Anthem: Community Does Not Necessitate Camaraderie

1068 words - 4 pages

The leaders of the society described in Ayn Rand’s classic novella Anthem rely almost entirely on various forms of brainwashing and psychological control to maintain their grip on power. So effective are these methods of mental manipulation that physical enslavement is almost never deemed necessary. Even in the rare situations where physical control is used, such as during Equality's brief incarceration at the Palace of Corrective Detention, the methods of restraint used rely heavily – almost entirely – on mental barriers set up through a combination of isolation and over-communalization efforts that are as ingenious as they are abhorrent.
It is clear from the conditions in the Palace of Corrective Detention that the tyrants who rule the society in Anthem do not expect inmates to even attempt to escape. The locks are described as old and the door as being easy to break down. Furthermore, throughout his escape from the facility and journey through the city to the meeting of the World Council of Scholars, Equality meets not a single guard, garnering greater support for the idea that the psychological power that the rulers exert over the people of the city is so strong and unwavering that the notion of an individual attempting to escape is considered by the rulers and citizens to be simply unfathomable. This absolute control is as unquestionable as it is unquestioned.
The tight censorship employed in the city ensures that the very idea of resistance or rebellion continues to be a foreign notion, a necessary state of things if the rulers are to be able to continue to control the masses by purely mental and psychological means. The strongest of punishments – the death penalty – is reserved for “this one crime of speaking the Unspeakable Word.” It becomes clear that this deterrent is effective in controlling the flow of ideas when International reacts with surprise to Equality's suggestion that they explore the hidden tunnel and not report their findings to the City Council. Surprise, here, is used in the loosest sense; like most of the people in Anthem, International lacks the ability to express emotions in normal ways, making it difficult to discern the thoughts he does not directly express. Although International does agree to keep their discovery private, his initial confusion at the idea of violating the rules (or, in this case, doing something that is not expressly permitted) betrays his ignorance about the ideals of independence and individual worth. The obvious detractor to this regime – or any empire that rests first and foremost on a mountain of ignorance – is that the uninformed population tends to be ignorant in other respects, as is shown by the incredibly slow rate of scientific progress achieved by the scholars.
In addition to these censorship measures, the rulers employ a series of tactics that are paradoxically designed to both isolate the individual and to force the individual to consider themselves to be an inseparable member...

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