Anthem by Ayn Rand

November 16, 2012
Many times in life I have heard the saying, “There is power in numbers” and in most cases this saying holds true. However, the power of the individual can be stronger. In Anthem, Ayn Rand does an excellent job of proving this point that the mind of one can change the minds of many. When a person’s body is controlled they are only physically incapable of retaliation against those who hold them captive. When a person is mental controlled they cannot defend themselves in any manor they are at the whim of the leaders who have power over them. To enslave the body is an easy task. To enslave the mind and destroy the mindset of an individual is much more difficult and virtually impossible.
The collective “we” used in this novel portrays the boundaries that society has set for us. The leaders in this novel don’t allow a single person to have an emotional connection with another human being, including mother and her child. The bond between a mother and her child is considered on e of the strongest forces known to mankind. When the leaders take away this bond, a part of the child’s individuality is tore away from them, giving the leaders more power over their mind.
From birth, members of the society in Anthem are not allowed to be individuals. With “I” being a non-existing word, another bit of distinctiveness is stripped from that person’s mind. The word “we” is the only word left for you to describe yourself but it also describes the rest of society.

When you are a child, you are unaware of the evils that are hidden in the world; you don’t see the wrong in people or a reason for someone to wrong you. As a result of these innocents, children are more likely to believe what they are told without doubt. This society takes advantage of this vulnerability and uses it to diminish the amount of individuality we are born with. While you aren’t even allowed to see yourself, your facial features, your physical appearance, it does take away the sense of, “I’m unique” away from you and you begin to ask yourself, “What makes me different from him?” I believe as some members of this society begin to question this, they regain more of an individual mindset. However, when a person gives up on this question, the leaders have won once again, they have destroyed another piece of the individual that you had. Now what is left?
To survive a society in which you cannot be your true self you would have to be strong powered, strong willed, and strong minded. You have to question authority without allowing others to know you are doing so. You must trust your instincts as well.
In Anthem, the leaders use the placement of jobs as another way to remove individual strengths away from the members of society. When placing someone in a job, the leaders chose the advanced minded—those who have kept as a grasp on their mind—to do the jobs of those who don’t need to be mentally advanced. These leaders give the job of the scholars to the students who wouldn’t have the ability to make advancements because if a person makes advancement, you give them a glimmer of individuality, they will value what they did rather than what we did.
Equality 7-2521 describes that a man was persecuted and burned at the stake for saying the unspeakable word, “I”. The leaders use this man as an example to evoke fear in the society’s eyes. Through this fear the leaders hope to prevent people from listening to themselves and turn against thoughts that would benefit the individual over the society.
The separation of men and women also creates a barrier. The differences between a man and a woman are like pieces of a puzzle, they fit together. A woman thinks differently than a man as a man’s mind works in ways that a women’s mind does not. The relationship between men and women allows them to grow together but also find out more about their true self. Another person who can make up for your weaknesses allows you to grow and become a different person but this also is an individual journey even though another person is along for the ride. Again the leaders and society take away individuality from these people leaving them spiraling toward a mental take over the leaders.
The final mental barrier that must be slashed before a dictator can fully be in control is discipline. Peer pressure is a huge factor in keeping those who have the ability to break through the other mental barricades from lashing out in defiance. Discipline in this novel for those that break the law is cruel and unusual punishment such as lashing a person to death or burning them alive. These acts are known to members of society, therefore they obey due to fear.
So where power in numbers can keep many in line, the individually strong can try to lash out. The leaders in the novel try to strip each member of society of every ounce of mental and physical differences that make them who they are, down to their white toga. By destroying a person’s mental individuality at a young age and physically enslaving a person from birth the leaders and society in Anthem can almost make members of society follow any orders given. This makes it a perfect dictatorship. This also allows the end of humanity to come through and the beginning of life as society to begin.
The leaders now have their power in numbers.
This book allowed insight that cannot be gained in most novels of today. I loved the excellent use of concepts that are inside this book. While the idea inside this novel is scary, it is something that should be addressed. I would recommend reading this book, if nothing other than to gain a new look at life.

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