James Bond, who miraculously survives death while undergoing extreme torture in Casino Royale, is resigning his position in the British spy business. Having recently earned his Double-0 status by killing in cold blood when on the job, Bond sees that it isn’t really easy to differentiate the good guys from the bad guys anymore. As Bond was being tortured, the bad guy Le Chiffre spoke of “playing Red Indians.” Although not politically correct for today, back then half my life was dedicated to running around the neighborhood playing Cowboys and Indians. You too? Remember that one day you were a good cowboy and the next day you were a savage Indian? But every day it was still you … were you personally a good guy or a bad guy?
Bond speaks with Mathis in the hospital:
“When I was being beaten up,” he said, “I suddenly liked the idea of being alive. Before Le Chiffre began, he used a phrase which stuck in my mind … ‘playing Red Indians’. He said that’s what I had been doing. Well, I suddenly thought he might be right.”
“You see,” he said, still looking down at his bandages, “when one’s young, it seems very easy to distinguish between right and wrong, but as one gets older it becomes more difficult. At school it’s easy to pick out one’s own villains and heroes and one grows up wanting to be a hero and kill the villains.” …
“Now,” he looked up again at Mathis, “that’s all very fine. The hero kills two villains, but when the hero Le Chiffre starts to kill the villain Bond and the villain Bond knows he isn’t a villain at all, you see the other side of the medal. The villains and heroes get all mixed up.”
“Of course,” he added, as Mathis started to expostulate, “patriotism comes along and makes it seem fairly all right, but this country-right-or-wrong business is getting a little out-of-date. Today we are fighting communism. Okay. If I’d been alive fifty years ago, the brand of conservatism we have today would have been damn near called communism and we should have been told to go and fight that. History is moving pretty quickly these days and the heroes and villains keep on changing parts.”
Fleming wrote this about 1953: it’s now 2014: has anything changed? Maybe it’s worse even.