Conspiracy Nation -- Vol. 12  Num. 39
                     ("Quid coniuratio est?")


(Ezra Pound and Italian Fascism by Dr. Tim Redman. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991. ISBN: 0-521-37305-0)

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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