The View From Olympus: The Source of the Vile


The distinguishing characteristic of America’s foreign policy Establishment is its inability to accept reality. We see this most clearly at present in our refusal to cooperate openly with Iran against ISIS. Realists accept that our relations with other states often involve simultaneous cooperation and competition. The World War II foreign policy Establishment was happy to cooperate with Stalin’s Soviet Union. While Hitler killed six mission, Soviet Communism, according to the Soviet archives, killed 60 million, most in the Stalin period. Then, Washington was capable of saying with a shrug, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Today, no such realism is possible.

All policy not based on reality will fail. Given the costs we have already paid for foreign policy failure, we might want to ask where the current Establishment’s worship of unreality originated. It is clearly ideological in nature. All ideologies demand that certain aspects of reality be ignored.

Two overlapping ideologies shape the present Establishment’s thinking. The first is the neo-cons’ “democratic capitalism”, which James Jatras argues is the most destructive of the three ideologies which wrecked the 20th century, the other two being fascism and communism. The second is the cultural Marxism of the Frankfurt School, which became the ideology of the baby boom generation in the 1960s. Together, these ideologies demand the destruction of every traditional society and culture and their replacement with a combination of gross materialism and a secular puritanism, puritanism that mandates hedonism. That is what lies behind our offensive grand strategy, our wild foreign adventures and our repeated foreign policy failures. As Russell Kirk wrote, there is no surer way to make a man your enemy than to tell him you will remake him in your image for his own good.

Can we identify more specific sources of ideology in the foreign policy Establishment? A book recently sent to me by a friend suggests we can. The book is Weapons Systems and Political Stability: A History by Carroll Quigley. The work is a wide survey of virtually the whole of military history, from the Prehistoric Period up to 1500 A.D. The author died before the book was finished and it was published by his friends, which probably explains the lack of source notes. Absent these, it is difficult to credit the author’s often broad assertions.

Quigley had some important insights. Perhaps the most important is that “The real goal of military operation is agreement.” So long as we are talking about war between states, this is true, and it is forgotten by both soldiers and diplomats. A peace the defeated state cannot accept is usually short-lived.

But Quigley’s real significance comes from a combination of his position and his ideology. As Dean Peter Krogh of Georgetown University wrote in a tribute to Quigley,

For forty years, Professor Carroll Quigley’s teaching quickened and disciplined the minds of students of the School of Foreign Service of Georgetown University. His inspired lectures … literally defined the School and its brand of education…

Professor Quigley became an institution indistinguishable from the School of Foreign Service.

The School of Foreign Service is the basic training ground of our foreign policy Establishment.

Quigley’s ideology was ahistorical. His book continually projects the present onto the past, a besetting sin of the current Establishment. He often references the “ideology” of ancient societies, when they had no such thing; ideology, the word and the thing itself, are born in the French Revolution. He speaks of Bronze Age infantry fighting in “phalanxes”, which did not exist until the Classical Greeks.

More seriously, Quigley continually criticizes ancient societies for their lack of “democracy” and failure to include peasants in the political process, and he contrasts “peaceful”, goddess-worshiping, matriarchal, agrarian societies against warlike, patriarchal societies of hunters who worshiped male gods.

Historically, both positions are nonsense. Criticizing ancient worlds for lack of democracy makes as much sense as criticizing them for air pollution because they did not have catalytic converters on their chariots. The average peasant knew as much about governing as your cat does about the back side of the moon. That is true in much of today’s world as well, which is why the Establishment’s demand for universal democracy leads not to “freedom” but to anarchy.

Quigley’s other major theme has been exploded time and time again. Repeatedly, historians or anthropologists have posited peaceful, agrarian societies, only to have further research show they were anything but peaceful. The Maya were repeatedly offered as an example of such worlds without war. We now know they fought contantly, to the point where war was one reason their civilization collapsed. In the real world, war is unversal. As Martin van Creveld puts it, war exists because men like to fight and women like fighters.

Today we see the unrealistic, ahistorical views of Quigley throughout the foreign policy Estalishment. Quigley explicitly traced them down to our time, especially in his condemnation of the Indo-Europeans–the West’s ancestors–and a male god who offers personal salvation and immortality. On page 143 Quigley wrote,

We have seen that grassland hunters, from their very mode of life, are likely to be patriarchal and warlike. Among the Indo-Europeans, however, thee attributes were much intensified and distorted by their religious history … to create an almost psychopathic outlook…

These ideas are still with us … (P. 145)

Is it likely these errors of Quigley, rooted in ideology, not history, are part of the reason our foreign policy Establishment cannot accept reality? For generations, he was their teacher. Indeed, these ideas are still with us, Quigley’s ideas that are naught but castles in the air. favicon

8 thoughts on “The View From Olympus: The Source of the Vile”

  1. Democratic Capitalism is a contradiction in terms if taken literally. Either we all vote and all drive Chevys, or all drive Fords. Or we have a free market.
    What they mean by it is the Crony Corporatism. Someone picks winners and losers. Oh, maybe “capitalism” means “Washington DC”, and is just a break with the traditional spelling – it should be “Democratic Capitolism”.

    Yet given that, I cannot see how anyone can consider our current foreign policy a failure. It is designed to take money from the poor and taxpayers, and give it to Lockheed, Blackwater, Haliburton (Cheney was more of a hawker than a hawk), etc. How are their stocks and profits? Now if you mean that the USA’s safety and security should be the purpose, well, that’s obviously worse.

    I’m not quite sure how to transpose Marx’ “The capitalist will sell you the noose with which you use to hang him” into “The Capitolist will simply sell junk that will weaken you without increasing security…”.

    Any foreign policy not rooted in reality will be a failure, but if the reality is that there are a bunch of people looting the public treasury in the name of foreign policy, and it is working perfectly to that end, is it a success or failure?

  2. I recommend the book Saharasia, which tries to describe the sociology of climate change in central Asia. When the grasslands dried up and died, local societies reacted to the danger in various ways. None became a militant collectivist theocracy, with compulsory homosexuality, like the Spartans, but the “winners” of this change were predatory male-run militarized groups exemplified by Genghis Khan. According to the author, the practices involved with raising infants caused severe traumas that lead to later societies of mostly sociopaths.

    Of course, the book is full of politically correct sentiments, goddess-worship, and the usual suspects, but it is the kind of thing that needs to be refuted well if and when you encounter it in debate.

  3. G. Edward Griffin says Quigley exposed (and apparently joined) the already existing CFR agenda. James Perloff’s “Shadows of Power” presents the CFR as a project of wealthy bankers who also funded Communism. John Birch Society has a nice intro presentation on neoconservatism: youtube v=w-_kW81TShM

    “no particular form of government, either now is, or ever has been, suited to all degrees of intelligence, and all states of society” – Charles Finney

    If democracy is so great, why do they have to convince you with bombs? Now the excuse is an undeterrable nuclear enemy. Seems like they’re trying to make Just War and preemptive attack indistinguishable. “Why does ______ need a ___________ anyway?” – Republicans on Iranian nuclear program or Piers Morgan on assault rifles?

    I like how Mr. Lind points out the common theme of anti-reality ideology. “Experiments against reality” is a catchy phrase. Ideologues are like a guy in a prison shower trying to crush the bar soap of reality with wet hands.

  4. ‘Capitolism’ is a good one. Lind says globalism is doomed because of the state’s legitimacy crisis. Seems like the idea is that when you try to force too many nations into one box, you’re bound to break some of them. Plus they can’t play with the currency forever right?

  5. The big fear for me is the (Christian) Church’s legitimacy crisis. For a large part of European History, the “Holy Roman Empire” was the church threatening to excommunicate uppity Lords, and Lords threatening to use their armies against uppity churchmen. Mutually Assured Destruction 1.0. Well, maybe not quite that bad.

    This is why Islam is a threat, but not what most think. It isn’t terror, it’s mindshare. Compare their ideas on family and divorce. Usury. Even stealing (TARP would not be so bad if the banksters emerged from the meeting with the treasury secretary with the announcement that it was solved “single handedly”). Sharia law is practiced as the rule of law. The leaders hold to the same law as the common people, or at least that is what is being sold and acted on at the moment.

    Capitolism is featured in Glenn Greenwald’s book “With Justice for Some”. Or the recent tale of two leakers. Patreas escapes, the others who did less were punished worse It is not that there are two tiers, it is that there is no law. A bunch of rules, yes, but they never are enforced on the cronies, and they will even twist laws to include innocent behavior if your not.

    Of course all the Christian denominations have shouted their outrage and condemned it (pause, cue sound of crickets chirping). “Try buying an American made TV” is a bit like “Try finding the Rule of Law in Europe or the Americas”.

    No one suspects the Roman Inquisition. Most have never heard of it. But the church looked to render just verdicts. That is why the witch craze fizzled out in the Catholic areas – they’d send Jesuit scientists judge types that would get to the bottom of the matter. But my point is that the Christian churches need to create a parallel system of justice – and excommunicate wrongdoers. (I know, I’m expecting a lot from a church that won’t deny communion to blatant pro-aborts). And it can be fair and according to the rule of law. If they don’t, then the Church is dead, even if God isn’t.

    Side note, on a forum about liberty with Christians, I asked why doesn’t the church create a non-usury “credit union” – and use gold and silver as a currency. The Vatican is supposedly an independent state. Maybe add digital currency so you get gold-backed Vaticoins. Or LD$. Or Calvincoin. It helps little to drive the moneychangers out of the temple just to then have accounts with them and materially cooperate with theft, fraud, and usury and tell your members to go to them. I know, they are too busy taking care of the sick and poor… oh, wait. Most pushed Obamacare and FoodStamp cards.

  6. TL;DR. Way back when, Kings could say to the church, “Your money, or your life”, and the Church could respond “Go to hell (literally)!”.

    We need to recreate that balance of terror. The Bishops and Kings can maneuver on the chessboard and be too busy to interfere.

  7. For the church to regain legitimacy it has to stop making an idol out of legitimacy (the politically correct version). If our greatest fear is making Elie Wiesel sad or being sexist, racist, etc., we probably won’t make any positive difference.

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