|Star Trek, for all its occasional simplicity, tackles|
|the problems and complexities of collectivism|
|far more insightfully than Anthem.|
Several years ago, I reviewed Anthem by Ayn Rand on Amazon. Anthem is one of the few books in the world that I utterly loathe. Generally speaking, I can almost always find something good to say about any book, such as, "Hey, someone wrote this! It took time! And effort! Good for him or her!"
But Anthem is just trash.
A commenter challenged my contention that the book is (1) anti-individualistic and (2) chauvinistic: "You've completely missed the entire point of this book, perhaps because you went into it with a bias, not being a fan of Rand."
Here is my response:
I'm afraid I did understand the book; that's the problem.
Ayn Rand's fundamental philosophy is not one that I actually disagree with: collectivism is the ultimate evil. (Hey, I watch my Star Trek!) And the main character does make exactly the argument that you [the commenter] state: "[N]o masters and no slaves. Equals."
The narrator obviously places himself in the "few" category and not just the I'm-one-of-the-few-who-needs-to-share-what-I-know category, but the I'm-one-of-the-few-who-needs-to-get-everyone-else-to-be-like-me category.
At one point the narrator states the following:
The Saint of the pyre had seen the future when he chose me as his heir, as the heir of all the saints and all the martyrs who came before him and who died for the same cause, for the same word, no matter what name they gave to their cause and their truth.An heir to Saints and martyrs with causes is how the guy sees himself. The continual use of "me" and "I" throughout the final chapters is NOT symbolic: he does not perceive himself as a messenger of truth but as a leader to whom others will be called:
They will follow me and I shall lead them to my fortress.If the narrator truly believes that "a man must be free of his brothers," why isn't he encouraging his so-called friends to scatter, to create individual homes or capitals and lives? Why do they have to help HIM? Is it possible that the guy likes being in charge? Or is it possible that collectives, i.e. armies, have their good points?
My chosen friends . . .
And the day will come when I shall break 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.
I'm afraid I think the narrator likes being in charge. The book ends with "we," but it isn't the "we" of the corrupt city; it is the NARRATOR'S "we":
"The word [ego] which will not die, should we all perish in battle."It really makes one wonder what would happen to any of these so-called chosen friends, if any of them happened to say one day, "Hey, by the way, *I* think collectivism has its points" or "*I* don't really want to fight in a battle. Can I just leave?" I don't for a moment believe that the narrator would respond to such blatant individualism with any degree of kindliness or understanding.
|Individual Sean Bean isn't kowtowing to a self-described|
|leader. He's reading a book.|
I'm willing to allow that the book may have some good points (I concede my bias). And an argument could be made that a religious uprising led by a fanatic IS the pathway to individuality.
But the text says what it says.
The movie Equilibrium--though flawed--handles this whole problem better although even Equilibrium rests on the idea of a necessary elite. I guess democracy truly is a totally radical idea.