COMPANION TO CANTO XXXIII
Annotations in the List of Works Cited:
Contributor name. The Online Companion to The Cantos of Ezra Pound, IV: n.gloss number. The Cantos Project. Web. Date of access.
Example: Preda, Roxana. The Online Companion to The Cantos of Ezra Pound, IV: n.13. The Cantos Project. Web. 5 September 2016.
((Contributor name), OCCEP IV: n.no).
Example: (Bressan, OCCEP IV: n.3). If no name is indicated, the gloss was written by Roxana Preda. In this case, the citation will have this format: (OCCEP IV: n.13).
References to The Cantos
As The Cantos Project is numbering the lines of The Cantos, references to cantos already glossed will be by canto number and line(s), as standard with classical works. Example: III: 7–17.
For cantos that are not yet glossed within the project, the references will be by canto number slash page number, as standard in the research on the poem. Example: III/12. The page number refers to the American edition of The Cantos by Ezra Pound. New York: New Directions, 1998.
© Roxana Preda. Companion to Canto XXXIII, 17 January 2019.
LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS
Terrell, Carroll F. A Companion to The Cantos of Ezra Pound. Berkeley: U of California P, 1993.
Preda, Roxana. Online Companion to The Cantos of Ezra Pound. The Cantos Project 2016-
Adams, John. The Works of John Adams. Ed. Charles Francis Adams. 10 vols. Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1850-6.
Jefferson, Thomas. The Writings of Thomas Jefferson. Definitive edition. Ed. Albert Ellery Bergh. 20. vols. in 10. Washington, 1907.
- Quincey – Quincy (formerly Braintree), town eight miles south of Boston. After his presidential and political retirement in 1801, Adams withdrew to Quincy and lived on his farm. Between 1812 and their death, on the same day, 4 July 1826, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson had a lively correspondence, reviving their friendship after years of being political adversaries.
- despotism – Adams’s awareness that “despotism” i.e. concentration of power would happen irrespective of forms of government, shows him to be a refined political thinker who anticipated the possibility of corruption as inherent to every political system, including parliamentary democracy.
Adams’s critique has the theoretical strength to predict the weaknesses of democracy in Britain and America delineated in the canto, i.e. the struggle between industry and weak parliamentary decision-making and implementation in Britain during the 19thcentury, as described by Marx (ll.73-102), and the collusion of banking and industrial interests in United States, as evident in Senator Brookhart’s speech to the American Senate (ll.118-34).
It also outlines the possibility that revolutions made in the name of social justice end up in dictatorship, as happened to France with Napoleon and to modern Russia with Stalin. JA to TJ, 13 November 1815 WJA X: 174.
troops cd be fed upon long letters – Pound quotes from one of Jefferson’s letters to Patrick Henry, who was Governor of Virginia at the time (17 March 1779). It is a long letter devoted to persuading Henry to stop the transfer of British prisoners of war captured at the battle of Saratoga in October 1777 (“troops”) and housed in the Albemarle Barracks in Virginia. Jefferson argued that their stationing benefitted the state financially and that the prisoners had plenty of food in Virginia: their removal would be mere economic waste leading to more unhappiness to prisoners. At the same time, their provisions were badly administered by the local commissary (William Finnie, “the gent in that dept”, see C XXXIII: n.2).
The letter is proof of TJ’s humanitarian concerns, his economic integrity and acumen as well as his unconditional love for Virginia. His argument was effective, as the prisoners were moved out of state only in 1781, while he himself was Governor. TJ to Patrick Henry, 27 March 1779 WTJ IV: 49. Albemarle Barracks.
Jefferson’s letter finds its parallel in the canto in Besedovsky’s concern for the peasants of Russia, who were made to bear the brunt of Stalin’s policy of supporting Communist revolutions in foreign countries and corrupt Soviet commissaries abroad. See ll.111-7 and nn. 51-6.
this country – The letter was written in Albemarle County, Virginia, where the British prisoners of war were stationed.
- P. Henry – Patrick Henry (1736-99), American attorney, revolutionary patriot and fiery orator from Virginia. He served as Governor of the state 1775-79 and 1784-6. He was therefore the best person to respond favourably to Jefferson’s appeal on behalf of the British prisoners. Jefferson succeeded Henry and served as Governor of Virginia, 1779-1784.
- over five and twenty millions of people – This is another strong blast from Adams to Jefferson, delineating a subject where their political opinions differed: the natural equality of man and the possibility of achieving republican democracy.
“The first time that you and I differed in opinion on any material question was after your arrival from Europe ; and that point was the French revolution. You was [sic] well persuaded in your own mind that the nation would succeed in establishing a free republican government. I was well persuaded in mine, that a project of such a government, over five-and-twenty millions of people, when four-and-twenty millions and five hundred thousand of them could neither read nor write, was as unnatural, irrational, and impracticable as it would be over the elephants, lions panthers, wolves and bears, in the royal menagerie at Versailles.” JA to TJ, 13 July 1813 WJA X: 52.
Pound had used another part of this letter before: in canto XXXI, he quoted it to show Adams protesting against the ignorance of French intellectual and political elite that included Condorcet, Turgot and Lafayette. See XXXI: ll.62-8.
- ideology – Adams continues his blast in the same letter as above:
“Napoleon has lately invented a word, which perfectly expressed my opinion at that time and ever since. He calls the project ideology; and John Randolph, though he was, fourteen years ago, as wild an enthusiast for equality and fraternity as any of them, appears to be now a regenerated proselyte to Napoleon’s opinion and mine, that it was all madness.” JA to TJ, 13 July 1813 WJA X: 52.
Adams may be referring to Napoleon’s ideology called “Bonapartism,” a term which “was used more generally for a political movement that advocated a dictatorship or authoritarian centralized state, with a strongman charismatic leader based on anti-elitist rhetoric, army support, and conservatism” Wikipedia.
- science of aristocracy – Pound proceeds to another topic developed in the Adams-Jefferson correspondence, the discussion around the nature of aristocracy.
“I asked you in a former letter how far advanced we were in the science of aristocracy since Theognis’s stallions, jacks, and rams. Have not Chancellor Livingston and Major-General Humphreys introduced a hereditary aristocracy of merino sheep? How shall we get out of this aristocracy ? It is entailed upon us forever. And an aristocracy of land-jobbers and stock-jobbers is equally and irremediably entailed upon us to endless generations.” JA to TJ, 15 September 1813 WJA X: 70.
- stallions of Theognis – Theognis, Greek gnomic poet from Megara. Adams refers to the following epistle to Theognis’ friend Kurnus:
With kine and horses, Kurnus! we proceed
By reasonable rules, and choose a breed
For profit and increase, at any price:
Of a sound stock, without defect or vice.
But, in the daily matches that we make,
The price is everything; for money’s sake
Men marry; women are in marriage given
The churl or ruffian that in wealth has thriven
May match his offspring with the proudest race:
Thus everything is mix’d, noble and base!
If then in outward manner, form, and mind
You find us a degraded, motley kind,
Wonder no more, my friend! the cause is plain,
And to lament the consequence is vain. (Theognis X: 442)
Adams himself translated the passage from Theognis in a letter to Jefferson in August 1813: “My friend Curnis, when we want to purchase horses, asses, or rams, we inquire for the well-born, and every one wishes to procure from the good breeds, A good man does not care to marry a shrew, the daughter of a shrew, unless they give a great deal of money with her” JA to TJ August 1813 WJA X: 58.
- chancellor Livingston – Robert Livingston (1746-1813), American attorney, politician and diplomat from New York. He was called “the Chancellor” because of the New York state legal office he held for 25 years. He was one of the committee of five who drafted the American Declaration of Independence. See Cn.7.
- Major General Humphries – David Humphreys (1752-1818), soldier, diplomat and entrepreneur from Connecticut. Humphries was colonel of the American army during the revolution, aide de camp to George Washington and minister to Portugal and Spain. In 1802, he brought merino sheep from Spain to America – he is considered the father of the wool industry in the US. Wikipedia.
- merino – breed of sheep which until the 18th century had been heavily protected and restricted to Spain and Portugal. The breed was highly valued for its abundance of wool, high quality and fineness. Wikipedia.
- AGATHOS – G. “good, honorable, beneficial.”
It is a short quote from Adams’s letter to Jefferson on 15 September 1813, not 1815 (see also Chace 90).
“Plato’s system was, άγαθός was eternal, self-existent, &c. His idea, his word, his reason, his wisdom, his goodness, or, in one word, his ‘Logos’ was omnipotent, and produced the universe from all eternity. […]
I own, an eternal solitude of a self-existent being, infinitely wise, powerful, and good, is to me altogether incomprehensible and incredible” JA to TJ 15 September 1813 WJA X: 69.
- multiplication of officers – By this almost innocuous quote, Pound draws attention to one of Jefferson’s clearest professions of political faith, distinguishing him both from Adams and Hamilton. It shows how strenuously Jefferson objected to the concentration of political power in a federal government led by a strong executive (as envisaged by Adams) and by the expansion of debt touted as a “public blessing” by Alexander Hamilton.
“I am for preserving to the States the powers not yielded by them to the Union, and to the legislature of the Union its constitutional share in the division of powers; and I am not for transferring all the powers of the States to the General Government, and all those of that government to the executive branch. I am for a government rigorously frugal and simple, applying all the possible savings of the public revenue to the discharge of the national debt; and not for a multiplication of officers and salaries merely to make partisans, and for increasing, by every device, the public debt, on the principle TJ to Elbridge Gerry, 26 January 1799 WTJ X: 76.
- kalos k’àgathos – G. “beautiful and good.” It is a phrase designating the ancient Greek ideal of the complete personality and was used to refer to the Athenian aristocracy. Wikipedia.
“Capital has not invented surplus labour. Wherever a part of society possesses the monopoly of the means of production, the labourer free or not free, must add to the working time necessary for his own maintenance an extra working time in order to produce the means of subsistence for the owners of the means of production, whether this proprietor be the Athenian καλός κάγαθός, Etruscan theocrat, civis Romanus, Norman baron, American slave owner, Wallachian Boyard, modern landlord or capitalist” Marx Capital 260.
Worth noting are the rhetorical similarities with Adams’s statements of principle, especially the choice of terms and forceful enumeration. Pound believed that le style c’est l’homme and that specific structures of verbal expression identify and present a person in unmistakable terms. Verbal expressions thus can show the observer parallels of thought and personality between two people, in this case between Adams and Marx.
- theocrat – a religious bureaucrat who governs as a representative of a deity on earth. A theocrat is usually a high priest whose government interprets religious commandments and applies these interpretations rigorously to social and political life.
- baron – Feudal landholder. In medieval Europe, the baron title was the lowest rung of the peerage ladder, awarded to a soldier after fighting in a war. The title was hereditary on a male line only.
- bojar – Feudal landholder in Russia and Eastern Europe.
difference – the quote belongs to Thomas Jefferson, who in a letter to Giovanni Fabbroni (the same one Pound uses in Canto XXI) comments on the differences in the number of British and American casualties during the Revolutionary war.
“I think that upon the whole it has been about on-half the number lost by them; in some instances more, but in others less. This difference is ascribed to our superiority in taking aim when we fire; every soldier in our army having been intimate with his gun from his infancy.” TJ to Giovanni Fabbroni, 8 June 1778 WTJ IV: 39.
- Grand Duke of Tuscany – Since in 1777 John Adams was trying to secure funds for financing the American revolutionary war in France and Holland without much success, Jefferson suggested he try another source, the Grand Duke of Tuscany, who at the time of the letter was Pietro Leopoldo (1747-92, Grand Duke, 1765-90), the brother of the Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II.
Though Jefferson is as usual dismissive of royalty, his letter might have drawn Pound’s attention to the Duke, who appears more prominently in Canto XLIV. TJ to JA, 21 August 1777 WTJ IV: 37.
Dr. Franklin – Benjamin Franklin, see XXXI: n. 16. Franklin was the only American at the time who enjoyed an excellent international reputation and could inspire enough trust on the part of potential creditors to persuade them to award a risky loan to the United States, which had been declared a country just the year before.
- Condorcet – Marie Jean Antoine Nicolas de Caritat, Marquis of Condorcet (1743-94), French philosopher and author of Outlines of an Historical View of the Progress of the Human Mind, a book Adams had read and referred to in the passage quoted by Pound. The edition Adams used is probably the English translation of 1795. Free online. JA to TJ, 20 June 1815, WTJ XIV: 320-2. See also OCCEP XXXI: n. 35.
- Outline – Condorcet’s book describes the state of the human mind from the stages of “hordes” and “pastoral state” to the time and place of writing, late 18th century France. In his criticism of Condorcet, Adams refers to pages from the chapter called: “From the Time of Descartes, to the Formation of the French Republic.” Referring to such luminaries of reason as Bayle, Fontenelle, and Montesquieu, Condorcet described the duplicitous tactics with which they promoted new ideas about the primacy of reason in circles of religious and political conservatism. See the pages Adams refers to in Sources.
- Pharisees – Adams does not refer to the Jewish population and its religious observances in general, but to the modern meaning of the Pharisee as a conservative and hypocritical person.
- was in the minds – important late statement by Adams which Pound first introduced as a heading to canto XXXII and repeats here for emphasis. Adams’s point that the revolution was in the minds of the people fifteen years before the first shots were fired in the American Revolutionary War derives from his own experience as a citizen of Massachusetts, where the revolution began. JA to J. Morse, 29 November 1815 WJA X: 182-5. See Canto XXXII and OCCEP XXXII: nn.1-3.
- Lexington – Lexington, a small town near Boston, was the site of the first battle of the American Revolutionary War in April 1775.
- removal wd. be necessary – Pound returns to Jefferson’s letter to Patrick Henry, (see above, n.3), which argued against the removal of British prisoners of war to a location outside Virginia. If they were short on supplies, it was not because of poverty in the state, but because of the corruption of the barracks administrator. This awareness and care are illuminated in the canto again by the modern parallel in Besedovsky’s tale of corruption in trade relationships of the Russian commissaries after the Soviet revolution (ll.114-7, see n.56).
“If magazines of beef and pork are suffered to rot by slovenly butchering, or for want of timely provision and sale; if quantities of flour are exposed, by the commissaries entrusted with the keeping it, to pillage and destruction; and if, when laid up in the Continental stores, it is still to be embezzled and sold, the land of Egypt itself would be insufficient for their supply, and their removal would be necessary, not to a more plentiful country, but to more able and honest commissaries.” TJ to Patrick Henry, 27 March 1779 WTJ IV: 50.
- Bonaparte, poor Devil – shortly before Adams’s letter, Napoleon had been defeated by General Wellington at Waterloo on 18 June 1815 and had requested political asylum from the British Captain Frederick Maitland on 15 July. During summer and autumn, it was not clear what would happen to him. Napoleon was moved to the island of Saint Helena in December, four months after the date of the letter.
“Poor Bonaparte! Poor devil! What has and what will become of him? Going the way of King Theodore, Alexander, Caesar, Charles XII, Cromwell, Wat Tyler, and Jack Cade; that is, to a bad end” JA to TJ, 24 August 1815 WJA X: 173.
- Cromwell – It is not very clear to which Cromwell Adams is referring. But bearing in mind that the better known Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658), who defeated Charles I in the English civil war of 1642-51 died peacefully in his bed as Lord Protector, it might be that Adams is referring to the infamous minister of Henry VIII, Thomas Cromwell (1485-1540) who played a decisive role in Henry’s divorce of Catherine of Aragon, the formation of the Church of England under the control of the monarch, and the protestant transformation of the country. Cromwell also carried out Henry’s design to have Anne Boleyn executed for adultery and mediated his later marriage to Anne of Cleves. But after incurring Henry’s wrath for that particular match, he was accused of high treason and decapitated. Wikipedia.
- Wat Tyler – Wat Tyler (1341-1381) leader of a peasant rebellion in England in 1381. When Tyler met with the 14-year-old King Richard II to discuss the terms of ending the rebellion, he was stabbed by the mayor of London. He managed to retreat and hide; however, he was discovered and publicly decapitated. Wikipedia.
Jack Cade – Jack Cade (?-1450) was leader of a rebellion against King Henry VI that took place in 1450. He was wounded while being caught and died before reaching London for trial and execution. Wikipedia.
- Wellington – Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington (1769-1852), British general who defeated Napoleon at Waterloo on 18 June 1815. Wellesley was born in the same year as Bonaparte; his military career and reputation developed on battlefields in India and on the Iberian Peninsula.
Adams assumed or knew that Wellesley may have been considered an upstart in English aristocratic circles on account of his Irish ancestry and his birth status as second son. However, his military record included 60 battles; he rose steadily in rank and status after each victory and at the time of Waterloo, he was field marshal, Duke of Wellington and commander of international troops. After the defeat of Napoleon, he was acknowledged as a national hero and had a distinguished political career, serving twice as British Prime Minister. Wikipedia.
- parvenue – Fr. (“upstart”).
In the same letter as above, Adams continued:
“And what will become of Wellington? Envied, hated, despised by all the barons, earls, viscounts, marquises, as an upstart, a parvenu, elevated over their heads (for these people have no idea of any merit but birth), Wellington must pass the rest of his days buffeted, ridiculed, scorned, and insulted by factions, as Marlborough and his duchess did. Military glory dazzles the eyes of mankind, and for a time eclipses all wisdom, all virtue, all laws, human and divine; and after this it would be bathos to descend to services merely civil or political” JA to TJ, 24 August 1815 WJA X: 173.
“parvenue” the feminine form of the French word “parvenu,” is a typographical error.
- Litterae nihil sanantes – L. “literature curing nothing,” i.e., literature makes nothing happen, has no practical effect on reality. Commenting on Jefferson’s survey of the literature on the origins of the Native Americans, Adams shows his realism and scepticism as to the fantasy explanations various authors provided. This attitude is also shown in his evaluation of Plato, see also nn. 35-37.
- serpents’ teeth – reference to the teeth of the dragon slain by Cadmus, the mythical founder of Thebes in Greece. After killing it, Pallas Athene advised the hero to sow the teeth in the earth: out of them grew soldiers who started killing one another until only five remained. These five were Cadmus’ closest companions and built the city of Thebes at his side. Ovid, Metamorphoses, Book III: 1-130.
Adams mentioned them in his response to Jefferson’s literature review on Native Americans:
“The various ingenuity which has been displayed in inventions of hypotheses to account for the original population of America, and the immensity of learning profusely expended to support them, have appeared to me, for a longer time than I can possibly recollect, what the physicians call the literae nihil sanantes. Whether serpent’s teeth were sown here and sprung up men; whether men and women dropped from the clouds upon this Atlantic island; whether the Almighty created them here, or whether they emigrated from Europe, are questions of no moment to the present of future happiness of man” JA to TJ, 28 June 1812 WJA X: 17. See also OCCEP XXXI: n.38.
- this furious snowstorm – from the beginning of an Adams’s letter of 1813, commiserating with Jefferson on account of American soldiers having to endure a snowstorm during the war with Britain, 1812-5:
“I cannot appease my melancholy commiseration for our armies in this furious snow storm, in any way so well as by studying your letter of October 28.”JA to TJ, 15 November 1813 WTJ XIV: 1.
- Plato – Greek idealist philosopher (428-328). Adams, the practical materialist, could find nothing valid or attractive in Plato’s thought. As he was especially disappointed with Plato’s Republic, Adams concluded that philosophers make very poor political thinkers (see also his remarks on Condorcet, nn.22-4). He declared:
“I am very glad you have seriously read Plato, and still more rejoiced to find that your reflections upon him so perfectly harmonize with mine. Some thirty years ago, I took upon me the severe task of going through all his works. With the help of two Latin translations and one English and one French translation, and comparing some of the most remarkable passages with the Greek, I labored through the tedious toil. My disappointment was very great, my astonishment was greater, and my disgust was shocking. Two things only did I learn from him. First, that Franklin’s ideas of exempting husbandmen and mariners, &c., from the depredations of war, were borrowed from him; and second, that sneezing is a cure for the hiccough. Accordingly, I have cured myself and all my friends of that provoking disorder, for thirty years, with a pinch of snuff” JA to TJ, 16 July 1814 WJA X: 102-3.
- husbandmen – In the middle ages, a husbandman was a free tenant farmer or small landowner.
- funding … Whigs – In one of his letters to Jefferson, Adams is reviewing the question of grief as public political spectacle. In his examples of mourning at the deaths of Washington and Hamilton he found public grief to be excessive and hypocritical, masking economic interest. JA to TJ, 3 September 1816 WTJXV: 68-9.
- the old Whigs – since at the time of the letter (1816), the Whig party did not yet exist in the US, Adams must be referring to the British Whigs and their rivals, the Tories. Born as an opposition to absolute monarchy in the 17th century, the Whig party evolved in the next century to represent the interests of the industrial revolution and free trade. Wikipedia.
- $75,000 – Information concerning the ratio of paper money to gold (specie) in 1781. This ratio states that for every £75 in paper promissory notes, there was only £1 gold equivalent in the bank. A healthy ratio would have been £8-10 to 1 £ in gold, which shows how devalued paper money was at the time.
“Dr. Brownson received £75,000 equal to £1000 specie; for the balance he must wait until the Assembly meets.” TJ to Nathanael Greene, 10 February 1781 WTJ IV: 354-5.
Pound’s text has dollars, not pounds, the dollar sign must be a later editorial intervention. The dollar was first adopted in the US on 6 July 1785, four years after Jefferson’s letter. Investopedia.
- settler will be worth – From one of the early letters by Jefferson on the burden of the war that the new settlers of the American West will have to bear, showing his approach to be informed by economics, but at the same time anti-usurious:
“The idea of Congress selling out unlocated lands has been sometimes dropped, but we have always met the hint with such determined opposition that I believe it will never be proposed. – I am against selling the lands at all. The people who will migrate to the westward whether they form part of the old, or of a new colony will be subject to their proportion of the Continental debt then unpaid. They ought not to be subject to more. They will be a people little able to pay taxes. There is no equity in fixing upon them the whole burden of this war, or any other proportion than we bear ourselves. By selling the lands to them, you will disgust them, and cause an avulsion of them from the common union. They will settle the lands in spite of everybody. – I am at the same time clear that they should be appropriated in small quantities. It is said that wealthy foreigners will come in great numbers, and they ought to pay for the liberty we shall have provided for them. True, but make them pay in settlers. A foreigner who brings a settler for every 100, or 200 acres of land to be granted him pays a better price than if he had put into the public treasury 5/ or 5£. That settler will be worth to the public 20 times as much every year, as on our old plan he would have paid in one payment.” TJ to James Pendleton, 13 August 1776 WTJ IV: 277-8.
fathers of this generation – Pound is quoting from Karl Marx’ assessment of the horrendous social consequences of industrial slavery in the 19th century in Britain, as well as the inept attempts of various governments to curb it.
“As early as 1840, a Commission of Parliament had been appointed to inquire into the conditions of child labor. Its report, as Senior remarks, disclosed ‘the most frightful picture of avarice, selfishness and cruelty on the part of masters and of parents, and of juvenile and infantile misery, degradation and destruction ever presented.’ ... It may be supposed that it describes the horrors of a past age. But there is unhappily evidence that those horrors continue as intense as they were. A pamphlet published by Hardwicke about 2 years ago states that the abuses complained of in 1842, are in full bloom at the present day . It is a strange proof of the general neglect of the morals and health of the children of the working class, that this report lay unnoticed for 20 years, during which the children, ‘bred up without the remotest sign of comprehension as to what is meant by the term morals, who had neither knowledge, nor religion, nor natural affection,’ were allowed to become the parents of the present generation.” Marx, Capital 539.
- factory inspectors – “The Workshops’ Regulation Act, wretched in all its details, remained a dead letter in the hands of the municipal and local authorities who were charged with its execution. When, in 1871, Parliament withdrew from them this power, in order to confer it on the Factory Inspectors, to whose province it thus added by a single stroke more than one hundred thousand workshops, and three hundred brickworks, care was taken at the same time not to add more than eight assistants to their already undermanned staff” Marx Capital 541.
- Rogier – Charles Latour Rogier (1800-1885), Belgian statesman. Marx corroborates the lack of regulation concerning child labour in Britain to the Belgian situation.
“Belgium is the model bourgeois state in regard to the regulation of the working day. Lord Howard of Welden, English Plenipotentiary at Brussels, reports to the Foreign Office, May 12th, 1862: ‘M. Rogier, the minister, informed me that children’s labour is limited neither by a general law nor by any local regulations; that the Government, during the last three years, intended in every session to propose a bill on the subject, but always found an insuperable obstacle in the jealous opposition to any legislation in contradiction with the principle of perfect freedom of labour.’” Marx Capital 304.
H. de Walden – Charles Augustus Ellis, Baron Howard de Welden (1799-1868) English diplomat.
- denounced the inspectors – Passage illustrating the success that the industrialists had in their propaganda against the measures of the Factory Acts Marx Capital 312.
- Factory Act – The Factory Act of John Hobhouse was one in a series of acts of legislation passed by the British parliament during the 19th century to regulate the conditions of industrial labour. In Capital, Marx shows how haphazardly these laws were carried out and what the factory owners did to elude them. Marx Capital 316.
- John Hobhouse – John Cam Hobhouse (1786-1869), British liberal politician and sponsor of acts of legislation in 1825 and 1831 destined to control child labour and prevent the perversion of justice whereby a factory owner could be both a defendant and a judge in the same court trial.
- Leonard Horner – Leonard Horner (1785-1864), English reformer and inspector under the Factory Act of 1848. Marx Capital 318.
- Case where – The case of the trial on adulterated soot is described at length in Marx Capital 274.
- avenement… (allemand) – Fr. “the coming of the German revolution posed new problems, routine trading [to] be replaced by the creation of two funds, gold and wheat, destined to the victorious (German) proletariat.”
The French text quoted has a few grammatical errors, to wit: “l’avénement de la révolution allemande posait des problèmes nouveaux, [la] routine commerciale [devait] être remplacée par [la] création de deux fonds, or et blé, destinés au proletariat victorieux (allemand).”
The passage refers to Stalin’s certainty that a Communist revolution was imminent in Germany and that the Soviet Union needed to be prepared to assist it with its own production of grain and with its gold reserves. In order that this policy remain secret, the diplomatic corps was solely comprised of Communist personnel. See Besedovsky 61-62.
bureaucrat paisible … sanguinaire – Fr. “Van Tsin Vei, a peaceful bureaucrat, proved himself quite incapable of leading a bloody revolution.” Besedovsky 165.
- Van Tzin Vei – Wang Jinwei (1883-1944), Chinese politician, one of teh prominent figures of the Kuomingtang, the Chinese Nationalist Party. Whereas Wang was positive to the Soviet influence in the KMT during the late 1920s, in time, he dissociated himself from the Communists. Besedovsky calls him a “peaceful bureaucrat” possibly to distinguish him from his rival, Chiang Kai-Shek, who strongly opposed the Communist ideological current in the KMT. Stalin’s agents in the party found Wang easier to influence. Wikipedia.
- Monsieur Bessedovsky – Grigori Zinovyevich Besedovsky (1896-1963), Soviet diplomat who served in Germany, France and Japan during the 1920s. He defected to France in 1930 and in the same year published his memoirs, translated into French as Oui, j’accuse! The English translation, published in 1931 as Revelations of a Soviet Diplomat, serves here as basis of annotation.
Subsequent historical research has argued that Besedovsky’s defection was fake and that his memoirs, as well as the string of books he published under various names in succeeding decades were works of covert Soviet propaganda, portraying Stalin in favourable terms as a brutal, but patriotic leader (Agursky 16-9). However, this is not how Stalin emerges from the Revelations, as the quotations in Sources show.
- for ten years – Pound’s source says six years, which would refer to the period 1924-1930. Besedovsky 228.
- Bills discounted at exhorbitant rates – Referring to trade relations between the Soviet Union and Great Britain, Besedovsky explained that Stalin preferred to have the country’s bills (payments for goods and services in promissory notes) discounted at usurious rates, in spite of having a contract with the Midland Bank for a large loan at moderate interest. Stalin’s intention was that the Soviet Union does not get too strongly committed to harmonious trade relations and loses its revolutionary edge. Besedovsky found both the policy and its implementation monstrous, not only because the discount rates [the difference between the sum written on a check and what was actually paid for it at the bank] corrupted both the English commercial partners and the Soviet commissaries, but also because without foreign credits, the Russian peasants alone would have to bear the brunt of the forced industrialisation which was the Soviet economic objective. Besedovsky 229, 232.
Stalin’s political aim to create Communist revolutions in Germany, China, France and England, as well as his perverted economic policies intentionally going against the welfare of the Russian population are a stark contrast to the glimpses Pound provides of the humanitarianism, incorruptibility and horse-sense in economics displayed by Adams and Jefferson during and after the American Revolution.
- and he even – “He” is the Chair of the Federal Reserve Board in 1920, William P. G. Harding. Pound switches sources, going from Besedovsky’s memoirs to S. W. Brookhart’s speech in the American Senate on 25 February 1931. Brookhart was using the historical case of a meeting of the Federal Reserve Board of 1920 to argue that “deflation is a crime” which should not be repeated. Brookhart therefore argued against the election of Eugene Meyer as new Chairman of the Board in 1931, since he saw Meyer as continuing Harding’s deflationary policy.
It is interesting to note that monetary historians such as Milton Friedman confirmed Brookhart’s warning:
“Meyer has been criticized as Fed Chairman for not attacking the economic catastrophe of the early 1930s with monetary stimulus, thus allowing the banking crisis to get out of hand and deepening the economic collapse. One of his biggest critics at the time condemned Meyer along with J. P. Moragan, Andrew Mellon and Ogden Mills as being the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. More recent critics include Nobel laureate Milton Friedman and his fellow economist Anna Schwartz who, in their landmark book A Monetary History of the United States, put forth the argument that the Fed could have lessened the severity of the Depression, but failed to exercise its role of managing the monetary system and ameliorating banking panics.” See also Eugene Meyer in Wikipedia.
- Federal Reserve banks – the Federal Reserve of the United States has the same function as a central bank, but is in itself a consortium of 12 state banks. It is led by a Board of 7 governors appointed for 14 years. The Chairman of the Board is appointed by the President of the U.S.
As it is responsible with the quantity and circulation of the monetary mass of the country (national conglomerate of loans), the Board has to decide if it is going to increase or decrease the quantity of money within the economy. It does that by moving the interest rate by which banks borrow money from each other up or down. A higher rate decreases the monetary mass, since banks, having to pay a higher rate for their own loans, will in turn raise the interest of the loans they award to companies, therefore discouraging them from borrowing expensively. With less borrowing, less credit is created in the banks’ accounts and the amount of money goes down. The value of the monetary unit (here, the dollar) goes up, and, since loans are the engine of investment, the economy as a whole slows down, or deflates.
- Mr Brookhart – Smith Wildman Brookhart (1869-1944), American politician and Republican Senator from Iowa (1922-26; 1927-33). His speech made to the Senate on 25 February 1931 was an indictment of William P. G. Harding as former Chair of the Fed’s Board of Directors and exposed the collusion between the Fed and the interest of big corporations.
- committee of interstate commerce – The Interstate Commerce Committee (ICC) was a government agency which regulated the prices of railway transportation in an era of harsh competition among various railway companies, large and small. The ICC harmonized prices and capped the fares (rates), making them more ethical. However, railway companies fought constantly to raise the price of transport.
- Swiftarmoursinclair – Gustavus Franklin Swift (1839-1903) and Philip Danforth Armour (1832-1901) were rivals in the Chicago meat butchering and packing industry. Swift was the first butcher to process meat in Chicago and send it by refrigerated train cars to the cities of the East. By 1931, their companies had grown to be the predominant in the industry. The Sinclair Oil Corporation was founded by Harry F. Sinclair in May 1916 in New York. All three corporations successfully weathered the depression and still exist today. Swift. Armour. Sinclair Oil Corporation.
- over-inflated – The last line of the poem clarifies what is going on at the meeting of the Federal Reserve Board. The Chairman had decided that since the economy was “overinflated” the Fed was to raise the interest rates on loans across the country. So it was only natural that the bankers who attended that meeting and knew that the interest rates would go up, would leak the information to specific large corporations which were their most important clients and which could make an expedited effort to get a cheap loan as long as it was still possible.