The most intelligent men in Italy are in office or vividly interested in official process, and in government work, they are to be found in the Gerarchia, or milling about it.—Ezra Pound
Although Ezra Pound idolized Benito Mussolini, and very much identified Italian Fascism with Mussolini himself, he also watched the staff of intellectuals who helped make the Fascist regime. In a letter to Margherita Sarfatti in February 1934, he wrote that the present era, more enlightened than any since the Risorgimento, is “inhabited by DUX ipse, and almost no one else that one hears of, tho’ there must be a staff of aviators and architects.” Certainly the regime was designed to foreground Mussolini himself, but Pound's recognition of the staff reflects his desire to be among those responsible for designing and piloting the regime. Indeed, this “staff” included important intellectuals, architects, archaeologists, critics, and others who, in the words of Philip V. Cannistraro and Brian Sullivan, “brought cultural respectability to a movement that otherwise appeared to be nothing more than a gang of violent, anti-intellectual thugs.” We have already seen how Pound noticed the nationalizing cultural projects of the Fascist regime, engineered by the likes of Margherita Sarfatti, Giuseppe Bottai, Roberto Farinacci, P. M. Bardi, F. T Marinetti, Mario Sironi, and Corrado Ricci. Pound's investment in their work went beyond mere observation, however, in that he sought ways of collaborating with them and even becoming a cultural administrator of Mussolini's regime. The correspondence presented in this brief chapter—most of it previously unpublished—demonstrates Pound's attempts to become a part of the Fascist Gerarchia rather than settling for writing about them.
Ezra Pound first published Jefferson and/or Mussolini: L'Idea statale, Fascism as I Have Seen It in London in 1935, with the publisher Stanley Nott. Thirty copies were printed. On the verso of the title leaf, Pound included a note dated April 1935:
THE BODY OF THIS MS. WAS WRITTEN AND LEFT
MY HANDS IN FEBRUARY 1933. 40 PUBLISHERS
HAVE REFUSED IT. NO TYPESCRIPT OF MINE HAS
BEEN READ BY SO MANY PEOPLE OR BROUGHT
ME A MORE INTERESTING CORRESPONDENCE.