The current democracy of the United States allows humans free will and the ability to exercise independence. What if modern society controlled everything decision one makes, even how one thinks? In Ayn Rand’s Anthem, the leaders of Equality’s dystopian society attempt to enslave his body and mind. The leaders try to destroy Equality by getting rid of individuality, making everyone “equal”, and restricting knowledge/ information. Every decision they choose only makes Equality’s struggle to find the truth harder and harder by the day.
The leaders in Anthem begin Equality’s problems by getting rid of one of the most influential mental concepts.
The leaders’ first way to fully control Equality and anyone else living in that society was by getting rid of individuality. By forcing all children to live together in the same conditions they created an environment where no one can try to differentiate themselves from each other. Attempting to be different also led to punishment.
They also removed anything from their life that was not based around a group. They completely erased words such as I or you. Equality states, “We are one in all and all in one. There are no men but only the great WE, One, Indivisible, and forever.” (8) Anything about one person was not valuable to them. When Equality showed his invention to the council of scholars they scolded him for making it all by himself. In today’s world, most people would congratulate him and marvelatn the feat he accomplished.
Instead, he is cast away and treated like a prisoner for his brilliance. International 1-53537 tells Equality, “What is not done collectively cannot be good.” (73) any efforts to be a different end in failure.
The political leaders in Anthem’s second attempt to destroy Equality’s body and mind are by forcing every citizen to be equal in every possible way. Equality is born with many various gifts that differentiate him from other people his age. Equality explains that one of his curses involves his height. He tells the reader, “We are six feet tall, and this is a burden, for there are not many men who are six feet tall. Ever have the Teachers and the Leaders pointed to us and frowned and said: “It is evil in your bones, Equality 7-2521, for your body has grown beyond the bodies of your brothers.” (5) Having any sort of advantage over others is an issue in their society that must be removed. A natural feature he is born with is seen as evil. While he is physically gifted, Equality also has mental gifts. Equality is one of if not the most intelligent people in his town.
He harnesses the power of electricity and creates the lightbulb, something the council of scholars was unable to do. Due to his brain, Equality hates his schooling system. Every student learns at the same speed. Someone who that c understands geometry learns at the same rate as a genius. Equality says, “It was the learning that was too easy. This is a great sin, to be born with a head too quick. It is not good to be different from our brothers, but it is evil to be superior to them.” (21) He also claims, “We looked upon Union 5-3992, who was a pale boy with only half a brain, and we tried to say and do as they did, that we might be like them, like Union 5-3992, but somehow the Teachers knew that we were not.” (22) The teachers look down on him for being better than the rest. Equality tries to dumb himself down but he cannot.
Equality’s attempts to better society end him up in trouble instead of glory. The rulers in Anthem try to ruin Equality by denying him any information about the old world. When the rulers of Equality’s society decided to get rid of individuality they also decided to get rid of technology from the old days. All of the useful inventions have been cast away for no proper reason. They only allow inventions that have been made by the Council of Scholars. The Scholars are very inefficient when it comes to creating new ideas so breakthroughs even occur. When Equality comes forth with the lightbulb he is shot down for working on it by himself. Solidarity tells Equality, “Many men in the House of Scholars have had strange ideas in the past, but when the majority of their brother Scholars voted against them, they abandoned their ideas, as all men must.” (73) Any of the others who tried to improve their society was shot down and never attempted to put forth an invention again. They only add new ideas to society when everyone agrees with them. This rarely happens to lead to little or no changes to their way of life. All of these factors to a society living in an environment of complacency that never tries to get anything done.
The rulers in Equality’s life try to break his spine and walk over him with various ideologies and strategies. The leaders of Anthem first try to destroy Equality by getting rid of any sense of individuality. The rulers of Equality try to break his Spirit by making him equal to everyone else no matter the circumstances. Finally, the government placed in Equality’s town tried to complete their control over equality by disallowing any way to advance the system created. In Conclusion, the leaders in Anthem take an opposite approach compared to Democracy and try to instill a society of laziness and ignorance that causes Equality to break free.