Selflessness, Egoism and Free Will


Selflessness, Egoism and

Free Will

Developing Themes in Anthem


Selflessness, the lack of self, is essential in a collectivist society

A selfless person in a collective society doesn’t disagree, has no independent thoughts, doesn’t ask questions and does nothing to set him/herself apart.

To be selfless one must abstain from thinking and obey one’s master

To survive in a collectivist society one must merge himself into the group by obliterating individual identity and individual thought

The result?

Anthem is an example of a society riddled with selflessness

Its citizens have no motivation, no ambition and no hope

Its citizens are unable to create anything

The society within Anthem provides no room for creativity and innovation


Egoism is the concern with one’s own interests

Egoism means that oneself, rather than others, benefits most from one’s actions


“lives for his own happiness; he doesn’t sacrifice himself to others, nor does he sacrifice others to himself. The egoism he manifests is exactly what the leaders try to eradicate; ambition, wanting things for oneself, wanting to learn, wanting a career that makes him happy, loving someone, thinking for himself”

-Penguin Group

Anthem notes

Free Will

Free will is the belief that man can make their own choices, make up their own mind, make decisions and can direct their own lives by the ideas and values they adopt

In Anthem, Equality uses his own judgment to make decisions instead of the beliefs of his society.

Equality represents Rand’s view that man has the power to think and direct his own life.

Discussion Questions

Is it really a bad thing to be selfless?

Our society has a negative connotation for the word

“ego”. How do you feel about someone who has an


We assume Equality has free will. Do others in the society have free will also?