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Ezra Pound

6,154 words

Editor’s Note:

In commemoration of the death of Ezra Pound on November 1, 1972, we are reprinting chapter 7 of Kerry Bolton’s Artists of the Right: Resisting Decadence, published by Counter-Currents.

“A slave is one who waits for someone else to free him.”—Ezra Pound[1]

Ezra Loomis Pound, 1885–1972, heralded as “a principal founder and moving spirit of modern poetry in English,”[2] was born in a frontier town in Idaho, the son of an assistant assayer and the grandson of a Congressman.

He enrolled at the Universityof Pennsylvaniain 1901 and in 1906 was awarded his MA degree. He had already started work on his magnum opus, The Cantos. An avid reader of Anglo-Saxon, classical, and medieval literature, Pound continued postgraduate work on the troubadour musician-poets of medieval Provence.

Pound scholar and biographer Noel Stock was to write that Pound, when introduced to the works of Dante and of the troubadours, “wanted to devise a means of entering into the Middle Ages so as to bring them to bear upon the present,”[3] at an early stage being skeptical about the path of “progress.”

In 1908 Pound traveled to Venice. There he paid $8.00 for the printing of his first volume of poetry, A Lume Spento (With Tapers Quenched).

Pound then went to Londonto meet W. B. Yeats and became a dominant figure in Yeats’s Monday evening circle, serving for a time as Yeats’s secretary. He quickly gained recognition in Londonwith the publication in 1909 of his poem Personae which caused a “small but definite stir.”[4] He came into contact with The English Review, which was publishing the works of D. H. Lawrence and the author, painter, and critic Wyndham Lewis. In 1911, Pound launched his campaign for innovative writing in The New Age edited by the guild socialist A. R. Orage. For Pound the new poetry of the century would be “austere, direct, free from emotional slither.” In considering Pound’s association with T. S. Eliot, another “Rightist,”[5] Stock writes:

The Pound-Eliot “revolution” was a return to the past in order to renew the links connecting past and present, but it also provided a new means of advance which was not available in such clear-cut form to any previous age.[6]

The following year Pound founded the Imagist movement in literature. He was by now already helping to launch the careers of William Carlos Williams, T. S. Eliot, Ernest Hemingway, and James Joyce. He was now also the mentor of Yeats, Pound’s senior by 20 years who enjoyed world recognition.

In 1914 Pound started the Vorticist movement, and although Giovanni Cianci insists that Filippo Marinetti’s Futurism had a major impact on the founding of Vorticism, Futurism providing the dynamic to move beyond Imagism,[7] the English Vorticists soon broke with Marinetti, and there was frequent feuding between the two movements.[8] As Cianci concludes: “Pound was deeply immersed in the past, so that he could not welcome the Futurists’ famous antipasséism.”[9]

The original impetus for Vorticism came from the avant-garde sculptor Henri Gaudier-Brzeska. With Wyndham Lewis and others, he launched the magazine Blast. This was also the year of the world war, which took its toll on many Vorticists. The original Blast only went to two issues, and among the dead of the Great War was Gaudier-Brzeska. Pound was to look back, during a wartime radio address in Italy, at the Vorticist movement as an attempt at “reconstruction” in response to the “crisis OF, not IN the system . . .” But England was “too far descended into a state of flaccidity to be able to react to the medicine.”[10]

Vorticism was for Pound the first major experience in revolutionary propagandizing and the first cause that placed him outside of orthodoxy. It was also Pound’s last effort at “group participation in the arts, before he retreated to a position of individualism . . .”[11]

Democracy and the Rise of Mass Man

Pound regarded commercialism as the force preventing the realization of his artistic-political ideal. Many others in his entourage and beyond, including Yeats and Lewis, regarded the rise of materialism, democracy, and the masses as detrimental to the arts, as newspapers and dime novels replaced literature, and the mass market determined cultural expression. Pound saw artists or what we might call the “culture-bearing strata” as a class higher than the general run of humanity who, under the regime of the democratic era, had been leveled down to a “mass of dolts,” a “rabble,” whose redeeming feature was to be “the waste and manure” from which grows “the tree of the arts.”[12]

This revolt against the masses (contra the “revolt of the masses”) at this epochal juncture became “an important linguistic project among intellectuals.”[13] Virginia Woolf descried “that anonymous monster the Man in the Street” as “a vast, featureless, almost shapeless jelly of human stuff, occasionally wobbling this way or that as some instinct of hate, revenge, or admiration bubbles up beneath it.”[14] Hence, many of the cultural elite were to seek a counter-revolution in the return of aristocratic societies or saw a modern alternative in Fascism.

Pound saw it as the duty of the culture-bearing strata to rule, even dictatorially, to ensure that the arts were not swamped by mediocrity amidst the drive of business to market “culture” as another mass commodity.[15] Writing in The Egoist in 1914 Pound stated:

The artist no longer has any belief or suspicion that the mass, the half-educated simpering general . . . can in any way share his delights . . . The aristocracy of the arts is ready again for its service. Modern civilization has born a race with brains like those of rabbits, and we who are the heirs of the witch doctor and the voodoo, we artists who have been so long despised are about to take over control.[16]

Social Credit

Pound embraced the Social Credit economic theory of Major C. H. Douglas, whom Pound met in 1917,[17] which was being promoted by A. R. Orage of The English Review and The New Age. Not only was Orage a guild socialist, but he was a primary mentor of new artists, some of whom understood the need for a new economic system in order to address their concerns with the crisis in culture engendered by industrialization and plutocracy. T. S. Eliot expressed the matter cogently: “any real change for the better meant a spiritual revolution [and] that no spiritual revolution was of any use unless you had a practical economic system.”[18]

Orage’s backing of Douglas’ monetary theory had a particularly seminal influence on Pound. Interestingly, Orage was the chief proponent of guild socialism, and his journals were considered among the foremost socialist periodicals of the day, yet even the name “Social Credit,” which is generally depicted by its foes as “anti-Semitic” and crypto-Nazi,[19] was coined not by Douglas but by Orage.[20] Orage’s advocacy of guild socialism, having its roots in English tradition rather than alien theorizing, would have been welcomed by certain traditionalists as providing an alternative to Marxism and capitalism, both of which are united in their materialism.

By subordinating money to the interests of society rather than allowing the power of the bankers to run unfettered, money would become the servant of society and not the master. Money, or more correctly, credit, would be the lubricant of commerce, a means of exchanging goods and services, rather than a profit-making commodity in itself. Hence the corrupting influence of the power of money on culture and work would be eliminated.

During the 1930s and 1940s Pound wrote a series of booklets on economics, “Money Pamphlets by ₤,” lucidly describing economic theory and history.

Social Credit: An Impact[21] was dedicated “to the Green Shirts of England.”[22] In the opening lines, Pound states that “No one can understand history without understanding economics. Gibbon’s History of Rome is a meaningless jumble till a man has read Douglas.”[23]

Pound pointed out the fundamentals of economic realism: that “the state has credit” and that although the sword can protect against foreign invasion, it cannot protect against the serfdom of usury, of which Pound stated: “Usury and sodomy, the Church condemned as a pair, to one hell, the same for one reason, namely that they are both against natural increase.”[24]

He stated that the truth about “the principles of honest issue of money” have been known throughout history, but are repeatedly forgotten (or willfully obliterated), pointing to examples in history where currency has been issued without recourse to state debt. Marco Polo, for example, observed that Kublai Khan’s “stamped paper money” “costs the Khan nothing” to fund his state.[25] The much-lauded “New Deal” of Pound’s home country, on the other hand, indicated no comprehension of “the basic relations of currency system, money system, credit system to the needs and purchasing power of the whole people.”[26]

Pound pointed out what should be obvious to all, namely that money—or more accurately credit[27]—should properly serve as a means of exchanging goods and services, and that “money is not a commodity.”[28] He wrote:

Four things are necessary in any modern or civilized economic system:

1. the labourer; 2. the product; 3. the means of transport; and 4. the monetary carrier.

Inadequate monetarization has made “inaccessible islands” of fields laying adjacent one with the other; it has erected barriers between garden and factory.[29]

The reason for growing food is to feed the people. The reason for weaving cloth is to clothe them. The function of a money system is to get the goods from where they are to the people who need them . . .[30]

Money has been treated not only as if it were goods, but it has been given privileges above all other goods. This was flagrant injustice. Free men will not tolerate it for one hour after they understand it.[31]

Pound next alludes to a factor in the Great Depression that epitomizes the criminality of the economic system: the phenomenon of “poverty amidst plenty,” which during the 1930s saw the destruction of meat and crops by government order—while people starved—because the people had no money or credit to purchase the food. One might wonder whether this was any less criminal than the planned famine in the USSR in order to destroy the kulaks as a class. Pound wrote of this “New Deal” economics that was supposed to secure social justice under Roosevelt: “If the American government OWNED crops sufficiently to order their destruction, it owned them quite enough to order their delivery.”[32] 

Fascism

Pound considered Fascist Italy to be partially achieving Social Credit aims in breaking the power of the bankers over politics and culture, writing:

This will not content the Douglasites nor do I believe that Douglas’ credit proposals can permanently be refused or refuted, but given the possibilities of intelligence against prejudice in the year XI of the fascist era, what other government has got any further, or shows any corresponding interest in or care for the workers?[33]

He also saw Fascism as the culmination of an ancient tradition continued in the personalities of Mussolini, Hitler,[34] and the British Fascist leader Sir Oswald Mosley.

Pound had studied the doctrines of the ethnologist Leo Frobenius during the 1920s,[35] which gave a mystical interpretation to race and had influenced Oswald Spengler. Cultures were the product of races, and each race had its own soul, or paideuma, of which the artist was the guardian. In Mussolini, Pound saw not only a statesman who had overthrown the money power, but also someone who had returned culture to the center of politics. He said: “Mussolini has told his people that poetry is a necessity of state, and this displayed a higher state of civilization than in London or Washington.”[36] In Jefferson and/or Mussolini, Pound explained:

I don’t believe any estimate of Mussolini will be valid unless it starts from his passion for construction. Treat him as artifex and all the details fall into place. Take him as anything save the artist and you will get muddled with contradictions . . .[37]

. . . The Fascist revolution was FOR the preservation of certain liberties and FOR the maintenance of a certain level of culture, certain standards of living . . .[38]

In Social Credit: An Impact, published the same year, Pound wrote of Fascism in relation to economic reform:

Fascism has saved Italy, and saving Italybids fair to save part of Europe, but outside Italyno one has seen any fascism, only the parodies and gross counterfeits. Douglas for seventeen years has been working to build a new England and enlighten England’s ex- and still annexed colonies. The corporate state[39] has invented a representative body that should function in the age of correlated machinery better than the old representation of agricultural districts.[40]

Pound saw both Italy and Japan trying to throw off the system of usury, writing: “Japan and Italy, the two really alert, active nations are both engaged in proving fragments of the Douglas analysis, and in putting bits of his scheme into practice . . .”[41]

. . . The foregoing does not mean that Italy has gone “Social Credit.” And it does not mean that I want all Englishmen to eat macaroni and sing Neapolitan love songs. It does mean or ought to mean that Englishmen are just plain stupid to lag behind Italy, the western states of America and the British Dominions . . .[42]

As to your “democratic principles,” the next ten years will show whether your groggy and incompetent parliament “represents” the will of the English people half as effectively as the new Italian Consiglio of the Guilds, where men are, at least in terms of the programme, represented by men of their own trade.[43]

It is interesting that Pound mentions Japan as having implemented some of Douglas’ methods of economic policy, considering the knowledge of Japan’s economic system is even more obscure to most people than those of Fascist Italy and National Socialist Germany.[44]

Douglas had toured Japanin 1929 where, as in his New Zealandtour, he was enthusiastically received. Douglas’ works were published in Japanmore so in any other country. In 1932 the Imperial Bank was organized as a fully state bank, and in 1942 the Bank of Japan Law was enacted, based on the 1939 Reichsbank Act in Germany.[45]

Pound and his wife Dorothy settled in Italy in 1924, “to remove himself from the deadening influence of the twentieth century’s mass man.”[46] He met Mussolini in 1933.[47] He also became a regular contributor to the periodicals of Mosley’s British Union of Fascists,[48] first writing to Mosley in 1934 and meeting him in 1936,[49] the latter recalling that Pound was “exactly the opposite of what I expected from the abstruse genius of his poetry. He appeared as a vivacious, bustling, and practical person . . .”[50]

Writing in Mosley’s BUF Quarterly, Pound stated that Roosevelt and his Jewish advisers had betrayed the American Revolution.[51] It was a theme he returned to in more detail during the war: The American Revolution of 1776 had been a revolt against the control by the Bank of England of the monetary system of the American colonies. Benjamin Franklin had stated in his diary that the colonists would have gladly borne the tax on tea. They had issued their own colonial scrip. This had resulted in prosperity with a credit supply independent of the private banking system. The Bank of England intervened to compel the colonies to withdraw the scrip at a rate of devaluation that caused depression and unemployment. The colonists rebelled. But people such as Alexander Hamilton ensured that an independent America was soon again subject to the orthodox financial system of private banking control. Lincoln attempted the same resistance to the bankers and issued his famous “Lincoln Greenbacks.”[52]

Pound pointed out that Mussolini had instituted banking reform in 1935 and deplored the lack of knowledge and understanding around the world of whatItalywas achieving. The US Constitution provided for the same credit system, giving the government the prerogative to create and issue its own credit and currency. Pound saw parallels between Fascist Italy and the type of economic system sought by certain American statesmen such as Jefferson and Jackson. The war was being fought in the interests of usury:

This war was not caused by any caprice on Mussolini’s part, nor on Hitler’s. This war is part of the secular war between usurers and peasants, between the usurocracy and whoever does an honest day’s work with his own brain or hands.[53]

In the British Union of Fascists Pound found a congenial home for his economic theories. While the policy of “state credit” advocated by fascists and National Socialists, and indeed by Pound, was not in accord with orthodox Social Crediters,[54] opposition to usury was a prime element of British Fascism as it was of generic fascism in most countries.

The British Union of Fascists’ “director of policy,” Alexander Raven Thomson, an economist who had been educated in Scotland, Germany, and the US,[55] explained that a “Fascist Government would issue the new currency and credit direct, without charge of usury . . .”[56]

Only a strong state could break the rule of the usurers, explained Thomson in a further policy pamphlet, where he pointed out that merely “nationalizing” the Bank of England would be of little use, as the bank would still be part of the international financial system, as are numerous central banks, which merely serve as the means by which the state continues to borrow from international finance. Therefore a Fascist government would bring the “control of currency out of the hands of the financial tyrants,” basing credit issue on the needs of production and consumption.[57]

W. K. A. J. Chamber-Hunter[58] advocated Social Credit as the means by which the British Union should implement a new financial system in place of usury.[59] Thomson stated that Social Credit “deserves consideration,” but that its followers failed to recognize that only strong authority could “overthrow the present financial dictatorship.”[60] BUF woman’s organizer Anne Brock Griggs, pointed out the suffering of mothers and children caused by the financial system due to the lack of purchasing power to buy basics such as milk, of which there was an abundance.[61] Henry Swabey traced the long tradition of the Church in condemning usury and advocating the principle of the “just price,” also alluding to Douglas, and stated that the fault lies with the system that allows bankers to create credit “out of nothing as a book entry.” He pointed out that in 1936 “the Bank Acts of March” in Italy enabled the state to issue credit, and not the usurer.[62]

It seems logical that Pound would have perceived the British Union as the most militant means by which to overthrow the usurers and establish a just social system, together with the examples of Germany and Italy as having introduced measures in that direction. Hence he wrote in 1939: “USURY is the cancer of the world, which only the surgeon’s knife of Fascism can cut out of the life of nations.”[63]

Pound’s Canto XLV, “With Usura,” is a particularly lucid exposition of how the usury system infects social and cultural bodies. He provides a note at the end defining usury as “a charge for the use of purchasing power, levied without regard to production: often without regard even to the possibilities of production.”

With usura . . .
no picture is made to endure nor to live with
but it is made to sell and to sell quickly
with usura, sin against nature,
is thy bread ever more of stale rags
is thy bread dry as paper, . . .
and no man can find site for his dwelling.
Stone cutter is kept from his stone
weaver is kept from his loom
WITH USURA
wool comes not to market
sheep bringeth no gain with usura . . .
Usura rusteth the chisel
It rusteth the craft and the craftsman
It gnaweth the thread in the loom . . .
Usura slayeth the child in the womb
It stayeth the young man’s courting
It hath brought palsey to bed, lyeth
between the young bride and her bridegroom
CONTRA NATURAM
They have brought whores to Eleusis
Corpses are set to banquet
at behest of usura.[64]

“With Usura” precisely reflects Pound’s position that the financial system denies the cultural heritage and creativity of the people, creates poverty amidst plenty, and fails to act as a mechanism for the exchange of the productive and cultural heritage, by making credit a commodity instead of a means of exchange. Creativity either fails to reach its destination or is stillborn. We might with this poem in particular understand why Pound felt the problem of banking and credit to be of crucial concern to artists.

Caged

From the late 1930s Pound began to look with favor at the economic system created by Hitler’s regime and regarded the Rome-Berlin Axis as “the first serious attack on usurocracy since the time of Lincoln.” Several years after referring to “hysterical Hitlerian yawping,”[65] and by this time aware of the war that was being agitated against Germany, Pound quoted from Mein Kampf in regard to usury:

The struggle against international finance and loan capital has become the most important point in the National Socialist programme: the struggle of the German nation for its independence and freedom.[66]

In April 1939 Pound went to the US to try and garner support against America’s entry into a war that he saw was approaching against Germany. He told Archibald MacLeish[67] during an interview for the Atlantic Monthly, that he had not come to the US to talk about literature, but to convince his countrymen to keep out of any European conflagration, in the hope that if war could not be averted, it could at least be confined.[68]

In 1940, after having returned to Italy, Pound offered his services as a radio broadcaster. The broadcasts, called “The American Hour,” began in January 1941.[69]

In July 1943 Mussolini was deposed, and Pound was indicted for treason by a grand jury in the District of Columbia, along with seven Americans who had been broadcasting for Germany. Hemingway, concerned at the fate of his old mentor after the war, suggested the possibility of an “insanity” plea,[70] and the idea caught on among some of his literary friends who had obtained good jobs in the US government.[71] Other interests were pressing for the death penalty.

With the American invasion, Pound headed for the Salò Republic, the Fascist last stand, where he wrote a flow of articles, mostly on economic reform, and in December, 1943 resumed his radio broadcasts.

Mussolini was murdered on April 28, 1945. On May 2, Pound was taken from his home by Italian partisans after he had unsuccessfully attempted to turn himself over to the American forces. Putting a book of Confucius into his pocket, he went with the partisans expecting to be hanged, as a bloodlust was now turned against those who had been loyal to Mussolini.[72] Instead, he ended up in an American camp at Pisa constructed for the most vicious military prisoners. Pound was confined in a bare iron cage in the burning heat, sleeping on the concrete floor, brilliantly lighted throughout the night. This was what Pound later called the “gorilla cage.” Esquire commented: “The dust and the light soon became intolerable; he became physically very weak; he lost his memory, eventually he broke down.”[73]

He was transferred to a medical facility and lived in a small tent. “Despite his extraordinary predicament, Pound’s native spirit soon returned and he was writing his new Cantos.”[74]

In November 1945, he was flown to Washingtonand jailed. While Hemingway, et al. had planned to have Pound declared “insane” to avoid treason charges, the conditions he had been subjected to had in fact caused him to mentally and physically break down, and by the time he reached Washington his lawyer, Julien Cornell, described Pound as being “in a rather desperate condition.”[75] On December 21 he was sent to St. Elizabeths mental hospital. Again, conditions were atrocious. The ward was for the criminally insane, and “reeked of sweat and urine.” He lived in fear of the other inmates. On February 13, 1946, formal hearings declared him to be of unsound mind, and was kept at St. Elizabeths for eleven years.[76] Here his literary output continued, and he translated 300 traditional Chinese poems that were published by Harvard University Press in 1954.[77] He was awarded the Bollingen Prize for Poetry in 1949 for the “Pisan Cantos,” the award causing uproar amidst accusations of “Fascist infiltrators,” but scholarly interest in Pound increased widely.[78] Others tried to consign him to oblivion.[79]

In 1958, the indictment for treason was dropped, after years of campaigning for his release by influential friends such as Eliot, MacLeish, Robert Frost, Congressman Usher L. Burdick,[80] and even UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjöld who maintained a correspondence with Pound and was among those campaigning for Pound’s nomination for the Nobel Prize in Literature.[81]

Throughout his ordeal, Pound maintained his political beliefs, and among the visitors to St. Elizabeths seeking the wisdom of “Granpaw” was John Kasper, a fiery young intellectual and admirer of Pound’s poetry who became well-known for his tours of the South defending segregation. Kasper saw Pound frequently and maintained a weekly correspondence. Kasper became Pound’s protégé. He established a right-wing bookshop and a publishing venture under Pound’s guidance, the “Square Dollar Series.” Kasper’s strident pro-segregation leaflets, which he distributed throughout the South, were inspired by Pound’s poetic style.[82]

When Pound was released after thirteen years of confinement, eleven in an asylum, journalists who interviewed him concluded that Pound, while eccentric, did not display any signs of insanity.[83]

On June 30, 1958, Pound set sail for Italy. When he reached Naples, he gave the Fascist salute to journalists and declared, “all Americais an insane asylum.”[84] He continued with The Cantos and stayed in contact with political personalities such as Kasper and Mosley. He remained defiantly opposed to the American system when giving interviews, despite the protests of US diplomats to the Italian government.

In 1951, Peter Russell, a Londonpublisher, reprinted many of Pound’s pamphlets on economics, which he stated was “essential to the full understanding of [Pound’s] major poetical work, The Cantos.” Russell commented that although the publication of the pamphlets had no political motive, they are “a healthy reaction . . . to the vicious plutocracy and the destructive bureaucracy which seem today to be the twin tyrants of our uneasy world.”[85]

Pound continued to write for Mosley as he had before the war, which drew the interest of a new generation of admirers of Pound’s poetry,[86] including the scholars Alan Neame, Noel Stock,[87] and Denis Goacher.[88] A 1959 issue of Mosley’s journal, The European,[89] carries Pound’s “Ci de los Cantares,” a mixture of Chinese characters and terms as well as references to Yeats, bygone statesmen, percentages and prices, and non-usurious banking practices: “Gaudin did not pay interest on government credit. Nor did Kang Hi.”

Pound died on November 1, 1972, “the last of a generation which had tried to create art and literature on an heroic scale.”[90]

Notes

[1] Ezra Pound, Impact: Essays on Ignorance and the Decline of American Civilization, ed. Noel Stock (Chicago: Regnery, 1960), p. 209.

[2] Who’s Who in America, 1969–1970.

[3] Noel Stock, Poet in Exile: Ezra Pound (Manchester: University of Manchester Press, 1964), p. 10.

[4] Stock, Poet in Exile, p. 30.

[5] Eliot, like most of the individuals considered in this book, was concerned that industrialism molded “bodies of men and women—of all classes—detached from tradition, alienated from religion, and susceptible to mass suggestion: in other words a mob.” Eliot advocated an organic society based on the maintenance and invigoration of classes, including the aristocratic, each with its own valuable social function. T. S. Eliot, Notes Towards the Definition of Culture (London: Faber & Faber, 1948), p. 48. He was not however an advocate of Fascism for Britain but believed in “Toryism,” founded on religion and monarchism (Eliot, The Criterion, October 1931, p. 71).

[6] Stock, Poet in Exile, p. 55.

[7] Giovanni Cianci, “Pound and Futurism,” Blast 3 (Santa Barbara: Black Sparrow Press, 1984), p. 63. Blast 3 is a 1984 compilation of Vorticist articles by admirers of Wyndham Lewis.

[8] Eliot wrote that Pound had perhaps done more than anyone to keep Futurism out of England, and had objected to it as being “incompatible with any principle of form.” Eliot, “Ezra Pound: His Metric and Poetry,” 1917, reprinted in To Criticize the Critic (London: Faber and Faber, 1965), pp. 174–75.

[9] Cianci, “Pound and Futurism,” Blast 3, p. 66.

[10] Blast 3, “Ezra Pound, Radio Speech #30,” April 26, 1942, p. 60.

[11] Eustace Mullins, This Difficult Individual: Ezra Pound (Hollywood: Angriff Press, 1961), p. 88.

[12] John Carey, The Intellectuals and the Masses: Pride and Prejudice Among the Literary Intelligentsia, 1880–1939 (London: Faber and Faber, 1992), p. 25.

[13] Carey, The Intellectuals and the Masses, p. 25.

[14] The Essays of Virgina Woolf, vol. III, 1919–1924, ed. Andrew McNeillie (London: The Hogarth Press, 1988), p. 3.

[15] That is to say, precisely the situation that has emerged, when one talks for example of the “music industry,” or the “movie industry.” One might just as well also state: the “art industry,” and the “literature industry,” as culture is now all but dominated by commercial interests.

[16] Ezra Pound, “The New Sculpture,” The Egoist, February 16, 1914, pp. 67–68.

[17] Mullins, This Difficult Individual, p. 194.

[18] T. S. Eliot, The Criterion, January 1935, p. 262.

[19] Janine Stingel, Social Discredit: Anti-Semitism, Social Credit, and the Jewish Response (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2000).

[20] Some prominent advocates of “Douglas Social Credit” contend that the theory cannot be considered without reference to guild socialism and to A. R. Orage, and state that the original Social Credit articles that appeared in The New Age were co-written by Douglas and Orage. Orage’s advocacy of Social Credit split the Fabian socialists. See Frances Hutchinson and Brian Burkitt, The Political Economy of Social Credit and Guild Socialism (London: Routledge, 1997). Hutchinson and Burkitt allude to the term “Social Credit” first being used by Orage. See their “Major Douglas’ Proposals for a National Dividend,” International Journal of Social Economics, 21 (1994): 19–28, n4.

[21] Ezra Pound, Social Credit: An Impact (1935) (London: Peter Russell, 1951).

[22] The Green Shirts, the militant arm of Social Credit in England, marched through the streets with drums beating and banners unfurled, holding mass street rallies, publishing a newspaper, and throwing green painted bricks through bank windows to publicize their views when charges brought the perpetrators before court. It was militancy on par with Sir Oswald Mosley’s Black Shirts. See K. R. Bolton, John Hargrave and the British Greenshirts (Paraparaumu, New Zealand: Renaissance Press, 2001).

[23] Pound, Social Credit, p. 1.

[24] Pound, Social Credit, p. 6.

[25] Pound, Social Credit, p. 6.

[26] Pound, Social Credit, pp. 6–7.

[27] There is a subtle difference between “money,” or notes and coins, and “credit” or book- (today, computer)-keeping entries; most commerce is undertaken with credit rather than with notes and coins.

[28] Pound, Social Credit, p. 9.

[29] Pound, Social Credit, p. 13.

[30] Pound, Social Credit, p. 15.

[31] Pound, Social Credit, p. 15.

[32] Pound, Social Credit, p. 15.

[33] Ezra Pound, Jefferson and/or Mussolini, 1935 (New York: Liveright, 1970), p. 126.

[34] Pound was not originally impressed by Hitler, referring in 1935 for example to “hysterical Hitlerian yawping” (Jefferson and/or Mussolini, p. 127).

[35] Ezra Pound, A Visiting Card (Rome, 1942) (London: Peter Russell, 1952), pp. 29, 33.

[36] E. Fuller Torrey, The Roots of Treason: Ezra Pound and the Secrets of St. Elizabeths (London: Sidgwick and Jackson, 1984), p. 138.

[37] Pound, Jefferson and/or Mussolini, p. 34.

[38] Pound, Jefferson and/or Mussolini, p. 127.

[39] The “corporate state” was the parliamentary structure of Fascist Italy based on occupational and professional representation rather than party representation. It was one of the syndicalist elements inherited by Fascism.

[40] Pound, Social Credit, p. 7.

[41] Pound, Social Credit, p. 19.

[42] A clear reference to the use of state credit inNew Zealand, and also inAustralia andCanada.

[43] Pound, Social Credit, p. 19.

[44] Bertram De Colonna, “The Truth About Germany,” The Mirror (Auckland, New Zealand), 1938. See K. R. Bolton, Recovery: Hitler’s Financial Policy Explained (Paraparaumu, New Zealand: Renaissance Press, 2001).

[45] Stephen M. Goodson, “Why the USA Forced the Empire of Japan into World War II,” The Barnes Review, vol. 14, no. 6, November–December, 2008.

[46] Mullins, This Difficult Individual: Ezra Pound, p. 154.

[47] Torrey, The Roots of Treason, p. 135.

[48] British Union Quarterly published eight of Pound’s articles between 1936–1940 (Torrey, The Roots of Treason, p. 137).

[49] Torrey, The Roots of Treason, p. 137.

[50] Oswald Mosley, My Life (London: Nelson, 1968), p. 226.

[51] Ezra Pound, “The Revolution Betrayed,” BUF Quarterly, 1938. Reprinted in Selections from BUF Quarterly (Marietta, Ga.: The Truth at Last, 1995), pp. 48–55.

[52] Ezra Pound, America, Roosevelt and the Causes of the Present War (Venice, 1944) (London: Peter Russell, 1951). In their enthusiasm for Lincoln’s “Greenbacks,” monetary reformers generally do not appreciate that the Confederacy also issued its own state credit, the “Graybacks.”

[53] Pound, America, Roosevelt and the Causes of the Present War, p. 5.

[54] Orthodox Social Credit theory is opposed to “state credit” seeing this as akin to communism and leading to state serfdom. Any concentration of economic or political power is anathema to Social Credit orthodoxy. The orthodox viewpoint insists that “Social Credit” must be issued by an independent “credit authority” that is not associated with the state. This question however, causes considerable factionalism within Social Credit groups, which might seem analogous to the utter seriousness taken among socialist factions in their dispute over what constitutes “true Marxism.” In New Zealand’s successful experiment with “state credit” during the Great Depression, the primary advocate of state credit in the Labour Government, John A. Lee, commented that Douglas’ analysis of the flaws of the financial system is valuable, and that his New Zealand tour served as the major impetus for the widespread demand for banking reform in 1934, but that the actual methods of implementation by the Government would have to be through a State-owned Reserve Bank. See John A. Lee, Money Power for the People: A Policy for the Future Suggested (Auckland: n.p., 1937), p. 4.

[55] Robert Skidelsky, Mosley (London: Macmillan, 1975), p. 345.

[56] Alexander Raven Thomson, The Economics of British Fascism (London: Bonner and Co., n.d., ca. 1935), p. 7.

[57] Alexander Raven Thomson, Our Financial Masters (London: British Union of Fascists, 1937), pp. 15–16.

[58] BUF Aberdeen organizer. See Stephen M. Cullen, “The Fasces and the Saltire: The Failure of the British Union of Fascists in Scotland, 1932–1940,” The Scottish Historical Journal, 83, 2008, p. 313. Chamber-Hunter’s Aberdeen branch was one of the few that were successful in Scotland, and Mosley presented him with the BUF Gold Award in 1937. He resigned from the BUF in 1939 “to pursue his interest in Social Credit (ibid., p. 316).

[59] W. K. A. J. Chamber-Hunter, British Union and Social Credit (London: British Union, ca. 1938).

[60] Alexander Raven Thomson, “Causes of the Slump,” BUF Quarterly, 1937; Selections from BUF Quarterly, p. 20.

[61] Anne Brock Griggs, “Food or Usury?,” BUF Quarterly, 1936; Selections from BUF Quarterly, pp. 34–37.

[62] Henry Swabey, “From Just Price to Usury,” BUF Quarterly, 1939; Selections from BUF Quarterly, pp. 71–78.

[63] Ezra Pound, What is Money For? (1939) (London: Peter Russell, 1951), p. 12.

[64] Ezra Pound: Selected Poems, 1908–1959 (London: Faber & Faber, 1975), “Canto XLV: With Usura,” pp. 147–48.

[65] Pound, Jefferson and/or Mussolini, p. 127.

[66] Ezra Pound, What is Money For?, p. 12.

[67] MacLeish also supported Social Credit.

[68] Mullins, This Difficult Individual, pp. 196–97.

[69] Torrey, The Roots of Treason, p. 158.

[70] Torrey, The Roots of Treason, p. 175.

[71] MacLeish had become assistant secretary in the US State Department.

[72] Torrey, The Roots of Treason, p. 176.

[73] Peter Ackroyd, Ezra Pound and His World (London: Thames and Hudson, 1989), p. 86.

[74] Ackroyd, Ezra Pound and His World, p. 86.

[75] Ackroyd, Ezra Pound and His World, p. 91.

[76] Ackroyd, Ezra Pound and His World, p. 92.

[77] Torrey, The Roots of Treason, p. 222.

[78] Ackroyd, Ezra Pound and His World, p. 96.

[79] Random House refused to include any works by Pound in a poetry anthology, although one of the editors had chosen twelve of Pound’s poems for inclusion. Charles Norman, Ezra Pound (New York: Macmillan, 1960), p. 416.

[80] Ackroyd, Ezra Pound and His World, p. 98.

[81] Torrey, The Roots of Treason, pp. 254–55.

[82] Torrey, The Roots of Treason, pp. 228–29.

[83] Torrey, The Roots of Treason, p. 262.

[84] Torrey, The Roots of Treason, p. 263.

[85] Peter Russell, “Publisher’s Note,” 1950, Ezra Pound, Social Credit: An Impact.

[86] Skidelsky, Mosley, pp. 493–94.

[87] Stock authored The Life of Ezra Pound (New York: Random House, 1970) and Poet in Exile: Ezra Pound.

[88] Goacher, the British actor and poet, went to Washington in 1953 and became Pound’s secretary, typing his poetry and essays. He was important in campaigning for Pound’s release and thereafter visited Pound in Italy. Goacher became “drama critic” for Mosley’s European. See Nicholas Johnson, “Obituary: Denis Goacher,” The Independent, May 6, 1998.

[89] Ezra Pound, “Ci de los Cantares,” The European, vol. 12, no. 6, February 1959, pp. 382–84. This issue also carries a review by Alan Neame of Ronald Firbank’s play, “Valmouth” (p. 372). Also in this issue is a revisionist article by Noel Stock, citing Harry Elmer Barnes, discussing financial sources for the Russian Revolution, and alluding Poundian-style to usury as the cause of civilizational collapse (“Blackout on History,” pp. 337–43). Alan Neame’s poem “Levant Elevenses,” appears in the July 1958 issue of The European, vol. 11, no. 5, p. 305. Denis Goacher’s poem, “In Memoriam New Statesman,” satirizes the bourgeois liberal of that magazine, and spoofs their obliviousness to the cultural decay of Britain, with its “rock and roll” and “stereophonic crooning . . .” (vol. 12, no. 4, December 1958, pp. 250–51).

[90] Ackroyd, Ezra Pound and His World, p. 115.

 

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One Comment

  1. Posted November 1, 2012 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for this. Great writer, great man. Linked and commented on here:
    http://ex-army.blogspot.com/2012/11/ezra-pound.html

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