Anthem

by: Ayn Rand

Chapter XII

Summary Chapter XII

Critics of Rand’s philosophy take issue with Equality 7-2521’s winner-takes-all attitude and apparent dreams of world domination. They take issue with the fact that he co-opts the home in the forest without knowing to whom it belongs and then immediately cordons it off as his own. Furthermore, they say, Rand’s championing of a new race of man has particularly sinister connotations given that Anthem was published in the United States on the heels of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler’s defeat during World War II. Given that Hitler too advocated the founding of a superior race of men, specifically by killing off those he believed were weighing society down, Anthem’s appearance was particularly ill-timed. Rand’s advocates, however, would point out that she is declaring the supremacy of human rights and that she believes each man is endowed with them. They would argue further that Rand stands in direct opposition to the kind of authoritarian oppression manifest in Hitler’s Nazi regime because it deprives men of the chance to participate in the world as human beings with natural rights and a sense of their own worth. No one, they would say, should be deprived of his or her rights or life in the name of the collective society.

Rand sends a message to her contemporaries fighting for individualism with Equality 7-2521’s remarks that he wishes he could carry a message to those past generations that suffered during the transition period. Since Rand sees her own time as the transition from the glory of individualism, represented by the United States in the 1890s and 1920s, to the age of collectivism, represented by Russia starting around 1917, she wants both to warn those who believe in collectivism about its dangers and to bolster those who are still holding up the resistance in the name of the individual. For this reason, her hero speaks directly to those crusaders for the ego and tells them that no matter how bleak things may look, the individual will survive, and with him, the possibility of rebirth. The political nature of Anthem comes through most clearly in this last section too in which Rand lays out her plan to bring back the individual and encourages those who are helping her do so. In this way, she herself is acting as a sort of political prophet, ushering in the new age that she describes through Equality 7-2521’s vision, and this prophesying proves the driving force of the whole novella.