When tyrannical governments are in charge of societies, they must eradicate possible threats to their power at all costs in order to remain in power. Underlying dangers to the power of such governments can be as common as the relationship between families in the society, which the authoritative power must take extensive measures to remove. In the book Anthem, Ayn Rand shares the story of Equality 7-2521, a man living in a totalitarian society that separates children from their parents at birth, and prevents all formations of relationships considerably close to familial ties. Despite these conditions, Equality forms relationships that defy the ideas of the government and further assert why tyrannical leaders in power would wish to isolate citizens from forming relationships or familial connections. In the book Anthem, Ayn Rand asserts that a dictatorial leader would enforce an isolated living style in order to instill their laws in citizens from a young age to prevent a decline in zeal for the government and to ultimately inhibit the formation of a sole identity.
Initially in the novel, Rand demonstrates how totalitarian societies separate children from their families in order to raise them according to their own principles. More specifically, when Equality 7-2521 was born, he, and all the other children his age, were immediately taken to the Home of Infants and were brought up by Teachers that severely enforced the moralities of the Council. Growing up with the Teachers was difficult for Equality due to his inability to blend with the other children, which resulted in additional punishment for him. He describes, “we were lashed more often than all the other children” (Rand 22). Equality was lashed more frequently than others due to his inability to lesser himself and behave identical to his peers. The Teachers that raised him were easily able to identify that he was an outlier whose behavior would be problematic to the ideals of their society, so they saw it necessary to reprimand him cruelly. Equality’s frequent lashing demonstrate how when one’s behavior is being monitored closely, it is easier to identify faults that need to be corrected to adhere to a certain ideal. Later, Equality elaborates on the principles that were instilled on him since he was born. He says, “’if you are not needed by your brother men, there is no reason for you to burden the earth with your bodies.’ We knew this well, in the years of our childhood”(Rand 22). Equality reflects that he understands and is very familiar with this principle of the Council and Teachers. When he was young, he was consistently reminded that his existence was meaningless if not for the greater good of the society. Through Equality’s thorough understanding of the principles of the Council even at a young age, it demonstrates how when one is raised by an overbearing authority, they receive a solid foundation of the rules and what is expected of them.
Later in the book, Ayn Rand shows how dictatorial leaders choose to isolate people from relationships to prevent a decline in fanaticism for the government. More specifically, the preference of relationship that Equality 7-2521 forms with International 4-8818 and Liberty 5-3000poses a threat to the power of the totalitarian society he lives in. When Equality describes his first friendship with International 4-8818, he depicts it negatively and says, “it is the great Transgression of Preference, to love any among men better than the others, since we must love all men and all men are our friends” (Rand 30). The formation of a relationship is portrayed undesirably by Liberty because he is ordered to have equal love for all members of society. The friendship he has with International 4-8818 is unlawful because the Council is dependent upon identical affection for the members of a society as a whole rather than unbalancing the affection and favoring it towards one person, lessening the power of the government. Through Equality’s preference towards International 4-8818, it is shown how the formation of relationships is undesirable in despotic cultures because it lessens the passions of the people towards the government. Later on, Equality forms a relationship with Liberty 5-3000, and when he is forced to leave the city, she follows him and says “we shall follow you wherever you go. If danger threatens you, we shall face it also. If it be death, we shall die with you. You are damned, and we wish to share your damnation”(Rand 82). Liberty 5-3000 abandoned the rest of society, and is willing to risk all possible repercussions for her relationship with Equality. The relationship that Equality has formed with Liberty 5-3000 has caused her to prioritize their relationship over the punishments she could receive from the government. When Liberty 5-3000 places greater importance on her relationship with Equality rather than the values of society, it demonstrates how the affections in a relationship can generate the power to overcome imposed ideas and lessen the prominence of a tyrannous government.
Lastly in the novel, Rand shows how individuals are isolated from the formation of relationships and familial ties to inhibit the creation of an identity. In the case of Equality 7-2521, once he has begun to start a family with Liberty 5-3000, he proclaims that he will raise his child will have full awareness of the idea of the self. After Equality learns the concept of having an ego, he promises that he announces the ideals that his future family with Liberty will be built upon. Equality elaborates that his “son will be raised as a man. He will be taught to say ‘I’ and to bear the pride of it. He will be taught to walk straight and on his own feet. He will be taught reverence for his own spirit”(Rand 100). Equality asserts that his future offspring will have a full understanding of their own ego and will be taught to bear their individuality with pride. Previously, Equality had grown in a society void of families and use of the personal pronoun “I”, but now that he has developed both, he refuses to let future generations advance without a full appreciation of their own identity. Through Equality’s determination to raise his children to their fullest potential self, it shows how the relationship of a family is capable of setting a standard defying the government and children are able to identify with.
Autocratic leaders are likely to implement living styles where people are separated from their families and relationships in order to implant their philosophies in citizens from a young age so that the fanaticism for their rule will last, and to eradicate the possibility of people forming their own identity. When people are taken from their families at a young age they are easily manipulated by people running the government. The government must act with coercion and isolationism to prevent relationships and familial ties from threatening their power. When oppressive totalitarian governments head societies, the citizens may be oppressed and threatened but they hold significant power in their bonds with one another, and are ultimately able to challenge tyrannical authority with relationships.