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From: Ezra Pound Society <[log in to unmask]>
Date: 25 Oct 2015 12:48 pm
Subject: collective volume on Ezra Pound and Economics
To: Ezra Pound Society mailing list <[log in to unmask]>

Dear people,

This week I am writing to invite contributions for a new collective volume which was started on the initiative of Ralf Lufter, Professor of Economics at the U of Bolzano and Head of the Ezra Pound Research Center. It is tentatively called A companion to Ezra Pound's Economic ThoughT and is a welcome opportunity for us to bring our work on Pound's economics up to date and relate it to the concerns of the present.

Please find a general description of the project below and if you are interested in contributing, please respond to this email.

With all my best on this Sunday night,


 The starting point of the proposed volume is the observation that Pound’s interest in economy and economics as manifested in his political journalism/correspondence was articulated differently from his Cantos / prose on culture. In the former, Pound sought the dialogue with real life economics as it has constituted itself throughout modernity either as an academic discipline or as movement for reform, by voicing criticism, proposing alternative economic models, corresponding with economists, formulating political statements etc. His writings may have a theoretical bent, they may be polemical or propagandistic, but they are anchored to contemporary concerns and are always politically motivated. They are also orientated toward maximum political impact and become ever more overtly fascist and anti-Semitic during the 1930s and 1940s.

In The Cantos as well as in Guide to Kulchur, Pound addresses economic issues in a different way, not as a propagandist geared for present impact but as a poet/intellectual whose overriding interest lies in articulating essential discriminations and relationships of permanent value. A poet may offer an alternative to real life economic thinking by pointing us in directions which we, under the economic pressure, have forgotten and continue to neglect: what is constitutive of humanness (to be men, not destroyers - Drafts and Fragments), what are the bases for the ideal civilization, what is the meaning of a 'rich' life? This changed stance generates a spectrum of differences in Pound’s thinking about economics and economy. How does poetry contribute to an articulation of economic issues? What instances of a “poetic” economy do we have in The Cantos and how do economic ideas “translate” into poetry? In what way, if at all, may a “poetic” economy be a part of economic understanding? Does Pound’s poetry contribute to a philosophy of economy broadly understood, a view that would border not only on politics but also on ethical questions? And assuming that fascist ideas and anti-Semitic positions were partly subject to self-censure in both the poem and the Guide, where exactly may we locate them in these environments?

The volume proposes to explore these differences and crossings in a comprehensive understanding of the role of economy and economics in Pound’s thought and poetry.


Economics in context

The aim of the first part of the collection is to present, critique and contextualize Pound's economic thought, relating it to real-life economic practices and standard knowledge in economics. Pound's economic thinking should be considered and discussed in the perspective of its historical context. In this regard, the history of economic theory is a central point of reference. Further, contributions are invited to assess the relevance of Pound’s economic ideas to issues and current developments in our contemporary world.

Primary literature:

Pound's economic journalism, essays and correspondence


Suggested topics:

Pound's Critique of Capitalism

-:- Ezra Pound and Social Credit.

-:- The concept of usury in Pound’s journalism

-:- The economics of the arts -:- Pound's critique of copyright, patronage, collecting, concert organizing

-:- A reassessment of Pound's economic authors (Douglas, Gesell, Hollis, Kitson, Adams, Del Mar)

-:- Banking and money

-:- Free trade vs. autarchy

-:- The value of agriculture

-:-  Marx and after – Orage’s New Age – Douglas --- Keynes – Gesell

-:- The Great Depression of the 1930s, in US, UK, France

-:- Pound’s critique of Keynesianism

-:- Fascist economics in Italy compatible with Social Credit distributism?

-:- Economics and Education

-:- Pound's relevance for understanding today's economic crises

-:- Pound and the economics of globalisation and global knowledge

-:- The Nazi vs Fascist economics as contexts of Pound’s economic thought.



The poetic dimension of Economics


The aim of the second part of the anthology is to question the poetic dimension of Pound's economics. As David A Moody wrote in an exemplary article (“Directio Voluntatis: Pound's Economics in the Economy of The Cantos Paideuma 32.1-3 (2003): 187), when Pound affirmed that poets ought to occupy themselves with economic matters he meant "that they should do so as poets, that is, in their poetry" by attempting a constitutive stance within the realm of economic issues and not by building exclusively on consolidated concepts and models that are taken for granted and applied uncritically to what is assumed as economic reality. In this part of the anthology the poetic dimension of Pound's economic thinking stands in the foreground, laying the foundation for a new approach to economics as such. Following this, an explicit dialogue with scientific economics is neither required nor sought. The focus is on an in-depth reading of Pound's poetry as well as prose on culture and their approach to economic issues in the broadest sense.


Primary literature:

Pound's poetry and writings on art and literature


Suggested topics:

-:- Credit ("the future tense of money") / an economy of time

-:- Usury and production

-:- Capital -:- Property / "What thou lov'st well is thy true heritage"

-:- Economy and ignorance

-:- Art and civilisation (the poetic groundwork of economics) / "A few blocks of stone really carved are very nearly sufficient base for a new civilization"(G-B 140).

-:- Distribution / beyond a mere quantitative approach to social justice

-:- "Physiocracy and Pound's concept of measured growth and fecundity"

-:- Sinceritas / the basis of commonwealth

-:- The economy of words (dichten-condensare)

-:- War, poetry and economics  

-:- Thing vs. No-Thing / Monetary value and its creation ex nihilo

-:- Economy of the will -:-  Utopia ...

-:-The economic groundwork of civilization in Pound’s work

-:- What a bank can do for culture – Monte dei Paschi

-:- The economic ideas of “Confucian” China:  Economic Dialogues in Ancient China . . . from the Kuan-Tzu  -- the Shoo King (History Classic) --  Li Ki (Book of Rites)  -- Mencius – de Mailla’s Histoire – The Sacred Edict (trans. Baller)

-:- Greece and Rome – economic customs and practices

-:- Byzantium:  The Eparch’s Book – mosaics  -- Ravenna

-:- Christian thought on usury from Aquinas to Erigena and after – Dante

-:- England from Athelstan to Anselm – Magna Carta – Coke – Blackstone – The Bank of England – Ruskin

-:- The American Revolution – John and J. Q. Adams – banking in C19th US – Brooks Adams – Del Mar


Authors of articles are also invited to contribute to a lexicon of Pound’s economic terms, which will be included in the volume.

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