My whole being is bent towards one single goal, all my thoughts even involuntary — lead me back to it. After their disillusionment some found a refuge in religion, a few were driven to fascism, but the majority gave their life a new purpose when the Second World War broke out. Their recantation of communism proved that Orwell had on the whole been right when he accused them of committing themselves irresponsibly.
Orwell himself had always been an opponent of Russian Communism. Even while he advocated a Socialist Revolution, he opposed those of its corollaries that threatened the human values which can only exist in a liberal society. Already before the Second World War he was drawing attention to the dangers of Right- or Left-wing totalitarianism.
The Russo-German Pact obviously bore out for him his conviction that fascists and communists had much in common.
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The German attack upon Russia did not make him change his mind. He wrote Animal Farm when enthusiasm for Russia was at its height. It was precisely this enthusiasm that made him feel people were as blind to the evils of totalitarianism as they had been in Orwell suggests in fact that the state of subjection in which they are kept is the human condition. His vision is so pessimistic as to imply that mankind never makes any real progress. They rename it Animal Farm and work for the setting up of a free and equalitarian community.
This proves more difficult than the overthrowing of their tyrant. The pigs, who are cleverer than the other animals, assume the direction of the farm and gradually form a new governing aristocracy as powerful and tyrannical as that of the human beings. These events presented in the simple allegorical terms of a beast fable form the background to the struggle of the animals to attain equality, freedom and economic security until it becomes clear that they have merely exchanged one tyrant for another.
The story is told with admirable simplicity and conciseness.
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If the animals, who are animated by the most generous motives towards each other, do not succeed in maintaining equality, surely there must be some corrupting element in the exercise of power which destroys the fruits of the Revolution. It is evident from the start that the pigs intend to take advantage of the privileged position which their abilities give them over the other animals.
Orwell seems to have been inspired by James Burnham, to whose work he devoted an essay:. Society is of its nature oligarchical, and the power of the oligarchy always rests upon force and fraud…. All historical changes finally boil down to the replacement of one ruling class by another.
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The masses, it seems, have vague aspirations towards liberty and human brotherhood, which are easily played upon by power-hungry individuals and minorities. So that history consists of a series of swindles in which the masses are first lured into revolt by the promise of Utopia, and then, when they have done their job, enslaved over again by new masters.
This is what is so disheartening about Animal Farm : Orwell takes it for granted that the masses are stupid; at no moment in the story is there any sign of hope that they will ever achieve a higher degree of consciousness. The fact that some of them at least learn how to read does not make them cleverer or more capable of doing anything but the specific task for which they were apparently born.
The easiness with which they agree to all the decisions of the pigs without always fully realizing their implications suggests that they hardly need to be made less conscious since they are not conscious to begin with. As Clover looked down the hillside her eyes filled with tears. If she could have spoken her thoughts, it would have been to say that this was not what they had aimed at when they had set themselves years ago to work for the overthrow of the human race.
These scenes of terror and slaughter were not what they had looked forward to on that night when old Major first stirred them to rebellion. If she herself had had any picture of the future, it had been of a society of animals set free from hunger and the whip, all equal, each working to his capacity, the strong protecting the weak. There was no thought of rebellion or disobedience in her mind. She knew that, even as things were, they were far better off than they had been in the days of Jones, and that therefore all else was needful to prevent the return of the human beings.
Whatever happened, she would remain faithful, work hard, carry out the orders that were given to her, and accept the leadership of Napoleon. But still, it was not for this that she and all the other animals had hoped and toiled. Such were her thoughts, though she lacked the words to express them.
His vision of a socialism exclusively centered on liberty and equality was always Utopian. By exposing the inevitable deterioration of the revolutionary process, Orwell seems to be shedding his last hope for a better world. The neighbours of Animal Farm are certainly not presented in a more favourable light than the aristocracy of pigs. Orwell satirizes the Western powers who first attempted to undermine the Revolution and spread innumerable lies about it, then made an alliance with Russia when their own countries were no longer threatened with the revolutionary spirit.
It is mainly in their means that rulers differ. Orwell shows how much easier it is to impose hardships on the masses for the sake of an ideal. Discipline, comrades, iron discipline!
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All this is possible only because the masses suffer of their own accord for the attainment of their Utopia. As time goes on, they no longer have any standards of comparison. They lead hard and hungry lives, and they are easily kept in check by a showy and carefully fostered patriotism:. They found it comforting to be reminded that, after all, they were truly their own masters and that the work they did was for their own benefit. Yet the masses accept their fate less grudgingly than before the Revolution. They are still in bondage, but they are now under the illusion that they possess something, that they are co-owners of all that is achieved on their territory.
They are in some measure prevented from revolting against their new rulers by the fact that the latter come, after all, from their own ranks. Although Orwell caricatures Soviet Russia and what he considers as the cynical hypocrisy of its leaders, Animal Farm is also a satire on the means used by clever men intoxicated with the exercise of power, who resort to evil means to ensure its continuance. Even the past is modified and either given a new meaning or denied altogether. The commandments which rule their lives can be amended from one day to another without the animals being consulted, so that very soon the democratic spirit is destroyed.
The instability of their beliefs further increases the confusion of the animals and induces them to accept blindly what they are told, which is the only way for them to remain orthodox and, so they think, not to endanger the success of their cause. It is also the only way in which they can make sure of their own safety, as they are sometimes made to realize with uneasy and uncomprehending amazement.
If Trotsky was a fascist and Ivan the Terrible a soviet hero, all standards of judgment vanished and nobody knew what to believe. To-night, the angels of this morning might be declared devils. The resulting mental confusion conduced to hypocrisy and automatic unthinking acceptance of the unpredictable revelations from the heights of the Kremlin. Therein lay at least a minimum of security. When they confess to crimes which they have not committed, they are only consistent with their own acceptance of anything that may serve the Revolution.
They were too deeply entangled in their own past, caught in the web that had spun themselves, according to the laws of their own twisted ethics and twisted logic; they were all guilty, although not of those deeds of which they accused themselves. Orwell was willing to use bad means to some extent war, for instance to reach a good end such as the defeat of fascism.
Like Animal Farm , the book is too well known to be described in detail, but the principles that underlie the dictatorship Orwell has imagined need some explanation. The latter, formerly a hero of the Revolution, has left the state and opposes it from the outside by inspiring a brotherhood of opponents of the regime within the country. The world is divided into three super-states, which are constantly at war and whose inhabitants are never allowed to communicate. The same system prevails in the three states with slight differences and under different names. The three world powers need not even be at war because they are entirely self-sufficient.
In so far as there is any cause for conflict, it is that some disputed territories are reserves of cheap labour and that each state wants to acquire a ring of bases to strengthen its position. As a matter of fact, the real purpose of this state of war, which should never lead to any decisive victory since this would put a stop to it, lies in its psychological effect on Party members. It stimulates the fear, the hatred, the adulation of leaders and the mood of orgiastic triumph that are necessary to foster the credulous and ignorant fanaticism which is the strongest support of the oligarchy.
War thus provides an emotional basis for a hierarchical society, but it also provides an economic one, for it uses up the produces of industrialism which would otherwise contribute to raise the general standard of living. If the great mass of people who are stupefied by poverty were richer and enjoyed too much leisure and security, they would learn to think for themselves and would eventually overthrow the hierarchical society, whose stability thus depends on the poverty and ignorance of its inhabitants.
War is thus made to play the part performed by comfort and hedonism in Brave New World. From the proletarians there is little to fear; they can be granted freedom because most of them cannot think anyway. In Oceania proles and animals are free. But among Party members and the new aristocracy made up for the most part of bureaucrats, scientists, technicians, trade-union organizers, publicity experts, sociologists, teachers, journalists and professional politicians the smallest inclination to independent thinking must be crushed at once. The best means of ensuring orthodoxy is of course education; the future aristocracy are trained from childhood in the practice of crimestop, blackwhite and double-think.
But it also means the ability to believe that black is white and more to know that black is white, and to forget that one has ever believed the contrary.
To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just so long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies — all this is indispensably necessary.
The Ministry of Peace concerns itself with war, the Ministry of Truth with lies, the Ministry of Love with torture and the Ministry of Plenty with starvation.
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Doublethink makes it possible for the Party to control the thoughts of its members. The tragedy of modern civilization is that politicians are able to exploit the means invented by scientists to control and even destroy the spirit of man. Throughout recorded time, and probably since the end of the Neolithic Age, there have been three kinds of people in the world, the High, the Middle and the Low.
They have been subdivided in many ways, they have borne countless different names, and their relative numbers, as well as their attitude towards one another, have varied from age to age; but the essential structure of society has never altered.
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