Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Carroll Quigley - Tragedy and Hope

Carroll Quigley Interviews, 1974 (1 of 5)
Carroll Quigley Interviews, 1974 (2 of 5)
Carroll Quigley Interviews, 1974 (3 of 5)
Carroll Quigley Interviews, 1974 (4 of 5)
Carroll Quigley Interviews, 1974 (5 of 5)
Tragedy and Hope: A History of the World in Our Time
Carroll Quigley
New York: Macmillan, 1966
Review by Stephen Zarlenga
A Deeper Look Into "Tragedy and Hope"
Prof. Carroll Quigley's Tragedy and Hope: A History of the World in Our Time was one of the most important historical and predictive works to appear in the 20th century. The book was also among the century's most misunderstood and under-appreciated works of historiography.
First published in 1964, the scope of Tragedy is enormous, with 1,348 pages providing important insights into the forces that have shaped Western civilization. Quigley divided these forces into six aspects: military, political, economic, social, religious and intellectual. These six aspects then "fall into the three major areas of: the patterns of power, rewards and outlooks."
Note that Prof Quigley placed military force at the head of the list. He was a hard-nosed realist when it came to the role of power in society; to the ultimate basis of power upon armed force; and of the dependence, reach and effectiveness of armed force upon weaponry. Thus he stated:
". . . [T]he nature, organization and control of weapons is the most significant of the numerous factors that determines what happens in political life." [p. 1,200]
Quigley was a highly creative mind in understanding how these forces influenced the evolution of civilizations. He taught what he had learned to his students at Georgetown University, at Harvard and at Princeton; and wrote a textbook for college students throughout the United States.
Tragedy is also presented from the vantage point of one who was close to the official halls of American power, as a lecturer on diverse subjects at the U.S. Naval Weapons Laboratory, the State Department's Foreign Service Institute, the Naval College and the Industrial College of the Armed Forces. He was a consultant to the Congressional Select Committee, which created NASA, and to the Navy's Project Seabed whose task in 1964 was to project what U.S. Naval weapons systems would be like 12 years out. In addition are his memberships in scholarly bodies such as the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Anthropological Association and the American Economic Association, to name just a few. Any one of these accomplishments could be considered as a milestone lifetime achievement.
But what really intrigued many of Quigley's readers (or more accurately his reviewers) was his awareness, proximity and understanding of the workings of the unofficial levers of western power; and more specifically a group which evolved from what he referred to as the Anglo American Establishment in an earlier manuscript, and which he calls the "British-American Atlantic Establishment" in this book. Quigley clearly knew more about these matters than anyone else who has been cling to discuss them publicly.
Most past reviews of this book have suffered from overly focusing on their own area of interest-namely conspiracy--Quigley's fascinating references to the behind the scenes forces conspiring to affect the course of history. In large part, these reviews have really been the same review in different formats, and I don't believe they effectively encouraged people to actually read Quigley. Many reviewers also jumped to the conclusion that Quigley himself was one of the conspirators.
But those who convinced themselves that Quigley was a promoter of this conspiracy have been unable to give coherent explanations of why he wrote the book. The contradiction or paradox arises from the book's most quoted paragraph by these reviewers:
"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% to examine its papers and secret records. I have no aversion to it or most of its aims and have, for much of my life, been close to it and to many of its instruments. I have objected, both in the past and recently, to a few of its policies (notably to its belief that England was an Atlantic rather than a European power and must be allied, or even federated, with the United States and must remain isolated from Europe), but 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." [p. 950, emphasis added]
Obviously, acknowledging and publicizing the existence of this secret group operating in a conspiratorial manner is the single most effective way to thwart them. So how can that be reconciled with Quigley's professed support of "most" of their goals? Perhaps the minority of their goals which he didn't support, were the ones regarding their own positions of supreme imperial power in the unfolding development of mankind. Indeed, if we merely take Quigley at his word in the above quotation, aligning England firmly into the European Community and reducing its influence in the United States would in fact quickly reduce if not obliterate the power and influence of the "network."
Significantly, in these conservative reviews, when that paragraph is quoted, the key parenthetical is usually not included. It is left out, and an ellipsis is inserted instead.
It is also very noteworthy that powerful elements of the English establishment continue to act today in that behavior mode criticized by Quigley: refusing to join fully in the European Union and exerting far too much influence on the United States, for example through NATO, as is apparent from the Yugoslav war reporting.
For a dramatic example of this book's relevance to understanding current events, let's briefly examine the Yugoslav war, which analysts from across the political spectrum were unable to explain satisfactorily. Try as they might, none could make much sense of NATO's very disproportionate bombing campaign against that small country--a merciless campaign even waged against civilian infrastructure. But, what if we add one of Quigley's concepts to the mix?
In the ongoing civil war, there had been reports of many atrocities being committed by Serb and Kosovar alike. But the NATO bombing appeared to do more harm to those Kosovars it was supposed to be helping, than the offending Serbs had been doing.
Why was the campaign carried on with such a vengeance that it appeared the very survival of a great power was at stake? Perhaps it was/is.
Certainly not any of America's vital interests, or the English people's vital interests are at stake. But perhaps the vital interests--even survival--of the secret power network exposed by Quigley are at stake. Consider the dynamic consolidation of the European Union, with a greater population and greater economic production than the U.S., and now with the introduction of the new Euro currency the entire area will be able to get out from under Alan Greenspan's dollar "hammer."
True to Quigley's main criticism England has remained aloof from the European Community, though arguably it would be advantageous to the English people for her to join. But England's power structure would then just be one among 11 other states, and their system of balancing one European power against another would be relegated to history's dustbin of dirty tricks. Since they are not really at home in America either, if the European Community and its currency succeed as they in all likelihood will, then the so called Anglo American Establishment which Quigley exposed, would be largely isolated there in the Atlantic between two great powers.
One "solution"? Stop the European community. How? It may be impossible. But perhaps with enough destabilization on the Balkan underbelly, Europe can be put off balance for a time, giving the opportunity for more such actions to arise. Also, if the responsibility for rebuilding Yugoslavia can be dumped onto the Europeans, it would be hard to think of a worse way to lead off the new Euro currency's career. This is not to say that additional interests and factors are not also in play; they always are.
The section of Tragedy entitled 'European ambiguities" [p. 1279] presents invaluable perspectives for understanding the current disposition of the European Community, along with its potential strengths and historic weaknesses, and the role which must be played by England, for an optimal resolution of "the problem of Germany"--the fact that a united Germany eventually becomes such a powerhouse, that other states fear and act against her.
We return to Quigley's reasons for directing conciliatory remarks toward the goals of the group. Blatantly exposing the existence of this unseen power network could have jeopardized the publication of the book. By directing a few "friendly" phrases toward it (which when properly analyzed are not be so friendly after all), no red flags were raised--at Macmillan and Company Publishers. That this was a real problem was demonstrated later by Macmillan's refusal to print a second edition after wide attention was focused on the exposure of the secret network, even though there was a good demand for the book.
Moreover, Quigley's earlier manuscript, called "The Anglo American Establishment," which describes the group at the end of World War II in some precise detail with names and dates, and, in a more critical manner, had proved unpublishable and was gathering dust at Georgetown since 1949. I learned of its existence in 1980 through a strange and unique set of accidental occurrences beginning 14 years earlier on the Greek island of Rhodes. With the help of one of Quigley's confidants, I found it in the archives and published it in 1981.
While those secret power network discussions coming from a scholar of Quigley's stature are very significant and would be more than enough reason to read Tragedy and Hope concentrating only on them doesn't do justice to the totality of the book. For example by page 21, using his demographic concepts of how civilizations evolve, Quigley has predicted that the west should expect to be feeling "Asiatic pressure" about the year 2,000 A.D.
Further, he explains why a different sequence of developments in factors such as ideology, weapons and agriculture has produced very different results in the east as compared to western civilization. For example in the west the agricultural and industrial revolutions and raising of living standards occurred before the weapons developments of the early- to mid-1900s. This made it possible for individual citizens to have access to the same weapons at the disposal of the state.
But "In Asia these better weapon arrived before Living standards could be raised by the agricultural revolution. . . As a result governments in Europe in 1930 hardly dared to oppress the people and democracy was growing; but in to non-European world by 1930 (and even more by 1950) governments did dare to, and could, oppress their peoples, who could do little to prevent it" [pp. 22-23].
One of the most significant sections of the book is on "Financial Capitalism" starting on page 50:
"This third stage of capitalism is of such overwhelming significance in the history of the 20th century; and its ramifications and influences have been so subterranean, and even occult, that we may be excused if we devote considerate attention to its organization and methods."
This section contains one of the book's most intriguing paragraphs:
"The influence of financial capitalism and of the international bankers who created it was exercised both on business and on governments, but could have done neither if it had not been able to persuade both these to accept two "axioms" of its own ideology. Both of these were based on the assumption that politicians were too weak and too subject to temporary popular pressures to be trusted with control of the money system; accordingly, the sanctity of all values and the soundness of money must be protected in two ways: by basing the value of money on gold and by allowing bankers to control the supply of money. To do this it was necessary to conceal, or even to mislead, both governments and people about the nature of money and its methods of operation." [p. 53, emphasis added]
Throughout the monetary research I've done over the last 10 years, that statement is accurate, very important and generally unrecognized. Quigley gives one example of the deception:
". . . [B]ankers, as creditors in money terms, have been obsessed with maintaining the value of money, although the reason they have traditionally given for this obsession--that sound money' maintains business confidence'--has been propagandist rather than accurate."
He goes on:
"Inflation, especially a slow steady rise in prices, encourages producers, because it means they can commit themselves to costs of production on one price level and then later offer the finished product for sale at a somewhat higher price level." [pp. 46-47]
Such a situation is usually best for working people, while "price stability," the Federal Reserve's 1990s mantra, has been really good for paper manipulations, but bad for the average working man.
Whether Quigley is discussing central banking and the onset of the Great Depression; or developments in inter-war Germany; or conditions in Japan just before President Harry Truman decided to use nuclear weapons; the reader feels a confidence in Quigley's knowledge of behind-the-scenes facts and analysis which probably never made it into the newspapers of the day.
Reading from page 1,200 on, one is truck by the accuracy of Quigley's projections on present-day events and problems. The effects of a fully professional army for example, in changing wars from the bloody all-out citizen soldier efforts of the Civil War, World War I and World War II, to wars where casualties are avoided at almost any cost. Quigley tells us in 1964, to expect warfare where leaders like Sadam Hussein are left in control, to avoid inconvenient power vacuums.
Indeed for those who are not history buffs, who may have difficulty getting through the early chapters in a timely way, simply shift your approach and read from page 1200 first. Quigley's relevance to the present day will become immediately obvious, in these fascinating pages. One section discusses why the middle class hasn't been successful in passing their values on to their children; a factor which Ouigley considered of great importance. No punches are pulled, no psycho babble used; and some readers will squirm as they recognize Quigley is zeroing in on a few of their own foibles.
Quigley analyzes the unfortunate move toward sensationalism in cult and concludes that "the most therapeutic action in which any society can engage" is to rely on experience in the historical sense and to link up with the society's traditions. And he concisely presents the "Western Tradition" [pp. 1,226-91]. Here one learns what the misused terms "liberal" and "conservative" really mean, in a way that not even one in a hundred among politically astute observers understand.
He calmly demonstrates why Puritanism is essentially opposed to the Western Tradition. For example the Puritan view is that truth is found by rational deduction from revelation; whereas the orthodox western view is that truth is found from experience and revelation, interpreted by tradition.
"The Puritan point of view tended to support political despotism and to seek a one-class uniform society, while the older view (still represented in the Anglican and Roman Churches) put much greater emphasis on traditional pluralism and saw society as a unity of diversities" [p. 1226-9].
Quigley worried greatly about the ready availability of chemical and nuclear weapons, for it is these sorts of weapons that will dominate warfare for the duration of the West Above, an old man plods through the wasteland of Nagasaki
This powerful section, I suspect, is one of the reasons the Quigley reviews were so narrow and one sided.
The final chapter presents elements of what Quigley views as tragic, and/or hopeful in the evolving future. To understand these, one must keep in mind the overriding importance Quigley placed on weapons systems.
The main tragedy which Quigley has accurately foreseen is the growing centralization of power and consequent pressure placed on democratic institutions. To him, this was a matter of weaponry:
"There seems little reason to doubt that the specialist weapons of today will continue to dominate the military picture into the foreseeable future. If so, there is little reason to doubt that authoritarian rather than democratic political regimes will dominate the world into the foreseeable future." [p. 1,201]
He presents the "hope" that in this negative scenario it may still be possible to live a "full social or intellectual life whose value may be even more significant than a democratic political or military structure." This was written before the imposition of the intellectually stifling regime of "political correctness" was even considered a possibility. In this area Quigley underestimated the intellectual viciousness which would accompany the process of "obtaining obedience."
Another related hope: ". . . [A]ny increase in defensive weapon power would stop the growth in size of power areas and would in time reverse this tendency."
Quigley presents the tragedy of how easily and cheaply biological and chemical weapons of mass destruction could be manufactured in a kitchen laboratory. However, Quigley's weapons orientation could even see a hopeful possibility in the spread of such weapons:
" . . . This might well contribute toward the decentralization of power already discussed" [p. 1,210].
He analyzes the tragedy of the U.S.A. and Russia in a nuclear face-off; and the hope that because there could be no winner, it would not happen. (Note: The "hope" in this area fades if the Russians have nothing to lose.)
Quigley also discusses the importance and possibility of developing independent energy and materials sources, as a precondition of political and economic decentralization. I believe he would have seen great "hope" in the development of the Internet, a potentially major decentralizing force in communications, which he did not foresee.
I'll close with Quigley's observation on the need for a democratic educational process to teach the whole man, rather than just specializations:
"We need a culture that will produce people eager to do things, but we need even more a culture that will make it possible to decide what to do . . . Decisions about goals requires values, meaning, context, perspective. They can be set . . . only by people who have some inkling of the whole picture" [p. 1,274].
Stephen Zarlenga, who worked more than 30 years in the world of investment, speculation and publishing on political economy subjects, has for several years concentrated on research in monetary history and theory. He is the director of The American Monetary Institute and recently published The Lost Science of Money.
The review was originally published in The Barnes Review VI/1 (Jan-Feb, 2000): 39-46