Thursday, September 14, 2006

Excerpts from the last lectures of Carroll Quigley

Professor Carroll Quigley, of the history department at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service, was the best teacher that I ever had, by far. He was brilliant, eccentric, intimidating, and kind. Shortly after his retirement, in October 1976, he gave a series of three lectures called "Public Authority and the State in the Western Tradition: A Thousand Years of Growth, 976-1976". Professor Quigley died unexpectedly, at the age of 76, one month later. What follows are a few brief quotes from those lectures. They don't remotely do justice his thought process or work, but I find them interesting. These lectures to my knowledge have not been published. They were distributed in pamphlet form to his colleagues and former students after his death. Thirty years later, while dated in some respects, perhaps these excerpts have some application today. More will follow in future posts.

--- "The fundamental all-pervasive cause of world instability today is the destruction of communities by the commercialization of all human relationships and the resulting neuroses and psychoses. The technological acceleration of transportation, communication and weapons systems is now creating power areas wider than existing political structures."

--- "Secrecy in government exists for only one reason: to prevent the American people from knowing what's going on. It is nonsense to believe that anything our government does is not known to the Russians at about the moment it happens."

--- "When a society is approaching its end, in the last couple of centuries you have what I call misplacement of satisfactions. You find your satisfactions--your emotional satisfaction, your social satisfaction--not in moment to moment relationships with nature or other people, but with power... You find your emotional satisfaction in making a lot of money, or being elected to the White House, or in proving to the poor, half-naked people of Southeast Asia that you can kill them in large numbers."

--- "Much of the legislation of the last forty years in this country has been aimed at the destruction of families, neighborhoods, ghettos, parishes and any other communities."

---"It became fashionable in Western Civilization, particularly in the last hundred years, to be scornful of religion. But it is a fact that human beings have religious needs. They have a need for a feeling of some certitude in their minds about things they cannot control and do not fully understand, and with humility, they will admit that they do not understand them. When you destroy people's religious expressions, they will establish secularized religions like Marxism."


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