Ayn Rand rejected the common notion that collectivism is noble in theory yet somehow leads to oppression and bloodshed in practice. In We the Living, she shows why it is the theory of collectivism that is evil — and why its brutal practices necessarily flow from its evil moral ideals. In this lesson — the second of two lessons analyzing themes of We the Living — we invite you to explore various sub-themes of the novel, including such questions as: What types of people rise to power under collectivism, and why? What meaning do the concepts of the “future” and “abroad” hold for people trapped under totalitarianism? Why did Rand say that “We the Living is not a novel ‘about Soviet Russia’”?

Spoiler alert: This lesson assumes that students have read We the Living.