The Anglo-American Establishment
by Carroll Quigley
GSG Associates publishers, 1981,
One wintry afternoon in February 1891, three men were engaged
in earnest conversation in London. From that conversation were
to flow consequences of the greatest importance to the British
Empire and to the world as a whole. For these men were organizing
a secret society that was, for more than fifty years, to be one
of the most important forces in the formulation and execution
of British imperial and foreign policy.
The three men who were thus engaged were
already well known in England. The leader was Cecil Rhodes, fabulously
wealthy empire-builder and the most important person in South
Africa. The second was William T. Stead, the most famous, and
probably also the most sensational, journalist of the day. The
third was Reginald Baliol Brett, later known as Lord Esher, friend
and confidant of Queen Victoria, and later to be the most influential
adviser of King Edward VII and King George V.
... the three drew up a plan of organization
for their secret society and a list of original members. The plan
of organization provided for an inner circle, to be known as "The
Society of the Elect," and an outer circle, to be known as
"The Association of Helpers." Within The Society of
the Elect, the real power was to be exercised by the leader, and
a "Junta of Three." The leader was to be Rhodes, and
the junta was to be Stead, Brett, and Alfred Miler. In accordance
with this decision, Miter was added to the society by Stead ...
The creation of this secret society was
not a matter of a moment... Rhodes had been planning for this
event for more than seventeen years. Stead had been introduced
to the plan on 4 April 1889, and Brett had been told of it on
3 February 1890. Nor was the society thus founded an ephemeral
thing, for, in modified form, it exists to this day. From 1891
to 1902, it was known to only a score of persons. During this
period, Rhodes was leader, and Stead was the most influential
member. From 1902 to 1925, Milner was leader, while Philip Kerr
(Lord Lothian) and Lionel Curtis were probably the most important
members. From 1925 to 1940, Kerr was leader, and since his death
in 1940 this role has probably been played by Robert Henry Brand
(now Lord Brand).
During this period of almost sixty years,
this society has been called by various names. During the first
decade or so it was called "the secret society of Cecil Rhodes"
or "the dream of Cecil Rhodes." In the second and third
decades of its existence it was known as "Milner's Kindergarten"
(1901-1910) and as "the Round Table Group" (1910-1920).
Since 1920 it has been called by various names, depending on which
phase of its activities was being examined. It has been called
"The Times crowd," "the Rhodes crowd," the
"Chatham House crowd," the "All Souls group,"
and the "Cliveden set." All of these terms were more
or less inadequate, because they focused attention on only part
of the society or on only one of its activities. The Miler Kindergarten
and the Round Table Group, for example, were two different names
for The Association of Helpers and were thus only part of the
society, since the real center of the organization, The Society
of the Elect, continued to exist and recruited new members from
the outer circle as seemed necessary. Since 1920, this Group has
been increasingly dominated by the associates of Viscount Astor.
In the 1930s, the misnamed "Cliveden set" was close
to the center of the society, but it would be entirely unfair
to believe that the connotations of superficiality and conspiracy
popularly associated with the expression "Cliveden set"
are a just description of the Milner Group as a whole. In fact,
Viscount Astor was, relatively speaking, a late addition to the
society, and the society should rather be pictured as utilizing
the Astor money to further their own ideals rather than as being
used for any purpose by the master of Cliveden.
Even the expression "Rhodes secret
society," which would be perfectly accurate in reference
to the period 1891-1899, would hardly be accurate for the period
after 1899. The organization was so modified and so expanded by
Milner after the eclipse of Stead in 1899, and especially after
the death of Rhodes in 1902, that it took on quite a different
organization and character, although it continued to pursue the
same goals. To avoid this difficulty, we shall generally call
the organization the "Rhodes secret society" before
1901 and "the Milner Group" after this date, but it
must be understood that both terms refer to the same organization.
This organization has been able to conceal
its existence quite successfully, and many of its most influential
members, satisfied to possess the reality rather than the appearance
of power, are unknown even to close students of British history.
This is the more surprising when we learn that one of the chief
methods by which this Group works has been through propaganda.
It plotted the Jameson Raid of 1895; it caused the Boer War of
1899-1902; it set up and controls the Rhodes Trust; it created
the Union of South Africa in 1906-1910; it established the south
African periodical The State in 1908; it founded the British Empire
periodical The Round Table in 1910, and this remains the mouthpiece
of the Group; it has been the most powerful single influence in
All Souls, Balliol, and New Colleges at Oxford for more than a
generation; it has controlled The Times for more than fifty years,
with the exception of the three years 1919-1922; it publicized
the idea of and the name "British Commonwealth of Nations"
in the period 1908-1918; it was the chief influence in Lloyd George's
war administration in 1917-1919 and dominated the British delegation
to the Peace Conference of 1919; it had a great deal to do with
the formation and management of the League of Nations and of the
system of mandates; it founded the Royal Institute of International
Affairs in 1919 and still controls it; it was one of the chief
influences on British policy toward Ireland, Palestine, and India
in the period 1917-1945; it was a very important influence on
the policy of appeasement of Germany during the years 1920-1940;
and it controlled and still controls, to a very considerable extent,
the sources and the writing of the history of British Imperial
and foreign policy since the Boer War.
Among the ideas of [Arnold] Toynbee which influenced the Miler
Group we should mention three: (a) a conviction that the history
of the British Empire represents the unfolding of a great moral
idea - the idea of freedom - and that the unity of the Empire
could best be preserved by the cement of this idea; (b) a conviction
that the first call on the attention of any man should be a sense
of duty and obligation to serve the state; and (c) a feeling of
the necessity to do social service work (especially educational
work) among the working classes of English society. These ideas
were accepted by most of the men whose names we have already mentioned
and became dominant principles of the Milner Group later. Toynbee
can also be regarded as the founder of the method used by the
Group later, especially in the Round Table Groups and in the Royal
Institute of International Affairs.
The Milner Group could never have been built up by Milner's own
efforts. He had no political power or even influence. All that
he had was ability and ideas. The same thing is true about many
of the other members of the Miler Group, at least at the time
that they joined the Group. The power that was utilized by Milner
and his Group was really the power of the Cecil family and its
allied families such as the Lyttelton (Viscounts Cobham), Wyndham
(Barons Leconfield), Grosvenor (Dukes of Westminster), Balfour,
Wemyss, Palmer (Earls of Selborne and Viscounts Wolmer), Cavendish
(Dukes of Devonshire and Marquesses of Hartington), and Gathorne-Hardy
(Earls of Cranbrook). The Milner Group was originally a major
fief within the great nexus of power, influence, and privilege
controlled by the Cecil family. It is not possible to describe
here the ramifications of the Cecil influence. It has been all-pervasive
in British life since 1886. This Cecil Bloc was built up by Robert
Arthur Talbot Gascoyne-Cecil, Viscount Cranborne and third Marquess
of Salisbury (1830-1903). The methods used by this man were merely
copied by the Miler Group. These methods can be summed up under
three headings: (a) a triple-front penetration in politics, education,
and journalism; (b) the recruitment of men of ability (chiefly
from All Souls) and the linking of these men to the Cecil Bloc
by matrimonial alliances and by gratitude for titles and positions
of power; and (c) the influencing of public policy by placing
members of the Cecil Bloc in positions of power shielded as much
as possible from public attention.
When [Alfred] Milner went to South Africa in 1897, Rhodes and
he were already old acquaintances of many years' standing... they
were contemporaries at oxford, but, more than that, they were
members of a secret society which had been founded in 1891. Moreover,
Miler was, if not in 1897, at least by 1901, Rhodes's chosen successor
in the leadership of that society.
The secret society of Cecil Rhodes is
mentioned in the first five of his seven wills. In the fifth it
was supplemented by the idea of an educational institution with
scholarships, whose alumni would be bound together by common ideals-Rhodes's
ideals. In the sixth and seventh wills the secret society was
not mentioned, and the scholarships monopolized the estate. But
Rhodes still had the same ideals and still believed that they
could be carried out best by a secret society of men devoted to
a common cause. The scholarships were merely a facade to conceal
the secret society, or, more accurately, they were to be one of
the instruments by which the members of the secret society could
carry out his purpose. This purpose, as expressed in the first
will (1877), was:
The extension of British rule throughout
the world, the perfecting of a system of emigration from the United
Kingdom and of colonization by British subjects of all lands wherein
the means of livelihood are attainable by energy, labour, and
enterprise, . . . the ultimate recovery of the United States of
America as an integral part of a British Empire, the consolidation
of the whole Empire, the inauguration of a system of Colonial
Representation in the Imperial Parliament which may tend to weld
together the disjointed members of the Empire, and finally the
foundation of so great a power as to hereafter render wars impossible
and promote the best interests of humanity.
To achieve this purpose, Rhodes, in this
first will, written while he was still an undergraduate of Oxford
at the age of twenty-four, left all his wealth to the Secretary
of State for the Colonies (Lord Carnarvon) and to the Attorney
General of Griqualand West (Sidney Shippard), to be used to create
a secret society patterned on the Jesuits. The reference to the
Jesuits as the model for his secret society is found in a "Confession
of Faith" which Rhodes had written two years earlier (1875)
and which he enclosed in his will. Thirteen years later, in a
letter to the trustee of his third will, Rhodes told how to form
the secret society, saying, "In considering questions suggested
take Constitution of the Jesuits if obtainable and insert 'English
Empire' for 'Roman Catholic Religion.'"
In his "Confession of Faith"
Rhodes outlined the types of persons who might be useful members
of this secret society. As listed by the American Secretary to
the Rhodes Trust, this list exactly describes the group formed
by Milner in South Africa:
Men of ability and enthusiasm who find
no suitable way to serve their country under the current political
system; able youth recruited from the schools and universities;
men of wealth with no aim in life; younger sons with high thoughts
and great aspirations but without opportunity; rich men whose
careers are blighted by some great disappointment. All must be
men of ability and character . . . . Rhodes envisages a group
of the ablest and the best, bound together by common unselfish
ideals of service to what seems to him the greatest cause in the
world. There is no mention of material rewards. This is to be
a kind of religious brotherhood like the Jesuits, "a church
for the extension of the British Empire."
The creation of the secret society was the essential core of Rhodes's
plans at all times. Stead, even after Rhodes's death, did not
doubt that the' attempt would be made to continue the society.
In his book on Rhodes's wills he wrote in one place: "Mr.
Rhodes was more than the founder of a dynasty. He aspired to be
the creator of one of those vast semi-religious, quasi-political
associations which, like the Society of Jesus, have played so
large a part in the history of the world. To be more strictly
accurate, he wished to found an Order as the instrument of the
will of the Dynasty, and while he lived he dreamed of being both
its Caesar and its Loyola. It was this far-reaching, world-wide
aspiration of the man which rendered, to those who knew him, so
absurdly inane the speculations of his critics as to his real
motives." Sixty pages later Stead wrote: "The question
that now arises is whether in the English-speaking world there
are to be found men of faith adequate to furnish forth materials
for the Society of which Mr. Rhodes dreamed."
[Cecil] Rhodes wanted to create a worldwide secret group devoted
to English ideals and to the Empire as the embodiment of these
ideals, and such a group was created.
The secret society, after so much preliminary talk, took form
in 1891, the same year in which Rhodes drew up his fourth will
and made Stead as well as Lord Rothschild the trustee of his fortune.
It is perfectly clear from the evidence that he expected Rothschild
to handle the financial investments associated with the trust,
while Stead was to have full charge of the methods by which the
funds were used. About the same time, in February 1891, Stead
and Rhodes had another long discussion about the secret society.
First they discussed their goals and agreed that, if necessary
in order to achieve Anglo-American unity, Britain should join
the United States. Then they discussed the organization of the
secret society and divided it into two circles: an inner circle,
"The Society of the Elect", and an outer circle to include
"The Association of Helpers" and The Review of Reviews
(Stead's magazine, founded 1890). Rhodes said that he had already
revealed the plan for "The Society of the Elect" to
Rothschild and "little Johnston." By "little Johnston"
he meant Harry H. Johnston (Sir Harry after 1896), African explorer
and administrator, who had laid the basis for the British claims
to Nyasaland, Kenya, and Uganda. Johnston was, according to Sir
Frederick Whyte, the biographer of Stead, virtually unknown in
England before Stead published his portrait as the frontispiece
to the first issue of The Review of Reviews in 1890. This was
undoubtedly done on behalf of Rhodes. Continuing their discussion
of the membership of "The Society of the Elect," Stead
asked permission to bring in Milner and Brett. Rhodes agreed,
so they telegraphed at once to Brett...
Within the next few weeks Stead had another
talk with Rhodes and a talk with Miler, who was "filled with
admiration" for the scheme, according to Stead's notes as
published by Sir Frederick Whyte.
The "ideal arrangement" for
the secret society, as drawn up in 1891, never came into effect
in all its details. The organization as drawn on paper reflected
the romantic and melodramatic ideas of Cecil Rhodes and Stead,
and doubtless they envisioned formal initiations, oaths, secret
signs of recognition, etc. Once Milner and Brett were made initiates,
the atmosphere changed. To them secret signs or oaths were so
much claptrap and neither necessary nor desirable, for the initiates
knew each other intimately and had implicit trust in each other
without the necessity of signs or oaths. Thus the melodrama envisioned
by Rhodes was watered down without in any way reducing the seriousness
with which the initiates determined to use their own personal
influence and Rhodes's wealth and power to achieve the consolidation
of the British Empire, which they shared as an ideal with Rhodes.
With the elimination of signs, oaths,
and formal initiations, the criteria for membership in "The
Society of the Elect" became knowledge of the secret society
and readiness to cooperate with the other initiates toward their
Rhodes and Miler were aiming at the same goals, and had been for
twenty-five years, in 1902. They differed slightly on how these
goals could be obtained, a difference based on different personalities.
To Rhodes it seemed that the ends could be won by amassing great
wealth, to Milner it seemed that they could be won by quiet propaganda,
hard work, and personal relationships (as he had learned from
Toynbee). Neither rejected the other's methods, and each was willing
to use the other and his methods to achieve their common dream
as the occasion arose. With the death of Rhodes in 1902, Milner
obtained control of Rhodes's money and was able to use it to lubricate
the workings of his propaganda machine. This is exactly as Rhodes
had wanted and had intended. Milner was Rhodes's heir, and both
men knew it. Rhodes himself said before his death, "They
tell me I can only live five years. I don't mean to die. I want
to live. But if I go, there is one man-Sir Alfred Milner. Always
trust Milner. You don't know yet what you have got in him."
In 1898, in conversation with Stead, Rhodes said, "You will
support Milner in any measure that he may take short of war. I
make no such limitation. I support Milner absolutely without reserve.
If he says peace, I say peace; if he says war, I say war. Whatever
happens, I say ditto to Milner."
The goals which Rhodes and Milner sought
and the methods by which they hoped to achieve them were so similar
by 1902 that the two are almost indistinguishable Both sought
to unite the world, and above all the English-speaking world in
a federal structure around Britain. Both felt that this goal could
best be achieved by a secret band of men united to one another
by devotion to the common cause and by personal loyalty to one
another. Both felt that this band should pursue its goal by secret
political and economic influence behind the scenes and by the
control of journalistic, educational, and propaganda agencies.
The Milner Group has been in eclipse, and it is not clear what
has been happening. Its control of The Times, of The Round Table,
of Chatham House, of the Rhodes Trust, All Souls, and Oxford generally
has continued but has been used without centralized purpose or
conviction. Most of the original members of the Group have retired
from active affairs; the newer recruits have not the experience
or the intellectual conviction, or the social contacts, which
allowed the older members to wield such great power. The disasters
into which the Group directed British policy in the years before
1940 are not such as to allow their prestige to continue undiminished.
In imperial affairs, their policies have been largely a failure,
with Ireland gone, India divided and going, Burma drifting away,
and even South Africa more distant than at any time since 1910.
In foreign policy their actions almost destroyed western civilization,
or at least the European center of it.
The great idealistic adventure which began with[Arnold] Toynbee
and [Alfred] Milner in 1875 had slowly ground its way to a finish
of bitterness and ashes.
New World Order