Ayn Rand’s Philosophy in Her Novel ‘Anthem’
The novel ‘Anthem,’ by Ayn Rand is an example of a dystopian society. A dystopian society is one that is as dehumanizing and as unpleasant as possible (Bradbury, 2018). In the dystopian society that Rand has created people must only be referred to as ‘we,’ rather than by a name. By stripping everyone of their own individuality, choice, and the ability to control how they live as well as to earn what they have is the scary outcome that Rand was afraid of. Rand believed that if America continued on the path it was on that this scary place in the novel could become reality. The philosophy that Ayn Rand presents in the novel ‘Anthem’ is favourable. Past historical events such as the Russian Revolution, the Holocaust, and Tiemenan support Rand’s philosophy that things need to change and things need to be earned to avoid this treacherous society that is full of control and deceitfulness from becoming reality.
The author of ‘Anthem,’ Ayn Rand was born in Russia. When Rand was twelve years old the Russian Revolution took place (1917). The Russian Revolution was when blue collar workers and lower class folk disagreed and protested against the new government that was Tsar Nicholas II and it ended with the creation of the Soviet Union. During this event Rand was separated from her parents and she later moved to America. Feeling as though your voice is unheard because you are not a part of the government and being separated from family based on beliefs, age or gender is unfair and unjust. Rand along with many other females and children were stripped from their main sources of comfort, love and safety in their lives.
Similarly to this situation, men were sorted based on age and appearance in the novel. It was not considered a positive thing to look different than ‘normal’ or what the council jobs looked like, “We are six feet tall, and this is a burden” (Rand, 18). People are also sorted based on their decided upon abilities in ‘Anthem.’ The council decided which occupation they felt best suited each group of men. Once sorted the group is given a name of which every person in that group is associated with “Our name is Equality 7-252, as it is written on the iron bracelet which all men wear on their left wrists with their names upon it” (Rand, 18). Having everything decided for you and not having a say in what you do and how you live can be draining and extremely frustrating. No matter how hard you work or who you are as a person no recognition will be given and you will be treated no differently. No one should ever be put in a position like this; separated and feeling completely powerless.
Nazi Germany is a historical event that took place during World War Two and was led by a man by the name of Adolf Hitler. This was an event that targeted Jewish folks in predominantly Germany. The country was taken over, people’s homes were destroyed along with their belongings and their lives were ruined if they were even lucky enough to live. During this time the Nazi’s constantly took from the Jewish people and did not earn any of what they stole. Ayn Rand is a strong believer and advocate that people should earn what they have and should get everything on their own merit. Equality 7-252 was the only group of men in Anthem that realized “What is my joy if all hands, even the unclean, can reach into it? What is my wisdom, if even the fools can dictate to me? What is my freedom, if all creatures, even the botched and impotent, are my masters? What is my life, if I am but to bow, to agree and to obey?” (Rand, 97). They knew that the way life was being lived was not the best way and that they should be rewarded for working hard, should be able to ask questions, and discover and be curious about whatever it is that interests them. Nazi Germany is a fascist form of communism, which is the opposite of what this world should be and opposite of what Rand believed.
The Tiananmen Square Protest took place in Beijing, China on June 5, 1989. A person of political power passed away and as a way of mourning people gathered in the square. This later turned into a protest for a more democratic government and as time went on thousands more people continued to protest in this square. In the middle of all of the protesting, Premier Li Peng imposed martial law. The protesting did not stop until Chinese troops went into the square and open fire on the civilians. These civilians were simply standing up for what they believed in and wanted their voices to be heard. Rather than listen or take people’s thoughts into account the government felt as though it was easier to kill people for speaking their minds. In the novel ‘Anthem,’ Equality 7-252 discovered something new with light and believed as though it could potentially replace the candle and be revolutionary. When they presented their findings to the world council, “They tore our clothes from our body, they threw us down upon our knees and they tied our hands to the iron post” (Rand, 64). People should not be belittled or ignored. Regardless if the idea is accepted, it should be listened to. Punishment is not the answer and should never be the first resort.
The Russian Revolution, Nazi Germany and the Tiananmen Square Protest are three historical events that show why Ayn Rand’s philosophy is favourable. When it comes to her philosophy it is a wide spectrum. On one end of the spectra is the extreme society that is shown in the novel, ‘Anthem,’ and on the other end of the spectrum is the lasay-fair society that Rand is so vocal about. Rand wishes for a society where everything that a person owns has been earned on their own merit and the government does not get any of that money in taxes. An example of this would be a hospital. The problem with this is that there are no regulations and it is all supply and demand. This means that people who have money can afford healthcare and those who cannot, do not. Another example is roads, the business owners who have their businesses on those roads pay for the roads as opposed to everyone through taxes. Canada is a middle ground on this spectrum. In terms of choosing one extreme over the other side in which Rand’s philosophy is on, is much more favourable to the side presented in ‘Anthem.’ The only alteration to Rand’s philosophy would be some government intervention. Overall, the Russian Revolution, Nazi Germany, and the Tiananmen Square Protest help support that Rand’s philosophy is favourable.
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