Monday, October 18, 2004

Animal Farm - George Orwell

I finally read the Animal Farm by George Orwell. It has been one of those books that I have been told to read for a long time, and I regret I was not able to read it earlier. It is simply brilliant satire displaying the inner workings of a totalitarian regime.

The story is told like a fairy tale, and George Orwell uses this format to explain the machinations of the communists. It starts with the overthrow of Humans by the farm animals who have been neglected and mistreated by the farm owner. The animals are goaded by the pig "Old Major", start out with a definite plan, 7 commandments of animalism. However the pigs who have taught themselves to read like humans, slowly take control over other animals. There is a fight between two pigs, Napolean the brute and Snowball the orator. Napolean with his brutal supporting dogs chases Snowball out of the farm and dilutes the seven commandments till he becomes the absolute ruler.

Any student of history can identify the Major (Lenin), Napolean (Stalin) and Snowball (Leon Trotsky). The book goes on to tell how Napolean gets confessions from his detractors before killing them, similar to what Stalin was supposed to have done. The way Napolean dilutes and distorts the original animalism is fascinating. Orwell ends it with saying finally there is no difference between humans and pigs, they have become one.

I would like this book to be part of the curriculum in the first year of college for all branches of study. It is then that the romance of communism gets the students' (Remember Che T shirts?).

One more disturbing thought is this is not only true of communism, but of right wing extremism and in fact about any totalitarian regime too. Take this scenario. Snowball fights hard in the first battle against humans, and is wounded. He is felicitated with a medal and all. But after he is banished from the farm, Napolean spreads the rumour that Snowball actually didn't fight but was on the side of humans and his injury was a fake. Doesnt it remind you of the allegations against Kerry in the US elections?

Read this book to clear you of favorable views towards any extremism.

1 comment:

Sowmya said...

I am currently reading that book. So far.. so good..
will complete it over the long weekend.