In The New Yorker, George Packer reviews a new book about Hemingway, Dos Passos, and the Spanish civil war. The review is worth reading, even if it ends with the familiar equation of socialism with redemptive hope.
At one point, Packer writes of Dos Passos: “[A]s if his literary flame required the fuel of radical politics to keep burning, after Spain he began a rightward drift, which by the 1964 election had become so extreme that Edmund Wilson wrote him, ‘I feel obliged to tell you that your article about the San Francisco convention sounded like a teenager squealing over the Beatles. What on earth has happened to you? How can you take Goldwater seriously?’” Dos Passos’s article ran in National Review, so I suppose I have a rooting interest. But is Wilson really the best way to illustrate someone else’s lack of political judgment? Is supporting one of the major parties’ presidential candidates really more “extreme” and “radical” than refusing to pay the income tax in protest against the Cold War?