In memory of AURELIO BAISI
Translated by John Drummond
The following text is surely the most compelling and clear of Ezra Pound’s economic writings. I want to thank Kerry Bolton for making a copy available for scanning. “Gombeen man” is Irish slang for a money-lender but it also refers to unethical businessmen in general.
At 5:30 p.m. on Monday, 30 January 1933 (Year XI), the author of the following notes submitted a list of eighteen points to a personage of the Italian Government. Ten years later these points were published in the Meridiano di Roma with the result that that newspaper was banned by the United States postal authorities. There are certain ideas that are not welcome in liberal circles.
A complete bibliography of the author’s works would include, apart from writings of a non-economic character, hundreds of letters and articles on money, and several books and pamphlets, including:
A.B.C. of Economics, London, 1933
Jefferson and/or Mussolini, 1935
Social Credit: an Impact, 1935
What is Money For? 1939
and, in Italian:
Confucio, Studio lntegrale (in collaboration with Alberto Luchini), Rapallo, 1942
Carta da Visita, Rome, 1942
Contributions to the Meridiano di Roma, Rassegna Monetaria, etc.
The Way of Utopia
On the 10th of September last, I walked down the Via Salaria and into the Republic of Utopia, a quiet country lying eighty years east of Fara Sabina. Noticing the cheerful disposition of the inhabitants, I enquired the cause of their contentment, and I was told that it was due both to their laws and to the teaching they received from their earliest school days.
They maintain (and in this they are in agreement with Aristotle and other ancient sages of East and West) that our knowledge of universals derives from our knowledge of particulars, and that thought hinges on the definitions of words.
In order to teach small children to observe particulars they practise a kind of game, in which a number of small objects, e.g., three grains of barley, a small coin, a blue button, a coffee bean, or, say, one grain of barley, three different kinds of buttons, etc., are concealed in the hand. The hand is opened for an instant, then quickly closed again, and the child is asked to say what it has seen. For older children the game is gradually made more elaborate, until finally they all know how their hats and shoes are made. I was also informed that by learning how to define words these people have succeeded in defining their economic terms, with the result that various iniquities of the stock market and financial world have entirely disappeared from their country, for no one allows himself to be fooled any longer.
And they attribute their prosperity to a simple method they have of collecting taxes or, rather, their one tax, which falls on the currency itself. For on every note of 100 monetary units they are obliged, on the first of every month, to affix a stamp worth one unit. And as the government pays its expenses by the issue of new currency, it never needs to impose other taxes. And no one can hoard this currency because after 100 months it would have lost all its value. And this solves the problem of circulation. And because the currency is no more durable than commodities such as potatoes, crops, or fabrics, the people have acquired a much healthier sense of values. They do not worship money as a god, they do not lick the boots of bloated financiers or syphilitics of the market-place. And, of course, they are not menaced by inflation, and they are not compelled to make wars to please the usurers. In fact, this profession—or criminal activity—is extinct in the country of Utopia, where no one is obliged to work more than five hours a day, because their mode of life makes a great deal of bureaucratic activity unnecessary. Trade has few restraints. They exchange their woollen and silk fabrics against coffee and groundnuts from their African possessions, while their cattle are so numerous that the fertilizer problem almost solves itself. But they have a very strict law which excludes every kind of surrogate from the whole of their republic.
Education for these people is almost a joy, and there are no redundant professors. They say that it is impossible to eliminate idiotic books, but that it is easy to distribute the antidote, and they do this by means of a very simple system. Every bookseller is obliged to stock the best books; some of outstanding merit must be displayed in his window for a certain number of months each year. As they become familiar with the very best books, the disgusting messes served up periodically by The Times or the Nouvelle Revue Française gradually disappear from the drawing-rooms of the more empty-headed young ladies–of both sexes.
They attach the importance to skill in agricultural tasks that I attached in my youth to skill at tennis or football. In fact, they have ploughing contests to see who can drive the straightest furrow. As for myself, I felt I was too old for such activities, and recalled the case of a young friend who had also been seized this archaic passion: he wrote that his first acre “looked as if a pig had been rooting about all over it.”
After I had heard these very simple explanations of the happiness of these people, I went to sleep under the Sabine stars, pondering over the astonishing effects of these reforms, apparently so trifling, and marvelling at the great distance separating the twentieth-century world from the world of contentment.
Inscribed over the entrance to their Capitol are the words:
THE TREASURE OF A NATION IS ITS HONESTY.
Particulars of the Crime
It is no use assembling a machine if a part is missing or defective. One must first have all the essential parts. Fully to understand the origins of the present war it will be useful to know that:
The Bank of England, a felonious combination or, more precisely, a gang of usurers taking sixty per cent. interest, was founded in 1694. Paterson, the founder of the bank, clearly stated the advantages of his scheme: “the bank hath benefit of the interest on all moneys which it creates out of nothing.” In 1750 the paper currency of the Colony of Pennsylvania was suppressed. This meant that this confederacy of gombeen-men, not content with their sixty per cent., namely, the interest on the moneys they created out of nothing, had, in the fifty-six intervening years, become powerful enough to induce the British Government to suppress, illegally, a form of competition which had, through a sane monetary system, brought prosperity to the colony.
Twenty-six years later, in 1776, the American colonies rebelled against England. They were thirteen independent organs, divided among themselves, but favoured by geographical factors and European discords. They conquered their perennial enemy, England, but their revolution was betrayed by internal enemies among them. Their difficulties might serve to stimulate Italians today, and the problems of that time might suggest solutions in Italy now.
The imperfections of the American electoral system were at once demonstrated by the scandal of the Congressmen who speculated in the “certificates of owed pay” that had been issued by the various Colonies to the soldiers of the Revolution.
It was an old trick, and a simple one: a question of altering the value of the monetary unit. Twenty-nine Congressmen conspired with their associates and bought up the certificates from veterans and others at twenty per cent. of their face value. The nation, having now established itself as an administrative unit, then “assumed” responsibility for redeeming the certificates at their full face value.
The struggle between the financial interests and the people was continued in the battle between Jefferson and Hamilton, and still more openly when the people were led by Jackson and Van Buren. The decade between 1830 and 1840 has practically disappeared from the school-books. The economic facts behind the American “Civil” War are extremely interesting. After the Napoleonic wars, after the “Civil” one, after Versailles, the same phenomena may be observed.
Usurocracy makes wars in succession. It makes them according to a preestablished plan for the purpose of creating debts.
For every debt incurred when a bushel of grain is worth a certain sum of money, repayment is demanded when it requires five bushels or more to raise the same sum. This is accompanied by much talk of devaluation, inflation, revaluation, deflation, and a return to gold. By returning to gold, Mr. Churchill forced the Indian peasant to pay two bushels of grain in taxes and interest which a short time before he had been able to pay with one only.
C. H. Douglas, Arthur Kitson, Sir Montagu Webb give the details. The United States were sold to the Rothschilds in 1863. The Americans have taken eighty years to discover the facts that are still unknown in Europe. Some of them were made known in Congress by Charles A. Lindbergh, the aviator’s father, and later included by Willis A. Overholser in his History of Money in the United States.
A letter from the London banking firm of Rothschild Bros, dated 25 June, 1863, addressed to the New York bank Ikleheimer, Morton & Vander Gould, contains the following words of fire:
Very few people
will understand this. Those who do will be occupied
getting profits. The general public will probably not
see it’s against their interest.
The favourite tricks of the usurocracy are simple, and the word “money” is not defined in the clerks’ manual issued by the Rothschilds, nor in the official vocabulary “Synonyms and Homonyms of Banking Terminology.” The tricks are simple: taking usury at sixty per cent. and upwards, and altering the value of the integer of account at moments advantageous to themselves.
Ignorance of these tricks is not a natural phenomenon; it is brought about artificially. It has been fostered by the silence of the press, in Italy as much as anywhere else. What is more, it has been patiently and carefully built up. The true basis of credit was already known to the founders of the Monte dei Paschi of Siena at the beginning of the seventeenth century.
This basis was, and is, the abundance, or productivity, of nature together with the responsibility of the whole people.
There are useful and potentially honest functions for banks and bankers. One who provides a measure of prices in the market and at the same time a means of exchange is useful to the nation. But one who falsifies this measure and this means is a criminal.
A sound banking policy aims, and in the past has aimed, as Lord Overstone (Samuel Loyd) has said, “to meet the real wants of commerce, and to discount all commercial bills arising out of legitimate transactions.”
Nevertheless, at a certain moment at about the beginning of the century, Brooks Adams was moved to write:
Perhaps no financier has ever lived abler than Samuel Loyd. 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.
So now you understand why the B.B.C., proclaiming the liberation of Europe, and of Italy in particular, never replies to the question: And the liberty of not getting into debt–how about that?
And you will understand why Brooks Adams wrote that after Waterloo no power had been able to resist the force of the usurers.
And you will understand why Mussolini was condemned twenty years ago by the central commitee of the usurocracy. And why wars are made, i.e., in order to create debts which must be paid in appreciated money, or not paid at all, according to circumstances.
War is the highest form of sabotage, the most atrocious form of sabotage. Usurers provoke wars to impose monopolies in their own interests, so that they can get the world by the throat. Usurers provoke wars to create debts, so that they can extort the interest and rake in the profits resulting from changes in the values of monetary units.
If this is not clear to the novice, let him read and meditate the following sentences from the Hazard Circular of the year 1862:
The great debt that (our friends the) capitalists (of Europe) will see to it is made out of the war must he used to control the volume of money. . . . It will not do to allow the greenback, as it is called, to circulate . . . for we cannot control them (i.e., their issue, etc.).
In fact, after the assassination of President Lincoln no serious measures against the usurocracy were attempted until the formation of the Rome-Berlin Axis. Italy’s ambition to achieve economic liberty—the liberty of not getting into debt—provoked the unleashing of the ever-accursed sanctions.
But the great Italian publishing houses, more or less open accomplices of the perfidious Italian press, have not published the works of Brooks Adams and Arthur Kitson in which these facts are given. The press has been perfidious, and the great publishing houses have been more or less conscious accomplices according to their opacity. One cannot hope to prevail against bad faith by making known the facts, but one might against ignorance. The publishers have received their information through certain channels; they have taken their tone from the Times Literary Supplement and from books distributed through Hachette and W. H. Smith & Son, or approved by the Nouvelle Revue Française.
Nothing, or practically nothing, has arrived in Italy that has not been picked over by the international usurers and their blind or shifty-eyed servitors. And the result is to be seen in an artificially created ignorance and snobbery. Neomalthusianism needs looking into. In Italy, as elsewhere, crime fiction has served to distract attention from the great underlying crime, the crime of the usurocratic system itself. If this may seem of no importance to politicians and men of action, it has nonetheless created a vast blockage of passive inertia in the very so-called “literary” or “cultured” circles which set the tone of printed matter. They read, they write, and the public gets the sweepings. And from this dishwashing process derives the CREDULITY that has contaminated a great part of the public with the “English disease,” namely, a pathological disposition to believe the fantastic tales put out from London and disseminated gratis by indigenous simpletons.
Of the liberals (who are not always usurers) we would ask, Why are usurers always liberals?
Of those who demand the dictatorship of the proletariat we would ask, Must the proletariat of one country impose dictatorship on the proletariat of another?
To those who inveigh against the concept of autarchy, saying it costs too much; that grain should be bought in the cheapest market—we would recall that it was precisely the importing of cheap grain from Egypt that ruined Italian agriculture under the Roman Empire. And if this fact appears too remote from our own times, it may be noted that those who speak of this kind of trade usually end up by talking about the export of labour, that is, the export of workers, the export of human beings, in exchange for commodities.
Many are beginning to understand that England, in her sadistic attempt destroy Italy, is destroying herself, though the public still fails to understand the origin of this mania for destruction. Deny, if you like, that the purely and exclusively economic man exists, yet the analysis of economic motives is useful for an understanding of avarice. The greed for monopoly is a fundamental evil. It may be seen in the transgression of the unjust price, condemned by the economic doctrine of the Church throughout the period of its greatest splendour.
It must be understood that the whole of the current taste in literature and entire journalistic system are controlled by the international usurocracy, which aims at preserving intact the public’s ignorance of the usurocratic system and its workings. The details of the military betrayal are known, but the intellectual betrayal has not yet been understood. Ignorance of this system and its mechanisms is not a natural phenomenon; it has been created.
Liberalism and Bolshevism are in intimate agreement in their fundamental contempt for the human personality. Stalin “disposes” of forty truckloads human “material” for work on a canal. We find d1e liberals talking about export of “labour.”
Liberalism conceals its baneful economics under two pretexts: the freedom of the spoken and written word, and the freedom of the individual, protected in theory, by trial in open court, guaranteed by the formula of habeas corpus. Enquire in India, or in England, to what extent these pretexts are respectec. Ask any American journalist what freedom of expression is left him by the advertisers.
Some further items of useful knowledge:
(1) We need a means of exchange and a means of saving, but it does follow that the means must be the same in each case.
(2) The state can LEND. The fleet that was victorious at Salamis was built with money lent to the shipbuilders by the Athenian state.
(3) To simplify both government and private management, a system which can operate at the counter, whether of a government or private office, is preferable.
THAT WILL NOT
GET ITSELF INTO DEBT
DRIVES THE USURERS
All trade hinges on money. All industry hinges on money. Money is the pivot. It is the middle term. It stands midway between industry and workers. The pure economic man may not exist, but the economic factor, in the problem of living, exists. If you live on clichés and lose your respect for words, you will lose your “ben dell’ intelletto.”
Trade brought prosperity to Liguria; usury lost it Corsica. But in losing the ability to distinguish between trade and usury one loses all sense of the historical process. There has been some vague talk in recent months about an international power, described as financial, but it would be better to call it “usurocracy,” or the rule of the big usurers combined in conspiracy. Not the gun merchants, but the traffickers in money itself have made this war; they have made wars in succession, for centuries, at their own pleasure, to create debts so that they can enjoy the interest on them, to create debts when money is cheap in order to demand repayment when money is dear.
But as long as the word “money” is not clearly defined, and as long as its definition is not known to all the peoples of the world, they will go blindly to war with each other, never knowing the reason why.
This war was no whim of Mussolini’s, nor of Hitler’s. This war is a chapter in the long and bloody tragedy which began with the foundation of the Bank of England in far-away 1694, with the openly declared intention of Paterson’s now famous prospectus, which contains the words already quoted: “the bank hath benefit of the interest on all moneys which it creates out of nothing.”
To understand what this means it is necessary to understand what money is. Money is not a simple instrument like a spade. It is made up of two elements: one which measures the prices on the market, one which bestows the power to purchase the goods. It is this twofold aspect that the usurers have taken advantage of. You know well enough that a watch contains two principles, a mainspring and a hair-spring, with a train of wheels between the two. But if someone asks you what money is, you don’t know what the ten lire notes and the twenty centesimi pieces, which you have in your pockets, are.
Until the seventh century after Christ, when an Emperor of the T’ang Dynasty issued state notes (state notes, not bank notes, mind you), the world was practically compelled to use as money a determined quantity of some commonly used commodity, such as salt or gold according to the degree of local sophistication. But since A.D. 654, at least, this metal has no longer been necessary for trading between civilized people. The state note of the T’ang Dynasty, of the year 856, which is still in existence, has an inscription almost identical with the one you read on your ten lire notes.
The note measures the price, not the value; or in other words, prices are calculated in monetary units. But who supplies these notes? And, before the present war, who controlled the issue of international money? If you want to discover the causes of the present war, try and find out who controlled international money, and how it came under such control.
For the moment I will give you only one hint from the history of the United States of America:
The great debt that (our friends the) capitalists (of Europe) will see to it is made out of the war must be used to control the volume of money. . . . It will not do to allow the greenback, as it is called, to circulate . . . for we cannot control them.
This is from the Hazard Circular of the year 1862. It seems to me that a similar situation existed in 1939. I would say that Italy, not wanting to get herself into debt, drove the great usurers to fury. Think it over! And think of the nature of money itself, and of the economists’ invariable irresponsibility when we ask them to define such words as money, credit, interest, and usury.
If we are going to talk about monetary policy, monetary reform, or a monetary revolution, we must know first of all exactly what money is.
The enemy is ignorance (our own). At the beginning of the nineteenth century John Adams (Pater Patriae) saw that the defects and errors of the American government derived not so much from the corruption of government officials as from ignorance of coin, credit, and circulation.
The situation is the same today. The subject is considered too dry by those who do not understand its significance. For example, at about the end of last December a banker boasted to me that at a certain period he could remember Italian paper money was worth more than gold. One concludes that in that particular “golden age” the Rothschilds were wanting to purchase gold cheap, in order to send its price rocketing later.
In the same way the Sassoons and their accomplices profited from the slump in silver. At one period, in fact, silver fell to 23 cents per ounce, and was later bought by certain American idiots at 75 cents per ounce, in order to please their masters and to “save India,” where, with the return to gold, Mr. Churchill, as we have remarked, forced the peasants to pay two bushels of grain in taxes and interest which a short time before could have been paid with only one.
To combat this rigging of the gold and silver markets we must know what money is. Today money is a disk of metal or a slip of paper which serves to measure prices and which confers, on its possessor, the right to receive in exchange any goods on sale in the market up to a price equal to the figure indicated on me disk or slip of paper, without any formality other than the transfer of the money from hand to hand. Thus money differs from a special coupon, such as a railway or theatre ticket. This universal quality confers special privileges on money which the special coupon does not possess. Of these I will speak another time.
Besides this tangible money, there is also intangible money, called “money on account,” which is used in accounting and banking transactions. This intangibility belongs to a discussion of credit rather than a treatise on money. Our immediate need is to clarify current conceptions with regard to the so-called “work-money,” and to make clear that money cannot be a “symbol of work” without any other qualification. It could be a “certificate of work done” on condition that the work is done within a system. The validity of the certificate would depend on the honesty of the system, and on the authority of the certifier. And the certificate would have to refer to some work useful—or at least pleasurable—to the community.
An item of work not yet completed would serve as an element of credit rather than as a basis for money properly understood. Speaking metaphorically, one might call credit the “future tense of money.”
The elaborate assay procedure of mints has been developed to guarantee the quality and quantity of the metal in coined money; no less elaborate precautions would be necessary to guarantee the quality, quantity, and appropriateness of me work which will serve as the basis for what is to be called “work money” (meaning “certificate-of-work-done-money”).
The same frauds of accounting practised by the gombeen-men of the past in order to swindle the public under a metallic monetary system will, of course, be attempted by the gombeen-men of the future in their attacks on social justice, irrespective of the kind of monetary system that may be established. And they will be just as likely to succeed unless the nature and workings of these practices have been fully understood by the public—or at least by an alert and efficient minority.
It is only one plague-spot that the creation of work-money would eliminate. I mean that the advantages of the gold-standard system lauded by the bankers are advantages for the bankers only—for some bankers only, in fact. Social justice demands equal advantages for all.
The advantage of work-money mainly derives from one fact alone: work cannot be monopolized. And this is the very reason for the bitter opposition, for the uproar of protest, natural and artificial, which issues from me ranks of the gombeen-men, whether they be exotic or indigenous.
The idea that work might serve as a measure of prices was already current in me eighteenth century, and was clearly expounded by Benjamin Franklin.
As for monopolizability: no one is such a fool as to let someone else have the run of his own private bank account; yet nations, individuals, industrialists, and businessmen have all been quite prepared—almost eager—to leave the control of their national currencies, and of international money, in the hands of the most stinking dregs of humanity.
Work cannot be monopolized. The function of work as a measure is beginning to be understood. The principle has been clearly put before the Italian public as, for example, when me Regime Fascista reports mat the Russian worker must pay 380 working hours for an overcoat which a German worker can procure with only 80.
An article by Fernando Ritter in the Fascio of Milan, 7 January, 1944, refers to money not in generic words and abstract terms such as “capital” and “finance,” but in terms of grain and fertilizers.
As for the validity of primitive forms of money such as a promissory note written on leather, we have C. H. Douglas’s memorable comment that it was valid enough as long as the man who promised to pay an ox had an ox.
In the same way the certificates of work done will be valid provided that the utility of the work done is honestly estimated by some proper authority. It should be remembered that the soil does not require monetary compensation for the wealth extracted from it. With her wonderful efficiency nature sees to it that the circulation of material capital and its fruits is maintained, and that what comes out of the soil goes back into the soil with majestic rhythm, despite human interference.
The Toxicology of Money
Money is not a product of nature but an invention of man. And man has made it into a pernicious instrument through lack of foresight. The nations have forgotten the differences between animal, vegetable, and mineral; or rather, finance has chosen to represent all three of the natural categories by a single means of exchange, and failed to take account of the consequences. Metal is durable, but it does not reproduce itself. If you sow gold you will not be able to reap a harvest many times greater than the gold you sowed. The vegetable leads a more or less autonomous existence, but its natural reproductiveness can be increased by cultivation. The animal gives to and takes from the vegetable world: manure in exchange for food.
Fascinated by the lustre of a metal, men made it into chains. Then he invented something against nature, a false representation in the mineral world of laws which apply only to animals and vegetables.
The nineteenth century, the infamous century of usury, went even further, creating a species of monetary Black Mass. Marx and Mill, in spite of their superficial differences, agreed in endowing money with properties of a quasi-religious nature. There was even the concept of energy being “concentrated in money,” as if one were speaking of the divine quality of consecrated bread. But a half-lira piece has never created the cigarette or the piece of chocolate that used, in pre-war days, to issue from the slot-machine.
The durability of metal gives it certain advantages not possessed by potatoes or tomatoes. Anyone who has a stock of metal can keep it until conditions are most favourable for exchanging it against less durable goods. Hence the earliest forms of speculation on the part of those in possession of metals—especially those metals which arc comparatively rare and do not rust.
But in addition to this potentiality for unjust manipulation inherent in metallic money by virtue of its being metallic, man has invented a document provided with coupons to serve as a more visible representation of usury. And usury is a vice, or a crime, condemned by all religions and by every ancient moralist. For example, in Cato’s De Re Rustica we find the following piece of dialogue:
“And what do you think of usury?”
“What do you think of murder?”
And Shakespeare: “Or is your gold . . . ewes and rams?”
No! it is not money that is the root of the evil. The root is greed, the lust for monopoly. ‘CAPTANS ANNONAM, MALEDICTUS IN PLEBE SIT!’ thundered St Ambrose—“Hoggers of harvest, cursed among the people!”
The opportunity of dishonest dealing was already offered to the possessors of gold at the dawn of history. But what man has made he can unmake. All that is needed is to devise a kind of money that cannot be kept waiting in the safe until such time as it may be most advantageous for its owner to bring it out. The power to swindle the people by means of coined or printed money would thus disappear almost automatically.
The idea is not new. Bishops in the Middle Ages were already issuing money that was recalled to the mint for recoining after a definite period. The German, Gesell, and the Italian, Avigliano, almost contemporaneously, devised a still more interesting means of achieving a greater economic justice. They proposed a paper-money system by which everyone was obliged, on the first of the month, to affix a stamp on every note he possessed equal to one per cent. of the note’s face value.
This system has given such praiseworthy results in certain restricted areas where it has been put into operation, that it is the duty of any far-sighted nation to give it serious consideration. The means is simple. It is not beyond the mental capacity of a peasant. Anyone is capable of sticking a stamp on an envelope, or on a receipted hotel bill.
From the humanitarian point of view, the advantage of this form of taxation over all others is that it can only fall on persons who have, at the moment the tax falls due, money in their pockets worth 100 times the tax itself.
Another advantage is that it doesn’t interfere with trade or discourage building activity; it falls only on superfluous money, namely on the money mat the holder has not been obliged to spend in the course of the preceding month. As a remedy for inflation its advantages will be seen immediately. Inflation consists in a superfluity of money. Under Gesell’s system each issue of notes consumes itself in 100 months—eight years and four months—thus bringing to the treasury a sum equal to the original issue.
(To make this still clearer, imagine a note left in the safe for 100 months. It will be a note on strike which, for 100 months, fails to function as a means of exchange and does not serve its purpose. Well then, the tax on this laziness will equal its face value. On the other hand, a note that passes from hand to hand can play its part in hundreds of transactions each month before it has to be taxed at all.)
The expense of numerous departments whose present function is to squeeze taxes out of the public would be reduced to a minimum and practically vanish. Office workers don’t go to the office to amuse themselves. They could be given the chance of spending their time as they liked, or of raising the cultural level of their social circle, while still receiving their present salaries without the need of diminishing the material wealth of Italy by a single bushel of grain, or by a litre of wine. Those who are not studiously inclined would have time to produce something useful.
A cardinal error of so-called liberal economics has been to forget the difference between food and stuff you can neither cat nor clothe yourself with. A republican realism should call the public’s attention to certain fundamental realities. Philip Gibbs, writing of Italy for Anglo-American readers, cannot see that anything can be done with a product except sell it. The idea of using it does not penetrate the Bolshevik-Liberal psychology.
The error has been pecuniolatry, or the making of money into a god. This was due to a process of denaturalization, by which our money has been given false attributes and powers that it should never have possessed. Gold is durable, but does not reproduce itself—not even if you put two bits of it together, one shaped like a cock, the other like a hen. It is absurd to speak of it as bearing fruit or yielding interest. Gold does not germinate like grain. To represent gold as doing this is to represent it falsely. It is a falsification. And the term “falsificazione della moneta” (counterfeiting or false-coining) may perhaps be derived from this.
To repeat: we need a means of exchange and a means of saving, but it does not follow that the means must be the same in each case. We are not forced to use a hammer for an awl.
The stamp affixed to the note acts as the hair-spring in the watch. Under the usurocratic system the world has suffered from alternate waves of inflation and deflation, of too much money and too little. Everyone can understand the function of a pendulum or hair-spring. A similar mental grasp should be brought to bear in the field of money.
A sound economic system will be attained when money has neither too much nor too little potential. The distinction between trade and usury has been lost. The distinction between debt and interest-bearing debt has been lost. As long ago as 1878 the idea of non-interest-bearing debt was current—even of non-interest-bearing national debt. The interest that you have received in the past has been largely an illusion: it has functioned on a short-term basis leaving you with a sum of money arithmetically somewhat greater than that which you had “saved,” but expressed in a currency whose units have lost a part of their value in the meantime.
Dexter Kimball collected statistics of American rail bonds issued over a period of half a century, and made interesting discoveries as to the proportion of these obligations that had simply been annulled for one reason or another. If my memory doesn’t betray me, the figure was as high as seventy per cent.
That industrial concerns and plants should pay interest on their borrowed capital is just, because they serve to increase production. But the world has lost the distinction between production and corrosion. Unpardonable imbecility! For this distinction was known in the earliest years of recorded history. To represent something corrosive as something productive is a falsification—a forgery. Only fools believe in false representations. Give money its correct potential; make it last as long as things last in the material world; give it, above all, its due advantage (i.e., that of being exchangeable for any goods at any moment, provided the goods in question exist)—but do not give money, beyond this advantage, powers that correspond neither to justice nor to the nature of the goods it is issued against or used to purchase. This is the way that leads to social justice and economic sanity.
There can be no military valour in a climate of intellectual cowardice.
No individual should get angry if the community refuses to accept his proposals, but it is intellectual cowardice if one is afraid to formulate one’s own concept of society. This is all the more so at a time full of possibilities, at a time when the formulation of a new system of government is announced. Everyone who has some competence as an historian, and is in possession of certain historical facts, should formulate his concepts in relation to that part of the social organism in which his studies have given him authority to act as a judge.
To cultivate this competence in future generations one must begin, in the schools, with the observation of particular objects, as an introduction to the apprehension of particular facts in history. The individual does not need to know everything on an encyclopaedic scale, but everyone with any kind of public responsibility must have knowledge of the essential facts of the problem he has to deal with. It begins with the game of the objects shown to the child for an instant in the hand that is then quickly closed again.
Thought hinges on the definition of words. Aristotle and Confucius bear witness. I would conclude the compulsory studies of every university student with a comparison—even a brief one—between the two major works of Aristotle (the Nicomachean Ethics and the Politics), on the one hand, and, on the other, the Four Books of China (i.e., the three classics of the Confucian tradition—the Ta Hsüeh or “Great Learning,” The Unwobbling Axis, and the Analects—together with the Works of Mencius).
Extra-university education and that of the public in general could be taken care of by means of a simple ordinance relating to bookshops: every bookseller should be obliged to stock and, in the case of certain more important works, display in the window for a determined number of weeks per year certain books of capital importance.
Anyone who is familiar with the masterpieces, especially those of Aristotle, Confucius, Demosthenes, together with Davanati’s “Tacitus,” will not be taken in by the nasty messes now offered to the public. As for money, it will be enough if everyone thinks for himself of the principle of the hair-spring, of the national and social effects, in other words, that would result from the mere application of a stamp in the most appropriate place. Better on the currency note tl1an on the receipted hotel bill.
One used to speak of “Cavalieri di San Giorgio,” never identifying them with due precision. Money can cause injury, and economic knowledge is today about as crude as was medical science when it was realized that a broken leg was damaging but when the effects of germs were unknown. It is not so much the money that buys a Badoglio, but the hidden work of interest that is everywhere gnawing away, corroding. This is not the interest paid to the private individual on his bank account, but interest on money that does not exist, on a mirage of money; interest equivalent to sixty per cent. and over as opposed to money that represents honest work or goods useful to mankind.
To repeat: the distinction between production and corrosion has been lost; and so has the distinction between the sharing-out of the fruits of work done in collaboration (a true and just dividend, called partaggio in the Middle Ages) and the corrosive interest that represents no increase in useful and material production of any sort.
It is, of course, useless to indulge in anti-Semitism, leaving intact the Hebraic monetary system which is their most tremendous instrument of usury. And we would ask the Mazzinians why they never read those pages of the Duties of Man which deal with banks.
Bulletin of Civic Discipline
Arguments are caused by the ignorance of ALL the disputants.
Until you have clarified your own thought within yourself you cannot communicate it to others.
Until you have brought order within yourself you cannot become an element of order in the party.
The fortune of war depends on the honesty of the régime.
1. Quoted by Christopher Hollis, The Two Nations, chap. III. See also Pound’s Canto XLVI.—Trans.
2. The Italian text follows the author’s own paraphrase in Canto XLVI, which is therefore used here. These particular words are quoted (enthusiastically) from a letter received by the Rothschild firm from “a certain Mr John Sherman,” presumably to be identified with the American statesman who was then Senator for Ohio and later Secretary of the Treasury. Overholser gives the full text in the fourth chapter of his book.—Trans.
3. Quoted by Brooks Adams, The Law of Civilization and Decay (new edition), Knopf, New York, 1943, pp. 307-8.—Trans.
4. Brooks Adams, p. 315.—Trans.
5. Ibid. pp. 306, 310, 326-7, and chap. XI generally.—Trans.
6. Quoted by Overholser, op. cit, chap. IV. Also by H. Jerry Voorhis: Extension of Remarks in the House of Representatives, 6 June, 1938, Congressional Record, Appendix, Vol. 83, Part II, p. 2363.—Trans.
7. Dante, Inferno III, 18. “Homely english wd. get that down to ‘USE OF YOUR WITS’ but I reckon Dante meant something nearer to Mencius’ meaning: . . . sense of EQUITY.”—E. P. in a radio speech, see If This Be Treason, p. 32.—Tr.
8. See note p. 6, above.—Trans.
9. At the time of writing the Fascist Social Republic was established in northern Italy, while “liberated” Italy was still a monarchy.—Trans.
10. “Studio Maturo” in the text.—Trans.
11. i.e., the Chung Yung, or “Doctrine of the Just Mean,” rendered in the text as “L’Asseche non Vacilla” at a time when a more notorious Axis was anything but unwobbling. The author’s latest rendering of this title is “The Unwobbling Pivot.”—Trans.
12. Bernardo Davanzati (1529-1606), celebrated translator of Tacitus.—Trans.
13. Italian nickname for gold sovereigns.—Trans.
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