5. But I still wonder how it was possible, in those graceless years of transition, long ago, that men did not see whither they were going, and went on, in blindness and cowardice, to their fate.
Part of the exposition of Equality 7-2521’s newfound philosophy in Chapter XII, these words describe his reflection on the history of the human race and on how it came to disintegrate into madness and fear through the evils of collectivism. Anthem is, above all else, a political work, aimed at reforming those who have fallen to what Rand believes is the collectivist heresy, and at giving comfort to those who are still fighting for individualism. Rand believes that individualism will never actually perish because it is ingrained in human existence; it is the root of man’s happiness. Nevertheless, she thinks, it is possible for man to lose sight of the importance of the ego and allow society to become oppressive. Anthem is a wake-up call to those who may be losing sight, and the “graceless years of transition” are supposed to be the years of its publication, when Rand sees communism as taking hold not only in Russia but in the United States as well.