To summarize the history of the modern Western World with a few sparring sentences begs a task that is nearly insurmountable. The complexity of world affairs, after all, is more complicated than a series of revolutions, both of the political and industrial variety, and two Great Wars which set in place the alliances of nations that have held together a semblance of the “peace in our time” echoed in the great speech, and failed hopes, of British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain in 1938.
Rather paradoxically, the puzzle pieces that assemble our knowledge of the modern world are only a tiny glimmer of sand at the edge of a wide shorefront, with the sands representing that of time since the beginning of our universe. Within the grand scheme of all things, Earth’s political history spanning the last century or so actually means very little.
And yet, for those who study history, we know that there is indeed more action of consequence that has transpired within the last few centuries, culminating in the state of world affairs in the present day. Despite the many books, and the standard elements that are taught in our colleges and universities, there is also much information that has managed to be kept off the books; a sort of “secret history” of the Western World, complete with its key players who have worked, often from behind the scenes, to shape a new order of things in our world.
Cecil John Rhodes was just such a player. Cited among of the most committed imperialists of the 19th Century, Rhodes has been Prime Minister of the Cape Colony from 1890 to 1896. Earlier on, he came to Africa in his 20s and, at the time, was believed to be suffering from tuberculosis. As a businessman, Rhodes made an untold fortune from gold and diamond mining in the region; his exploits there would lead to a long-held contempt for the man, culminating in 2015 with a group of protesters in South Africa calling for removal of a statue of Rhodes, which was doused in pink paint and dragged away into storage.
There was more to Rhodes than just his business and political ambitions. Among his personal beliefs, Rhodes endorsed the idea of superiority he attributed to Anglo-Saxons, which he called “the first race in the world” in a portion of his will. He further wrote that, "the more of the world we [Anglo-Saxons] inhabit the better it is for the human race.” Rhodes hopeful aspirations for his Anglo-Saxon kindred carried further than mere personal beliefs. While in his twenties, Rhodes sought to solidify formation of a secret group, following a meeting that transpired with General Gordon of Khartoum. What resulted was Rhodes aptly-named group, The Secret Society, which was designed with one express intent and purpose: the institution of a New World Order, under British Imperial rule.
Rhodes’ Secret Society was outlined thusly by author Robin Brown, in his excellent book The Secret Society: Cecil John Rhodes’s Plan for a New World Order:
“The Secret Society has perhaps been passed over because it is not the subject matter of conventional biography. It has instead been categorized as conspiracy theory, the stuff of whodunits, involving diamonds by the ton, vast hordes of gold, political intrigue, presidents and prime ministers, plots involving the Nazi axis, Erin aristocrats and royals — and, of course, that particular ‘secret society’ that is world banking. But it is clearly not a conspiracy theory: Rhodes documented everything. The codicil attached to his first will announcing his intention to form a secret society to rule the world may be found at Rhodes House in Oxford. In addition, he nominated beneficiaries to run the Society and left them money to fund its activities. Finally, the Society still exists, albeit in several different forms. Though far less secretive, some of these do still lack transparency, and some… are more influential today than they were over a century ago.”
Rhodes' Secret Society went on to become highly influential during World War I, and later, "appeasement initiatives" aimed toward placating figures such as the Duke of Windsor and, more notably, Adolf Hitler, would be spearheaded by groups associated with Rhodes' Secret Society in the years leading up to World War II.
Of the various modern formations Brown noted earlier in the excerpt from his book above, Georgetown University History Professor Carroll Quigley described what he called “Round Table Groups”, which were essentially the same secret societal shoot-offs founded in 1891 by Cecil Rhodes and, later, Lord Alfred Milner. The groups, their formation, and subsequent operations were outlined by Quigley as follows, in his 1964 book Tragedy and Hope:
“As governor-general and high commissioner of South Africa in the period 1897 – 1905, Milner recruited a group of young men, chiefly from Oxford and from Toynbee Hall, to assist him in organizing his administration. Through his influence these men were able to win influential posts in government and international finance and became the dominant influence in British imperial and foreign affairs up to 1939. Under Milner in South Africa they were known as Milner’s Kindergarten until 1910. In 1909 – 1913 they organized semisecret groups, known as Round Table Groups, in the chief British dependencies and the United States. These still function in eight countries. They kept in touch with each other by personal correspondence and frequent visits, and through an influential quarterly magazine, The Round Table, founded in 1910 and largely supported by Sir Abe Bailey’s money. In 1919 they founded the Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House) for which the chief financial supporters were sir Abe Bailey and the Astor family (owners of The Times). Similar Institutes of International Affairs were established in the chief British dominions and in the United States (where is known as the Council on Foreign Relations) in the period 1919 – 1927. After 1925 a somewhat similar structure of organizations, known as the Institute of Pacific relations, was set up in twelve countries holding territory in the Pacific area, the units in each British Dominion existing on an interlocking basis with the Round Table Group and the Royal Institute of International Affairs in the same country. In Canada the nucleus of this group consisted of Milner’s undergraduate friends at Oxford (such as Arthur Glazebrook and George Parkin), while in South Africa and India the nucleus was made up of former members of Milner’s Kindergarten.” (Quigley,Tragedy and Hope, p. 132)
Needless to say, the American Council on Foreign Relations maintains a healthy degree of attention for its dealings in areas of politics, governance, and international affairs. In my article A Brief History of Secret Societies in the Western World, I outlined a brief summary of the formation and current function of the CFR thusly:
The Council on Foreign Relations, which has its roots dating back to Woodrow Wilson’s presidency, may be one of the most “secret” of purported modern secret societies. It is often said that those who speak of official CFR business outside of meetings will be penalized with loss of their membership; the very definition of “secret” activities.
John Foster Dulles was an early member of the CFR, as was his brother, Allen Dulles, who went on to be the head of the CIA. Since Dulles’ tenure with the agency, virtually every CIA chief has also been a member of the CFR. However, the CFR’s influence doesn’t merely extend to the CIA; the State Department is equally involved in the group’s dealings.
As with many other secret societies, the CFR has its own magazine, Foreign Affairs, which serves as something of a public front for the organization, in periodical form.
This is an interesting historical side-note, about the publication of Foreign Affairs in association with the activities of groups like the CFR. As Quigley noted, a similar publication was (and still is) offered by the Round Table Groups, which can be more directly associated with Rhodes and his Secret Society than it's aforementioned "modern" counterparts.
To what extent, even well after his own death, was Rhodes able to set the groundwork for the "New World Order" he envisioned? Arguably, the globalization that is continually promoted in the name of "Atlanticism" and similar unifying ideas continues today, under the oversight of groups like the Bilderbergs, the CFR and its subsidiary known as the Trilateral Commission, and countless other organizations, groups, and yes, even secret fraternities and societies. Placed into proper historical context, the underpinnings of many of the most influential political groups known today stem back to the exploits of those like Rhodes, who, in all their obscurity, have indeed managed to have very lasting influence on world affairs.