Anthem anticipates F. A. Hayek’s later warnings about “our poisoned language.” In The Fatal Conceit: The Errors of Socialism Hayek observes, “so long as we speak in language based in erroneous theory, we generate and perpetuate error.”
That error is evident in the use of words to convey entire moral arguments. In Anthem, “we” and “the collective” are “good,” just as, Hayek observed, “social” now designates what is “morally right.” And “what at first seems a description imperceptibly turns into a prescription”: distributive justice.
A similar shift is now occurring in the use of “equity.” According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the earliest recorded instance was from 1315, from which point “equity” has been used to mean “the quality of being equal or fair; fairness, impartiality, even-handed dealing.”
Now “equity” means the moral imperative to ensure equal outcomes, as in the concept of “educational equity”: “Equity recognizes that some are at a larger disadvantage than others and aims at compensating for these people’s misfortunes and disabilities.”