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 The Economics of human energy

in

Brooks Adams, Ezra Pound, and Robert Theobald

 John Whiting

 

 London University

M.A. in Area Studies ( United States)

1971

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Introduction

I. Towards order in the state. . .

II. The Beast with a Hundred Legs

III. To build the city. . .

IV. The True Base of Credit

References


 

INTRODUCTION

 

No one can understand history without understanding economics. . .

My generation (that born in the 1880's) was dragged up in black ignorance of economics. . .

Ezra Pound

 

Nor has the situation altered. Money controls our lives more than ever, but intellectuals continue to shun the “dismal science”. Even those who are concerned with “values” neglect the social effects of value made quantitative.

 

Professional economists, moreover, are not much given to examining their premises: they assume that the motivations of capitalists are those of the human race. As David T. Bazelon explains,

 

Economics is concerned with values, real or make-believe, and therefore . . . psychology lies at the basis of both the theory and the practice of the discipline. All the great systems of economic thought, rest . . . on various assumptions as to human motivation. 1

 

At the heart of economics lies money; perhaps the economist can at least tell us something definite about what it is and how it functions. But according to R.W. Clower,

 

. . . contemporary monetary theory is among the least-settled branches of economic analysis and no serious student of modern economics can afford to be ignorant of this fact. 2

 

Some of the confusion is deliberate. Ezra Pound quotes a letter from Rothschild Bros., written in 1863:

 

“Very few people will understand this. Those who do will be occupied in making profits. The general public will probably not see it's against their interest.” 3

 

It seems that, if we are to learn something of how money really functions, we must look elsewhere.

 

Our discussion will deal first with Brooks Adams and Ezra Pound, two American authors who believe that what is usually described as a “healthy economy” is a contradiction in terms. Adams was the first American historian to see money as the operative influence on social institutions since the Middle Ages. Pound, through contact with A.S. Orage and Major C.H. Douglas, became interested in economics in 1910. He did not discover Adams until 1940 4 but many of their opinions are strikingly similar, particularly concerning money-lenders,

 

Robert Theobald is the only professional economist of the three. Although his model of a desirable economic system is quite different from Pound's, they share a common concern with equitable distribution and a belief that something other than greed can direct social policy.

 

Our analysis will be partly historical, partly prescriptive. Running through it like a golden thread will be an attempt to discover what money was, is, and could be.

 

1  Bazelon, The Paper Economy, p.118

2  Clover, Monetary Theory, p.7

3  Pound, Canto 46/79-82

4  Stock, Life of Ezra Pound p 382

 

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John Whiting can be reached HERE