The old saying regarding how the pen is mightier than a sword can be viewed in different ways. Those who crave the spirit of fighting would say that a sword can do more damage in a man-to-man combat than using a simple pen would most likely be correct. However, using a pen from a safe distance can inflict damage that a sword could not accomplish. Making reference to the power of the written word, those who know how to craft effectively can not only cause harm to an individual but actually cause harm to many.
Also, using this craft can backfire and end up causing problems to the individual(s); sharing ideas or beliefs may not be accepted by society or the government. One such case refers to a collection of essays by six intellectuals and writers known as The God That Failed; this was published by Harpers on January 4th, 1950 and these individuals either sympathized or joined with the cause of communism until renouncing the ideology.
This book gave an insight that was interesting regarding why communism started to first appeal to others while eventually becoming a disappointment to those who many wanted to adhere to in Europe and in the United States; this was apparent during the 1920s and 1930s. The collection had also provided those of good intentions and conscience who desperately wanted communism to bring peace, order and justice to the world that there was concern it was on the brink of destruction.
Writers and journalists made up the six men who were involved in the book’s creation. Louis Fischer and the African-American novelist Richard Wright were two of the writers that were American while the other four were from Europe; the writers were Ignazio Silone from Italy, Andre Gide was from France while Stephen Spender and Arthur Koestler were from England. Those who were actually members of the Communist Party for different lengths of time were Silone, Spender, Koestler and Wright. Although they would never join the party officially, Fischer and Gide did have sympathy regarding the communist ideology. Eventually, each man would decide to turn their backs against communist ideology.
Richard Crossman was an essayist and British politician who was the book’s editor who wrote that the very fact that these compassionate and intelligent people were attracted to communism was “an indictment of the American way of life,” and proof of “a dreadful deficiency in European democracy.” Particularly throughout the 1920s and 1930s, when totalitarianism and fascism were heading toward a direction while democracies in the West appeared unwilling or unable to interfere; all of the writers steered toward communism as the desire for a greater, more peaceful and more of a democratic world.
The collection of essays was published in a year that coincided with the prior State Department official Alger Hiss was alleged to have committed perjury and convicted for participating in a spy ring for communism within the United States; the book was a contribution of interest to the continual national debate regarding communism.