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2 April 1951



INTRODUCTION--Dr. M. S. Reichley,

Director of Instruction, ICAF


SPEAKER--Dr. Carroll Quigley, Professor of History,

School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University.




Publication No. L51-134
Washington, D. C.


General Discussion

QUESTION: You said that when Asia gets western technology it will go out and oppose the pressure from without. At the same time Asia gets western technology, there will be the internal pressure and conflicts between different parts of Asia, as between northern Asia and southern Asia. How will that operate as a future threat to us?

DR. QUIGLEY: I put things in the broadest sense, but when I spoke of Asia throughout I meant the area north of the mountains, and I would say our chief task would be to build up opposition to this area on the land mass of Asia. That is our chief problem.

QUESTION: You have conflict not only between western civilization and Russian civilization but between economic groups.

DR. QUIGLEY: That is a special subject. It seems to me what we have to do is to build up opposition groups to Russian supremacy on their own doorstep. That should be one of our chief tasks. The place where that has to be done, of course, is in India, among the Chinese, and perhaps the Islamic peoples. I think that is absolutely true. Also certain refinements should be put in when I said there is a turning point. What I meant to say was that there may be a turning point in the future. If we can keep ahead of them, we have to do exactly what you point out, that is, we have to build up opposition on that land mass. Let them get that whole land mass on their side, and there is not much we can do but I am an historian; I don’t know; maybe you can do more about it than I can.

QUESTION: It seems to me that this Asiatic land mass you are talking about sounds more reminiscent of some of the geopolitical theories rather than of realistic population theories because, after all, the populations in the eastern parts of the Urals, on that land mass north of the mountains, is very small. Why should we consider that to be such a tremendous danger to us just because it is spread out farther on the map? The location doesn’t seem to be such that they will ever be able to support any very enormous populations similar to those of European Russia and of India and China. I just don’t see that this particular land mass is such a long-term threat as you propose.

DR. QUIGLEY: Here again we need refinement. First about geopolitics. I am not a geopolitician. I am innocent. I think the evidence of that is that I have pointed out always that technology produces pressure here on this area. As long as that technological pressure continues, there will be no danger from that area. That proves I am not one of these heartland people. The heartland has always been there and there is no danger as long "as we have an advanced technology. I think that you are quite correct that there are many elements which look hopeful, notably that there is a lack of resources there to a certain extent. However, the rest is technology. I don’t think that resources are necessarily to be regarded as paramount in the sense in which the word resources was used in the nineteenth century. I may be going way off into the distance here for some of you. I think if you have sunshine, for example, for agricultural resources and things of that kind, it may be possible to do tremendous things with substitutes. I can even conceive of perhaps an atomic bomb made out of plastics. That may be going way off into the future considerably. I think you have a good point if we look at it from the present. We need petroleum now; we need coal; we need good iron ore, and so on, and from the point of view that they are lacking in Central Asia that is a hopeful sign. That is true. I don't know whether you had a question or whether you were pointing out the refinement to me. I can see the refinement. I don't know whether I have answered any question.

QUESTION: Dr. Quigley, you mentioned the effect of the intermarriage of the Vikings with these Slav people and some of the aftereffects. Are there like effects in the intermarriage of the Mongol people with the Slavs?

DR. QUIGLEY: The only effect I pointed out was that the ruling groups of Russia became Slavs but I don't think that is very important because I don’t think many characteristics pass on in the blood stream itself. There is no doubt that it is an area of tremendous racial heterogeneity. I don’t think that is very important, and in my lecture I didn’t intend to draw any historical significance out of the fact that the Vikings mixed with the Slavs, except to point out that the ruling group in Russia since then has been mostly Slavic. Stalin himself isn't a Slav. I don't think the fact that he is or isn't a Slav is of any historic importance.

QUESTION: I was very much interested in your discussion of the number of these Northmen from Norway, Sweden, and all over the world. Now about 300 or 400 years before that there was a movement of Goths.

DR. QUIGLEY: The Goths were a Germanic people, which the Vikings also were, I think. In a very, very remote period, about 2000 B.C., a people who are usually called Indo-European exploded out of the steppes. Those that went into the western area became Celts and Germans, and those who went down into India became the Aryan people. In fact there were two explosions, a big one about 2000 or so B.C., and a minor one which occurred north of the Balkans about 1200 B.C. As a result of these explosions the Indo-European speaking peoples established a center in Europe and there were Celts, Germans, and Slavs. The Slavs were Indo-European speaking peoples, closer to the Finns. Now the Finns are not Indo-European; they are Altaic. The Slavs have been moving, and in fact have gone down to Yugoslavia, but generally they have moved northeast because the pressures from the steppes and from the West made it impossible to go any other way. They went to the protection of the forests, steadily pushing back the Finns until the Finns have disappeared except in small isolated groups.

The Goths were the movement of these Germanic people. The Germanic people also by natural increase were moving outward and ultimately became the Anglo-Saxons of England, the Franks of France, and even before that, some of the Goths fought Rome in 410-455.

QUESTION: Dr. Quigley, as a historian you have a series of alternative explanations for why we are having difficulty with the Russians and rejected a number of them. It seemed to me you made a complete circle and came back to an assumption that the major difficulty with the Russians arises out of the fact that they are in fact Asiatics, that they came out of this area with a certain history, and the difficulty we have with the Russians can be found in the history of the Russian people over a period of 1,O00 or 1,500 years. It seems to me, in order to do that, you haven’t mentioned at all the one explanation which many political scientists accept, and that is that our difficulties with the Russians arise out of the nature of the Bolshevik revolution.

DR. QUIGLEY: I wasn’t supposed to.

QUESTION: But by your rejection of these other assumptions and by your conclusions, it seems to me you did go over into that field. I don’t particularly want to debate this question, but I do want to mention, just for the record, the fact that there is a large body of opinion which holds to the fact that from the nineteenth century on the Russian people went through a series of liberation movements which culminated in the first revolution of 1917. If the Bolsheviks had not, as a small conspirator minority, seized power in that period, the Russian republic which was established as a result of the first revolution and which was as liberal and as modern in its political and economic concepts as any in western Europe, would have remained. Now I just wanted to present that, as I say, not for the purpose of arguing the question because that would certainly take a very lengthy period, but simply to place that in the record.

DR. QUIGLEY: All right. Let me clarify something. I then gave a number of reasons why these Asiatic Bolsheviks are freer people. I reviewed this chiefly because they are unilateral explanations. There is a multilateral explanation also--that is there were geographical factors; there were technological factors; there were cultural factors; geographical from the West, and the cultural coming from the Byzantine. That is concerned with the first part of your rebuttal.

The second part of your rebuttal is the fact that the revolutionary movement in Russia in recent times was perhaps something new in Russian history. You don’t want to debate that and I don’t want to debate it. I merely want to say there is a man named Bakus who published a book only about two or three months ago called "The Deadly Parallel, Ivan the Great and Stalin." Now his whole argument is that there is nothing new under Stalin. He is Ivan the Terrible, Ivan the IV, recently come back to life. Now I wouldn't say that his book is very convincing, but I do think that in Russia today there is much more of Russian tradition than there is of Bolshevik capturing the new ideology of the minority group; the Bolshevik capturing power. The proof of that is to be found in the fact that Russia today is such a disillusion to the Marxists who are honest Marxists.

QUESTION: Dr. Quigley, I am a little worried about Greece.

DR. QUIGLEY: You mean present-day Greece or ancient Greece?

QUESTION: One of the inheritances of the Byzantine philosophy was hypocrisy. You find the Greeks as the center of the Byzantine philosophy and you find them also as a progenitor of western culture which is a complete opposite. How did all that happen in Greece and holy did autocracy stay alive as long as it has?

DR. QUIGLEY: The country of ancient Greece was totalitarian. We know Greece was totalitarian because its people believed that the city-state was everything and it should dominate everything. If you read Plato or even Aristotle, it is pretty clear that they were totalitarian. Plato was not completely totalitarian in his works, but Aristotle was, and Aristotle says very clearly, “A man cut off from the state is not a man, like a thumb cut off from a hand is not a thumb. It just looks like a thumb.” That thing lying on the floor isn’t a thumb. It just looks like a thumb. So the Greeks did have this totalitarian concept of domination of the city-state. When it became a great empire, as it did, of course, under Alexander the Great, and subsequently under the Roman tradition, it had to be modified. That is, it remained totalitarian but it ceased to be democratic, because they couldn't rule a democratic system over such a vast area. So it became a totalitarian autocracy instead of a totalitarian democracy.

The government disappeared in the west in 476 and there was no government for hundreds and hundreds of years, so that about the year lO00 in the West you have no government, and yet you have a society which is functioning. The Greek tradition then was drained through that and ceased to be totalitarian.

COLONEL HICKEY: Dr. Quigley, on behalf of the college, I thank you very much for your stimulating lecture.

DR. QUIGLEY: I thank you. It is a very great pleasure.

End - Back to Lectures



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