Animal Farm: Communism Through The Eyes Of George

OrwellAnimal Farm: Communism Through The Eyes of George Orwell
Throughout history, writers have written about many different subjects
based on their personal experiences. George Orwell was the pen name of Eric
Blair. He is one of the most famous political satirists of the twentieth
century. He was born in Bengal, India in 1903 to an English Civil Servant and
died in 1950. He attended Eton from 1917 to 1921, and served with the Indian
Imperial Police in Burma from 1922 to 1927 before moving to Europe.Two of his
most famous books, Animal Farm, written in 1946, and Nineteen Eighty-Four,
written in 1949, were written about the political and social environment
surrounding his life. “The driving force behind his two satires is an intense
revulsion against totalitarianism, combined with an even stronger revulsion
against its defenders among left-wing intellectuals.”1 In most of George
Orwells books and essays, there is a strong autobiographical element due to the
fact that he spent many years living with Communists in northern Great Britain
(a small number of people started to follow Communism in northern Great Britain
when it started in Russia). George Orwells writing was affected greatly by his
personal beliefs about Socialism, Communism, Fascism, and Totalitarianism, and
by the revolts, wars, and revolutions going on in Europe and Russia at the time
of his writings.

George Orwell was a Socialist2 himself, and he despised Russian
Communism3, and what it stood for. Orwell shows this hatred towards Communist
Russia in a letter he wrote to Victor Gollancz saying, “For quite fifteen years
I have regarded that regime with plain horror.”4 Orwell wrote this letter in
1947, ten years after announcing his dislike of Communism. However, he had
thought a great deal about Communism and what he disliked about if for a long
time before he announced it to the public. Orwell “did not expect anything good
from the Communist”5 and therefore Communism personally did not affect him, but
“He was concerned with it (Communism) only because it was a problem for
others.”6
In Animal Farm, “an animal fable satirizing Communism,”7 Orwell uses
farm animals in England to satirize Russian Communism and its leaders. One
animal he uses is a pig named Napoleon, whose counterpart in the Russian
Revolution is Joseph Stalin. After Napoleon takes charge of the farm, he
assumes the role of a dictator that benefits himself much like Stalin did.

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During Stalins reign, 1929-1953, he used terror to enforce his laws, and
allowed no one to oppose his decisions. If someone did oppose him, he would
punish him or her harshly. In Animal Farm, Napoleon also uses violent force to
enforce his laws. Napoleon showed this force when he “called upon them to
confess their crimes….When they had finished their confession, the dogs
promptly tore their throats out, and in a terrible voice Napoleon demanded
whether any other animal had anything to confess.”8 This violent force that
Joseph Stalin used to enforce his laws is one of the main reasons that Orwell
disagreed with the main principles behind Communism and its leaders.

Another comparison that Orwell makes between Napoleon and Stalin is the
changing of history to benefit themselves. In Animal Farm, Napoleon often
changes history to make himself look better. Even though Snowball, the other
pig that was in charge with Napoleon, was the true hero in the “Battle of the
Cowshed,”9 Napoleon makes himself out to be the hero. Squealer, one of Napoleon
s top pigs in command, says,”Do you not remember how, just at the moment when
Jones and his men had got inside the yard, Snowball suddenly turned and
fled…that it was just at that moment when panic was spreading and all seemed
lost, that Comrade Napoleon sprang forward with a cry of Death to Humanity!”10
Just as Squealer retold the event to Napoleons benefit,the same thing can be
said about Stalin. After he “became dictator of the Soviet Union, he had
history books rewritten to say that he had led the revolution with Lenin.”11
This however is not the truth. In reality, it was Leon Trotsky who led the
revolution with Lenin. This is just one of the many comparisons that Orwell
makes between Stalin and Napoleon. Stalin was what Orwell and people who were
against Communism feared the most; a ruler who rules only for his own power.

Orwell uses another pig named Snowball to symbolize the part that Lenin
played in the Russian Revolution. Lenin was the founder of the Communist Party
in Russia and set up the first Communist dictatorship in the world. “Lenins
goals were the destruction of free enterprise (privately owned and controlled
business) and the creation of a classless society ( a society without groups of
rich or poor people).”12 These were the general goals of Snowball also. Lenin
and Snowball shared one major goal in common and that was to industrialize the
societies that they controlled and lived in. Right before Lenin died, he
“introduced a new economic policy and aimed to improve industrial skills and
education”.13 In comparison, Snowball was the mastermind behind the windmill in
Animal Farm. The purpose of the windmill that Snowball was designing was to “do
their work for them while they grazed at their ease in the fields or improved
their minds with reading and conversation.”14 As one might see these plans are
almost identical. Both call for a more productive working environment in which
the people of the working class will also gain knowledge.

In Animal Farm, Karl Marx, the father of Communism is represented by a
Middle White boar named Old Major. On the first page of Animal Farm it is
announced that Old Major “had a strange dream on the previous night and wished
to communicate it to the other animals.”15 His dream foresees their future in
the farm once “Man” is thrown out. He says, “Man is the only real enemy we have.

Remove Man from the scene, and the root cause of hunger and overwork is
abolished for ever.”16 Marx predicted in his Manifesto of the Communist Party
which he wrote with his friend Friedrich Engels, “that the ruling middle class
will be overthrown by the working class.”17 Marx and Old Major are almost
identical. They both felt that the working class was being exploited and that
sooner or later, they would rise against middle ruling class. “The result of
this revolution , according to Marx and Engles, will be a classless society in
which the chief means of production are publicly owned.”18 Marx and Old Major
were both right in their predictions. However, they could not foresee the
problems that Communism would create. Orwell saw this problem happen and “From
about 1935 he was convinced that Russia had taken the wrong path and had become
a tyranny.”19
The environment surrounding Orwell led him to write another book about
the effects that Communism has on a society, this book is Nineteen Eighty-Four.

In this famous political satire Orwell presents to the reader a character named
Winston Smith. This character that Orwell created “is meant to be very much
like us20″. Orwell uses the name Winston Smith to create one to the biggest
ironies in the novel. Winston was the first names of one of the greatest and
most powerful statesman of this century, Winston Churchill. On the other hand,
Smith is one of the most common last names in the English language. Orwell did
this to show that even though Winston is in The Party21 he has no power or
authority which makes him an ordinary man, just like the reader. This is also a
reference to Winston Churchill who was very much against Russian Communism.

Winston, in Nineteen Eighty-Four, is conspiring against the party which stands
for a dictatorship similar to Russian Communism. He becomes a martyr, and in
the end, sacrifices his life for something in which he believes in. Orwell did
not write Nineteen Eighty-Four as a prediction as many people think. He wrote
it as an alert about what can happen if Communism takes over. Orwell portrayed
Winston as a puppet in trying to get across his point that Communism must be
stopped.

In Nineteen Eighty-Four, the character Big Brother is a symbol of The
Partys dominance over Oceania, post war England in Nineteen Eighty-Four. Big
Brother in actuality did not exist. He is just a distortion of reality created
by The Party to strike fear into the minds of the citizens. Big Brother was
supposed to make everyone feel like they were always being watched and could
never escape no matter how hard they tried. Orwell made no distinct reference
to whom Big Brother was supposed to symbolize in Russian Communism, but his
physical description is one “of a man of about forty-five, with a heavy black
mustache and ruggedly handsome features.”22 This could be a reference to Stalin
or to a combination of dictators, but no matter how one looks at it this is an
example of typical propaganda used by dictatorships to help their cause,
themselves. Everyone has most likely heard the saying “Big Brother is watching
you”, and in todays society this is slowly becoming a reality. In San
Francisco police helicopters are hovering low over the city and creating “an
impression that Big Brother is hovering over you”.23 In another California city
police cameras have been installed on every street corner to watch for crime,
but some people see it as an invasion of privacy. Orwell also saw this as an
invasion of privacy and that is why he wrote Nineteen Eighty-Four.

In Nineteen Eighty-Four if someone is to defy The Party he will simply
be erased. This was a reality in Russia even before the Communists came into
control of the government.


Under the czars, the Russian secret police had often arrested
revolutionists and sent them into exile without trial. Stalin
set
up a police system that was far more terrible.24
Stalin was a dictator to the fullest extent. “In 1935, Stalin started a purge
(elimination) of most of the old Bolsheviks associated with Lenin. During the
next few years, he killed anyone who might have threatened his power.”25 By the
end of his purge there was no one left to go against what he said, and he had
accomplished his main objective, total control of the U.S.S.R. This is the same
goal as Big Brother, actually what he symbolized since he doesnt exist. The
Partys Thought Police in Orwells novel, which represent the Czars Secret
Police and Stalins Police combined, will simply erase or get rid of people if
they pose a threat to them or to their cause.

It is easy to see how the political and social climate of the time
influenced George Orwells writings. This is evident in Animal Farm and
Nineteen Eighty-Four, where he shows his dislike of Communism. As the Russian
Communists grew stronger Orwells dislike for them grew equally as strong. His
writings contained warnings to the people of England and the world not to be
misguided by Communism. These two novels were among the first to show the true
brutality of the Communist party and helped to open the eyes of the American
people to the dangers of Communism, that “all-pervasive and controlling state,
and to rulers who wish to maintain power as much for its sake as for their own
advantage.”26
END NOTES
1-Miriam Gross, The World of George Orwell (New York, NY:Simon and Schuster,
1971) pg.136
2-socialism-a theory or system of Social organization by which the major means
of production and distribution are owned, managed, or controlled by the
government, associations of workers, or by the community as a whole
3-communism-a system in which most or all property is owned by the state and is
supposed to be shared by all. Communism comes from a philosophy based on the
writings of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engles, who together wrote the Manifesto of
the Communist Party
4-Miriam Gross, The World of George Orwell (New York, NY:Simon and Schuster,
1971) pg.120
5-Richard J. Voorhees, The Paradox of George Orwell (New York, NY:Purdue
Research Foundation, 1961) pg.22
6-Miriam Gross, The World of George Orwell (New York, NY:Simon and Schuster,
1971) pg.119
7-Frank W. Wadsworth, “Orwell, George,” World Book Encyclopedia, 1988 ed.,
pg.866
8-George Orwell, Animal Farm (New York, NY:Harcourt Brace Jovanavich, Inc.,1946)
pg.82-83
9-The Battle of the Cowshed was a battle that took place between the Animals of
Animal Farm and the humans who were attacking. This battle represents the
invasion of German forces into the western part of the newly formed U.S.S.R.


10-George Orwell, Animal Farm (New York, NY:Harcourt Brace Jovanavich,
Inc.,1946) pg.80
11-“Stalin, Joseph,” World Book Encyclopedia, 1988 ed., pg.826
12-“Lenin, V.I.,” World Book Encyclopedia, 1988 ed., pg.191
13-Ibid
14-George Orwell, Animal Farm (New York, NY:Harcourt Brace Jovanavich,
Inc.,1946) pg.54
15-Ibid, pg.15
16-Ibid, pg.19
17-Alfred G. Meyer, “Marx, Karl,” World Book Encyclopedia, 1988 ed., pg.237
18-Ibid
19-Miriam Gross, The World of George Orwell (New York, NY:Simon and Schuster,
1971) pg.136
20-The Party represents the Communist party in Russia. It has a total
dictatorship over Oceania, post war England in the novel. They use the same
violent force that the Communist used to enforce their laws, and almost
everything else is the same as the Communist party.


21-Gilbert Borman, Cliffs Notes of Orwells Nineteen Eighty-Four (Lincoln,
Nebraska: Cliffs Notes Inc.,1984) pg.23
22-George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four (New York, NY: Harcourt Brace Jovanaich,
Inc., 1949) pg.5
23-Edward W. Lempinen, “S.F. Police Copters Turbulent Return,” San Francisco
Chronicle 22 March 1996, sec A:1 & A:15
24-“Stalin, Joseph,” World Book Encyclopedia, 1988 ed., pg.827
25-Ibid
26-Peter Stansky, On Nineteen Eighty-Four (San Francisco, California: W.H.

Freeman and Company, 1983) pg.25
BIBLIOGRAPHY
Allen, David L. and Thompson, Frank H. Cliffs Notes on Orwells Animal Farm.

Lincoln Nebraska:Cliffs Notes Inc., 1981
Borman, Gilbert. Cliffs Notes on Orwells Nineteen Eighty-Four. Lincoln,
Nebraska: Cliffs Notes Inc., 1984
Crick, Bernard. George Orwell The First Complete Biography. Boston,
Massachusetts: Little, Brown and Company, 1980
Gross, Miriam. The World of George Orwell. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster,
1971
Lempinen, Edward W. “S.F. Police Copters Turbulent Return” San Francisco
Chronicle 22 March 1996, sec A:1 & A:15
Lewis, C.S. Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism. Detroit, Michigan: Gale
Research Company,1979
Meyer, Alfred G. “Marx, Karl.” World Book Encyclopedia.1988 ed.


Orwell, George. Nineteen Eighty-Four. New York, NY: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich,
Inc., 1949
Orwell, George. Animal Farm. New York, NY: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc., 1946
Stansky, Peter and Abraham, William. Orwell: The Transformation. New York, NY:
Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1979
Stansky,Peter. On Nineteen Eighty-Four. San Francisco, California: W.H. Freeman
and Company, 1983
Wadsworth, Frank W. “Orwell, George” World Book Encyclopedia. 1988 ed.


Woodcock, George. The Crystal Spirit a study of George Orwell. Boston,
Massachusetts: Little, Brown and Company,1966
Voorhees, Richard J. The Paradox of George Orwell. New York, NY: Purdue Research
Foundation,1961
“Stalin, Joseph.” World Book Encyclopedia. 1988 ed.


“Lenin, V.I.” World Book Encyclopedia. 1988 ed.

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