Ayn Rand’s “Anthem” Was Adapted Into a Graphic Novel, and Its Timing Couldn’t Be Better

Jennifer Grossman and Dan Parsons worked together to adapt Ayn Rand's classic novella "Anthem" into a graphic novel.

If we finally achieved an equal society, would the quality of life improve for all?

Rebirth of Ayn Rand

Ayn Rand’s portrayal of a dystopian collectivist society in ANTHEM: The Graphic Novel illustrates the harsh reality of valuing equality of outcome over individual freedom. ANTHEM is a story about a future in which no man can be better than another. The people in power say this arrangement is for the greater good, yet they’ve regressed hundreds of years in innovation, and the citizens are unhappier than ever.

The novella Anthem was first published in 1938. Ayn Rand wrote the story of Equality 7-2521 and Liberty 5-3000 to expose the dangers of collectivism and to condemn it outright. In the foreword to the 1946 edition of the novella, she wrote:

Those who want slavery should have the grace to name it by its proper name. They must face the full meaning of that which they are advocating or condoning; the full, exact, specific meaning of collectivism, of its logical implications, of the principles upon which it is based, and of the ultimate consequences to which these principles will lead.

Jennifer Grossman and Dan Parsons worked together to adapt Anthem (now out of copyright) into ANTHEM: The Graphic Novel, published in 2018, as part of the Atlas Society's artistic approach to introducing the philosophical ideas of Ayn Rand in a more visually engaging way. Grossman and Parsons also produced an animated video version of the graphic novel, which is another dynamic take on Rand’s classic novella.

Consequences of Collectivism

I found this story especially intriguing because this equality-based society is what many millennials and Gen-Zers so willingly advocate. As a young free-thinker living in Boston, I hear a lot of excitement about democratic socialism. Many young people are captivated by the idea of free everything for everyone, so much so that they tend to skim over the consequences of this social structure.

Equality 7-2521 breaks the rules by taking time to be alone with his thoughts.

If young socialists were to read Rand’s work, they might begin to understand the reality of what they are supporting. Adapted by Jennifer Grossman and Dan Parsons, ANTHEM is a revolutionary take on of one of Ayn Rand’s most powerful objectivist pieces. Detailed visuals, along with short sentence structure, make it easier for the reader to digest Rand’s philosophies. The read is not arduous; it is enchanting as we follow the thought-provoking story of an oppressed man who stands up for individuality.

Living in an envy-ridden civilization powered by humans, not technology, Equality 7-2521 breaks the rules by taking time to be alone with his thoughts. He experiments underground with scraps from the old civilization—including light bulbs, metal, and wires. When he discovers electricity, he is shunned.

Lack of Innovation

This interaction shows that this collectivist society is purely for the benefit of the few in power, not the citizens. Through Equality 7-2521’s discovery, Rand demonstrates that when equality of outcome is valued over equality of opportunity, society at large regresses for lack of innovation.

When people are not given the chance to reach their potential, they are unable to contribute their greatest inventions to society since they’ve been deprived of the opportunity to imagine.

Most importantly for young people, ANTHEM illustrates how society is hindered when we abandon individual freedom and individual rights.

While Rand’s philosophy is that man’s primary purpose is his own life, I urge millennial and Gen-Z leftists and borderline socialists to consider the societal repercussions of interfering with individual rights.

Most importantly for young people, ANTHEM illustrates how society is hindered when we abandon individual freedom and individual rights.

Why not pick up this quick, insightful read? After all, you as an individual have the right to read whatever you please, regardless of whether or not you agree with its principles.

Further Reading

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