Us vs. Them

2 minute read

What do George W. Bush, Queen Elizabeth, the Rothschilds, Bob Hope and, er, country singer Boxcar Willie have in common? According to footballer-turned-conspiracy theorist David Icke, they are all giant, blood-drinking lizards who secretly control the world. Icke’s outlandish views feature in British journalist Jon Ronson’s Them: Adventures with Extremists (Picador; 337 pages), an entertaining and thought-provoking attempt to understand the mindset of some of the world’s political and religious fringe-dwellers — Ku Klux Klansmen, neo-Nazi militias and Islamic fundamentalists.

What started as a series of profiles quickly became something stranger, writes Ronson, when he realized that this motley crew has one belief in common: that a handful of statesmen and industrialists called the Bilderberg Group, after the Dutch town where their tiny, shoestring head office is situated, rule the world. He sets out to track down this shadowy cabal, with hilarious consequences. Accompanying “investigative journalist” Big Jim Tucker to Portugal, where they try to gatecrash a Bilderberg meeting, Ronson is tailed by a sinister-looking man in a dark green Lancia. Panicking, he rings the British embassy for advice. “I am a humorous journalist out of my depth,” he yelps. “Do you think it would help if we tell him that?”

Luckily, Ronson tires of conspiracy theorists about the same time as the reader does. Oh, the Bilderberg Group exists: it is yet another high-powered networking organization, whose annual get-togethers seem to be more about playing golf and partying than ruling the world. Anyway, the idea that a tiny élite starts wars, elects and ousts presidents and controls the media and the money markets is preposterous. Isn’t it?

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