One of the great classics of the mid-twentieth century is Arthur Koestler's Darkness at Noon [London: Jonathan Cape, 1940]. It is rarely read now--probably because the West thinks it has moved beyond the tyrannies of Naziism and Communism. But the work remains as fresh and as powerful and as relevant as when first written. If we need an explanation of why the grotesque monstrosity of the North Korean regime is able to command such mass loyalty, for example, Koestler provides it for us.
Human beings are malleable creatures. When men reject God, as Chesterton pointed out, they do not believe in nothing. On the contrary, they come to believe in everything and anything. Which is to say that anything can be framed as good and right--even the most extreme and monstrous of human tyrannies.
Koestler's anti-hero is N. S. Rubashov, imprisoned, awaiting torture and execution.
He had been a leader, a colleague of "No 1" (Stalin) for many years. Now, fallen out of favour, he awaits his fate. But part of him cannot help agreeing that the regime is right and that he is truly guilty. In his cell
He smoked and thought of the dead, and of the humiliation which had preceded their death. Nevertheless, he could not bring himself to hate No.1 as he ought to. He had often looked at the colour-print of No. 1 hanging over his bed and had tried to hate it. They had, between themselves, given him many names, but in the end it was No. 1 that stuck. The horror which No.1 emanated, above all consisted in the possibility that he was in the right, and that all those whom he killed had to admit, even with the bullet in the back of their necks, that he conceivably might be in the right. There was no certainty; only the appeal to that mocking oracle they called History, who have her sentence only when the jaws of the appealer had long since fallen to dust. (op cit., p. 15f.)Those who reject the all governing, all providential God have nothing but the fate of perpetual imprisonment to existence and circumstances. There can never be any certainty about anything--definitely not about the rights and wrongs of things. Even what may be considered the most grotesque of human actions may be proven to be right by History in future retrospect. This is the ultimate expression of the fatalism of the enslaved.
At the end of the day, such a people find totalitarian dictatorships condign. They conform because who is to say, at the end of the day, that No.1 and his team are not right. Slavery is of the soul before it encapsulates the body. The West is well down the track. It will come easily and with frightful rapidity.