Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Assessing the Situation

In Anthem, the protagonist, the self-named Prometheus, says:

"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. I wonder, for it is hard for me to conceive how men who knew the word "I", could give it up and not know what they lost. But such has been the story, for I have lived in the City of the damned, and I know what horror men permitted to be brought upon them.

Perhaps in those days, there were a few among men, a few of clear sight and clean soul, who refused to surrender that word. What agony must have been theirs before that which they saw coming and could not stop! Perhaps they cried out in protest and in warning. But men paid no heed to their warning. And they, these few, fought a hopeless battle, and they perished with their banners smeared by their own blood. And they chose to perish, for they knew."

"That word" spoken of above is "I". Ayn Rand, through Prometheus, is speaking of those who are fooled into believing that society owns their life; that "we" is the most noble concept, rather than "I". Replace the concept of "I" with the concept of absolute individual rights (not a stretch) and you are looking in a mirror. This tragedy is happening all around us today. Prometheus is speaking to, or of, those of us today who see out-of-control government at every level stealing liberty and taking power as those around us make excuses for giving up our liberty. Unless more individuals decide that liberty is more important than not making a scene, some future Prometheus will have to rediscover the concepts of "I" and "liberty" all over again. Will he pity us or revile our choices?