Thursday, October 27, 2011

Animal Farm by George Orwell

A "fairy story" written by Orwell which was published around the same time as WWII was ravaging the world. It is a bitter satire on human society replacing humans with farm animals who overthrow their human masters in a revolution. While the beasts all start as equals in a communist-like utopia, it quickly becomes apparent that the pigs are intent on seizing power for themselves. Which leads to one of the most stirring lines in the book "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others".

After reading the Jungle earlier this year, I noticed many similarities. The horse Boxer for example is a perfect alter-ego for Jurgis of the Jungle, with the mantra "I will work harder" and that blindly loyal faith in those above him. While Jurgis gets disillusioned throughout the novel, Boxer instead works until his usefulness ends, then is cruelly disposed of. This same thing happened a great deal all over the industrialized countries when workers were hurt on the job and had no union representative to stand up for them.

This fable baldly paints the major things that are wrong with a capitalist society, which breeds greed and a lack of empathy for others. It also points out that the communist ideal will never work as long as one group continually sets themselves above others. This book proved to be prophetic, as several decades after the book was written we witnessed the collapse of one of the largest communist societies, which had become so corrupt and abusive that it was a pale shadow of Marx's utopia. Absolute power corrupts absolutely, and the bleakest part of this fable is that good, honest people (or animals) are always the ones who suffer for it.