Anthem

by: Ayn Rand

Collectivism

Quotes Collectivism
We are one in all and all in one. There are no men but only the great WE, One, indivisible and forever.

These are the words that Equality 7-2521 says are cut into a piece of marble on the Palace of the World Council. These lines are to be repeated by members of the collective whenever they feel tempted. Equality 7-2521 notes, however, that repeating these words “helps us not.” In fact, the lines fail to keep Equality 7-2521 under their spell. This failure to suppress demonstrates an inherent failure of collectivist thought: No matter how much collectivist acts work to suppress the individual, the individual will eventually resurface.

Dare not choose in your minds the work you would like to do when you leave the Home of Students. You shall do that which the Council of Vocations shall prescribe for you.

In the World Council, everyone is assigned a job or role in society: Individual choice doesn’t exist. Equality 7-2521 tells readers how, on his fifteenth birthday, the Teachers warned the graduating class of the Home of the Students with this statement. In this society, the World Council prescribes roles based on their “higher wisdom” of what is good for the collective. Acting against the World Council’s wishes leads to punishment.

International 4-8818 and we are friends. This is an evil thing to say, for it is a transgression, the great Transgression of Preference, to love any among men better than the others, since we must love all men and all men are our friends.

Equality 7-2521 reveals that he harbors a secret “preference” for International 4-8818. In this society, preferring one person over another equates to a transgression since such a notion violates the idea that everyone is equal and deserves an equal amount of love and attention. While this idea is noble as a general notion, Rand’s novella shows how devastating its effects are as they are played out in society. In this suppressive world, a person is made to feel he or she is wrong for sharing an affinity with another person, a very simple and natural human impulse.

This is the time each spring when all the men older than twenty and all the women older than eighteen are sent for one night to the City Palace of Mating. And each of the men have one of the women assigned to them by the Council of Eugenics.

Equality 7-2521 describes how procreation happens in the collective. Since preference is forbidden, mating becomes a complex issue. The World Council sets up a system in which partners are assigned, and the time when mating is scheduled. The Council’s decisions are based on eugenics, a science by which human populations are “improved” by mating by desirable attributes. The result of this prescribed mating becomes unsettlingly inhumane.

No single one can possess greater wisdom than the many Scholars who are elected by all men for their wisdom. Yet we can. We do.

Equality 7-2521 reveals that he feels empowered by his discovery of electricity, so much so that he feels his wisdom surpasses the Scholars’, the assigned keepers of knowledge and wisdom. Since individual thinking is forbidden, Equality 7-2521’s discovery becomes a dangerous act of defiance. The unfortunate result is that individual discoveries and shared thinking, two key paths that lead toward progress, are completely stifled.