Got a yen for conspiracies? I've got a book for you!
By Charley Reese
For those of you who like conspiracy theories, there is always Carroll Quigley, a Georgetown University professor at the time of his death.
In his massive book Tragedy and Hope, Quigley writes:
"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 as the Round 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 20 years and was permitted for two years, in the early 1960s, to examine its papers and secret record."
Quigley states that he had occasionally objected to some of its policies but that his main difference with the group "is that it wishes to remain unknown, and I believe its role in history is significant enough to be known."
He writes that the Round Table groups were organized by three British people on behalf of Lord Milner, the dominant trustee of the Rhodes Trust from 1905 to 1925. Most of its financing originally came from the Rhodes
He states that at the end of World War I, the Round Table groups decided to expand their activities. In each place, the groups formed a "front" organization. In Great Britain, the front is known as the Royal Institute of International Affairs."
"In New York," he writes, "it was known as the Council on Foreign Relations and was a front for J.P. Morgan and Co. in association with the very small American Round Table group."
"On this basis," he writes a few paragraphs later, "which was originally financial and goes back to George Peabody, there grew up in the 20th century a power structure between London and New York which penetrated deeply into university life, the press, and the practice of foreign policy."
There is an interesting story about this book. President Bill Clinton, you may recall, cited Quigley as his favorite professor. MacMillan Co. first published the book, a massively detailed history of the 20th century that is more than 1,300 pages long, in 1966.
Although being a history buff I highly recommend it, you can well imagine it did not make the best-seller list. In fact, the book remained largely unknown outside, I suppose, academic circles until some conservatives discovered it and, leaping on the passage cited above and others, began to publicize it greatly.
By the time I discovered it, the story was out that Macmillan -- Establishment to the core at that time -- had abruptly, without notifying Quigley, taken the book out of print and, what is even more unusual, destroyed the printing plates.
This, it turns out, was true. I tracked down Quigley's widow, and she verified that Macmillan had indeed done that and that her husband had been highly upset when he learned of it. Obviously it is the kind of book, representing such massive labor, that normally would be revised for future editions.
In this case, conservatives did us all a favor. The entire book was photocopied and, with Quigley's permission, reprinted by a California company. So, you can still find copies.
Admittedly it's not beach reading, and don't expect to find Quigley justifying the John Birch Society. Quigley was well left of center and, in fact, ridicules middle-class Americans. He is particularly scornful of those who supported Sen. Barry Goldwater in 1964, which includes, by the way, me.
Nevertheless, Quigley was a good writer and was apparently one of those men willing to follow the truth wherever it led to the extent that he could discern it. It's the only history I've read that really goes into detail about the influence of the bankers and the financial elites, the so-called Eastern Establishment or the Anglophile Network.
You'll find many famous names and surprising explanations for events. The New Republic, famous today for its liberalism, was actually started by the Morgan interests to provide a safe outlet for the progressive left and to lead them toward the Establishment position.
You'll find explanations of how the Establishment, with its financial and newspaper resources, could favor those it liked by providing grants and favorable reviews to their works. You'll probably be surprised at the enormous influence Wall Street has had, and I'm sure still has, on the Ivy League schools.
Like a lot of modern historians, Quigley writes as if he were a novelist, using the omniscient viewpoint. His conceit and his prejudices show. There are no footnotes, just mainly his assertions, which is the style that historians seem to prefer these days. He presumes no doubt to know a lot more than he actually knew, because there are few among us who can read other people's minds.
Still and all, the massive amount of details and his generally swift-moving prose make it well worth reading, though certainly not in one or two sittings. It is a dip-in book that can provide you with lots of dips.
Copyright (c) 2001, Orlando Sentinel
Note: Charley Reese, has retired from Orlando Sentinel since this article was published, and will be missed.