How does this society try to obliterate each individual's mind and self?

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thetall eNotes educator| Certified Educator
The society in Anthem obliterates the individual mind and self through a number of ways; It outlaws solitude and proclaims that solidarity is the cause of all evil. In fact, the society believes that any outcome of a solitary venture is harmful to everybody. Further, it is believed that any concept that has been thought of by one individual and not shared by others must be untrue. The council of scholars avers that the things that are not known by all men do not exist. It also declares that all men are alike, good, wise and equal. This is evidenced by the words that the men in that society repeatedly recited "We are one in all and all in one. There are no men but only the great WE, one indivisible and forever." This is a clear indication that the society neither recognized individualism nor free will as preached by the world council, the custodian of all truth. There lacks freedom of choice as preference is termed as a 'Great Transgression.' No man is allowed to look at a woman except during the mating period that takes place once a year during the spring. Even during the mating period, individuals do not exercise any right of choice as they are assigned mates.
dmcgillem eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are numerous examples of the ways Ayn Rand shows the society in Anthem as taking away each person's individuality.  Early in the novel, Equality refers to one of his sins: the Transgression of Preference.  Citizens of that society were taught that it was an egregious wrong-doing to prefer one anything over the other.  This pertains to all facets of life including friends and careers.  Even having a preference concerning a partner is discouraged, and the Council instead uses the House of Mating.  Babies and children are not allowed to stay with parents to prevent any differences in upbringing that might set someone apart.

One of the most predominate ideas that pertains to destroying individuality, however, is the naming of the citizens.  Using a number strips a person of who he or she is at the core.  That is why it is so powerful for Equality when he names himself Prometheus.

In the above ways and more, the society in Anthem effectively strips each person of his or her personal choice, desires, and values.

mitchrich4199 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Anthem, the society has attempted to take away the ability and the desire to think. When Equality 7-2521 finds the tunnel in Chapter I, He and International 4-8818 discuss what they should do about looking at it and inspecting it. Equality 7-2521 wants to go into the tunnel, but International 4-8818 says that it is forbidden. The answers that they each give in response illustrate how the Council has taken away their free-will and their critical thinking skills. Equality 7-2521 argues that "The Council does not know of this hole, so it cannot be forbidden." International 4-8818 answers that "Since the Council does not know of this hole, there can be no law permitting to enter. And everything which is not permitted by law is forbidden." These comments illustrate the dependence which the Council has instilled upon its citizens toward their rules. They have succeeded in squelching International 4-8818's desire to think, but they have not had the same success against Equality 7-2521's mind.

gbeatty eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Anthem, the society seeks to destroy the mind through four general paths:
1) They destroy the concept of the individual, allowing only "we" to be spoken.
2) They hold all property and concepts in common.
3) They insist on control of all new inventions and ideas (through production and education, including making private thought a sin).
4) They review all (economic) activity to make sure it is properly focused for the society.