Unsung Anthem - “I am. I think. I will.”


“I am. I think. I will.”

Thus spoke Equality 7-2521in Ayn Rand’s novella Anthem. Upon finding the word ‘I’ in a book, he realises the world he lives in is a lie. Throughout this first-person narrative, Equality 7-2521 describes himself as ‘we’, as commanded all men are commanded to by the World Council’s dictation

“We are one in all and all in one. There are no men but only the great WE”.

But upon finding this alien word ‘I’, he realises that this is false. This revelation has a great effective on him,“And when I understood this word, the book fell from my hands, and I wept, I, who had never known tears.” And so Equality 7-2521 begins to live his life as a free man for he understands that he is an individual, not part of a collective. He is not a we, but an I.

Many libertarians, from the small government minarchist to the fully fledge anarcho-capitalist, have shared the same experience when they were first exposed to freedom as an ideology. When one understands that they are an individual, and that their life is not dependent on others, the feeling is startling. You feel overwhelmed. You feel free.

From a personal experience, I knew I was a libertarian before I read Anthem. But I felt the same as Equality 7-2521 after finishing the book. I wept. I wept because the book reaffirmed for me the importance of individuality and freedom book. I understood I am individual and that I live for no other man. I understood that living for the benefit of the collective was servitude. Anthem, quite simply, is an important piece of libertarian literature.

An yet Anthem is rarely mentioned in libertarian spheres. Of course, Atlas Shrugged is widely seen as scripture, and right so. But Atlas Shrugged is a difficult book to read. At over a thousand pages of incredibly difficult text, complex monologues, and small writing it would be daunting task for anyone to read as an introduction to liberty. Many have tried, but many have failed.

Now, it is known that Ayn Rand did not want Atlas Shrugged to be an easy read. In order to understand its message, you must work for it. But the book is far too long to introduce someone to libertarianism. When someone is intrigued by libertarianism and they ask what they should read, many would say Atlas Shrugged. But how many more would understand individual freedom if they read Anthem?

So let me make this recommendation. The next time sometime shows an interest in liberty, individuality, or freedom, point them towards Anthem. It is a quick yet absorbing read. I would also recommend Anthem to the most seasoned of libertarians. It will refresh their belief in liberty and freedom. Go ahead, find a copy, read, and rediscover that you are an individual.

2 thoughts on “Unsung Anthem - “I am. I think. I will.”

  1. I read “Anthem” some years ago; Rand should be perceived as a prophetess, of sorts, in her early perception of Socialist theory as not only ultimately totalitarian, but also extremely Luddite in its worldview.
    We see this in the environmental movement, which the communist ideologues in the West have co-opted, since their failure to incite worldwide revolution. I have a friend who was a member of the American Communist party in the late 60s-early 70s. He read several daily/weekly publications, and noted that they all came out with the same line at the same time: they were going to start hammering away at American’s concerns with the environment to make their points, rather than social justice. that was 40 years ago, when Global Cooling was the big issue. They made the smooth transistions to Global Warming to Climate Change, imposing guilt on those willing to listen, for living in the modern world Thusly, they have succeeded in forcing many of their ideals on the people, using this method.

  2. I always recommend Anthem, it’s a fantastic story, one of the great dystopian tales. If you appreciate Anthem as much as I do then I also recommend a viewing of ‘How To Train Your Dragon’. Yes it’s a CGI kids movie (I love those), but it’s also strangely parallel to Anthem. It’s about a kid with a passion for science and engineering who lives in a primitive Viking society who only care about killing dragons. The “how to train” part of the title refers to the forbidden science he develops against the will of his family and his society. It’s a tale of the selfish pursuit of objective reality… dressed up with cute character designs and a comedic voice cast. It’s awesome.

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