The God That Failed, edited by Richard Crossman, M.P. – (1949) 1959

“For it is very much easier to lay the oblation of spiritual pride on the altar of world revolution than to snatch it back again.”

If despair and loneliness were the main motives for conversion to Communism,
they were greatly strengthened by the Christian conscience.
Here again, the intellectual, though he may have abandoned orthodox Christianity,
felt its prickings far more acutely than many of his unreflective church-going neighbors.
He at least was aware of the unfairness of the status and privileges which he enjoyed,
whether by reason of race or class or education.
The emotional appeal of Communism lay precisely in the sacrifices –
both material and spiritual –
which it demanded of the convert.
You can call the response masochistic, or describe it as a sincere desire to serve mankind. 
But, whatever name you use, the idea of an active comradeship of struggle –
involving personal sacrifice and abolishing differences of class and race –
has had a compulsive power in every Western democracy.
The attraction of the ordinary political party is what it offers to its members:
the attraction of Communism was that it offered nothing and demanded everything,
including the surrender of spiritual freedom.

Here, indeed, is the explanation of a phenomenon which has puzzled many observers.
How could these intellectuals accept the dogmatism of Stalinism? 
The answer is to be found scattered through the pages which follow. 
For the intellectual, material comforts are relatively unimportant;
what he cares about most is spiritual freedom. 
The strength of the Catholic Church has always been that it demands the sacrifice of that freedom
and condemns spiritual pride as a deadly sin.
The Communist novice, subjecting his soul to the cannon law of the Kremlin,
felt something of the release which Catholicism also brings to the intellectual,
wearied and worried by the privilege of freedom.

Once the renunciation has been made, the mind,
instead of operating freely,
becomes the servant of a higher an unquestioned purpose.
To deny the truth is an act of service. 
This, of course, is why it is useless to discuss any particular aspect of politics with a Communist. 
Any genuine intellectual contact which you have with him
involves a challenge to his fundamental faith, a struggle for his soul. 
For it is very much easier to lay the oblation of spiritual pride on the altar of world revolution
than to snatch it back again.  (Richard Crossman)

Arrival and Departure, by Arthur Koestler – 1943 [Wood]

What, after all, was courage?
A matter of glands, nerves; patterns of reaction conditioned by
heredity and early experiences. 
A drop of iodine less in the thyroid,
a sadistic governess or over-affectionate aunt,
a slight variation in the electrical resistance
of the medullary ganglions,
and the hero became a coward;
a patriot a traitor.
Touched with the magic rod of cause and effect,
the reactions of men were emptied of their so-called moral contents
as a Leyden jar is discharged by the touch of a conductor.

arrival-and-departure-arthur-koestler-1943-woods-4_edited-7‘Why do they look at me that way?’

‘They don’t look.  It’s only your imagination.’
‘They ask themselves:  What is he doing here?
Why does he not go where he belongs?’
‘But you belong nowhere, you fool.’

‘How can one live, belonging nowhere?’

‘You belong to yourself.  That is the gift I made you.’

‘I don’t want it.  Your gift is out of season.’

‘Then what do you want?’

‘Not to be ashamed of myself.’

‘What are you ashamed of?’

‘Of walking through the parks while others
get drowned or burned alive;
of belonging to myself while everybody belongs to something else.’

‘Do you still believe in their big words and little flags?’

‘No, I don’t.’

‘Are you not glad that I opened your eyes?’

‘Yes, I am.’

‘What were your beliefs?’


‘Your search of fraternity?’

‘A wild goose chase.’

‘Your courage?’


‘Your loyalty?’


‘Why then do you want to start again?’

‘Why, indeed?  That should be your job to explain.’

But that precisely was the point which Sonia could not explain,
for apparently it was placed on a plane beyond her reasoning,
and perhaps beyond reason altogether.

arrival-and-departure-arthur-koestler-1943-woods-3_edited-4Don’t be a fool, said Sonia’s voice.

This is the ark and behind you is the flood.

That land is doomed and it will rain on it

forty nights and forty days.

Who has ever heard of an inmate of the ark

jumping overboard to walk back into the rising flood?

But why not, Sonia?  There is something missing in that story.

There should have been at least one

who ran back into the rain,

to perish with those who had no planks under their feet…

Go on, said Sonia’s voice.

Go on, what happened to that fool after he went back?

The Lord who saw into that man’s heart became ashamed of himself;

and he reached out with his hand to keep that man dry in the rain…

* * * * * * * * * * * *

“Do you mean,” Peter stuttered,
“that you have done what you did – just as a sport?”

The other shrugged. 
His attention was focused on the task of drinking from the glass
without spilling any of its contents.
“Don’t you think,” he said at last,
“that it is rather a boring game,
trying to find out one’s reasons for doing something?”