FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

How Would Hemingway’s “Robert Jordan” Vote?

Written 76 years ago, For Whom The Bell Tolls is Senator John McCain’s favorite novel, also an “inspiration” to Obama.

Toward the end of the Spanish civil war, up in the mountains looking over a steel bridge the American hero Robert Jordan must blow up to stop the Fascist advance on Madrid, he faces certain death on a mission he fatalistically knows is messed up.

Even so, while sighting his machine gun, he engages in a serious political argument with one of his comrade guerrillas, El Primitivo.

Jordan, a former Montana college instructor, lectures Primitivo that the United States  isn’t like Spain; democratic change is possible.  He cites President Roosevelt’s mild tax reform.  Primitivo warns Jordan that any attempt to take money from the American  rich will surely make them angry enough to violently revolt, “exactly as the fascists have done here”.

“It is possible,” Jordan says. “Then you will have to fight in your country as we fight here.”

“Yes, we will have to fight.”

“But are there not many fascists in your country?”

“There are many who do not know they are fascists but will find out when the time comes.”

In Hemingway’s time American fascists either wore Nazi-like uniforms in street brawls or $1000 suits and stiff collars scheming up at the opulent offices at 23 Wall Street where  a OR Book Going Rougesmall group of J.P. Morgan rich men calling themselves “Sentinels of Liberty” were  so envious of Hitler and Mussolini that they plotted to sacrifice part of their fortunes to  overthrow the new “socialist” president Franklin D. Roosevelt.  They dreamed of  molding  unemployed war veterans into a “Khaki Shirt” fascist army to take over the White House  whose New Deal tax scheme drove them nuts.

With riots in the factories, farmers lynching bailiffs and even Boy Scouts marching in protest  against hard times, the rich truly believed they were witnessing their own Last Days, the apocalyptic  end of capitalism.  They were angry and frightened with a poor sense of reality, although they were  astute enough to own or run businesses that, combined, had more assets than the U.S. government they wanted to overthrow.

As far as I know the Koch Brothers have not (yet) given money to Donald Trump in the way that,  for example, German “captains of industry” loaded up Hitler with slush funds to finance his path to power.

They too felt existentially threatened by social disorder, economic instability and the absence of  Strong Leader who “tells it like it is” to the despairing German masses hungry for jobs and a hatred for the old elite.

For Whom The Bell Tolls was written out of Hemingway’s own despair at Gen. Franco’s fascist victory in his beloved Spain.  Critics like to pass lightly over Ernest’s politics.   He could be, and was, anti-Semitic (until he married a half Jew), racist (until he fought side by side with African American volunteers in the Lincoln Brigade), sexist (always), and let’s not even think what this most macho of men felt about his youngest transgender son Gregory or Gloria.

But most consistently, in his gut, Ernest was antifascist and on the side of the losers.  He knew that U.S. soldiers under General Douglas MacArthur bayoneted starving war-vet Bonus Marchers within sight of the Capitol.  And from his Florida house he’d seen hundreds of jobless, messed up war vets drowned in a Matecumbe Key hurricane into which they’d been exiled by FDR to rid himself of potential troublemakers.

Hemingway wrote Bell in the white heat of anguish, rage and the bloody unfairness of it all.

Let’s rewrite Hemingway.  After all, this is Hollywood.  A Sierra Club mountain climber just died at the age of 103.  “What if” by some miracle Robert Jordan had survived the Spanish debacle and was alive today, how would he vote?

More articles by:

Clancy Sigal is a screenwriter and novelist. His latest book is Black Sunset

April 24, 2018
Carl Boggs
Russia and the War Party
Dan Kovalik
The Empire Turns Its Sights on Nicaragua – Again!
William A. Cohn
Carnage Unleashed: the Pentagon and the AUMF
Nathan Kalman-Lamb
The Racist Culture of Canadian Hockey
María Julia Bertomeu
On Angers, Disgusts and Nauseas
Nick Pemberton
How To Buy A Seat In Congress 101
Ron Jacobs
Resisting the Military-Now More Than Ever
Sonali Kolhatkar
The Left, Syria and Fake News
Manuel E. Yepe
The Confirmation of Democracy in Cuba
Peter Montgomery
Christian Nationalism: Good for Politicians, Bad for America and the World
Ted Rall
Bad Drones
Jill Richardson
The Latest Attack on Food Stamps
Andrew Stewart
What Kind of Unionism is This?
Ellen Brown
Fox in the Hen House: Why Interest Rates Are Rising
April 23, 2018
Patrick Cockburn
In Middle East Wars It Pays to be Skeptical
Thomas Knapp
Just When You Thought “Russiagate” Couldn’t Get Any Sillier …
Gregory Barrett
The Moral Mask
Robert Hunziker
Chemical Madness!
David Swanson
Senator Tim Kaine’s Brief Run-In With the Law
Dave Lindorff
Starbucks Has a Racism Problem
Uri Avnery
The Great Day
Nyla Ali Khan
Girls Reduced to Being Repositories of Communal and Religious Identities in Kashmir
Ted Rall
Stop Letting Trump Distract You From Your Wants and Needs
Steve Klinger
The Cautionary Tale of Donald J. Trump
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
Conflict Over the Future of the Planet
Cesar Chelala
Gideon Levy: A Voice of Sanity from Israel
Weekend Edition
April 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Ruling Class Operatives Say the Darndest Things: On Devils Known and Not
Conn Hallinan
The Great Game Comes to Syria
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Mother of War
Andrew Levine
“How Come?” Questions
Doug Noble
A Tale of Two Atrocities: Douma and Gaza
Kenneth Surin
The Blight of Ukania
Howard Lisnoff
How James Comey Became the Strange New Hero of the Liberals
William Blum
Anti-Empire Report: Unseen Persons
Lawrence Davidson
Missiles Over Damascus
Patrick Cockburn
The Plight of the Yazidi of Afrin
Pete Dolack
Fooled Again? Trump Trade Policy Elevates Corporate Power
Stan Cox
For Climate Mobilization, Look to 1960s Vietnam Before Turning to 1940s America
William Hawes
Global Weirding
Dan Glazebrook
World War is Still in the Cards
Nick Pemberton
In Defense of Cardi B: Beyond Bourgeois PC Culture
Ishmael Reed
Hollywood’s Last Days?
Peter Certo
There Was Nothing Humanitarian About Our Strikes on Syria
Dean Baker
China’s “Currency Devaluation Game”
Ann Garrison
Why Don’t We All Vote to Commit International Crimes?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail