Concepts in Conflict

Since the beginning of time, people have been divided between those who make the rules, and those who must abide by them. From the first families, in which the father’s word was law, through tribal communities, where the elders’ word was the law, through Greece and Rome, and the Holy Roman Empire, where the church’s word was law – societies have been divided between those who make the laws, and those who must abide by them.

Centuries of this reality deeply permeated the culture which recognized that those who made the law were free, and those who were bound by the law were free to do whatever the lawmakers allowed them to do.

The process of becoming a lawmaker, rather than a law abider, has always been bloody, and remains so today in many parts of the world. Conflict between the church and the king, for ultimate authority was not free from bloodshed. But in the 12th century, a new force began to emerge, a force which we will identify simply as the individual quest for freedom.

This quest for freedom appears throughout history, to one degree or another, in the form of rebellions by law abiders who were either unhappy with the laws that bound them, or who wanted to become law makers themselves. More often than not, these rebellions ended in bloody massacre.

The quest for freedom exploded into the world in 1215, at Runnymede, England, when the barons of King John rebelled, and demanded that the King agree to the terms that they dictated. King John acquiesced on June 15, and signed the document known as the Magna Carta.

With this document, a new idea entered the culture: absolute power of the law makers can be limited by the people who must abide by the law.

This extremely important concept was the beginning of a completely new concept of governance. It was just the beginning, however. The king still held the power, commanded the armies, owned the land, and collected taxes. The Magna Carta did limit the King’s power, and established several ideas that survived through the centuries and are reflected in the U.S. Constitution.

Not everyone appreciated the barons’ rebellion nor the document it spawned. Even after four centuries of the evolving quest for freedom, many people subscribed to the philosophy of Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679).

Hobbes philosophy is expressed in his book, Leviathan, (1651), in which he describes individuals as being in a constant struggle for power, at war with each other, to take what another person has, or to defend his own possessions from the aggression of others. When left to his own devices, the life of individuals is “solitary, poore, nasty, brutish, and short.”

To make life better for everyone, Hobbes advocated the surrender of individual power and property to an absolute sovereign. Hobbes believed that:

“The control of power must be lodged in a single person, and no individual can set their own private judgments of right and wrong in opposition to the sovereign’s commands.” [1]

Out of this philosophical foundation grows the idea that the state is, or should be, the sovereign, and the grantor of individual rights and freedom.

The evolving quest for individual freedom, however, was shaping its own philosophical view of how people should live. This philosophy is illuminated by John Locke (1632-1704). Locke rejected Hobbes’ conclusion that a single sovereign should rules the lives of individuals. In his treatise Of Civil Government, published in 1690, he sets forth two important ideas: (1) external things (nature) are not owned by mankind in common, but are owned by their first possessor; and (2) every man has a “property” in his own person and products produced by his own labor. He says:

“Though the earth, and all inferior creatures, be common to all men, yet every man has a property in his own person: this no body has any right to but himself. The labour of his body, and the work of his hands, we may say, are properly his. Whatsoever then he removes out of the state that nature hath provided, and left it in, he hath mixed his labour with, and joined to it something that is his own, and thereby makes it his property. It being by him removed from the common state nature hath placed it in, it hath by this labour something annexed to it, that excludes the common right of other men: for this labour being the unquestionable property of the labourer, no man but he can have a right to what that is once joined to, at least where there is enough, and as good, left in common for others.”[2]

Locke struggled throughout the latter part of his life trying to conceive a system of governance that would both protect the sanctity of individual freedom and property while providing the social organization necessary to maintain order and prevent the constant aggression that Hobbes feared.

Here are the foundations of the concepts in conflict today. On the one hand, we see forces at work who clearly believe that individual freedom is the reward of the sovereign, while on the other hand, we see forces at work who clearly believe that individual freedom is the natural condition of every person, which should be limited only by the person’s consent.

In more modern times, the Hobbes view evolved into Britain’s empire-building initiatives of the 17th and 18th centuries. The era of exploration discovered societies less developed than the British, and the benevolent leaders believed that by colonizing the discovered (or conquered) territories, the lives of the natives would be made better, to say nothing of the resources that might be pillaged from those territories.

Britain’s empire attitude motivated the colonization of America. The Virginia Company of London was granted a Royal Charter by King James the First, to establish a colony in Jamestown in 1607. This Charter guaranteed that “the persons which shall dwell within the colonies shall have all the liberties as if they had been abiding and born within this our realm of England or any other of our dominions.”[3]

These English “liberties” included the limitations on government set forth originally in the Magna Carta. For more than a century, the American colonies wrestled with the conflict between the quest for individual freedom – a requirement for survival in the new world – and the sovereign authority of a king on the other side of the ocean. The American revolution set the stage for the next major evolutionary step toward the individual’s quest for freedom: the U.S. Constitution.

Like the barons who confronted King John in 1215, the authors of the U.S. Constitution were not trying to implement a new philosophical theory; they were simply trying to organize themselves into a society in which government would protect the “natural rights” [4] they believed all men to possess.

The system of governance created by the U.S. Constitution takes the quest for individual freedom and the ideas contained in the Magna Carta to a much higher plane. It firmly establishes the idea that the government (the state) is empowered by the consent of the people. This concept of freedom gives neither king nor church any room to share authority. The powers of government are enumerated. Those powers not granted by the people to the government, are retained by the people.

To be absolutely sure there could be no mistake about certain natural rights retained by the people, the U.S. Constitution was immediately amended to include the Bill of Rights – the first ten amendments. Among these natural rights are: the freedom of speech and assembly; freedom to worship; freedom to bear arms; the right to a public trial by a jury of peers; security from unwarranted search and seizure; and the assurance that government could not take private property for public use without “just compensation.”

The documents which created the United States of America represent a gigantic forward leap for the ideas born in the Magna Carta, and massaged and matured through the mind and writings of John Locke.

To most of the world, the American Revolution was just another war which America won. Few people, even in America, recognized the significance of the ideas articulated and enshrined in those founding documents. For another hundred years, Britain would continue exploiting other colonies, where the rebels were not so rambunctious. While around the world, the power of kings was steadily eroding, even in England, the Hobbesian view prevailed – that the state, not individuals, should be sovereign.

Global Governance

Nearly a hundred years after Thomas Jefferson penned the Declaration of Independence in America, John Ruskin (1819-1900) was teaching a generation of English students, at Oxford, to disdain personal wealth in favor of the common good. He writes:

“But if you can fix some conception of a true human state of life to be striven for — life, good for all men, as for yourselves; if you can determine some honest and simple order of existence; following those trodden ways of wisdom, which are pleasantness, and seeking her quiet and withdrawn paths, which are peace;- then, and so sanctifying wealth into ‘common wealth,’ all your art, your literature, your daily labors, your domestic affection, and citizen’s duty, will join and increase into one magnificent harmony. You will know then how to build, well enough; you will build with stone well, but with flesh better; temples not made with hands, but riveted of hearts; and that kind of marble, crimson-veined, is indeed eternal.” [5]

Ruskin’s work deeply influenced one of Britain’s most famous empire builders, Cecil Rhodes (1853-1902). In 1888, he organized the diamond-mining company, De Beers Consolidated Mines, Ltd. He was appointed Prime Minister of Cape Colony, South Africa in 1890, and by 1891, De Beers controlled 90 percent of the world’s diamond production.

With more wealth than he would ever need, and guided by the influence of John Ruskin, Rhodes called together two of his close friends – William J. Stead, and Reginald Baliol Brett – in what was to become an historic meeting at his home in 1891. Together, they decided to create a secret society. The inner circle was named “Society of the Elect,” and an outer circle to be known as “The Association of Helpers.” [6]

Stead was, perhaps, the most famous journalist of his day. He exerted great influence upon his readers until his untimely death as a passenger on the Titanic in 1912. Brett, later to be known as Lord Esher, was a powerful government official, who refused the Viceroyalty of India, and the position of Secretary of War in order to work behind the scenes.

Alfred Milner (1854-1925), private secretary to George Goschen, chancellor of the exchequer, was added to the inner circle. This group, and other powerful individuals who were added to both circles, have had enormous influence on the development of global governance.

Rhodes died in 1902, leaving most of his vast fortune to the Rhodes Scholarship Program at Oxford that continues to this day. Rhodes left Alfred Milner in charge of the secret society, and he continued the mission launched by Rhodes.

The individuals within the group used their various positions in government, the press, and finance, to advance their Ruskin-Rhodes philosophy in every public policy they could influence. In 1910, the group began publication of The Round Table, a magazine for intellectuals. This group, and the publication’s writers, soon became known as “The Round Table Group.” The group set up offices in Chatham House, and were also known as the Chatham House Crowd.

While Cecil Rhodes, Stead and Brett held their fateful meeting in England in 1891, another meeting was taking place in Austin, Texas. James Stephen Hogg faced two formidable challengers in his bid for Governor. Hogg called on Edward Mandell House (1858-1938) to head his campaign. Hogg won the election in 1892, and rewarded House with the honorary title of Lieutenant Colonel, which soon was shortened to “Colonel.”

House loved the excitement and challenge of politics. He developed a strong network of Democratic supporters that he referred to as “Our Crowd.” House was the driving force behind the election of three Texas Governors, one of whom, Allen Culberson, moved to the U.S. Senate in 1898. House became disenchanted with politics after his candidate lost in 1904. He toured Europe for a while, studied, and moved to New York in 1910, to re-engage in Democratic politics at the national level.

House met Woodrow Wilson on November 25, 1911. The two became close friends and House managed Wilson’s Presidential campaign . By reactivating his Texas network of political allies, House secured the vote of Texas’ 40 electors, which gave Wilson the nomination in 1912. Wilson’s subsequent victory placed House at the pinnacle of influence in the White House. House refused every official position offered to him and chose to remain behind the scenes as the President’s closest personal advisor.

In 1912, House also published his first novel, anonymously. The novel, titled Philip Dru: Administrator, is a horrible novel by any literary standard. Nonetheless, it is an extremely important book. Many people believe the book is an autobiographical fantasy in which House sees himself leading the world to the perfect system of governance.

It is essential to understand House’s belief system. Let his words speak for him:

“Philip Dru…saw many of the civil institutions of his country debased by the power of wealth under the thin guise of the constitutional protection of property” (p. 3).

“When in the future children are trained from infancy that they can measurably conquer their troubles by the force of mind, a new era will have come to man” (p. 31).

“The strong will help the weak, the rich will share with the poor, and it will not be called charity, but it will be known as justice. The man or woman who fails to do his duty, not as he sees it, but as society at large sees it, will be held up to the contempt of mankind” (p. 42).

The purpose of House’s novel is to describe the events that lead to the overthrow of the government, and the organization of the new government under “the Administrator.” When the revolution is completed in the book, Dru says:

“It was felt that the property and lives of all were now in the keeping of one man” (p. 154).

Note the striking similarity of House’s vision with the words of Thomas Hobbes.

“Dru saw that the time had come … for the National Government to take upon itself some of the functions heretofore exclusively within the jurisdiction of the States” (p. 182)

“He also proposed making corporations share with the Government and States a certain part of their net earnings” (p. 182)

“Government…was to have representation upon the boards of [every] corporation…. Labor was to have one representative upon the boards of [every] corporation and to share a certain percentage of the earnings above their wages” (p. 183)

“…he thought, and perhaps rightly, that in a few centuries from now the killing of animals and the eating of their corpses would be regarded in the same way as we now think of cannibalism” (p.200).

“…there were no legislative bodies sitting, and the function of law making was confined to one individual, the Administrator himself” (p. 221).

“Our Constitution and our laws served us well for the first hundred years of our existence, but under the conditions of today they are not only obsolete, but even grotesque” (p. 222).

“The American flag, the American destiny and hers [England’s] were to be interwoven through the coming ages. Thus Dru had formulated and put in motion an international policy, which, if adhered to in good faith, would bring about the comity of nations, a lasting and beneficent peace, and the acceptance of the principle of the brotherhood of man” (pp 275-276).[7]

The reason for all this emphasis on House will become clear as we follow his influence in the White House.

Shortly after his election, Wilson sent House to Europe as his personal representative. There he met Sir Edward Grey, a member of the Milner Group, and a regular at Chatham House. House also met other leaders in the English government, most of whom were also active participants in the Chatham House Crowd.

Firmly ensconced in the White House as the President’s right-hand man, House assembled a network of supporters and advisors which came to be known as the “Inquiry.” This group concerned itself primarily with international relations, especially in Europe as it faced a growing threat of war. House, with the aid of selected members of the Inquiry, drafted Wilson’s famous Fourteen Points, which was presented to Congress January 8, 1918.

House, and about 20 members of the Inquiry constituted the U.S. delegation to the Versailles Peace Conference which began January 18, 1919. It is no coincidence, that one month earlier, in December, 1918, an article appeared in the Round Table, entitled “The League of Nations: A Practical Suggestion.” [8] The idea, and the article, were developed jointly by members of the Chatham House Crowd, House, and members of his Inquiry. Lionel Curtis (1872-1955) who edited the Round Table, and George Louis Beer (1872-1920), [9] who was House’s special envoy, are credited with drafting the article and the Charter for the League of Nations.

A review of the Charter of the League of Nations should be compared to the ideas House expressed in Philip Dru: Administrator, and with the philosophy of Thomas Hobbes.

The Charter or “Covenant” of the League of Nations is the first 30 Articles of the Treaty of Versailles – the treaty that ended World War I. One month before the treaty was signed (on June 28, 1919), an informal meeting of many of the negotiators was held at the Majestic Hotel in Paris (on May 30, 1919). The participants decided to elevate and formalize the behind-the-scenes efforts conducted by both the Inquiry and the Chatham House Crowd (also known as the Round Table Group), by organizing in England, the Royal Institute of International Affairs, and in the United States, the Council on Foreign Relations.[10]

Wilson campaigned vigorously for ratification of his League of Nations, giving 37 speeches in 29 cities during a three-week period. But when the Treaty of Versailles was finally ratified by the U.S. Senate on March 20, 1920, the ratification contained a “reservation” exempting the United States from the first 30 articles. Thereby, the United States opted out of the League of Nations.[11]

Wilson was crushed, and retreated into relative obscurity until his death in 1924. House, never up front or in the spotlight, focused his attention on developing the new organizations which he believed to be the instruments through which the American people could be enlightened sufficiently to appreciate the benefits offered by the League of Nations’ one world government.

Although the League of Nations was ratified by the other Parties to the Treaty of Versailles, and a permanent headquarters was built in Geneva, Switzerland, the League had no power and little influence without the participation of the United States.

The League of Nations brought to the world an opportunity to adopt a worldwide system of governance based on the philosophy of Thomas Hobbes, and crafted by the leading scholars of the day. Most of the world jumped at the opportunity – America didn’t. The idea of world government, however, was firmly imprinted upon the public mind. In Geneva, delegates from the various nations that ratified the treaty busied themselves with the construction of their world government. In America, the economic expansion of the “roaring twenties,” pushed memories of the war and of the League into the distant, irrelevant past.

Then came the depression of the 1930s, which focused America’s attention on survival. The Bolshevik Revolution in Russia inspired new visions of a socialist America. In 1933, Robert Marshall, founder of The Wilderness Society, published The Peoples’ Forests, a book calling for the nationalization of the nation’s forests.[12]

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945) had served in the Wilson administration as Assistant Secretary of the Navy. He was quite friendly with Edward Mandell House, and with Wilson’s effort to create a world government.

When he assumed the Presidency in 1933, in the depth of the depression, America readily accepted his “New Deal,” a package of programs, directly from the Hobbesian philosophy, developed by the friends he brought into his administration, most of whom shared in common – their membership in the Council on Foreign Relations.

“New Deal” was the new title chosen for the socialist agenda. Curtis Dall, FDR’s son-in-law, doubted that FDR was the originator of this vast “recovery” effort. In his book, FDR: My Exploited Father-in-Law (1967) he stated, “For a long time I felt that FDR had developed many thoughts and ideas that were his own to benefit this country, the USA. But he didn’t. Most of his thoughts, his political ammunition,’ as it were, was carefully manufactured for him in advance by the CFR-One World Money Group.”[13]

Within weeks after the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Roosevelt appointed a special committee to develop a plan for the “post war world.” Ten of the 14 were members of the Council on Foreign Relations. This plan evolved throughout the war, and much as the Treaty of Versailles served to produce the League of Nations, the Yalta Conference in February, 1945, produced the United Nations.

This lesson sets the stage for an examination of the rise of global governance in the modern era. It has defined the philosophical foundation from which rises the concept of global governance, and it has demonstrated an unbroken line of people, associations and institutions that have shaped and guided public policy efforts to move the world toward a central, global governance.

Our next lesson will examine the United Nations, and trace its progress toward the goals dreamed of more than a century ago.


  1. Richard A. epstein, Takings: Private Property and the Power of Eminent Domain, (Harvard University Press, 1985), p. 8.
  2. John Locke, Of Civil overnment, (1690), Paragraph 27.
  3. G. Tully Vaughan, Marshall, “Magna Carta and the Colonies II,”, Paragraph 3.
  4. According to Epstein. “…all theories of natural rights reject the idea that private property and personal liberty are solely creations of the state…”, Op Cit., p. 5.
  5. John Ruskin, “Traffic,” (18.458)
  6. Carrol Quigley, The Anglo-American Establishment, (Books in Focus, Inc., 1981), p. 3.
  7. Edward Mandell House, Philip Dru: Administrator, New York (1912),
  8. Quigley, Op Cit., p. 168.
  9. Beer, Georg Louis (1872 – 1920), American Scholar.

In 1893, Beer graduated from Columbia University, where he pursuedhis interest in history. Following the completion of graduate studies, he became a part-time lecturer at Columbia, while working for his family’s tobacco business. He authored four seminal books on the origins and development of the British colonial system. his scholarship earned him respect in America and Britain. From 1915, Beer’s interests turned to the dilemmas of the international system and to the conditions for a lasting post-war peace. He became an American correspondent of the English Round Table. In his articles, he expressed interest in an association of nations for maintaining the peace thus preparing his readership for an organization like the post-war League of Nations. Beer worked as a journalist till 1918. The year before, he published the English-Speaking Peoples, where he expounded his support for close Anglo-American ties based on a commonality of interests and an international organization to bind the world’s nations. Beer argued that future peace would not be secured until nations give up some of their powers of sovereignty anf form a new league of nations. The United States, in his view, must abandon isolationism and align itself with the British Commonwealth. In 1917-18, Beer was asked to head the Inquiry into colonial questions. He devised a system of mandates, whereby a league of nations would assign responsibility over the former German and Turkish colonies to one of the victorious powers, which would administer and prepare them for entry into the “civilized world.” From 1918 to 1919, Beer served the American Commission to Negotiate Peace as an adviser, chiefly on African affairs, and as member of the Mandates Commission. Thus, in addition to laying the groundwork for settling colonial questions within the framework of his proposed mandate system, Beer directly participated in the peacemaking in Paris, always advocating the Anglo-American involvement in world affairs. Just before his death, Beer had been chosen to head the Mandates Section of the League of Nations.

  1. Eric Samuelson, J.D., “An Introduction of the ‘Little Sister’ of the Royal Institute of International Affairs: the Council on Foreign Relations,”
  2. Congressional Record, 66th Congress, pp. 8768-8784,
  3. Jo Kwong Echard,Protecting the Environment: Old Rhetoric, New Imperatives, Capitol Research Center, Washington, DC, p. 13.

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