World Trade Center Building 7 and Conspiracy Theories

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by Gary North by Gary North

For over three decades, the TV networks have used blue and red maps to mark voting results in Presidential elections. This practice began no later than 1972, when color television had become universal. For the first two decades, red marked the Democrats and blue marked the Republicans. Then, in 1992, the colors were reversed.

I liked it much better in the old days. The Democrats were red, as in “commies.” The Republicans were blue, as in “blue bloods.” Those colors applied in Franklin Roosevelt’s day and Harry Truman’s day and Dwight Eisenhower’s day. Conservatives were taught this from our youth. The map conformed to these fundamental truths.

Soft-core Republicans called the Democrats “pinkos.” Well, every movement has its share of wimps. We right wingers knew better: Democrats north of the Mason-Dixon line and west of Texas were commies, except for Scoop Jackson, who was the Senator from Boeing.

That was why Dan Smoot’s 1961 paperback, The Invisible Government, shocked a lot of us. It turned out that the Council on Foreign Relations, a then-obscure organization of the richest and best-connected people in America, had for four decades screened top political candidates and provided the senior Presidential appointees. Locally, the World Affairs Council ran meetings from which CFR members were recruited.

Five years later, in 1966, Georgetown University historian Carroll Quigley had a book published by Macmillan, Tragedy and Hope: A History of the World in Our Time, a gargantuan, 1,350-page, unfootnoted survey of twentieth-century world history. Well into the narrative, beginning at the bottom of page 936, a 20-page bombshell appeared, appropriately in the chapter titled “Nuclear Rivalry and the Cold War.” Quigley had been discussing what my generation of anti-Communists called “the old China hands,” i.e., leftists who had long dominated the State Department’s Asian division. These were highly educated, well-placed misinformers who had described Mao as an agrarian reformer. They were all fellow travellers or commies, as far as we were concerned.

At this point in the book, there was a transition. I regard this as the most important transition published by any modern historian. It began with these innocuous words:

Behind this unfortunate situation lies another, more profound, relationship, which influences matters much broader than Far Eastern policy. It involves the organization of tax-exempt fortunes of international financiers into foundations to be used for educational, scientific, “and other public purposes.” Sixty or more years ago, public life in the West was dominated by the influence of “Wall Street.” . . .

This group, which in the United States, was completely dominated by J. P. Morgan and Company from the 1880’s to the 1930’s was cosmopolitan, Anglophile, internationalist, Ivy League, eastern seaboard, high Episcopalian, and European-culture conscious.

He then went on to describe the take-over of Ivy League universities by Wall Street through control over the flow of endowment money.

Quigley then did what virtually no professional historian ever does. He discussed his own connection to this heretofore secret confederation of power-brokers. As an introduction, he discussed the views of right-wing critics of the China hands: John T. Flynn, Louis Budenz (an ex-Communist), Freda Utley, General Albert Wedemeyer, and others — saints, for my generation of right wingers. He called them purveyors of “a radical right fairy tale.” What was this fairy tale? It pictured American foreign and domestic policy “as a well-organized plot by extreme Left-wing elements, operating from the White House itself and controlling all the chief avenues of publicity in the United States, to destroy the American way of life, based on private enterprise, laissez faire, and isolationism, in behalf of alien ideologies of Russian Socialism and British cosmopolitanism (or internationalism).” Then he explained why this view was misguided. This paragraph is one of the most revealing ever written by a certified historian who is employed by a major academic institution.

This myth, like all fables, does in fact have a modicum of truth. There does exist, and has existed for a generation, an international Anglophile network which operates, to some extent, in the way the radical Right believes the Communists act. In fact, this network, which we may identify as the Round Table Groups, has no aversion to cooperating with the Communists, or any other groups, and frequently does so. I know of the operations of this network because I have studied it for twenty years and was permitted for two years, in the early 1960’s, to examine its papers and secret records. I have no aversion to it or to most of its aims and have, for much of my life, been close to it and to many of its instruments. I have objected, both in the past and recently, to a few of its policies (notably to its belief that England was an Atlantic rather than a European Power and must be allied, or even federated, with the United States and must remain isolated from Europe), but in general my chief difference of opinion is that it wishes to remain unknown, and I believe its role in history is significant enough to be known (p. 950).

He then sketched a history of the Round Table Groups, founded by Cecil Rhodes and carried on by his disciples. He listed American banking interests that still funded its American extensions: J. P. Morgan, Rockefeller, Whitney, Lazard Brothers, and Morgan, Grenfell. The founding organization was the Royal Institute of International Affairs. Its spin-off, beginning in 1921, was the Council on Foreign Relations (p. 952).

This analysis extended Dan Smoot’s thesis. Unlike Smoot, Quigley had followed the money.

After his death, his detailed history of the British connections was published, The Anglo-American Establishment (1981). The manuscript had sat in his files since 1949. In his July, 1992 nomination acceptance speech, Rhodes scholar Bill Clinton singled out Quigley as a professor who had shaped his thinking at Georgetown.


Dan Smoot’s 1961 book was a watershed document in the popular conservative movement. It sold over a million copies. With that book, we can mark the move from anti-Communism to anti-conspiracy. (The ever-popular International Jewish Banking Conspiracy — IJBC — had for 80 years found a subterranean market for books printed on cheap paper with typography from the 1890s, plus typewritten mimeographed bulletins, but this had always been a fringe position.)

In 1964, Robert Welch published More Stately Mansions, which marked a turning point for the John Birch Society. With that manifesto, Welch moved the JBS from an anti-Communist organization, founded in 1958, to an anti-conspiracy organization. American Opinion shifted its focus from anti-Communism to anti-banking, a move that persuaded Hans Sennholz to resign as a featured writer. The focus shifted from Soviet Russia and its domestic sympathizers to the Illuminati and its domestic orchestrators.

The story of Quigley’s welcome by the Right is worth telling. A book as large as Quigley’s, which is aimed at an audience of literate history buffs who did not ask the author to provide footnotes, was not something that ardent right-wingers read in 1966 or now. One man did: Don Bell. Bell wrote and published a very well-written but generally unknown weekly newsletter, Don Bell Reports. In retrospect, I regard it as the best newsletter that the non-libertarian Right ever produced. Its material still holds up well and is useful for researchers, four decades later. Copies are exceedingly rare. They deserve to be on the Web.

I interviewed him in the mid-1980’s. He told me this story. He was in a bookstore in 1966, and his eye lighted on the book. He picked it up. Somehow — he could not explain this — he had turned to the section that I have just cited, pages 936—956.

Twenty years earlier, he told me, he had been involved in a jointly written newsletter, which I had never heard of. His partner had written an essay on the Council on Foreign Relations. This, Bell told me, was the first exposé of the CFR. It was ignored.

Bell began referring to Quigley’s book in his newsletter. From there word spread in the conservative movement. R. J. Rushdoony told me about it in 1966. Soon, the entire print run had sold out. Macmillan then refused to reprint it. I can recall that in 1974, the price of a used copy had soared to $150, which was about $600 in today’s money. Then, sometime around 1975, a small publishing company started selling a reprint, paying Quigley a royalty. Macmillan did not fight this, except to prohibit Macmillan’s name from appearing on the title page. Later editions dropped this. The book comes in and out of print.

In 1970, W. Cleon Skousen, who had earned his right-wing bona fides in 1958 with The Naked Communist, self-published The Naked Capitalist, which was based on Quigley’s 20 pages.

In 1971, None Dare Call It Conspiracy appeared in a hardback by Gary Allen and Larry Abraham. The subsequent paperback version, without Abraham’s name, sold by the millions. After 1964, Gary Allen had been a regular contributor to the Birch Society’s monthly magazine, American Opinion.

What Smoot had revealed a decade earlier became a well-known phenomenon in the early 1970’s. By the time David Rockefeller founded the Trilateral Commission in 1973, Quigley’s dream had come true. The Insiders (capital I) had gone public with their existence.

In what was truly a capper, Skousen in 1978 began publishing a series of large paperback books/magazines through his Freemen Institute. These magazines reprinted, without comment, primary source documents from almost a dozen of these organizations. The Council on Foreign Relations was so pleased that it bought several thousand copies of the issue devoted to the CFR in order to put them in libraries in foreign countries — libraries run by the United States Information Agency.

According to what Skousen told me several years later, the series ended when Skousen’s researcher insisted on adding negative comments. Skousen decided to fire him because he knew that comments would close the spigot of original source documents. Sadly, this decision was made just after the Bank for International Settlements let the researcher have access to thousands of documents. The BIS issue never was published.

In 1983, I wrote a Prologue and an Epilogue for Abraham’s update of the book, Call It Conspiracy. My sections are now on-line as a separate book.

Today, the conspiracy theory of history is alive and well, though not in conservative foundations. The Rockefeller Foundation has always donated money to conservative think tanks inside the Beltway. No one calls this hush money. No one except Murray Rothbard.


Economist/historian Murray Rothbard added many chapters to the conspiracy view of American history with his studies of the American banking system and the Progressive movement, which began in the 1880s. Rothbard began with Ludwig von Mises’ concept of human action. Mises argued that human action is based on individual decision making, not impersonal social forces. Rothbard took this insight and followed the money. “Cui bono?” he asked: Who benefits?

Rothbard committed a three-fold career gaffe: (1) adopting Mises’ epistemology (deductivist) in an era dominated by empiricism (inductivist); (2) adopting Mises’ free market economics; (3) adopting a conspiracy view of history. Conspiracy views of history are acceptable by the historical guild only if you are a Marxist. Marx followed the money. “Cash nexus” was one of his more popular phrases. So, it is academically acceptable to indict capitalism as a Marxist, but not as a defender of free markets. To attack modern capitalism from a free market perspective implies that modern capitalism’s weaknesses and evils are mainly the fault of the State, not open competition. It implies that society can overcome capitalism’s weaknesses and evils by extending the realm of open competition. No proletarian revolution is needed. No government regulations are needed. Therefore, this kind of conspiracy theory is unacceptable in academia.

There is another factor: money. The Insiders have spent a lot of money to buy off the academic guild. They have paid well-respected social scientists and historians to write footnoted academic studies that self-consciously refuse to follow the money and family connections. This buy-off began when the Rockefeller foundation decided to fund a biography of John D. Rockefeller, Sr., which would counter Ida Tarbell’s famous muckraking book. Ivy Lee, the public relations specialist, who worked for most of the major Insiders, was hired by the Rockefeller Foundation to locate a suitable author. He wanted Winston Churchill, but Churchill asked for too much money: $250,000 in advance, in the middle of the depression ($3.5 million today). Lee died in 1934. His successor persuaded Allan Nevins, who was widely respected as an objective academic historian. Nevins wrote a two-volume book on Senior. The book is generally favorable. (This story is told in Ray Eldon Herbert’s 1966 biography of Lee, Courtier to the Crowd.) In my graduate school years a generation ago, Nevins’ book was the standard academic biography of Senior. Tarbell was taboo. John T. Flynn’s God’s Gold (1932) was off limits, and Emanuel M. Josephson’s The Truth About Rockefeller (1964) was unknown.

Not writing from a Marxist perspective, Rothbard was not supposed to put two and two together regarding the influence of Rockefeller money in academia — hush money, in other words. But Prof. Don Fisher has told part of the story: Fundamental Development of the Social Sciences: Rockefeller Philanthropy and the United States Social Science Research Council, published in 1993 by the highly respected University of Michigan Press. He tells it without Rothbard’s penchant for calling a spade a spade.

People act in their own self-interest, Mises taught. Using the coercive power of the State can enrich some people, Rothbard taught. Conclusion: self-interested groups loot the taxpayer and the consumer. Members of these groups conceal what they are doing in order not to arouse suspicion or political opposition. All of this is the predictable result of human action in the context of the modern welfare-warfare State, Rothbard taught. But academic economic historians are not supposed to say this, unless they mask what they are really saying with arcane formulas and statistics, which Rothbard avoided. For him, these are not temporary alliances of “rent-seekers.” They are permanent conspiracies of looters.


So, it’s red counties vs. blue counties. The Republicans have their attention fixed on the blue cape, whereas the Democrats have their attention focused on the red cape. The bullfighter with the sword is ignored by all. So is the refrigerated meat truck just outside the arena.


Gary North [send him mail] is the author of Mises on Money. Visit

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