Anthem by Ayn Rand. Background Information 9 th grade Language Arts. Ayn Rand. Born in Russia in 1905 Educated under the Communists Experienced firsthand horrors of totalitarianism
Anthem by Ayn Rand
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Form of government in which political authority has absolute and central control over all aspects of life. Individual thought, political and cultural expression is suppressed for the “good” of the government.
Moved to America in 1926
America represented her individualist philosophy
She embraced the potential of the individual to thrive outside of governmental control
Where was Ayn Rand from?
Why is it important to know she’s from this place?
Why did Ayn Rand move to the USA?
The Russians made her because she would not conform to their government
She was a refugee from communism
She chose to move to the USA because she believed in its values as a society
She had family here and had nowhere else to go
Novelette about the essence of collectivism
Political principle of centralized social and economic control
Theme: “The meaning of man’s ego”
Individual is swallowed by collective (group)
People have to accept the society’s ideas for the totalitarianism to take control
Lives of people in a totalitarian society are depressing
However, the individual can triumph over it!
What is collectivism?
The idea that we should all work together towards a common good
The idea that a society is made up of many different types of people, all of whom are necessary for the society to function properly
The idea that politics and society should be under central control and everyone should believe the same things
A UTOPIA is a perfect society
An anti-utopian society shows the world presented in a way it should not be.
Anti-utopia: meant to scare you by showing how bad it could be
Anthem presents a collectivism as the worst possible society
Anthem suggests that economic progress depends on freedom
Anthem suggests that the uncoerced mind is the source of technology, prosperity, and progress
Philosophic issues are raised in the book and are dramatized through action
“Collectivism means the subjugation of the individual to the group– whether to a race, class or state does not matter”– Ayn Rand
An individual is owned by the group
No right to private existence
No right to pursue own happiness or own property
Individual only exists as part of a group
Worth is determined by service to the group
“Individualism regards man– every man– as an independent, sovereign entity who possesses an inalienable right to his own life, a right derived from his nature as a rational being” – Ayn Rand
Every man is an individual and has the same rights as every other man
Does not mean that everyone can do whatever they feel like doing
Think about it…
Do you think collectivism is necessarily a bad/evil thing?
Do you think individualism is always a good thing? How might it go wrong?
No one has a self in collectivism– individuals are interchangeable
It is wrong to disagree, to have independent thoughts
Self-assertion is forbidden
Creats sub-human society: “What makes human beings human is having a self” – Ayn Rand
Selflessness requires that you abstain from thinking and obey your master without question
Rand’s idea of “selflessness” means losing your self/ego/identity– literally being without a “self”
We generally think of the word “selflessness” as a good thing: the opposite of being “selfish”– giving yourself up to help others
Keep both definitions in mind!
Concern with one’s own interests
Ambition, wanting things for yourself, wanting to learn, wanting a career that makes you happy, loving someone, thinking for yourself
For Ayn Rand, the self is like a god– it’s your highest value, the source of what is good in life on Earth!
Do you think of EGOISM as a good thing?
Ayn Rand uses the word “EGO” the same way as the word “self”– having an ego is having a sense of your importance as an individual to society
We usually think as someone with an “ego” as a bad thing– someone who is “full of themselves” or selfish.
Again, remember both definitions: while we’re reading Anthem, keep Rand’s definitions in mind.
Free Will vs. Determinism
Free will means people can make choices, make up their own minds, make decisions, and direct their own lives by the ideas and values they adopt
Determinism is that people are by nature in the grip of forces beyond their control