Is Ayn Rand addressing the past or future in Anthem, and how could current culture devolve into what she describes?
The book is addressing both the past and the future. Like all Dystopias the story is built on recognizable elements from our past and then mixed with elements that seem improbable and foreign (e.g. the extreme loss of technology). However, like all dystopias the story is also a warning for our future, a commentary on ideas and notions that should give us pause. Books like Anthem are designed to make you think about key questions like, "Where are we headed as a society?" and, "Where will our current decisions lead?" Ayn Rand's books are heavily influenced by her communist experiences and so her books tend to focus on the loss of individuality in oppressive communities.