Animal Farm is so very relevant today

I just finished rereading Animal Farm, the first time in over a couple of decades. All the time I was reading this great work I was continuously surprised by parallels between the fictional world created by George Orwell more than 70 years ago and conditions today in so many countries. There are also warning signs that these conditions could be created here. 

Animal Farm was written as a warning against the totalitarianism that had spread through many nations in the 1930s and 1940s.  Unfortunately so many have ignored the warnings and so many are keen to implement the policies that have time and again led to the totalitarianism Orwell warned against.

This quote from the pig Old Major in Chapter 1 is so reminiscent of the rhetoric used by Karl Marx and other socialists who sought to overthrow capitalism.  The rhetoric is eerily similar to that used by Bernie Sanders,  Elizabeth Warren, and the rest of the Democratic presidential candidates.

Man is the only creature that consumes without producing. He does not give milk, he does not lay eggs, he is too weak to pull the plough, he cannot run fast enough to catch rabbits. Yet he is lord of all the animals. He sets them to work, he gives back to them the bare minimum that will prevent them from starving, and the rest he keeps for himself. Our labour tills the soil, our dung fertilises it, and yet there is not one of us that owns more than his bare skin.

Despite the promises of a more equal and just society made before, during, and after the revolutions that overthrow democratically elected free market societies, a cabal of elites always end up taking over and demanding special treatment, at the expense of the majority.  This is captured in this quote in Chapter 3 by Squealer, who is responding to complaints about the ruling pigs alone getting all of the milk and apples while everyone else is nearly starving..

“Comrades!” he cried. “You do not imagine, I hope, that we pigs are doing this in a spirit of selfishness and privilege? Many of us actually dislike milk and apples. I dislike them myself. Our sole object in taking these things is to preserve our health. Milk and apples (this has been proved by Science, comrades) contain substances absolutely necessary to the well-being of a pig. We pigs are brainworkers. The whole management and organisation of this farm depend on us. Day and night we are watching over your welfare. It is for YOUR sake that we drink that milk and eat those apples.

This point is reiterated in Chapter 5

Do not imagine, comrades, that leadership is a pleasure. On the contrary, it is a deep and heavy responsibility. No one believes more firmly than Comrade Napoleon that all animals are equal. He would be only too happy to let you make your decisions for yourselves. But sometimes you might make the wrong decisions, comrades, and then where should we be?

In a socialist nation laws and Constitutions are changed at a whim. Democrats have done that quite often here such as this notion of our Constitution being a living document. Here is a quote from Chapter 6.

Afterwards Squealer made a round of the farm and set the animals’ minds at rest. He assured them that the resolution against engaging in trade and using money had never been passed, or even suggested. It was pure imagination, probably traceable in the beginning to lies circulated by Snowball. A few animals still felt faintly doubtful, but Squealer asked them shrewdly, “Are you certain that this is not something that you have dreamed, comrades? Have you any record of such a resolution? Is it written down anywhere?” And since it was certainly true that nothing of the kind existed in writing, the animals were satisfied that they had been mistaken.

Straw men are constantly used by leftists regimes to justify abuses.  This took place in Chapter 7.

Whenever anything went wrong it became usual to attribute it to Snowball. If a window was broken or a drain was blocked up, someone was certain to say that Snowball had come in the night and done it, and when the key of the store-shed was lost, the whole farm was convinced that Snowball had thrown it down the well. Curiously enough, they went on believing this even after the mislaid key was found under a sack of meal.

The real turning point of the novel is when nine puppies are taken from their parents and educated by the ruling elite.  These dogs were turned into a secret police and became the most ardent supporters of the ruling elite.   This has taken place over and over again in totalitarian nations and this is the type brainwashing of the youth that has been happening here on college campuses for decades and is now taking place in grade and high schools.  The dogs committed atrocities that are chronicled in the next two quotes, also from Chapter 7.  All those killed were innocent but that did not stop the indoctrinated dogs.

And so the tale of confessions and executions went on, until there was a pile of corpses lying before Napoleon’s feet and the air was heavy with the smell of blood, which had been unknown there since the expulsion of Jones.

When it was all over, the remaining animals, except for the pigs and dogs, crept away in a body. They were shaken and miserable. They did not know which was more shocking–the treachery of the animals who had leagued themselves with Snowball, or the cruel retribution they had just witnessed. In the old days there had often been scenes of bloodshed equally terrible, but it seemed to all of them that it was far worse now that it was happening among themselves. Since Jones had left the farm, until today, no animal had killed another animal.

Purges such as this are always the end result when the policies advocated by Warren and Sanders are implemented. It is just a matter of time.

This quote from Chapter 8 is a dire warning against the notion of a living Constitution.

A few days later, when the terror caused by the executions had died down, some of the animals remembered–or thought they remembered–that the Sixth Commandment decreed “No animal shall kill any other animal.” And though no one cared to mention it in the hearing of the pigs or the dogs, it was felt that the killings which had taken place did not square with this. Clover asked Benjamin to read her the Sixth Commandment, and when Benjamin, as usual, said that he refused to meddle in such matters, she fetched Muriel. Muriel read the Commandment for her. It ran: “No animal shall kill any other animal WITHOUT CAUSE.” Somehow or other, the last two words had slipped out of the animals’ memory. But they saw now that the Commandment had not been violated; for clearly there was good reason for killing the traitors who had leagued themselves with Snowball.

All quotes are copied from the Animal Farm Wikiquote page because I am a lousy typist.