Yesterday we explored Jane Fonda‘s 1972 sojourn in North Vietnam, during which she was famously photographed sitting on an anti-aircraft battery – and did much else that was equally deplorable but far less famous. As we noted, that visit was only a single episode in a long life of useful stoogery, which has also attracted far less notice than it should have. Indeed, it could be argued that those pictures of her with that North Vietnamese weapon have been something of a lightning rod for all these decades, helping to draw attention away from everything else she’s done to promote totalitarianism and fight freedom.
Certainly to anyone who cared to listen, it was clear from early on that Fonda wasn’t just a liberal or left-wing activist but an out-and-out revolutionary Communist – or at least wanted, for whatever reason, to be seen as one. In 1970 she told a college audience, “If you understood what communism was, you would hope, you would pray on your knees that we would some day become communist.”
The next year she told another audience: “We’ve got to establish a socialist economic structure that will limit private profit-oriented businesses. Whether the transition is peaceful depends on the way our present governmental leaders react. We must commit our lives to this transition.” The historical record is full of such statements made by Fonda over the years to various newspaper reporters, in various TV and radio interviews, and from various stages and platforms.
Certainly she’s spent much of her life agitating for socialist change. Years before going to Vietnam, she was a staunch supporter of the Black Panthers. Shortly after 9/11, she urged Americans to “try to find the underlying cause” of the attacks. In 2005, she joined the execrable Saddam crony George Galloway on an antiwar speaking tour of the U.S. In 2007, she spoke at a Marxist-led antiwar rally in Washington, D.C., telling the audience that she hadn’t attended any such rally in 34 years out of concern that “the lies…spread about me and that war” would “be used to hurt this new antiwar movement.” (In fact, as we’ve seen, the person who’s been spreading lies about Jane Fonda’s activities during the Vietnam War is Fonda herself.) In 2009, she joined fellow useful stooges Danny Glover, David Byrne, John Pilger, Alice Walker, Naomi Klein, and Howard Zinn in signing a letter protesting the “Israeli propaganda machine.”
Yet can it really be said that Fonda has heeded her own call to “commit our lives” to a transition to socialism? Let’s not forget that in addition to be a useful stooge for totalitarianism, she’s also been a world-class hypocrite. From 1991 to 2001, this self-styled revolutionary Communist was married to multibillionaire media mogul Ted Turner, who, at the time, was the largest landowner in the United States, his real-estate holdings adding up to an empire larger than Rhode Island and Delaware put together. Years before their marriage, moreover, Fonda had established her own massive business empire, hawking workout books and videos that sold in huge numbers for years, helped kick off the baby boom’s fitness craze, and made her untold millions. Has any useful stooge’s hypocrisy factor ever been so high?
The striking thing about Fonda is that she’s been carrying on this doublethink for so long – living the life of a stupefyingly successful capitalist while continuing to spout socialist slogans – and seems never to have paused to question it. Is she the fool that she seems to be, or is she, in fact, some kind of supremely cynical genius? As we’ve seen over and over again on this site, some useful stooges for totalitarianism are authentic true believers, plainly out to change the world. But Fonda has always seemed perfectly comfortable with her contradictions. Her enthusiastic talk about socialism has never seemed to have the slightest connection to her own reality, and has rarely if ever been accompanied by even a hint of meaningful action to advance her purported cause. The more one ponders her life, the more her activism seems to be about seeing glamour in revolution and about seeking attention. A 2011 biography by Patricia Bosworth quotes her as saying that her “biggest regret” was that she “never got to fuck Che Guevara.” Maybe that inane statement sums up the nature of her political “commitments” as well as anything else.