Friday, 18 December 2009

Ezra Pound on Brooks Adams

In the Greenwood Press Ezra Pound Encyclopedia:
Carta da Visita
Written in Italian, Carta da Visita was published in Rome in 1942 by Giambattista Vicari. A new edition was published in Milan in 1974 by Vanni Scheiwiller, and an English version, in a translation by John Drummond and titled A Visiting Card, was published in London in 1952. This translation was reprinted, with some revisions, in Impact (1960), pages 44–74, and without the revisions in Selected Prose 1909–1965 (1973), pages 306–335.

Carta da Visita consists of some thirty headwords, apparently disjointed but with a certain internal coherence, dealing with economics, politics, history, and culture. The concept of the nation, its control of the economy, its monetary system and policies (the right to coin and to lend money, the introduction of stamp script), and its falling under hostile forces such as international monopolism and usurocracy govern Pound’s choice for headwords. Characteristically Pound traces the history of his favorite conflict through positive and negative models: Monte dei Paschi di Siena and the monetary experiment of Wörgl versus Bank of England. He also points to the affinities between the American and the Fascist Revolutions. As regards culture, he advances his “canon” (Homer, Sappho, the Latin elegists, Troubadours, Cavalcanti, Dante, etc.) in a dense but imprecise language for whose renewal and reinvigoration he is hoping.
Stefano Maria Casella
One of the thirty joints as published in Impact:
Brooks Adams

This member of the Adams family, son of C. F. Adams, grandson of J. Q. Adams, and great-grandson of J. Adams, Father of the Nation, was, as far as I know, the first to formulate the idea of Kulturmorphologie in America. His cyclic vision of the West shows us a consecutive struggle against four great rackets, namely the exploitation of the fear of the unknown (black magic, etc.), the exploitation of violence, the exploitation or monopolization of cultivable land, and the exploitation of money.

But not even Adams himself seems to have realized that he fell for the nineteenth-century metaphysic with regard to this last. He distinguishes between the swindle of the usurers and that of the monopolists, but he slides into the concept, shared by Mill and Marx, of money as an accumulator of energy.

Mill defined capital “as the accumulated stock of human labour.”

And Marx, or his Italian translator: “commodities, in so far as they are values, are materialized labour,”
so denying both God and nature.
With the falsification of the word everything else is betrayed.

Commodities (considered as values, surplus values, food, clothes, or whatever) are manufactured raw materials.

Only spoken poetry and unwritten music are composed without any material basis, nor do they become “materialized.”

The usurers, in their obscene and pitch-dark century, created this satanic transubstantiation, their Black Mass of money, and in so doing deceived Brooks Adams himself, who was fighting for the peasant and humanity against the monopolists.

“ ... money alone is capable of being transmuted immediately into any form of activity.” -- This is the idiom of the black myth!

One sees well enough what he was trying to say, as one understands what Mill and Marx were trying to say. But the betrayal of the word begins with the use of words that do not fit the truth, that do not say what the author wants them to say.

Money does not contain energy. The half-lira piece cannot create the platform ticket, the cigarettes, or piece of chocolate that issues from the slot-machine.

But it is by this piece of legerdemain that humanity has been thoroughly trussed up, and it has not yet got free.

Without history one is lost in the dark, and the essential data of modern history cannot enlighten us unless they are traced back at least to the foundation of the Sienese bank, the Monte dei Paschi; in other words to the perception of the true basis of credit, viz., “the abundance of nature and the responsibility of the whole people.”

The difference between money and credit is one of time.

Credit is the future tense of money. Without the definition of words knowledge cannot be transmitted from one man to another. One can base one’s discourse on definitions, or on the recounting of historical events (the philosophical method, or the literary or historical method, respectively).

Without a narrative prelude, perhaps, no one would have the patience to consider so called “dry” definitions.

The war in which brave men are being killed and wounded, our own war here and now, began - or rather the phase we are now fighting began - in 1694, with the foundation of the Bank of England.

Said Paterson in his manifesto addressed to prospective shareholders, “the bank hath benefit of the interest of an moneys which it creates out of nothing.”

This swindle, calculated to yield interest at the usurious rate of sixty percent, was impartial. It hit friends and enemies alike.

In the past the quantity of money in circulation was regulated, as Lord Overstone (Samuel Lloyd) has said, “to meet the real wants of commerce, and to discount all commercial bills arising out of legitimate transactions.”

But after Waterloo Brooks Adams saw that “nature herself was favouring the usurers.”

For more than a century after Waterloo, no force stood up to the monopoly of money. The relevant passage from Brooks Adams is as follows:
“Perhaps no financier has ever lived abler than Samuel Lloyd. Certainly he understood as few men, even of later generations, have understood, the mighty engine of the single standard. He comprehended that, with expanding trade, an inelastic currency must rise in value; he saw that, with sufficient resources at command, his class might be able to establish such a rise, almost at pleasure; certainly that they could manipulate it when it came, by taking advantage of foreign exchange. He perceived moreover that, once established, a contraction of the currency might be forced to an extreme, and that when money rose beyond price, as in 1825, debtors would have to surrender their property on such terms as creditors might dictate.” *
I’m sorry if this passage should seem obscure to the average man of letters, but one cannot understand history in twenty minutes. Our culture lies shattered in fragments, and with the monetology of the usurocracy our economic culture has become a closed book to the aesthetes.

The peasant feeds us and the gombeen-man strangles us - if he cannot suck our blood by degrees.

History is written with a knowledge of the despatches of the ambassador Barbon Morosini (particularly one dated from Paris, 28 January, 1723 (Venetian style), describing the Law affair), together with a knowledge of the documents leading up to the foundation of the Monte dei Paschi, and the scandalous pages of Antonio Lobero, archivist of the Banco di San Giorgio of Genoa.

We are still in the same darkness which John Adams, Father of the Nation, described as “downright ignorance of the nature of coin, credit, and circulation.”

* Brooks Adams, The Law of Civilization and Decay

No comments: