EZRA POUND AND ITALIAN FASCISM
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(*Ezra Pound and Italian Fascism*  by Dr. Tim Redman.  Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 1991. ISBN: 0-521-37305-0)
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Review by Conspiracy Nation

I feel certain that at least one reader of Conspiracy Nation will
gravely  inform  me   that,   "Ezra   Pound   was   a   fascist."
Unfortunately,  this  is true:  Ezra Pound was a fascist.  He was
also, unfortunately, anti-Semitic.  He  also (apparently) was not
a very good speller, but in that  we  begin  to  enter  into  the
deeper  subtleties  of Ezra Pound:  Ezra Pound's chief innovation
in poetry (besides bad  speller,  fascist, and anti-Semite, Pound
was also a poet) seems to be his innovation of "bad  spelling  as
poetic device."  Here you have an extraordinarily intelligent and
well-read  poet  who  presents  himself as a 19th-century country
bumpkin.  Ah, but that is  the  great genius of Pound (it seems):
he plays with you, conning you into believing he's not too bright
when,  in  reality,  he  belongs  to  the  upper  crust  of   the
intelligentsia.

Of interest to readers  of  Conspiracy  Nation  will be that Ezra
Pound was also a so-called "conspiracy theorist."   (Ezra  Pound:
bad  speller,  fascist,  anti-Semite,  and  conspiracy theorist.)
That  aspect  of  Mr.  Pound  is  what  makes  Professor Redman's
(University of Texas, Dallas) book of special  interest  to  this
editor.     Professor   Redman   distances   himself   from   the
generally-perceived negativities of  Pound,  warning his readers,
for example, that  conspiracy  theories  "by  their  very  nature
cannot  be  verified  in  any  ordinary  sense  nor  can  they be
'falsified'; that is, there  is  no evidence or testing procedure
available to show that they are not true."   Perhaps  Dr.  Redman
hasn't heard of such conspiracies as The Gulf of Tonkin Incident,
The  Bay  of  Pigs,  The  Assassination  of  John F. Kennedy, The
Overthrow of Salvador  Allende,  Watergate,  The Assassination of
Orlando Letelier, Iran-Contra, etc.  Or it may be that Dr. Redman
is not precise enough about exactly what he means by  "conspiracy
theories."   In  the context of his book, it can be inferred that
Dr. Redman's general statement about "conspiracy theories" should
be taken to  mean  something  like  "the  really crazy conspiracy
theories."  Unfortunately, the learned professor just issues  his
bland,  ivory-tower  pronouncement  about conspiracy theories and
then moves on to other things.

Dr. Redman tries to resurrect Ezra  Pound  from  his  unfortunate
associations with fascism and anti-Semitism, to dust off the crud
to  reveal  the  shining  beauty of bad spelling.  And who knows?
Maybe Pound was actually  a  good poet.  Unfortunately, the state
of "good" poetry in the 20th century has  evolved  (or  devolved)
into  something  which  only  12  living  persons  can "properly"
evaluate.  (And even they argue amongst themselves.)

All these critiques notwithstanding, Professor Redman has written
a worthwhile book, in that  he succeeds in separating Ezra Pound,
the idealistic poet, from Ezra Pound,  the  "bad  guy."   (Redman
quotes  George  Orwell  in  one  of  his footnotes:  "...the word
'Fascism' has now no  meaning  except  in  so far as it signifies
'something not desirable.'") Redman shows how Pound, beginning in
circa-World War I  Great  Britain,  a  nobly  concerned  idealist
studying how to end the recurring brutalities of war, later moved
to  Italy and got sucked into Benito Mussolini's Italian Fascism,
largely as a result of  living  in that mileau.  Professor Redman
also stresses how Pound's anti-Semitism existed in  a  world  not
yet  familiar with the horrible Nazi death camps of World War II.
Pound  never  advocated  mass   extermination  and  was  actually
pro-Zionist.  In pre-Holocaust times, anti-Semitism had  not  yet
acquired  its  awful  association  with  Adolph  Hitler's  "final
solution."

But  Ezra Pound's legacy, in the popular sense, is not his poetry
but his pioneering work in  the advocacy of a conspiratorial view
of how the world really operates.   Professor  Redman  shows  how
Pound often was far "ahead of his time" in his deep understanding
of  economics.   To this editor, also obvious is that Ezra Pound,
writing in the  1920s  and  1930s,  anticipates  the explosion in
popularity of conspiracy literature occuring in our  decade,  the
1990s.   In  many  ways, both good and bad, Ezra Pound prefigures
the vast muddle of 1990s "conspiratology."  Pound's main focus is
on the economic system and on  how  a  change in it would lead to
peace, freedom, and a  more  equal  distribution  of  an  already
existing  abundance.   He  also rails against the press, which he
sees as puppets of the  money  power,  and rants against the role
played by universities.  Dr. Redman summarizes  Pound's  view  on
the malevolent influence exercised by the money monopoly:

  International  usurers,  in  Pound's  view, create wars for
  their  own  profit,  to  get  nations  into  debt,  and are
  continually  trying  to  stamp  out  any  threat  to  their
  economic monopoly and any  move  toward  economic  justice.
  They  control  the  newspapers and the press, which in turn
  maintain  the  ignorance  of   the  people  about  economic
  subjects.  "The Count of Vergennes had cause to say to John
  Adams: 'newspapers rule the world.'"

  The conspiracy against economic knowledge is  furthered  in
  the  universities.   All  the  textbooks  written  for them
  during the  nineteenth  century,  "the  century of usury...
  were written to maintain the domination of usury" according
  to Pound.

This would explain, for  example,  why  economics is perceived as
"boring."  Mainstream economics is =purposefully= made boring  by
the  intellectual *apparatchiks* of the money power so as to help
conceal what is really going on.

Also noteworthy is Pound's view  that  the United States has been
in decline since 1863  and  that  the  assassination  of  Abraham
Lincoln  may  have been ordered by the money monopoly.  This view
is supported  in  past  issues  of  Conspiracy  Nation  (CN), for
example CN 11.34,  "Lincoln's  'Greenbacks'  (And Why That Killed
Him)," where it states, in part, that

  Abraham  Lincoln  was  "the  man  who  first  proved   that
  government  could  issue  its  own  paper  money,  legally,
  honorably,  and  rightfully,  and make it full legal tender
  for all debts, both public  and private..."  Was Lincoln "a
  dangerous man from the [bankers] point of view?  Could they
  have  continued  their  knavery,  trickery,  bribery,   and
  destructive  work...  if  Lincoln  had  lived?"   (Dr. R.E.
  Search)

*Ezra Pound  and  Italian  Fascism*,  like  Rome,  has many roads
leading away from it.  Pound's ideas are tantalizing and  readers
of  Dr.  Redman's book will find themselves wishing to pursue its
many threads.  Discussion centers  strongly  on  a few of Pound's
mentors, such as A.R. Orage, editor of  the  socialist  newspaper
"New  Age"; Major C.H. Douglas, author of such books as *Economic
Democracy* and *Credit Power  and  Democracy*; and Silvio Gesell,
author of the classic tome, *The Natural Economic Order*.  It  is
tempting  to  go  further  at  this  point and outline what these
Poundian mentors had to say -- what they say is earth-shattering.
Instead, a deeper reading of  their  ideas  is seen as the better
prelude to such an outline.  Conspiracy  Nation  is  grateful  to
Professor  Redman  for  dusting off Ezra Pound, a wayward prophet
but a prophet nonetheless.

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