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Jefferson &/or Mussolini, Part 5

ezrapoundgrave [1]4,706 words

Part 5 of 5


I AM not laying pretence to impartiality, neither do I believe a certain kind of impartiality makes the best record. I know of no more unpleasant figure in history than the late Franz Josef. Usually a public detestable has some private offset. But of this nullity there is not even record of private pleasantness. And if there’s anything in Frobenius’ mode of thinking, a people who could tolerate such an emperor and an emperor who could put up with such furniture were well ready for the ash-can.

Brancusi is not an Italian, nor have the Italians a Brancusi. It would be difficult to defend the contemporary pubk. muniments in ANY country. Germany is wholly avenged on France by the American marble atrocity at . . . A bile specialist would be puzzled by the stone slop in the Luxembourg Garden.

I do not think the best men are excluded in Italy, some of the sane principles are already accepted, the idea of steel, aluminium, glass, contemporary material, is accepted.

St. Elia died before the new era, but it is perfectly on the cards that IF he has left any designs suitable for public construction they might any day be used, not only as architect’s plans but as memorial to St. Elia.

Any smart schoolboy can make fun of some detail or other in Marinetti’s campaigns, but the same clever sneer-sprouter would find it much more difficult to match the mass record of Marinetti’s life, even if you limit it to his campaigning for public education in æsthetics and omit the political gestures, which any good writer might envy. You must judge the whole man by the mass of the man’s results.

As with d’Annunzio, anyone can repeat jokes about hairwash, but until the dilettante writer has held up the combined rascals of Europe, he had best confine his criticism of Gabriele to questions of stylistic embroidery.

I do not believe I am any more impressed by rhetoric than is Mr. Hemingway, I may have a greater capacity for, or sympathy with, general ideas (provided they have a bearing on what I consider good action) but Gabriele as aviator has shown just as much nerve as any of dear Hem’s pet bullbashers.

“Of Being Ruled”

THE last state of degradation whether of a democratized or of a non-democratized people is that in which they begin to wail to be dominated. DISTINGUISH between fascism which is organization, with the organizer at its head, to whom the power has not been GIVEN, but who has organized the power, and the state of America, where the Press howls that we should GIVE power to Roosevelt, i.e., to a weak man, or a man generally supposed to be weak, a man who has shown NO UNDERSTANDING whatsoever, and no knowledge whatsoever of contemporary actuality. One can’t tell whether this howl proceeds from terrorized banderlog, or from pimps paid so to howl in the interests of the hidden coup d’etat-ists, but this will to give up one’s rights is at the opposite pole from the action of the fascio in 1921-2 when their drive was precisely to maintain order and a state of civilization and NOT to have it overridden by one party or diddled into nonentity by corruption.

The degradation in America is phenomenal in that legally the machinery for local resilience EXISTS, all the cadres, frames for local organization are nicely plotted out, many of them have functioned, but the populace AND the intelligentsia are now too lazy, cowardly or ignorant to make any use of them. Occasionally South Dakota or some incult western state informs the world that it has its own legislature, but the efforts of this kind are neither coherent nor very enlightened.

Why it should be supposed that a “soviet” would function where extant deliberative bodies do not is somewhat beyond me. Simply: the soviet is not the direct line for the U.S.A. Half the energy required to change a state legislature into a soviet would recharge the extant form and make it function IF there were the prerequisite skill and knowledge.

And in any case you can’t GIVE power. Give authority to a nincompoop and you merely step into chaos. Which is presumably what the fishers in troubled waters desire, ever and always desire.

The extent to which you can even DELEGATE power is probably limited by laws as definite as those which govern the strength of current you can send through an electric wire of given thickness and texture.

Democracy is composed one-third of peasant pessimism, one-third of laissez-aller, of utter indifference.

You do not give power to a soft-head like Harding by making him president, any more than you could make Coolidge into an intellect. “Al,” who as a journalist demonstrates once a week his unfitness for a place even in the cabinet, gave a touching tribute to Coolidge, on the lines of “Vaaal, he vas a goot schmoker.” Cal wasn’t a demagogue, how noble of him to avoid that pitfall and confute the detractors of democracy. Cal got on by a very simple predestined process. He never aroused ANYone’s inferiority complex. Ditto Harding.

Ditto, presumably, Roosevelt the second. Nothing is more frequent in committee work and in democratic wangles and even in choosing editors than for a man who is strongish but not strong enough, to boost up some wobbler whom he thinks he can guide. Wilson was a great disappointment to some of his backers, as Taft to Theodore.

As I learned from my meeting with Griffiths: A leader who is not supported by legal machinery is more bound by the general will of his party than an elected official who has legal forms to fall back on.

Mussolini has steadily refused to be called anything save “Leader” (Duce) or “Head of the Government,” the term dictator has been applied by foreign envy, as the Tories were called cattlestealers. It does not represent the Duce’s fundamental conception of his role.

His authority comes, as Eirugina proclaimed authority comes, “from right reason” and from the general fascist conviction that he is more likely to be right than anyone else is.

In the commandments to the militia this phrase is no more than the President being Supreme Chief of the American Armies in war time or any general on the field having full commanding powers. Or rather, it is more, in the sense that the militia are given a reason for their obedience.


AS to the mysteries of genius, I am reproved for citing Confucius, though the Ta Hio is only thirty-two pages long. I am told the reader won’t have a copy and that I ought to print it in an appendix, OR tell the reader what it means. Truly, people desire a great deal for very little.

The doctrine of Confucius is:

That you bring order into your surroundings by bringing it first into yourself; by knowing the motives of your acts.

That you can bring about better world government by amelioration of the internal government of your nation.

That private gain is not prosperity, but that the treasure of a nation is its equity.

That hoarding is not prosperity and that people should employ their resources.

One should respect intelligence, “the luminous principle of reason,” the faculties of others, one should look to a constant renovation.

“Make it new, make it new as the young grass shoot.”

One should not be content with the second-rate, applying in all of these the first principle, namely the beginning with what is nearest to hand, that is, one’s own motives and intelligence. You could further assert that Kung taught that organization is not forced on to things or on to a nation from the outside inward, but that the centre holds by attraction.

“The humane ruler acquires respect by his spending, the inhumane, disrespect, by his taking.”

Shallow critics fail to understand ideas because they look on ideas as a stasis, a statement in a given position, and fail to look where it leads. The people who fail to take interest in Kung fail, I think, because they never observe WHAT Confucian thinking leads to.

For 2,500 years, whenever there has been order in China or in any part of China, you can look for a Confucian at the root of it.

kung [2]

Confucius on “La rivoluzione continua.”

King Tching T’ang on Government. Part of the inscription on the king’s bath-tub cited by Kung in the Ta Hio II. I.

The first ideogram (on the right) shows the fascist axe for the clearing away of rubbish (left half) the tree, organic vegetable renewal. The second ideograph it the sun sign, day, “renovate, day by day renew.”

The verb is used in phrases: to put away old habit, the daily increase of plants, improve the state of, restore.


JEFFERSON has a reputation for having made excessive statements, which might happen to any voluble man if a few of his remarks were perpetually considered apart from their context, and apart from the occasions when they were published and the contrary excess they were designed to correct.

The “free and equal” is limited by the passive verb “born,” it was directed against special privileges of those “first-born” and to those whose legal fathers were Dukes, Earls, etc.

There is not the least shadow of suspicion that T.J. ever supported that men remained equal or were biologically equal, or had a right to equality save in opportunity and before the law.

Like every leader and constructor in human history he tried to bring a certain number of men up to a certain level, by elimination of certain defects.

The so-called intellectual or spiritual leader guns after defects at long range, the political constructor goes for those which are the worst damned immediate nuisances.

Apart from the Declaration of Independence to which T.J. gave the final form, Jefferson’s doctrines might be divided into:

A. What he thought good for the new American republic.

B. What he considered sound principles for the state.

As to this second division.

1. He disbelieved in hereditary privilege, i.e. he thought men should govern by reason of their inherent qualities and not because they were sons of pap.

“O poca digna nobiltà di sangue,” as Dante had once and some time previously, remarked.

2. He thought that a nation had no right to contract debts that couldn’t be reasonably paid within the lifetime of the parties contracting.

Which is part of his main contention that THE EARTH BELONGS TO THE LIVING.

3. That everything that can be done by informal and individual effort should be so done and that the state should govern only where and when necessary.

4. He was the champion of “free speech” but suggested that newspapers be printed in three sections, the first and VERY BRIEF section to be headed “FACTS,” the second to be headed “Probabilities,” and the third part to be headed “Lies.”

Given this limitation I think the Duce might be inclined to agree with him.

5. He believed in peace, but he believed still more strongly in maintaining peace UNTIL America was strong enough to stand a war without disaster, and when war came in 1812 he expected the American army to win it. Though the frigates did most of the work.

6. His fight for the “constitution” was a fight against John Marshall, and against the reactionaries who believed in the British Constitution. There was no question of his resisting any further DEVELOPMENTS in government based on the experience of 150 years of democracy, 100 years of Marxian arguments and of machinery, or twenty years of industrial engineering.

7. He did not jeopardize his power by untimely fights for his “higher beliefs” at a time when it would have been impossible to carry them into practical effect. I can think of only two such “ideals,” one the abolition of slavery, and the other the far more distant ethics of debt.

8. His expressions re finance are not always less explicit than Van Buren’s. Vide this passage re Gallatin:

“I know he derived immense convenience from it (the bank), because they gave the effect of ubiquity to his money wherever deposited. Money in New Orleans or Maine was at his command and by their agency transformed in an instant into money in London, in Paris, Amsterdam or Canton. He was, therefore, cordial to the Bank. I often pressed him to divide the public deposits among all the respectable banks, being indignant myself at the open hostility of that institution to a government on whose treasures they were fattening.”

This fattening was manifestly written neither by a fanatic blinded to the use, nor by a simpleton blind to the abuses, of financing. He goes on to stigmatize the attacks on Gallatin as intended to “drive from the administration the ablest man except the president.”

Simple and perfectly just statement, showing well-developed sense of the gerarchia (hierarchy) in nature.

9. Freedom from cliché in economic speculation shows in a letter to Crawford (1816). Perhaps only a “New” economist can appreciate it to the full:

“. . . and if the national bills issued be bottomed (as is indispensable) on pledges of specific taxes for their redemption within certain and moderate epochs, and be of proper denominations for circulation, no interest on them would be necessary or just, because they would answer to every one the purposes of the metallic money withdrawn and replaced by them.”

10. As for government SUPERVISION of finance, I find this in the “Anas” (Vol. I, page 277) (All references to memorial Assn. Edtn. of 1905) re the First Bank of the U.S.:

“While the government remained at Philadelphia, a selection of members of both houses were constantly kept as Directors, who, on every question interesting to that institution, or to the views of the federal head, voted at the will of that head ; and, together with the stockholding members, could always make the federal vote that of the majority.”

This was the bank in federal hands, i.e. opposed to Jefferson, but an “engine of” Hamilton during Washington’s administration. That is to say: during the first administration there was national control of the national finances. This ceased when the administration changed WITHOUT there being a corresponding change in the control of the bank.

Thereafter the fights against the First and Second Banks of the U.S. were fights to keep the control of the nation’s finance out of control by a clique and to attain the use of the national resources for the benefit of the whole nation.

Most of the “great questions” (local improvements, etc.) grouped along this main issue: grafters vs. the men of public spirit, with a surprisingly small percentage of cases where there was a difference of opinion as to what was really for the good of the public.

11. To Eppes in 1813 he clearly expressed the view that the nation should own its paper money and condemns the abuse of the individual states in handing over this function to private banks.

“Issued bills . . . bearing no interest . . . never depreciated a single farthing.”

12. “No one has a natural right to the trade of a money lender, but he who has the money to lend.”

So obvious, so simple, so supposed by the lay reader to represent an actual state of things even now, but so devastating an impediment to banking malpractice as habitual during the whole of all our present lives.

All of which drags us deep into special discussion and probably has no place in a book of this general nature.

But the serious student of economics is recommended to study the series of letters to Eppes.

Again on 11th September, 1813:

IF THE UNITED STATES were in possession of the circulating medium, AS THEY OUGHT TO BE, they could redeem what they could borrow from that, dollar for dollar, and in ten annual instalments; whereas, the USURPATION OF THAT FUND by bank paper, obliging them to borrow elsewhere at 7½ per cent., two dollars are required to reimburse one.

He had read Hume and Adam Smith and notes that S. is the chief advocate of paper circulation on the sole condition that it be strictly regulated.

13. Taken in this order the following paragraph sounds almost like an echo of the Duce (hysteron proteron):

“Here are a set of people, for instance, who have bestowed on us the great blessing of running in our debt about two hundred millions of dollars, without our knowing who they are, where they are, or what property they have to pay this debt when called on;”

14. He did not believe that “public debt is a public blessing.”

15. He is Confucian in a letter to T. Cooper, January 1814, on the vast value of internal commerce and the disproportionate interest taken in foreign.

16. To J. Adams, July 1815, he speaks of “Napoleon knowing nothing of commerce, political economy or civil government.”

The first two are strictures confirmed by reputable record, though one may rather doubt whether Mr. Jefferson would have left the third had he revised the letter, or rather, he wouldn’t have omitted it, but would have defined his meaning.

The Soil

YOU cannot found any permanent system on American special practice between 1776 and 1900. The peasants of Europe had wanted land, land in America down to my own time was free to anyone who would take the trouble to go where open land was and cultivate it.

Needless to say Europe had not known any such state of affairs, even during the epoch of tribal migrations.

The error presumably was that the ownership was not limited to the time during which the “claim” was actually used.

Q. Adams wanted to reserve the national riches for the nation, for higher developments, scientific research, etc.

As said, this would have delayed the settlement of the continent indefinitely, the other party wanted land QUICK and indulged in no fancies of foresight. One of the lures of cultivating 160 acres was the chance to sell it later and go somewhere else.

Thus as usual in history the root is overlooked. Half mankind from myopia don’t see, and when there is a gang of scoundrels, managing demos they learn to erect false dilemmas, camouflage, smoke-screens, political issues “made” simply to divert the electorate and keep them from discovering the real issues. Thus the utter drivelling imbecility of the XVIII amendment in our distressed fatherland, and the bunkum about national ownership of coal-mines and three-quarters of all liberal and tory proposals in England.

The point is that for over a century the American government indulged in a continual donation of land. Not a share out or division of the national land or certificates of claim on the land proportionately, but 160 acres or a variant for special kinds (limits from 640 desert to a bit over five acres mining) of land, timber, mining, to prospective USERS.

It should be obvious that with this vast resource no great “ECONOMY” or precision was needed in running the country.

Nevertheless human greed and imbecility made a crisis. Pass over the difficulties of starting the republic 1786 to 1810. By 1830 the nation existed. Land was obviously and spectacularly abundant. Marxian “value” lying potential in LABOUR needed no demonstration. AND YET they had inflation, panic, and all the theatrical adjuncts of contemporary “post-war” 1920 to 1930 Europe, America and the Occident.

The First Bank having gone anti-national, i.e. having been national as a federalist institution WHEN the federalists were “IN,” remained federalist when the Jeffersonians came into office, and no longer represented the national will in finance. It was annihilated. A second bank was rigged up after another war.

It took all Jackson’s military popular prestige and Van Buren’s brain and persistence to get the nation out of its talons. Van Buren wrote out the story in 1860 and it stayed unprinted till 1920.

The story in SCARE HEADS:

Immigrants started out with paper money which was “good money,” and found it worthless at the end of their journey.

The Bank issued “racers,” i.e. drafts that took several months or weeks to get from one part of the country to another and were replaced with more paper.

There was a “boom,” i.e. the market value of land measured in “money” rose beyond all possibility of yield, exactly as industrial shares rose in market value in U.S.A. 1928, not from worth of yield, product, or anything else save the chance of selling the paper quick to some other sucker at a higher price.

The same excitement, “optimism,” Sat-Eve-Post-ism, slogans of Wall Street, same short-sight re essentials such as impossibility that land would yield without being worked, impossibility of delivering produce at a distance without means of communication — vide England in Africa, post-war encouragement of British suckers to GROW tobacco: lack of market 1930, as lack of transport 1830. But the same underlying equations, AND the same banking manœuvres.

Same variety of “statesman” yelling hurrah for high finance, either from muddleheadedness or in hope of immediate personal gain or advantage.

How far the general reader can be expected to analyse the facts I don’t know. How far it is possible in any way to abbreviate Van Buren’s evidence I don’t know. He was one of the best court lawyers that the world has known, in case now obscure in a “far” country, in the little city of Albany, etc., the patient but per-lucid style, the orderly grouping of his facts, probably worth a fortune as model and study to any young barrister with serious intentions, but the despair of anyone who wants to “give the broad lines” or further to “simplify” the subject.

Perhaps the reader will take my “word” assuming that the proof can be found in Van’s autobiography. (Report of the American Historical Association 1918 published Government Printing Offices, Washington, 1920.)

The Bank was milking the nation, the bank had at its disposal resources colossally outweighing any material resources controllable by President Jackson. These resources were used not only financially but politically. The American treasury was dependent on the Bank, as is the British Treasury now on the Bank of England.

The colossal percentage of real power which is contained IN THE FINANCIAL POWER of the country was in the hands of irresponsible persons, largely in Biddle’s, caring not one jot nor one tittle about the public weal. Possibly, in fact probably, excited by the idea of profits for himself and his shareholders. But void utterly of the great imagination, or the great moral ambition, which leads men to desire a true relation between the fact and the financial representation of the fact, i.e. as a first step toward economic justice, which latter is no more impossible or inconceivable than the just functioning of machines in a power-house.

Take note that we are a hundred years further on. We have had a century’s experience in the precisions of machinery. A lot of people in Van’s day still believed in the divine right of kings, they still believed that the Prince of Wales or Würtemberg was “better” than Mr. Tyler or Signor Marconi. They were used to having Dukes and Earls enjoying one set of laws while John, Bob and Henry had to get along with a different set. England was still hanging for theft of a sheep during the first part of Van’s lifetime. No peers suffered the penalty. What I mean is that the objection to disproportionate legal privilege was no more ingrained then, than objection to disproportionate financial privilege is ingrained in our time.

Nevertheless the people did vote out the Bank. “Van” as president had to bear the whole weight of the deflation, Tyler was man enough not to give way.

The treasury was made free, and remained so till the slithering Wilson erected a “board.” Naturally the banking power at once set out to find other ways of de facto government.

And their ways are marked on the chart of recurrent “panics” with all the fancy mathematics to prove and predict ’em.

But C.H. Douglas’ suggestion of democratic control of credit or the suggestion that members of both Houses should at least sit in, or be present at, meetings of the Federal Control Board cannot be regarded as revolutionary, or lacking a precedent. They would be a return to the de facto status of the First Bank of U.S. in the time of President Washington.

Such suggestions are an annoyance only on the theory that members and senators on that board might ultimately represent the welfare of the people composing the nation.


I KNOW we have a “two-party system” and Russia and Italy have a one-party system, but Jefferson governed for twenty-four years in a de facto one-party condition. Quincy Adams did NOT represent return to federalism and the one party (Jeffersonian) continued through the twelve years of Jackson — Van Buren.

I offer the hypothesis that: When a single mind is sufficiently ahead of the mass a one-party system is bound to occur as actuality whatever the details of form in administration.

Secondly, when a corrupt oligarchy of any nature controls a country, they will very probably set up in theory a two-party system, controlling both of these parties, one of which will be “solid and conservative” and the other as silly as possible. Your will hear of the “swing of the pendulum,” and of going out of office in times of difficulty in order to let the other side get the “blame” or the “unpopularity.”

One might speculate as to how far any great constructive activity CAN occur save under a de facto one-party system.

In times of great de facto change in material conditions, how likely or necessarily is a de facto one-party state to occur? As I write this (February 1933) the fascist government has taken a lead over others in Europe and America, recommending that where factories need less work they reduce the number of hours per day either for all or for special sets of men, rather than reduce the number of men employed.

AND that instead of overtime for men already on the pay-roll, they take on yet more employees.

This will not content the Douglasites nor do I believe that Douglas’ credit proposals can permanently be refused or refuted, but given the possibilities of intelligence against prejudice in the year XI of the fascist era, what other government has got any further, or shows any corresponding interest in or care for the workers?

Ah, yes, Rhoosia! Mais voui.

In Conclusion

THE fascist revolution was FOR the preservation of certain liberties and FOR the maintenance of a certain level of culture, certain standards of living, it was NOT a refusal to come down to a level of riches or poverty, but a refusal to surrender certain immaterial prerogatives, a refusal to surrender a great slice of the cultural heritage.

The “cultural heritage” as fountain of value in Douglas’ economics is in process of superseding labour as fountain of values, which it WAS in the time of Marx, or at any rate was in overwhelming proportion.

It is possible that all other revolutions have occurred only after, that is, very considerably AFTER a change in material conditions, and that the rivoluzione continua of Mussolini is the first revolution occurring simultaneously with the change in material bases of life.

As for a spread of fascism, if it could mean a transportation of the interesting element of the decade, it would not need parades, nor hysterical Hitlerian yawping. The would-be fascists would have to make a dispassionate analysis of fascism on the hoof, the rivoluzione continua as it has been for over a decade, its main trend, its meaning; and they would profit by such study in considering what elements can be used in either England or America, the general sanity and not the local accidentals, not the advisabilities of particular time and place but the permanent elements of sane and responsible government.

Towards which I assert again my own firm belief that the Duce will stand not with despots and the lovers of power but with the lovers of


To kalon (the fine—Ed.)

PostScript or Valediction, on going to press over two years after writing. These things being so, is it to be supposed the Mussolini has regenerated Italy, merely for the sake of reinfecting her with the black death of the capitalist monetary system?