Animal Farm was written in 1940by George Orwell, a dedicated socialist, who wrote the book as a comment on the perversion of socialism by those who would use it to further their own agendas.
Now, to truly understand Animal Farm, you have to understand the –isms: $$ Capitalism $$ Socialism Communism
CAPITALISM • Capitalism is an economic philosophy in which the primary concern of society is the individual. • A person’s socio-economic status in life is based solely on a person’s desire and ability to achieve it. • In a capitalist system, the necessities of a society are privately owned, and the guiding principal is making a profit. • The idea is that the more profitable the top layer of a society is, the more that success will filter down through the other layers.
SOCIALISM • Socialism is also an economic philosophy which calls for public ownership of necessary utilities for the public good. • The goal of a socialist society is to gradually rid itself of private ownership for the benefit of the collective good. • Socialists claim that in a capitalist system only the wealthy can afford such necessities as health care or higher education.
COMMUNISM • Communism is a political philosophy in which seeks a perfect, utopian society by eliminating all socio-economic classes. • In a communist society, no evidence of class distinction is allowed, such as titles or salutations. • All of the necessities of society are owned collectively, and are administered “from each according to his ability to each according to his need.”
The ideals of both socialism and communism were first made public in 1840 when the German political scientist Karl Marx published The Communist Manifesto.
In this work, Marx wrote that the history of mankind has always been the story of struggle between socio-economic classes. • The only way to stop this destructive behavior was to eliminatethe cause of this struggle, capitalism. • According to Marx, as long as profit was the goal of a society, there would always exist a wide gulf between the “haves” and the “have-nots”, or, as he called them, the bourgeoisie (the haves) and the proletariat (the have-nots).
The bourgeoisie, or bosses, own the means of production, and consequently obtain all of the profit. • The proletariat, or workers, own nothing but their labor, and due to the non-skilled nature of that labor, are easily replaced. • Marx wrote that it was morally wrong that those who did most of the work got the least amount of profit, and as long as this condition existed, there would be inequality and struggle. Something had to change.
In order to eliminate inequality and ensure fairness, the proletariat must rise up in a worker's revolution, overthrow the bourgeoisie, and seize the means of production; indeed the final words of The Communist Manifesto include Marx’s directive for “Workers of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your chains.” • Marx’s ideas of equality held a powerful appeal to the poor and oppressed peoples of Europe as it offered the only method by which they could achieve any semblance of prosperity.
TWO KEY ITEMS!!!!!! • Competition: In a capitalist system, this is considered a good thing, because only the strong survive! In a socialist/communist system, this only pits the proletariat against each other. • Socialists/communist claim that only through the elimination of socio-economic classes can true freedom be obtained. Problem? Class division is the inherent and necessary by-product of capitalism.
After the horrors of World War I, many believed that Marxist communism was the only hope for the future of mankind. One of these true believers was George Orwell.
In Russia, where human suffering had reached epidemic levels due to the war as well as the extravagance of Czar Nicholas II, Marxist groups, collectively known as the Bolsheviks, led by Vladimir Ilich Ulyanov and Lev Davidovich Brohnstein began to agitate for an overthrow of the Czar’s government. • Their goal was to install a socialist state with the ultimate goal of a Marxist communist society. • By March 1917, Ulyanov, Brohnstein, and the Bolsheviks had engineered enough opposition and violence that the Czar was forced to abdicate his throne.
To make sure that the Czar never returned to reclaim his throne, the Bolsheviks took the Czar’s family into a wooded area near Moscow and executed them all
By October, the Bolsheviks had completed seizing the Russian government in a bloody revolution and instituted sweeping changes. • Both Ulyanov and Brohnstein decided to shed their pre-revolutionary, bourgeois names; Ulyanov became Lenin, and Brohnstein became Trotsky.
Both Lenin and Trotsky were idealists who reformed Marxism to fit the specific needs of Russia. • Due to the ignorance of the Russian people, Lenin determined that only through the leadership of dedicated revolutionaries could Russia achieve its goal of communism. • These people would install this new system of Leninist-Marxism, first in Russia and later the rest of the world, by any means necessary . . . which is never a good thing.
Lenin ordered the nation divided into political units called soviets, and the country’s name was changed from “Russia” to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, or the USSR. • Of course, not everyone agreed with Lenin, particularly the middle class and former nobility; the few that remained in the USSR were gathered up and sent to either “re-education” or labor camps, most of which were above the Arctic Circe in Siberia. Most were never heard from again.
In 1924, Lenin fell ill, and on his deathbed named Trotsky as his successor as leader of the Communist Party. • However, upon Lenin’s death, a brutal power struggle erupted between Trotsky and a new contender for the Party's leadership. • This new official, Iosef Dzhugashvili, had served Lenin as the former head of the internal state security service, and had a ruthless reputation for getting his way.
He had also changed his name; he wanted to be known as a “man of steel,” and thus became Stalin.
Trotsky was a moderate revolutionary who sought a world revolution, with the Soviet Union leading the way. (Hair is still a rat’s nest.) • Stalin wanted raw, absolute power, and saw no need for the communist revolution going beyond the borders of the USSR.
Although Trotsky had the support of the Army and Lenin's old Bolshevik buddies, he proved no match for the ruthless Stalin and his secret security forces, and in 1927 was banished from the Soviet Union. • Even though Stalin had won the power struggle, his paranoia would not him rest as long as Trotsky was alive. He sent agents of the Soviet secret service, the NKVD (later renamed the KGB), to find Trotsky. • After a 13 year search, Trotsky was assassinated in 1940 in Mexico City while writing at his desk. A KGB assassin deposited an ice pick into Trotsky’s brain. OUCH.
After Trotsky’s exile, Stalin took every measure to erase Trotsky’s memory from Soviet history. • He ordered Trotsky’s name removed from every written document. • He ordered the execution of any follower of Trotsky, including the majority of the Red Army’s officers. • He even ordered Trotsky’s image removed from photographs.
With Trotsky out of the way, Stalin set out to consolidate his powers through a brutal system of purges, or removal, of his enemies. • Anyone who formerly belonged to the Russian middle class, or Kulaks, was eliminated as a threat to the state. • In response to opposition in the rich farming area of the Ukraine, Stalin ordered a man-made famine which to punish rebellious farm workers workers.
From 1932-1936, between 8 and 10 million peasants starved to death in one of the richest farming areas on earth.
By the time of his death in 1953, Stalin was responsible for a death toll which ranges between 50 and 80 million of his own people. • Although we will never know the exact figures, Stalin easily ranks as the second greatest mass murdered in history. • Only Mao Zedong’s control over Communist China killed more.
Orwell was appalled and disgusted by Stalin’s perversion of socialism. As a result, he wrote Animal Farm to expose how easily ideals can be perverted when they become the victims of personal ambition. • One of the enduring features of the book is its cast of vivid characters, all of whom have parallels in the Russian Revolution and Stalin's Russia.
Old Major is a combination of both Lenin and Marx. • Snowball is representative of Trotsky. • Napoleon is, of course, Stalin. • The dogs represent Stalin's state security force, or the KGB. • Boxer represents the Russian people loyally devoted to an ideal they are too ignorant to understand. • Squealer is Pravda, the Soviet propaganda-rich newspaper and news\service. • Mr. Jones is Czar Nicholas II
Incidentally, Mr. Frederick represents another member of the mass murderer Hall of Fame:
As for the book itself, it was banned from publication in the USSR from 1940 until the 1980s (for obvious reasons). • In the United States, even though critical of communism the book was considered subversive, and not allowed in public schools in may states until the late 1960s.
Throughout the 1940s and 1950s in America teaching Animal Farm, as well as The Communist Manifesto, would cost you your job.