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25 March 1953



INTRODUCTION--Colonel T.A. O'Neil,

Member of the Faculty, ICAF


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

School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University.




Publication No. L53-120
Washington, D. C.


General Discussion

COLONEL O'NEIL: We will be glad to have any guest also participate in the question period.

QUESTION: Dr. Quigley, I have a question I would like to get cleared up. You have used four terms--workers, peasants, proletariat, and exploited. I wonder if you could differentiate between the various classes.

DR. QUIGLEY: There are really only two groups. There are the industrial workers, the true workers. That is what Marx meant by the proletariat. There are intellectuals working for the system who are proletariat because they are on the side of the system. Industrial workers are proletariat. The peasants would be a separate group. If you use the term “exploited” that would include both groups. Some people think that in Russia it would include 99.9 percent. Does that answer your question?

QUESTION: Where does the agricultural worker come in?

DR. QUIGLEY: The agricultural worker I would include among the peasants. Peasants would not be landowners, because so few people own the land, and at present very few peasants own the land. All who work in rural area I would include under peasants. These distinctions can be made forever. You have people who hire land; people who own land; people who work on other people’s land as day laborers. I would include them all as rural workers, equaling peasants.

QUESTION: Dr. Quigley, how do you explain that communism succeeded in backward areas like Russia and later in China rather than where Marxism should have developed, in highly developed capitalism areas?

DR. QUIGLEY: The first reason is because Marx was wrong. Marx quite rigidly divided the population into the bourgeoisie, who were exploiting, and the proletariat, who were exploited. But as a result of the growth in industrialism, you have two phenomena of great importance. One was the rising standards of living, which tended to raise the workers, particularly in the United States and other countries, to a point where they became middle class. They certainly were not bourgeoisie in the Marx meaning of the term, because they didn’t own the instruments of production, but they were middle class in their standards of living and in their outlook.

The second reason is when Marx speaks of bourgeoisie and exploiters he is talking of the owners of the instruments of production. As James Burnham pointed out in his “Managerial Revolution” --this is the only thing I will accept from James Burnham--the managers of these industrial corporations are not owners at all. The reason is that the managers, and not the owners, have become a larger and larger group in modern history. In the period in the United States from 1899 to 1929 the ownership of industrial securities increased sevenfold. So the owners were becoming more, not less, numerous, but those owners were having less and less to do with the way a certain large company was being run. Generally, it was being run by the managerial group, so you got a highly different system. You didn’t have owners versus workers. If you wanted, you had managers versus the rest of us, but this wouldn’t work. The managers knew they couldn’t sell products unless they paid those who produced them, so they had to raise the standard of living.

So the whole analysis of Marx was wrong in relation to the industrial situation. But it appealed to backward areas. What happened was there were exploited groups in backward areas. The Marx doctrine was used against their exploiters, namely, the imperialist powers by which they were tyrannized. That appeal was there, but it was used lot agrarian groups--peasants against landlords; and that was definitely an error on their part. In eastern Europe, for example, in 1945, they probably tended to welcome the Russians coming in, because they thought they would be given the land, which was what the Russians wanted them to think. Those great estates of eastern Europe were divided up for a short time, long enough for the Russians to get established. Then they set forth again the same policy of collective farms, which meant taking the land away from the peasants.

I think probably that’s the explanation.

QUESTION: Dr. Quigley, would you say that Communist China is on the same road, in the sense of following the same kind of pattern?

DR. QUIGLEY: I think that is very definitely what they are trying to do. The only object lesson that they have that will permit them to advance is the Russian experience. I think definitely that is what they will try to do. I don’t know much about Communist China.

QUESTION: Dr. Quigley from listening to your talk, I don’t see how the thing ever succeeded; I don’t see how anybody bought it at all I don’t understand. Everybody is exploited; yet they say in Russia today the morale is good and there is great love for the country.

DR. QUIGLEY: I think I have an answer to that. The answer is this: You and I would be very unhappy in Russia because we are used to something different; but the Russian people have always been exploited. There’s at least 1,000 years of exploitation in Russia and the Russian people are used to that. I don’t know if the exploitation now is any worse than it was before. I think it is not. I think probably it is about the same. And the standard of living in Russia today may well be higher, in general, than it was previously; so far as they are concerned, it is somewhat better. Also, there is this, which is a very important thing. There is an opportunity in Russia today to move upward. Before, that opportunity did not exist. In other words if a worker in a factory today wants to pitch in and look like an eager beaver, there is some opportunity for him to move up. He can go to industrial training and technical schools at night or other times. As a result of that he can better his position.

There are wage differentials, as you know. There is a great lack of skilled labor in Russia. Any unskilled laborer who wants to devote his energies toward becoming a skilled laborer is permitted to do so.

This circulation upward, plus the past experience of Russia, where they were exploited before, tends to explain why they are willing to accept it.

COMMENT: I don’t see why they didn’t have more revolutions in the early part.

DR. QUIGLEY: Because they didn’t have weapons. In other words the peasants couldn’t do much when all they had were pitchforks. The Cossacks were brought in and they galloped through the villages with sabers out and cut down anyone they felt like killing.

COMMENT: They were all starving anyway.

DR. QUIGLEY: I would rather starve than be cut down by a sabre. You can have your choice--every man to his own taste.

COLONEL BARNES: Dr. Quigley, I wonder if you could brief the major differences in each of the Five-Year Plans. Is that too much?

DR. QUIGLEY: It is much too difficult. The original intention was that the early plans would sacrifice consumption in order to emphasize heavy production, and the assumption was that as the Five-Year Plans went on, by the time they got to the third one, they would be starting to build up consumption. That whole thing was thrown into a mess by the rise of aggression from Japan and Germany, plus the appeasement policy of the western powers. That gave in the thirties such a threat to the Russians that they had to abandon any thoughts they had in the past of building up the standard of living and devote whatever surplus they had to armaments.

In the course of the thirties, armaments became the dominant demand. So I think now very likely it is armaments first; heavy industry which will produce armaments, second; heavy industry which will produce other industrial necessities, third; and still, the raising of the standard of living is definitely in last place--though there has been a fluctuation in aims there, there is no doubt about it. What they expected and hoped in 1928 has not come to be.

COLONEL BARNES: When did they concentrate on heavy industry—right at the beginning?

DR. QUIGLEY: As soon as they began the collectivizing of agriculture, the original Five-Year Plan was definitely weighed in favor of heavy industry from the beginning.

QUESTION: Marxism proposed an international revolution. In the “Christian Science Monitor” recently there was an article on the authentic resolution which was later adopted by the House Congress and which dealt with the lifting of the spiritual to oppose the materials--that this would be the inevitable outcome in history. How do you react to that? Is the spiritual strong enough to overcome the material?

DR. QUIGLEY: Let me say at the beginning that I have a personal prejudice here--I don’t like dualism. I don’t like the analysis of anything which polarizes a thing and says “We have one end of the pole here and one here.” So far as spiritualism versus materialism goes, I wouldn’t buy it. I think you must have both. The proportions you have of both are important, too. You can’t get very far building up the spiritual if you do not keep the body alive. Do you see? I don’t think you can keep the body alive and very happy unless you have a certain amount of the spiritual.

What I would do is, I would start at the beginning of that article I haven’t read it--and reword it so it would not be dualistic. Definitely there is need of the spiritual but if we say “Let’s be spiritual and forget the material,” these fellows are going to come over with armaments--and where will the spiritual be?

COLONEL O'NEIL: Dr. Quigley, on behalf of the students and the college, I thank you for a very stimulating session.

DR. QUIGLEY: Thank you, Colonel O'Neil. Thank you, gentlemen.

End - Back to Lectures



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