Science And Technology In Ayn Rand's Anthem

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Similar to other dystopian novels such as George Orwell’s 1984, Ayn Rand’s Anthem paints a grim picture of a collectivist world fraught with terror and oppression. Yet Rand’s vision stands in stark contrast to those that shape most portrayals of dystopias that boast technological and scientific prowess. Technology in 1984 is sophisticated and used to enforce thought control over the masses. This chronology is reversed in Anthem, where prohibition of free thinking creates a medieval, technologically backward society. Inversely, independent thought and action set the conditions for scientific and technological development, ultimately revealing the nature of science. The Councils implement two measures to deter citizens from thinking independently…show more content…
Having become free to pursue his studies, Equality quickly advances from ignorance to enlightenment. “[I]n . . . two years, [he] . . . learns more than he had learned in the ten years of the Home of the Students” (36). The years of intellectual toil come to fruition at Equality’s rediscovery of the lightbulb, marking a technological watershed in a society where technology is limited to candles and glass windowpanes. It is by virtue of his indomitable freedom of thought that Equality is able to retain his unflagging curiosity and make strides in his quest for knowledge. Society’s condemnation of independent thinking is not the only chain that shackles the mind and inhibits scientific progress—so is the individual’s will. Despite the Councils’ powerful thought control, citizens are never forced into subservience. They are not deprived, blackmailed, or drugged. Nor are their hands tied up by law enforcement. There are not even guards patrolling the streets, since “men have never defied the Councils so far as to escape from whatever place they were ordered to be” (67). Furthermore, individuals can still, albeit with difficulty, think independently because it is impossible to entirely suppress one’s
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