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Skousen's Garbling of Quigley
on October 1, 2015
I think highly of Carroll Quigley's "Tragedy and Hope," his comprehensive civilizational approach to history from the 1890s to 1965. It is the basis for W. Cleon Skousen's paranoid conspiracy text, "The Naked Capitalist," which was conceived as a response to the Georgetown University professor of history, Dr, Quigley.
Non-conspiracy mongers will recognize "T&H" as a skillful synthesis of events leading to WWI, the Great Depression, WWII, and the dawning of the Cold War. The closing chapter, 'The Future in Perspective,' is an interesting wide-ranging musing on what real hope ought to be based in to avoid the global tragedies of the 20th century. Readers will find it a bit dated 50 years since it was written. In other words, "Tragedy and Hope" is very much a book of its time (Cold War Europe and the US) and not of ours in 2015.
Not long after its publication in 1966, the white far right wing early on seized upon **ONE** element in Quigley's book, the positing of an American power elite that had held too much sway over national and world affairs. To Quigley's chagrin, far right groups like the John Birch Society and their various anti-semitic allies made Quigley's rather brief observations (which they misundertood) on this elite the prime and only reason for promoting "Tragedy and Hope."
Among the most significant (as in significantly distorted) mis-users of "T&H" was Cleon Skousen in his book "The Naked Capitalist," an "expose" of a supposedly national/global communist conspiracy that held vast control over the world, and was working behind the scenes like a malevolent puppeteer.
When Quigley read "TNC" he was appalled and said that "Skousen's book is full of misrepresentations and factual errors. He claims that I have written of a conspiracy of the super-rich who are pro-Communist and wish to take over the world and that I'm a member of this group. But I never called it a conspiracy and don't regard it as such. I'm not an 'insider' of these rich persons," Dr. Quigley continued, "although Skousen thinks so. I happen to know some of them and liked them, although I disagreed with some of the things they did before 1940."
Skousen also claimed that an influential group of Wall Street financiers still exists and controls the country. "I never said that," Dr. Quigley said flatly. "In fact, they never were in a position to 'control' it, merely to influence political events."
In real history, the influential Wall Street group of which Quigley wrote about 25 pages (out of 1311 pages) in "Tragedy and Hope" ceased to exist about 1940, Dr. Quigley claimed. He also faulted Skousen for saying that "Tragedy and Hope"'s intention was "to reveal anything, least of all a purely hypothetical controversy. My only desire was to present a balanced picture of the 70 years from 1895-1965. The book is based on more than 25 years of professional academic research."
The real TRAGEDY here is the mis-use of Quigley's serious and responsible scholarship by the paranoid pseudo-scholar, Skousen. I HOPE my comments will encourage people to seek the truth about the past in order to best chart the future.
See also my A.com review of Skousen's other conspiracy text, "The Naked Communist," a piece of red-baiting conspiracy malarkey from ca. 1960.