In Ayn Rand's Anthem, who are the evil ones discussed in chapter two?

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Chapter two is where the story is found about the evil ones discussed in Ayn Rand's Anthem. Equality, the main character, discloses the history of a war that happened many years before the current society existed. The war was between two factions during a period of time called "The Unmentionable Times." The legend says that there were many on one side of the conflict and only a few on the other. Those few defended the "secrets" but they lost the war. Then the few were called the Evil Ones. Since they were conquered, all of their writings and secrets were burned and "great fires raged over the land. And in these fires the Evil Ones and all the things made by the Evil Ones were burned" (48). Equality goes on to say that the fires lasted for three whole months, which means that it took that long to burn all of the books that ever existed. One can only imagine how curious Equality must have been to know and read those books. He even writes, "What are the words which we have lost?" (49).

It can be inferred from the text that the "Evil Ones" weren't really evil, they merely wanted to preserve the science and learning of all of the world's generations. The war must have been between them and those who wanted to conquer the world. The conquerors knew that in order to control the world they would need to sacrifice  science, technology, and any type of learning tool such as books. Those who rule Equality's society during his time use harsh words to describe their enemies in order to control how they are thought of; that's why they are called Evil Ones rather than opponents or some other word less threatening. If those who defended learning and knowledge are considered evil, then it is easier to control the current populace through harsh, manipulative words such as "evil." Luckily for Equality, and through the use of his reasonsing skills, he figures out that maybe the Evils Ones were not really evil.


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