This essay is a condensation of the first chapter of my dissertation submitted to the University of Chicago. At the time, it was not popular to look at Ezra Pound’s politics seriously, which, I suppose is why it was published in the Partisan Review (Spring, 1981, Vol. 48, No. 2) and not in a more standard literary journal. While it has become more acceptable, recently, to look critically at Pound’s politics, I still have not seen anyone address the issue as I do here. I was surprised to discover, some years later, that the article had been translated into Polish and published there, unbeknownst to me. Still, it’s good to know that somebody is listening.
POETRY AND POLITICS IN EZRA POUND
Ezra Pound's anti-Semitism poses a problem that literary critics, by and large, have not handled with distinction. Such concerns are considered un-literary and beyond the immediate scope of the text. Sometimes a critic will include in his account of Pound a minute description of Major Douglas's economics, but only to demonstrate how Pound made use of that theory in The Cantos. But having seen that use, what then should the reader make of it? Until literary critics are willing to face anti-Semitism, Social Credit, and fascism as issues, as problems of the literary texts that make-use of them, we shall be unable to come to a realistic appraisal of the work of Ezra Pound or of modernism as. a cultural phenomenon.
Most critics, when confronted by Pound's anti-Semitism attemptto sweep it under the nearest apology, leaving conspicuous bulges in their arguments. Christine Brooke-Rose, in a remark characteristic of one type of apology, asserts: "His anti-Semitism is (or was) nasty, an aberration, even if in intention focused on the financial question." Calling his anti-Semitism an "aberration" is a disservice to Pound. Brooke-Rose counsels readers not to take him seriously. As Hyam Maccoby recently pointed out: "Pound himself would not have wanted to be judged as a moral incompetent who happened to have a knack for poetry." If we learn nothing else from Pound we learn that ideas do not exist in a historical vacuum. Denying this truth is perhaps the greatest harm Pound's "friends" can do when they treat his anti-Semitism as though the Holocaust never happened.
Another method of apology focuses on Pound's big-Jew-little- Jew distinction. In Canto LII, Pound says: "... sin drawing vengeance, poor yitts paying for ...paying for a few big jew's vendetta on goyim." Some feel that in statements such as this Pound absolves the "poor yitts" from responsibility in the "big jew's" crimes. But this argument falls down if we consider that the only difference between the two is the "poor yitts"' lack of power. In Guide to Kulchur Pound remarked: "Meyer Anselm had, let us say, a purpose, a race (his own race) to 'avenge."' Here, the "big jew's vendetta" is carried on in the interests of the "poor yitts." The "vendetta" becomes a racial character istic. Meyer Anselm takes on the "vendetta" because of his "bigness," not as the result of a moral choice.
Some critics, notably Hugh Kenner and Clark Emery, feel that Pound absolved himself from the charge of anti-Semitism by making distinctions between "big jews" and "poor yitts" or by making statements like: "Usurers have no race. How long the whole Jewish people is to be sacrificial goat for the usurer, I know not." Hugh Kenner, in The Pound Era, remarked: "It is a pity Pound's distinction between the financiers and the rest of Jewry was not allowed to be emphasized while he was still in the habit of making it. Correctly or not, it attempted a diagnosis, and one tending rather to decrease than to encourage anti-Semitism." It is hard to say whether Kenner's statement is more remarkable for its paranoia or its naivete. Who, we might ask, prevented the distinction from being emphasized? If the distinction was merely a habit that Pound fell into and out of, how important could it have been in the first place? And since when is a diagnostician not responsible for his incorrect diagnosis? And, lastly, how does Pound's distinction discourage anti-Semitism since it merely excuses the poor Jews from the usurious tendencies of the Jews as a whole?
But one need not condemn "the whole Jewish people" to qualify as an anti-Semite. The literature of anti-Semitism is filled with just such distinctions as Pound makes. It is useful in this context to compare Pound's statements with those of his contemporaries. Pound was hardly unique during the period between the world wars in featuring anti-Semitism in an analysis of social and economic ills. Understanding anti-Semitism as a cultural phenomenon rather than as isolated incidents of prejudice will help provide a context for Pound's work and thought.
Another American anti-Semite to whom Pound bore a more than superficial resemblance was Henry Ford. Pound always spoke of Ford with praise, and in Canto LXXIV, a copy of Ford's autobiography appears on the bookshelf of the virtuous mayor of Worgl along with Dante and Heine. Between 1920 and 1922, Henry Ford's weekly magazine, The Dearborn Independent, published a series of anti Semitic articles. Ford's biographers characterized this series, saying: "Its general thesis was that the international Jew, a secret leadership of the race, was bent on disrupting all Gentile life by war, revolt, and disorder, and thus finally gaining world control of politics, commerce, and finance." The "secret leadership of the race" resembles Pound's feelings about "big jews" and Meyer Anselm. Like Pound, the editors of The Dearborn Independent claim not to be against the Jewish people:
The Jewish Question is not in the number of Jews who here reside, not in the American's jealousy of the Jew's success, certainly not in any objection to the Jew's entirely unobjectionable Mosaic religion; it is in something else, and that something else is the fact of Jewish influence on the life of the country where Jews dwell. ...It is not the Jewish people, but the Jewish idea, and the people only as vehicles of the idea, that is the point at issue.
Critics who would defend Pound against the charge of anti Semitism by pointing out Pound's distinction between "big jews" and "poor yitts" make an error when they consider anti-Semitism as merely a prejudice. Someone who is prejudiced against black people may assume that all black people are alike, but it rarely occurs to the-bigoted imagination that all blacks are secretly conspiring together against whites-as the anti-Semite assumes that Jews are secretly conspiring against Gentiles. This added intensity enters anti-Semitism because it is a rationalized doctrine that defends a set of interests, rather than simply irrational feelings. Henry Ford identifies these interests for us: "The Jewish philosophy of money is not to 'make money' but to 'get money.' The distinction between these two is fundamental. That explains Jews being 'financiers' instead of 'captains of industry.'" Pound also makes a fundamental distinction between financiers and industrialists and pits them against one another. He assigns virtue to the "producers" and evil to the Jewish position, the usurious financiers:
But the monopolies, the sanctions, the restrictions imposed by the guilds were, at least, monopolies of producers. The various monopo lies which culminate in the monopoly of money itself, key to all other monopolies, were, and are monopolies of exploiters.
The situation is complicated when the same man has his hand in both the production and the finance. Henry Ford found himself forced into this situation in order to defend himself against Wall Street.
Pound's conception of artists as "producers" may have contributed to his acceptance of the doctrine of anti-Semitism as a defense of "producers," but there can be no doubt that he accepted the doctrine whole and propounded it whole. Nevins and Hill, Ford's biographers, defend Ford from the charge of malicious intent by pointing out his naiveté and ignorance. But no one has claimed that his words were any the less harmful for that. Clark Emery, however, makes exactly this claim for Pound when he says that in the following quotation from one of Pound's radio broadcasts for Mussolini, "Pound had at least dissociated himself from Dachau and Buchenwald, the gas-chambers and the cattle-trains":
Don't start a pogrom. That is, not an old style killing of small jews. That system is no good, whatever. Of course, if some man had a stroke of genius, and could start a pogrom at the top ... there might be something to say for it. But on the whole, legal measures are preferable. The 60 Kikes who started this war might be sent to St. Helena, as a measure of world-prophylaxis, and some hyper-Kikes or non-Jewish Kikes along with them.
Pound has hardly dissociated himself from the gas-chambers. The pogrom is "no good, whatever" not because it is immoral, but because it is ineffective. Pound feels that eliminating only the "big jews" would be sufficient. But he is still advocating a "system" of judenrein, i.e., a system for ridding the world of Jewish influences. Pound's phrase "world-prophylaxis" is a distinct echo of the offensive German term. Neither does Pound specifically abjure murder. He merely says "legal measures are preferable." Emery wishes to dissociate Pound's words from the acts of the Holocaust. But the Holocaust was a feature of the doctrine that Pound accepted and propounded. The judenrein concept lies very much behind Pound's words.
There is another danger in this dissociation type of apology. Emery ends his discussion of Pound's anti-Semitism, saying:
I have made somewhat more of this matter and of Pound's Fascist sympathies than I should have liked to do. It may be argued that, seen in their proper perspective and in strict terms of literary criticism, they are of minor importance. The critical evaluation of the Faerie Queen or of Paradise Lost does not hinge upon the anti Catholicism or anti-monarchism of their authors.
Emery's "terms of literary criticism" are perhaps too strict if they do not admit ideology to be an important component of Pound's work (or of Spenser's or Milton's, for that matter), and his perspective is hardly proper if it allows him to think that the vulgarity of Pound's remarks is an unimportant feature. But Emery's statement manifests an even grosser historical blindness than considering anti-Semitism and fas cism unimportant. Anti-Catholicism and anti-monarchism, as well as their respective opponents, were the representative ideologies of coher ent sets of interests, backed by governmental structures and military power. Emery implies that Judaism is just such a coherent set of interests. He cannot make this argument without adopting an attitude very much like the one he wants to excuse.
A third type of apology accepts the meanness of Pound's sentiments, but tries to diminish their importance by attributing them to a loss of control. William Chace adopts this method in The Political Identities of Ezra Pound and T.S. Eliot:
At times it seems merely that Pound is enraged at a certain general mode of thought and behavior but must, in accordance with his habitual procedures, give it a special designation-here "Hebrew." It is as if Pound, suddenly realizing that he, adamant against abstrac tions, was using abstractions, decided to obscure that fact by a sudden infusion of intemperance.
Here, anti-Semitism does not indicate a central flaw in Pound's argument so much as that argument erupting into intemperance. Chace's position differs from the "aberration" type of apology in that Chace feels that Pound's anti-Semitism "may be evaluated most productively as an altogether logical corollary to his philosophic and aesthetic principles, not as an inexpliCable divergence from them." But Chace steps into a contradiction when he says pf Pound's April30, 1942 broadcast ("Don't start a pogrom," etc.): "There is perhaps only a clinical explanation for such utterances. They issue from an anger gone far beyond reason, from a desperation grown extreme." Chace makes a dangerous equation between reason and moderation. If Pound's anti-Semitism is truly "an altogether logical corollary to his philosophical and aesthetic principles," would those principles have been more reasonable if Pound's statement of them were more moder ate? Would the doctrines with which Pound suffuses his poetry have been less pernicious if Pound's vitriolic anti-Semitism had not sur faced? If we take Pound's anti-Semitism seriously we must understand it as indicating a central flaw in his theoretical framework which takes its toll almost every aspect of his work.
The point of confluence of anti-Semitism, fascism and Social on Credit, occupies the center of Pound's thought. Although they some times occur simultaneously, these three concepts are not superficially connected. While anti-Semitism is a component of many fascist movements, Mussolini himself was not overtly anti-Semitic. There was no official Jewish persecution in Italy until 1938 when the first anti Semitic laws were passed. Even then, the laws were resented by many Italian fascists as a symbol of Mussolini's domination by Hitler. Douglas consistently claimed to champion democracy and to be unimpressed by either fascism or communism, although he was given to occasional Jew-baiting.
Pound's anti-Semitism bears the outline of much of the anti-Semitic propaganda that preceded World War II. In The Cantos and throughout his prose works we find the familiar anti-Semite's picture of the Jew as unproductive, parasitic and conspiratorial. In Canto XXXV we find:
this is Mitteleuropa
has explained to me the warmth of affections,
the intramural, the almost intravaginal warmth of
hebrew affections, in the family, and nearly everything else.... pointing out that Mr. Lewinesholme has suffered by deprivation
of same and exposure to American snobbery ... "I am a product," said the young lady, "of Mitteleuropa,"
but she seemed to have been able to mobilize and the fine thing was that the family did not
wire about papa's death for fear of disturbing the concert
which might seem to contradict the general indefinite wobble.
It must be rather like some internal organ,
some communal life of the pancreas .... sensitivity without direction ... this is ... (35/172-3)
For Pound, creativity was masculine, phallic and individualistic. He depicts the Jews as feminine and communal. Pound considered a "direction of the will" to be an important component of culture. The Jews' "sensitivity without direction" suggests that they are incapable of producing or sustaining a culture. Because "sensitivity" seems to emanate from "some internal organ," the Jews do not have to strive for it. This passive receptivity is the opposite of the will. The flabby, indecisive language with which Pound describes the Jews, such phrases as: "it must be rather like some internal organ," can also be taken as an indication of Pound's feelings that the Jews were incapable of the kind of precision and hardness necessary to be artistic, produc tive people.
Pound's type of the productive man was Sigismundo Malatesta who asserted his will against all the obstacles Renaissance Italy could put before him and built the Tempio. Pound said of his Malatesta Cantos: "No one has claimed that the Malatesta cantos are obscure. They are openly volitionist, establishing, I think clearly, the effect of the £active personality, Sigismundo, an entire man." Lacking Sigis mundo's type of individual will, a Jew could not have a "factive" personality, could not be a creative, "entire man."
Pound undercuts the importance of individual exceptions to this rule by referring to that possibility with a double subjunctive. Such an exception "might seem to contradict the general indefinite wobble." The "wobble" remains "general," characteristic of the Jews as a whole despite individual exceptions. The exception that Pound shows us in Canto XXXV is ironic. Pound felt that emotion was essential to producing good art. He said in a letter to Iris Barry: "Also one must have emotion or one's cadence and rhythms will be vapid and without interest." Pound does not accuse the Jews of being unemotional. The drift of the passage from Canto XXXV is to accuse them of sentimental ity. But by not wiring "about papa's death for fear of disturbing the concert," the Jews are keeping the emotion "in the family," exactly in accordance with Pound's complaints about them.
Creativity and masculinity were closely associated in Pound's mind. In a postscript to his translation of Remy de Gourmont's Physique de l'Amour, he claims:
The brain itself, is, in origin and development only a sort of great clot of genital fluid held in suspense or reserve ....This hypothesis would perhaps explain a certain number of as yet uncorrelated phenomena both psychological and physiological. It would explain the enormous content of the brain as a maker or presenter of images.
As a "maker … of images," the artist would seem to be in close contact with the origin of his brain as semen. The feminine Jew, whose affections are "intravaginal" and whose religion forbids the making of images of the godhead, would seem to be excluded from artistic creativity in Pound's view. In the letter to Iris Barry cited earlier, Pound compares writing poetry to the working of a sculptor: "It is as simple as the sculptor's direction: 'Take a chisel and cut away all the stone you don't want.'" Here again is the artist as the phallic, aggressive male. The state of mind in which one must "cut away" is the opposite of the Jews' feminine "warmth" and "sensitivity." Sentimentality, the opposite of the sculptor's ruthlessness, is characteristic of the Jewish artist:
The tale of the perfect schnorrer: a peautiful chewish poy wit a vo-ice dot woult
meldt dh heart offa schtone
and wit a likeing for to make arht-voiks
and ven dh oldt lady wasn't dhere any more
and dey didn't know why, tdhere ee woss in the
oldt antique schop and nobodty knew how he got dhere. (35/174)
The Jewish approach to stone is to melt it, to destroy its essential nature, while the sculptor wants to realize the essential nature of the stone by chipping away at ·it. This view of sentimentality resembles Pound's complaint against usury, that it destroys the essential nature of money by creating money that does not represent work. Usury violates the nature of money as a "certificate of work done within a system."
Pound delineates the conspiratorial aspects of the Jews in Canto XXII:
And we went down to the synagogue, All full of silver lamps
And the top gallery stacked with old benches;
And in came the levite and six little choir kids And began yow ling the ritual
As if it was crammed full of jokes,
And they went through a whole book of it;
And in came the elders and the scribes About five or six and the rabbi
And he sat down, and grinned, and pulled out his snuff box, And sniffed up a thumb-full, and grinned,
And called over a kid from the choir, and whispered, And nodded toward one old buffer,
And the kid took him the snuff-box and he grinned, And bowed his head, and sniffed up a thumb-full, And the kid took the box back to the rabbi,
And he grinned, e faceva bisbiglio,
And the kid toted of( the box to another bunch of old whiskers,
And he snif£ed up his thumb-full
And so on till they'd each had his sniff
And then the rabbi looked at the stranger, and they All grinned hal£ a yard wider, and the rabbi Whispered for about two minutes longer,
And the kid brought the box over to me,
And I grinned and sniHed up my thumb-full. And then they got out the scrolls of the law
And had their little procession
And kissed the ends of the markers. (22/104-5)
The constant repetition of "And" at the beginnings of lines, although one of Pound's standard devices, is meant here to resemble the intoning of a liturgy. But the activity that the observer reports as ritualistic consists of grinning, whispering and taking snuff. He says of the actual ritual that the Jews treated it "as if it was crammed full of jokes." It seems to the observer that the Jews in this passage do not take seriously the content of their texts. What they do take seriously is some kind of secret that gives rise to all the whispering and grinning. The snuff-taking is the ritualistic confirmation of this mysterious compact. The outsider can take snuff and grin, but that does not make him privy to the Jews' secret because the ritual is only incidental to that secret as the Jewish Law is only incidental to the real content of Judaism.
The notion that the Jews do not take seriously the moral content of their texts, that there is a disparity between the Jewish Law and the propensities of the Jewish people, appears elsewhere in Pound's writings. In his pamphlet "What is Money For?" he states:
At this point, and to prevent the dragging of red herrings, I wish to distinguish between prejudice against the Jew as such and the suggestion that the Jew should face his own problem.
DOES he in his individual case wish to observe the law of Moses? Does he propose to continue to rob other men by usury mechanism while wishing to be considered a 'neighbor?'
Pound refers to the fact that the Hebrew Scriptures expressly forbid usury. But an ominous note creeps in when Pound suggests that usury is the Jew's "own problem." The Jews seem to be afflicted with an inability to follow their own law as a racial characteristic. This "problem" ·becomes more serious in Canto XXII where not taking the Scriptures seriously has become incorporated into the practice of Judaism.
We should note, however, that Clark Emery felt the description of the Jews in Canto XXII to be favorable: "In Canto XXII Pound describes the Jews in the synagogue and finds them to be characterized by two of his favorite virtues, hilaritas and humanitas." But to look upon this passage as a quaint description of Jewish mirth and good fellowship is to ignore, somewhat, its context. Immediately preceding the description of the synagogue Pound gives us a bleak little confron tation between fools and knaves played by tourists and guides respec tively. Yusuf, the Jew, is the principal knave:
And Yusuf said: Woat, he iss all thru Eetaly An' ee is nevair been stuck, ee iss a liar. W'en I goa to some forain's country
I am stuck.
W'en yeou goa to some forain's country
You moss be stuck; W'en they come 'ere I steek thaim. (22/104)
The description of the synagogue continues in this vein as the naive tourist-observer is taken in by a quaint scene filled with ominous, ironic undertones.
We stated earlier that anti-Semitism is a rationalized doctrine and not merely a prejudice held by irrational individuals. To see how anti Semitism interconnects with other portions of Pound's thought, specifically with fascism and Social Credit, we need to understand how that argument works and to examine its components. Yet if we string together all of Pound's anti-Semitic statements we still have only a description of the Jew and not a discursive argument as to why he believed the Jews to have certain characteristics. As Pound himself stated in Jefferson and/or Mussolini, albeit in relation to another topic: "I am not putting in all the steps of my argument but that don't mean to say they aren't there." We can fill in the steps of Pound's anti Semitic argument, show the framework he was working out of, if we again compare his statements with those of his contemporaries.
While European anti-Semitism has a long history, its emergence into nineteenth and twentieth century race theory marks the beginning of a special chapter. At this point, anti-Semitism evolves from a prejudice or philosophical vantage point, however degraded, into a doctrine that pretends to explain movements of world history and to be full of import for the present moment. One of the founders of this type of anti-Semitism was the British Germanophile, Houston Stewart Chamberlain. Chamberlain published his theories in a two-volume work, entitled Foundations of the Nineteenth Century, which was first published in 1899 and had gone through twenty-eight editions by 1942.
One need not demonstrate direct lines of influence between Pound and a seminal twentieth century anti-Semite like Chamberlain to point out that Pound appropriated many of the forms that Chamberlain pioneered. Compare, for example, Pound's comment on Meyer An selm: "Meyer Anselm had, let us say a purpose, a race (his race) to 'avenge'. He used the ONLY weapons available for a tiny minority for a lone hand against organized goy power, pomp, militarism, rhetoric, buncombe," to Chamberlain's comment on what he termed "the forgeries of Ezra and the great synagogue":
The many millions who were massacred by or for Christianity, as well as the many Jews who died for their faith, are all victims of the forgeries of Ezra and the great synagogue. But we cannot suspect the motives of these men. They acted in the greatest despair; they wished to accomplish the impossible-to save their nation from downfall. Certainly a noble goal I They could conquer only by employment of the most extreme means. It was a delusive but not an ignoble aim, for above all they wished to serve their God.
Both statements picture Jewish leaders overcoming tremendous odds and using desperate means to preserve the Jewish people. Also, both Pound and Chamberlain begrudge admiration for Meyer Anselm and Ezra respectively for their tenacity and willingness to use desperate means.
For Chamberlain, the interests of the Jewish people as a whole were institutionalized in the "nomocracy," the rule of law, which "unites the Jews, no matter how scattered they may be over all the lands of the world, into a firm, uniform and absolutely political organ ism .... This national idea culminates in the unshakeable confidence in the universal empire of the Jews which Jehovah promised." Cham berlain makes no distinctions among the Jewish people, their sup posed political organization, the "nomocracy," and the goal of that political organization, the Kingdom of God on Earth. But the King dom of God on Earth becomes distorted in Chamberlain's view into the "universal empire of the Jews." That the Kingdom of God on Earth meant that the Jews would possess material things follows from Chamberlain's notion that the Jews accept only material proofs of the existence of God. He claimed that the Jewish conception of God "is always ... a question of outward experience, not of inner; the concep tions are always thoroughly concrete, material." The characterization of the Kingdom of God on Earth as a conquered "empire" follows from Chamberlain's inability to distinguish between rule-governed and rule-constituted behavior.
An example of rule-constituted behavior would be the game of chess which is nothing if not its rules. If one moved a bishop in a straight line instead of a diagonal, one simply would not be playing chess. Driving a car, for instance, is a different matter. If one chose to drive through red lights and stop at green ones, no one could say that this type of behavior was not driving a car. In rule-governed behavior, the rules are arbitrary. They are not intrinsic to the activity they govern. In rule-constituted behavior, the rules are the activity.
Chamberlain believed the Jewish Covenant to be rule-governed behavior:
Pure materialism is the bargain which Jacob enters into with Jehovah (Genesis xxviii, 20-22), in which he makes five conditions, or, as the jurist would say, stipulations, and then concludes: as thou doest this so thou shalt be my God.
He believed that the activity the Jews were engaged in was the acquisition of the Kingdom of God on Earth. The Jewish Law is the means by which they acquire that Kingdom. To consider the keeping of that Law to be a type of rule-governed behavior instead of rule-constituted behavior is to deny moral content to that Law, a complaint similar to the one Pound made in Canto XXII. The Kingdom of God is a reward for keepin'g the rules, not the result of any activity involved in carrying them out. Chamberlain paraphrases Ezekiel, saying: "No, Israel is not in the world, to toil and wage war like other peoples, to work and to think, but to be the sanctuary of Jehovah; let it observe Jehovah's law, and all will be given to it."
The crucial point here is that the end point of the Jew's desires is not entailed in the means he uses to acquire it. The Kingdom of God on Earth becomes a conquered empire in Chamberlain's view because the Jews are not capable of working directly for anything; they can only take a kingdom, they cannot build one of their own. On the one hand, this conception has given rise to the picture of the Jews as an unproductive, parasitic people:
If the Israelites had destroyed the old settled inhabitants, they would have made a desert of the land and robbed themselves of the prize of victory. By sparing them and, as it were, grafting themselves upon them, they grew into their culture. They made themselves at home in houses which they had not built, in fields and gardens which they had not laid out and cultivated.
And on the other hand, Chamberlain's view gives rise to the ubiquitous notion among anti·Semites of the Jewish plot:
In humility he shall bow before God, but not in that inner humility of which Christ speaks-he bows his head before Jehovah because of the promise that by the fulfillment of this condition he will put his foot on the neck of all the nations of the world and be Lord and possessor of the whole earth. This one basis of Jewish religion includes, therefore, a direct criminal attempt upon all the peoples of the earth, and the crime cannot be disavowed because hitherto the power has been lacking to carry it out; for it is the hope itself which is criminal and poisons the heart of the Jew.
Conspiracy and lack of productivity coincide in Pound's chief com plaint against the Jews: usury.
While this analysis might be difficult to reproduce in Pound's own words, it is not less central to Pound's thought because he was less specific than Chamberlain about the source of his anti-Semitic sentiments. Pound believed that an antiproductive principle was at work in history. The Jews, who do not work for their reward, became, in his mind, the chief purveyors of that principle.
If we understand fascism to be the political movement of the petite bourgeoisie organized in its own defense, we shall see how anti Semitism fits into the fascist conception of the world. The petite bourgeoisie exists as a special prerogative of the bourgeoisie. During times of economic expansion, the petit bourgeois artisan or small producer can become capitalized to the extent that he actually joins the ranks of the bourgeoisie. And during times of economic contraction he can be squeezed out of existence entirely and be forced into the ranks of the working class, i.e., be forced to work for wages. But the petite bourgeoisie. has a much more concerted enemy than the seeming arbitrariness of economic cycles: the need at all times for the capitalist to expand or die. This need expresses itself as the tendency of capital towards concentration: more and more property in the hands of fewer and fewer capitalists. The concentration of capital produces a like concentration .in the working class, whose' interests as a class become more coherent vis-a-vis the increasing coherence of capital and provide more of a focal point for organization. But it is not until the organized working class is powerful enough to wrest some of its demands from the bourgeoisie, which the petite bourgeoisie sees as an attack upon its special prerogatives, that the fascist attacks. Wherever fascism came to power, it rode the crest of the white terror that followed the Russian Revolution and the many smaller and less successful proletarian revolutions that took place in Europe after World War I.
The fascist attack is two-pronged. It comes primarily as an attack upon working class organizations such as trade unions and socialist political parties, but it also includes an attack upon capital. The petite bourgeoisie cannot attack the bourgeoisie as a whole because it derives its special significance from the bourgeoisie. So, the fascist attacks that segment of capital which seems to him to provide the impetus for concentration, finance capital. The equation of Moscow and Wall Street in much of fascist propaganda reflects the fascist's quandary, as does Pound's unabated fury at banks and financiers throughout his whole life.
The Jews enter this configuration at various levels. At a simple level, Jews tend to be prominent in both financial and revolutionary circles. At a deeper level, we again find the concept in both sides of the fascist attack that the Jew's reward is not entailed in the Jew's activity. Pound makes the fascist's distinction between industrialist and financier:
The terms 'labour', 'work', throughout this discussion apply to the man with the shovel, the clerk, the transporter, the entrepreneur, etc.
Everyone who acts in the transportation of the article from mother earth to the eater (eye of beholder, hand of user).
The "entrepreneur" or industrialist is a productive person, not so the financier:
A certain part of the credit slips received by the entrepreneurs was wormed down a sort of tube....And nothing was done against this amount of credit taken in from the public and hidden. It flowed continually down into the ground, down into somebody's pocket.
... Manifestly we have seen companies building new plants out of 'profits'. Manifestly we have seen crises.
Here, financiers, the ones who "take in credit from the public," are pictured as hatching dark and mysterious plots to "worm" money away from the virtuous "entrepreneurs." Bankers and financiers create money from ''paper paradoxes'' that do not represent anything actually made. When Pound blames the trickery and plot-hatching of financiers for "companies building new plants out of 'profits,'" instead of circulating those profits, he blames finance for capital's need to expand. Similarly, he blames finance for economic crises. Although Pound pointed out in many cases that not all those responsible for financial trickery are Jews, the anti-Semitic style predominates as those non-Jews become "non-Jewish Kikes."
Pound's analysis is close in style to that of the Dearborn Independent. The following is that journal's analysis of how the Jews have affected the other flank of the fascist's enemies, the working class:
Now, previous to the advent of Jewish socialistic and subversive ideas, the predominant thought in the labor world was to "make" things and thus "make" money. There was a pride among mechan ics. Men who made things were a sturdy, honest race because they dealt with ideas of skill and quality, and their very characters were formed by the satisfaction of having performed useful functions in society.... The only way to break down this strong safeguard of society-a laboring class of sturdy character-was to sow other ideas among it and the most dangerous of all the ideas sown was that which substituted "get" for "make." With the required manipula tion of the money and food markets, enough pressure could be brought to bear on the ultimate consumers to give point to the idea of "get," and it was not long before the internal relations of American business were totally upset, with Jews at the head of the banking system, and Jews at the head of both the conservative and radical elements of the Labor Movement, AND, most potent of all, the Jewish Idea sowed through the minds of workingmen. What Idea? The old idea of "get" instead of "make."
What we have been calling lack of entailment, the Dearborn Independent calls "'get' instead of 'make.'" In this remarkable bit of analysis, the "Jewish Idea" of get becomes a mysterious tactic that the Jews use to insinuate themselves into positions of prominence Notice again that the areas that the editors of the Dearborn Independent think the Jews are most interested in are the banking system and the labor movement. Like Pound's financiers, the Jews are pictured as hatching insidious plots and using financial trickery as one of their principal weapons. The manipulation of credit is an essential ingredient in Ford's conception of the Jewish plot. It is the mechanism that forces the idea of get on the working class.
It is a supreme irony that Henry Ford, as one of the pioneers of mass production which contributes to the alienation of the worker from his product, should blame the Jews for that alienation. The erroneous notion that the Jewish Law has no moral content is a purposeful if not a conscious misunderstanding. It enables the Jew to become a convenient screen upon which the fascist can project his bad dreams. Ezra Pound is no exception to this phenomenon.
Major Douglas, Pound's mentor in economics, also indulges in explanations of social and economic woes as the result of the plot hatching of "the hidden hands of finance." Douglas's statements on credit and finance are more moderate than Pound's, but that is the only difference. Douglas provided the analysis for Pound's more hysterical pronouncements. Although Douglas claims to be a democrat, like the fascist he identifies his enemies as the banks and the unions, finance capital and the organized working class:
With the Trust and joint-Stock Banking System came agreements restricting price-competition, and with that came the apotheosis of Trade Unionism, forced to meet the situation by methods identical in principal, leading in both cases direct to sabotage.
Pound's economic theory hinges on a distinction between capital and property: "My bust by Gaudier is my property. Nobody is expected to do anything about it. My bond of the X andY railroad is capital. Somebody is supposed to earn at least 60 dollars a year and pay it to me because I own such a bond.'' To Pound, property means control over things and capital means control over men. In Anti-Dühring, Engels predicted that such a distinction would lead to saying: "the capitalist mode of production is quite good and can remain, but the capitalist mode of distribution is no good and must be abolished." Pound accommodates Engels exactly when he says:
But in 1918 we knew in London that the problem of production was solved, and that the next job was to solve distribution and that this meant a new administration of credit. I don't think there was any ambiguity about that. ... The question being how and who was to break down the ring of craft, of fraud, and of iron.
Engels points out that control over men results from a previous control over things. Pound's false distinction between production and distribution, which was also held by Dühring, underlies the following false analysis:
But what is it that makes Herr Dühring concoct this false definition of wealth, and why has he to sever the real relationship which has existed in all former class societies? In order to drag wealth from the domain of economics over into that of morals. Domination over things is quite all right, but the domination over men is an evil thing; and as Herr Dühring has precluded himself from explaining the domination over men by the domination over things, he can once again do an audacious trick and in a trice explain domination over men by his beloved force.
Engels offers an explanation for why economic problems appear to Pound as moral problems. Pound's question, "how and who was to break down the ring of craft, of fraud, and of iron," is phrased entirely in moral terms. "Solving distribution" means overcoming the evil designs of evil men. There is no essential flaw in the economics of the situation that overcoming evil cannot cure. Pound's and Dühring's positions are similar because they both lacked the perception that control over things precedes and enables control over men.
Major Douglas claims that a factory, as a distributor of financial values, makes two kinds of payments: "Group A-All payments made to individuals (wages, salaries, and dividends). Group B-All payments made to other organizations (raw materials, bank charges, and other external costs)." Douglas points out that the price of a commodity is determined by A+B, and since A will not purchase A+B, society will never have enough money to purchase its entire output. Douglas blames the banks:
B is the financial representation of the lever of capital, and is constantly increasing in comparison with A. So that, in order to keep A and the goods purchased with A at a constant value, A+B must expand with every improvement of process, while at the same time this increased production must, in the nature of things, be of such a nature as will enable it to be paid for under group B. It must not, therefore, be an ultimate product-something that human beings, as such, require for their personal use-but must take the form of factory buildings, machinery, etc., for the production of which bank drafts can be obtained, or else be production for export.
For Douglas, the impetus for capital improvement comes from the banks. By causing a need for capitalists to expand, they are exploiting their favorable position "in the nature of things."
When Douglas says "in order to keep A and the goods purchased with A at a constant value, A +B must expand with every improvement of process," he merely reports backwards. A +B does not expand when productivity is increased, rather, A diminishes with respect to B; labor costs represent less of the full value of the commodity. Because Douglas reports backwards, he is mystified as to the source of the downward pressure on the value of labor power. He assumes that because banks make money from loans for "improvement of process," banks must be the culprits.
But why do Pound and Douglas consistently blame finance for the problems created by capitalism as a whole? How did they arrive at a picture of financiers and industrialists constantly at each others' throats? To further his argument, Douglas quotes a colleague saying:
In highly developed countries such as ours practically all purchasing power commences life as credit created by the banks. These credits are created at the instance of manufacturers and dealers; are distri buted by them in the shape of wages, salaries, and profits, and spent.
This statement is simply false. No financier will remain solvent very long who makes loans to industrialists who do not already own some means of production and at least potentially have a labor force at their disposal. Once again we are back to Engels's point that those who do not see the connection between production and distribution do not understand that men dominate other men through the things they control. "Purchasing power" does not commence "life as credit created by the banks," it commences as ownership of the means of production. Pound and Douglas did not follow the source of their problem back to production because they did not want to see ownership, the condition which precedes and enables exploitation, as an evil.
The inability of Pound and Douglas to see the chronology of the exploitative relationship is really a general. blindness to chronology, which reflects the fascist's resentment of history. If capitalism contains "the seeds of its own destruction," then the fascist's enemy is history inasmuch as the development of capitalism signals the demise of class privilege.
The anti-Semite is the victim of a similar resentment and blindness. Chamberlain is enraged by the Jewish belief that the Kingdom of God would be a historical, earthly kingdom:
But the Jew lived only in history, ... and so he judges a phenom enon like the revelation of Christ from a purely historical stand point, and became justly filled with fury, when the promised kingdom, to win which he had suffered and endured for centuries for the sake of possessing which he had separated himself from all people on the earth, and had become hated and despised of all when this kingdom, in which he hoped to see all nations in fetters and all princes upon their knees "licking the dust", was all at once transformed in to one "not of this world."
The belief that the Kingdom of God is not entailed in the Jewish Law results from an inability to see a causal relationship, one that takes place in time.
The point of confluence of anti-Semitism, fascism, and Social Credit occupies the center of Pound's consciousness, and that center is the attitude toward history and time just delineated. It is not a new idea to suggest that Pound had an overarching concern with time. Daniel Pearlman has said:
Pound was setting himself the considerable task of discovering the first principles of human behavior. If, in working toward this goal, he felt with greater and greater urgency the need to determine the nature of time, it is probable that he felt it to be a question of fundamental importance, not only to the poet but to humanity at large.
Pearlman feels that Pound's attitude towards time resulted from his creative methods and intentions. On the contrary, I would suggest that Pound's understanding of time is the a priori element in his thought and colors those methods and intentions. It is discernible in every aspect of Pound's creative work from his poetic syntax to his theory of culture. Understanding Pound's attitude towards time is not simply a noncontroversial tool for evaluating those equally noncontroversial methods and intentions, but is itself a method for questioning those methods and intentions and for examining the social role of the poet and poetry.