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C A R R O L L   Q U I G L E Y

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THe foreign policy of the United States in the second half of the twentieth century owes a great deal to Carroll Quigley. As a professor of history at Georgetown University, Quigley was noted for his clear and forceful communication of history. (Though he might have preferred to describe his his approach as "scientific" or "analytical.")

Quigley expressed his methods and conclusions in his book The Evolution of Civilizations: An Introduction to Historical Analysis. In a direct (and sometimes acerbic) way, he presented the argument for an objective analysis of history. Neither Spengler's resigned pessimism nor Toynbee's determined optimism made sense to Quigley; for him, history should be perceived and analyzed without being directed by wishful thinking, or by being interpreted so as to support some cherished hypothesis of human nature.

The Features of a Civilization

Quigley describes the six features by which a civilization can be analyzed.

Quigley's Fundamental Observations

The heart of Quigley's book (and his understanding of civilizations) are his three insights into the form and change of civilizations.

The Seven Stages of Civilization

Quigley seven stages of development in normal civilizations.

The Seven Stages of Classical Civilization

Classical civilization, analyzed in Quigleyan fashion, demonstrates the seven stages.

The Future of Western Civilization

The future, per Quigley (with some additional notes by me).

Quigley's Shadows

Although it does not appear to have affected his conceptualization of history, Carroll Quigley was also involved in and documented some aspects of the "New World Order".

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Of Special Interest: Carroll Quigley and Bill Clinton

While doing research on the Web for this essay, I found a remarkable article by David Wilkinson of UCLA. We know the facts: Bill Clinton was a student of Carroll Quigley, considered him one of his two most influential professors at Georgetown, praised Quigley in his first nomination speech, and read The Evolution of Civilizations again in 1994 (if a review of that book on Amazon.com by a Clinton associate is to be believed).

Given these facts, Wilkinson asks the obvious question: How much of what Quigley taught was put into practice by his student, Bill Clinton, when that student became President of the United States?

Wilkinson's article addresses that question up to 1995. It is a somewhat long but absolutely fascinating bit of writing, with insights into not only Clinton but Quigley as well. My "bias" antennae were fully extended, but I found Wilkinson's discussion to be fair, objective, grounded in facts, and even funny in places.

It should be added that this article is written at a fairly high level of erudition. But if you're willing to accept the occasional Buckleyisms (such as "praxis" and "oikumene"), you'll be rewarded. There is some really first-class thinking and communication here, and I encourage anyone interested in seeing historial analysis put into action (or not, as their political beliefs may incline them) to take the time to read this piece.

You can read Wilkinson's article here. The full title is: "From Mesopotamia through Carroll Quigley to Bill Clinton: World Historical Systems, the Civilizationist, and the President".

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