Webster G. Tarpley, Ph.D.
ICLC Conference, September, 1994
There is a cancer growing on world history – the cancer of oligarchism. Between 1200 A.D. and about 1600 A.D., the world center of gravity for the forces of oligarchism was the oligarchy of Venice. Toward the end of that time, the Venetian oligarchy decided for various reasons to transfer its families, fortunes, and characteristic outlook to a new base of operations, which turned out to be the British Isles. The old program of a worldwide new Roman Empire with its capital in Venice was replaced by the new program of a worldwide new Roman Empire with its capital in London – what eventually came to be known as the British Empire.
This was the metastasis of the cancer, the shift of the Venetian Party from the Adriatic to the banks of the Thames, and this has been the main project of the world oligarchy during the past five centuries. The Venetian Party, wherever it is, believes in epistemological warfare. The Venetian Party knows that ideas are more powerful weapons than guns, fleets, and bombs. In order to secure acceptance for their imperial ideas, the Venetian Party seeks to control the way people think. If you can control the way people think, say the Venetians, you can control the way they respond to events, no matter what those events may be. It is therefore vital to the Venetians to control philosophy and especially science, the area where human powers of hypothesis and creative reason become a force for improvements in the order of nature. The Venetian Party is implacably hostile to scientific discovery. Since the days of Aristotle, they have attempted to suffocate scientific discovery by using formalism and the fetishism of authoritative professional opinion. The Venetian Party has also created over the centuries a series of scientific frauds and hoaxes, which have been elevated to the status of incontrovertible and unchallengeable authorities. These have been used to usurp the rightful honor due to real scientists, whom the Venetians have done everything possible to destroy.
We can identify the Venetian faction which has been responsible for the most important of these scientific and epistemological frauds. They can be called the “dead souls” faction, or perhaps the “no-soul brothers” of Venetian intelligence. This is because their factional pedigree is based on the belief that human beings have no soul. Their factional creed is the idea that human beings have no creative mental powers, are incapable of forming hypotheses, and cannot make scientific discoveries.
THREE GROUPS OF VENETIAN GAMEMASTERS
We can approach these Venetian dead souls in three groups. First there is the group around Pietro Pomponazzi, Gasparo Contarini, and Francesco Zorzi, who were active in the first part of the 1500s. Second, there is the group of Paolo Sarpi and his right-hand man Fulgenzio Micanzio, the case officers for Galileo Galilei. This was the group that opposed Johannes Kepler in the early 1600s. Third, we have the group around Antonio Conti and Giammaria Ortes in the early 1700s. This was the group that created the Newton myth and modern materialism or utilitarianism and combated Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz. These three groups of Venetian gamemasters are responsible for a great deal of the obscurantism and garbage that weighs like a nightmare on the brain of humanity today. These Venetian intelligence officials are the original atheists and materialists of the modern world, as reflected in the sympathy of Soviet writers for figures like Galileo, Newton, and Voltaire as ancestors of what was later called dialectical materialism.
The leading figure of the first grouping in the early 1500s was Gasparo Contarini. In other locations we have told the story of how Contarini, for Venetian raisons d’état, set into motion the Protestant Reformation, including Martin Luther, King Henry VIII of England, Jean Calvin of Geneva, and the Italian crypto-Protestants known as gli Spirituali. At the same time, Contarini was the cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church who masterminded the early phases of the Catholic Counter-Reformation. Contarini was the personal protector of Ignatius of Loyola, and played a decisive role in establishing the Jesuit Order. Contarini also convoked the Council of Trent on an Aristotelian platform.
It is with Pietro Pomponazzi that we see the explicit factional pedigree of the dead souls faction. Pomponazzi started from Aristotle, as the Venetian Party always does. Aristotle asserted that there is no thought which is not mixed with sense impressions. This meant that there is no part of our mental life which is not contaminated by matter. For Pomponazzi, this proved that the soul does not exist, since it has no immaterial substance. Contarini warned Pomponazzi not to take this matter any further, but also remarked that the only time that the existence of the soul is really certain is when the person is already dead. For Contarini, as a practical matter, there is no empirical human soul that you can be aware of while you are still alive.
Francesco Zorzi was the envoy of this group to Henry VIII, to whom he became the resident sex adviser. Zorzi illustrates the typical profile of a Venetian intelligence operative in the early 1500s: He was a Franciscan friar whose main occupation was black magic of the Rosicrucian variety. He was a conjurer, a necromancer, an apparitionist. Think of Christopher Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus, and you have the portrait of Zorzi. Not exactly a role model for science nerds of any age. As the 1500s turned into the 1600s, this profile began to present serious drawbacks and limitations.
SARPI AND GALILEO
Until about 1600, the posture of the Venetian Party toward science was one of more or less open hostility, favoring black magic. But in the early 1600s, the group around Sarpi succeeded in changing their public profile from being the enemies of science to being the embodiment of the most advanced and sophisticated science. For several centuries after this, the Venetians would work inside the scientific community to take it over. They would claim to represent the highest expression of scientific values. In this way, they could institutionalize the dead hand of formalism and the fetishism of authority, so as to stifle the process of discovery.
The chief of Venetian intelligence who made this possible was Paolo Sarpi. Sarpi and his friend Fulgenzio Micanzio were Servite monks. Sarpi was part of an important Venetian salon of the day, the Ridotti Morosini, which met for discussions in the palace of the Morosini family on the Grand Canal. The Morosini were the direct ideological heirs of Gasparo Contarini. The Morosini salon centered on a discussion of science, and it became the nucleus for the youthful faction of the Venetian oligarchy, the so-called Giovani, who became powerful after 1582. The Giovani favored a policy of cooperation with Holland, England, and France in conflicts with the Austrian and Spanish Hapsburgs and the papacy. The Vecchi, the oldies, serviced the Venetian networks on the Spanish and papal side, which were also quite extensive.
We have told in other locations how Sarpi organized and unleashed the Thirty Years’ War in Central Europe, using agents like Max von Thurn und Taxis, Christian von Anhalt, Christoph von Dona, and the Elector Palatine Frederick, the so-called Winter King. In this sense, Paolo Sarpi personally exterminated about one-third of the entire population of Europe, and about one-half of the population of Germany and surrounding areas. Sarpi also caused the assassination of King Henry IV of France when Henry opposed Sarpi’s designs and exposed him as an atheist. Paolo Sarpi, we see, is a worthy predecessor to Bertrand Russell.
But Sarpi in his own time was considered an eminent mathematician. One contemporary wrote of him: “…I can say about him without any exaggeration whatsoever that no one in Europe excels him in the knowledge of [mathematical] sciences.” This is the view of Sarpi held by Galileo Galilei.
Sarpi’s companions at the Ridotto Morosini during the 1590s included the influential mystic Giordano Bruno. Starting in 1592, there was also a professor of mathematics at the nearby University of Padua: Galileo Galilei, a native of Florence. Galileo taught mathematics in Padua from 1592 to 1610, and it was during his stay on Venetian territory that he became a celebrity. Galileo was a paid agent of Sarpi and, after Sarpi’s death, of Sarpi’s right-hand man Micanzio. There is a correspondence on scientific subjects between Sarpi and Galileo, including on magnetism, which was Sarpi’s favorite, because he found it occult. Galileo proposed some of his first ideas on falling bodies to Sarpi, who enthused that Galileo had been born to solve the question of motion.
Galileo’s fame was procured when he used a small telescope to observe the moons of Jupiter, the rings of Saturn, and the phases of Venus. He reported these sightings in his essay The Starry Messenger, which instantly made him the premier scientist in Europe and thus a very important agent of influence for the Venetian Party. This entire telescope operation had been devised by Paolo Sarpi.
The first telescope had been built by Leonardo da Vinci about a hundred years before Galileo. Susan Welsh has called attention to the research of Domenico Argentieri on Leonardo’s optical manuscripts, which demonstrates that Leonardo’s telescope had a convex lens at one end and a concave lens at the other. Its magnifying power was rather weak, but it was a telescope. There are reports of a telescope made in Italy in 1590. By 1608, telescopes began to turn up in Holland, and Galileo says he was encouraged by reports of them to build his own telescope in 1609.
Sarpi’s version of these events is more revealing. He wrote on March 16, 1610 that a telescope had been found in Holland two years before, therefore in spring 1608. “Once this was found,” wrote Sarpi, “our mathematician of Padua [Galileo] and some of our other people who are not ignorant of these arts began to use the telescope on celestial bodies, adjusting it and refining it for the purpose….” Notice: Galileo “and some of our other people.” It would appear that the observations were made not from Padua, but from Paolo Sarpi’s Servite monastery in Venice. Sarpi wrote about Galileo as “our mathematician,” saying that he had “frequently discussed with him at the time” about the results of the telescopic observations, and did not need to read what Galileo had written about them.
In 1611, a Polish visitor to Venice, Rey, wrote that Galileo had not really been the inventor of the telescope, but that the “adviser, author, and director” of the telescope project had been Father Paolo Sarpi, “who is considered the greatest mathematician here.”
In 1597, Johannes Kepler had sent a copy of his new book, Mysterium Cosmographicum, to Galileo. This was the work in which Kepler proposed the Platonic solids as the basis for understanding the harmonic ordering of the planetary orbits around the Sun. Galileo thereupon sent a letter to Kepler, explaining that he, too, was a follower of the Copernican or heliocentric view, but that he “had not dared” to come forward with this view because of fear, and preferred to sit on the whole business because of the climate of opinion. Kepler had written back urging Galileo to be confident and to go forward with the struggle for truth, offering to find publishers in Germany if the Italian climate were too oppressive. Galileo did not do this, and refused to comment in detail on Kepler’s book. According to Kepler’s biographer Max Caspar, in the following years Galileo used material from Kepler in his lectures, but without giving Kepler credit.
Kepler and Galileo were in frequent contact for over 30 years. Kepler commented with benevolent interest – and with subtle polemics – about Galileo’s published works. But Galileo never commented systematically on Kepler’s laws. In 1609, Kepler published his Astronomia Nova, expounding his first and second laws of planetary motion – that the planets move in ellipses of which the Sun is one focus, and that the planets sweep out equal areas in equal times between themselves and the Sun as they revolve. In Galileo’s Dialogues on the Two Great World Systems, published in 1533, Kepler is hardly mentioned, while the discussion centers on Copernicus, with his perfect circle orbits of the planets around the Sun, which had no hope of accounting for the observed positions of the planets. At the end, one of the characters says that he is surprised at Kepler for being so “puerile” as to attribute the tides to the attraction of the Moon.
During the first years of the pontificate of Pope Urban VIII Barberini, Galileo was the semi-official scientist for the pope. But in 1631, when the Swedish Protestant army of Gustavus Adolphus fought its way through Germany, reached the Alps, and seemed ready to sweep down on Rome, Urban VIII turned abruptly from a pro-French to a pro-Spanish policy. The Spanish ascendancy is the backdrop for the trial of Galileo carried out by the Dominicans with Jesuit support. Some years earlier, Sarpi had forecast that if Galileo went to Rome, the Jesuits and others were likely to “turn … the question of physics and astronomy into a theological question,” so as to condemn Galileo as “an excommunicated heretic” and force him to “recant all his views on this subject.” Sarpi in 1616 seemed to know very well what would happen more than 15 years later, well after his own death. It is evident that the scenario sketched here corresponded to Sarpi’s own long-term plan. For Galileo, the trial was one of the greatest public relations successes of all time. The gesture of repression against Galileo carried out by the Dominicans of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva in Rome established the equation Galileo=modern experimental science struggling against benighted obscurantism. That equation has stood ever since, and this tragic misunderstanding has had terrible consequences for human thought. Lost in the brouhaha about Galileo is the more relevant fact that Kepler had been condemned by the Inquisition more than a decade before.
Sarpi’s philosophical and scientific writings were not published until after World War II. These are the Pensieri, or Thoughts, and the Arte di Ben Pensare, the Art of Thinking Well. Sarpi’s achievement for Venetian intelligence was to abstract the method of Aristotle from the mass of opinions expressed by Aristotle on this or that particular issue. In this way, sense certainty could be kept as the basis of scientific experiments, and Aristotle’s embarrassingly outdated views on certain natural phenomena could be jettisoned. This allowed the Venetians to preserve the essential Aristotle, while attacking exponents of the Aristotelian or Peripatetic school, such as the Jesuits of the Collegio Romano. These writings by Sarpi have not been translated, but they are the basis of everything written by Sir Francis Bacon. The Bacon-Hobbes menage was in close contact with Sarpi and Micanzio. Sarpi can also be found in Locke, who took almost 1,000 pages to write what Sarpi had put down in 30.
In the Art of Thinking Well, Sarpi starts from sense perception and sense certainty. He suggests that an impression made on our sensory apparatus by outside objects has to be distinguished from those objects. Especially he points to tastes, odors, and sounds, which he thinks are a matter of our nervous system, not of outside reality. In a different category are ideas of quantity, size, and time, which are objective. In the same manuscript, Sarpi lists the immortality of the soul as one on a list of wrong ideas. Sarpi repeats the argument of Pomponazzi that since there is no knowledge without sensation, the soul dies with the body. Again, the trademark of the Venetian dead souls faction.
Galileo’s epistemology comes straight from Sarpi. We can see this in Galileo’s 1623 essay Il Saggiatore, The Assayer. For Galileo, colors, tastes, sounds, smells, are mere words. They exist only for our bodies. Galileo makes the famous comparison of these to tickling. If you brush a feather over the soles of the feet or the armpits of a marble statue, you will not produce a tickle. But if you do this to a human being, you will cause that tickling sensation. So, Galileo says, it is time to get rid of ears, tongues, and noses, and go for shapes, numbers, and motions, and never odors, tastes, and sounds. From this he proceeds quickly to a reductionist theory of atoms, in which heat is explained as the effect a “fiery minims” of igneous atoms. Galileo’s epistemology is identical with that of Sarpi. This is what Galileo means when he denies Aristotle to say that the truth is written in the book of nature, and written in mathematical characters. Galileo was a reductionist.
Sarpi died in 1623, and Galileo’s case officer became the Servite monk Fulgenzio Micanzio. After Galileo had been condemned, Micanzio reminded Galileo of the assignment he had received from Sarpi 20 years earlier: to write a treatise on motion. And by the way, added Micanzio, I have 258 pounds here for you. Later, Micanzio would procure Galileo a pension of 60 scudi per year from the coffers of the Venetian state.
Galileo responded to Micanzio’s orders with the 1638 Discourses on Two New Sciences, Mechanics and Local Motion. Because Galileo had been condemned by the Inquisition, he could not be published anywhere that papal authority was strong. Micanzio therefore arranged for Galileo’s book to be printed by the Dutch Elsevir press in Leyden.
In 1634, Micanzio wrote to Galileo that he had been talking to an expert in science and philosophy – called a virtuoso in the parlance of the day – who had commented that although he did not deny Galileo’s scientific ability, “the things that you bring are not new, but are already in Kepler.” Indeed. Galileo wrote back that the correct answer to this virtuoso is that although Galileo and Kepler may sometimes seem to agree about certain astronomical phenomena, “my way of philosophizing is so different from his.” (Nov. 19, 1634).
In letters written in 1640, Galileo threw further light on his own scientific method. Galileo complained that he had been misunderstood: “Against all the reason in the world, I am accused of impugning Peripatetic doctrine, whereas I profess and am certain of observing more religiously the Peripatetic – or, to put it better, Aristotelian – teachings than many others….” (Aug. 24, 1640). Galileo asserted that he had tried to study phenomena: “that in all natural effects assure me of their existence, their “an sit” [if it be], whereas I gain nothing from their how, their “quomodo.” (June 23, 1640). Some might try to dismiss these admissions as a distortion of Galileo’s outlook caused by the crackdown of which he was still a victim, but I would submit that this is the real Galileo talking. What Galileo is trying to express here is the same thing Isaac Newton meant with his infamous “hypotheses non fingo” [I do not fabricate hypotheses]. Which brings us to Newton.
NEWTON: A CULTIST KOOK
The next phase of the corruption of science by Venice depends on a rather obscure Cambridge don by the name of Isaac Newton. For the oligarchy, Newton and Galileo are the only two contenders for the honor of being the most influential thinker of their faction since Aristotle himself. The British oligarchy praises Newton as the founder of modern science. But, at the same time, they have been unable to keep secret the fact that Newton was a raving irrationalist, a cultist kook. Among the oligarchs, it was the British economist Lord John Maynard Keynes and a fellow Cambridge graduate who began to open the black box of Newton’s real character. Was Newton the first and greatest of the modern scientists, the practitioner of cold and untinctured reason? No, said Keynes, Newton was not the first of the Age of Reason. He was the last of the magicians, the last of the Babylonians and Sumerians, the last wonderful child to whom the Magi could do sincere and appropriate homage. Keynes based his view on the contents of a box. What was in the box? The box contained papers which Newton had packed up when he left Cambridge for London in 1696, ending his Cambridge career and beginning his new life in London as member and president of the British Royal Society, director of the mint, resident magus of the new British Empire.
Inside the box were manuscripts and papers totaling some 1.2 million words. After Newton’s death, Bishop Horsley was asked to inspect the box, with a view to publication, but when he saw the contents, he recoiled in horror and slammed the lid. A century passed. Newton’s nineteenth-century biographer, Sir David Brewster, looked into the box. He decided to save Newton’s reputation by printing a few selections, but he falsified the rest with straight fibbing, as Keynes says. The box became known as the Portsmouth Papers. A few mathematical papers were given to Cambridge in 1888. In 1936, the current owner, Lord Lymington, needed money, so he had the rest auctioned off. Keynes bought as many as he could, but other papers were scattered from Jerusalem to America.
As Keynes points out, Newton was a suspicious, paranoid, unstable personality. In 1692, Newton had a nervous breakdown and never regained his former consistency of mind. Pepys and Locke thought that he had become deranged. Newton emerged from his breakdown slightly “gaga.” As Keynes stresses, Newton “was wholly aloof from women,” although he had some close young male friends. He once angrily accused John Locke of trying to embroil him with women.
In the past decades, the lid of the box has been partially and grudgingly opened by the Anglophile scholars who are the keepers of the Newton myth. What can we see inside the box?
First, Newton was a supporter of the Arian heresy. He denied and attacked the Holy Trinity, and therefore also the Filioque and the concept of Imago Viva Dei. Keynes thought that Newton was “a Judaic monotheist of the school of Maimonides,” which suggests that he was a Cabalist. For Newton, to worship Christ as God was idolatry and a mortal sin. Even in the Church of England, Newton had to keep these views secret or face ostracism.
ALCHEMY AND GREEN LIONS
Newton’s real interest was not mathematics or astronomy. It was alchemy. His laboratory at Trinity College, Cambridge was fitted out for alchemy. Here, his friends said, the fires never went out during six weeks of the spring and six weeks of the autumn. And what is alchemy? What kind of research was Newton doing? His sources were books like the “Theatrum Chemicum Britannicum” of Elias Ashmole, the Rosicrucian leader of British speculative Freemasonry. Newton owned all six heavy quarto volumes of Ashmole.
The goal of the alchemists was the quest for the mythical philosopher’s stone, which would permit the alchemist to transmute lead and other base metals into gold. The alchemists hoped the philosopher’s stone would give them other magical powers, such as rejuvenation and eternal youth.
Alchemy also involved the relations between the astrological influences of the planets and the behavior of chemicals. One treatise that dealt with these issues was the “Metamorphosis of the Planets.” Since the planet Jupiter had precedence among the planets, it also occupied a privileged position among the reagents of alchemy. Newton expressed this with a picture he drew of Jupiter Enthroned on the obverse of the title page of this book.
What were Newton’s findings? Let him speak for himself: “Concerning Magnesia of the green Lion. It is called Prometheus & the Chameleon. Also Androgyne, and virgin verdant earth in which the Sun has never cast its rays although he is its father and the moon its mother. Also common mercury, dew of heaven which makes the earth fertile, nitre of the wise. Instructio de arbore solari. It is the Saturnine stone.” This would appear to have been written in the 1670s. A sample from the 1690s: “Now this green earth is the Green Ladies of B. Valentine the beautifully green Venus and the green Venereal emerald and green earth of Snyders with which he fed his lunary Mercury and by virtue of which Diana was to bring forth children and out of which saith Ripley the blood of the green Lyon is drawn in the beginning of the work.”
During the 1680s Newton also composed a series of aphorisms of alchemy, the sixth of which reads as follows: “The young new born king is nourished in a bigger heat with milk drawn by destellation from the putrefied matter of the second work. With this milk he must be imbibed seven times to putrefy him sufficiently and then dococted to the white and red, and in passing to the red he must be imbibed with a little red oil to fortify the solary nature and make the red stone more fluxible. And this may be called the third work. The first goes on no further than to putrefaction, the second goes to the white and the third to the red.” (Westfall, pp. 292, 293, 358).
And so it goes for more than a million words, with Green Lions, Androgynes, male and female principles, Pan and Osiris. Truly it has been said that Newton had probed the literature of alchemy as it had never been probed before or since, all during the time he was supposedly writing his Principia Mathematica. In addition, he drew up plans for King Solomon’s Temple, and later a chronology of Biblical events which foreshortened that history by cutting out several hundred years.
And what about Newton’s supposed discoveries? Upon closer scrutiny, it turns out that he had no discoveries. Take, for example, Newton’s alleged law of universal gravitation, which states that the force of attraction of two point masses is equal to the product of the two masses divided by the square of the distance between them, times a constant. This is Newton’s so-called inverse square law. It has long been known that this was not really a new discovery, but rather derived by some tinkering from Kepler’s Third Law. Kepler had established that the cube of a planet’s distance from the Sun divided by the square of its year always equaled a constant. By supplementing this with Huygens’s formula for centrifugal acceleration and making some substitutions, you can obtain the inverse square relationship. This issue is settled in the appendices to The Science of Christian Economy [by Lyndon LaRouche, Washington, D.C.: Schiller Institute, 1991]. But the partisans of Newton still claim that Newton explained gravity.
By opening the lid of the box, we find that Newton himself confesses, in an unpublished note, that his great achievement was cribbed from Kepler. Newton wrote: “…I began to think of gravity extending to the Orb of the Moon and (having found out how to estimate the force with which a globe revolving presses the surface of a sphere) from Kepler’s rule of the periodical times of the Planets being in sesquialterate proportion of their distances from the center of their Orbs, I deduced that the forces which keep the Planets in their Orbs must be reciprocally as the squares of their distances from the centers about which they revolve….” (Westfall, 143). Newton “arrived at the inverse square relation by substituting Kepler’s Third Law into Huygens’s recently published formula for centrifugal force” (Westfall, 402). Hooke and Sir Christopher Wren claimed to have done the same thing at about the same time.
Newton’s love of alchemy and magic surfaces as the basis of his outlook, including in his supposed scientific writings. In his “Opticks,” he asks, “Have not the small particles of bodies certain powers, virtues, or forces, by which they act at a distance…. How those attractions may be performed, I do not here consider. What I call attraction may be performed by Impulse, or some other means unknown to me.” This is Newton’s notion of gravity as action at a distance, which Leibniz rightly mocked as black magic. Newton’s system was unable to describe anything beyond the interaction of two bodies, and supposed an entropic universe that would have wound down like clockwork if not periodically re-wound. Newton also wrote of an electric spirit, and of a mysterious medium he called the ether. What the basis of these is in alchemy is not clear.
Then there is the story of Newton’s invention of the calculus. In reality, Newton never in his entire life described a calculus. He never had one. What he cooked up was a theory of so-called fluxions and infinite series. This was not a calculus and quickly sank into oblivion when it was published nine years after Newton’s death. By 1710, European scientists had been working with Leibniz’s calculus for several decades. It was about that time that Newton and the British Royal Society launched their campaign to claim that Newton had actually invented the calculus in 1671, although for some strange reason he had never said anything about it in public print during a period of 30 years. This was supplemented by a second allegation, that Leibniz was a plagiarist who had copied his calculus from Newton after some conversations and letters exchanged between the two during the 1670s. These slanders against Leibniz were written up by Newton and put forward in 1715 as the official verdict of the British Royal Society. The same line was churned out by scurrilous hack writers directed by Newton. But scientists in continental Europe, and especially the decisive French Academy of Sciences, were not at all convinced by Newton’s case. Newton’s reputation on the continent was at best modest, and certainly not exalted. There was resistance against Newton in England, with a hard core of 20-25% of anti-Newton feeling within the Royal Society itself. How then did the current myth of Newton the scientist originate?
NEWTON: THE APOTHEOSIS OF A CHARLATAN
The apotheosis of Newton was arranged by Antonio Conti of Venice, the center of our third grouping of the dead souls faction. In order to create the myth of Newton as the great modern scientist, Conti was obliged to do what might well have been considered impossible at the time: to create a pro-British party in France. Conti succeeded, and stands as the founder of the Enlightenment, otherwise understood as the network of French Anglophiles. Those Frenchmen who were degraded enough to become Anglophiles would also be degraded enough to become Newtonians, and vice versa. The British had no network in Paris that could make this happen, but the Venetians did, thanks most recently to the work of such figures as Montaigne and Pierre Bayle. What the British could never have done, the Venetians accomplished for the greater glory of the Anglo- Venetian Party.
Born in Padua in 1677, Conti was a patrician, a member of the Venetian nobility. He was a defrocked priest who had joined the Oratorian order, but then left it to pursue literary and scientific interests, including Galileo and Descartes. Conti was still an abbot. In 1713, Conti arrived in Paris. This was at the time of the Peace of Utrecht, the end of the long and very bitter War of the Spanish Succession, in which the British, the Dutch, and their allies had invaded, defeated, and weakened the France of Jean-Baptiste Colbert. Louis XIV had only two more years to live, after which the throne would go to a regent of the House of Orleans.
In Paris, Conti built up a network centering on the philosopher Nicholas de Malebranche. He also worked closely with Bernard Le Bovier de Fontenelle, the permanent secretary of the French Academy of Sciences, still the premier research center in Europe. Conti saw immediately that Fontenelle was a follower of Giordano Bruno of the Ridotto Morosini. Conti become a celebrity in Paris, but he soon announced that he was growing tired to Descartes, the dominant figure on the French intellectual scene. Conti began telling the Paris salons that he was turning more and more to Newton and Leibniz. He began to call attention to the polemic between Newton and Leibniz. What a shame that these two eminent scientists were fighting each other! Perhaps these two outlooks could be reconciled. That would take a tactful mediator, an experienced man of the world. Since the English and the German scientists were at war, who better than an Italian, a Venetian, to come forward as mediator? Perhaps such a subtle Venetian could find a way to settle this nasty dispute about the calculus and propose a compromise platform for physics.
A solar eclipse was in the offing, and Conti organized a group of French astronomers to go to London and observe it – probably the London fog would be helpful. With Conti’s help these Frenchmen would be turned, made members of the Royal Society, and when they got back to France, they would become the first French Anglophiles of the eighteenth century French Enlightenment. Before leaving Paris, Conti, with classical Venetian duplicity, wrote a very friendly letter to Leibniz, introducing himself as a supporter of Leibniz’s philosophy. Conti claimed that he was going to London as a supporter of Leibniz, who would defend his cause in London just as he had done in Paris. By 1715, Leibniz’s political perspectives were very grim, since his patroness, Sophie of Hanover, had died in May 1714. Leibniz was not going to become prime minister of England, because the new British king was Georg Ludwig of Hanover, King George I.
When Conti got to London, he began to act as a diabolical agent provocateur. Turning on his magnetism, he charmed Newton. Newton was impressed by his guest and began to let his hair down. Conti told Newton that he had been trained as a Cartesian. “I was myself, when young, a Cartesian,” said the sage wistfully, and then added that Cartesian philosophy was nothing but a “tissue of hypotheses,” and of course Newton would never tolerate hypotheses. Newton confessed that he had understood nothing of his first astronomy book, after which he tried a trigonometry book with equal failure. But he could understand Descartes very well. With the ground thus prepared, Conti was soon a regular dinner guest at Newton’s house. He seems to have dined with Newton on the average three evenings per week. Conti also had extensive contacts with Edmond Halley, with Newton’s anti-Trinitarian parish priest Samuel Clarke, and other self-styled scientists. Conti also became friendly with Princess Caroline, the Princess of Wales, who had been an ally of Leibniz. Conti became very popular at the British court, and by November 1715 he was inducted by Newton as a member of the Royal Society.
Conti understood that Newton, kook that he was, represented the ideal cult figure for a new obscurantist concoction of deductive- inductive pseudo mathematical formalism masquerading as science. Thanks to the Venetians, Italy had Galileo, and France had Descartes. Conti might have considered concocting a pseudo scientific ideology for the English based on Descartes, but that clearly would not do, since Venice desired to use England above all as a tool to tear down France with endless wars. Venice needed an English Galileo, and Conti provided the intrigue and the public relations needed to produce one, in a way not so different from Paolo Sarpi a century before.
THE LEIBNIZ-NEWTON CONTEST
Conti received a letter from Leibniz repeating that Newton had never mastered the calculus, and attacking Newton for his occult notion of gravitation, his insistence on the existence of atoms and the void, his inductive method. Whenever Conti got a letter from Leibniz, he would show it to Newton, to stoke the fires of Newton’s obsessive rage to destroy Leibniz. During this time, Newton’s friend Samuel Clarke began an exchange of letters with Leibniz about these and related issues. (Voltaire later remarked of Clarke that he would have made an ideal Archbishop of Canterbury if only he had been a Christian.) Leibniz wrote that natural religion itself was decaying in England, where many believe human souls to be material, and others view God as a corporeal being. Newton said that space is an organ, which God uses to perceive things. Newton and his followers also had a very odd opinion concerning the work of God. According to their doctrine, “God Almighty wants to wind up his watch from time to time; otherwise, it would cease to move. He had not, it seems, sufficient foresight to make it a perpetual motion.” This gave rise to the Leibniz-Clarke correspondence, in which we can also see the hand of Conti. By now, the chameleon Conti was a total partisan of Newton’s line of atoms and the void, the axioms of Newtonian absolute space. “If there were no void,” wrote Conti, “all bodies would be equally heavy and the comets could not pass through heavenly spaces…. M. Leibniz has written his speech to Princess [Caroline], and he presents the world not as it is, but as it could be.” (Badaloni, Antonio Conti, 63).
Newton tried to get the ambassadors of the London diplomatic corps to review his old manuscripts and letters, hoping they would endorse the finding of the Royal Society that Leibniz had plagiarized his calculus. Leibniz had pointed out that the Royal Society had stacked the evidence. Conti used this matter to turn George I more and more against Leibniz. Conti organized the Baron von Kilmansegge, the Hanoverian minister and husband of George I’s mistress, to take the position that the review of documents would not be enough; the only way to decide the Leibniz-Newton controversy was through a direct exchange of letters between the two. King George agreed with this. Conti encouraged Newton to make a full reply to Leibniz, so that both letters could be shown to the king. When he heard Newton’s version, the king indicated that Newton’s facts would be hard for Leibniz to answer.
Conti tried to convince Leibniz to accept the 1715 verdict of the Royal Society which had given credit for the calculus to Newton. In return, to sweeten this galling proposal, Conti generously conceded that Leibniz’s calculus was easier to use and more widely accepted. By now Leibniz was well aware that he was dealing with an enemy operative, but Leibniz died on Nov. 4, 1716, a few days before Conti arrived in Hanover to meet him. Newton received word of the death of his great antagonist through a letter from Conti.
CONTI’S DEPLOYMENT TO FRANCE
Thanks to Conti’s intervention as agent provocateur, Newton had received immense publicity and had become a kind of succes de scandale. The direct exchange mandated by George I suggested to some an equivalence of Leibniz and Newton. But now Conti’s most important work was just beginning. Leibniz was still held in high regard in all of continental Europe, and the power of France was still immense. Conti and the Venetians wished to destroy both. In the Leibniz-Newton contest, Conti had observed that while the English sided with Newton and the Germans with Leibniz, the French, Italians, Dutch, and other continentals wavered, but still had great sympathy for Leibniz. These powers would be the decisive swing factors in the epistemological war. In particular, the attitude which prevailed in France, the greatest European power, would be decisive. Conti now sought to deliver above all France, plus Italy, into the Newtonian camp.
Conti was in London between 1715 and 1718. His mission to France lasted from 1718 through 1726. Its result will be called the French Enlightenment, L’Age des Lumieres. The first components activated by Conti for the new Newtonian party in France were the school and followers of Malebranche, who died in 1715. The Malebranchistes first accepted Newton’s Opticks, and claimed to have duplicated Newton’s experiments, something no Frenchman had done until this time. Here Conti was mobilizing the Malebranche network he had assembled before going to London. Conti used his friendship with Fontenelle, the secretary of the French Academy of Sciences, to secure his benevolent neutrality regarding Newton. Conti’s other friends included Mairan, Reaumur, Freret, and Desmolets.
During the late teens and ’20s in Paris, an important salon met at the Hotel de Rohan, the residence of one of the greatest families of the French nobility. This family was aligned with Venice; later, we will find the Cardinal-Prince de Rohan as the sponsor of the Venetian agent Count Cagliostro. The librarian at the Hotel de Rohan was a certain Abbe Oliva. Oliva presided over a Venetian-style conversazione attended by Conti, his Parisian friends, and numerous Italians. This was already a circle of freethinkers and libertines.
In retrospect, the best known of the participants was Charles-Louis de Secondat, Baron de la Brede et de Montesquieu. Montesquieu, before Voltaire, Rousseau, and the Encyclopedia, was the first important figure of the French Enlightenment – more respectable than Voltaire and Rousseau – and the leading theoretician of political institutions. Conti met Montesquieu at the Hotel de Rohan, and at another salon, the Club de l’Entresol. Later, when Conti had returned to Venice, Montesquieu came to visit him there, staying a month. Montesquieu was an agent for Conti.
Montesquieu’s major work is The Spirit of the Laws, published in 1748. This is a work of decidedly Venetian flavor, with republic, monarchy, and despotism as the three forms of government, and a separation of powers doctrine. Montesquieu appears to have taken many of his ideas from Conti, who wrote a profile of France called “Historical and Political Discourse on the State of France between 1700 and 1730.” In his treatise, Montesquieu points out that France has an independent judiciary, the parlements, which became a main focus for Anglo-Venetian destabilization efforts going toward the French Revolution.
Montesquieu raises the theme of Anglophilia, praising Britain’s allegedly constitutional monarchy as the ideal form. With this, the pro-British bent of Conti’s Enlightenment philosophes is established. The ground is being prepared for Newton.
ANOTHER CONTI AGENT: VOLTAIRE
One of Conti’s other friends from the Hotel de Rohan was a Jesuit called Tournemine, who was also a high school teacher. One of his most incorrigible pupils had been a libertine jailbird named Francois-Marie Arouet, who was so stubborn and headstrong that his parents had always called him “le volontaire,” meaning self-willed. Gradually this was shortened to Voltaire.
French literary historians are instinctively not friendly to the idea that the most famous Frenchman was a Venetian agent working for Conti, but the proof is convincing. Voltaire knew both Conti personally and Conti’s works. Conti is referred to a number of times in Voltaire’s letters. In one letter, Voltaire admiringly shares an anecdote about Conti and Newton. Voltaire asks, should we try to find the proof of the existence of God in an algebraic formula on one of the most obscure points in dynamics? He cites Conti in a similar situation with Newton: “You’re about to get angry with me,” says Conti to Newton, “but I don’t care.” I agree with Conti, says Voltaire, that all geometry can give us are about forty useful theorems. Beyond that, it’s nothing more than a fascinating subject, provided you don’t let metaphysics creep in.
Voltaire also relates Conti’s version of the alleged Spanish conspiracy against Venice in 1618, which was supposedly masterminded by the Spanish ambassador to Venice, Count Bedmar. Conti’s collected works and one of his tragedies are in Voltaire’s library, preserved at the Hermitage in St. Petersburg.
The book which made Voltaire famous was his Philosophical Letters, sometimes called the English letters, because they are devoted to the exaltation of all things British, which Voltaire had observed during his three years in London. In the essay on Shakespeare, Voltaire writes that Shakespeare is considered the Corneille of England. This is a quote from Conti, taken from the head note to Conti’s tragedy Giulio Cesare, which had been published in Paris in 1726. Voltaire’s view of Shakespeare as sometimes inspired, but barbarous and “crazy” for not respecting French theatrical conventions, is close to Conti’s own practice. We can thus associate Conti with Voltaire’s first important breakthrough, and the point where Anglophilia becomes Anglomania in France.
But most important, Voltaire’s Philosophical Letters center on the praise of Newton. After chapters on Francis Bacon and John Locke, there are four chapters on Newton, the guts of the work. For Voltaire, Newton was the first discoverer of the calculus, the dismantler of the entire Cartesian system. His “sublime ideas” and discoveries have given him “the most universal reputation.” Voltaire also translated Newton directly, and published Elements of Newtonian Philosophy.
The Philosophical Letters were condemned and Voltaire had to hide in the libertine underground for a time. He began to work on another book, The Century of Louis XIV. The idea here was simple: to exalt Louis XIV as a means of attacking the current king, Louis XV, by comparison. This was an idea that we can also find in Conti’s manuscripts. Louis XV was, of course, a main target of the Anglo-Venetians.
In 1759, Voltaire published his short novel Candide, a distillation of Venetian cultural pessimism expressed as a raving attack on Leibniz, through the vicious caricature Dr. Pangloss. Toward the end of the story, Candide asks Pangloss: “Tell me, my dear Pangloss, when you were hanged, dissected, cruelly beaten, and forced to row in a galley, did you still think that everything was for the best in this world?” “I still hold my original opinions, replied Pangloss, because after all, I’m a philosopher, and it wouldn’t be proper for me to recant, since Leibniz cannot be wrong, and since pre-established harmony is the most beautiful thing in the world, along with the plenum and subtle matter.” When Candide visits Venice, he meets Senator Pococurante, whom he considers a great genius because everything bores him and nothing pleases him. Senator Pococurante is clearly a figure of Abbot Antonio Conti. Conti was, we must remember, the man whom Voltaire quoted admiringly in his letter cited above telling Newton that he didn’t care – non me ne curo, perhaps, in Italian. Among Conti’s masks was certainly that of worldly boredom.
Conti later translated one of Voltaire’s plays, Merope, into Italian.
CONTI AND THE FRENCH REVOLUTION
Conti’s discussion of the supremacy of the sense of touch when it comes to sense certainty is echoed in the writing of the philosopher Condillac. Echoes of Conti have been found by some in Diderot’s Jacques the Fatalist. And then there is Buffon, who published Newton’s book on fluxions in French. More research is likely to demonstrate that most of the ideas of the French Enlightenment come from the Venetian Conti. The creation of a pro- Newton, anti-Leibniz party of French Anglomaniacs was a decisive contribution to the defeat of France in the mid-century world war we call the War of the Austrian Succession and the Seven Years’ War, which gave Britain world naval supremacy, and world domination. Conti’s work was also the basis for the later unleashing of the French Revolution. In the epistemological war, the French Newtonians were indispensable for the worldwide consolidation of the Newton myth. In Italy, there were Venetian writers like Voltaire’s friend Algarotti, the author of a book of Newtonian Philosophy for Ladies. Newton’s ideas were also spread by Abbot Guido Grandi, who labored to rehabilitate Galileo inside the Catholic Church. Another Italian intellectual in Conti’s orbit was Gimbattista Vico, later popularized by Benedetto Croce. The main point is that only with the help of Venice could the senile cultist kook Newton attain worldwide respect.
Conti was active until mid-century; he died in 1749. In Venice he became the central figure of a salon that was the worthy heir of Ridotto Morosini. This was the sinister coven that called itself the philosophical happy conversazione (“la conversazione filosofica e felice”) that gathered patrician families like the Emo, the Nani, the Querini, the Memmo, and the Giustinian. These were libertines, freethinkers, Satanists. We are moving toward the world portrayed in Schiller’s Geisterseher. After Conti’s death, the dominant figure was Andrea Memmo, one of the leaders of European Freemasonry.
An agent shared by Memmo with the Morosini family was one Giacomo Casanova, a homosexual who was backed up by a network of lesbians. Venetian oligarchs turned to homosexuality because of their obsession with keeping the family fortune intact by guaranteeing that there would only be one heir to inherit it; by this time more than two- thirds of male nobles, and an even higher percentage of female nobles, never married. Here we have the roots of Henry Kissinger’s modern Homintern. Casanova’s main task was to target the French King Louis XV through his sexual appetites. There is good reason to believe that Louis XV’s foreign minister De Bernis, who carried out the diplomatic revolution of 1756, was an agent of Casanova. One may speculate that Casanova’s networks had something to do with the approximately 25 assassination plots against Louis XV. Finally, Louis XV banned Casanova from France with a lettre de cachet.
Another agent of this group was Count Cagliostro, a charlatan and mountebank whose targets were Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, whom he destabilized through their own folly in the celebrated Queen’s Necklace Affair of 1785. Cagliostro was able to make Louis and especially Marie Antoinette personally hated, a necessary precondition for mass insurrection against them. Emperor Napoleon later said that this operation by Cagliostro had marked the opening phase of the French Revolution of 1789.
CONTI’S LEGACY OF EVIL
Another member of the Conti-Memmo conversazione was Giammaria Ortes, who had been taught Newton by Conti personally, as well as by Grandi. Ortes was another defrocked cleric operating as an abbot. Ortes is the author of a manual of Newtonian physics for young aristocrats, including a chapter on electricity which manages to avoid Benjamin Franklin, in the same way that Galileo avoided Kepler. Ortes carried out Conti’s program of applying Newtonian methods to the social sciences. This meant that everything had to be expressed in numbers. Ortes was like the constipated mathematician who worked his problem out with a pencil. He produced a calculus on the value of opinions, a calculus of the pleasures and pains of human life, a calculus of the truth of history. This is the model for Jeremy Bentham’s felicific or hedonistic calculus and other writings. Using these methods, Ortes posited an absolute upper limit for the human population of the Earth, which he set at 3 billion. This is the first appearance of carrying capacity. Ortes was adamant that there had never been and could never be an improvement in the living standard of the Earth’s human population. He argued that government intervention, as supported by the Cammeralist school of Colbert, Franklin, and others, could never do any good. Ortes provided all of the idea-content that is found in Thomas Malthus, Adam Smith, Jeremy Bentham, the two Mills, and the rest of Lord Shelburne’s school of British philosophical radicalism in the time after 1775.
Conti has left a commentary on Plato’s Parmenides, which he interprets as Plato’s self- criticism for the mistake of having made ideas themselves the object of philosophical attention. In his Treatise on Ideas, Conti writes that the fundamental error of Plato is to attribute real existence to human ideas. All our ideas come from sense perceptions, says Conti.
In 1735 Conti was denounced to the Venetian Inquisition because of his reported religious ideas. Conti was accused of denying the existence of God. True to his factional pedigree, Conti also denied the immortality of the human soul. Conti reportedly said of the soul: “Since it is united with a material body and mixed up with matter, the soul perished with the body itself.” Conti got off with the help of his patrician aristocrat friends. He commented that God is something that we cannot know about, and jokingly confessed his ignorance. He even compared himself to Cardinal Nicolaus of Cusa. Conti described his own atheism as merely a version of the docta ignorantia [referring to Cusa's book by the same name, On Learned Ignorance]. But this Senatore Pococurante still lives in every classroom where Newton is taught.
Surely it is time for an epistemological revolution to roll back the Venetian frauds of Galileo, Newton, and Bertrand Russell.
On the general thesis involving Contarini as the instigator of the reformation and counter- reformation, Sarpi and the Giovani as the organizers of the Enlightenment, and the post-Cambrai metastasis of the Venetian fondi to England and elsewhere, see Webster G. Tarpley, “The Venetian Conspiracy” in “Campaigner” XIV, 6 September 1981, pp. 22-46.
On Leonardo da Vinci and the origins of the telescope, see the work of Domenico Argentieri.
On Sarpi: The most essential works of Sarpi’s epistemology are the Pensieri and the Arte di Ben Pensare. They are available only in Italian as Fra Paolo Sarpi, “Scritti Filosofici e teologici” (Bari: Laterza, 1951). But this collection is not complete, and many pensieri and other material remain in manuscript in the libraries of Venice. Other works of Sarpi are assembled in his “Opere,” edited by Gaetano and Luisa Cozzi. There is some discussion of the pensieri in David Wooton, “Paolo Sarpi: Between Renaissance and Enlightenment” (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press). An overview of the Galileo-Sarpi relationship is found in Gaetano Cozzi, “Paolo Sarpi tra Venezia e l’Europa” (Torino: Einaudi, 1979); Cozzi avoids most of the implications of the material he presents.
On Galileo: Pietro Redondi, “Galileo: Heretic” (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1987) has material on the political background of Galileo’s relations with the papacy and the holy orders of the day. The Galileo-Kepler correspondence is in Galileo’s 20 volume “Opere,” edited by A. Favaro and I. Del Lungo (Florence, 1929-1939).
On Kepler: The standard biography is Max Caspar, “Kepler” (London: Abelard-Schuman, 1959). Some of Kepler’s main works are now in English, including “The Secret of the Universe” translated by A.M. Duncan (New York: Abaris Books, 1981); and “New Astronomy” translated by William H. Donahue (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1992).
On Conti: A recent biography is Nicola Badaloni, “Antonio Conti: Un abate libero pensatore fra Newton e Voltaire (Milano: Feltrinelli, 1968). Selections from Conti’s many manuscript works which are found in libraries especially in and near Venice are in Nicola Badaloni (ed.), “Antonio Conti: Scritti filosofici” (Naples: Fulvio Rossi, 1972). For Conti as the teacher of Ortes, and on Ortes as a popularizer of Newton see Mauro di Lisa, “‘Chi mi sa dir s’io fingo?’: Newtonianesimo e scetticismo in Giammaria Ortes” in “Giornale Critico della filosofia italiana” LXVII (1988), pp. 221-233. For the Conti- Oliva- Montesquieu Paris salons, see Robert Shackleton, “Montesquieu: a critical biography.” Voltaire’s “Candide” and “Philosophical Letters” are available in various English language editions. For Voltaire’s references to Conti, see “Voltaire’s Correspondence,” edited in many volumes by Theodore Besterman (Geneva- Les Delices: Institut et Musee Voltaire, 1964). Note that Voltaire also had extensive correspondence and relations with Algarotti. For Voltaire’s possession of Conti’s books, see the catalogue of Voltaire’s library now conserved in Leningrad published by the Soviet Academy of Sciences in 1961, p. 276. Gustave Lanson is an example of French literary critics who stubbornly avoid the obvious facts of Conti’s piloting of Voltaire; see his edition of Voltaire’s “Lettres philosophiques” (Paris, 1917), vol. II p. 90.
On Newton: Lord Keynes’s revelations on Newton’s box are in his “Essays in Biography” (New York: Norton, 1963), pp. 310-323. Louis Trenchard More, “Isaac Newton: A Biography (New York: Dover, 1962) includes a small sampling of material from Newton’s box. Richard S. Westfall, “Never at Rest: A Biography of Isaac Newton” (New York, Cambridge University Press, 1987) dips somewhat deeper into the box and supplies the green lion quotes, but still tries to defend the hoax of Newton as a scientist. For the typical lying British view of the Newton-Leibniz controversy, see A. Rupert Hall, “Philosophers at War” (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press). See Leibniz’s letters for what really happened.