Anthem by Ayn Rand: Maintaining Control Over Your Own Life

April 28, 2022 by Essay Writer

Ayn Rand’s Anthem is a story that takes place in a dystopian society, where technology, language, thought, feelings, career and individuality are all controlled by a governmental body called The Council. Rand writes the novella based on her own life. Growing up in Communist Russia, she did not have freedom of expression and thus wrote the novella under a fake name (“Ayn Rand”, 2017). The story mimics her thoughts about the lack of control in one’s personal life. This essay supports Rand’s argument that individuals should have control over their own lives, instead of society dictating every decision for a person. The essay will discuss the influence of politics on individual freedom, and will consider examples in Nazi Germany, Canada and Sri Lanka.“We are one in all and all in one.

There are no men but only the great WE, One, indivisible and forever’ (1.8). Equality 7-2521 talks about how individuals are not allowed to have an identity beyond what the government allows them to. It seems like, in order to create the greatest country with the greatest people, the wishes of each person is eliminated. This philosophy is comparable to Nazi Germany, where the lack of democracy negatively affected people. A tailor who made Nazi uniforms committed suicide in 1945 out of guilt. A noted Jewish German citizen recently said to the grandson of the tailor mentioned above, ‘Your defeat in World War II has helped you build up a true democracy. The Germans are hopeless now when it comes to anything militaristic and totalitarian” (Germany’s Nazi Past, 2005). Ayn Rand’s The Anthem reflects Nazi Germany, while present Germany would show how the society in The Anthem could change and feel about their past. While the book does not have concentration camps, it has a strict death penalty for the smallest crimes, such as saying the Unspeakable Word. Moreover, the Unspeakable Word itself is “I”, which shows how there is literally no tolerance for individual freedom and expression, like in a democracy. Canada is a democracy, which means Canadian citizens have the right to be involved directly or indirectly in the decision-making process. Representatives make decisions and laws that protect freedom based on labour, women, race and immigration. There are multiple perspectives on human rights issues, and even though people might disagree, they have the right to express their opinion. This creates a healthy and happy community. Ayn Rand seems to support this in her novella. Despite it being a sin to fall in love and given someone an identity, Equality 7-2521 expresses his love for Liberty 5-3000 by ”[calling her] the Golden One” (2.12).

In a democracy, people can choose to love and make decisions by themselves. There are many countries where the rights of people who choose ‘love marriages’ are not protected. Honour killings are even recognized as legal in some parts of the world for when the family kills their child in cases where they disagree with arranged marriages.During the 1983 civil war in Sri lanka, the island nation tore itself apart due to ethnic tension between Sinhalese and Tamil citizens.While the causes are more complex and arise in large part from Sri Lanka’s colonial legacy, families and communities were destroyed. Soldiers entered and killed entire homes, regardless of age. Homelessness and poverty rose. Children were even put into military training camps. In this sense, many individuals had no control over the course of their life, and the state simply decided it for them due to their own interests. In The Anthem, Equality 7-2521 is assigned to be a street sweeper despite having immense scientific talent. At the end of the novella, society discovers the importance of the word “I” and make sure that “The word which can never die on this earth, for it is the heart of it” (12.25). Similarly, Sri Lankans discovered the importance of individuality as well, as they ultimately put aside their differences and learned to live in peace.In conclusion, in Ayn Rand’s novella The Anthem, the philosophy of individuals and government is similar to many societies today. One is Nazi Germany, where the lack of democracy negatively affected people. Then, there is Canada, which reflects society in The Anthem at the end of the book, especially with its stance on human rights issues. Finally, the Sri Lankan civil war ended with the citizens living in peace, also similar to what happened in The Anthem. Ayn Rand argues that individuals should have control over their own lives, and shows its benefits in her novella. Real life examples in world history also show this very message. It is important to value people on a one-to-one basis, and never make decisions for them that could harm them. While society is important, human beings are too.


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