorate in many places where it was nevertheless introduced by the legislatures – may well have been a test case. “Are we really influencing policy?” “Let’s try to engineer something innocous that nobody’s going to care too much about, which cannot happen by random chance throughout the world, and see if we can do it, if it really happens.” Like a secret nuclear weapons test on some far away atoll in the Pacific, the tremors barely registered on the seismograph of anyone who was not looking for it.
Nevertheless, in my opinion, none of these things transpired solely as a result of action on the polygon of information power players. They resulted as an outcome of power struggles played on all the various political chessboards, some more familiar and less covert. Neverthelss, I believe the information polygon played a significant role.
Who are these influential information power brokers who can effect such outcomes? I do not know. I think that, by virtue of the intrinsically covert, secret and invisible nature of the game, perhaps nobody knows – paradoxically, perhaps not even the players themselves – other than by conducting experiments of just the “smoking ban” kind. If I had to take a bet, however, as to who the most dominant player is, and who is behind the usurpation of Europe’s right wing political spectrum by left wing moles, my money would be on some successor organization of the KGB.
Another interesting aspect is that, although those in charge of information warfare are ultimately people, the amount of information processed is so large that the vast majority of decisions are being made by computers and the artificial intelligence algorithms they run. In addition to intercepted e-mails, location data from mobile devices, voluntarily provided data, illegally obtained data about bank accounts, telephone accounts, etc. the data gathered also includes data from millions of CCTV cameras and will probably soon include much data from various instances of Google glass and other wearable devices. The setup is eerily reminiscent of The Matrix in which people are enslaved and which people do not want to leave not by Orwellian physical, “first generation” methods and reasons, by Huxleyan subtle, “third generation” methods and reasons. In other words, people voluntarily refuse to leave the matrix because of the intoxicating convenience of customized, targeted, delivered information, for example.