Philosophy Under Strict Social System in "Anthem" by Ayn Rand

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About this sample


Words: 883 |

Pages: 2|

5 min read

Published: Mar 18, 2021

Words: 883|Pages: 2|5 min read

Published: Mar 18, 2021

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.

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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.

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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.

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Philosophy Under Strict Social System in “Anthem” by Ayn Rand. (2021, March 18). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 20, 2024, from
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Philosophy Under Strict Social System in “Anthem” by Ayn Rand. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 20 Jun. 2024].
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