Arthur Koestler's Darkness At Noon

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Arthur Koestler: ‘Darkness at Noon’ Revolutionary and political ethics ‘Darkness at Noon’ is the second novel of a trilogy, which revolves around the central theme of revolutionary ethics, and of political ethics in general: the problem whether, or to what extent, a noble ends justifies ignoble means, and the related conflict between morality and expediency. The theme of the novel relates to the ever-present predicament faced by the leaders of any political party or revolutionary movement, from the slave revolt in the first century to the Old Bolsheviks of the nineteen thirties. Revolutionary ethics or the issues faced in revolutionary movements are timeless, and as an incentive to writing his novel, Arthur Koestler was troubled by this theory, and also by the regime of terror that was governed by Stalin this century. This issue of whether a noble end justifies ignoble means is the revolutionary predicament that Koestler refers to, and was the question that he aspired to resolve. From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land. About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?’ – which means, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?’ (Matthew 27:45-46) Darkness at Noon is a fictional account of the truth behind the Stalinist State at the close of the infamous Moscow Show Trials in 1938, where forty-eight of the fifty-four on the executive of the Communist Party were dead. All members of the party knew that Lenin and Trotsky had been the real leaders of the Revolution and consequently they did not accept Stalin as the successor to Lenin. So accordingly, as Stalin was aware of the aspirations against him, as he consolidated power it became more dangerous to have known Lenin. The result of this was that over 70% of the Seventeenth Party Congress, which was held in 1934, had been arrested and executed; in Stalin’s opinion, these people had outlived their usefulness. Through the thoughts and actions of the main character, Nicolas Salmanovitch Rubashov, an Old Bolshevik, the Soviet politics between 1917 and the Stalin era were outlined. The party’s transformation disturbed Rubashov, as a member of the party, but he did not wish to be expelled, so he continued to work with the Party against his conscious. Rubashov did everything that was asked of him, and therefore in essence he was a loyal Party member.
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