by Ayn Rand, 1937
Wayne read this in high school. He’s also read, Atlas Shrugged. This was a very short book; 105 pages–I read it in 2 days. It’s about a man, Equality 7-2521, who is unhappy in his life as a street sweeper. In this world, there is no “I,” only “We.” He knows he is sinning but he can’t help it. He escapes into a dark tunnel and re-discovers electricity. He tries to show it to the Scholars but they are outraged and afraid and want him destroyed along with his invention. He grabs it and crashes through a window and runs to the Uncharted Forest, where he sees beauty for the first time; colors, trees, mountains, birds (he kills one and eats it), streams. And the Golden One, Liberty 5-3000, follows him there, and they learn about human love, and the word, “I.” And they are changed forever.
Ayn Rand was railing against Communism. She elevates the idea of selfishness to that of religion, Wayne says, in Atlas Shrugged; she preaches ad nauseum how wrong it is to help others. Her philosophy is called, Objectivism.
In Anthem, Equality 7-2521 changes his name to Prometheus, and Liberty 5-3000 is renamed Gaea. They are going to rescue a few others to come and live with them.
Here’s a sample of the language used early-on in this book:
“Our name is Equality 7-2521, as it is written on the iron bracelet which all men wear on their left wrists with their names upon it. We are twenty-one years old. We are six feet tall, and this is a burden, for there are not many men who are six feet tall. Ever have the Teachers and the Leaders pointed to us and frowned and said: “There is evil in your bones, Equality 7-2521, for your body has grown beyond the bodies of your brothers.” But we cannot change our bones nor our body.”
Here are the last paragraphs of the book:
“Here, on this mountain, I and my sons and my chosen friends shall build our new land and our fort. And it will become as the heart of the earth, lost and hidden at first, but beating, beating louder each day. And word of it will reach every corner of the earth. And the roads of the world will become as veins which will carry the best of the world’s blood to my threshold. And all my brothers, and the Councils of my brothers, will hear of it, but they will be impotent against me. And the day will come when I shall break all the chains of the earth, and raze the cities of the enslaved, and my home will become the capital of a world where each man will be free to exist for his own sake.
“For the coming of that day shall I fight, I and my sons and my chosen friends. For the freedom of Man. For his rights. For his life. For his honor.
“And here, over the portals of my fort, I shall cut in the stone the word which is to be my beacon and my banner. The word which will not die, should we all perish in battle. The word which can never die on this earth, for it is the heart of it and the meaning and the glory.
“The sacred word:
So, Ayn Rand got it wrong – going too far and worshiping the individual; there is no god but Self. And Communism gets it wrong – not allowing people the freedom to grow and be what they will. We humans always get things wrong, because we are not perfect and sin taints EVERYTHING we do, EVERYTHING we touch.
Thank God we have Him who loves us and saves us from ourselves. It will be paradise with Him forever – kind of like what Ayn Rand was hoping for her Prometheus.