Saturday, November 15, 2008

Bolidigal Basshuntz II

The effects of social evil show first in the arts. Most social evils are at root economic. I, personally, know of no social evil that cannot be cured, or very largely cured, economically. (E.P, "Murder by Capital", SP, 199)

Make Love, Not War was, let us say, Propertius's slogan. Pound contributed an intervening "fiscal" policy. Once we realize the importance of the financial system (the system that manages the circulation of money and credit) we can understand the pivot between love and war, viz., the slogan's pun on "making" (poiesis). There is a sense in which one "makes" war and another in which one "makes" love. But can these senses be brought together—so that a trade-off becomes meaningful?

I bought Clark Emery's Ideas into Action (University of Miama Press, 1958) because Allen Ginsberg said it had helped him to understand Pound's monetary theory. Here's one such helpful passage:

In Pound's estimation, bad poetry and social disorder are the results of misgovernment. And misgovernment may be defined as that in which the rulers misuse the wealth of the state. The Medici had made a reasonably good start (see Canto 21); learning and letters flouraged under their patronage. But the time came when their banking practices deteriorated—when, specifically, they began to lend money to the princes for their wars, instead of making it available to the mass of people who produce goods. (p. 32)

The state may choose to finance production or destruction. We could also say that it can choose between building productive capacity or producing destructive capacity.

The bailout plans and stimulus packages that are being discussed these days will ultimately lean one way or the other. It may either make credit available to the "mass of people" who, not only produce goods, but do most of the love-making, or it may be distributed to "the princes" who very definitely make war. We have just gone through eight years* of the latter, in which virtually the whole global economic order has been driven by the need to finance military operations. We have been making war, not love.

Much turns on the difference. The immediate issue of money results in a corresponding national debt. But will that debt be "secured" against future production or imminent destruction? Hopefully Obama understands the forces implicit in these kulchural basshuntz.


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*It's of course been longer than that. 60 years. 160 years. Whatever. I'm talking about a specific military operation.

5 comments:

Kirby Olson said...

Some elements of the Iraqi population saw what we did as lovely: freeing them from Hussein.

Others didn't.


War can be loving, as when we fought the Germans over the Jews. We freed many Jews from the concentration camps.

That is love, Thomas.

LOVE, I tell you, is part of war.

Ask Helen of Troy.

Ask the Jews at Buchenwald.

Ask the Christians of Mosul.

What the Japanese did to the Chinese at Nanking was perhaps the worst aspect of war -- rape, decapitations, pure terror.

500,000 dead.

One could say the same thing about what the Arabs are doing to the Christians in the southern Sudan. Only love (as war) can save them.

When David walloped Goliath in the head with a rock, many loved David for this!

Love and war are not separate. They are very intimately connected.

Those old hippy terms -- make very little sense.

When we left Vietnam -- we left in our wake a disaster that has been forty years of pure misery for the South Vietnamese. The hippies didn't have any sense of the economy at all. The ones who survived had enormous trust funds to bail them out of their crazy lifestyle.

The hippy movement was a war on the American dream, reducing it for many to a nightmare from which they have still not recovered. The yippies admitted that they deliberately put hippies into the melee in Chicago which resulted in thousands of injuries. It was war.

Ginsberg's war is one that we still know next to nothing about: he said he would ruin the youth of America. What he was up to is probably just as treasonous as what Pound was up to, whatever it was, and probably just as screwy.

They were both on the wrong sides of the wars.

We should have prevailed in Vietnam as we prevailed in South Korea.

Fortunately, we did prevail against the Nazis and the fascists.

People are free to love again in Italy and Germany and South Korea.

they are still under the boot of the communists in North Korea and in Vietnam. Alas! Too little love.

I fear for the people of Iraq under Obama's administration.

He will retreat, and it will be a maelstrom of blood and tears without the protection of the American military.

Thomas Basbøll said...

I think you're missing the point, Kirby. The love/war distinction does not apply to foreign policy alone but to the tradeoff between a particular kind of foreign policy and a particular kind of domestic policy.

More specifically, it has to do with debt-management. Should a debt be incurred with a view to domestic production or with a view to foreign destruction?

Kirby Olson said...

Foreign intervention can help with domestic tranquillity if we can take out the bases for terrorism.

This was the original idea for the assault on Afghanistan.

The idea of going into Iraq is obscured by the smoke and mirrors on all sides. It's hard to see if there was any justification that can be justified (WMD may have been an illusion, or might have been carefully concealed), but again I don't see these two as opposites.

Unfortunately, the entire world is now linked.

Anyone can get anywhere within a day.

It's like the end of a board game where the whole board is filled, and somebody's gotta go since many elements within Islam see this as a zero-sum game.

That idea has to give, or else we have to submit. It's one or the other.

Thomas Basbøll said...

I still don't think we're understanding each other. I'm saying there is a difference between going into debt for the sake of building productive capacity (i.e., the means to repay the debt) and going into debt for the sake of smashing some real or imagined enemy.

(Ideally, Pound wouldn't even want a nation to go into debt. But he would devalue the currency by printing debt-free money. The effect is roughly the same. In a Poundian paradiso you don't distinguish sharply between a state's fiscal and monetary policies. Obama is very vaguely moving in that direction by tying infusions of cash to infrastructure projects.)

You are just saying that there is such a thing as a just or wise war. Perhaps. But a nation may still be ruined by it.

Kirby Olson said...

Nations can also be ruined by peace.

Remember the Futurists that Pound linked himself with through their mutual affiliation with Mussolini: war as hygiene!

Race, gender, class = rock, paper, scissors.