Ayn Rand migrated from the Communist U.S.S.R. with a righteous anger. Not only was she as an individual demeaned by lack of personal identity — as far as worth and contribution to society, but her gender incurred unjust persecution as well.
It seems a trend that Americans enjoy literature that reveals the phirighteous angerlosophical or political depravity of our own or other countries, and appropriately so. Art, whether visual or written, has always been a powerful form of critique on society and collective human morality.
However, In Anthem, Rand makes a critical mistake.
Rand, being from an oppressively communist country, has the equal or greater right than any other voice of her time, to critique and illuminate problems with totalitarian uniformity disguised as a commonwealth. Unfortunately, her attempts to reconstruct or provide answers to the above-mentioned problems of individualism, peppered throughout this book, aren’t only flawed logically and rationally but are also dangerous.
Allow me to explain.
Very little in History has a firebrand or flagrant reactionist radically accomplished a mass change in a culture or people.
Take some of History’s most prolific examples of men and women who caused the change. Gandhi, for instance, changed an entire people’s way of thinking through peaceful, conscientious objection and demonstration. He didn’t take a polar opposite view to that of his oppressive opponent but reasoned and demonstrated with logic and grace.
Ask yourself who was more successful in erasing the disgusting presence of racism in this country.
Malcolm X? Or Martin Luther King Jr?
I shouldn’t even need to bring the character of Jesus into this critique. Whether or not you believe in the existed, believe he was a prophet, or believe his story was the apex of the anthropic myth, it matters not. The impact his teachings and followers made and still make on this world is epic.
My point? If you look at the end of the book, the sacred word inscribed in stone to set the people free? Ego. That’s right. Vanitas. Concentrate on your achievements, self-awareness, and successes. Communist pre-Russia was a prison camp where individuality, human rights, and personal talents were choked and stomped. This was something that we as Americans needed to be reminded of. However, even though Rand poetically reveals the creative and personal starvation of the Anvil & Hammer, the revelation of what a specific Country or government lacks is not the key to all future government success and human development. (For those of you who have read Fountain Head and Atlas Shrugged, you know this theme reverberates through her allegorical fiction.) The Ego builds empires that fall. The consideration of other people, not yourself, and the knowledge of the little we all know, builds theory and desire for the observation that lasts eons.
Reactionary philosophy, especially in a sneaky, preachy, the wrapper has never lasted the time test. My question is this. Why is this book required for reading in High Schools? The last thing Americans need is to be more self-focused. For the Education and World awareness scope that our Country has at its fingertips, our worldview is so freaking small that veiled narcissism is the last thing our children should be reading.
I’m not some secular humanist, I’m not some pacifist altruist, I’m not even an evangelical love and peace or fundamentalist Christian. I just don’t think it’s healthy for our culture to be praising and assigning a series of books so highly when their core message is achievement-based vanity, self-focus, and dwelling on how you can succeed in a capitalist culture. That’s what Ego is.
| seriously don’t recommend this book unless you view it as it is: a full-polar reaction to communism, a philosophically flailing attempt at sociologic reconstruction through self-focus. The solution, this book offers is a step back in society. For the critiques, it poses creatively, a step forward.