"What brought it to pass? What disaster took their reason away
from men? What whip lashed them to their knees in shame and
submission? The worship of the word "We."

When men accepted that worship, the structure of centuries
collapsed about them, the structure whose every beam had come
from the thought of some one man, each in his day down the ages,
from the depth of some one spirit, such as spirit existed but for
its own sake. Those men who survived- those eager to obey, eager
to live for one another, since they had nothing else to vindicate
them- those men could neither carry on, nor preserve what they
had received. Thus did all thought, all science, all wisdom
perish on earth. Thus did men- men with nothing to offer save
their great numbers- lose the steel towers, the flying ships, the
power wires, all the things they had not created and could never
keep. Perhaps, later, some men had been born with the mind and
the courage to recover these things which were lost; perhaps
these men came before the Councils of Scholars. They answered as
I have been answered- and for the same reasons.

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 had 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,
those few, fought a hopeless battle, and they perished with their
banners smeared by their own blood. And they chose to perish, for
they knew. To them, I send my salute across the centuries, and my pity.

Theirs is the banner in my hand. And I wish I had the power to
tell them that the despair of their hearts was not to be final,
and their night was not without hope. For the battle they lost
can never be lost. For that which they died to save can never
perish. Through all the darkness, through all the shame of which
men are capable, the spirit of man will remain alive on this
earth. It may sleep, but it will awaken. It may wear chains, but
it will break through. And man will go on. Man, not men.

Here, on this mountain, I and my sons and my chosen friends shall
build our new land and our fort. And it will become as the heart
of the earth, lost and hidden at first, but beating, beating
louder each day. And word of it will reach every corner of the
earth. And the roads of the world will become as veins which will
carry the best of the world's blood to my threshold. And all my
brothers, and the Councils of my brothers, will hear of it, but
they will be impotent against me. And the day will come when I
shall break the chains of the earth, and raze the cities of the
enslaved, and my home will become the capital of a world where
each man will be free to exist for his own sake.

For the coming of that day I shall fight, I and my sons and my
chosen friends. For the freedom of Man. For his rights. For his
life. For his honor.

And here, over the portals of my fort, I shall cut in the stone
the word which is to be my beacon and my banner. The word which
will not die, should we all perish in battle. The word which can
never die on this earth, for it is the heart of it and the
meaning and the glory.

The sacred word:


-Ayn Rand, "Anthem"

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