Ayn Rand’s Anthem portrays the ideology of a collectivist society, where people are forced to act in similar fashions. There is also no ideal sense of individuality which causes the society to lack creativity or the opportunity to value their own opinions. Through this novel, we are able to make distinct comparisons between the societies portrayed in Anthem as opposed to our societies today. The main function of a collectivist society is to have things flow in a certain order without creating any disputes or differences and allowing people to abide by that mentality. It also enforces people to put the “good of society” before themselves meaning whatever is claimed to be beneficial to the society as a whole matters more than what would be beneficial towards an individual being.
Collectivism displays controlling matters where people must go by what their authority tells them to do or they will get severely punished. It is to allow society to follow a collective structure where they feel it will be maintaining order. It is believed that once everyone have their own individual opinions and do what they want to do it will cause conflict within their society. For example, in Anthem, the Transgressor of the Unspeakable Word, was executed by being burned alive for stating their unspeakable word which is “I”. This word seems to always cause an uproar in their society because it hinders them from displaying that form of individuality. In comparison to our modern day society, people use the term I when they describe themselves and elaborate on unique characteristics about themselves or things that they do. When you are addressing yourself, you don’t speak for everyone else. One unique thing about our society, specifically in reference to America, you see uniqueness and so much creativity and diversity of things all around you. Each time you turn around you find something different that you never knew of which allows life to be spontaneous and worth living for. When you are constricted to specific regimen for the rest of your life, it becomes dull and boring, because it is like you are brainwashed into believing that this is the way that things are supposed to be. When you are forced to do something or be something that you do not want to be, it would make a person feel miserable because they are not content with the life they are living, however they must find a way to go along with it regardless because of severe punishment that follow behind it.
The protagonist of the novella, Equality 7-2521, elaborates on how he does not agree with structure of his society and feels that people should have their own individual mindsets instead being under such strict rules that doesn’t give people their own identity. He has a deep passion for finding his freedom and releasing himself from the constraints of his society. The biggest turning point for his revolt was when he discovered the light bulb and the Council threatened to destroy it and exiled him as well. He knows that he does not want to be like them and the fact that he created something so different that they are not used to, really got to them and wanted them to get rid of Equality 7-2521.
A person would go to any extent to make themselves happy. This is what draws us to the concept of rational egoism. Where a person would do anything that would be beneficial to themselves. Once Equality 7-2521 became a free man, he was able to explore himself and discover unique traits that he never knew existed. He was able to kill and enjoy is own food, as well as explore his manhood and do things that he never thought he would have the chance to do. When he finally discovered the true meaning of “I” it becomes an eye opener for him that it is only you that can perceive how you view the world, and you can’t do it through anyone else. Everyone will not see things in the same manner, so when we say ‘I” it gives so many different viewpoints.
One can think when someone constantly refers to themselves, it brings out a selfish attitude and causes the person’s ego to expand. However, we don’t live life for another person, you are only living life for yourself. Sometimes you may want to take that extra mile to do something especially if it would have a great benefit for you. And there is a great possibility that your actions can also play a major role in the life of someone else and giving them a chance to explore and find that uniqueness within themselves.