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Lessons For A 22 Year Old From Animal Farm

Posted: December 20, 2020

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At first glance what may look like a children’s book about animals acting like humans is in turn a political allegory about authoritarian and fascist regimes.

The moment I picked Animal Farm by George Orwell, I realized this cannot be a book for children. Rather, it is a guidebook with bold pointers to identify fascist and authoritarian regimes.

Animal Farm is an allegorical novella by George Orwell. This book is an anti-utopia that takes you on a journey of animals taking the issue of their sovereignty into their own hands. At first glance what may look like a children’s book about animals acting like humans is in turn a political allegory about authoritarian and fascist regimes.

In 2020, as we descend to a new decade, our governments slip into tyrannical methods. The dawn of this new decade looks like a dystopian nightmare. A few lessons from the Animal farm can be used in 21st century to identify and combat these regimes.

Here are some lessons from Orwell’s Animal Farm:

Power by its nature cannot remain diffused

Animal Farm teaches us power by its nature cannot remain diffused, it concentrates at one place, and in this case the hands of the pigs- the bourgeois.

We need to watch out for a social reaffirmation process through which the majority hegemonic class gives out little doles out to keep the society in equilibrium. In Animal Farm, these dole outs can be seen in the form of a false promise of greater dignity and self rule.

Absolute power corrupts absolutely

Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Napoleon leaves no room for accountability. There is no room for discussion. All the questions are muddled out by the bleating of slogans by dumber animals.

Napoleon thinks he is the people, and embodies their spirit. The patriotic fervour in animals results in them being active connivers that perpetuate the rule of the leader.

Identifying fascist regimes

An important sign to identify fascist regimes is to look out for manipulation of fear; Squealer backs his lies with threats like returning of Mr. Jones, the fear of men becomes absolute.

The fear of Snowball constantly looming around to pounce on the animals is palpitating in the atmosphere. Napoleon falls back on fear to win his argument. His secret police i.e. the dogs create an atmosphere of fear and no one dares to speak up.

All the dissenting voices are blotted out, Napoleon creates an elite band of loyalists around himself and instills fear in the heart of masses.

Importance of vitality and literacy

Importance of vitality and literacy and the lack of the same makes the animals prone to the propaganda which slides into brainwashing by the pigs.

The animals are naïve creatures with little access to education, every question or a hint mistrust raised in their mind is deemed as a conspiracy by the fascists and their followers.

Most animals like humans don’t understand complex arguments and theories. They hang on to simple phrases like, “four leg good, too leg bad.” Due to their illiteracy, they cannot catch the maneuvering of facts by the pigs.

If the animals were literate, they would have caught the twisting of the commandments. Their illiteracy made them passive. Literacy means being aware of the ways of government and the ability to critically analyse the government.

Hope lies in the proletarians

If there is hope, it lies in the proles. – 1984 Proletariat who have the ability to question the asymmetries of power, are never let to manifest this power.

The leaders of our country never let the power of people materialize, their dissent is criminal, they live in a constant fear of persecution by the secret police or thought police. We are aware of a vague uneasiness but the right to speak up was stifled by propaganda machinery and a tyrannical regime of the leader.             

“Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted,  all else follows.” – George Orwell 

First published here.

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A student of English literature from Jamia Millia Islamia.

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