How is Anthem by Ayn Rand an anti-utopian story?

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price7781 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The entire novel, Anthem, by Ayn Rand was about a dystopia, the opposite of a utopia.  The Elders in the novel attempted to create the perfect society by making everyone "equal".  The group became more important than the individual.  Books were burned, and all knowledge of science and history was lost during a Great War.  Society slipped back into the Dark Ages with few comforts or joys.  People were told who to mate with, and babies were taken from their mothers and raised in "dorms" where they were educated in the ways of this society.  At a particular age, everyone was assigned a life-long job that they had to fulfill for the good of society.  People were worked to death by this society with many of them dying before the age of 40.  The main character, Equality 7-2521, was given the job of a street sweeper because he was seen as too intelligent.  This was done to break his spirit and make sure that he didn't become too curious about the laws and lack of advances in his society.  All of this was in the name of making people "equal".  This society felt that if no one was better than another, they would avoid conflict like the Great War. Fortunately, Equality discovered artifacts from the past and later escaped the city to start his own society.  

A dystopia or anti-utopia thinks it is doing the right thing, but in reality, they are not.  By taking away individuality and basic human  rights, they are destroying the physical and psychological well-being of their citizens.  It is in this novel that Rand writes about "collectivism" where the group is given more importance than the individualism.