Study Guide

Anthem Loyalty

By Ayn Rand


International 4-8818 4-8818 and we are friends. This is an evil thing to say, for it is a transgression, the great Transgression of Preference, to love any among men better than the others, since we must love all men and all men are our friends. (1.37)

Equality 7-2521's society apparently doesn't allow friendship. Why? Because it causes individuals to value certain people (their friends) more than others. According to the mandates of society, this is wrong. Everybody is equal, which means that every person has to feel equal devotion and loyalty to everyone else. Otherwise, the Transgression of Preference is committed.

"The will of the Council is above all things, for it is the will of our brothers, which is holy. But if you wish it so, we shall obey you. Rather shall we be evil with you than good with all our brothers. May the Council have mercy upon both our hearts!" (1.63)

International 4-8818 confesses his feelings for Equality 7-2521. They've never talked about their friendship before now, but now we see just how strong it is. International 4-8818 is willing to betray his own society rather than betray his friend.

We do not wonder at this new sin of ours. It is our second Transgression of Preference, for we do not think of all our brothers, as we must, but only of one, and their name is Liberty 5-3000. (2.11)

Equality 7-2521 has committed another Transgression of Preference. This time, he's fallen in love. Now, not only does he prefer one person to others, he can only think of one person: Liberty 5-3000.

Still, without reason, as we stood there by the hedge, we felt our lips drawn tight with hatred, a sudden hatred for all our brother men. And the Golden One saw it and smiled slowly, and there was in their smile the first sadness we had seen in them. (2.36)

Equality 7-2521's love for Liberty 5-3000 is so powerful that it threatens to turn him against everyone else in his society. He realizes that any one of them could possess her physically (because of the way breeding is controlled), and he's jealous. He wants to have her only for himself. The thought that anyone could have her makes him hate everyone.

We must bring it into the sight of all men. We need all our time, we need the work rooms of the Home of the Scholars, we want the help of our brother Scholars and their wisdom joined to ours. There is so much work ahead for all of us, for all the Scholars of the world. (5.7)

Even after Equality 7-2521 has broken a whole bunch of laws and started to commit Transgressions of Preference left and right, he still feels a certain strong sense of loyalty to his society. He still wants to help "his brother men," by sharing with them the product of his own labors. Although he's beginning to discover his individuality, he wants to put that very individuality to the service of society.

"We matter not, nor our transgression. It is only our brother men who matter. Give no thought to us, for we are nothing, but listen to our words, for we bring you a gift such as has never been brought to men. Listen to us, for we hold the future of mankind in our hands." (7.12)

Equality 7-2521 recognizes that he may be punished horribly, but he doesn't seem to care. He cares much more about his invention (the light), and using it to help "his brothers." He's still quite loyal to the members of society, in other words, even though he clearly no longer agrees with how society is managed.

"You fools!" we cried. "You fools! You thrice-damned fools! (7.50)

This is the moment when Equality 7-2521's faith in his society is destroyed, and he decides to leave it behind. He feels only rage here – mostly rage at their stupidity. After this, his loyalties will be fundamentally different.

We wish to be damned with you, rather than blessed with all our brothers. Do as you please with us, but do not send us away from you." (9.17)

Liberty 5-3000 has, like Equality 7-2521, lost all sense of loyalty to their society. However, she's abandoned her society for love of him, whereas he seemed to do it out of rage and love for his invention.

I am neither foe nor friend to my brothers, but such as each of them shall deserve of me. And to earn my love, my brothers must do more than to have been born. I do not grant my love without reason, nor to any chance passer-by who may wish to claim it. I honor men with my love. But honor is a thing to be earned. (11.13)

Now that he's free (and familiar with the first-person singular), Equality 7-2521 has discovered that he owes loyalty to no one except those he wants to be loyal to. Not to society, and certainly not to "all men." Instead, other people need to earn his loyalty – by becoming his friends.

I shall call to me all the men and the women whose spirit has not been killed within them and who suffer under the yoke of their brothers. They will follow me and I shall lead them to my fortress. (12.14)

In spite of what he's said in the above passage, it still seems as if Equality 7-2521 has preserved some trace of the loyalty he used to feel to "all men." He genuinely wants to wage a war against his former society so that he can set them free. It also sounds, though, as if he's only interested in fighting for those who actually want to be set free. Would that be only the few, exceptional individuals like himself? Or would it be almost everybody?