The three were at the table now and the others sat close by except Pablo, who sat by himself in front of a bowl of the wine. It was the same stew as the night before and Robert Jordan ate it hungrily.
“In your country there are mountains? With that name [Montana] surely there are mountains,” Primitivo asked politely to make conversation. He was embarrassed at the drunkenness of Pablo.
“Many mountains and very high.”
“And are there good pastures?”
“Excellent; high pasture in the summer in forests controlled by the government. Then in the fall the cattle are brought down to the lower ranges.”
“Is the land there owned by the peasants?”
“Most land is owned by those who farm it. Originally the land was owned by the state and by living on it and declaring the intention of improving it, a man could obtain title to a hundred and fifty hectares.”
“Tell me how this is done,” Agustín asked. “That is an agrarian reform which means something.”
Robert Jordan explained the process of homesteading. He had never thought of it before as an agrarian reform.
“That is magnificent,” Primitivo said. “Then you have a communism in your country?”
“No. That is done under the Republic.”
“For me,” Agustín said, “everything can be done under the Republic. I see no need for other form of government.”
“Do you have no big proprietors?” Andrés asked.
“Then there must be abuses.”
“Certainly. There are many abuses.”
“But you will do away with them?”
“We try to more and more. But there are many abuses still.”
“But there are not great estates that must be broken up?”
“Yes. But there are those who believe that taxes will break them up.”
Robert Jordan, wiping out the stew bowl with bread, explained how the income tax and inheritance tax worked. “But the big estates remain. Also there are taxes on the land,” he said.
“But surely the big proprietors and the rich will make a revolution against such taxes. Such taxes appear to me to be revolutionary. They will revolt against the government when they see that they are threatened, exactly as the fascists have done here,” Primitivo said.
“It is possible.”
“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 it out when the time comes.”
“But you cannot destroy them until they rebel?”
“No,” Robert Jordan said. “We cannot destroy them. But we can educate the people so that they will fear fascism and recognize it as it appears and combat it.”
— Ernest Hemingway, For Whom the Bell Tolls