Many libertarian podcasts talk about Ayn Rand positively, sometimes even lovingly. On the other hand, Rand seems to invoke the worst venom and hate from some on the left.
I found the book Anthem, by Rand, at the local recycling depot, which has a community take a book, leave a book bookshelf. That presented an opportunity to see for my self what the Rand fuss was about.
It turned out that Anthem is a really tiny book, more of a pamphlet than a book. The copy that I now have is a two in one, with the 2nd edition at the front half of the book, and Rand’s marked up version of her first edition at the back.
The book has a very 1984 like spirit, set in a dystopian alternate (presumed future) reality, where collectivism has been taken to the extreme. Sexual distinctions have been eliminated, men and women aren’t allowed to be attracted to each other, outside of a proscribed annual mating ritual, kids are taken away from parents at an early age and raised by the state, and most of the knowledge of the past has been obliterated.
An amusing aspect of the book is that gender specific pronouns have been eliminated, as have all personal pronouns. This is amusing given the current trend towards exactly that in our modern time, where there is an annoying trend to use words like “they” used instead of he/she. I found “they” for he or she annoying because I happen to think there is value distinguishing between singular and plural.
The focus of the book is to highlight the evil of collectivism. It’s therefore no surprise why Rand is hated so thoroughly by the left. There wasn’t much more in this book that I’d imagine would be objectionable, other than the fact that it shows what communism might look like in the extreme. That might make it unappealing to those that insist “communism works in theory” despite the fact that communism obliterated millions of their own people last century.
There is bit of a revolutionary bent to the story as well. At the end, once our protagonist has discovered himself, he plans to educate a selection of potential compatriots and establish a little cell against the system.
As I read this book, I realized a little bit in that I’d read it already eons ago. I’m wondering if I read this in some sort of dystopian or sci-fi collection. I think that I read it without any idea of who Ayn Rand was, so in retrospect, I didn’t even know that I’d read anything by her.
I enjoyed the discovery aspect of this book. There’s been many a sci-fi book that I’ve read that had a dystopian context where the characters are in the situation of having to rediscover the mysteries of the previous civilization. It’s fun to imagine oneself in such a context, knowing how much there is to learn, and the idea of being able to share everything that you discover.