The God That Failed is a great book that I read several years ago. The Amazon description heralds it as the book that “…brings together essays by six of the most important writers of the twentieth century on their conversion to and subsequent disillusionment with communism. In describing their own experiences, the authors illustrate the fate of leftism around the world. André Gide (France), Richard Wright (the United States), Ignazio Silone (Italy), Stephen Spender (England), Arthur Koestler (Germany), and Louis Fischer, an American foreign correspondent, all tell how their search for the betterment of humanity led them to communism, and the personal agony and revulsion which then caused them to reject it.”
The crucial event for those communists of the 1930s was the Hitler-Stalin Non-Agression Pact of 1939 in which Hitler and Stalin set out their qgreement on how they would carve up Poland into separate regions for each to conquer and rule over. After 12 years or so of Stalin enticing Western intellectuals that the real evil in the world was Nazism and that Stalinism, i.e., Soviet Communism was the ideology of the good people, they were shocked to their core when Stalin was finally revealed as a brutal dictator no different than Adolph Hitler. This burst the bubble of Communism, it was now plain to see it as little different from Nazism.
Actually, we now know that Stalin had been laying the groundwork for this deal with Hitler for over half a decade at least. Stephen Koch has written two books that brilliantly explore this fascinating bit of history, Double Lives (1994) and The Breaking Point (2005).
This event in 1939 was the one that showed the world who were the well intentioned people who suddenly discovered they had been deceived by Stalin and thereafter suffered disallusionment with Communism, the god that failed, and the true leftists who hardly noticed what Stalin had done because they were never deceived by Stalin anyway. They were true believers and fellow travelers who hated Western Civilization and would have aligned with either dictator anyway.
Now a great essay has been written, Blue State Blues: Barack Obama, the God That Failed, that apparently, because of the title the author chose, sees parallels between the experience of 1930s communists who adopted communism as a secular religion and the Obamaistas who adopted the Democrat party with nearly the same hope and fervor. Obama is their god that failed.
For them, Obama’s win in 2008 was no ordinary election victory, but a kind of millenarian, messianic moment, beyond which future elections would never again be in doubt, or even necessary.
They believed Obama had a mandate to “fundamentally transform” America, and they believed once that transformation had happened, it would be institutionally irreversible, as well as wildly popular, and guaranteed by demographic changes that immigration reformers were doing their best to hurry along.
They believed that Obama was leading them to a utopia where they and their kind would rule for decades if not forever. Now they see they followed him down a narrow path to a dystopian future where they will be forced to face what happens when you follow an ideology that replaces true religion with politics.