Ayn Rand - Anthem
Ayn Rand’s Anthem follows the story of a boy named Equality 7-2521 who grows up in a collectivist dominant society, where everything is decided for by the government, or otherwise known as the World Council. The aim of this society is to eradicate individualism and have all the members be identical and docile to the rules and regulations of the government. Equality 7-2521 seeks to depart from this society after realizing its evils. He escapes and creates a family with a girl named Liberty 5-3000 in the hopes of creating a future individualistic society.
This work by Ayn Rand is utopian. The society created by the World Council attempts to do away with individualism. The World Society doesn’t want anyone to outshine anyone else. In this way, the root of all evil is abolished. There can be no basis for disagreements or strife because these words are eliminated from society. Throughout Equality’s life, he constantly feels guilty for knowing too much and feels that he needs to repent his sins as a result. For example, he would be ridiculed in school because he stood out amongst his peers. As a result, Equality decided to hide away, in a place where he could be free. This lock on individualism in society is utopian because the World Council attempts to equate all of the residents. As a result, there are strict rules everyone must follow. If they don't follow these rules, they are tortured. Although these punishments may seem to be dystopian, the overall work is utopian. These punishments are spectacles and are made to be inhumane to show the members in society the importance of collectivism and the following of rules. For example, the Transgressor of the Unspeakable Word, “I”, was burned alive for using the word “I”. This was meant to show the members of society the transgressions of acting out against the society, or in this case, exhibiting any form of individualistic tendencies.
Parts of this book can be related to certain events in the novel, The Giver. After Equality 7-2521 creates his lightbulb and attempts to show this to the society’s government, or otherwise known as the World Council, they are afraid and they want to destroy him together with his lightbulb in order to shield members of society from any outside information. This is similar to the role given to the main character Jonas, in the Giver. Once Jonas realizes the evils in his society, he attempts to escape and start a new life together with his girlfriend. His girlfriend is caught and the ruler of the land inevitably wants to obliterate her from society because they are afraid for other individuals to see this and follow suit. This is similar to how the world council attempts to get rid of Equality 7-2521. However, this work is unique in its own way. The main character is determined to not only escape, but to create his own society and he is very sure of how he is going to do that. In The Giver, Jonas simply wants to escape but he is unaware of how he is going to do that. There are possible downfalls with the creation of individualism posed by the main character. Putting an emphasis on a person’s ego may ignore the rights of other people in a society. This book leaves on a cliffhanger.
The ending of the book can also be connected to another story, "The Allegory of the Cave". In this story, one of the prisoners escapes the Cave after being confined in there for a while. As a result, he is in awe of all the newfound things he sees. This is similar to the newfound things Equality 7-2521 finds in the house from the Unmentionable Times, such as bright colors. Everyone lived a mundane life in which all actions were dictated by the government in his society and therefore, they weren't privy to anything outside the society.
Ayn Rand’s life is important to recall when evaluating this work. She grew up in communist Russia, under the rule of Vladimir Lenin. This communist party was created in hopes to make everyone equal and help out the proletariat class struggling as a result of the industrial revolution taking place in Russia. Although this was a great idea in theory, the effects were horrible. In Anthem, the main character, Equality 7-2521, escapes to the Uncharted Forest and finds a house from the Unmentionable Times and hopes to instill the idea of individualism in his future children with his love, the Golden One. Rand’s experience with the horrors of communism is conveyed through the ending of this book, where Equality 7-2521 attempts to better the world by escaping his society and creating a new society to spread his views.
Considering the idea that Rand grew up in Communist Russia, it is no surprise that this work depicts that of George Orwell’s, Animal Farm. This loss of individualism present in society is depicted in Animal Farm through the strict layout of rules and transgressions if these rules aren't followed. Furthermore, the dictators in Orwell’s book are pigs. They're depicted as pigs in order to show the extent of dictatorship that is inevitably created as a result of communism. Rand’s book parallels Orwell’s book. She wants to show the horrors of communism through Equality 7-2521’s treatment by the World Council as a result of his digressions from society.
Rand’s Anthem is important because we need to see the possibilities of such a future
because of the technology that is governing our world today.