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Presentation to Schiller Institute Conference in Germany

The British Empire versus Leibnizian Development

by Mike Billington
November 2012

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I wish to begin my presentation on the concept of the global Landbridge with two quotes, one by Gottfried Leibniz, one of the greatest minds of western civilization, another by Rudyard Kipling, a literary spokesman for the British Empire. Leibniz wrote in 1697, in his journal Novissima Sinica, News from China:

I consider it a singular plan of the fates that human cultivation and refinement should today be concentrated, as it were, in the two extremes of our continent, in Europe and in China, which adorns the Orient as Europe does the opposite edge of the earth. Perhaps Supreme Providence has ordained such an arrangement, so that, as the most cultivated and distant peoples stretch out their arms to each other, those in between may gradually be brought to a better way of life.

—G.W. Leibniz,
Novissima Sinica, 1697

Kipling, who grew up in the British Raj, in his poem “Ballad of East and West,” had this to say:

“Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet.”

This is not simply a poetic statement of Kipling’s point of view, but rather, a statement of POLICY for the British Empire.

Throughout history, the issue of relations between East and West, with the East including both Southwest Asia and East Asia, and including both physical connections and cultural connections, has been a battle between those, on the one hand, who view man as Aristotle did – that we are born either as master or slave, with minds like computers, empty except for the data which is input from without through sense perception – who consider the “lesser races” as semi-humans who need to be ruled as part of the “White Man’s Burden” - another Kipling line, this one from an essay sent to the racist imperialist US President Teddy Roosevelt, encouraging him to maintain full power over the Philippines after liberating it from Spanish colonialism, advice which TR accepted most readily – the first taste of America adopting British imperial policies, lasting until Franklin Roosevelt ended them.

Or, on the other hand, there are those who believe like Plato that man is defined by the creative powers of the mind, which contains the potential to assimilate all the discovers of mankind which have come before him, and capable of wondrous new discoveries of universal truths, in science and in the arts. Such humanist minds naturally seek to unite mankind under this search for universal truths.

Lyn and Helga Zepp LaRouche, have often posed the image of a future for Eurasia and Africa based on the “global Landbridge,” with high speed rail corridors connecting the contiguous land masses, and with scholars and statesmen of the three great cultures of Eurasia – Judeo-Christian, Islamic and Confucian – engaged in continual dialogue to create the scientific and cultural cooperation which is required to further mankind’s mastery of the universe and the advancement of civilization.

But it should be clear to all of here today that those who are opposed to such a vision have the upper hand, and that they are prepared and willing to end civilization altogether in order to prevent such cooperation and development from occurring, since they see such development itself as the greatest threat to their power, the power of the oligarchical system and their financial empire. The history of the multiple efforts to link these diverse civilizations, and the oligarchy’s efforts to prevent them, is my subject here, and must instruct our efforts in dealing with the crisis today.

The earliest connections of the Arab world and Europe with distant Asia were forged overland, with what became known as the Silk Road for the silks from Asia which were so prized in the West. There is a rich history of the Silk Road, from Alexander the Great, Roman times, the Tang Dynasty in China – but I want to move ahead to the 12th and 13th Centuries. The western world was largely bankrupt from the years of insane Crusades, genocidal wars between Europe and the Arab world, manipulated by the money lenders in Venice, while in Asia the Mongols were launching their conquest which would lay waste to much of Eurasia. The Mongols, guided by a mish-mash of Buddhist, animist and pseudo-Christian cult ideologies channeled through Persia, and functioning in direct collaboration with Venice, swept through the civilized world, first through China, destroying the great Song Renaissance culture, then through the Islamic world, destroying the Abbasid Caliphate, and across central Europe, slaughtering populations and destroying cities, destroying irrigation systems, and all signs of modern culture as they passed. They stopped short of Venice, of course, which thrived by marketing the Mongol gold stolen from China and Baghdad, selling slaves to the Mongols, and exercising “free trade” in the wake of the Mongol hordes.

The Mongols also brought the plague, continuing to depopulate Europe even after the Mongols had returned to the Asia steppes.

Only the Renaissance saved Europe from Venice and the Black Death. Only the mobilization of the minds of man to throw off the shackles of linear thinking and turn calculated dreams of the future into reality, which could prevent the extinction of mankind.

And so the revival of Platonic thought, aided by the Islamic renaissance which had preserved the ideas of Greek culture, gave a new birth to Europe. While Nicholas of Cusa was designing the idea of sailing west from Europe, to get to Asia in that direction, and to discover the new world which lay between, so also the Jesuit missionaries were taking these Platonic ideas to China and other parts of Asia in the 17th century. Later, Johannes Kepler, at the request of the Jesuits, prepared his revolutionary ideas about the harmony of the spheres for transmission to China (Venice’s Galileo, on the other hand, snubbed the Jesuits when they asked for his help in preparing his work to be presented to the Chinese – perhaps the Chinese should be grateful for that snub!) The Jesuits found a refined and advanced culture in China, and leaders who were open to new scientific learning and to cooperation with the West. The Jesuits were surprised to find that Muslims, who had come to China over the Silk Road, had become the leading astronomers and scientists of the Chinese Empire.

These same Jesuits later facilitated the first international treaty between Russia and China in 1689, which defined the borders in the Far East well into the 20th century.

Gottfried Leibniz also established ties with the Jesuits in China, reading translations of Confucius, Mencius and the great Sung Dynasty philosopher Zhu Xi. Leibniz published a journal, Novissima Sinica, from which the quote at the beginning of my presentation was derived, conveying the ideas of the great Chinese civilization to the European population.

Leibniz also established a close collaboration with the new monarch in Russia, Peter the Great. Leibniz saw the potential for Europe, Russia and China working together to end the imperial system once and for all.

In a letter to Peter the Great in 1712, Leibniz wrote:

“It appears to be the will of God that science should encompass the globe and should now come to Scythia (Russia), and that for that purpose its instrument should be Your Majesty, for you are so situated that you can take the best from Europe on the one side and from China on the other, and, through good institutions, improve upon the achievements of both.”

But then again there was Venice

ll this great potential was crushed by the intervention of the Venetians, who used their power over corrupt Popes to have the Confucian belief structure denounced as a heresy, as incompatible with Christianity. Contrast this to Leibniz, who in his “Natural Theology of the Chinese,” wrote about Confucian beliefs: “It is pure Christianity, insofar as it renews the natural law inscribed in our hearts, except for what revelation and grace add to it to improve our nature.”

But the intention of the Venetian Empire was to crush the collaboration envisioned by Leibniz. Since Confucianism was not only the Chinese philosophic belief system, but also their code of government, the proscription from the Vatican meant that Christians were required to denounce the government. So, as intended by the Empire, the Christians were soon expelled from China altogether, and the Empire again succeeded in breaking the bridge between East and West. China then turned inward, and decayed, setting it up for the invasion of British gunships and opium a century later, raping China and all of Asia for a century or more.

But the United States had emerged in the meantime, guided by the principles of Leibniz. By the time of the Opium Wars, the US was developing machines for power, for transport, and for manufacturing which amazed the world. Abraham Lincoln’s economist, Henry Carey, and his collaborators planned the trans-continental railroad, intended not simply to reach the West Coast of the United States, but to be extended via ship to Asia, much as Cusa wanted to reach Asia by sailing West. The American System proponents aimed to unite what they believed were the natural allies of Asia and America, and to break the British Empire’s strangle hold on Asia.

Carey also proposed that the trans-Continental railroad be extended internationally, to “girdle the earth with a tramway of iron.” This concept led to Carey’s collaboration with Russia in planning what became the Trans-Siberian Railway – the first Iron Silk Road.

Carey also became an advisor to Bismarck in Germany, who had already worked with American-System economist Friedrich List to unify Germany through the Zollverein, based on American System protectionist policies as opposed to British free trade model, marking Bismarck as a primary enemy target of the British Empire. When Bismarck then set about building a rail connection to Southwest Asia - the Berlin to Baghdad railroad - the British viewed this as a casus belli, threatening to undermine their control of trade through their domination of the seas. By 1890 they had succeeded in overthrowing Bismarck, using their family connections with the Kaiser Wilhelm II, and the world war was soon unleashed, starting with Japan’s war on China in 1894, instigated by the British, and the Balkan wars which Bismarck had fought so hard to prevent, leading to the World War. Once again Empire had intervened to prevent the unification of sovereign states in Europe and Asia, and to cut off the spread of the American System in Eurasia.

With the end of the World War, the British and the French implemented the Sykes Picot agreement, dividing up the Islamic world, the Ottoman Empire, as spoils of war, and thus assured that there would be no regional infrastructure or development, such that the oil and other resources would be controlled from London. Indeed, they assured that the 20th century would be a century of war, continual long wars, from World War I into World War II, to the Indochina War and other bloody “population wars” across the third world. Franklin Roosevelt had the intention that the victorious United States would forge a world based on development and scientific progress, but his death left the US under the increasing control of the British imperial enemy, up to the current era of the Bush family, tied to London and Saudi Arabia, and to the narcissistic British puppet Barack Obama, who has brought us to the brink of annihilation.

But the work of Lyndon and Helga LaRouche have demonstrated that there is an alternative to the seemingly endless decline into depopulation and thermonuclear war. Lyn had proposed his solution to the perpetual Mideast crisis in his 1986 proposal, called the Oasis Plan, focused on the creation of vast new water resources for the Arab world through the creation of lakes in the Egyptian desert, in the Qatara Depression, through nuclear desalination, through a canal from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea, and rail connections throughout the region, connecting to Europe, Asia and the rest of Africa. Most importantly, LaRouche insisted that collaboration between the skilled Israeli scientists and engineers and the skilled Palestinian workforce in greening the desert, was the only basis for ending the political stalemate. Development first, then political agreements based on that mutual self-interest, not the other way around, as the British insist, assuring there will never be either.

In 1988, as Lyn was being railroaded to prison, with myself and others, he proposed a bold plan for integrating Eastern Europe, which he forecast, correctly, to be soon shedding its communist chains, through expanded agricultural and industrial projects across the region, leading later to the idea of the “Productive Triangle” between Paris, Berlin and Vienna, with development corridors extended out through Europe to Asia and Africa. This evolved into the idea of the New Silk Road, and while Lyn was locked up, Helga took the lead, not only in fighting the injustice against Lyn and the rest of us, often together with my late wife Gail, but also in organizing the Eurasian nations, and nations throughout the world, behind this uplifting concept of “Peace through Development.”

This culminated in the historic 1996 conference in Beijing, called the International Symposium for Development of the Regions along the Euro-Asian Continental Bridge, which included participants from 36 countries, and featuring a presentation by Helga on “Building the Silk Road Landbridge´ as a Grand Design for peace through development, to fulfill the common aims of mankind. Helga soon was known as the “Silk Road Lady” around the world. The long-term vision for the Landbridge is as development corridors, with hundreds of new, nuclear powered cities along the routes, opening the vast, resource rich areas of the Russian Far East and Central Asia for development.

Two of the three prongs of the Eurasian Landbridge have been completed, although still in a rudimentary way. The Trans-Siberian is being upgraded. The vast upgrading of the central route through Central Asia is now being taken up both by China and Russia, to facilitate the transport of goods coming from the rapidly developing industrial centers in the interior provinces of China. The southern route, linking Asia with the Arab world and Africa, is now, finally, leaping ahead, as formerly isolated nations of Laos and Myanmar are being brought into the Asian development scheme through cooperation between virtually all the Asian nations.

Another milestone was achieved in Moscow in April of 2007, when the Russian government sponsored a conference called “Megaprojects of Russia’s East: A Transcontinental Eurasia-America Transport Link via the Bering Strait.” Lyndon LaRouche, who had championed the Bering Strait rail connection between the State of Alaska and the Russian Far East for the past 30 years as one of the essential “Great Projects” necessary to transform the globe for the coming centuries, was invited to present his ideas on the Bering Strait tunnel. The conference came at the moment that the British were renewing their war plans against Russia, declaring President Putin to be the “new Stalin,” and trying to again drag the US into waging their wars for them – the British brains and the American brawn, as they like to say. But one common theme, from LaRouche and others at the conference, was that “war avoidance” required precisely this kind of joint physical economic development first, linking potential adversaries in real economic development, as with his Oasis Plan in the Mideast, uplifting the productive powers of labor of all sides of a conflict, and putting the common aims of mankind above the interests of the financial oligarchs.

To conclude, I want to briefly point to a number of projects among the many required to build the “Global Landbridge.” Over the past several years, the LaRouche youth movement, now no longer youth, but known as the “Under 50s,” have produced a number of spectacular video presentations on some of these projects, sometimes called the “Global NAWAPA,” which convey the potential for truly global human progress, both on Earth and in space. These include:


Arctic Development

African water, power and transportation development

Bridging the Darien Gap

Reviving the Aral Sea

Are we to survive the current financial collapse and the British drive for war? Tony Blair made very clear why the British are willing to risk global thermonuclear war, when he insisted as long ago as 1999 that the world has outlived the Peace of Westphalia, and the concept sovereign nation states. If Russia and China, or any other nations, refuse to capitulate to this British revival of imperial global rule, then war, if not “preferable,” as Obama likes to say, is necessary. Of course, this is not new – it has been the intention of the British Empire since its inception. But the American Revolution intervened and spoiled their plans. Now, under Bush and Obama, the US has become the tool of the Empire, turning the power of government over to the speculators in the banking system in London and New York, and waging war on nations at will and without reason. If we are to survive, we must return the power of sovereign nations to their people, and unite those sovereign nations around the concept of that Peace of Westphalia so despised by Tony Blair and his royal friends – that the interest of each nation is the interest of the other – and that cooperation between sovereign nations for mutual development is the common aim and interest of mankind.