Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A Century of Forgotten Theories

A news item about U.S. government “payments” (credits) to banks and other financial institutions since the “credit crisis” of 2008 being sufficient to pay off over 90% of the mortgages in the U.S. prompted me to reflect on the Social Credit theories of C. H. Douglas, which were a key element in the creation and distribution of poetic High Modernism, and seen as the solution to all the dualistic isms of the 20th century by Pound, Eliot, Williams, Read, Chesterton, Beloc, Huxley and a host of other literary figures.

Bankers are the unacknowledged legislators of the world
More private and invisible than even poets
Who own the poems that flash in from the sun

As bankers own the funds dreamed from their pens
Created to be shared Credere* in either case
For laurels to the poet, interest to the bank.
We pay, with mortal minds, to see a vision through a vapor screen:
Endure ellipses, too-far distances,
words that never say quite what they mean
and are far too mean in not quite saying it
As we must pay, with our mere wages, for all the markups of production:
The extractions from the earth, safe passage over Styx,
the overhead of whips and chains, pornography of profits,
the interest entered daily like the tunnel into town.
But if we suspend our disbelief, these poets give us stories:
Of how to lose the sacred things, for the rarest kind of vision
the thing that still is pure, that still is useless
As bankers will give us, if we pretend they own all life, the things we ask:
Faster food, higher cheekbones, less ennui at work,
more choices among shoes and muses with lutes.
So exponentials of debt—and poems—must be produced
To keep this system stable
With no possible re-payment or of meaning in clear sight.
But no one seems to care about the bankers and the poets
As we walk down life with eyes and voices blazing
For diversions always rain straight down from God,
Butterflies, lions and delivery dogs
always seem to land with the most impeccable taste.

* Credit comes from Latin “to believe”