Tuesday, June 7, 2011

We The Living

  If there is a book that, I think, could have changed the attitude of Karl Marx himself towards communism, then it is this: We The Living by Ayn Rand. This book would have shown him that "the dictatorship of the proletariat" will never be the Utopia he had envisaged. It shows what the theory of socialism means in practice. It portrays the impact of the Russian Revolution on three human beings who demand the right to live their own lives and pursue their own happiness. It is, in Ayn Rand's words, "not a novel about Soviet Russia, but a story about Man against the State. It is a story about dictatorship, any dictatorship, anywhere, anytime..."
  What drew me to this book are a few of its statements- for instance, Kira's question "He told me why couldn't one aristocrat die- in the face of the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics. And what is the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics in the face of one man?" and parts of Andrei's speech "We came as a solemn army and forbade life to the living. We thought everything that breathed knew how to live... What cause is greater than those who fight for it?"
  There is also the twist in the plot: a virtuous girl (Kira) sells herself to a villain(Andrei) in order to save the hero(Leo), whom she loves. But in the end, Andrei emerges as the hero and Leo, for whom Kira makes the sacrifice becomes the villain. Kira Argounova is a young girl who dreams of building skyscrapers and aluminium bridges. She is in Andrei's words, "the highest of women, a woman like a temple, like a military march, like a god's statue." She falls in love with Leo Kovalensky, the son of a counter revolutionary admiral, at first sight. She leaves her home to live with him, but the couple has to struggle to find proper means for existence. They, like everyone else, are crushed by the socialist state. When Leo gets infected by tuberculosis, Kira has no way to save him but one: being the mistress of her friend Andrei Taganov, the "reddest communist" she knows, who happens to love her. In the end, Leo is arrested by Andrei for running an illegal store, and on seeing Kira's clothes there, realizes that Kira is in love with Leo. This breaks Andrei who gets Leo released and ensures his future safety. But his pain shatters all his ideals about living for the "Collective" and he commits suicide. Leo runs off with another woman and Kira gets killed during her attempt to flee abroad.
  I like a few more things about this book and among that is the way Andrei calls his beloved, his highest reverence, "Kira" and the way Kira cries "Leo". It was a different reading experience, and a very enjoyable one at that.


  1. nice piece! keep reading, keep writing...

  2. Thank you Sir... I can't even tell you how much your encouragement means to me!