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Explaining The Principles of How a Free Society Falls Into Tyranny

Updated on July 21, 2017
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A Dream Manipulated and Changed By Power and Persuasion

The troubling truths presented in the book Animal Farm speaks directly to the terrifyingly embarrassing motives of those who used their positions of political and social power to twist, fold and manipulate original ideas of Karl Marx during the Russian Industrialization era. The fable identifies the corrupt nature of politics way back then but these facts remain timeless and relevant to the behavior and issues still embedded throughout societies today. The book is interesting to readers because they find themselves at one end of the spectrum of the society described in Animal Farm, either on the side that has been wronged or those in positions capable of making changes but for some odd reason always end up manipulating and committing wrongs against the people. Animal Farm describes the events that unfolded before, after and during the Russian Revolution but in the form of a fable through the eyes of animals it shows how a vision can be manipulated and misrepresented by the rulering class and their surrogates. It relevantly highlights the omnipresent dangers of power and misinformation (Fake News). Many noteworthy scholars believe that the ideas of socialism or communism are not necessarily bad but that the individuals who were given the responsibility to create these societies have used the very power given to them to exploit the people who gave them power.

Form your own opinion, If you don't already own a copy of Animal Farm get your hands on this modern classic that covers the issues of then and now.

A Timeless Fable One Will Enjoy While Being Enlightened on The Game of Politics

Animal Farm: A Fairy Story (An Hbj Modern Classic)
Animal Farm: A Fairy Story (An Hbj Modern Classic)

George Orwell’s famous satire of the Soviet Union, in which “all animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.”

 

The Powerful Content And The Source of Its Inspiration

The book Animal Farm faced tremendous pressures from several political sources and has survived suppression because it indicted the oppressors. The Americans confiscated and turned over 1,500 copies of Animal Farm to the Soviet Union and the United Kingdom delayed the publication of the book until after the 1945 Election. Animal Farm was blacklisted, forbidden until the “die Wende” which is German for the "turnaround" in 1989. The fable exposes the excessiveness of capitalism and socialism. George Orwell explains in a biography his experiences with totalitarianism, communism, and capitalism, he noticed: "how easily totalitarian propaganda could control the opinion of enlightened people in democratic countries (In the Preface to the Ukrainian edition)." He saw it as his duty to relate to the world how often times good ideas are never put into practice because of the corrupt politicians who manipulate these ideas for their own gain in an aim to consolidate power and control the people. In the same biography, he tells where he got the inspiration of presenting his knowledge of the communist purge and the events surrounding the purge in the form of a fable. This is where the source of Orwell’s inspiration for Animal Farm came from, he politely explains it in this excerpt from his biography: “I saw a little boy, perhaps ten years old, driving a huge carthorse along a narrow path, whipping it whenever it tried to turn. It struck me that if only such animals became aware of their strength we should have no power over them and that men exploit animals in much the same way as the rich exploit the proletariat.”

Animal Farm is an Allegory of The Early History of The Soviet Union.

The characters, the plot, the setting, and the theme of the book animal farm explain the impact of corrupt politicians, totalitarianism, and nationalism throughout the course of history. Orwell’s satire amalgamates all the components of the communist purge concisely into a fable. All the key players in the development of the Soviet Union are examined in this book. The story starts with Old Major the prize boar that has a dream and all the animals congregated in the barn to hear of Old Major’s dream. He shares with them at the meeting his ideas of animalism. He expressed his disgust towards man. As man had been the cause of their present condition; the life of the animals was misery and slavery. They were over worked, mistreated and underfed. He envisioned a society without man that could produce exponential wealth, enough wealth to satisfy the needs of every animal. This society was promised to produce more than the animals could consume, therefore there would be no need for privatization. Old Major envisioned a society where all animals would be free and equal. He gave them the commandments the animal would have to live by to realize this society. He preached unity and comradeship and inspired revolt. At the end of the meeting, he dismissed the animals with a song that gave the animals hope and summoned patriotism.

Soon after he shared his idea of this ideal society with the rest of the farm he dies. His idea is however embalmed and endorsed by the farm. The animals revolt and triumph over their human oppressors and set up a democratic coalition of animals. The pigs establish themselves as the ruling class as they quickly learn to read and write. The farm was renamed Animal Farm and nationalism ignited in the souls of the animals as they were high spirited after defeating the mighty humans they raised a flag with the symbol of a hoof and a horn signaling their new nation. After the revolution, they became preoccupied with establishing and fortifying their borders in preparation for any attacks from the humans. Sure enough, the humans that were driven out of Manor Farm regrouped and along with the other Farmers who were afraid of the revolt spreading to their Farms launched an attack on Animal Farm. The animals were once again victorious, the Humans could not break them.

The Level of Symbolism Tickles the Imagination

This first part of the book represents the Bolshevik revolution of Russia. The Bolsheviks were Marxist inspired revolutionaries led by Lenin, they fought for the formation of a Proletariat socialist government in Russia that would eliminate capitalism and weaken the authority of the bourgeois (The rich upper-class, societies 1%). Karl Marx is represented by a pig, an animal according to the farm tale among the smartest of the animals. Old major is almost identical with the characteristics of Karl Marx as this prize boar exemplifies very high moral standards. All the animals loved and respected him because of his high standards, his advice, his leadership and his guidance. Nicholas II, Czar of Russia, is represented by Mr. Jones of Manor Farm now renamed Animal Farm, was deposed after the revolution of 1917. Russia then formed a socialist government. The Horn and Hoof Flag described in the book appears to be based on the hammer and sickle. The Humans represented the capitalist who vacated Russia after the revolution. Mr. Frederick and Mr. Pilkington of the neighboring Farms whom attacked the animals in fear that the news of the revolution would spread to their farms represent Adolf Hitler of Germany and The British Empire and the United States respectively.

The symbolism in throughout much of the book highlights the rivalry between Leon Trotsky and Joseph Stalin. Orwell uses the fable to show the impact of forced industrialization and how Marx’s dream becomes corrupted. The book employs the nature of the fable to pinpoint society’s tendency to move towards class stratification. Orwell also uses the fable to depict the use of language and religion as an instrument of control. He also blames the naive working class for preventing Marx’s dream of a communist society from being realized. The story eventually focuses on Stalin’s tyrannical rule and Karl Marx’s ideas being made redundant.

Good Intentions Morph Into Tyranny

The picture above shows the early formation of Animal Farm, in the background of the picture is a barn door that depicts the laws that were established by the early government of Animal Farm which proclaims: “All Animals are Equal.” The farm prospers for a while but life begins to get increasingly harder as the pigs become greedy and begin to take bigger portions of food for themselves. They justify their actions by explaining that the pigs were the brains of the farm and if they were not fed well then their brains would not function well and Mr. Jones would return. The animals were terrified of Jones returning so they let the pigs have the extra food. Two of the pigs stood out as leaders, Napoleon and Snowball. Napoleon is a fierce-looking Berkshire boar, the only Berkshire on the farm, not much of a talker, but with a reputation for getting his own way. He devises a plan focused on eliminating his competitor Snowball. Snowball is an idealist who genuinely works towards Old Majors vision and does not realize Napoleon’s anxiety to become sole ruler. Jessie gives birth to a litter of puppies and Napoleon takes them at an early age to form his secret police. Snowball because of his genuine will to see the farm do well unveil his plans for a windmill, the animals are discouraged by the tremendous amount of work they would have to do to build a windmill but Snowball explains that once the windmill is built their days of hard labor will be over. Napoleon at first disagrees with the building of a windmill and begins to spread rumors of Snowball attempting to sabotage the farm. He then uses the dogs to chase Snowball from the Farm.

Napoleon now instructs the animals to build the windmill. He keeps the animals in line using propaganda from Squealer an eloquent conservationist, and intimidation from the dogs. Boxer, a horse, the strongest on the farm takes on the backbreaking task of building the windmill under the maxim: “Napoleon is never wrong” and “I will work harder.” Boxer’s hard work inspires the other animals to work alongside him. Moses the raven tells fairy tales about a better land for animals after they die called Sugar Candy Mountain. The raven symbolizes the clergy and the role of religion in setting up tyranny throughout history and a great many societies. The pigs said it was nonsense but they let him stay on the farm because it gave the animals hope. This hope, when wielded by politicians, can make them unimpeachable, immune and even infallible.

Which Current Politician Shares the Attributes of Napoleon?

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After The Revolution Looks The Same As Before

As the days went by the farm began to feel more and more like when it was under the management of Mr. Jones. Napoleon and the rest of the pigs resembled the Humans more and more each day. The ignorance of the other animals prevented them from once again revolting against their oppressor as the pigs constantly made changes to Old Majors commandments. What once read “All animal are equal” now read “All Animals are Equal But some are more Equal than Others”. The pigs were now sleeping in beds, drinking alcohol and trading with humans all of which they justified by amending the original commandments and by the end of the novel the pigs were walking upon two legs. The commandment that once read “Two legs good, four legs bad” now read, “Four legs good, two legs better”. The pigs had come to completely resemble the humans but their cruelty would surpass their predecessor. Four pigs protested about Napoleon's takeover and are quickly silenced and executed, Napoleon now repeatedly executed animals on charges of treason. The commandment that once read: “No Animal should kill another Animal” now read, “No Animal should kill another Animal without Cause”.

Which of The Current Media Outlets/Host Sounds Like a Squealer?

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The Corrupt Game of Power Called: Politics

Stalin's tyrannical rule and eventual abandonment of the founding principles of the Russian Revolution are represented by the pigs' turning to violent government and the adoption of human traits and behaviors, the trappings of their original oppressors (Spark Notes). Orwell makes the case that the individuals chosen to put ideas to practice become corrupted by the power given to them. They compromise these ideas for the benefit of themselves and often times turn their backs on the founding principles of the movement. This compromise is vividly documented at the end of the book. The card game at the very end of the novel is a metaphor for the Tehran Conference. This last scene is ironic because all the Pigs are civil and kind to the humans, defying all for which they had fought for. This happened at the Tehran Conference: the Soviet Union formed an alliance with the United States and the United Kingdom, capitalist countries that the Soviet Union had fought in the early years of the revolution. At the end of the game, both Napoleon and Pilkington draw the Ace of Spades and then begin fighting loudly, symbolizing the beginning of tension between east and west.

Parallels with Today's Society

This same compromise exists in today’s society look at the 2016 Election, it was stained, rife with corruption, and recognizably far from the original ideals of democracy and yet the same players promise the people to 'drain the swamp'.

“In the world of Animal Farm, most speechifying and public palaver is bullshit and instigated lying, and though many characters are good-hearted and mean well, they can be frightened into closing their eyes to what's really going on. The pigs browbeat the others with ideology, then twist that ideology to suit their own purposes. As Orwell taught, it isn't the labels - Christianity, Socialism, Islam, Democracy, Two Legs Bad, Four Legs Good, the works - that are definitive, but the acts done in their name”(Atwood).

It is reinforced here that good leaders were required to establish true communism exactly how Marx and Engels prepared it. Although Orwell believed strongly in socialist ideals, he felt that the Soviet Union realized these ideas in a terribly perverse form (Spark Notes). The World feels threaten by communism but they have been misinformed. The communist idea is in itself good but bad leaders have given a good idea a bad face. A lot of people still believe in the value of communism. Jackie Chan, the Hollywood Chinese Actor has said: "We Chinese need to be controlled.” “If you're too free, you're like the way Hong Kong is now. It's very chaotic. Taiwan is also chaotic.”(Foreman)

Amid all the conservative complaints, what would America's society look like with a population of over a billion?

Animal Farm stands for any human society; it possesses the internal structure of a nation, with a government (the pigs), a police force or army (the dogs), a working class (the other animals), and state holidays and rituals. Its location amid a number of hostile neighboring farms supports its symbolism as a political entity with diplomatic concerns. This fable is practically applicable to many forms of society be it capitalist, socialist, fascist, or communist. It proves that it is not necessarily the ideas of society that are negative but one has to be extremely careful in choosing a leader to carry out these ideas because they will corrupt these ideas for their own benefit.

While originally intended to ridicule Stalin's regime, the book might very well be talking about our present situation. If we believe that history repeats itself and that the lessons we never learn would continue to haunt us, then it should come to no wonder that we see parallelisms between our current state and that of the animals' in the book. But while the book itself would remain a tragedy in perpetuity, we who mirror it do not have to suffer the same fate. Animal Farm is not a lesson in fatalism; it is a challenge to people to remain constantly vigilant (The Manila Times).

Animal Farm exerts the plight that we must continue to be vigilant. In our present time leaders like Bashar al-Assad still, tyrannize the people of our age. Animal Farm helps us to conclude that the founding principles of communism as prepared by Marx and Engels were good ideas but were corrupted and given a bad name by the leaders who made a poor attempt to integrate these ideas into society. This book stands as a reminder that be it health care reform or any other idea for which a leader is elected to manage the rendering of, the masses must never trust, always question unclear motives, and always be vigilant.

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