From Darkness at Noon

A nice passage from Arthur Koestler’s Darkness at Noon, intended to illustrate some of the logic behind Stalinism, but today seems to describe the actions of most politicians:

History has taught us that often lies serve her better than the truth; for man is sluggish and has to be led through the desert for forty years before each step in his development. And he has to be driven through the desert with threats and promises, by imaginary terrors and imaginary consolations, so that he should not sit down prematurely to rest and divert himself by worshipping golden calves.

The passage comes from the diary of a man who has been a leader of the revolution, but is now imprisoned by his former comrades; part of the pragmatism that he illustrates earlier in the chapter.

Politics can be relatively fair in the breathing spaces of history; at its critical turning points there is no other rule possible than the old one, that the end justifies the means.

These two passages make me wonder about what is going on today. There are some similarities with totalitarian regimes in the past. However, I wonder if today to some extent the means are what are really desired by our politicians, and they have to construct semi-imaginary terrors, or bolster real ones, in order to create a turning point in history – one which goes there way…

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