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One hundred books to read. #09: Animal Farm January 26, 2014

Posted by OromianEconomist in Aannolee and Calanqo, Africa, Aid to Africa, Colonizing Structure, Corruption, Dictatorship, Ethnic Cleansing, Human Rights, Human Traffickings, ICC, Janjaweed Style Liyu Police of Ethiopia, Knowledge and the Colonizing Structure. African Heritage. The Genocide Against Oromo Nation, Oromia, Oromiyaa, Oromo, Oromo Identity, Oromo the Largest Nation of Africa. Human Rights violations and Genocide against the Oromo people in Ethiopia, Tyranny, Uncategorized, Warlords.
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The novel opens with the animals’ plot to overthrow their human master, Jones, with the argument that man exploits animals to serve only his own interests, and he furthermore “consumes without producing”. The revolt is successful and a new order is established in which the animals agree that they “must not come to resemble [man]. Do not adopt his vices… no animal must ever tyrannize over his own kind”, and there the story really begins.

What starts off as a logical distribution of labour based on the animals’ strengths and weaknesses inevitably leads to the formation of a hierarchy. In this case, the pigs come out on top and they use a variety of cunning and disturbing schemes to wield and maintain power.

All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.

They encourage the other workers to engage in idealisation-devaluation behaviour whereby good things are due to the leader and bad things are attributed to enemies (perceived or real). They blatantly change the Commandments (rules for living) to suit themselves by exploiting the other animals’ inferior literacy skills and memory. They also use the fear of Jones’ return to keep the workers obedient. The story takes a more violent turn when one of the pigs rears a litter of newborn puppies for the sole purpose of eliminating political rivals and all other would-be revolutionaries.

The well-ordered flow of the story is testament to Orwell’s writing ability but also demonstrates how natural the progression seems to be from dictatorship to revolution to idealised society to new dictatorship. He skilfully uses the animals’ concern at the discrepancies between the vision for Animal Farm and its reality, as well as several unforeseen events occurring outside of the farm, as the driving force for the pigs’ totalitarian propaganda. The mixture of inside and outside influences that could destroy the regime are dealt with swiftly and ruthlessly.

What is so clever about the story is that although it is very clearly about humans’ desire for and abuse of power, the use of animals gives the impression of being a simpler story; animals have simpler motives and simpler relationships. This helps in explaining in a succinct and sensible manner how the pigs are able to maintain their grip on power and hoodwink the other animals into believing this is for the good of everyone.

Warning: the following paragraph describes how the story ends.

The story ends with the pigs, having broken all of the original Commandments, adopting the very human traits of management and organisation of the farm, and enjoying the majority of the food output while not producing any food themselves. This is echoed by the eerie imagery of the pigs walking on their hind legs and playing cards with human farmers of neighbouring properties. In the final scene, the two species (at this point equals at the apex of the hierarchy) accuse each other of cheating at cards, suggesting that the desire for power knows no bounds, and that shared power inevitably leads to one trying to outrank the other through all possible means.

Anastasia Fontaine

Animal Farm is what every serious novel should be: it is short but has interesting themes which are explained well.  Although supposed to parallel the Russian Revolution and its aftermath, it works equally well to describe the pursuit of power in the general sense.

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