Tuesday, 10 February 2015

ANIMAL FARM BY GEORGE ORWELL

AND ITS UNVERSALITY

Animal Farm was one of the books which always eluded me. Every time I decided to give it a go I read something else instead. Mainly because of the fact that I knew it was a story of precise allegory adorned with a single-sided political debate. The allegory Orwell chose to employ is so clear-cut that even with minimal knowledge one can decipher who stands for whom or what historical event was conveyed through the acts of the animals of the farm. Now I am not going to bore you with the details you already know. Old Major is Karl-Marx, Mr Jones is the Tsar, Napoleon is Stalin whereas Snowball is a vivid embodiment of both Lenin and Leon Trotsky and so on and so forth. George Orwell himself admitted to these characters in his first preface of the book and later essays when he was defending his book against many of his contemporaries who initially even refused to publish it. T.S Elliot was among these names.


I cannot know however; if Orwell was aware of the fact that in creating something so precise he was still writing about a vicious circle that is applicable to any utopia or ideology because when viewed from a more universal perspective, one can clearly see that the book in fact has got more to do with utopian doom than Stalinism or the Russian Revolution: That one rotten apple placed on top is enough to ruin the entire bushel.  Which is the reason why Orwell, in disguise of a donkey named Benjamin displays his pessimism about ideologies: "Life will go on as it has always gone on—that is, badly."  Right from the horse’s mouth, or better yet the donkey’s mouth. Ideologies and utopias are doomed to fall apart for as long as people follow their leaders blindly. And even when they seem to work, greed mixed with power will turn any utopia into a despicable, uninhabitable yet inheritable dystopia. 

From this perspective Old Major stands for any wise ideologist whose intentions are well, Napoleon is a fantastic portrayal of any politician who exploits an ideology. And Squealer is not Molotov in this case, it is the newspapers and national news we watch on television, through which we are fed lies on a daily basis. Many conformist Boxers did, do and will die and many Mollies will find another place to inhabit. The supreme power of government will always release its dogs on the streets under the name of police force to silence the smart whereas the sheep will always yell words they do not even understand. Animal Farm is universally pessimistic and rightly so when we look at our own contemporary world.


I guess in concluding this post I have to agree with Henry David Thoreau when he says: I heartily accept the motto,—“That government is best which governs least;” and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which I also believe,—“That government is best which governs not at all;” and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have.

But first animals need to learn how to read for themselves.