Sunday, May 13, 2012

Ezra Pound's Impact

While never having the will to attempt to read the entirety of Ezra Pound's Cantos, for the past 50 years I have kept a copy of a collection of his non-fiction prose, Impact:  Essays on Ignorance and the Decline of American Civilization, which was edited by Noel Stock and published by Regnery at Chicago in 1960.

Impact presents the Pound who was a spokesman on issues of public policy,  not the poet.  It clears away the misconception that Pound was an defender of Mussolini's Fascism.  He was, in fact, a distributist, as were T. S. Eliot, A. R. Orage, and G. K. Chesterton, and an exponent of Social Credit.
Distributism defends as ideal an economy in which the maximum number of heads of households own the means with which they earn their livings.  It is close to the Jeffersonian agrarian ideal.

Social Credit, originated by the British engineer C. H. Douglas, is an attempt to resolve one of the fundamental contradictions of capitalism; i.e., the problem of overproduction.  Again and again, capitalism is shaken by a situation in which people lack the purchasing power to buy that which has been produced.

If the problem of overproduction does not seem understandable, then consider this fact:  It is the crisis in which we now find ourselves.  All around us are houses and automobiles for sale,  but there are not enough people who have the purchasing power to buy them.  Even the stratagem of long-term loans has failed.

Social Credit "proposes to distribute purchasing power to the public via national dividends.  And this strikes some people as absurd, or at least impossible" ( Impact, p. 158).  Pound then proceeds to argue that a national dividend is not inflationary.
  (Are the "bailouts" a belated national dividend?)

The great problem in the economy, according to Pound, is usury.  Usury is "a charge for the use of purchasing power, levied without regard to production, sometimes without regard even to the possibilities of production" (p. 210). It is not simply excessive interest. 

Pound has long been anathema to the left because, while he recognized one of capitalism's flaws, he rejected Marxism.  Also, he has long been suspected of having been the inspiration behind a young dissident of slightly more than 50 years ago,  Frederick John Kasper.  (For more on Kasper, see the Wikipedia article on him.)

No comments:

Post a Comment