Just call him Sen. The Unconquered.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) spoke on Tuesday at a hearing of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, against government plans to phase out the incandescent light bulb in favor of the newer compact fluorescents.
And in this speech — promoted by his office in a press release entitled “Sen. Paul Rails Against the Collective” — he borrowed from none other than the writings of Ayn Rand, whose early novel Anthem featured the light bulb as a plot device.
Ayn Rand wrote a novel, Anthem, back in the 50’s. And it’s a dystopian novel. In that novel, individual choice is banned, and the collective basically runs society. There’s a young man, and his name is Equality-72521. He’s an intelligent young man, but he is banned from achieving, or reaching any sort of occupation that might challenge him. He’s a street sweeper.
Over time, he discovers a subway, and he rediscovers the incandescent light bulb. And he thinks, naively, that electricity and the brilliance of light would be an advantage for society, and that it would bring great new things as far as being able to see at night, and to read, and the advancement of civilization.
Well, he takes it before the collective of elders, and they take the light bulb, and basically it’s crushed beneath the boot heel of the collective. The collective has no place, basically, for individual choice.
From a literary standpoint, Paul might be a bit off in his analogizing the plot of Anthem to the current situation.
In that book, of course, the protagonist was attempting through his individual experimentation and achievements to advance his society past a more primitive technology, the candle. In this case, however, regulations are being used in order to move society forward to the next generation of technology, after the incandescent bulb, on the grounds that it would save energy.
Paul’s next mission: To flee from Washington, and take shelter in a strange, abandoned house obviously based on the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright.
Late Update: Via Timothy Lee on Twitter, Paul was actually incorrect to state that Anthem was written in the 50’s. It was first published in 1938, with a revised version released in 1946.