Carroll Quigley

American historian

Carroll Quigley (9 November 19103 January 1977) was a noted American historian, polymath, and theorist of the evolution of civilizations, best known for his books The Evolution of Civilizations (1961) and Tragedy and Hope: A History of the World in Our Time (1966). He was noted for his teaching work as a professor at Georgetown University, for his academic publications, and for his research on secret societies.



The Evolution of Civilizations (1961) (Second Edition 1979)

  • This book is not a history. Rather it is an attempt to establish analytical tools that will assist the understanding of history
    • Preface to the First Edition, p. 23
  • I came into history from a primary concern with mathematics and science. This has been a tremendous help to me as a person and as a historian, although it must be admitted it has served to make my historical interpretations less conventional than may be acceptable of many of my colleagues in the field.
    • Preface to the First Edition, p. 27
  • After years of work in both areas of study, I concluded that the social sciences were different, in many important ways, from the natural sciences, but that the same scientific methods were applicable in both areas, and, indeed, that no very useful work could be done in either area except by scientific methods.
    • Chapter 1, Scientific Method and the Social Sciences, p. 33
  • No scientist ever believes that he has the final answer or the ultimate truth on anything.
    • Chapter 1, Scientific Method and the Social Sciences, p. 34
  • It is not easy to tear any event out of the context of the universe in which it occurred without detaching from it some factor that influenced it.
    • Chapter 1, Scientific Method and the Social Sciences, p. 35
  • Even today few scientists and perhaps even fewer nonscientists realize that science is a method and nothing else.
    • Chapter 1, Scientific Method and the Social Sciences, p. 40
  • Closely related to the erroneous idea that science is a body of knowledge is the equally erroneous idea that scientific theories are true.
    • Chapter 1, Scientific Method and the Social Sciences, p. 40
  • The range of human potentialities is also the range of human needs because of man's vital drive that impels him to seek to realize his potentialities. this drive is even more mysterious than the potentialities it seeks to realize.
    • Chapter 2, Man and Culture, p. 55
  • Each individual in a society is a nexus where innumerable relationships of this character intersect.
    • Chapter 2, Man and Culture, p. 59
  • A fully integrated culture would be like the dinosaurs, which had to perish because they were no longer able to adapt themselves to changes in the external environment.
    • Chapter 2, Man and Culture, p. 63
  • The social sciences are usually concerned with groups of persons rather than individual persons. The behavior of individuals, being free, is unpredictable.
    • Chapter 3, Groups, Societies, and Civilizations, p. 67
  • A society is a group whose members have more relationships with one another then they do with outsiders.
    • Chapter 3, Groups, Societies, and Civilizations, p. 71
  • A civilization is complicated, in the first place, because it is dynamic; that is, it is constantly changing in the passage of time, until it has perished.
    • Chapter 4, Historical Analysis, p. 85
  • When we approach history, we are dealing with a conglomeration of irrational continua. Those who deal with history by nonrational processes are the ones who make history, the actors in it.
    • Chapter 4, Historical Analysis, p. 99
  • The backwardness of our religious and social developments is undoubtedly holding back the development of the intellectual and political levels.
    • Chapter 4, Historical Analysis, p. 122
  • Our political organization, based as it is on an eighteenth-century separation of powers and on a nineteenth-century nationalist state, is generally recognized to be semiobselete.
    • Chapter 4, Historical Analysis, p. 123
  • It is clear that every civilization undergoes a process of historical change. We can see that a civilization comes into existence, passes through a long experience, and eventually goes out of existence.
    • Chapter 5, Historical Change in Civilizations, p. 127
  • Every civilization must be organized in such a way that it has invention, capital accumulation, and investment.
    • Chapter 5, Historical Change in Civilizations, p. 137
  • These seven stages we shall name as follows:
    1. Mixture
    2. Gestation
    3. Expansion
    4. Age of Conflict
    5. Universal Empire
    6. Decay
    7. Invasion
    • Chapter 5, Historical Change in Civilizations, p. 146
  • The vested interests encourage the growth of imperialist wars and irrationality because both serve to divert the discontent of the masses away from their vested interests ( the uninvested surplus).
    • Chapter 5, Historical Change in Civilizations, p. 152
  • It is also in theory, conceivable that some universal empire some day might cover the whole globe, leaving no external "barbarians" to serve as invaders.
    • Chapter 5, Historical Change in Civilizations, p. 163
  • This priesthood became a closed group, able to control enormous wealth and incomes, and concerned very largely with the study of the solar and astronomical periodicities on which there influence was originally based. With the surplus thus created, the priesthood was able to command human labor in huge amounts and to direct this labor from the simple tillage of the peasant peoples to the diversified and specialized activities that constitute civilized living.
    • Chapter 7, Mesopotamian Civilization, p. 213
  • Capitalism might be defined, if we wish to be scientific, as a form of economic organization motivated by the pursuit of profit within a price structure.
    • Chapter 8, Canaanite and Minooan Civilizations, p. 240
  • When profits are pursued by geographic interchange of goods, so that commerce for profit becomes the central mechanism of the system, we usually call it "commercial capitalism." In such a system goods are conveyed from ares where they are more common (and therefore cheaper) to areas where they are less common (and therefore less cheap). This process leads to regional specialization and to division of labor, both in agricultural production and in handicrafts.
    • Chapter 8, Canaanite and Minooan Civilizations, p. 241
  • The process by which civilization, as an abstract entity distinct from the societies in which it is embodied, dies or is reborn is a very significant one.
    • Chapter 8, Canaanite and Minooan Civilizations, p. 266
  • The instrument of expansion of Classical civilization was a social organization, slavery.
    • Chapter 9, Classical Civilization, p. 270
  • No slave system has ever been able to continue to function on the slaves provided by its own biological reproduction because the rate of human reproduction is too slow and the expense from infant mortality and years of unproductive upkeep of the young make this prohibitively expensive. This relationship is one of the basic causes of the American Civil War, and was even more significant in destroying ancient Rome.
    • Chapter 9, Classical Civilization, p. 318
  • Western civilization presents one of the most difficult tasks for historical analysis, because it is not yet finished, because we are a part of it and lack perspective, and because it presents considerable variation from our pattern of historical change.
    • Chapter 10, Western Civilization, p. 333-334
  • No culture has ever exceeded Western civilization in power and extent. Our society now covers more than half of the globe, extending in space from Poland to the east of Australia i n the west. In the course of this expansion, most of it during the last five centuries, the power of Western civilization has been so great that it has destroyed, almost without thinking of it, hundreds of other societies, including five or six other civilizations.
    • Chapter 10, Western Civilization, p. 334
  • Western ideology believed that the world was good because it was made by God in six days and that at the end of each day He looked at His work and said that it was good.
    • Chapter 10, Western Civilization, p. 337
  • The fundamentalist position on biblical interpretation, with its emphasis on the explicit, complete, final, and authoritarian nature of Scripture, is a very late, minority view quite out of step with the Western tradition.
    • Chapter 10, Western Civilization, p. 342
  • When these extremists argued for "either-or," the Western tradition answered "both!"
    • Chapter 10, Western Civilization, p. 345
  • One of the chief reasons for the widespread fear of the Huns rested on their ability to travel very long distances in relatively short periods. This ability may well have been based on their use of horseshoes.
    • Chapter 10, Western Civilization, p. 349
  • In fact, violence as a symbol of our growing irrationality has had an increasing role in activity for its own sake, when no possible justification could be made that the activity was seeking to resolve a problem.
    • Chapter 10, Western Civilization, p. 405
  • To know is not too demanding: it merely requires memory and time. But to understand is quite a different matter: it requires intellectual ability and training, a self conscious awareness of what one is doing, experience in techniques of analysis and synthesis, and above all, perspective.
    • Conclusion, p. 415
  • For years I have told my students that I been trying to train executives rather than clerks. The distinction between the two is parallel to the distinction previously made between understanding and knowledge. It is a mighty low executive who cannot hire several people with command of more knowledge than he has himself.
    • Conclusion, p. 420

Tragedy and Hope: A History of the World in Our Time (1966)

  • The West believes that man and the universe are both complex and that the apparently discordant parts of each can be put into a reasonably workable arrangement with a little good will, patience, and experimentation.
    • p. 1227
  • The problem of meaning today is the problem of how the diverse and superficially self-contradictory experiences of men can be put into a consistent picture that will provide contemporary man with a convincing basis from which to live and to act.
    • p. 1278

Oscar Iden Lecture Series, Lecture 3: "The State of Individuals" (1976)

  • ...a state is not the same thing as a society, although the Greeks and Romans thought it was. A state is an organization of power on a territorial basis.
  • The link between a society, whether it be made up of communities or individuals, and a state is this: Power rests on the ability to satisfy human needs.
  • ...the levels of culture, the aspects of society: military, political, economic, social, emotional, religious, and intellectual. Those are your basic human needs. ...they are arranged in evolutionary sequence.
  • Men have social needs. They have a need for other people; they have a need to love and be loved.
  • The basis of social relationships is reciprocity: if you cooperate with others, others will cooperate with you.
  • Our society has so cluttered our lives with artifacts [man-made things]... and organizational structures that [our] moment to moment relationships with nature are almost impossible.
  • ...human beings have religious needs. They have a need for a feeling of certitude in their minds about things they cannot control and they do not fully understand, and with humility, they admit they do not understand...
  • When you destroy people's religious expression, they will establish secularized religions like Marxism.
  • ...empires and civilizations do not collapse because of deficiencies on the military or the political levels.
  • Persons, personalities if you wish, can only be made in communities.
  • A community is made up of intimate relationships among diversified types of individuals--a kinship group, a local group, a neighborhood, a village, a large family.
  • Without communities, no infant will be sufficiently socialized... and that occurs in the first four or five years of life. ...The first two years are important. ...of vital importance. He has to be loved, above all he has to be talked to.
  • A state of individuals, such as we now have reached in Western Civilization, will not create persons, and the atomized individuals who make it up will be motivated by desires that do not necessarily reflect needs. Instead of needing other people they need a shot of heroin; instead of some kind of religious conviction, they have to be with the winning team.
  • ...we no longer have intellectually satisfying arrangements in our educational system, in our arts, humanities or anything else; instead we have slogans and ideologies. An ideology is a religious or emotional expression; it is not an intellectual expression.
  • ...when a society is reaching its end, in the last couple of centuries you have... a misplacement of satisfactions. You find your emotional satisfaction in making a lot of money... or in proving to the poor, half-naked people in Southeast Asia that you can kill them in large numbers.
  • the last thousand years. If we go back before [AD] 976... the main core of people's life and experience... was in the religious, emotional and social levels. They had religious beliefs, they had social and emotional relationships with people they saw every day. ...controls and rewards were internalized. ...This is why they could get along without a state in 976: all the significant controls were internalized.
  • ...Western Civilization began to expand in 976. ...The economic expansion was achieved chiefly by specialization and exchange... commercialization.
  • everything is commercialized--politics, religion, education, ideology, belief, the armed services. ...Everything has its price.
  • [Increasing] politicization means the [economic] expansion is slowing up and you are no longer attempting to achieve increased output per capita, or increased wealth, or increased satisfactions... but you are doing so by mobilizing power. We have seen this going on for almost a century. ...increased militarization.
  • ...increasing remoteness of desires from needs. ...increasing confusion between means and ends. The ends are human needs... Instead they want the means they have been brainwashed to accept... Never was any society in human history as rich and as powerful as Western Civilization and the United States, and it is not a happy society.
  • ...controls on behavior shift from the intermediate levels of human experience (social, emotional and religious) to the lower (military and political) or to the upper (ideological). They become the externalized controls of a mature society: weapons, bureaucracies, material rewards, or ideology.
  • In its final stages the civilization becomes a dualism of almost totalitarian imperial power and an amorphous mass culture of atomized individuals.
  • ...1776 is a very significant year. and this is not just because the American Revolution began. Watt's patent of the steam engine... Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations... the failure of the French to reorganize their political system occurred in 1776, and so forth. ...The destruction of communities, the destruction of religion and the frustration of emotions were greatly intensified by the Industrial Revolution: railroads, factories, growth of cities, technological revolution in the countryside and in the growing of food and so forth.
  • ...the nineteenth century Age of Expansion... brought on an acceleration of the main focus of the activities of society... from the areas of internal controls to the areas of external controls. ...the increasing role of propaganda... helped create an impression of stability.
  • ...I offended some of you by saying you had been brainwashed. This is not an insult; it's a simple statement of fact. When any infant is born and socialized in a society, even if he is to become a very mature individual, he has been brainwashed. ...given a structure for categorizing his experience and a system of values applied to the structure of categories.
  • our society... this has now become a propagandist system in which emphasis is put on the future... the ideology against which the young people of the 1950's and 1960's rebelled. Future preference: plan; study hard; save.
  • Another aspect of the nineteenth century propaganda system is the increasing emphasis upon material desires.
  • ...we were brainwashed into believing... that the only important thing was individualism. They called it freedom. There is no such thing as freedom. There is something called liberty; it's quite different. [Guido de] Ruggiero's History of European Liberalism... Freedom is freedom from restraints. We're always under restraints.
  • The difference between a stable society and an unstable one is that the restraints in an unstable one are external. In a stable society government ultimately becomes unnecessary; the restraints on people's actions are internal, they're self-disciplined...
  • ...they have brainwashed us into believing in the last 150 years... that quantitative change is superior to qualitative attributes. If we can turn out more... it doesn't matter if they're half as good. ...We're quantifying everything, and that is why we're trying to put everything on computers. Governments will no longer have to make decisions; computers will do it.
  • ...they give us vicarious satisfactions for many of our frustrations. ...People need exercise; they do not need to watch other people exercise... Another vicarious satisfaction is sexy magazines; this is vicarious sex. To anyone rushing to buy one, I'd like to say, "The real thing is better."
  • The brainwashing which has been going on for 150 years has also resulted in the replacement of intellectual activities and religion by ideologies and science. ...I have nothing against Marx, except that his theories do not explain what happened.
  • The very idea that there is some kind of conflict between science and religion is completely mistaken. Science is a method for investigating experience... Religion is the fundamental, necessary internalization of our system of more permanent values.
  • Another thing that they have tried to get us to believe in the last 150 years... is that the nation as the repository of sovereignty can be both a state and a community. ...Why did the English, the French, the Castilians, the Hohenzollerns, and others become the repository of sovereignty as nations... They did so because... weapons made it possible to compel obedience over areas which were approximately the size of these national groups... nationalism is an episode in history, and it fit a certain power structure and a certain configuration in human life in our civilization. Now... They all want autonomy. ...The nation or the state, as we now have it as the structure of power, cannot be a community.
  • We have now done what the Romans did when they started to commit suicide. We have shifted from an army of citizens to an army of mercenaries...
  • The appearance of stability from 1840 to about 1900 was superficial, temporary and destructive in the long run... because communities and societies must rest upon cooperation and not upon competition. Anyone who says that society can be run on the basis of everyone's trying to maximize his own greed is talking total nonsense. And to teach it in schools, and to go on television and call it the American way of life still doesn't make it true. Competition and envy cannot become the basis of any society or any community.
  • The economic and technological achievements of industrialization in this period were fundamentally mistaken. ...based upon plundering the natural capital of the globe that was created over millions of years: the plundering of the soils and their fertility; the plundering of human communities whether they were our own or someone else's.
  • The fundamental, all-pervasive cause of world instability 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.
  • ...another cause of today’s instability is that we now have a society in America, Europe and much of the world which is totally dominated by the two elements of sovereignty that are not included in the state structure: control of credit and banking, and the corporation. These are free of political controls and social responsibility and have largely monopolized power in Western Civilization and in American society. They are ruthlessly going forward to eliminate land, labor, entrepreneurial-managerial skills, and everything else the economists once told us were the chief elements of production. The only element of production they are concerned with is the one they can control: capital.
  • The final result will be that the American people will ultimately prefer communities. They will cop out or opt out of the system. Today everything is a bureaucratic structure, and brainwashed people who are not personalities are trained to fit into this bureaucratic structure and say it is a great life--although I would assume that many on their death beds must feel otherwise. The process of copping out will take a long time, but notice: we are already copping out of military service on a wholesale basis; we are already copping out of voting on a large scale basis. ...People are also copping out by refusing to pay any attention to newspapers or to what’s going on in the world, and by increasing emphasis on the growth of localism, what is happening in their own neighborhoods.
  • When Rome fell, the Christian answer was, "Create our own communities."
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