Koestler, Arthur - Darkness At Noon - Utopian Dreams and Nightmares


Facharbeit (Schule), 2000

17 Seiten, Note: 15 Punkte


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Table of Contents

I. Introduction

II. Utopian Dreams and Nightmares in Darkness at Noon
1. The Character Rubashov - A Way from Utopia to Disillusionment
a. Rubashov - A Typical Communist
b. First Contacts With Selfhood
c. Rubashov's Personal Guilt
d. Rubashov's Inner Conflict
e. Rubashov's Confessions
f. Personal Identity and Rubashov's Misconceptions
2. Conclusions to Darkness at Noon

III. The Utopia in History and its Outlook
1. A History of Failed Utopias
2. The End of the Utopian Age
3. Outlook

IV. Bibliography

I. Introduction

For two thousand years Utopia has fascinated man. It is the idea of an ideal commonwealth whose inhabitants exist under perfect conditions. In history many attempts were made to actually realize a Utopia. But why did they all fail?

One of the most important attempts is communism. The idea was that the real evil mankind was faced with was social and economic suffering, hence the communists tried to abolish that. But it turned out that the communist experiment not only failed but rather caused even more suffering. Millions were murdered in the name of communism. The dream turned into a nightmare.

Himself a member of the Communist Party between 1931 and 1938, Arthur Koestler was disillusioned and explains in his book Darkness at Noon how the communist dream could turn into such a nightmare as the Soviet Union did under Stalin. Koestler believes that the real reason for the failing of the Utopia communism already lays in the communists' basic thoughts that ultimately led to the many crimes against humanity committed in the name of communism. Thus, communism was doomed to fail from the very beginning.

Written in 1940, Darkness at Noon is a fictionalized account of Stalin's 1936-38 Moscow Trials, where many of the `Old Guard' of Bolsheviks, the architects of the Russian Revolution, confessed to being guilty of treason and were executed. Stalin considered this to be necessary to establish his absolutist rule in the Soviet Union. The victims of totalitarianism in Russia today are thought to amount to 20 million, not counting the victims of war. The protagonist in Darkness at Noon is Rubashov, an old Bolshevik, once an important figure of the Russian Revolution. After a life of serving the Communist Party and struggling for the Cause, he begins to doubt about the totalitarian way the Party is taking. Being imprisoned by his own country, being interrogated several times and awaiting his death by execution he begins to reconsider his rationalistic approach to the world. Rubashov slowly discovers the mistakes he made in thought and action, his personal guilt and his own identity. It takes him to his very last hours before death to fully make the transition from a totally rationalistic self- denying man whose thinking concentrates on realizing his communist dream to a disillusioned but self-conscious individual that now understands why the dream has failed and turned into a nightmare.

Darkness at Noon is one of the most influential anticommunist works and until today one of the most-read political novels of recent history.

This research paper will at first investigate into why the Utopia communism, according to Koestler's Darkness at Noon, has failed and has had to fail by examining the character Rubashov, his transition and his insights. At the end the question of Utopia in general will be asked in a historical context.

II. Utopian Dreams and Nightmares in Darkness at Noon

The communists, as Koestler describes them, had a rather abstract imagination of their Utopia: it is a democratic and class-free industrial society with all economic and social suffering abolished. It is the aspiration for this Utopia that shaped their actions. The communists did not see anything but their goal and ran amuck to reach it. The maxim that the end justifies all means was always valid. The resulting acts of violence that were supposed to achieve their goal more and more detached human reality from the idea. The hypothetical utopian dream turned into a nightmarish reality.

Koestler describes how the thinking and actions of the communists had to lead to the failure of the Russian Revolution which ended in totalitarian suppression. How could such good intentions turn out so badly? He explains this by the life and thinking of his protagonist Rubashov who stands for the communists, the `militant philosophers', and their way of rationalistic thinking.

1) The Character Rubashov

A Way From Utopia to Disillusionment

a. Rubashov - A Typical Communist

Like the typical communist, Rubashov considers rationalism as uncontestable. The right way always can be found in reason. Everything can be approached by pure logic. The precept, that the end justifies all means, which follows out of this rationalism, puts `mankind' before `man'. The individual is only valued by its usefulness to the community (Patrick 1). To realize the communist Utopia the individual is degraded to being a tool for this aim.

Rubashov sees the individual as "the multitude of one million divided by one million"(257). It doesn't have particular value by itself. It is only seen as a minute part of the masses.

According to Rubashov, the individual is the "great silent x of history"(83). The mathematical expression to describe the human says a lot about the way the individual is approached to. To Rubashov, as a communist, the individual is an abstract. Its identity, its uniqueness, its emotions and psychology are totally neglected.

Rubashov himself is an example for such a stunted individual whose only function is to make the communist dream come true. He defines himself by being a member of the Party and acts only on behalf of it. He avoids using the word `I', rather says `we', that is, the Party. Being a conformist Rubashov often sees situations "through other's eyes"(23), instead of his own. He suppresses the feeling of guilt. Human emotions are approached in a rational, calculating manner. The way he describes physical torture reveals how immune he is to human feelings: "...after a time one could even draw conclusions on the method of torture from the tone and rhythm of the screams"(17). He is detached from human nature and accordingly holds to this principle: "One may not regard the world as a sort of metaphysical brothel for emotions. That is the first commandment for us [the communists]"(152).

b. First Contacts with Selfhood

Rubashov is imprisoned knowing that he will die. He himself says that "confrontation with death always altered the mechanism of thought and caused the most surprising reactions" (50). Now himself sitting in the death cell exactly that happens to him. Slowly, he begins to discover his own self he has neglected for most of his life (109). Rubashov being a logical person feels uneasy about that. For him a personal identity shouldn't exist, he is part of the Party. A monologue, he says, actually is not talking to oneself but it is a dialogue with some mysterious "silent partner"(108). This silent partner now suddenly starts talking to Rubashov, "without being addressed and without any visible pretext"(108). Consistent with his point of view based on reason and rationalism he calls this inner voice not his `self' or `conscience', but "the grammatical fiction"(111), because the grammatical `I', just as the human `I', actually shouldn't exist (Huber 23).

But it does. The `grammatical fiction', his self, tells him: "I shall pay"(110). Rubashov still can't make sense out of this but he gradually becomes "convinced that there was a thoroughly tangible component in this first person singular"(109). He comes to accept its existence and begins to rediscover his own identity which he has suppressed "through all these years"(109) of being a communist and fighting for a greater purpose.

c. Rubashov's Personal Guilt

Rubashov is entangled with his utopian dream within his very existence. As typical for communists he subordinates everything to the Party's goal and therefore his own personal goal, to end all economic and social suffering of mankind. For Rubashov follows that even human lives are to be sacrificed if necessary. He himself is responsible for the death of three people:

Rubashov is sent to Nazi-Germany to carry out a mission for the Party. The young German communist Richard doesn't strictly follow the Party line and Rubashov is supposed to deal with him. After the 1933 take-over of the National Socialists, the German Communist Party is crushed by the regime. "They beat the Party to shambles"(41). Richard realizes this and distributes pamphlets with the advice to cooperate with the "Moderates"(44), meaning the Social Democrats (Crossman 39). This is against official Party line and Rubashov is sent to expel Richard and then give him away to the Nazi regime using it as executioners. Rubashov carries out these orders like a machine and without reluctance.

Acting on behalf of the Party Rubashov also causes the death of Little Loewy, the able leader of a Belgian communist dock worker's union. The "Country of the Revolution"(69), meaning Russia, has established trade with the ideological enemy Nazi-Germany because of economic trouble. Rubashov compels the dock workers to not prevent a shipment from Russia to the fascist country. Little Loewy refuses to obey and is "denounced in the official Party organ as an agent provocateur" (74). Not being able to live without his belief in the Revolution and its heroes (Levene 58), Loewy hangs himself disillusioned.

And finally there is Rubashov's former secretary and lover Arlova who had carried out his orders that were against official Party line. She had been accused of "oppositional conspiracy"(87) and executed because of that. He could have saved her by admitting that he was the one responsible but Party friends convinced him to preserve his own life because it was more valuable to the Party than Arlova's life.

At these incidents Rubashov acted on command of the Party. According to its logic these three people had to die out of logical necessity for the communist task, which to fulfill justifies everything. He pretends to himself that since the Party is infallible, the "embodiment of the revolutionary idea in history"(43), he is freed of all human responsibility.

Still, he is not totally successful in denying his guilt. Every time he is forced to think of Richard, Little Loewy or Arlova, his tooth begins to hurt, seemingly for no reason. But it appears that his suppressed feeling of guilt makes itself felt by activating his toothache. While talking to Richard in a museum, Rubashov is fascinated by a picture of the piet á, a scene where the mother of God, Mary, holds her dead son Jesus in her arms. Jesus has just died to take all the guilt of mankind upon himself. The piet á may symbolize the readiness to sacrifice oneself and take over guilt for others. By this allusion to the bible Koestler may line out a parallel: By being responsible for Richard's, Little Loewy's and Arlova's lives, Rubashov takes personal guilt upon himself for the alleged benefit of the Party.

The guilt he comes to feel in the death cell illustrates his change. Guilt and being able to feel guilty is an essential human character trait which Rubashov like most other communist believers simply wouldn't have accepted as valid for them or for other human beings. They call these kinds of feelings "petty bourgeois"(127) and Rubashov is very reluctant in admitting his guilt to himself.

d. Rubashov's Inner Conflict

But now in his cell Rubashov cannot avoid the feeling of guilt and his `grammatical fiction' imposes itself on him. Doubts are rising in himself. He is not sure anymore whether he was right in his perception of the human individual in general and his perception of himself. Rubashov is deeply troubled by this. He tries to "clear up this matter, to `think it to a conclusion'"(111). But his rational way of dealing with problems does not seem to apply here anymore. His self, his identity, his psychology seem to be beyond the sphere of reasoning. "[...] the realm of the `grammatical fiction' seemed to begin just where the `thinking to a conclusion' ended"(111).

Can Rubashov make the change and take the leap towards human conscience? Symbolizing this conflict inside Rubashov, he has to make a decision: Does he want a public trial knowing that he will die in any case or does he want to `die in silence'? Choosing to die silently would mean that he has emancipated himself from the Party placing his individuality before it. A public trial would mean that he would be disgraced and shamed as an oppositional. Since this would benefit the Party and therefore the `Cause' choosing a public trial would be a last service, a last sacrifice to the Party.

Being deeply disillusioned about the developments the Party made under Stalin in the Thirties, he at first wanted to `die in silence'. "He considered it as settled that he wouldn't accept Ivanov's proposals" to make some confessions and stand a public trial (109). But in a conversation with Rubashov his old friend Ivanov appeals to his old principles and beliefs. Rubashov feels that it is wrong, it seems to him like a "betrayal"(148) of Arlova, Richard and Little Loewy and therefore a betrayal of his own identity. He also sees the horror that has resulted out of all the good intentions they once have had. He does contest Ivanov, who defends what's happening in Russia: "What a mess", Rubashov says, "what a mess we have made out of our golden age"(158), alluding to the ancient Greek utopian tradition. But in the end of the conversation Rubashov capitulates and later he accepts Ivanov's proposals, although he already had decided against it. Why does he do so? Allegedly structuring his own thoughts by logic but actually only following the Party line frees him from human responsibility. The many allusions to the Bible, (the piet à, 31, "God-the-Father", 60, "Promised Land", 266) indicate that "revolutionary commitment is religious in origin" (Levene 77). As a `believer' Rubashov doesn't have to make choices anymore. The line is laid out for him. It is the easier way. That is why he surrenders and feels "strangely relieved"(162) about it. He comes to the `logical conclusion' that "[...] questions of personal pride, [...] personal feelings of tiredness, disgust and shame - are to be cut of root and branch..."(171), which in fact is Party dogmatism. Rubashov chooses to stand public trial instead of `dying in silence'. He chooses to deny himself another time instead of facing his wrongdoing of denying human identity, including his own.

Having returned to pure reasoning and Party dialectics, Rubashov is still disillusioned with the "Country of the Revolution"(69), namely the Soviet Union. The Revolution has failed to fulfill his dreams and he is deeply irritated by that. He makes a last try to solve this problem by approaching it scientifically by reason. He invents his own historical theory explaining why the communists had to fail. History brings about technological improvements every now and then with the result that the masses suffer more because they do not understand how the changed society works. By understanding this the masses would be able to improve their conditions again. He calls his theory "the theory of relative maturity of the masses"(178). Everything bad about the existing regime is a logical necessity of this `law'. Rubashov now believes he has solved the problem of his disillusionment by reasoning.

But again it seems that this theory has to capitulate before the human being. As soon as Rubashov has to think of Arlova and feels her love again, he wonders: "If history was a matter of calculation, how much did the sum of two thousand nightmares weigh, the pressure of a two-thousandfold helpless craving?"(181)

Although being logical again, Rubashov apparently cannot totally free himself from his newly discovered "silent partner"(108), his illogical self.

e. Rubashov's Confessions

Rubashov has decided to follow Ivanov's advice to make some minor confessions, renounce his oppositional attitudes and perhaps be pardoned and live on in order to serve the Party again. But now Rubashov's interrogator changes. Ivanov who wanted to save Rubashov's life before, is relieved of his post and shot. A younger interrogator, Gletkin, is now charged with dealing with Rubashov.

Gletkin is of the `new generation', the generation following the revolutionaries. They are far more brutal and inhumane and do not "suffer from personal feelings"(163) anymore. For them, the horrors conducted in the name of communism do not need to be justified by acrobatic logicality anymore, because it is all they know. It is a given. They are a "generation born without umbilical cords"(185).

Gletkin now tries to crush Rubashov: "You are mistaken if you believe you will get off as cheaply this time"(185), he says. Although physical torture is commonplace, the interrogation methods don't go beyond glaring lights and sleep deprivation. Still Rubashov confesses to one crime he didn't commit after another. Why does he do so? The answer is complex. The interrogation methods and Gletkin's ruthless high-handed party dialectic do affect him. But considering that Rubashov endured far cruder methods of torture during his interrogations in Nazi Germany, this is unlikely to be the whole answer.

Rubashov is guilty in a different way than he is accused of. Although he hesitates to fully admit it he, in fact, feels guilty. Deep down he wants himself to pay for it (Ridge 3). His inner self tells him so (110) and the toothache that plagues him during the interrogation is indicating that. He confesses to crimes he has not committed in order to pay for the crimes against humanity he actually has committed. These are the crimes of being responsible for the death of three people. But there is more. He also pays for having believed in a Utopia and as a result of that having been part of a great running amuck to reach this Utopia disregarding any moral values of humanity.

Gletkin who probably knows that Rubashov has not committed these crimes is satisfied by the kind of twisted logic communists often have used. For example: Rubashov holds certain principles that are against "No. 1's", namely Stalin's, policies. According to Party dialectic, he therefore had instigated someone to kill Stalin. Rubashov is against the way the Party is going. According to Party dialectic, he therefore had wanted to start a civil war. Deep down Rubashov knows that this is nonsense. But still, he does not tell anyone that in truth he confesses in order to pay for other crimes he actually had committed. This remains his personal problem. He wants to come to terms with it alone. However, being consequently on this, he should have chosen to `die in silence'

f. Personal Identity and Rubashov's Misconceptions

Having given in, Rubashov stands public trial. At this point Koestler changes the point of view. The whole description of the trial is explained by someone citing a newspaper article. Just like the point of view is not his anymore, Rubashov is not himself (Levene 61). Confessing to everything according to the line laid out for him, he one last time denies his self. That is why he again suffers from "intolerable toothache"(245). One last time before he dies he is nothing but a Party instrument and he sacrifices himself for the benefit of the Party. He is tempted to "rear up"(252) and accuse his accusers as Danton, a leader of the French Revolution, had done. Danton had been in a similar situation as Rubashov. He, too, had been accused and executed by the very regime he had helped to install. But Rubashov suppresses his temptation and follows the Party line until the end of the trial. "There is nothing for which one could die, if one died without having repented and unreconciled with the Party and the Movement"(251) are some of his last words.

Now that it is absolutely certain that Rubashov will die, he knows that he can pay for his guilt. That is why he feels so quiet now. "Nothing could disturb his peace any more"(252). But there is another reason for this inner calming: The utopian dream he has believed in and which dominated his whole life, which has made him so restless through all these years and which in the end has turned into a nightmare - this dream, Rubashov knows now, is over. "[...] the bell of silence had sunk down over him. He had recognized that it was too late"(253). Now Rubashov is free. He can open himself to `the grammatical fiction', that is to his personal identity, to himself: "[...] the hours which remained to him belonged to that silent partner, whose realm started just where the logical thought ended"(254). Rubashov experiences what he calls the `oceanic state', something Freud described as a feeling of infinity. The individual, Rubashov now feels and knows, is infinite. It cannot be calculated with. It is not "the multitude of one million divided by one million"(257). Now having discovered himself having an own identity and finally having accepted it, he also comes to terms with his past and his misconceptions.

Rubashov faces the question of ends and means, which he held uncontestable before. He and his fellow strugglers tried to end the social suffering of mankind. But it has turned out that this only is realizable, if at all, with totalitarianism and terror, hence temporarily even more suffering. "Was such an operation justified?", Rubashov asks himself (255). Logically reflecting about the abstract `mankind' it may be. But now that Rubashov had experienced the realm of the `grammatical fiction', that is, personal feelings as guilt, temptation, pride, vanity, in short, his individual identity, he realizes that the principle of the end justifying the means "led to absurdity" if applied to "man", instead of "mankind"(255 ).

Rubashov now sees that it was the precept, that the end justifies the means, which has "killed the great fraternity of the Revolution and made them all run amuck."(260) In dealing with human beings pure reason isn't enough. It doesn't suit man to throw all ethics and morality overboard and "tear along straight towards the goal"(259). Rubashov now sees that it is "obviously not enough to direct man's eyes towards a goal and put a knife in his hand; it [is] unsuitable for him to experiment with a knife"(259).

2) Conclusions to Darkness at Noon

Arthur Koestler wrote the book Darkness at Noon to answer the question why communism failed and, for Koestler, why it had to fail.

The communist theory was solely based on rationalism. But this rationalism was against human nature. The communists tried to create a perfect commonwealth for the human being but actually fought against his nature, like Rubashov fights against his own nature. Rubashov sees that he cannot win this fight, just like he cannot win the fight for communism. Communism was not realizable because it neglected human nature.

Why then, to put it in Rubashov's words, did the "golden age" turn into such a "mess"(158)? Out of the communists' rationalism also followed the doctrine that the end justifies all means, which Koestler contests. In order to abolish power of men over men, the communists acquired power. In order to free mankind, they installed totalitarianism. In order to secure man's existence, they let him starve. In order to create a life without suffering they killed millions. In Darkness at Noon Koestler cites Ferdinand Lassalle:

"Show us not the aim without the way.

For ends and means on earth are so entangled That changing one, you change the other, too;

Each different path brings other ends in view"(241).

The horrible means used to realize Utopia more and more detached the end from the initial idea and eventually changed it. Instead of making a dream come true, communism created a nightmare.

What Koestler wants to prove with Darkness at Noon is this: The precept that the end justifies all means and a kind of rationalism that was totally detached from human nature laid the foundation of the communist idea. Hence, communism was doomed to fail and to end in barbarity from the very beginning (Levene 75).

III. The Utopia in History and its Outlook

" Man is neither angel nor brute, and the unfortunate thing is that he who would act the angel acts the brute."

- Blaise Pascal

1) A History of Failed Utopias

The communist dream ended in a nightmare. Paradoxically, communism aimed to free the world from all suffering but led to barbarity not only in Russia, but also in China and other places in the world. Today, it is estimated that the victims of the communist regimes in the world amount to about 100 million (Courtois 16).

Aside from a totally dysfunctional economic system which proved to be disastrous and ultimately caused the fall of communism in Eastern Europe, the inner reason for the failing were that the rights of the individual and the moral values of humanity were neglected. Communism misunderstood the human being.

The communists, being so scientific, even took into account that the human being was not ready for Utopia yet and proclaimed that a `new human being'(Jenkins 511) would be the result of the class-free society. That human being had not developped and the promised `Utopia' had to be based on secret police and bayonets. But what if that `new human' would be reality, meaning communism would succeed? The communist human being would be beyond love and hate, beyond good and bad, beyond `I' and `You', in fact, he would be stunted, a mental cripple. He would be an abstract without uniqueness and personality, hardly desirable. Consequently, given that communism could actually be realized, it is even justifiable to say that it would be wrong to do so (Jenkins 511).

Is this just one Utopia led astray, a regrettable accident of history? Or does history show a pattern of failed Utopias? And if so, what does that mean for utopian thought in general? To answer these questions one may have a look at some of the more important of the many historical attempts to realize Utopias.

In July 1789, the people of Paris initiated the French Revolution with the storming of the state prison Bastille, a symbol of the monarch's absolutist rule. Some months later a constitutional reform was conducted. The Declaration of Human and Civil Rights rid the king from power. The Declaration's principles were the freedom of the individual (Libert é), the equality of the citizens (É galit é) and the brotherliness of all people (Fraternit é). The coming of a new society realizing these principles was expected with great enthusiasm.

Just two years later a very different picture could be observed. Almost hysterically fearing counter-revolutionary action, the new rulers created an atmosphere of violence. In September 1792 purges and politically motivated executions became common and would end up in excess. Three more years later the new republic was threatened by internal and external counter-revolutionary armies and movements and for about one year plain terror became public policy (the so-called terreur). A totalitarian system was installed, in many respects similar to the absolutist one the revolutionaries initially wanted to abolish. Under the leadership of Robespierre thousands became victim of the guillotine for often ridiculous reasons. The revolutionaries thought that the terror was justified. They claimed that the promised republic could only be reached by destroying all counter-revolutionaries. In 1794, an estimated 40,000 had been killed and 300,000 to 500,000 were politically imprisoned (Hein-Moren, 47).

The principles of Libert é , É galit é and Fraternit é thoroughly failed to be realized. After just a few years of struggling for Utopia France turned into a nightmare.

The French Revolution is not the only utopian experiment besides communism that failed. The Wiedert ä ufer in Münster, Germany, could be named, too. There, economic, social and especially religious tensions led to a small revolution in 1534. The Wiedert ä ufer, a radically religious sect, violently took over power in Münster and, backed by Christian fanaticism among the people, installed a religious system with even some early socialist aspects (Jenkins 277). They thought the Judgement Day to be just ahead and God would punish all that were not following them. Trying to cleanse their `New Jerusalem' purges were conducted. Thousands were expelled while thousands of others streamed into the fanaticized city. The hypnotized masses were called on to kill `non-believers' to cleanse themselves. One wrong word could be life-threatening. Terror took over.

After a year the city was besieged. Not regarding any losses of life resulting from hunger and war, the Wiedert ä ufer wanted to fight to the last man for their Utopia. Almost all men fit for military service, about 1,600, were killed (Jenkins 275).

Also Nazi Germany provided a utopian ideology, the Utopia of the `pure Nordic master race'(Jenkins 511). The Nazis believed that human goodness was linked to race. In 1935, Reichsführer SS Heinrich Himmler started a project called `Lebensborn'. Based on the pseudoscientific race teachings of the National Socialists they tried to breed a new superior, purely Arian human being. 11,000 children were born during this project (Jenkins 509).

Far more important, the Nazis also aimed to eliminate `inferior' races. It is almost superficial to explain what resulted out of that: millions of Jews, Slavs and gypsies were purged and killed in an almost scientific manner of mass-murder. Needless to say, this Utopia resulted in inexplicable barbarity as other utopian experiments, but of unprecedented kind in this case.

2) The End of the Utopian Age

The question of Utopia is two thousand years old (although the word `Utopia' itself is younger). But it was in the last five hundred years that serious attempts were made to actually realize a utopian dream. It has to be said that all experiments failed. Utopias rather seem not only to be not realizable but even to have a tendency to end in barbarity. The reason seems to be the human and his anthropological structures. It just may not be his nature to be able to live in a Utopia. To try to force it upon him apparently must lead to violence and terror.

The great misunderstanding of utopian thought was already understood by the one who is often seen as the father of the modern Utopia, Thomas More. He wanted his own work `Utopia' to be burnt before anyone could be damaged by it because it was not meant to be realized and, in fact, not realizable in any case. The reason he named was that the humans are just the way they are (Fest 94). Today, we may call that `our anthropological structure'. We are neither total angel nor total brute, and we cannot be changed into being either one. More feared what would become true during the Enlightenment. Whereas More meant his Utopia to be a critique of the system and measure and teaching on morality, maybe comparable to the biblical Ten Commandments, Utopias were taken literally, as political maxims.

That seems to be the point: Meant as critique of and sometimes parody on political and social systems, the way Utopias were meant initially, they are useful. History shows us, however, that, taken as a model for practiced politics with the intention to literally realize it, Rubashov calls it "applied philosophy"(176), Utopias apparently have to lead to nightmares. From today's viewpoint and understanding of history it does not seem likely that any attempt to realize a Utopia will ever succeed in the future. In this sense, Utopias seem to be dead. To put it in the words of the German intellectual Joachim Fest, it in fact does seem likely that our period is the time of the `End of the Utopian Age'(Fest 3).

3) Outlook

The time of great utopian experiments seems to be over. What does that mean for Utopia in general? As a political promise of salvation it is dead (Fest 103) and, as the past has shown us, it should be. But should utopian thought vanish from this world entirely? It probably should not and will not. Man will keep on to `think utopian', whether concerning social inequality, a weapon-free world, the development of the Third World, the destruction of the environment or else. Maybe Utopia should continue to exist intellectually, not as something actually achievable, but as a direction for our thoughts, not as a maxim for political action, but rather as a moral compass.

Not dreaming of any Utopia at all may mean that we just `let it all happen'. The world cannot be totally rebuilt from scratch. But that does not mean that it cannot be changed and improved at all. The quick revolutionary way failed. It probably is the slower but still sustaining, evolutionary way that may better solve problems we are faced with.

In this sense, one might conclude that man even needs the moral compass Utopia to achieve anything at all.

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Ridge, Arlene E. "The Paradox of the Bolshevik Experience". 8 February 2000

<http://www.odu.edu/~hanley/history1/Ridge.htm>.

Walsh, Chad. From Utopia to Nightmare. London: Geoffry Bless Ltd., 1962.

17 von 17 Seiten

Details

Titel
Koestler, Arthur - Darkness At Noon - Utopian Dreams and Nightmares
Note
15 Punkte
Autor
Jahr
2000
Seiten
17
Katalognummer
V96924
Dateigröße
441 KB
Sprache
Deutsch
Anmerkungen
Diese Facharbeit beschäftigt sich mit dem Buch "Darkness at Noon" von Arthur Koestler. Es geht hier insbesondere um die Tendenz der kommunistischen Utopie zur Barbarei, aber auch von Sozialutopien im weiteren Sinne.
Schlagworte
Koestler, Arthur, Darkness, Noon, Utopian, Dreams, Nightmares
Arbeit zitieren
Jens Ingwersen (Autor), 2000, Koestler, Arthur - Darkness At Noon - Utopian Dreams and Nightmares, München, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/96924

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