1/06/2009

Animal Farm

I remember reading this book back in high school and thinking it was a critique of communism. This time through, it does not seem critical of communism but rather supportive. What the book does criticize are the leaders of the communist movement. But at the beginning of the story when the animals are closest to living the ideals set originally, their lives are better than previously. This will lead to one of two interpretations: communism is good, but the leaders of the movement screwed it up, or communism is flawed and cannot work because a person in power will eventually abuse that power.

I don't know what Orwell was trying to say but apart from communism I think it is an apt description of the complacency and intellectual laziness of most people.

4 comments:

permathreeseat said...

Actually, Orwell was a socialist, which is why the farm worked at the beginning. When it was a true collective among all the animals, as a socialist would want, it worked. But once the pigs devised a way to take control, as with what happened in the Soviet Union and other communist countries, corruption entered the system and destroyed it. I don't know that he was a Marxist, though. I believe that Orwell was of a less violent school of socialism, so that he believed that as long as the right people were in power, the system would work. He simply saw the potential problem of having a system where one person, or a small group of people, could gather power and pervert the gains that had been made by everyone else.

arfanser said...

thanks, it makes sense that he would be a socialist, but i did not want to take the time to look it up myself.

On an interesting note, the story never reached the eutopia i would expect even right when the animals took over the farm. it makes me wonder whether he believed that socialism could actually work in reality.

permathreeseat said...

Orwell was a realist, though, so I think he understood that even in the best possible world, it still won't be utopia (especially since, be definition, a true utopia can't exist). And he was probably disillusioned, like most other socialists, after the Russian revolution, since they thought it was going to pave the way for world wide socialism, but instead just would up being a brutal police state.

Matt said...

Looking at the wikipedia article on Orwell, he seems to've been something of an anarchist/socialist, fond of syndicalism. Distrust of powerful leaders seems to be his thing. Which makes sense - big brother and all. Reading political blogs, Orwell seems to me to be much more frequently cited by conservative writers than liberals. Ironic.

Also - I like his essay Politics and the English Language. It's a nice piece about writing clearly. In one part he translates a verse from Ecclesiastes into "modern English", awkward and rambling. It's fun to compare to, say, legal writing.