Sunday, December 19, 2010

Transgression of Preference

International 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. So International 4-8818 and we have never spoken of it. But we know. We know, when we look into each other's eyes. And when we look thus without words, we both know other things also, strange things for which there are no words, and these things frighten us.
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. We do not know why we think of them. We do not know why, when we think of them, we feel of a sudden that the earth is good and that it is not a burden to live. We do not think of them as Liberty 5-3000 any longer. We have given them a name in our thoughts. We call them the Golden One. But it is a sin to give men names which distinguish them from other men. Yet we call them the Golden One, for they are not like the others. The Golden One are not like the others.
"If you see us among scores of women, will you look upon us?" "We shall look upon you, Liberty 5-3000, if we see you among all the women of the earth."

Ayn Rand, Anthem, (New York: Quality Paperback Book Club, 1995), 15, 26, 28-29.

One of the most interesting parts of the Anthem was the sin or transgression of preference. The people in the were commanded and forced into never choosing anyone above anyone else. Friendships were not allowed. Sex become a once-per-year ritual simply to procreate. And people were conditioned simply to live in complete equality. No favoritism. No choice. And I found myself all of a sudden arguing against complete equality. I like the trangression of preference. I am guilty of it on a daily basis. My kids mean far more to me than any other kids. My friends are incredibly important to me and I am far more likely to go out of my way for them then others. My wife is the most incredible woman on Earth to me. I want to choose her every single day. She is my "Golden One" and I have no qualms with choosing her above every other female day after day. Equality & no favoritism look and sound good. And yet reality shows that when given the choice, we all violate the transgression of preference.

Is it really bad then to violate equality? When do the constraints of equality interfere with the necessity of free choice? Is the violation of this transgression inevitable and are we (in reality) okay with it?