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The Secret Government, Drunk On Gin Fizz

by Alexander Cockburn

Hundreds of near-dead white men sitting by a lake
Where's the fashionable rendezvous for the World's Secret Government? In the good old days when the Illuminati had a firm grip on things, it was wherever the Bilderburgers decided to pitch their tents. Then Nelson and David Rockefeller horned their way in, and the spotlight moved to the Trilateral Commission. Was there one secret government or two? Some said all the big decisions were made in England, at Ditchley, not so far from the Appeasers' former haunts at Cliveden and only an hour by Learjet from Davos, which is where jumped-up finance ministers and arriviste tycoons merely pretend they rule the world.

Secret World Governors spend a good deal of time in the air, whisking from Davos to Ditchley to Sun Valley, Idaho, though mercifully no longer to the Clinton-favored Renaissance Weekend in Hilton Head, S.C. But come July, every self-respecting member of the Secret World government will be in a gloomy grove of redwoods in northern California, preparing to banish care for the 122nd time, prelude to three weeks of hashing out the future of the world.

If the avenging posses mustered by the Bohemian Grove Action Network manage this year to burst through the security gates at the Bohemian Grove, they will (to extrapolate from numerous eyewitness accounts of past sessions) find slightly shaky evidence that here indeed is the ruling crowd in executive session: hundreds of near-dead white men sitting by a lake listening to a pundit on the order of Henry Kissinger, plus many other near-dead white men in adjacent landscape in a state of intoxication so advanced that many of them had fallen insensible among the ferns, gin fizz glasses gripped firmly till the last. And they may discover the many indications that a significant portion of the Secret Government appeared to be involved in some theatrical production involving the use of women's clothes and lavish application of make-up.

Many an empire has, of course, been run by drunken men wearing make-up. But a look at the Bohemian Club, its members and appurtenances, suggests that behind the pretense of Secret Government lies the reality of a summer camp for a bunch of San Francisco businessmen, real estate plungers and lawyers who long ago had the cunning to recruit some outside megawattage -- Herbert Hoover, a Rockefeller, Richard Nixon -- to turn their mundane frolicking into the simulacrum of Secret Government and make the yokels gape.

The Bohemian Club began as a San Francisco institution in 1872, founded by journalists and kindred lowly scriveners as an excuse for late-night boozing. The hacks soon concluded that Bohemianism, in the sense of real poverty, was oppressive. So they pulled in a few wealthy men of commerce to pay for the champagne, and the rot soon set in. In a very few years the lowly scriveners were on their way out -- except for a few of the more presentable among them to lend a pretense of Bohodom -- and Mammon had seized power.

Near the end of the last century, the cult of the redwood grove as Nature's cathedral was in full swing, and the Boho-businessmen yearned to give their outings a tincture of spiritual uplift. The long-range planning committee of the club decided to buy a grove some 60 miles north of the city near the town of Monte Rio. Soon, the ancient redwoods, hated by the Pomo Indians of the area as clammy and sepulchral, rang with the laughter of the disporting men of commerce.

There are lakeside talks and increasingly popular science chats at the Grove's museum. There's skeet-shooting on the private range. There's endless dominoes -- the Grove's board-game par excellence. There's Not Being At Home with the wife. But best of all, there are the talent revue and the play. Visit some corporate suite in San Francisco in June or early July, and if you see the CEO brooding thoughtfully before his plate-glass window overlooking the Bay Bridge, chances are he is not thinking about some impending takeover or merciless downsizing. He is probably worrying about the cut of his tutu for the drag act for which he has been rehearsing keenly for many months.

In the '90s, the Grove's reputation as the site of Secret Government was in eclipse. The young Christian zealots of the Newt revolution were scarcely Boho material, and Newt himself -- he did give a lakeside talk one year -- was a little too tacky in style for the gin fizz set. But here we are in the Bush II era, and the Bush Clan is echt Secret Government, all the way from the old Rockefeller connection, to Skull and Bones and the Knights of Malta. Dick Cheney's a Grover.

But do they run the world? When he was about to join the London Times in its glory days back in the late 1920s, my father Claud asked his uncle, who was on the board of that same institution, who really formulated Times policy. "My boy," his uncle replied, "the policy of the London Times is set by a committee that never meets."

As with the old London Times, so with the world. That's why all those important people rush to the Bohemian Grove, to Davos, to Ditchley, to Bilderberg. They're trying to figure out how to get onto that most invisible of all committees, invisible because it is also imaginary.

© Creators Syndicate

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Albion Monitor June 22, 2001 (

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