October 14, 2008

The Anglo-American Establishment by Carroll Quigley

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This is about a book I just finished reading called The Anglo-American Establishment : from Rhodes to Cliveden by Carroll Quigley. This book was published by Books in Focus in 1981.

Here are a few quotes from the book to start out:

It is said that the road to perdition is paved with good intentions. The road to the Indian tragedy of 1947-1948 was also paved with good intentions, and those paving blocks were manufactured and laid down by the Milner Group. The same good intentions contributed largely to the dissolution of the British Empire, the race wars of South Africa, and the unleashing of the horrors of 1939-1945 on the world. [pp. 224-225]

ANY EFFORT to write an account of the influence exercised by the Milner Group in foreign affairs in the period between the two World Wars would require a complete rewriting of the history of that period. [p. 227]

Those were pretty cool quotes.

Carroll Quigley is the dude that wrote that other big book, Tragedy and Hope. Even though that book was bigger I only fell asleep 3 times reading that book. This book is about 350 pages I still fell asleep about 8 times.

The Publisher’s Note at the beginning talks about Quigley and makes this book sound cool, but it was pretty boring to read even though I learned some cool stuff:

Publisher’s Note

ON VERY RARE OCCASIONS a book appears which forever changes the way in which we perceive the world around us. Within a short while it becomes hard to understand how we could have functioned without the knowledge gained from it. The Anglo-American Establishment is such a book. In it Professor Carroll Quigley presents certain “keys” crucial to the understanding of 20th century political, economic and military events — events of the past, present, and future. That the narrative ends in 1949 does not detract in any way from what is presented, and its great value. It does, however, break open the way for current writers and students to work more effectively in their areas.
The fact that Carroll Quigley, a highly respected professor at Georgetown University and an instructor at Princeton and Harvard, could not find a publisher for this work, is in itself significant.
How Books in Focus came to discover the existence of the manuscript is a story in itself, which began on a beach in Lindos on the Mediterranean island of Rhodes, in 1967, eight years before the company was formed; but that story will have to be told at a later time.

Stephen A. Zarlenga

January 8, 1981 [p. vii]

Quigley in the preface talks about why he wrote the book. He says that he wrote it cause no one else was going to do it. It was important for him to write it cause the Milner Group is one of the most important historical facts of the twentieth century.


THE RHODES SCHOLARSHIPS, established by the terms of Cecil Rhodes’s seventh will, are known to everyone. What is not so widely known is that Rhodes in five previous wills left his fortune to form a secret society, which was to devote itself to the preservation and expansion of the British Empire. And what does not seem to be known to anyone is that this secret society was created by Rhodes and his principal trustee, Lord Milner, and continues to exist to this day. To be sure, this secret society is not a childish thing like the Ku Klux Klan, and it does not have any secret robes, secret handclasps, or secret passwords. It does not need any of these, since its members know each other intimately. It probably has no oaths of secrecy nor any formal procedure of initiation. It does, however, exist and holds secret meetings, over which the senior member present presides. At various times since 1891, these meetings have been presided over by Rhodes, Lord Milner, Lord Selborne, Sir Patrick Duncan, Field Marshal Jan Smuts, Lord Lothian, and Lord Brand. They have been held in all the British Dominions, starting in South Africa about 1903; in various places in London, chiefly 175 Piccadilly; at various colleges at Oxford, chiefly All Souls; and at many English country houses such as Tring Park, Blickling Hall, Cliveden, and others.
This society has been known at various times as Milner’s Kindergarten, as the Round Table Group, as the Rhodes crowd, as The Times crowd, as the All Souls group, and as the Cliveden set. All of these terms are unsatisfactory, for one reason or another, and I have chosen to call it the Milner Group. Those persons who have used the other terms, or heard them used, have not generally been aware that all these various terms referred to the same Group.
It is not easy for an outsider to write the history of a secret group of this kind, but, since no insider is going to do it, an outsider must attempt it. It should be done, for this Group is, as I shall show, one of the most important historical facts of the twentieth century. Indeed, the Group is of such significance that evidence of its existence is not hard to find, if one knows where to look. This evidence I have sought to point out without overly burdening this volume with footnotes and bibliographical references. While such evidences of scholarship are kept at a minimum, I believe I have given the source of every fact which I mention. Some of these facts came to me from sources which I am not permitted to name, and I have mentioned them only where I can produce documentary evidence available to everyone. Nevertheless, it would have been very difficult to write this book if I had not received a certain amount of assistance of a personal nature from persons close to the Group. For obvious reasons, I cannot reveal the names of such persons, so I have not made reference to any information derived from them unless it was information readily available from other sources. [pp. ix-x]

The Milner Group created stuff like the Royal Institute of International Affairs, the Council on Foreign Relations, wars, the League of Nations, etc.

This organization has been able to conceal its existence quite successfully, and many of its most influential members, satisfied to possess the reality rather than the appearance of power, are unknown even to close students of British history. This is the more surprising when we learn that one of the chief methods by which this Group works has been through propaganda. It plotted the Jameson Raid of 1895; it caused the Boer War of 1899-1902; it set up and controls the Rhodes Trust; it created the Union of South Africa in 1906-1910; it established the South African periodical The State in 1908; it founded the British Empire periodical The Round Table in 1910, and this remains the mouthpiece of the Group; it has been the most powerful single influence in All Souls, Balliol, and New Colleges at Oxford for more than a generation; it has controlled The Times for more than fifty years, with the exception of the three years 1919-1922; it publicized the idea of and the name “British Commonwealth of Nations” in the period 1908-1918; it was the chief influence in Lloyd George’s war administration in 1917-1919 and dominated the British delegation to the Peace Conference of 1919; it had a great deal to do with the formation and management of the League of Nations and of the system of mandates; it founded the Royal Institute of International Affairs in 1919 and still controls it; it was one of the chief influences on British policy toward Ireland, Palestine, and India in the period 1917-1945; it was a very important influence on the policy of appeasement of Germany during the years 1920-1940; and it controlled and still controls, to a very considerable extent, the sources and the writing of the history of British Imperial and foreign policy since the Boer War. [pp. 4-5]

The Milner Group also influenced Commonwealth affairs by publicity work of great quantity and good quality. This was done through various periodicals controlled by the Group, such as The Round Table, The Times, International Affairs and others; by books published by the Royal Institute of International Affairs and individual members of the Group; by academic and university activities by men like Professor Coupland, Professor Zimmern, Professor Harlow, and others; by public and private discussion meetings sponsored by the Round Tale Groups throughout the Commonwealth, by the Institute of International Affairs everywhere, by the Institute of Pacific Relations (IPR), by the Council on Foreign Relations, by the Williamstown Institute of Politics, by the Rhodes Scholarship group; and through the three unofficial conferences on British Commonwealth relations held by the Group since 1933. [p. 161]

This book covers only up to 1949, but it’s still pretty good for learning some cool stuff.

That the narrative ends in 1949 does not detract in any way from what is presented, and its great value. [p. vii]

Quigley even gives a warning about the Milner Group having too much power:

This brief sketch of the Royal Institute of International Affairs does not by any means indicate the very considerable influence which the organization exerts in English-speaking countries in the sphere to which it is devoted. The extent of that influence must be obvious. The purpose of this chapter has been something else: to show that the Milner Group controls the Institute. Once that is established, the picture changes. The influence of Chatham House appears in its true perspective, not as the influence of an autonomous body but as merely one of many instruments in the arsenal of another power. When the influence which the Institute wields is combined with that controlled by the Milner Group in other fields — in education, in administration, in newspapers, and periodicals — a really terrifying picture begins to emerge. . . . The picture is terrifying because such power, whatever the goals at which it may be directed, is too much to be entrusted safely to any group. . . . No country that values its safety should allow what the Milner Group accomplished in Britain — that is, that a small number of men should be able to wield such power in administration and politics, should be given almost complete control over the publication of the documents relating to their actions, should be able to exercise such influence over the avenues of information that create public opinion, and should be able to monopolize so completely the writing and the teaching of the history of their own period. [p. 197]

A funny thing that I liked in this book is on page 295 with Lady Astor. Lady Astor was in The Society of the Elect of the Milner Group, which is like the highest part of the Group. I liked it cause it shows the funny game of politics is. You just play the game to get more power.

On 16 March 1939, in the Commons, when Chamberlain was still defending the appeasement policy and refusing to criticize Germany’s policy of aggression, Lady Astor cried out to him, “Will the Prime Minister lose no time in letting the German Government know with what horror the whole of this country regards Germany’s action?”
The Prime Minister did not answer, but a Conservative Member, Major Vyvyan Adams, hurled at the lady the remark, “You caused it yourself.” [p. 295]

. . . as a very intelligent man, [Jan C.] Smuts knew that he could play no role whatever in the world, or in the British Empire, unless he could first play a role in South Africa. And that required, in a democratic regime (which he disliked), that he appear pro-Boer rather than pro-British. Thus Smuts was pro-Boer on all prominent and nonessential matters but pro-British on all unobtrusive and essential matters (such as language, secession, defense, etc.). [p. 78]

A cool thing I liked is on page 31. I liked it cause it shows that dudes can get power by having sex with powerful ladies, not just ladies having sex with powerful dudes:

The frivolity of this group [, “The Souls”, ] can be seen in Margot Tennant’s statement that she obtained for Milner his appointment to the chairmanship of the Board of Inland Revenue in 1892 merely by writing to Balfour and asking for it after she had a too brief romantic interlude with Milner in Egypt. As a respected scholar of my acquaintance has said, this group did everything in a frivolous fashion, including entering the Boer War and the First World War. [p. 31]

The boring stuff about this book is all the resume-type descriptions of people like this Alfred Zimmern dude:

Alfred Zimmern (Sir Alfred since 1936) was an undergraduate at New College with Kerr, Grigg, Brand, Curtis, Malcolm, and Waldorf Astor (later Lord Astor) in 1898-1902. As lecturer, fellow, and tutor there in the period 1903-1909, he taught a number of future members of the Milner Group, of whom the chief was Reginald Coupland. His teaching and his book The Greek Commonwealth (1911) had a profound effect on the thinking of the inner circle of the Milner Group, as can be seen, for example, in the writings of Lionel Curtis. In the period up to 1921 he was close to this inner core and in fact can be considered as a member of it. After 1921 he disagreed with the policy of the inner core toward the League of Nations and Germany, since the core wanted to weaken the one and strengthen the other, an opinion exactly opposite to that of Zimmern. He remained, however, a member of the Group and was, indeed, its most able member and one of its most courageous members. Since his activities will be mentioned frequently in the course of this study, we need do no more than point out his various positions here. He was a staff inspector of the Board of Education in 1912-1915; the chief assistant to Lord Robert Cecil in the Political Intelligence Department of the Foreign Office in 1918-1919; Wilson Professor of International Politics at University College of Wales, Abersytwyth, in 1919-1921; Professor of Political Science at Cornell in 1922-1923; deputy director and chief administrator of the League of Nations Institute of Intellectual Cooperation in 1926-1930; Montague Burton Professor of International Relations at Oxford in 1930-1944; deputy directory of the Research Department of the Foreign Office in 1943-1945; advisor to the Ministry of Education in 1945; director of the Geneva School of International Studies in 1925-1939; adviser and chief organizer of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization in 1946; and Visiting Professor at Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut, from 1947. [pp. 89-90]

Other cool stuff is that the Milner Group, and their other organizations like the Rhodes Scholarship, doesn’t like doing mass propaganda cause it’s easier just to influence the “important people”. Those “important people” then trickle down that information to the general public. That’s pretty smart.

. . . the Milner Group controlled The Times, indirectly from 1912 if not earlier, and directly from 1922. The importance of this control should be obvious. The Times, although of a very limited circulation (only about 35,000 at the beginning of the century, 50,000 at the outbreak of the First World War, and 187,000 in 1936), was the most influential paper in England. The reason for this influence is not generally recognized, although the existence of the condition itself is widely known. The influence depended upon the close relationship between the paper and the Foreign Office. This relationship, as we are trying to show, was the result of the Milner Group’s influence in both.
This influence was not exercised by acting directly on public opinion, since the Milner Group never intended to influence events by acting through any instruments of mass propaganda, but rather hoped to work on the opinions of the small group of “important people,” who in turn could influence wider and wider circles of persons. This was the basis on which the Milner Group itself was constructed; it was the theory behind the Rhodes Scholarships; it was the theory behind “The Round Table and the Royal Institute of International Affairs; it was the theory behind behind the efforts to control All Souls, New College, and Balliol and, through these three, to control Oxford University; and it was the theory behind The Times. No effort was made to win a large circulation for The Times, for, in order to obtain such a circulation, it would have been necessary to make changes in the tone of the paper that would have reduced its influence with the elite, to which it had been so long directed. [p. 113]

It’s also important to control information the general people get. I guess Milner Group controls the Ministry of Information, whatever that is.

In view of the emphasis which the Milner Group has always placed on publicity and the need to control the chief avenues by which the general public obtains information on public affairs, it is not surprising to find that the Ministry of Information was one of the fiefs of the Group from its establishment in 1939. [pp. 306-307]

A cool way to get an agenda through is you get all your groups, that the general public think are separate but they’re all connected, and get them to all talk about what you want to happen. So like you create the League of Nations to be the world government from the beginning. The general public aren’t prepared for it to be world government, so you slowly convince them that it should be world government even though it would be bad for the general public.

The greater part of its [, The Times,] influence arose from its position as one of several branches of a single group, the Milner Group. By the interaction of these various branches on one another, under the pretense that each branch was an autonomous power, the influence of each branch was an autonomous power, the influence of each branch was increased through a process of mutual reinforcement. The unanimity among the various branches was believed by the outside world to be the result of the influence of a single Truth, while really it was the result of the existence of a single group. Thus a statesman (a member of the Group) announces a policy. About the same time, the Royal Institute of International Affairs publishes a study on the subject, and an Oxford don, a Fellow of All Souls (and a member of the Group) also publishes a volume on the subject (probably through a publishing house, like G. Bell and Sons or Faber and Faber, allied to the Group). The statesman’s policy is subjected to critical analysis and final approval in a “leader” in The Times, while the two books are reviewed (in a single review) in The Times Literary Supplement. Both the “leader” and the review are anonymous but are written by the members of the Group. And finally, at about the same time, an anonymous article in The Round Table strongly advocates the same policy. The cumulative effect of such tactics as this, even if each tactical move influences only a small number of important people, is bound to be great. If necessary, the strategy can be carried further, by arranging for the secretary to the Rhodes Trustees to go to America for a series of “informal discussions” with former Rhodes Scholars, while a prominent retired statesman (possibly a former Viceroy of India) is persuaded to say a few words at the unveiling of a plaque in All Souls or New College in honor of some deceased Warden. By a curious coincidence, both the “informal discussions” in America and the unveiling speech at Oxford touch on the same topical subject. [p. 114]

The ability of the Milner Group to mobilize public opinion in regard to the League of Nations is almost beyond belief. It was not a simple task, since they were simultaneously trying to do two things: on the one hand, seeking to build up popular opinion in favor of the League so that its work could be done more effectively; and, at the same time, seeking to prevent influential people from using the League as an instrument of world government before popular opinion was ready for a world government. In general, The Round Table and The Times were used for the latter purpose, while the League of Nations Union and a strange assortment of outlets, such as Chatham House, Toynbee Hall, extension courses at Oxford, adult-education courses in London, International Conciliation in the United States, the Institute of Politics at Williamstown, the Institute of Intellectual Cooperation at Paris, the Geneva School of International Studies and the Graduate Institute of International Studies at Geneva, and the various branches of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, were used for the former purpose. The Milner Group did not control all of these. Their influence was strong in all of them, and, since the influence of J. P. Morgan and Company was also strong in most of them and since Morgan and the Group were pursuing a parallel policy on this issue, the group were usually able to utilize the resources of these various organizations when they wished. [p. 259]

So that’s it. I hope the next book the librarian recommends isn’t so boring.

Daniel Kemp

Put in Books
  • jhill

    He was the official historian of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), that’s how he got access to that information.