Ego In Ayn Rand's Anthem

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“The greatest crimes in the world are not committed by people breaking the rules but by people following the rules. It's people who follow orders that drop bombs and massacre villages.” -- Banksy, Wall and Piece. A civilization cannot function without a system of rules to create order and morality. However, the creators of the nameless, collectivist society in Anthem took this concept too far with the complete removal of individualism—the root of ego. This mistake subdued the thoughts and actions of individuals, which is what allows a society to flourish. While the city in Ayn Rand’s novella attempts to suppress ego through a complex system of laws and government controls, their endeavors ultimately fail because there is always someone whose…show more content…
To begin, all parts of daily life are closely monitored and controlled by the Council. For example, during Equality’s fifteen years in the Home of the Students, which is a requirement all men must fulfill before being sent to work, “... we arose when the big bell rang in the tower and we went to our beds when it rang again” (20-21). Through controlling when citizens start and finish their daily tasks from birth, along with deciding how long they must attend school, the society has conditioned its citizens into knowing none other than what has been monotonously repeated daily for the majority of their lives. In other words, the people believe that no adjustment in day-to-day life is necessary. Second, the Council of Vocations assigns Students the occupation that they will carry out for the remainder of their lives because the Council: “knows in its great wisdom where you are needed by your brother men, better than you can know it in your unworthy little minds” (22). “If the Council said "Carpenter" or "Cook," the Students so assigned go to work and do not study any further. But if the Council has said "Leader," then those students go into the Home of the Leaders… And there they study for many years, so that they may become candidates and be elected to the City Council and the State Council and the World Council” (25). Since this select power allows the government alone to determine the profession of the Students, it grants them the ability to designate leaders and workers from the idea that those chosen would insist on preserving their current way of life. This power, combined with the ability to control every aspect of daily life, suppresses rebellion, in most cases, before it
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