Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Response to Rand's Anthem

Rational egoism is based on the principle that an action is only rational if it involves self-interest; so essentially being selfish. Although rational egoism seems like terrible concept that has many problems, it actually has certain aspects that could be good. On one side, rational egoism is a bad thing because if everyone is being selfish, just looking out for themselves and not for each other there would be no kindness or altruism. A world without this would be terrifying to live in. People wouldn't think twice about whether or not they should sacrifice for someone other than themselves.  There would be just a world of egoistic people always worrying about themselves.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, without rational egoism you can say goodbye to individuality and any focus on the self. This idea of collectivism means people don’t care about themselves at all; no dreams, hopes, passion or anything. People would just be living for the greater population. Some aspects of egoism are good for society because it can be argued that a person who can choose their career path could be a productive citizen. This could induce change, originality, growth and progress for the entire society. In the case of Rand's Anthem, rational egoism would give people true purpose, not predetermined destinies. Equality 7-2521 could have been the scholar he so righteously deserved to be, but instead became a lousy street sweeper. He thought of this as a punishment, but society knows best. This lack of individuality started even before that when he was given a code in order to be identified, not a real name. They go as far as excluding the word “I”. Any sole idea is presented as “our idea” and even a simple form of self expressive “I love you” turns into “We love you”. Either way, with exaggeration on both ends of the spectrum would have their problems.
Rational egoism by no means is a complete cure for the problems of collectivism. It could be considered a cure, but only to the extent of helping make it better, not completely relieving all the ideas of collectivism. There are always going to be those certain problems with either of the two. There should be some sort of compromise; taking aspects of both ideas, rational egoism and collectivism, and meeting somewhere in the middle. Having some individuality and some sense of self mixed with sharing ideas and contributing to the greater good, sounds like a great concoction of balance. Having societies at far opposite ends of the spectrum would not be a truly healthy way of living. There really is not a way of choosing one over the other because you should have aspects of both. Taking the good parts of each idea and finding some medium would be the best course of action.
Rand’s ideas in Anthem are certainly valid. If you look at it knowing what we know now and how our world works, in comparison Anthem seems like living in it would be absolute torture. A world with meaningless sex, no love or any sense
Looking at the book from the perspective of one of the characters who isn't Equality 7-2521 could change the way you see collectivism. This system in fact works. Everyone has a job, which gives them a purpose, even if it’s not the purpose they want to fulfill. There is no one left out or deemed worthless. There’s no disorder and chaos; only complete social structure and order within the ranks. A world like that sounds so much like a utopia. If someone offered you to live in a place where you'll have everything you could ever need, you would be quick to take it. You would have a job, a purpose, a sex life, and always being wanted even if  you aren't good enough or don't fit in. A state of complete comfort is a good state for me.

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