Manipulation, Segregation and Dictatorship in “Anthem” by Ayn Rand
Ayn Rand’s philosophy of individualism and freedom is crucial for a well-balanced society. The society controlled by the World Council, described in Anthem, should be avoided as it represents manipulation, segregation and dictatorship. This essay will demonstrate the negative aspects Equality faces through the following examples; Hitler’s totalitarian regime, the Montgomery bus boycott and Kim Jong Un’s dictatorship.
Adolf Hitler was the leader and mastermind of Germany’s largest political party; National Socialist. The Nazi regime became popular as Hitler promised to put his people and his country first. The party was run by white males that lacked “emotional connection” to make the right choices. This led to the closures of many newspaper companies, editors were forced and manipulated to only print what was told by the government. Palace of the World Council, in Anthem practices the concept of one party state as they have the slogan, “We are one in all … and forever” carved out in marble. After dinner, Equality describes they all form a single line and walk to the City Hall where the Leaders read “the speeches which were made in the City Council that day, for the City Council represents all men and all men must know”. Even though the notion of being united as one is seen as positive in some instances, the extreme practices that come from these views weaken our society. The general public do not any know better than to follow blindly and believe what they hear.
To oppose and question the Council is a crime that is punishable by death. As a child, Equality witnesses a Transgressor burn in the City square. The council had cut his tongue off for expressing his individuality by using the word ‘I’. Even though the transgressor was chained, he did not feel any pain, Equality describes that out of all the people that were present on that day, his “was the calmest and happiest face”. This is relatable to the Montgomery bus boycott in 1955-1965. The African American society in Alabama were required to “sit in the back half of city buses and to yield their seats to white riders if the front half of the bus, reserved for whites, was full”. Rosa Parks did not obey this law and she was fined and arrested. Although her punishment was not as harsh as being burnt alive, she refused to give into the rules that support segregation. Another example of segregation that Equality faces is when he goes to the great hall to meet with the World Council of Scholars to show them his discovery of electricity. Equality faces inequality when he introduces himself as a Street Sweeper of the city. The Scholars reacted as if they were invaded by an enemy: “A Street Sweeper! A Street Sweeper walking in upon the World Council of Scholars! It is not to be believed! It is against all the rules and all the laws!”. The Council was more shocked that he was a Street Sweeper than the fact that he discovered electricity. Being a part of a society should represent inclusive communities and the freedom of choice not segregation.
In Anthem, the society obeys all decisions made by council. The society segregates their members into various houses by their age, gender and occupation. Equality is fascinated by science and technology and wanted to be a part of the Scholars. However, he is not allowed to make this decision, the Council of Vocations would decide for students when they turn fifteen on “what their work is to be for the rest of their days”. This society resembles to Kim Jong Un’s dictatorship in North Korea. It is one of the few countries still under the communist rule. Equality fears living in his own society, he says “there is fear hanging in the air … All men feel it and none dare speak”. This is how North Koreans feel, they live in fear and terror as their freedom is snatched away by their government. They are not allowed “to choose their own job”. If they do not respect the decisions of their government they will be punished. Anthem portrays a society that is ruled under communism which has a system of harsh and strict rules imposed on them. There is no form of individuality, the society is manipulated by the World Council that tells them what’s right and wrong. Just like Equality “ran blindly”, there are thousands of North Koreans that try to “flee every year” away from dictatorship. This is not an example of an inclusive society. People should have the right and freedom of choice and should be able to vote for their leaders, only then would there be an inclusive society.
- Editors, History.com. “Montgomery Bus Boycott.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 3 Feb. 2010, www.history.com/topics/black-history/montgomery-bus-boycott.
- Evans, Richard J. “The Ways to Destroy Democracy.” The Nation, 28 Feb. 2017, www.thenation.com/article/the-ways-to-destroy-democracy/.
- Rand, Ayn. Anthem. Penguin, 2008.
- Urban, Mike Wright; David. “Brutal and Inhumane Laws North Koreans Are Forced to Live Under.” The Telegraph, Telegraph Media Group, 19 Sept. 2017, www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/09/19/brutal-inhumane-laws-north-koreans-forced-live/.
- HRW. “World Report 2019: Rights Trends in North Korea.” Human Rights Watch, 17 Jan. 2019, www.hrw.org/world-report/2019/country-chapters/north-korea.
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