The Impact of Technology on Relationships in the Book “Feed” and the Film “Gattaca”
Technology and the rate of use by people have been growing exponentially and much more than the last 50 years combined. The line is only expected to get steeper meaning more and more humans are using technology. Other than the overwhelming growth in technological use the question humanity is asking How does this affect us on a personal level? How does this affect our family’s and loved ones? How does this influence our relationships? This section of inquiry has sidled its way through society. Many boggling minds have predicted how our technological advancements will be like in the near and far future and how it will affect us. This includes the gifted minds of two men who are story-tellers in their way of showing their perspective of how technology will influence our connections our bonds with one another. M.T Anderson and Andrew Niccols display this concept through characters who are placed in a dystopic yet uncannily accurate future line filled with clambering and stifling amounts of technology seeming to be advantageous but viciously disadvantaging. Within the domain of feed, M.T Anderson portrays a boy named Titus, who is from an affluent social class meeting and falling in love with violet, who dislikes technology. Titus has to adjust to this new relationship without the reliance on technology. In the movie, Gattaca people’s perspective all comes down to how genetically gifted one may be. Vincent the main character was portrayed as an unfortunate victim as he was a ‘faith born’ having no genetic alterations compared to his far more genetically superior brother Anton this made Vincent have a deep hatred towards his family due to his parent’s decision of not using technology to allow him to achieve is star high aspirations. Both stories depict struggles against a character’s relationship due to a form or cause of technology.
First and foremost, technology has predominantly impacted social priorities that also affects the characters’ lack of humanity. The characters in Feed and Gattaca struggle to express themselves due to unethical social priorities set because of the unnatural impact of technology. To illustrate this point, the family connections portrayed in Gattaca seem to be worth nothing. In Gattaca, the characters are gravely discriminated against through genetic modification. Since genetic modification relies on technological advancements, Vincent being a faith born did not have ideal genetics thus his father, Antonio, deemed that he was “not worthy of his name” as before he was originally going to name his first born Anton. Not to mention, it was none other than technology that rendered Vincent “useless”. Vincent then later questions “what possessed” his parents to allow him to be a faith born “faith in God’s hands” rather than making the decision to genetically dupe him. This shows how the futuristic society has lack of humanity, as they no longer consider the love and intimacy that results in a successful offspring. This society rather considers that ‘scientific intervention’ is far better to put faith into this rather than the natural way. In parallel, Feed also depicts technology taking away our humanity and severing our social priorities. For example, the Feed is a micro-chip that is embedded in the head which controls every daily interaction from the things you say to daily events. Ultimately the humans in Feed’s greed for making everything more ‘convenient’ that their lives become further and further apart from the definition of human. Titus even expresses this as “a feeling of emptiness that found its way inside my heart”. Fundamentally, the granted use of technology will shift our priorities as suggested by the book and film. That relying on technology is of higher priority to our connections to one another.
Technology obscures the relationship of the characters in Feed and Gattaca as their detection and awareness of emotion is non-existent. To explore this concept we can look into the main character of Feed, Titus and his journey. Titus displays qualities that separate him from “Mr. Ordinary Guy”. The use of technology incapacitates ourselves as the characters in Feed and Gattaca no longer know how to connect with each other. The influence of technology is drastically altering our connections with one another by its alluring perception of being better for us. In both film and book predict a future where all our minds and bodies are permanently bleeding as technology slowly eats away the very thoughts and emotions of yourself whilst your awake just staring passing it off just thinking this is modern.
Comparison of the Film “Gattaca” and the Short Story “Movement”
Science fiction texts comment on the present, made evident through the exploration of various fictional futures. Composers of science fiction texts highlight the differences between the present and their speculative fictional futures through the utilisation of conventions, specifically by manipulating the setting and characters to comment on the present. This is exemplified in both Andrew Niccol’s film Gattaca (1997) and short story Movement (2012) by Nancy Fulda, as both texts comment on the power of human will over determinism by employing the perspectives of unique characters. However, while Fulda’s story Movement highlights a loss of both social interactions due to technology, a stereotypical and key feature of the science fiction genre, Niccol’s film Gattaca exposes issues of genetic discrimination in a technologically-driven world. Through science fiction texts, readers can gain insight into various authors’ use of fictional futures to provide commentary on the present.
Science fiction texts utilise fictional futures to emphasise the power human will exerts over the concept of determinism through unique characters. Movement focuses on the perspective of Hannah Didier, a girl trapped between her parents’ indecision on whether to ‘fix’ her autism. Repetition and symbolism is used throughout the statements ‘No new shoes… I couldn’t dance the same in new shoes…new shoes…” The shoes serve as a symbol of her self-individualism within a society which believes in fixing individuals to create the ‘perfect’ individual, while the repetition suggests her determination to be able to control her future. The text presents the view that ‘fixing’ Hannah’s temporal autism will change her character and thus her individuality, emphasised by the quote ‘I couldn’t dance the same in new shoes…” This rejects the notion of an acceptance of one’s fate, Hannah serving as reminder to the present not only that human drive conquers all, but one can assimilate and belong in a society despite their character. Similarly, Gattaca exemplifies the power of human will over fate and determinism through the protagonist Vincent, who escapes his genetic makeup, and thus, his future. Vincent refuses to trap himself into the social conformity of a genetically imperfect degenerate, instead deciding to pursue his dreams of exploring space through sheer will. This is illustrated through the pivotal scene in which Vincent conquers3e his genetically superior brother in a swimming race, symbolic of how an individual’s will can overcome an individual’s determined genetics. Furthermore, the crashing waves in the background symbolise both Vincent’s human drive in the face of adversity and genoism (genetic discrimination) in society, and the power of human will over nature itself. However, while the protagonist of Movement Hannah Didier is a reminder to society that her differences are a symbol of her self-individualism, Gattaca’s Vincent gives up his identity to pursue his dreams in a prejudiced society. Hence, by the use of character and setting to narrate stories, science fiction texts can effectively comment on the present.
Both texts utilise the stereotypical, technologically advanced science fiction future to comment on the present. Gattaca uses the setting of a society made up of genetically-engineered, and thus perfect individuals to highlight the dangers of rapid technological progression on society. Protagonist Vincent Freeman is genetically discriminated against as a genetically imperfect individual, seen through his voice-over ‘My genetic scarlet letter continued to follow me from school to school…” The mise-en-scene of the close-up of young Vincent’s face, framed by the closed school gates symbolise that he is a prisoner to society’s desire for a standard of genetic perfection, emphasising the inability of Vincent to escape his genetic makeup. This scene effectively depicts the growth of the gap between society’s standards of the perfect and imperfect through the use of setting, commenting on the possibility of heightened discrimination as a result of rapid technological progression in the fictional future. Conversely, Movement comments on how technological progression can create a lack of social interaction through the technologically advanced science fiction future. The satirical quote from Hannah’s grandparents ‘Remember how it was when we were young? The way we’d crowd… game console? It’s a shame people don’t know how to connect with each other anymore…” exemplifies a lack of social interaction which directly correlates with the advancements of technology. The contrast between the speculative technology dubbed the ‘Vastness’, a network where people can connect with one another and the way individuals connect through game consoles currently exposes the gradual diminishing of an interacting society in the present through the exploration of a technologically advanced future, typical of a science fiction text. Although similar science fiction futures and settings are explored, divergent comments on the present can emerge from an author’s utilisation of language.
Ultimately, science fiction texts such as Andrew Niccol’s Gattaca and Nancy Fulda’s Movement comment on the present by exploring fictional futures through a range of conventions. Both texts celebrate the power of human will over the concept of determinism through powerful protagonists. Although Gattaca and Movement explore similar settings concerning the prospects of a technologically advanced future, contrasting messages emerge from these settings. Through the use of setting and character in fictional futures, individuals can gain a deeper insight into authors’ commentaries on the present.
Philosophy Under Strict Social System in “Anthem” by Ayn Rand
Philosophy is originally a kind of purpose of life pursuit, but in an extremely prosperous world, one may not have the happiness he or she deserves. Anthem, which is written by Ayn Rand, has described such a dystopian world. It is sad that under the environment, people’s fate has been imprisoned from the beginning. Under such a harsh social system, all technological progress is monitored and planned, and all people’s actions and ideas must always serve the greater collective interests. From a certain point of view, it departs from the meaning of ‘reason’ and ‘mind’ itself in philosophy. Therefore, this egoless, mechanized setting of people and this seemingly extremist bondage make the philosophy of the novel easy to cause ambiguity.
First, in terms of social mobility, Anthem constructs a society that follows the system of respecting the value of the whole society. Interpreting the satire of socialism and the discontent with communism, she describes an extreme collective world. While everyone should have his own personality, not be limited by distorted rules. Over-unification of each person, to consume each individual’s personality will definitely cause many people’s suffering. Just as Equality 7-2521, the protagonist of the story, uses only plural pronouns to write the story and struggles for his ‘curse’. Deeply devastated by the social system, he issued ‘ And questions give us no rest. We know not why our curse makes us seek we know not what, ever and ever. But we cannot resist it”. The gradual loss of human rights due to the excessive pursuit of collectivism also occurred in China during the Cultural Revolution. From May 1966 to October 1976, the Cultural Revolution witnessed the most serious setback and loss to the Party since the founding of the People’s Republic of China. It was nominally a direct reliance on the masses. In fact, it was not only divorced from the Party’s organization, but also brought serious disasters to the country and Chinese people. During the Cultural Revolution, the relationship between people changed. Some relatives also struggle with each other, demarcating boundaries between them. During this period, people not only suffered from the loss of the right to read, but also suffered the betrayal of their families. Compared with the Cultural Revolution, Rand’s philosophy is to some extent correct, but because of its extreme, it obviously causes people’s egolessness.
What’s more, acquired achievement is another element which makes Rand’s philosophy controversial. The society itself has a high level of material civilization. Everything there is so automated that people do not have to worry about anything but values society as a whole. It seems that economic prosperity and the enjoyment of life have become the only philosophy and even religion in the dystopian society. Every character is too mechanized to think for themselves except Equality 7-2521 and his friends. Too insipid life makes people have no great consideration and pursuit of freedom, so that they just blindly live according to the social regulations. This is why Equality 7-2521 claims that ‘The fortune my spirit is not to be blown into coins of brass and flung to the winds as alms for the poor of the spirit. I guard my treasures: my thought, my will, my freedom. And the greatest of these is freedom’. When it comes to the excessive mechanization of the mind, it’s hard not to mention the collapse of the Soviet Union in history here. Brezhnev (who was in power in the Soviet Union at that time) took his relatives as officials, which formed a formerly terrible privileged class. Bribery, corruption, no real concern for the country, so-called socialism is only a return to the ancestors. Under these circumstances, the disintegration of the Soviet Union is an inevitable process due to the mechanized setting of people, so as Anthem.
In addition, the philosophy of the whole novel overemphasizes extremism. Some of the experiences especially the great upheaval in Russian society forever influence how Rand would see politics and how she would function as an artist. As an ardent exponent of capitalism and an arch enemy of communism, she somehow shows extremism during her work. This seemingly extremism is also manifested in the protagonist’s argument — “I worship individuals for their highest possibilities as individuals, and I loathe humanity, for its failure to live up to these possibilities.” Because the author has some extremist ideas, the protagonists she describes who wants to break the social bondage also consider the extreme attitude of human nature. This is similar to Fascism to a certain extent. Fascism is extreme capitalism who yearns for power and whose excessive desire will lead to war of aggression. When people and the whole society are eroded by desire, it may become more terrible than extreme socialism.
One of Thomas Jefferson’s speeches suggests that all men are created equal. In fact, the significance of life itself does not lie on the innate and social system, but in every journey one has experienced after birth. This will not be replaced by any superficial social figures. But criticizing socialism from an extreme point of view and describing people’s ideas mechanically are not acceptable to the public. That’s why under the era that social hierarchy and birth have been decided, even though Rand’s work shows the bright side of human nature, her philosophical ideas are still being disagreed.
Manipulation, Segregation and Dictatorship in “Anthem” by Ayn Rand
Ayn Rand’s philosophy of individualism and freedom is crucial for a well-balanced society. The society controlled by the World Council, described in Anthem, should be avoided as it represents manipulation, segregation and dictatorship. This essay will demonstrate the negative aspects Equality faces through the following examples; Hitler’s totalitarian regime, the Montgomery bus boycott and Kim Jong Un’s dictatorship.
Adolf Hitler was the leader and mastermind of Germany’s largest political party; National Socialist. The Nazi regime became popular as Hitler promised to put his people and his country first. The party was run by white males that lacked “emotional connection” to make the right choices. This led to the closures of many newspaper companies, editors were forced and manipulated to only print what was told by the government. Palace of the World Council, in Anthem practices the concept of one party state as they have the slogan, “We are one in all … and forever” carved out in marble. After dinner, Equality describes they all form a single line and walk to the City Hall where the Leaders read “the speeches which were made in the City Council that day, for the City Council represents all men and all men must know”. Even though the notion of being united as one is seen as positive in some instances, the extreme practices that come from these views weaken our society. The general public do not any know better than to follow blindly and believe what they hear.
To oppose and question the Council is a crime that is punishable by death. As a child, Equality witnesses a Transgressor burn in the City square. The council had cut his tongue off for expressing his individuality by using the word ‘I’. Even though the transgressor was chained, he did not feel any pain, Equality describes that out of all the people that were present on that day, his “was the calmest and happiest face”. This is relatable to the Montgomery bus boycott in 1955-1965. The African American society in Alabama were required to “sit in the back half of city buses and to yield their seats to white riders if the front half of the bus, reserved for whites, was full”. Rosa Parks did not obey this law and she was fined and arrested. Although her punishment was not as harsh as being burnt alive, she refused to give into the rules that support segregation. Another example of segregation that Equality faces is when he goes to the great hall to meet with the World Council of Scholars to show them his discovery of electricity. Equality faces inequality when he introduces himself as a Street Sweeper of the city. The Scholars reacted as if they were invaded by an enemy: “A Street Sweeper! A Street Sweeper walking in upon the World Council of Scholars! It is not to be believed! It is against all the rules and all the laws!”. The Council was more shocked that he was a Street Sweeper than the fact that he discovered electricity. Being a part of a society should represent inclusive communities and the freedom of choice not segregation.
In Anthem, the society obeys all decisions made by council. The society segregates their members into various houses by their age, gender and occupation. Equality is fascinated by science and technology and wanted to be a part of the Scholars. However, he is not allowed to make this decision, the Council of Vocations would decide for students when they turn fifteen on “what their work is to be for the rest of their days”. This society resembles to Kim Jong Un’s dictatorship in North Korea. It is one of the few countries still under the communist rule. Equality fears living in his own society, he says “there is fear hanging in the air … All men feel it and none dare speak”. This is how North Koreans feel, they live in fear and terror as their freedom is snatched away by their government. They are not allowed “to choose their own job”. If they do not respect the decisions of their government they will be punished. Anthem portrays a society that is ruled under communism which has a system of harsh and strict rules imposed on them. There is no form of individuality, the society is manipulated by the World Council that tells them what’s right and wrong. Just like Equality “ran blindly”, there are thousands of North Koreans that try to “flee every year” away from dictatorship. This is not an example of an inclusive society. People should have the right and freedom of choice and should be able to vote for their leaders, only then would there be an inclusive society.
- Editors, History.com. “Montgomery Bus Boycott.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 3 Feb. 2010, www.history.com/topics/black-history/montgomery-bus-boycott.
- Evans, Richard J. “The Ways to Destroy Democracy.” The Nation, 28 Feb. 2017, www.thenation.com/article/the-ways-to-destroy-democracy/.
- Rand, Ayn. Anthem. Penguin, 2008.
- Urban, Mike Wright; David. “Brutal and Inhumane Laws North Koreans Are Forced to Live Under.” The Telegraph, Telegraph Media Group, 19 Sept. 2017, www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/09/19/brutal-inhumane-laws-north-koreans-forced-live/.
- HRW. “World Report 2019: Rights Trends in North Korea.” Human Rights Watch, 17 Jan. 2019, www.hrw.org/world-report/2019/country-chapters/north-korea.
The Theme of Individualism in “Anthem” by Ayn Rand
Anthem by Ayn Rand is an outstanding novel purposed to glorify human potential as well as individual self-worth. Its main theme is individualism and central conflict, that is, individual versus the collective. The story of the novel takes place in an unidentified place when mankind has entered another Dark Age, but as the author put it, it is a fascist-like dictatorship of the future where a person is not obligated to any right, and his sole purpose is to serve the state. Equality 7- 2521 is the main character in this novella. Due to his brilliance, he yearns to be a scientist, but the State who controls him fears of what his mind might achieve and commands him to be a Street Sweeper.
In the novel, the author tells us that, “…the people of this world pawns with no rights and exist as wards of the government.” They are born, raised and educated in government institutions, toil in government-assigned jobs, as well as reside in massive ménages provided by the state. Furthermore, these people have no personal lives as they are forbidden to have lovers or friends. Instead, they are engaged in government-controlled procreation, whereby the state determines who sleeps with whom and when. Besides, even the names given to them by the State indicate variations on collectivism, for instance, Equality 7-2521 and International 6-Li 2 7843, among others, suggest many people sharing the same name. Most importantly, the word “I” has been outlawed, and even erased from the spoken language and from citizens’ thoughts. When conversing they use the word “we” since they lack vocabulary of express themselves.
Equality 7-2521 struggles in thinking, living, as well as loving as his terms conflict with the general terms of the government. This forms the heart of the novel as Rand fends for the rights of individuals to a life of their own making, and warns against the current society’s relentless movement towards collectivism. Ayn Rand informs of the popularity of collective functions that existed in past decades and continue to exist up to date. For instance, in the mid- 1930s, many U.S politicians and scholars praised both the Nazi and Communist systems as “stately experiments”. Before the War, the Nazi’s regime in Germany was lauded as noble by some political leaders in America. They gave their unwavering support for the unswerving commitment believing that one exists solely on the basis of serving society. During his tenure, President Roosevelt implemented a number of initiatives that were primarily based on the assumption that moral excellence resides exclusively in altruistic service to others. Today, support for communism is still dominant as the Marxist ideology is widely accepted among many scholars not only in America, but across the rest of the world.
The language usage in the novel is also another feature illustrating the process of collectivization at a level far deeper than simply political. The society that Equality 7-2521 dwells in has successfully brainwashed its people in believing that laboring for others is the only way to go, and that they should be living utterly unloved of personal life. The state has also successfully managed to radicalize as well as alter the thought patterns of its people. The collectivist masters have blotted out all concepts of individuality from human minds. Words like “me” or “I” have been completely erased from their thoughts and from the vocabulary. Collectivist language and speech are the only concepts allowed. This manner of collectivizing society in political practice is a situation reminiscent of Hitler’s claim that National Socialism was more efficient and effective than communism. As per his words, he states that, “The Communists nationalize banks and industries, whereas the Nazis nationalize bankers and industrialists.”
Another memorable aspect of this story is the unflagging curiosity of Equality 7-2521’s mind. Although he was forbidden from doing any experiments, he defies all odds and explores his try-outs until he discovers electricity. Even though he acknowledges the social structure of where he is from, and the thought that if caught he will be executed, his desire to succeed in his own path supersedes all of the former. His passion is unwavering and vows to succeed despite of everything that might happen to him since he possesses the intellect of a great scientist. The author argues that this kind of firm attitude forges mankind ahead moving from ignorance to Age of Reason. This aspect is also reminiscent of a number of society’s great thinkers who underwent the same experiences as Equality 7-2521. For example, Charles Darwin was deuced for originating, Galileo threatened by tribunal for daring to defend Copernicus, and Henry Ford mocked for his inventions.
In conclusion, it can be stated that the novella “Anthem” is essentially a parable designed to illustrate the author’s philosophical perspective of individualism. Equality 7-2521’s defiance of a brainwashed society by an authoritarian state paves the road to a self-sufficient and creative being living outside the system that oppressed him. The author naturally condemns collectivism in passionate advocacy of individualism. The collectivist culture eliminates meaningful interactions, something that kept men attuned to backward thinking.
- Bernstein, Andrew. CliffsNotes on Rand’s Anthem. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2001.
- Rand, Ayn. Anthem. Chicago: Valmy Publishing, 2018. Internet resource.
Ayn Rand’s Warnings About Collectivism In “Anthem”
In Ayn Rand’s 1938 novella, Anthem, Rand explores the life of a young man named, Equality 7-2521 in a ‘Dark-Age’ communist-like state set sometime in the distant future. The novella follows Equality’s struggle to find his identity and purpose in a society that has rejected individualism in favor of collectivism. On March 19, 1944, Ayn Rand wrote a letter in which she states: “Fascism, Nazism, Communism and Socialism are only superficial variations of the same monstrous theme — collectivism.” Rand’s anti-collectivist and pro-individual standpoint is not only moral, but it is just. Throughout the last century we have witnessed the rise and fall of many collectivist states and the atrocities that follow them such as: the stripping of the individual in the USSR, the importance of the collective in North Korea, and the loss of freedom in China.
There are many parallels in Anthem to Soviet Russia as Rand fled her homeland (Russia) in 1926, only a few years after the founding of the USSR. Anthem’s unknown city’s goal is to focus on the needs of the collective rather than the individual, which is the same initial principle that the Soviet Union was founded upon. When we strip man of his individuality and turn him into a pawn of the collective, we come to a moral dilemma and begin to ask tough questions, such as: Why should the individual be more important than the collective? Are the lives of the individual truly more important than the life of the collective? In Chapter 11 Prometheus proclaims, “For the word “We” must never be spoken, save by one’s choice and as a second thought. This word must never be placed first within a man’s soul, else it becomes a monster, the root of all the evils on earth, the root of man’s torture by men, and an unspeakable lie.” We see that after Prometheus broke free from the chains of man and understood the value of himself that he asked this, “I wonder, for it is hard for me to conceive how men who knew the word “I,” could give it up and now know what they had lost.” Prometheus knew that we must never value the collective more than the individual because that is when evil triumphs. When we become so desensitized by altruism that we neglect our own needs and desires, we lose the essence of what it means to be human.
In Anthem the people are taught that their only purpose is to serve the collective as they know what is best. The people have no real choice in what they can do with their lives as they are all working towards the government’s goal. An example of this being jobs, whilst still living in the unknown city, Prometheus was a street sweeper. He had no choice in the matter as that is what he was taught to believe. Prometheus also had next to no interaction with anyone outside of the other street sweepers besides Gaea, which shows that the ‘government’ doesn’t want any interaction between the people besides their service to one another. The unknown city models a communist style state in which the ‘government’ has seized the means of production so that all goods and services are designed for collective and their stagnation. The people of the city are only living to serve one another, this is pointed out to us in Chapter 7 when Similarity 5-0306 says, “And if this should lighten the toil of men, then it is a great evil, for men have no cause to exist save in toiling for other men.” There can never be any true progression in a collectivist state as those who progress would be better than their peers. Similarities of this style of rule are present in North Korea. The people of North Korea’s only purpose (in their eyes) are to serve the collective as that is all they know. Those who do not follow this mentality are thrown into prisons which are notorious for being just as bad as the Nazi concentration camps. The dictators of North Korea have brainwashed the people and have fed them lies for decades, leading the people to believe that the collective is more important individual. Over the years as the world’s eyes have been opened to the atrocities that go on in the Korean peninsula today, the people continue to suffer in silence, because its what’s best for everyone.
One of the critical themes of Anthem is the loss of freedom, and a perfect example of this would be the Chinese government’s suppression of civil liberties. The Communist Party of China has been the ruling political party since its inception in 1921 and has been responsible for some of the greatest atrocities in human history such as the Great Leap Forward (1958-1962) and the Tiananmen Square Massacre (1989). Mao Zedong is the most infamous chairman of the Communist Party as he spearheaded the socio-economic campaign, the Great Leap Forward which led to the deaths of 45 million in the short span of four years. It was also the post-Mao social and economic state of China which led to the infamous Tiananmen Square protests where at least 10,000 people were killed by Chinese soldiers. In China these crucial bits of history are blotted out as the government controls what the people can and cannot see. The Chinese people’s freedom of speech and press is completely suppressed and those who speak out or try to counter the law are routinely punished.
Here in modern western civilization we can all agree that the Chinese people are treated terribly by their government as most people would believe that the government should not have this kind of power over their citizen. This belief is emulated by Prometheus’ quote in Chapter 12 in which he states, “At first, man was enslaved by the gods. But he broke their chains. Then he was enslaved by the kings. But he broke their chains. He was enslaved by his birth, by his kin, by his race. But he broke their chains. He declared to all his brothers that a man has rights which neither god nor king nor other men can take away from him, no matter what their number, for he is the right of man, and there is no right on earth above this right.” The Chinese government much like the ‘government’ in Anthem are oppressors who have stripped the people of their God-given rights to speech, thought, and expression and we see this more and more today as the Hong Kong Protests rage on. The protestors know that once China has their full grasp over Hong Kong, they will lose many of their freedoms.
In the last century we have seen how collectivist ideologies such as communism and socialism have plagued the world in places such as: Russia, China, Cuba, North Korea, Venezuela, Nazi Germany, and many more. In these countries we have seen the rise of tyrants and dictators who oppress the masses, eliminate opposition and wreak havoc under the guise of ‘what is best for their people’. Ayn Rand’s warnings of the dangers of Collectivism are needed now more than ever in today’s society. Right now, in the United States, the world’s bastion of freedom, we have elected officials who are actively pushing an agenda that wish to topple the pro-capitalism and pro-individual system in order to bring about a new socialist government.
One of Rand’s most famous quotes is, “There is no difference between communism and socialism, except in the means of achieving the same ultimate end: communism proposes to enslave men by force, socialism – by vote. It is merely the difference between murder and suicide.” A communist/socialist state never has and never will succeed because as we have seen time and time again, the fantasy of equality will inevitably lead to a dark and destructive path. As individuals we must value ourselves more than others. It is not man’s duty to care for and love his fellow man simply because they are born. It is a right that one must earn. When we submit ourselves to an ideology that strips the individual of his thoughts and freedoms in favor of the collective like the men and women of Anthem, we lose what it means to be human.
- Rand, A. Anthem. Empire Books, 2012.
- Akbar, A. “Mao’s Great Leap Forward ‘killed 45 million in four years”. The Independent, 17th September 2010, independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/news/maos-great-leap-forwardkilled-45-million-in-four-years-2081630.html
- Fifield, A. “North Korea’s prisons are as bad as Nazi camps, says judge who survived Auschwitz”. Washington Post, 11th December, washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/north-koreas-prisons-are-as-bad-as-nazi-camps-saysjudge-who-survived-auschwitz/2017/12/11/7e79beea-ddc4-11e7-b2e9- 8c636f076c76_story.html
- Langevin, J. “Tiananmen Square Protests”. History, 31st May 2019, history.com/topics/china/Tiananmen-square
- Lusher, A. “At least 10,000 people died in Tiananmen Square massacre, secret British cable from the time alleged”. The Independent, 23rd December 2017, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/tiananmen-square-massacre-death-tollsecret-cable-british-ambassador-1989-alan-donald-a8126461.html
- Ramzy, A. “On Hong Kong Handover Anniversary, Many Fear Loss of Freedoms”. The New York Times, 1st July 2019, nytimes.com/2019/07/01/world/asia/hong-kong-chinahandover.html
- Smith, George. “Ayn Rand on Fascism”. Libertarianism, 8th January 2016, libertarianism.org/columns/ayn-rand-fascism/
- “The Difference Between Communism and Socialism”. Adam Smith Institute, 7th June 2009, adamsmith.org/blog/miscellaneous/the-difference-between-communism-and-socialism/
- “The People’s Challenges”. Liberty in North Korea, (n.d), libertyinnorthkorea.org/learn-nkchallenges/
The Idea that Individualism Should Be Promoted in “Anthem” by Ayn Rand
In the novel “Anthem” Ayn Rand tries to represent the idea that everyone in the world should have opportunities to pursue their own happiness. She criticizes the philosophies of collectivism and socialism, which limit people’s individuality, and she also encourages people to join with Equality 7-2521 to escape from restrictions. The philosophy that Rand promotes in her novel is Objectivism, which is fully illustrated in her subsequent work by four tenets: reality, reason, self-interest, and capitalism. This philosophy is widely used by the contemporary world and there are many examples along history can prove the correctness and develop ability of Objectivism, such as the British would rather escape from England to the unfamiliar wild land instead of staying in the “advanced” British land and the rise of America and Japan by supporting self-interest and high technology can all tell the correctness of Objectivism.
A good society is freedom and has few laws. In the book “Anthem”, the government completely controls people’s lives. Everyone be identified by codes rather than names, the job is assigned by the vocation council and people in “Anthem” even do not have the opportunity to choose their own wives. “Since the Council does not know of this hole, there can be no law permitting to enter it. And everything which is not permitted by law is forbidden”, in this dystopian city, there never have a room of free, no matter for the individual to decide their own fairs and anything is not permitted than it is forbidden. However, the Founders believe a good society should have few laws, which are clear to the public and respected by them. The early American population is contributed a lot by the immigration of the British, they leave from Europe to live in this new and wild lands. Some settlers come here for religious freedom or seek wealth. In this “New World”, people can enjoy a great degree of freedom than in England.
Significantly, the seventeenth century is a revolution century. During this century, the British have launched the English Revolution, Civil War and Glorious Revolution, in this turbulent era, England’s government also transformed from a monarchy to a republican form and established the English constitutional system, which greatly limited the powers of the monarch. Through the history of England, we learn that the residents do not prefer a lot of restrictions, they enjoy the freedom of life, so they can free to choose and do whatever they want. The laws should be a positive way to maintain the peace of society, instead of an obstacle to stint people’s life and happiness.
Self-interest is as important as the public interest. In the world of the novel “Anthem”, individualism is always behind the collective will. “We all one in all and all in one. There are no men but the great WE, One, indivisible and forever.” They do not have identities of their own, instead of group identity. Acting as individuals, thinking their lives as unique and caring about themselves can be seen guilty. Although the old moral philosophy announced: to be moral, one must sacrifice one’s self-interest to the needs of others. However, this old vision has been questioned through the rise of American capitalism. Tocqueville described the democracy of American: the free, robust society of energetic, enterprising individuals, mutually profiting from each other’s pursuit of their self-interest. This kind of the world has been called the individualism world, which gives people courage and has more confidence and determination to pursue wealth, and it also stimulates the prosperity of the industry. As the wild land, is far more behind than other countries because the abundance of land lack labour, however, the big support from government help people to gain success, such as expanding the system of credit in order to help entrepreneurs to accumulate capital and also improving the transportation system for raw material can reach the factories and consumers’ hands quickly and safely. Because the American government respect and support the development of individual or self- interest, so the economy of America can increase rapidly.
The industry is the foundation of a country. The society is described in the novel is no scientific and technological decay, because strict restrictions limit people’s minds and let people lose passion for innovation. “But we loved the Science of Things. We wished to know. We wished to know about all the things which make the earth around us. We asked so many questions that the Teachers forbade it”, Equality 7-2521 really loves science, and he successfully finds something very important.
Unfortunately, when he presents his work to the world council of scholars, they are horrified that he does something unauthorized and they want to punish him without appreciating. This rigid thinking limits the development of countries without doubts. Benjamin Franklin said, “Sloth makes all things difficult, but industry all things easy.” As mountainous, volcanic island country, Japan has inadequate natural resources, but which is the world’s second-largest developed economy. Also Japan is ranked by one of the most innovative countries in the world and has the largest electric goods industries, which focuses on high-tech goods all the time. For example, Japan engages in optical instruments, hybrid vehicles, and robotics. Japanese already realize the importance of technology during the Meiji period (1868-1912), the governments start a new Western-based education system for all the young people and send them to Europe and America, they also hire more than 3,000 Westerners to teach modern science, mathematics, technology and English. So there is no doubt that why Japan can squeeze into the group of developed countries and even exceed some counties, which have better nature sources than Japan.
The idea mentioned by Rand should be promoted. Too many restrictions will inhibit people’s enthusiasm and let people satisfy their right now status and do not want to make progress. However, proper freedom can do the opposite job which makes wild land becoming attractive to invite a lot of immigrants to come and the liberal and open policies allow the economy of the US and Japan to grow dramatically. All examples tell us the benefits of Rand’s theory, so it is necessary to promote.
- Rand, Ayn. Anthem. Champaign, Ill.: Boulder, Colo.: Project Gutenberg; NetLibrary, 19901999.
Equality’s Growth from Zero to Hero in “Anthem” by Ayn Rand
Imagine a world where everything and everyone is the same, a world where there is no freedom to make your own visions or live your own decisions. This is the cruel reality of Equality. Anthem is dystopian novel written by Ayn Rand which teaches the importance of individuality and self-deficiency. “Simple” It takes place in the distant future where mankind seems to have entered into a dark age. When a man named Equality breaks the most forbidden law. Equality begins as guilty, but after a stage of hopelessness, he becomes, self-assured, which reflects Rand’s message about individuality.
At the beginning of Anthem, Equality is a character who is guilty and curious. He is speaking to himself in a cave saying “…there is no transgression blacker than to do or think alone…may we be forgiven”. Equality’s guilt emerges through Rand’s diction. Equality’s choice of the words “transgression” and “forgiven” indicates a sense of guilt so deep that it is nearly a religious experience. In addition, his imagery describing his sins as “black” displays the deep bleakness he has within his soul. Furthermore, Equality is curios. As Equality was finishing work as a Street Sweeper, he discovers a tunnel. Trying to induce International to go in, he says, “‘We shall go down,’ we said to International 4-8818…‘It is forbidden,’ they answered… But we said: ‘We shall go, nonetheless’”. Readers can easily recognize Equality’s curiosity in this portion of the text because of International’s use of a short and direct response indicates a sense of urgency and concern towards Equality’s decision to go against the law. In addition, Equality’s repetition of the words “we shall go” indicated his determination as well as a small sense of rebellion against the council’s rules. Instead of cowering away from this new discovery, Equality dismisses all the rules and goes to explore the tunnel. Creating Equality with guilt and curiosity in the beginning of the novel is making way for Equality’s transformation into an individual and to break out from the barrier that is his society.
As Equality develops he begins to show traits of hopelessness and protectiveness. As Equality reflects on his childhood, he realizes that he’s always been different. Dreading that fact he says, “We were born with a curse… we know we are evil, but there is no will in us and no power to resist it”. Readers can easily recognize Equality’s hopelessness in this portion of the text because of Equality’s choice of the words “curse” and “evil” to describe his differences indicates a deep sense of hopelessness. Moreover, he is wretched enough to say “there is no will in us”, as though he has given up and accepted that he may never be like everyone else. Furthermore, Equality is protective. Equality is sitting alone in the tunnel, when he discovers the power of electricity. “Complex” In fear that the council will take it away from him, Equality states, “Now let us be lashed for it, if we must”. In times of trouble, Equality became persistent and was completely devoted to keeping his discovery safe from anyone who might take it away from him. In addition, Equality even goes to the lengths of saying “let us be lashed” indicating that he is willing to get punished if it means his discovery can be protected. Equality develops traits of hopelessness and protectiveness can reflect how even in a society where all hope for a future is lost, Equality is still willing to protect anything that he holds dear to when it comes the time to face the council.
By the end of the novel, Equality is self-assured and ambitious. After Equality discovers the word “I”, he realizes that he doesn’t have to follow the rules of the council, but to decide for himself. He says, “This miracle of me is mine to own and keep, and mine to guard, and mine to use, and mine to kneel before”. Equality’s repetition of the word “mine” indicates that he is no longer in the possession of his society. He goes on to say that he is his own person and will choose to follow himself. Furthermore, Equality is ambitious. Equality has been reading ancient books and now knows what he must do in the world. He says, “…I shall rebuild the achievements of the past, and open the way to carry them achievements further, the achievements which are open to me, but closed to my brothers…”. Now that Equality has found his life purpose, he wishes to expand his knowledge so he can rebuild his society into a more developed, independent utopia. In addition, the repetition of the word “achievements” indicates that Equality’s modern society advancements are nothing compare to what was use in the past, so Equality believes that he needs to help the society get on track towards a brighter future. By this point of the novel, Equality has become a fully independent individual displaying traits of self-assurance and ambition. In contrast to his anxious and insecure personality in the beginning of the novel, Equality is now confident and self-reliant, free to think for himself and to make his own decisions.
Equality begins as a guilty and transforms into a self-assured individual who will be ambitious, which illustrates Rand’s philosophy of objectivism. Rand created the book to teach the readers about individuality, and how to be independent. In a world where we all have to look out for ourselves to survive, Rand’s philosophy about objectivism tells of an individual who can. When men are all looking out for himself, how can they grow as a community, and become more resilient knowing that someone has their back.
“Anthem”: Individualism and Freedom as the Dynamic Pillars of True Communities
Anthem is a portrayal of Ayn Rand’s view on collectivism and acquaints us with the standards of objectivism and individualism. The hero of the novel, Prometheus, is raised in a society where the word ‘’we” is worshiped and the identity of the individual is crumpled by the overwhelming power of collectivism. Rand rationality and her philosophy are ideal in various perspectives; we can’t deny the idea of individual will and its significance in the upkeep of a free society. Individualism and freedom are the dynamic pillars of true communities.
Equality 7-2521, (later renames himself Prometheus), emanates from comprehending that one is the focal point of one’s world, and our observation contributes the world its significance. He starts realizing and understanding his self and the importance of his reality. “My happiness is not the means to an end. It is the end. It is its own goal. It is its purpose”. He struggles throughout the novel and thrives on investing his energy alone, on composing for his very own advantage, and on making at his very own recreation and for his motivations. “To be free, a man must be free of his brothers. That is freedom. This and nothing else”. Simply after his break with society, he comes to know about his qualities and capabilities. “I am. I think. I will”. He flourishes alone, even in the forest, where he first expects to be wrecked by monsters. In society, people, as a whole, are depleted of their vitality and sapped of their imagination until they become indistinct, revealed themselves as separate beings. “The word ‘We’ is as lime poured over men, which sets and hardens to stone, and crushes all beneath it, and that which is white and that which is black are lost equally in the grey of it”. Opposite to this, those characters having the capability of knowing themselves, discerning on their display power, boldness, and self- assurance. In his final realization, Equality 7-2521 affirms his drive is the only thing he will follow and his contentment his sole objective.
The adjustment in the limits of individualism prompts the flourishment of societies. The 1960s were a period of enormous change in the limits of American individualism. The civil rights revolution was an overdue acknowledgment that dark Americans had been adequately banished from the positions of individuals whom Jefferson had said two centuries sooner had ”unalienable rights” to ”Life, Liberty and the quest for Happiness.” The women development happened against another authentic background, obviously, yet it was likewise inclusionary.
These ’60s contentions over ”which individuals,” while serious at the time, were conclusively settled wisely. Significant in itself, the present discussion and questioning, including parts of own life mirror a more extensive national exertion to deal with the new individualism. Presently, the result of the last re-evaluation did a lot to set the country’s direction positively.
Similarly, in current Russian conditions about the individualistic directions at work are all the more frequently, which is communicated in the self-acknowledgment of the individual aspiration, the opportunity of decision. You can’t deny the way that a man has both the collectivist standards and the individualism. The reason is that the individual is unfit to live separated from society and to be completely free. Modern Russia took a shot at this key, particularly in financial aspects, and it gave them success.
The contrasts among individualism and community can also have effects on the amount of time which is prescribed for a given task. For instance, a statistical organization surveyed to know about tourists around the globe. Japan took a very long time in returning the poll, as compared to other nations. The reason behind that, American traveler offices assigned the work to one individual, while the Japanese appointed the work to the whole department, which took longer to get it completed.
Rand writes Anthem gives a warning to the individuals who believe that collectivist social orders, similar to the one she witnessed in Russia at the beginning of the twentieth century, can ever be useful. She thoughtfully states that restricting the individual and his or her needs will move the society towards devastation and stop all advancement and development. “I guard my treasures: my thought, my will, my freedom. And the greatest of these is freedom”.
Nevertheless, she believes that the individual can never truly be ruled — the individual will unvaryingly reemerge in view of the fact that freedom is a part of the human makeup. Rand trusts that no matter how hard society attempts and how many individuals it kills on the name of collectivism, the person will in any case arise and proclaim oneself his own motivation. Thus, Individualism and freedom are the dynamic pillars of true communities.
- Bergelson, Mira. ‘Collectivism And Individualism In Russian Culture – Communication In Organizational Contexts | Coursera.’ Coursera. N.p., 2019. https://www.coursera.org/lecture/ intercultural-communication-russians/5-6-collectivism-and-individualism-in-russian-culture- NXZMJWeb.
- Rand, Ayn. Anthem Notes. IDG Books Worldwide, 2000.
- Wilczewski, Michał; Gut, Arkadiusz; and Gorbaniuk, Oleg. ‘The Impact Of Individualism- Collectivism Orientation And Communal Orientation On Employees’ Attitudes Toward Intercultural Communication.’ Journal of Intercultural Communication 45 (2017): 1404- 1634.
- Younkins, Edward. ‘Individualism And Freedom: Vital Pillars Of True Communities | Edward Younkins.’ Fee.org. N.p., 1998. https://fee.org/articles/individualism-and-freedom- vital-pillars-of-true-communities
The Handmaid’s Tale By Margret Atwood: Feminism In The Context Of Dystopian World
The Handmaids Tale is a piece of literature that teaches the reader universal truth as well as life lessons. The novel has been banned in some school for being too offensive to Christians and sexuality explicit. Other think the novel should be read by many. The novel brings to light violence against women, can make the reader see the importance of independence and makes the readers question the authority surrounding them. Margret Atwood is a well known feminist author, who incorporates some form of a lesson about feminism into her novels. The novels characters are highly influences by society and how it defines what matters about a person. The government in Gilead is very strict and the women start to have trouble finding a purpose for themselves. There are lots of symbols in the text that help magnify the lessons about feminism and power. The Handmaids Tale by Margret Atwood is about a dystopian world and when viewed through a feminist sense reveals the importance of feminism and how the lacking of it may lead to the oppression of women.
First, throughout the book it is brought to light how much the society around them can define one person. In the novel the society around women defines who they are allowed to be. Women get their jobs assigned to them by the abilities to have children or not. When they go out in public, if their allowed they have to follow strict government rules. They have to be in pairs of twos and only say phrases that are government approved. Women have no choice in what they wear it is assigned to them because it have to follow societies standards. Also women in Gilead society can no longer own any of their own land, or read or write. “There are other women with baskets, some in red, some in the dull green of the Marthas, some in the striped dressed, red and blue and green and cheap and skimp, that mark the women of the poorer men”. In this quote Offred is talking about how all the women have to wear different dressed that label different statuses in society.
These labels that they have to wear around through the colour or pattern of their clothes come from the men they are connected to. “That was one of the things they do. They force you to kill within yourself. The way that society is constructed in Gilead forces women to shut out who they are within. All that women are now valued for in the new society of Gilead is their bodies, the ability to do their work and play their role. The way the society is constructed when Gilead was made lead to their bodies being the only thing that defines women.
Second, in the way Gilead works the only thing that now matters about the women is there bodies. Since their bodies define who the women are, the women are very conservative about how they show them. Always having to hide their bodies caused the women to grow ashamed of their own skin. When a women is a handmaid the only part of her that really matters to the family she’s working for is her ability to bare children. Prior to Gilead women were valued by their personalities and skills but now all that matters is what they wear and if they do their job correctly. Offred expresses that living in Gilead has lead her to feel foreign to her own body. Offred even found it hard to believe that she used to comfortably walk around with lots of skin showing and especially amongst men. “My nakedness is strange to me already […] did I really wearing bathing suits at the beach? I did without a thought, among men without caring that my legs, my arms, my thighs and my back were on display, could be seen. Shameful immodest. I avoid looking down at my body, not so much because its shameful or immodest but because I don’t want to see it. I don’t want to look at something that defines me completely” (Atwood 12.4)
The social standards of Gilead cause her to look at her own choices from the old world and be upset with herself. It’s as if she’s slut shaming herself for what used to be considered normal. Offred is no longer valued for her personality she is identified by her body so she is now conscious about how its viewed by others. The way that the new society works in Gilead was set up by the government that is now a dictatorship.
The way society works in Gilead leads to the women feeling useless. Women no longer are allowed to use their minds which is oppressing them because the men still can. The women are no longer being respected or appreciated for their personalities and can no longer read and write. Men are now taught to look at women as just bodies who are completing their work. The way that the men are supposed to look at women is objectifying and belittling them. Men can no longer socialize with women unless approved on and they shouldn’t get attached to them being as they’re only workers. Being unable to express their thoughts or read and write makes the women feel as if their useless.
Also the women are being objectified, the clothing that they wear is all that defines them. “Agreed to it write away she didn’t care. Anything with two legs and a good you know-what was fine with her. They aren’t squeamish, they don’t have the same feelings we do”. Offred is expression the fact that to the wife she doesn’t matter at all the only thing that does matter is her ability to have children for said wife. “This is the kind of touch they life: folk art, archaic made by women in their spare time from things that have no further use. A return to traditional values. Waste not want not. I am being wasted. Why do I want?”. Offred is comparing herself to folk art in this passage, she sees it as of she os being wasted and she is feeling useless. The way women are valued in Gilead versus the old world is and example of bad feminism.
Third, the books main theme is feminism. As we continue reading other themes come up along with it. The other two main themes were power and sexuality. These themes were an aid to further the theme of feminism. The way the theme of power was incorporated into the book showed how it added to the deterioration of women rights. The power the men had over women left them with no say in their own lives. Gilead is a dictatorship that left men with all the power.
Everyone who lives in Gilead is constantly surveilled by the government even in their own homes. The lack of women rights in Gilead forces them to use their sexuality illegally to get what they want from men. The government kills gays, lesbians and abortion doctors. They don’t allow second marriages and dictate what women are allowed to wear. With the strict laws nobody can fully express who they fully are. The power of sex was very prominent in the novel, Offred’s affair with Nick would be an example of this. She felt more free, open and happier while having the affair. The commander Offred works for has affairs with his handmaids, the previous one killed herself because people found out about it. This doesn’t stop the commander from doing it he doesn’t consider the risk that he’s putting the women at. Women in Gilead risk their lives for the possibility of love because they feel so alone.
Gilead is supposedly providing a safer society for women to live in. Women now have little to no contact with men and are supposed to be there for each other. They are paired in twos to go outside their homes, they are supposed to provide support during times in sickness, child birth, death and they all work together. Offred’s Mother was a feminist activist. She used to do pretests for things like abortion rights. The lack of women rights in Gilead made Offred see that her mom was right about the need to speak up for her beliefs. Offred was worried that feminism would alienate her from men but that happened anyway in Gilead. Throughout the book we see the perks and the flaws of feminism that the reader can learn lessons from.
Also, there are many symbols being used in this novel and it also teaches us valuable lessons. The Handmaids Tale is a dystopian/utopian novel that teaches the reader important lessons about feminism. Also the use of symbols showed the rider insight into the novel. One of the symbols that was used through the novel was costumes. All the women wore different outfits that labeled them. The colour red was worn by handmaids and red can symbolize power, blood or rebellion. The colour blue can symbolize virgin Mary which is the opposite colour of what the handmaids wear. Another important symbol would be mirrors. Mirrors reflect whoever looking in. The handmaids no longer being able to look at themselves in the mirror could symbolize and identity loss.
We learn to appreciate the freedom we have right now, because we never know when it can be taken away. Our sexuality can be powerful, in the novel Offred has no say over her body or reproductive rights, but she manipulates the commander with her body to get what she wants. We learn that its important to speak up. Offred should have spoken up about feminists and women rights, because maybe protests could have changed the way Gilead is and now she has no voice. Our voices matter and we should speak up for what we believe in. The book also teaches us that fear is powerful. Everyone in the book fears the consequences of the government if they defy it. It is hard to defy what everyone else is doing.
In conclusion the dystopian world in the novel shows the reader the importance of feminism and how without it can lead to oppression of some. Margret Atwood did an excellent job at prevailing many important lessons throughout out piece of literature. The main theme in the novel was feminism, along with sexuality and power. The novel also makes the reader think about how much authority is controlling us. The Handmaids Tale by Margret Atwood is a well written novel that forces the reader to consider how our daily lives are being ran.