Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Other Gods That Failed

‘The God That Failed’ has been the title for:
• A 1949 book of six essays by famous ex-Communists, written by Louis Fischer, André Gide, Arthur Koestler, Ignazio Silone, Stephen Spender, and Richard Wright.
• A 2001 book (Democracy: The God That Failed) with thirteen essays criticizing Democracy. Its title is an allusion to the earlier book. (They sure took their sweet time in replying, didn’t they?)
The tenth track of Metallica’s 1991 self-titled album. Lyricist James Hetfield described the song as "very nice... Slow, heavy and ugly”.

In regard to the two books: Democracy and Communism weren’t ‘gods’, but ideologies. One does not get the sense of ‘gods failing’ from these books, but rather of flawed government models that were predestined for dysfunction. Metallica, on the other hand, used the title appropriately.

On a related note: There has never been a book called ‘The Patriots of Mars’, but Mars has been a very popular literary destination through the years, inspiring works that include The Master Mind of Mars, The Princess of Mars, The Gods of Mars, The Chessmen of Mars & The Warlord of Mars (all by Edgar Rice Burroughs), The Emperor of Mars, The Waters of Mars, The Pyramids of Mars, The Wizard of Mars, The Sands of Mars, The Plains of Mars, The Tears of Mars, The Shadow of Mars, The Promise of Mars, The Winds of Mars, The Empress of Mars, The Secret Chronicles of Mars, The Swordsman of Mars, The Cloudships of Mars, The Ice Caves of Mars, The Memory of Mars, The Fist of Mars, The Warlord of Mars, The Monuments of Mars, The Outlaws of Mars and The Ghosts of Mars. Caveat emptor, though: Not all ‘Mars’ books are created equal.
from The Patriots of Mars [Postscripts & Essays]


  1. "Metallica, on the other hand, used the title appropriately."

    By "appropriately" do you mean literally? Metallica could be using metaphor as much as the authors of the books you listed. In the books, democracy and communism are gods or idols in the metaphorical sense that they are concepts that people worship and have an essentially religious reverence for.

    Have you read Democracy: The God That Failed? It has only one author: Hans-Hermann Hoppe.

  2. The problem with that analogy is that, in everyday life, people never did look at Democracy or Communism as 'Gods'. The analogy is completely wrong. If anyone did see Democracy or Communism as worship-worthy, the correct phrase would have been "The RELIGION That Failed", since these two were political systems. As an example, Catholicism does is not 'God' nor does it claim to be. It claims to be the path TO God. It is a system, religion, an attempt at an understanding or implementation of theology.

    But even if the title at issue was 'The Religion That Failed', these political systems don't pass muster as theological systems. People act in a similar way when their beliefs are threatened, whether it's a religious belief or a political belief or a belief in who the greatest NY-based center fielder was. Some people even claim that baseball or business or politics is their religion. But I can't take seriously any notion that either the Yankees or the GOP or IBM has any legitimate claim as a bona-fide world religion. Give me a break. It's just a lazy, clumsy use of terms - suitable for lazy, clumsy minds.

    Metallica, on that basis, applied the phrase quite properly. Kudos to them.