Carroll Quigley

bill fancher fancher at
Wed Nov 17 14:12:17 PST 1999

> Hi,
> Are we talking about Quigley the professor, Quigley the author of books on
> the "Anglo-American Establishment" or Quigley, the icon of right wing
> conspiracism as reinterpreted by Skoussen and others?
> :-)

I was talking about Quigley the professor of history at Georgetown School of Foreign Service, who taught the required course on "Evolution of Civilizations" there for many years and thus influenced a good chunk of the present foreign service establishment in the U.S. You know, the author of "the most useful periodization of the evolution of historical civilizations", as Samuel Huntington claims in "The Clash of Civilizations". The one whose work the American Historical Review said was on "sounder ground" than that of Toynbee. That one.

> Carroll Quigley's 1966 Tragedy and Hope saw US history after the Civil War
> as shaped by a power struggle between international finance capital and
> industrial capitalism. Quigley saw British influence, especially Rhodes
> scholarships, as crucial to understanding role of foundations and
> politicians in shaping US policy.
> I think the idea of a struggle between bad parasitic internationalist
> "finance" capital and good productive nationalist "industrial" capital is
> the basis for the producerist narrative of right wing populism, and lends
> itself easily to antisemitic conspiracy theories about Jewish banking
> circles.

Let's leave out the valuations and talk of a struggle between financial capital and monopoly capital, as Quigley does. That this idea "lends itself to antisemitic conspiracy theories" does not make it false. As Quigley said: "I have been told the the story I relate here would be better left untold, since it would provide ammunition for the enemies of what I admire. I do not share this view. The last thing I should wish is that anything I write could be used by the Anglophobes and isolationists of the Chicago Tribune. But I feel that the truth has a right to be told, and, once told, can be an injury to no men of good will. Only by a knowlege of the errors of the past is it possible to correct the tactics of the future" (The Anglo-American Establishment, p. xi)

Elsewhere he says: "These organizations and their financial backers were in no sense reactionary or Fascistic persons, as Communist propaganda would like to depict them. Quite the contrary. They were gracious and cultured gentlemen of somewhat limited social experience who were much concerned with the freedom of expression of minorities and the rule of law for all, who constantly thought in terms of Anglo-American solidarity, of political partition and federation, and who were convinced that they could gracefully civilize the Boers of South Africa, the Irish, the Arabs, and the Hindus, and who are largely responsible for the partitions of Ireland, Palestine, and India, as well as the federations of South Africa, Central Africa, and the West Indies."


> There is no secret international finance capital conspiracy,

Glad you've cleared that up for me. I had foolishly thought that Quigley's hundreds of pages of carefully researched and documented history detailing the operations of the Rhodes-Milner organization and its instruments (CFR, RIIA, Round Table, NYT, etc.) was convincing.

> and business
> nationalists are hardly friends of the left. There are clearly tensions
> between various factions of capitalism, but "finance" v. "industrial" is too
> crude a framework.

Agreed about "business nationalists". What would be a more "refined" framework?

> So I think Quigley was wrong and wandering into an old Anglophobic
> critique;

A favorite right-winger quote from Quigley: "There does exist, and has existed for a generation, an international Anglophile network which operates, to some extent, in the way the radical Right believes the Communists act. In fact, this network, which we may identify with the Rount Table Groups, has no aversion to cooperating with the Communists, or any other groups, and frequently does so. I know of the operations of this network because I have studied it for twenty years and was permitted for two years, in the early 1960's, to examine its papers and secret records. I have no aversion to it or to most of its aims and have, for much of my life, been close to it and to many of its instruments... in general my chief difference of opinion is that it wishes to remain unknown, and I believe its role in history is significant enough to be known." (Tragedy and Hope p. 950)

How do you account for Quigley's extraordinary and protracted delusion?

> and I think his acolytes on the right took his thesis and wove it
> into even more explicitly conspiracist narratives, where today it plays a
> major role on the US right, even though few have actually read Quigley in
> the original (long and boring) form.

So the best thing for the left to do is to proclaim it false and condemn it as "long and boring"?

> He was apparently a terrific professor. Just ask Clinton...

Clinton's admiration of Quigley was one of the things that piqued my curiosity. I figured that even if Quigley was a lunatic, the fact that many influential people seemed to believe him made his work worthy of study. Having now read much of what he wrote, I find it difficult to dismiss him as mistaken or ill-informed.

-- bill

Whenever someone simply hands you a spacetime, you should first compute the curvature tensor and some of the geodesics. (Actually you should first find out whether you are dealing with some kind of nut, which can happen in cosmology.) -- R.K. Sachs and H. Wu

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