I’m probably the only 22-year-old who had not read Animal Farm until yesterday, judge me.
I know this book was written in regard to the Stalin era in Russia (USSR), but damn it is just as relevant today as ever. I really want to avoid getting political right now, politics have really entered every part of our life and it is getting exhausting, but it is hard to avoid after a novel like Animal Farm.
I feel like everything I am about to say is so obvious, but here we go. Three things stood out to me more than anything else in this novel:
- The intellectual disparity between different breeds of animals. This is what the pigs used in their rise to power. Today we see this disparity in wealth more than anything, but that can further lead to an intellectual disparity when the poor cannot afford further education. We see our poor communities voting for politicians and policies that will in turn hurt them and their communities, but they are stuck believing what the ‘educated’ say since they cannot afford to learn for themselves. The middle class has to be the voice of reason because they can afford education and see through the lies of the wealthy while also still being close enough to the poor communities to still care and want to help. Unfortunately, for Animal Farm, there really wasn’t a middle class.
- The slippery slope of not holding leaders accountable for the promises that they make. In Animal Farm, the pigs began by writing seven commandments on the wall for their new farm. By the end of the novel, all of these commandments were erased, but throughout the novel they were changed slightly so as to comply with how the current leaders were running things. For instance, “No animal shall kill any other animal” became “No animal shall kill any other animal without cause” after the pigs decided to murder animals that were trying to interfere with their rise to power. The rest of the animals saw these new additions and first questioned them, but eventually became desensitized to the whole thing and let it go. Today we find our ‘leader’ contradicting himself left and right to fit whatever decisions he is making at the time. It has all become so accepted and normal that we have stopped holding him accountable. It is almost expected that something he says today will be changed tomorrow and everyone will somehow forget the words of yesterday.
- Finally, and this one is all too obvious, the use of a common enemy. Napolean brainwashed all the animals (despite what their memory told them) that Snowball, Napolean’s previous political opponent, was trying to destroy Animal Farm. Napolean also, for a time, used humans as the enemy. By leading the animals to believe that they had one common enemy, he was able to make them do what he wanted in order to ‘protect’ against the enemy. I don’t even need to make comparisons to today’s society, it is all too real right now.
I enjoyed Animal Farm, it brought me back to reality about what we are facing today with our president. I also appreciated the short read, so if for some reason you, like me, have not yet read Animal Farm, do yourself a favor and open it up.
And a quote…
“No one believes more firmly than Comrade Napolean that all animals are equal. He would be only too happy to let you make your decisions for yourselves. But sometimes you might make the wrong decisions, comrades, and then where should we be? Suppose you had decided to follow Snowball, with his moonshine of windmills – Snowball, who, as we now know, was no better than a criminal?”
Next up, The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins…