H. G. Wells, Bertrand Russell, Mackinder, Rhodes --
Britain's Plot to Destroy Civilization:
The New Dark Ages Conspiracy

by Carol White

Printed in The American Almanac, June 20, 1994.


End of Page World War I Site Map Overview Page

Make your own free website on Tripod.com

Chapter 1:
Bertrand Russell Walks Out

Carol White's book was published in October 1980. She is now working on a second edition. What follows are excerpts from Chapter 1, which is titled ``Bertrand Russell Walks Out.''
[The first section of the chapter describes a meeting of the Coefficients Club at St. Ermin's Hotel in London, in 1903. During this meeting of British policy-makers, the factional lines were drawn concerning how Britain was to meet the growing economic challenge from America and the European continent: the ``realist'' position, espousing full-scale British participation in a European war, and the ``nominalist'' stance of Bertrand Russell, who sought to avoid British entanglement, while manipulating a conflict that would bleed the continental powers.]

H.G. Wells in his autobiography characterized the conflict in the Coefficients Club fairly accurately, albeit through the prism of his own point of view.

``The undeniable contraction of the British outlook in the opening decade of the new century is one that has exercised my mind very greatly.... Gradually, the belief in the possible world leadership of England had been deflated, by the economic development of America and the militant boldness of Germany. The long reign of Queen Victoria, so prosperous, progressive, and effortless, had produced habits of political indolence and cheap assurance. As a people we had got out of training, and when the challenge of these new rivals became open, it took our breath away at once. We did not know how to meet it....

``We had educated our general population reluctantly; our universities had not kept pace with the needs of the new time; our ruling class, protected in its advantages by a universal snobbery, was broad-minded, easy-going, and profoundly lazy. The Edwardian monarchy, court, and society were amiable and slack. `Efficiency'--the word of Earl Rosebery and the Webbs--was felt to be rather priggish and vulgar. Our liberalism was no longer a larger enterprise, it had become a generous indolence. But minds were waking up to this. Over our table at St. Ermin's Hotel wrangled Maxse, Bellairs, Hewins, Amery, and Mackinder, all stung by the small but humiliating tale of disasters in the South Africa war, all sensitive to the threat of business recession, and all profoundly alarmed by the naval and military aggressiveness of Germany, arguing chiefly against the liberalism of Reeves and Russell and myself, and pulling us down, whether we liked it or not, from large generalities to concrete problems.''

It would be possible to rearrange the seating at the Coefficients Club dinner table to form a graduated spectrum. At one end of the rainbow would be Russell, glaring down at Maxse and Amery seated at the other end. In the center, Lord Robert Cecil, with Haldane, Grey, Milner, and Mackinder seated next to him toward Amery's direction, with Wells and Beatrice and Sydney Webb on the other side. Despite their differences, all were agreed on the necessity for British (by which they all understood the British oligarchy) world supremacy.

To do this, the United States must be captured as Britain's dumb giant, to fight its wars, pay its bills, and strongarm Britain's anti-American System policies on the rest of the world....

Second, Germany, France, and Russia must be played off against each other in conflicts that were expected to erupt into war. This balance-of-power stratagem had been British foreign policy since the time the Cecils assumed control, with the backing of the Italian Jesuit Pallavicini family in the time of Tudor England.

It was here that the differences of the Russell faction, correctly deprecated as kooks by the just as evil realist Milner-Mackinder-Amery faction, emerged. Russell believed that Britain could avoid being drawn into World War I, and accomplish its aims through psychological warfare run through the intelligence services.

This is not to say that Lord Robert Cecil and the realists rejected the use of psychological warfare. It was William Cecil, who as Queen Elizabeth I's Secretary of State, had established the British Secret Intelligence Service....

Now, the Cecils counted on the Russian Revolution, which they were engaged in plotting, in their plans. But they were correctly convinced that Britain could not achieve its aims without being able to back up its claims with a credible military intervention, for two related reasons. In a war between Germany and Russia, Germany was the assured winner; France brought in against Germany would balance the odds, but without Britain supporting France, both France and Germany would withdraw quickly from a no-win situation. Furthermore, without Britain in the fight, the United States could not be brought into an essentially European conflict. As it happened, H.G. Wells admitted in his autobiography, Lord Grey started the First World War by allowing the German government to believe that the British would not enter the war even if the Germans did. But as Lord Louis Mountbatten's biographer confirms, Mountbatten's father, in his capacity as second Lord of the Admiralty, had put the British fleet in battle readiness the week before war broke out. ``My father,'' said Mountbatten, ``was able to tell the king, `We have the drawn sword in our hand.'|'' Robert Cecil expected the aura of power, represented by the British Navy, to carry the day.

Mackinder and Milner, on the other hand, with their recent direct experience of the Boer War, demanded competent military-industrial backup for war, which meant an economic policy of government support to key industries and raw materials sectors at home and in the colonies. Thus, Russell and the Cecils lined up for a ``free-trade'' policy against the relatively dirigist outlook of the realists who supported ``protectionism.'' As the war approached, Wells shifted his support to the Milner side, while, however, remaining as a central figure in SIS intelligence operations both behind-the-scenes and as a ``socialist'' propagandist.

The club named the ``Coefficients''--perhaps as a joke on the efficient Webbs, considering the obvious diversity of opinion represented--met at monthly dinners from 1902 through 1908. Most of the people who variously attended the dinners (at which only between ten and fourteen people would be present at one time) later formed the British Round Table, more informally known as the Cliveden Set.

These were the circles who argued out the policies for World War I and World War II and today are planning out World War III. Never do they disagree on fundamental goals; nevertheless, the split between the realist and kook-nominalist factions has remained....


The Cecils

To give Mackinder more of his due in the debate, he was not only arguing the necessity for British intervention in the First World War. He was also speaking directly to military utopians such as Lord Robert Cecil, men who refused to accept the lessons of the Boer War and believed that they would be bailed out by the navy, or in a later period, by tanks and airplanes, or today by tactical nuclear weapons, without an adequate land force or industrial home base to sustain it.

Incredibly, Lord Cecil, in charge of the military blockade of Germany during World War I, believed the war would be over in a few months. At the beginning of the four-year-long campaign of attrition that was the First World War, Cecil dined in France with the Commander-in-Chief of the British Expeditionary Force, who noted their conversation.

``He went on to emphasize that the Germans had been completely beaten in the West and that they knew it. He was also very sanguine about Poland and evidently thought that the Germans would very soon begin to ask for terms of peace which both he and his staff were extremely anxious should be extremely moderate.''

During the war, the first tanks were secretly tested at Cecil's estate, over the opposition of the war director Lord Kitchener, whose experience had been gained in India and the Sudan. Haldane had become head of the War Office and had been partially successful in reforming and modernizing the army over the protests of colonial officers like Kitchener, but was fired from the cabinet at the beginning of the war, ostensibly out of suspicions that he was not totally lined up with the war faction. Haldane's reorganization of the army in 1905 had stepped on the toes of the military. The combination of an officer corps whose mettle was tested in mock heroic battles against the African Zulus and the Egyptian dervishes--let's not mention the Boer War, darling, that was just an unpleasant episode--and overburdened with deadweight aristocratic younger sons foreordained that, once fully embroiled in the war, the British desperately needed the Americans to intervene on their behalf.

The state of the officer corps is illustrated by the career of Robert Cecil's younger brother, Edward. He failed the entrance to the Royal Military College, and every other examination that faced him thereafter, but a military career was by no means closed to him. There was another way to become part of the officer corps. A candidate could be appointed to the militia or local volunteer force, the only qualification being the appropriate social connections. After four years of service, the candidate could then transfer to the regular army and stand on the same footing as a Sandhurst graduate.

Fighting under Kitchener's command in Egypt, Edward Cecil wrote his brother this description of his first battle in 1896:

``We fought the Dervishes the other day.... I was not in half such a funk as I expected. I was much more afraid of being afraid. It was very exciting and not a bit brutalizing, as one does not at all realize the enemy are men. We, however, were very little exposed or rather fired at, so perhaps I better not talk.''

The Cecil family, dating back to the infamous William Cecil, Lord Burleigh, and his nephew, the dishonest pederast Francis Bacon, Lord Verulam, was at the evil center of power in Great Britain. Robert Cecil's father, Lord Salisbury, was prime minister in three Tory governments, stretching from 1885 to 1902, to be succeeded by cousin Arthur Balfour. Lord Robert's brother Hugh was also a member of Parliament, as was brother James, before succeeding to the title and joining the House of Lords. The Salisbury government was in power during the Boer War, with Lord Salisbury acting as his own foreign minister.

The flavor of the family is captured by a few incidents worth relating, not only because of the family's central role in the politics of England, but because the Cecils epitomize the oligarchical outlook.

Lord Robert's younger brother Hugh was not in the Coefficients Club, but he was a dedicated kook. An even more extreme utopian than Robert, he was involved in the creation of the air force, that branch of the service most susceptible to utopian wunderwaffen schemes.

Hugh had opposed military conscription before the First World War, and to justify his position wrote a memorandum in which he declared that preparation for war was largely a waste of time, as the unknown factor of generalship practically decided the issue; that in any case, defeat was less serious than it seemed, for it never really destroyed a nation; that Great Britain had always flourished in spite of inadequate military preparations; and that national service would have a prejudicial effect on the character of the British people.

When reminded of this position eighteen months into the war, as the casualties were mounting, he countered coolly: ``There is nothing fine in killing, but there is something fine in being killed, and conscription takes that away.''

When his opponent shouted, ``Epicure! Do you want boys of eighteen slaughtered to satisfy your aesthetic greed?'' Hugh shrugged....

Robert Cecil found the company of men like Wells and Mackinder intolerable on the basis of class prejudice. Although forced to hide it, in order to turn the Coefficients and the later Round Table group into effective instruments, he could yet confide to his wife in an 1893 letter:

``I'm down here with a thoroughly middle class man--not a bad fellow and decidedly intelligent.... I don't think I shall stay with the middle classes any more. I don't deny their intelligence, nor even in the case of my Norwich host, culture, but they are squalid somehow, and I'm never at my ease with them. And then they have such uncomfortable furniture.''

He was a bitter anticapitalist, later gravitating to the Labour Party and the peace movement, where at a higher level, he coordinated the same networks orbiting around Bertrand Russell. He wrote in another letter about a peer at whose house he was a guest: ``An ass, but a gentleman, a Tory of the old school, full of a sense of duty. They're all right, unlike these miserable Middle Class employers....''

Leo Amery was an important member of the later Round Table group, as well as a Coefficient. Wells classed Amery with Winston Churchill. While a Cecil would not have bridged the class gap in that way, their own view of Churchill was similar. Wells begins a discussion of Amery and Churchill in his Autobiography by referencing his own childhood.

``In those days I had ideas about Aryans extraordinarily like Mr. Hitler's. The more I hear of him the more I am convinced that his mind is almost the twin of my thirteen-year-old mind in 1879; but heard through a megaphone--and--implemented. I do not know from what books I caught my first glimpse of the Great Aryan People going to and fro in the middle plains of Europe, spreading east, west, north, and south ... whose ultimate triumphs everywhere squared accounts with the Jews.... I have met men in responsible positions, L.S. Amery, for example, Winston Churchill, George Trevelyan, C.F.G. Masterman, whose imaginations were manifestly built upon a similar framework and who remained puerile in their political outlook because of its persistence.''

Granted that Robert Cecil and his wife who attacked Churchill, the relative realist, were actively involved in bringing Hitler to power along with the rest of the Cliveden Set, they nevertheless were correct in their assessment of Churchill. ``Nothing would suit W.C. better than to be the Mussolini of England,'' Lady Cecil wrote bluntly.

In 1924, Lord Robert was in the cabinet with major responsibility for setting up the League of Nations, but resigned in 1926 while retaining his association with the League (and after World War II becoming head of the United Nations Organization). Presumably his resignation was occasioned by his fear that Britain, by breaking its treaty agreements with the United States at the Naval Disarmament Conference, would force a breach between the two nations and endanger the strategy for World War II. On the need for another world war, Cecil and Churchill were in fundamental agreement. But history repeats itself to those who will never learn....


Churchill

Already in 1926, Churchill was preparing for World War II, in which history repeated itself with the same old factional differences asserting themselves. The Hitler project was a collaboration effort that involved the entire spectrum of the oligarchy and its agents. Churchill, Russell, Wells, the Cecils created Hitler. How he was to be contained and directed against the Soviet Union was another matter. Early in the game, Churchill warned that Britain would be compelled to fight World War II; Russell again espoused British neutrality.

Despite the differences of tone, Churchill, himself of aristocratic lineage, always maintained the closest ties with the Cecil family, politically as well as personally.

Churchill had his first meeting with Hugh Cecil in 1898. As he later described it, the self-assurance he had acquired in Cuba, on the North-West Frontier of India, and at Omdurman was no protection against the dialectic of Hugh Cecil and his friends. He wrote:

``They were all interested to see me, having heard of my activities, and also on account of my father's posthumous prestige. Naturally I was on my mettle, and not without envy in the presence of these young men only two or three years older than myself, all born with silver spoons in their mouths, all highly distinguished at Oxford or Cambridge, and all ensconced in safe Tory constituencies, I felt indeed I was the earthen pot among the brass....

``The conversation drifted to the issue of whether peoples have a right to self-government or only to good government, what are the inherent rights of human beings and on what are they founded? From this we pushed on to slavery as an institution. I was much surprised to find that my companions had not the slightest hesitation in championing the unpopular side on all these issues; but what surprised me still more, and even vexed me, was the difficulty I had in making plain my righteous and indeed obvious point of view against their fallacious but most ingenious arguments. They knew so much more than I did, that my bold generalities about liberty, equality, and fraternity got seriously knocked about....''

Nevertheless, Churchill at once enrolled in the small band of Cecil followers, nicknamed the Hughligians. Here he was trained to accept the complete amorality demanded of Britain's most elite ruling circles. They, like the Coefficients, met over dinner. Robert Cecil's description of one such dinner is interesting not only for its evaluation of Churchill but for the attitude toward Churchill held by the family well into the 1950s. Churchill, despite his pedigree, position, or periods when he got out of line, was their man. Lord Cecil writes to his wife:

``We all talked at times so loudly as to remind me of Puys in the old days. And we all argued, Winston more or less contra mundum. With much of what he said I agreed. But he has not properly speaking any opinions.... Winston is a journalist and he adopts a view because it would look well in print. Unless he can correct this it will ultimately be fatal to him in politics. On the other hand, he is very young and may change greatly. He has none of Linkey's [Hugh Cecil] subtlety of mind or dexterity of expression. But he has considerable force and I think courage. He is both original and receptive. His worst defect mentally is that he is a little shallow--satisfied with a phrase.''

Later, ... the Marquess of Salisbury, James Cecil, headed the Watch Committee, composed mostly of Cecils, that accomplished the shift and placed Churchill in the prime ministership--despite his shortcomings.


The Anglo-Jesuit Link

The Cecil family has been connected to networks established by the Society of Jesus since at least the reign of Elizabeth I. While their power base is the British Empire, they, like the openly Catholic Howard and Percy families, can also rely on connections to the Hapsburg and Italian oligarchies to place themselves above the British monarchy. (Gwendolyn Cecil almost married into the Howard family at the turn of the century.)

Although the family was established under Jesuit patronage, the Cecils maintain loyalty to Protestantism. Yet, since the Jesuit order is itself an oligarchist intelligence implant into the Catholic Church, and not a religious order, this is no test of their continued Jesuit connections, which remain an open question.

Hugh Cecil expressed the family's cynicism, despite its strict outward adherence to the Church of England, in the following repartee with cousin Algernon, a convert to Roman Catholicism and thereby a direct link to the British Jesuit circles to which Phillip Kerr, Lord Lothian, of the Round Table belonged.

``Algernon, why have you grown that absurd beard?''

``Our Lord grew a beard.''

``|`Our Lord was not a gentleman.''

Algernon described the Cecil family philosophy to Beatrice Webb, who recorded it in her diary.

``Young Cecil was interesting, because he was able to describe or imply the Cecil philosophy of life. For him society was cloven in two--the Church and the world. The Church was governed by spiritual illumination; the world outside of this radius was exclusively dominated by the motive of pecuniary self-interest. To attempt to run the secular world on any other motive was not only contrary to the commandment `Give unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's' but was almost blasphemy. All real progress was confined to progress of the individual soul under the influence of the Church. Any increase of honesty or kindliness, of honor, public spirit or truth-seeking brought about otherwise, was merely a higher stage of self-interest (equally damnable as the lower stages)--merely the discovery by each individual that those qualities paid better. Accompanying, and to some extent coinciding with this cleavage, was that between the hereditary and landed aristocracy represented by the Cecils, and `the others.' The Cecils governed by spiritual illumination (inherited through a long line of noble ancestors) and were to direct the policy of the state, making use of the lower motives of vulgar folk to keep the state going on its material side. The off part of the whole scheme was the almost fanatical objection to any attempt to alter the motives of human nature, otherwise than by the action of the Church on the individual soul--and a complete complacency with the one secular motive of enlightened self-interest as the basis of everyday life. It was almost as wicked to tamper with this motive by introducing other considerations into the industrial or political organisation of the state, as it was to introduce the pecuniary motive into the Church--as for instance in the sale of indulgences or simony.''

Beatrice Webb, the daughter of a successful railroad speculator associated with the Rothschilds, understood the aristocracy in a way that was impossible for poor Wells, the son of a servant in the employ of another servant fortunate enough to marry into the lesser nobility but snubbed accordingly. Where Wells could delude himself that he was socially accepted by his dinner partners at the Coefficients, Beatrice had no such delusions and was mortally offended when she came face to face with her oligarchical controllers. Her diary is full of self-consoling comments such as: ``Dined with Hugh Cecil. It is good to be in our middle-class home again.'' Yet, like Algernon Cecil, she describes her and her husband's associates as ``the stage army of the good,'' in keeping with George Bernard Shaw's parable about the Fabian Society, Major Barbara, in which they are the Salvation Army.

Sidney Webb is given credit as the organizer of the Coefficients. It is obvious that despite his pretensions, the group that he assembled--a cross-section of the British elite and its close associates--was only brought together under Robert Cecil's direction.

Russell, Haldane, and Grey were hereditary peers. Milner was made a Lord. Haldane, Grey, and Cecil were to be in the Liberal government when it came to power in two years time. Leo Maxse's sister, Violet, was the wife of Robert Cecil's brother Edward and, after his death, of Lord Milner. Halford J. Mackinder had just become director of the London School of Economics and his reputation as a geopolitician had spread to Germany where Major-General Karl Haushofer, the ghostwriter of Hitler's Mein Kampf, acknowledged Mackinder as the source of his ideas....< p>


Sidney and Beatrice Webb

The Webbs, like Wells, were useful to the Cecils. What they lacked in flair was compensated for in industry, as they laid the groundwork for the collectivist side of fascism. Wells described the Webbs in The New Machiavelli, thinly disguised as Altiora and Oscar Bailey. He wrote:

``Oscar ... had a quite astounding memory for facts and a mastery of detailed analysis, and the time afforded scope for these gifts. The later eighties were full of politico-social discussion.... He won the immense respect of everyone specially interested in social and political questions; he soon achieved the limited distinction that is awarded such capacity, and at that I think he would have remained for the rest of his life if he had not encountered Altiora.

``But Altiora Macvite was an altogether exceptional woman, an extraordinary mixture of qualities, the one woman in the world who could make something more out of Bailey than that.... She was entirely unfitted for her sex's sphere.... Yet, you mustn't imagine she was an inelegant or unbeautiful woman, and she is inconceivable to me in high collars or any sort of masculine garment. But her soul was bone, and at the base of her was a vanity gaunt and greedy!...

``The two supplemented each other to an extraordinary extent.''

Russell himself gave much the same account in his Autobiography, writing: ``Webb was originally a second division clerk in the civil service, but by immense industry succeeded in rising to the first division. He was somewhat earnest and did not like jokes on sacred subjects such as political theory. On one occasion I remarked to him that democracy has at least one merit, namely, that a Member of Parliament cannot be stupider than his constituents, for the more stupid he is, the more stupid they were to elect him.

``Worship of the state. This last was of the essence of Fabianism. It led both the Webbs and also Shaw into what I thought an undue tolerance of Mussolini and Hitler....

``Both of them were fundamentally undemocratic, and regarded it as the function of a statesman to bamboozle or terrorize the populace.''

Russell, of course, is more delicate about his own fascist predilections. ``All think it folly and very unpopular,'' wrote Russell from Cambridge right before the First World War. ``Tories as well as Liberals; and they hardly realise that we are being drawn in.'' Russell continued, according to his biographer Ronald Clarke, by making a case for British neutrality, ending with a plea for German lebensraum: ``When they try to protect their homes and their wives and daughters against vast hordes of Russian savages, we do our best to prevent their efforts from being successful, and to threaten them with starvation if war breaks out.''

In collaboration with Lord James Salisbury, chairman of the Conscientious Objectors' Board, Russell was at the time beginning to create the pacifist movement, which was and continues to be a handy instrument of British subversion. Pacifism allowed Britain to penetrate Germany during the war and the Soviet Union thereafter. In the period of the Neville Chamberlain appeasement policy, it was psychologically useful as a way of turning Germany east rather than west--``Look, England will never fight again'' was the message. But while Russell was suffering public opprobrium for his stand during World War I, he was still a welcome guest at aristocratic country houses at parties attended by Asquith, the British prime minister.


The Race Imperialists

What of the other members of the Coefficients Club?

Lord Milner, appointed to the peerage during his lifetime, became a civil servant upon leaving Oxford University. Before being assigned to South Africa, he served as finance minister in Egypt (an important post subsequently held by Edward Cecil). He was recruited to the ideas of empire, as was imperialist Cecil Rhodes, by the Oxford Lecturer John Ruskin, medievalist and guild socialist. After leaving his post as high commissioner of South Africa in 1905, Milner became the administrator of the Rhodes Trust. He died in the 1920s, after again joining the government during the war.

Milner's Credo, written at the end of his life, expresses the belief structure of an imperialist who attached himself to an aristocracy into which he was born. To him the flag was no mere bunting.

Milner writes that he is a:

``nationalist, not a cosmopolitan.... I am a British (indeed primarily an English) nationalist. If I am also an Imperialist, it is because the destiny of the English race ... has been to strike fresh roots in distant parts.... My patriotism knows no geographical but only racial limits. I am an Imperialist and not a Little Englander, because I am a British Race Patriot.... It is not the soil of England, dear as it is to me, which is essential to arouse my patriotism, but the speech, the tradition, the principles, the aspirations of the British race....

``The wider patriotism is no mere exalted sentiment. It is a practical necessity.... England, nay more, Great Britain, nay more, the United Kingdom is no longer a power in the world which it once was.... But the British Dominions as a whole are not only self-supporting. They are more nearly self-sufficient than any other political entity ... if they can be kept an entity....

``This brings us to our first great principle.... The British state must follow the race, must comprehend it wherever it settles in appreciable numbers as an independent community. If the swarms constantly being thrown off the parent hive are lost to the State, the State is irreparably weakened. We cannot afford to part with so much of our best blood. We have already parted with much of it, to form the millions of another separate but fortunately friendly state. We cannot afford a repetition of the process.''

Milner's mentor, Cecil Rhodes, was also a protégé of Lord Salisbury. The works of Ruskin and social Darwinist Charles Dilke, who was elected a Liberal member of the Parliament in the 1880s, were freely circulated at the turn of the century. These manifestoes created the mental climate in which Wells, Russell, Rhodes, and Milner were nurtured. A generation later, it was Wells and Russell to whom young people would turn.

In his book Greater Britain, Dilke had written:

``In America we have seen the struggle of the dear races against the cheap--the endeavors of the English to hold their own against the Irish and Chinese. In New Zealand, we found the stronger and more energetic race pushing from the earth the shrewd and laborious descendants of the Asian Malays; in Australia, the English triumphant, and the cheaper races excluded from the soil not by distance merely, but by arbitrary legislation; in India, we saw the solution of the problem by the officering of the cheaper by the dearer race. Everywhere, we have found that the difficulties which impede the progress to universal dominion of the English people lie in the conflict with the cheaper races. The result of our survey is such as to give us reason for the belief that race distinctions will long continue, that miscegenation will go but a little way towards blending races, that the dearer are on the whole likely to destroy the cheaper peoples and that Saxondom will rise triumphant from the doubtful struggle.''

Ruskin expressed the same ideas in a speech that Cecil Rhodes carried with him as a treasured possession, given in his inaugural lecture as Slade Professor of Art at Oxford in 1870:

``A destiny is now possible to us, the highest ever set before a nation to be accepted or refused. Will you youths of England make your country again a royal throne of kings, a sceptred isle, for all the world a source of light, a center of peace? This is what England must do or perish. She must found colonies as fast and as far as she is able, formed of the most energetic and worthiest men; seizing any piece of fruitful waste ground she can set her foot on, and then teaching her colonists that their chief virtue is to be fidelity to their country and that their first aim is to be to advance the power of England by land and sea.''

As a colonist to South Africa, Rhodes answered Ruskin's call, creating the countries of South Africa and Rhodesia with the support of Salisbury. As a major partner in the DeBeers diamond mining company and Consolidated Goldfields, which he founded with Rothschild financial backing, he was brought into the darker side of the Empire as well, the openly acknowledged ``secret'' British opium trade from India and China. (Diamonds serve as a medium of exchange at the top levels of the opium trade, and in normal periods of currency exchange, variations in gold and diamond prices are closely tied to fluctuations in the opium markets.)

Rhodes['s] ... was the spirit that fired the Empire men, transmitted through Milner. Rhodes had formulated the idea for an elite secret society, to be modeled on the Jesuits, which would organize a fifth column in the United States, Germany, and Russia, and open pro-Empire societies in the colonies. The Coefficients, the Round Table, and its offshoots, the Royal Institute of International Affairs, whose first president was Cliveden's Waldorf Astor, and New York City's Council on Foreign Relations, are all products of his original inspiration.

Afflicted with a heart condition, Rhodes wrote numbers of wills assigning his fortune to trustees who would carry out his purpose. Lord Milner was the first trustee, Lord Lothian his successor. The Rhodes scholarship, which selects American graduate students for postgraduate training at Oxford, is subsidized by the Trust. In its time it has recruited a number of leading American renegades to the service of the Empire.

Rhodes's first will, written at the age of twenty-four, included the following passage directing that his fortune form the endowment of a ``secret society'' devoted to:

``The extension of British rule throughout the world ... the colonization by British subjects of all lands where the means of livelihood are attainable by energy, labour, and enterprise and especially the occupation by British settlers of the entire Continent of Africa, the Holy Land, the Valley of the Euphrates, the islands of Cyprus and Candia, the whole of South Africa, the islands of the Pacific not heretofore possessed by Great Britain, the whole of the Malay Archipelago, the seaboard of China and Japan, the ultimate recovery of the United States of America as an integral part of the British Empire....''< p>

Mackinder's Geopolitics

War, it was agreed, was necessary. The question to be solved was what policy would assure victory.

To understand how British policy evolved coherently, it is necessary to understand that the argument as we have so far followed it has understated the situation in which the British found themselves.

In his book Democratic Ideals and Reality published in 1919, Halford Mackinder polemicized against the British aristocracy and its minions who take their distaste for industrialism and science to the point that they fail to even study maps. Perhaps he was remembering an incident involving Robert Cecil, cabinet minister of the blockade of the Austro-Hungarian empire. In the Foreign Office one day, Cecil called for a map of his target, then complained to the political intelligence specialist that the long-straggling territory of Galicia had been wrongly colored. ``It should be Hungarian, not Austrian,'' Cecil said.

``But sir, I'm from Galicia,'' the specialist replied, ``and it is indeed in Austria.''

Cecil paused, then murmured, ``What a funny shape Austria must be.''

The incident occurred three years after Cecil had assumed responsibility for organizing the blockade of that country. At Versailles he was one of those responsible for cutting off such protuberances from the map of Austria.

When Mackinder complained that ``every educated German is a geographer in a sense that is true of very few Englishmen ... Berlin-Baghdad, Berlin-Peking ... involve for most Anglo-Saxons a new mode of thought,'' he was talking about more than mere map-reading. As he developed the point: ``The map habit of thought is no less pregnant in the sphere of economics than it is in that of strategy. True that laissez-faire had little use for it, but the `most favored nation' clause which Germany imposed on defeated France in the Treaty of Frankfurt had quite a different meaning for the strategical German mind to that which was attached to it by honest Cobdenites. The German bureaucrat built upon it a whole structure of preferences for German trade. Of what use to Britain under her northern skies was the most favored nation clause when Germany granted a concession to Italy in the matter of import duties on olive oil? Would there not also be railway trucks to be returned to Italy which might as well return loaded with German exports?''

Later, in Democratic Ideals and Reality, Mackinder took the theme further. Referring to the free trade theory of Adam Smith, which premised British survival on economic warfare and the hegemony of the British cloth industry based upon cultivation of cotton by slave labor in the southern states of the United States, Mackinder wrote:

``That may have been a tenable theme in the time of Adam Smith and for a generation or two afterwards. But under modern conditions the Going Concern, or in other words, accumulating financial and industrial strength, is capable of outweighing most natural facilities.... When the stress began after 1878, British agriculture waned, though British industry continued to grow. But presently lopsidedness developed even within British industry; the cotton and shipbuilding branches still grew, but the chemical and electrical branches did not increase proportionately.''

Mackinder slid over the essential issue. By the time of the McKinley presidency in 1897, the U.S., German, Japanese, and Russian industrial development were overtaking Britain. Some statistics help tell the story. In 1870, Britain smelted one-half the world's iron and produced one-half of the world's textiles, but by 1897 Britain produced less of each than the United States, and only slightly more than Germany. Not only was this the case, but pig iron production between 1870 and 1897 increased 966 percent in the United States and 609 percent in Germany, creating the industrial base for exports and overseas capital investment.

In this same period, U.S. exports in general expanded 300 percent, and German exports by 100 percent; Britain's increase in exports was a mere 30 percent. American commerce was also penetrating British colonies at a pace deemed extremely dangerous to imperial ties, leading to ``Americanization'' of the colonies. America and Germany, and even Russia and Japan, were destroying Britain's commercial and therefore financial domination of the world. This stagnation of British manufacture was compensated for only by the role of the pound sterling as a reserve currency, which allowed it to operate as a looting instrument. Yet in 1887, by Britain's own official statistics, its national debt amounted to fully 7.1 percent of the national revenue as compared to the United States, where the national debt was a mere 1.7 percent of national wealth.

Underneath the rhetoric, the British oligarchy knew that it was engaged in a life-and-death struggle against France, Russia, Germany, and the United States if it was to maintain hegemony. That is the political doctrine behind Mackinder's code phrases. In Democratic Ideals and Reality, written at the end of the First World War, he declared:

``The Heartland, for the purposes of strategical thinking includes the Baltic Sea, the navigable Middle and Lower Danube, the Black Sea, Asia Minor, Armenia, Persia, Tibet, and Mongolia. Within it, therefore, were Brandenburg-Prussia, and Austria-Hungary, as well as Russia.... Towards the end of the century, however, the Germans of Prussia and Austria determined to subdue the Slavs and to exploit them for the occupation of the Heartland, through which run the land-ways into China, India, Arabia, and the African Heartland.... We have defeated the danger on this occasion, but the facts of geography remain.''

It is only necessary to read ``industrial development'' into the content of the word ``geography'' and Mackinder's thinly veiled point is clear. Unless Germany and Russia were subdued, unless their industrial back were broken, Britain was in serious trouble. If Germany and Russia were to ally, Britain would be finished. This was the reality underlying the policy debate witnessed at the Coefficients' dinner table. This was the policy that governed the British Empire from the close of World War I through World War II.

The policy ultimately adopted can be broken down into four parts:

  1. Immediately a policy of destabilizations was necessary to prevent alliances between Britain's perceived potential enemies. Since French and Russian ties were long-standing, it was critical to prevent a Franco-German rapprochement. For similar reasons, a Russian-Japanese alliance was to be avoided. Adversary relations of intensity had to be introduced at all costs.

  2. In the medium term, the solution to a potential Russo-German accord lay in encouraging the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In that way, a buffer state of squabbling ``balkanized'' states would be established between Russia and Germany, thus preventing the joining of the ``Eurasian heartland'' in a Grand Design for industrial progress.

  3. Also for the medium term, it was necessary to adopt a ``Hamiltonian'' policy of state support for British industrial war preparations. The Empire had to be solidified politically around a ``Hamiltonian'' model of federation with some form of economic protection or subsidy to guarantee the loyalty of the colonies, a policy that was not completely carried through until the evolution of the British Commonwealth after World War II.

  4. For the long term, it was necessary to turn back the clock on scientific and industrial progress by ushering in a new dark age of wars, famine, and epidemic. World War I was to be the beginning. The differences fought out over the dinner table in 1903 were of mere secondary tactical significance before the overriding policy objectives upon which both factions were agreed.

A list of primary and secondary sources used for this chapter is available from New Federalist.


Top of Page World War I Site Map Overview Page


The preceding article is a rough version of the article that appeared in The American Almanac. It is made available here with the permission of The New Federalist Newspaper. Any use of, or quotations from, this article must attribute them to The New Federalist, and The American Almanac.


Publications and Subscriptions for sale.

Readings from the American Almanac. Contact us at: american_almanac@yahoo.com.