“We are one in all and all in one. There are no men but only the great We. One, indivisible and forever.” The book, Anthem by Ayn Rand, demonstrates the affects of a society which has adapted such views. The story is set in a primitive future that exploits oppression, communism, and preaches for the public good. Individualism had been completely lost and the word “I” is unknown. The protagonist is the first person who dared to be an individual. He tried to gain knowledge that had been denied to him, he dared to love the women of his choice, and he spoke the unspeakable word, “I.”
What brought society to this state of being? Man had always been evoked by personal freedom. Man escaped the domination of mythical gods, then kings and noblemen, and of class and race. Just as Man could reflect on what great freedom he had won, he willingly surrendered as he accepted the worship of the word, “We.” It was called the Great Rebirth. All intelligence and wisdom was lost from the world and there was only the mindless human herd. However, the desire of freedom could never die. It lived on within few people, the few people who came before Equality 7-2521 and they were persecuted to death. Equality 7-2521 was the first person who was able to break free from the collective spirit.
Equality 7-2521 has always been different from his fellow peers even as a child. He was taller and smarter than the other children in school, which was considered a sin by his teachers. He was guilty of the transgression of preference. He took an interest in science and hoped that he might be assigned to the Home of the Scholars, but when that day came the council of vocations made him a Street Sweeper. Nevertheless, he persisted in his pursuit for knowledge and individuality. He came dangerously close to death and fled the city, escaping into the uncharted forest. There his beloved one, Liberty 5-3000, accompanied him and they lived in a house left abandoned from the unmentionable times. He vowed that one day he would break the chains of the enslaved world and build a society which every man could live life to his own behalf.
Ayn Rand used her novel to criticize and critique the circumstances she saw beginning to dominate the world around her. Originally from Russia, Ayn Rand was forced to see Communism commence. Her own philosophy is what she calls Objectivism and it is quite different from the idea of collective power. It instead glorifies human potential and individual self worth. This philosophy reflects Anthem’s theme; the significance and praise of man’s ego. Ayn Rand uses the word “ego” in its exact, literal definition, which is the essential identity of a human being. Equality 7-2521 carves that word above the door of his new home. He believes that everything in life comes down to that one sacred word, ego.