'Democratic Money' & the Tragedy of Anti-Marxism (wasRe:Populism)

Carrol Cox cbcox at ilstu.edu
Sat Nov 13 23:05:32 PST 1999

Katha Pollitt wrote:

> The literary cult
> around him has played a rather obscurantist role here. And getting
> around things like calling FDR "Kikey Rosenfeld" takes some doing!
> .Wrote some wonderful poems all the same.

It works something like this. Too many literary scholars have an irresistible urge to think that a writer they like must somehow also be the source of profound truths. To take a really egregious example (an idiot woman who use to teach at Brown and the last I knew was on the Harvard faculty). She wrote an article in *Milton Studies* responding to a very weak and tentative criticism of Milton's treatment of women. Anyhow, Barbara Lewalski (the Brown/Harvard scholar in question) mumbled about this and mumbled about that and finally came out with the astounding claim that the "great poets" are "gloriously and supremely right about the most essential things." (She seemed blithely unaware that she was making the rather arrogant claim that *she* knew what the "most essential things" were.)

Most critics are not so foolish as Lewalski in coming out and saying it, but too many seem to believe it -- and you combine that tendency with the fact that, as you say, Pound wrote some wonderful poems all the same -- and you get them mumbling around trying to explain his fascism away or claiming it isn't essential to the poem or even trying to justify it.

Now while Max wouldn't agree with this, there is I think one "truth" made beautifully manifest in Pound, as I said in my earlier post (and as Doug says in the passage quoted by Yoshie): if you mess around with money instead of production you are going to get yourself in deep.

I don't know whether Pound read Proudhon or not -- but he's in that tradition.


(On the *technical* matter of treason and the trial that was never held. There is some evidence that Pound did try to get on the last diplomatic train leaving Italy after the U.S. went to war -- and was refused. Combine that with the fact that disgusting as some of the radio broadcasts from Rome were, it was their origin in Rome, not their content, that made them treasonous. Similar things were said by quite a few people in the United States. Upton Close, for example.)

If the hoar frost grip thy tent Thou wilt give thanks when night is spent.

(As Pope had noted, it is not easy to write all monsyllabic lines that aren't dull.)

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