We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Hitchins has done us a favor by highlighting Arthur Koestler in Slate magazine. Koestler was a Hungarian Jew who spent much of his life searching for something to believe in: Marxism, Zionism, hedonism, and who ultimately committed suicide. His disillusionment with Marxism resulted in the anti-Stalinist Darkness at Noon which is, or was, on every high school reading list.
A couple of quotes from Hitchin's piece:
From the first page of Darkness at Noon you become aware that the daily realization of impending execution is a powerful stimulus, both to reflection and to fatalism. Koestler's chief character, Nicholas Rubashov, is modeled on those former Bolshevik intellectuals who made full "confessions" of fantastic and abominable crimes at the Moscow show trials of the late 1930s. And, because Koestler had by no means forgotten what he had learned about the dialectic, he decided to place Rubashov in a dilemma from which he himself had escaped. What if the opponent of Stalin is still half-convinced that Stalin is morally wrong but may be "historically" right? He may decide to put his name on the confession and hope that history will one day vindicate him. His last duty to the Party may, in other words, be suicide.
Orwell's more widely read Nineteen Eighty Four, which has many points of similarity with Darkness at Noon, makes the same terrifying point that the fanatics don't just want you to obey them: They want you to agree with them.
Throughout the novel, Koestler is at pains to stress the similarity of totalitarianism to religion and to make the related comparison between dissent and heresy. It was actually his co-editor, Richard Crossman, who came up with the title The God That Failed for the anthology that included the ex-communists Ignazio Silone, Richard Wright, and many others. Memorable though the title proved to be, a better one might have been Another God That Failed. For the rest of his life, Koestler swung between various forms of rationalism and pseudo-science. He was one of those people who is so intelligent and polymathic—and, one suspects, so easily bored—that no topic could detain him for long.