Anthem: A Novel by Ayn Rand Name: Class: Date: Ayn Rand's philosophy expressed in the novella “Anthem” (1937) was a reaction against the Soviet system and world socialist movement, which she experienced personally and rejected critically for a more conservative return to natural law and Enlightenment values…
Rand embraced the values of the West and America in the days before World War II when the industrial era and modernism was rising in alignment with capitalist modes of progress, and her philosophy of “objectivism” distinctly elevates the individual to the highest position of esteem in her personal hierarchy or cosmology of being. Rand also exalts selfishness, egoism, and superiority as the highest expressions of individualism, and in “Anthem” she defines these views through irony, parody, and dystopian structures which exaggerate the effects of “collectivism”. When she was writing “Anthem,” the Communist Party was still a vital force in Western Europe and other places around the world, aligned broadly with the Soviet experiment. Leading intellectuals, dissidents, labor leaders, and other members of society organized at this time around the Marxist principles of communism and socialism, in hopes that the Soviet model might be established worldwide. “Anthem” is a broad parody and dismissal of the communist, socialist, and Marxist principles of this era which Rand had experienced in the turmoil of the Russian Revolution and rejected. While historically the Soviet experiment failed, in Rand’s era and when “Anthem” was written in 1937, many feared that the entire edifice of Western civilization could teeter and fall at any time according to the will of the proletarian masses rising up and implementing a social movement in the Russian example. Thus, “Anthem” exaggerates these fears of a worldwide communist revolution, and Rand’s views were embraced especially in America by intellectuals of the capitalist establishment as her ideals of objectivism provided a romantic bulwark against Marxist theory and interpretation. 1:33 - “…visiting Leaders mount the pulpit and they read to us the speeches which were made in the City Council that day, for the City Council represents all men and all men must know. Then we sing hymns, the Hymn of Brotherhood, and the Hymn of Equality, and the Hymn of the Collective Spirit. The sky is a soggy purple when we return to the Home.” (Rand, 1937) This passage makes the allegory to the Soviet Union clear, but Rand also believed that all socialist, communist, or Marxist societies were bound to operate on similar principles of organization, dictated from the center by leaders like Lenin, Stalin, Mao, etc. hypocritically and deceitfully. The “hymns” Rand describes in this section is an allusion to the use of revolutionary songs praising the workers, proletariat, and Marxist ideals in the Soviet system. 1.35 - “Such would have been our life, had we not committed our crime which changed all things for us. And it was our curse which drove us to our crime.” (Rand, 1937) Rand identifies clearly the way the Soviet leadership will develop the police state, gulag, and security apparatus (KGB) in order to monitor and control the population in Russia according to “collectivist” ideology. Under this system, the free thinking of individuals is the greatest threat to the State, and it is attacked and punished ruthlessly. Rand apparently underestimates the ability of the State in the West to develop the same authoritarian and police state values in 1937, as this was before the McCarthy era, the Cold War, Vietnam anti-war protests, and the later developments of American history. In 1937, Rand’ ...
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