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Book review

Ayn Rand is American writer born in communist Russian and developer of the objectivism philosophical movement. Authoress expressed her philosophical views through the ideal of artists living solely on their creativity and talent, and only for themselves. Essential parts of her philosophy were rational egoism and individualism. “Anthem” is a small, but purposeful narrative on the opposition between a human ego and impersonal system; a dystopian novel that glorifies individualisms.

The story has been represented as a diary of a man who lives in the distant future in the collectivism age. No one invents, or creates, or thinks; people are turned into humble slaves ready to run any command. Government decides for each and every one where to live, work, and even what to say. There is no “I, me” in the language of this dystopian, totalitarian future, but “We, our”. Therethrough Rand reflected world collectivism, unity and integrity of the community, solidity of thoughts, judgments, and actions. It is just impossible to think or work alone, but only as a group: people sleep in small groups (120 members) in barracks, eat together at the long table, and at the age of 40 they are marching to the Home of Useless altogether. Even sexual relationships are regulated by government, however as far as everyone belongs to everyone that’s not an issue in collective society. Human do not have names, but key words and numbers instead. At the age of 15 Council of Vocations gives everybody Life Mandates on the profession: main character Equality 7-2521 has been assigned to become a Street Sweeper, despite dreaming about the future of scientist.

Nevertheless, one can quench a thirst for knowledge even working as Street Sweeper: Equality 7-2521 goes down to the abandoned Dungeon at night, where wonderful machines of old humanity are left since the distant Unmentionable Times. After two years of research main character re-discovers electricity, and with a lighting device breaks into the World Council of Scholars. Yet he has been sharply checked right away: “Fifty years have been spent to get the approval of Candles by all the Councils, to determine required quantity of them, to change plans because of the torches replacement. How will we make the work of people easier under such circumstances?” There is no way electricity can be re-implemented, because in the collective society people “exist only to serve others”.

Equality 7-2521 with his girlfriend Liberty-5-3000 rushes into the Uncharted Forest, feeds off of some random little animals and birds, spends nights in the open air, crosses the mountain pass and gets to the deserted house, the house of the past: amazing colored walls hit him; his girlfriend Freedom 5-3000 is astonished by mirrors, and together they stay in this bastion of human past. Equality 7-2521 breaches the barrier of collectivism and realizes the value of the conscious, of the individual, single “I”.

Ayn Rand fiercely preaches rational egocentrism. The novel clearly shows what the enslavement of the individual, the destruction of its interests and views, the denial of initiative and personal opinion leads to. One will easily notice similarities between “Anthem” and “We” by Yevgeny Zamyatin: no wonder as Zamyatin was a groundbreaker in the genre of dystopia and both authors were born in communist Russia. Rand’s book is a social and political dystopia; a strong criticism of totalitarian community, personality, creativity, and human feelings suppressing, which is especially acute today, in the 21st century amid the world political tension.

“Anthem” is an anthem itself to the human freedom of spirit and desires!

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