03 December 2018

Professor Carroll Quigley - Last Lectures, The Western Tradition, Fall of the American Republic

These quotations excerpted below are all taken from Public Authority and the State in the Western Tradition by Carroll Quigley.   It was the three part Oscar Iden Lecture at Georgetown University in 1978, a few months before he died.

Quigley is perhaps most well known for being the author of Tragedy and Hope.

Later this week I intend to publish a very nice essay and summary of these thoughts in this last lecture by Christopher Quigley.

Needless to say I do not necessarily agree with everything that Professor Quigley states in his writings. But I do find them extraordinarily well informed and interesting. Given that they were written in the 1970s his forecasting, although not perfect, was quite prescient.

He does state that after Nixon it is unlikely that another President will be impeached, because of the manner in which the impeachment process has become 'lawyerized.' How ironic then that we have seen the impeachment of William J. Clinton, who himself was a student of Quigley and who publicly thanked and acknowledged him as a mentor.

Related: Carroll Quigley on Tragedy and Hope

"And since what we get in history is never what any one individual or group is struggling for, but is the resultant of diverse groups struggling, the area of political action will be increasingly reduced to an arena where the individual, detached from any sustaining community, is faced by gigantic and irresponsible corporations."

Prof Carroll Quigley, Part 1 The State of Communities, Georgetown University 1978

"The reality of the last two hundred years of the history of the history of Western Civilization, including the history of our own country, is not reflected in the general brainwashing you have received, in the political mythology you have been hearing, or in the historiography of the period as it exists today.

Persons, personalities if you wish, can be made only in communities. A community is made up of intimate relationships among diverse types of individuals--a kinship group, a local group, a neighbourhood, a village, a large family. Without communities, no infant will be sufficiently socialized. He may grow up to be forty years old, he may have made an extremely good living, he may have engendered half a dozen children, but he is still an infant unless he has been properly socialized and that occurs in the first four or five years of life. In our society today, we have attempted to throw the whole burden of socializing out population upon the school system, to which the individual arrives only at the age of four or five.

Human needs are the basis of power. The state, as I said, is a power structure on a territorial basis, and the state will survive only if it has sufficient ability to satisfy enough of these needs. It is not enough for it to have organized force, and when a politician says, "Elect me President and I will establish law and order," he means organized force or power of other kinds. I won't analyze this level; it's too complex and we don't have time. I will simply say that the object of the political level is to legitimise power: that is, to get people, in their minds, to recognize and accept the actual power relationship in their society.

We no longer have intellectually satisfying arrangements in our educational system, in our arts, humanities or anything else; instead we have slogans and ideologies. An ideology is a religious or emotional expression; it is not an intellectual expression. So when a society is reaching its end, in the last couple of centuries you have what I call misplacement of satisfactions. You find your emotional satisfaction in making a lot of money, or in being elected to the White House in 1972, or in proving to the poor, half-naked people of Southeast Asia that you can kill them in large numbers.

And then, as the society continues and does not reform, you get increased militarisation. You can certainly see that process in Western Civilization and in the history of the United States. In the last forty years our society has been drastically militarized. It isn't yet as militarized as other societies and other periods have been; we still have a long way to go in this direction. Our civilization has a couple of centuries to go, I would guess. Things are moving faster than they did in any civilization I ever knew before this one, but we probably will have another century or two.

As this process goes on, you get certain other things. I've hinted at a number of them. One is misplacement of satisfactions. You find your satisfactions--your emotional satisfaction, your social satisfaction-- not in moment to moment relationships with nature or other people, but with power, or with wealth, or even with organized force--sadism, in some cases: Go out and murder a lot of people in a war, a just war, naturally.

The second thing that occurs as this goes on is increasing remoteness of desires from needs. I've mentioned this. The next thing is an increasing confusion between means and ends. The ends are the human needs, but if I asked people what these needs are, they can hardly tell me. Instead they want the means they have been brainwashed to accept, that they think will satisfy their needs. But it's perfectly obvious that the methods that we have been using are not working. Never was any society
in human history as rich and as powerful as Western Civilization and the United States, and it is not a happy society.

In its final stages, the civilization becomes a dualism of almost totalitarian imperial power and an amorphous mass culture of atomized individuals.

Freedom is freedom from restraints. We're always under restraints. The difference between a stable society and an unstable one is that the restraints in an unstable one are external. In a stable society, government ultimately becomes unnecessary ; the restraints on people's actions are internal, there're self disciplined, they are the restraints you have accepted because they make it possible for you to satisfy all your needs to the degree that is good for you.

Communities and societies must rest upon cooperation and not on competition. Anyone who says that society can be run on the basis of everyone's trying to maximise his own greed is talking total nonsense. All the history of human society shows that it's nonsense. And to teach it in schools, and to go on television and call it the
American way of life still doesn't make it true. Competition and envy cannot become the basis of any society or any community.

The fundamental, all pervasive cause of world instability today is the destruction of communities by the commercialisation of all human relationships and the resulting neuroses and psychoses. The technological acceleration of transportation, communication and weapons systems is now creating power areas wider than existing political structures. We still have at least half a dozen political structures in Europe, but our technology and the power system of Western Civilization today are such that most of Europe should be a single power system. This creates instability.

Another cause of today's instability is that we now have a society in America, Europe and much of the world which is totally dominated by the two elements of sovereignty that are not included in the state structure: control of credit and banking and the corporation. These are free of political controls and social responsibility, and they have largely monopolized power in Western Civilization and in American society.

They are ruthlessly going forward to eliminate land, labour, entrepreneurial-managerial skills, and everything else the economists once told us were the chief elements of production. The only element of production they are concerned with is the one they can control: capital.

So now everything is capital intensive, including medicine, and it hasn't worked.   ['financialised' is a more current term - J.]

Secrecy in government exists for only one reason: to prevent the American people from knowing what's going on. It is nonsense to believe that anything our government does is not known to the Russians at about the moment it happens.

To me, the most ominous flaw in our constitutional set-up is the fact that the federal government does not have control over of money and credit and does not have control of corporations. It is therefore not really sovereign. And it is not really responsible, because it is now controlled by these two groups, corporations, and those who control the flows of money.

The administrative system and elections are dominated today by the private power of money flows and corporation activities.

Certain thin regulations were established in the United States regarding corporations: restricted purpose and activities especially by banks and insurance companies; prohibition on one corporation's holding the stock of another without specific statutory grant; limits on the span of the life of the corporation, requiring recurrent legislative scrutiny; limits on total assets; limits on new issues of capital, so that the proportion of control of existing stockholders could be maintained; limits on the votes allowed to any stockholder, regardless of the size of his holding; and so forth.

By 1890 all of these had been destroyed by judicial interpretation which extended to corporations— fictitious persons— those constitutional rights guaranteed, especially by the Fifteenth Amendment, to living persons.

Now I want to say good night. Do not be pessimistic. Life goes on; life is fun. And if a civilization crashes, it deserves to. When Rome fell, the Christian answer was, 'Create our own communities.'"

Prof Carroll Quigley, The State of Individuals, Georgetown University 1978