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1974 Interview with Rudy Maxa of the Washington Post

Interview Transcript Preceding Part 1



   QUIGLEY: I am one of a numerous group -- but nevertheless, in every field, [constituting] a very small minority, whether it’s psychiatry or sociology, history, economics or political science -- who are in revolt against the 19th Century way of dealing with human problems and the subjects of human knowledge. Now here is a list of distinctions: 1880 was analytical, which means they takethings apart, they isolate the problems. They are all specialists. They try to quantify everything. The technical name for this would be “reductionism”. Theyare technicians, you see, not really scientists. They’re seeking knowledge, notunderstanding. They believe they are finding laws rather than constructing models.They believe in “objectivity,” namely that what they think about, what they’restudying, isn’t influencing what they’re seeing. They use chain thinking, particularlyin regard to causation. They say “the accident was caused by such-andsuch,like driving too fast, and then go back in a chain of causes.

   On the other hand, in opposition [to them] are holists. We use network or matrix thinking. Reductionists, for example, use absolute ethics -- things are right or wrong, where holists use situational ethics. Reductionists use a computerized approach. Few people realize the computerized approach is very 19th Century. You divide up the problem. You quantify the different factors.

   Now the opposite of reductionism is an ecological or contextual approach. Such holists are generalists, not specialists; they qualify, not quantify. They’re holists; they’re scientists. They are seeking understanding. They construct models. They believe the subjective elements to be as important as the objective.

   This is what I have been practicing for years. It came from something I used to teach in government. Now, let’s go back and link this up to what it is that you are trying to do with your article.

   One reason I am doing this interview is to show that I grew up [as] “a marginal person.” I grew up on the margin between a Jewish neighborhood and an Irish neighborhood. I want to emphasize that all perception is based on contrast. If everything is the same color, or has the same amount of illumination, you cannot even see it. The only reason you can see my face is because each part of my face is reflecting less or more light than nearby parts. Thus there’s contrast.

   Accordingly, if you live in one kind of community, but are forced to be exposed to a different community, [one] with different customs, ideas and values, only then is it possible for you to see what is your own. This [factor] became something that helped to “sophisticate” me, I think. And the second thing is that I was the second of four boys, and there were just five years between oldest and youngest. Of the four of us, the oldest was born in 1909; the youngest in 1914.

   My older brother was a tremendous guy. He’s now Dr. John A. Quigley. An MD. And I had to compete with him, yet couldn’t compete with him physically. I can remember when he could reach the faucet to turn the water on, and I couldn’t. I can remember even this: when they set the table for dinner, and I couldn’t see what was on it, he could -- by tip-toeing. I’d say “Jack, what have they got there?” And he would say “Bread and butter, that’s all.” You see.

   And we were very active outside. I wasn’t just a bookworm, you see. We did a lot of running and I could never catch him. He would poke me and then be off, and I would chase him for miles, and he’d keep getting further and further away, you see?

   So I would think that I tried to compensate for this physical inability to compete. Now the trouble is, he was [also] really a tremendous student. He went to a private high school, Boston College High School, and he got gold medals in just about everything. So even there it was difficult. So, I think the true solution is not that I was competing with him intellectually, but that I was retiring into intellectual activities [in which] we weren’t really competing. Because I was interested in different things: he went into medicine and I went into history.

   By “marginal” I mean I was on the edge of the Irish community with the Yankee community intellectually and then with the Jewish community socially. Do you see? My mother admired the Yankees, you see, and this would have us say, well, “What is it we don’t like about the Irish?” They’re noisy, bigoted, and they drink a lot.

   We used to say of the Irish: 90% drink too much, while 10% are teetotalers. And the only way any Irish would get ahead is by those 10% teetotalers selling liquor to the other 90%, which is true.

   For example, my grandfather got much of his money from being in the liquor business. There’s even a marriage between us and the Kennedy’s, because they both got into the liquor business, don’t you see? Now, it is way back. For Jack Kennedy three generations back. No, four, where there was a marriage between a Kennedy and a Quigley, based -- I believe -- on the fact both families were in the liquor business.

   Bishop John Carroll [the founder of Georgetown University] was a remote cousin. And also Charles Carroll, who was a cousin of John Carroll’s. And then too, Daniel Carroll, who signed the Constitution, who was closer [to John] than Charles.

   We are all the Carrolls who were submerged after the Cromwellian crushing. The ones who came to this country were the ones who were given lands in compensation for the ones taken away from them by Cromwell. That was in 1650. We were crushed, until 1850, two hundred years later, when our particular branch came to Halifax, Nova Scotia.

   Now, let’s get up to this book [Tragedy and Hope]. I was at Harvard, teaching, and I got an offer to come down here, because a Jesuit here went to some athletic club here in town and met an old, retired colonel named George Catlin, from an old, aristocratic New York family. He had graduated from Columbia University in 1898 and gone right into the Spanish-American War. He spoke fluent French. Very cultured. I had met him while he was a student in the Graduate School at Harvard and when he was already about 60.

   He said to the Jesuit, well, the Jesuit said to him: “We’re trying so hard to find a history teacher.” And he said “Did you ever hear of Carroll Quigley? And the Jesuit said “No.” He said “That’s the man, get him.”! He told him I was at Harvard.

   Now it happened that one of my teachers at Harvard -- in fact, someone who was on my doctoral board -- had come down here [to Georgetown University] because he was a heavy drinker at Harvard (but you’d better not put that in). He came down here and he was an excellent graduate teacher, but a poor undergraduate teacher, because he talked too remotely and abstractly, do you see? So they wanted to replace him with me and put him in the graduate school.

   So this Jesuit says to Fr. Walsh: “I hear there’s somebody good at Harvard and I think Paul Doolin knows him.” So they asked Paul Doolin, and he said “If you can get Quigley, you’re lucky.” That’s how I came down here. Everybody’s thought since Fr. Walsh was an Irishman from Boston, that’s how I came down here. But it was the Harvard connection.

   I [came] on the the fall of ’41. I thought I’d stay five years and write a book, or two books, but the War came and caught me. [That was] in December ’41, after I was here but a couple of months.

   The War revolutionized all universities, and definitely this one. The reason is this: our civilian teachers group fell off, as -- one by one -- they were drafted. So I began taking on other people’s courses as they were called up. I had been teaching European history, but then Samuel Adams Dulany Hunter, who was a great teacher of U.S. history, went off to the war, and I took over his U.S. history course. And this way I took over one course after another, because [it was] I each time left here. And, as I said, I don’t know why I was left. Except that Fr. Walsh one time told me “You were left here because I insisted on it.”

   Anyway, they decided to set up ASTP -- the Army Specialized Training Program. Essentially it was to train American soldiers for military occupation of overseas countries once they were defeated. They gave us ten days notice that, on the 1st of June 1943, they were going to send to us 500 people and that they wanted them trained for the Far East and Central Europe.

So Fr. Walsh called all of his faculty together. We were to teach the Chinese and Japanese languages, and [also] Far Eastern history and geography, and economics.

   I was in charge of the Central European instruction. We were doing the Germans and Italians -- their languages, geography. I taught the Italian stuff because I had lived in Italy. I read Italian and wrote my dissertation, really, in Italian history. But I was also charged with the whole thing. Furthermore, I gave a 20th Century world history course -- it was really 20th Century European history -- for all those 500. At the end of 90 days they gave us another 250. I took those 250 and lectured to them for 29 hours in one week, and brought them up to where I could put them in with the previous 500.

   So I had 750 men in uniform at 1 p.m., five days a week, for a year, in Gaston Hall, on 20th Century history. That is what this book came out of.

   I was working like a madman, because -- while I knew an awful lot, and had already taught on many subjects, ancient, medieval and modern -- I nevertheless didn’t have everything I needed for this. I went into all kinds of stuff. I slept, I suppose, not over 30 to 35 hours a week. No more than 5 hours a night. Going great guns working and organizing this up there [points to his forehead]. And let me tell you, I didn’t get a purple heart, and I don’t think I did anything heroic, but it was not easy.

   That summer was the hottest we ever had in Washington: 55 days that year (1943) in which the temperature went over 90o. There were 17 days, consecutive days, in which it went over 90 degrees. I was in Gaston Hall, which had no air conditioning, lecturing at 1 p.m. to 750 men who had just had their heavy mid-day meal.

   And I had to keep them alert, and alive, and excited. And on my platform I had a thermometer up against the back of the platform; it was over 100 degrees all the time. And humid as hell. I was so stuffy in those days, it was difficult for me to [allow myself to] take off my jacket. That summer helped [me] to break that.

   They were a tremendous group. They were selected as the kind who could study these things. Now, I did the geography of Italy, the climate, the resources, economy, industrialization, family life, culture and so forth. Kept it up for more than a year, which would be to the end of '44, and by that time we were ready to take over [some conquered countries] and move them in. and so forth.

   Now, in that group there were fifty- five who already had Ph.D.s. You see. [the audio-tape recording now picks up]

End of Preceding Transcript


Continue to Interview Transcript - Part 1

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