This is one of those books that is on everyone’s “to-read” list and gets put off for years but when I read it, I wondered why I had left it so long. It is excellent. It is an animal farm which resembles the Soviet Union and the parallels are striking. One thing that particularly struck me was just how paranoid Napoleon was, which is similar to Stalin. This can be seen with Napoleon killing those who he believed were against him, having dogs to guard the house and have have all his food tested for poison as a precaution. However written in the allegorical style it seemingly appears to be about a farm which is run by animals.
The book is historically accurate with it documenting the purges and the Russian Revolution. It ends with Napoleon (Stalin) almost completely abandoning the ideals of the original state and emulating the humans and it could be argued that this shows how although the Communist and Capitalist ideology are different they are ultimately as corrupt as the other. Both leaders fall short of the trappings of power and although they make seek to build a society based on equality, their greed for control consumes them. The animal farm seemingly disposed of the class system but it crept back, perhaps due to human nature to be somewhat narcissistic. The fact that the working class don’t question and merely repeat that “Napoleon is always right” or “I will work harder” shows that they allow themselves to be oppressed to such an extent. It is the hypocrisy of one telling the other that the way they run their country is wrong which in actual fact they are both extremely flawed.
I read one review from someone who hated this book and they said that no matter what happened they believed that a society would not just blindly follow a dictatorship without questioning. However I believe that this is exactly what happened. They instilled the fear of standing up to the regime and also convinced them that what they had previously thought was wrong. You can say anything to people if you sound intelligent and they will believe you. After some time the animals (or people) just lose their ability to question and lack the initiative to go against the regime. Whenever the animals could have stood up to something they were told “surely you do not want it to go back to how it was?” And of course they didn’t and so therefore carried on with it. Although it was better than it had been, it was not as good as it could be. To follow on from the point of blind obedience, is this not to some extent what happened during the holocaust?
I also liked that Napoleon was a pig as it could be linked with the pig being the symbol of greed and showing that ultimately, his weakness was his greed for power. All those in leadership were pigs which shows how they were all similar and there was little to differentiate between them. They all shouted out at the end and could you not tell who was talking, they had become so alike to what they were trying to avoid in the beginning.
Human beings just don’t seem suited to the ideals of Communism as although we like to to think that we want to look our for others, much of the time humans focus on their own gains.