Animal farm and Marxism compared with each other

INTRODUCUTION In the social production of their existence, men inevitably enter into definite relations, which are independent of their will, namely relations of production appropriate to a given stage in the development of their material forces of production. The totality of these relations constitute the economic structure of society, the real foundation, on which arises a legal and political superstructure and to which correspond definite forms of social consciousness. Karl Marx, Preface to A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy, 521. Marxism, as a concept, is a philosophy of history and also an economic concept that was rpopounded by the father of the marxist theory, Karl Marx, and then seconded or backed up as the case may be, by his very good friend and fellow philosopher, Engels. And according to thos theory of the state, there should be equality, and a classless society to boot where the law will wither away, and not only that, the institution of the state will also wither away and then it will be a society where it’ll be each working according to his capabilities and earning according to his needs. There will not be any strife in the society, and the bourgeosie_ the capitalists_ will be overthrown. On the other hand, George Orwell iss best known for his satirical works, which all served as a critic of the existing laws and the powers that be in the society. There are certain factors that heavily influenced his works, particularly as it pertains to his Animal Farm, which serves as an attack against the dictatorship that was evident in the government of those years. It is an altogether powerful work that examine the ways in which a farm of oppressed and exploited animals rebel against their human master, Mr. Jones, only to eventually replace the system they initially wanted to supplant. The work is 1st a thinly disguised retelling of the 1917 Russian Revolution from George Orwell’s point of view with the Marxism and Capitalism firmly imbibed in the work as a veiled critique of Van Marx’s principles. He used his work to bring out the level of himan exploitation that existed in the society. HISTORICAL BACKGROUND OF ANIMAL FARM AND THE COURSE OF HISTORY THAT NECESSITATED ITS WRITING In1917, the Bolshevik Party led by Nikoli Lenin overthrew Czar Nicholas II in Russia and the Communist Party gained control of the government. When Lenin died, Joseph Stalin and Leon Trotsky battled to be his successor. Stalin seized power and the idealism of the Revolution turned into a totalitarian system even more terrifying than the Czarist regime. Although he agreed with many Marxist principles, George Orwell uses his allegorical animal farm to satirize the Soviet system. Though the original intention of overthrowing Mr. Jones (the human farmer who represents the Czar), is not inherently evil in itself, Napoleon the Pig’s Subsequent adoption of nearly all of Mr. Jones’ principles and harsh mistreatment of the animals shows that communism is but just another form of inequality. The pigs and dogs take most of the power for themselves, claiming they are the best administrators of government. Eventually power corrupts them, and they turn on their fellow animals. This was just like the time of the Russian revolution, when Stalin, instead of protecting the interests of the Russian people, turned on them. In the beginning of the novel, Old Major, the oldest Berkshire boar who represents Lenin, summoned all of the animals to assemble in the barn to relay a message to them. The message was simple: all animals are equal. This philosophy was the essential principal of Animalism. And this little statement by the Old Major is very reminiscent of what Marx had postulated in order for the people to live together in peace and harmony. Then, to our Old Major, Humans are evil since they are the only creatures that consume without producing, and this ultimately signifies the capitalists who consume without working and then still being those that control everything in the society at the expense of the proletariats who are at their mercy. Given the scientific nature of Historic Materialism as had been postulated by Marx, and upon recognising the role the state and its laws supply, the proletariat will seize political power and turn the means of production into state property, then according to Marxist jurisprudence, “As soon as there is no longer any class to be held in subjection; as soon as class rule and the individual struggle for existence … are removed, nothing more remains to be repressed.” This is the history of the masses and their rise to move against the powers that be against them so that they can get their freedom in order to have their classless society and live free of the influence of the capitalists. Karl Marx had stipulated that in order for the proletaritas to gain their freedom, that there must be a revoluiyon that will be staged bythem in order ot attain their goals, and that its outcome would be a classless communist society_ an utopian free society where each person will live according to his means and then each according to his capacity. That was the scenario that Orwell had painted for the animals in the novel and the scenario that had been envisaged by the men that had orchestrated the russian revolution. RELATING THE MARXISM THEORY OF KARL MARX TO ANIMAL FARM The book Animal Farm is based on the indictment of the communist betrayal of the ideals the Soviet Union was founded on. It portryaed the notion that the ideals that the revolution had been founded on had been betrayed for the sake of the material gains to be gotten by subjugating the lower classes that had been originally freed from the oppression of the capitalists. The author George Orwell tells the story in the form of a fairy tale, clearly depicting the different animal’s positions and power over one another. This was his own way of depicting the way that the russian revolution had turned into a terror for those it had been meant to protect. Marx investigated the role of ideology and how we as humans make conscious and unconscious decisions. For example Marxists believe that cultural, religious and ethical decisions are all products of consciousness and influenced by ideological “pressure”. And of course that is exactly why a person who kbows that something is wrong or that something is not meant to be and yet say nothing against that occurrence. Marx believed that ideologies explain the distribution of wealth and power in society and lead people to accept the status Quo and the subordinate people end up believing in their subordination. Animal farm is based on a social movement and Marx’s view on consciousness and political consciousness can be used to help describe this. For example we can look at Marx’s classless society theory and how the working classes through a revolution would unite and share in the wealth of labor. That is what accounts for the revolution in the farm that led to the overthrow ofMan and all that he stands for. Class consciousness is strong in Orwell’s story and much of Marxism based on that but mainly it’s necessary to discuss political consciousness, ideology and social class- all important factors to Marxists.It was written to warn the people of Stalinism and expose the dangers of Totalitarianism. Even its characters reflect several important personalities at the time, an example being ‘Old Major’, a Middle White Boar that the Joneses exhibited under the name “Willingdon Beauty”. He is 12 years of age, making him a senior among the animals, with an appearance of being “stout… but still a majestic-looking pig”. He claims to “understand the nature of life on this earth as well as any animal now living”. Old Major actually represents Karl Marx, the Father of Communism. In the first part of the story, Old Major calls the farm animals to a meeting and starts a long speech about rebellion and revolution against humans, imparting his ideals about what he calls “Animalism”- which all humans are enemies and all animals are equal. This is similar to Marx’s ideals and hypotheses about collective effort and rejection of the class a capitalist systems. Another character is Mr. Jones, the farm caretaker. He is the representative of the capitalists that is being sought to be overthrown by the proletariats. He is described as ruthless, always drunken and does not care much for the animals. He treats the animals harshly, rationing their food. This treatment leads to a revolt by the animals later on in the novel, as encouraged by Old Major’s successors: Snowball and Napoleon- two pigs who make the ideals of Animalism concrete in ‘The Seven Commandments of Animalism’ and later on vie for the top ruling position on the farm. And this is to be likened with the capitalists and the fact that they are deemed to be reaping where they did not sow. Mr. Jones represents the higher ruling classes of society, mainly the owners of big companies and industries (as well as the government) that employ the lower working classes, practice exploitation and give low wages to their workers. Mr. Jones is often pictured as “drunken and lousy at his job” and shows how the higher ruling classes squander their earnings with luxury and barely do anything to compensate for their worker’s hard labor. This is evident in most societies, especially in heavy industrialized countries. The employers do what they can to keep their profit to themselves and releasing only a little to give wages to their employees, thus making it hard for the workers to fend for themselves with the increasing prices of commodities. With the death of Old Major days after the first meeting at the barn, two pigs; Napoleon and Snowball take it upon themselves to take over the governing of the animals. They concretize Animalism under seven commandments: Eventually, the pigs encourage the other animals to continue Old Major’s legacy and overthrow Mr. Jones’ rule. This happens on “The Battle of Cowshed”. This is where they drive out Mr. Jones, injuring him and running him out of the farm. Their only loss is a sheep that dies in battle. They give it a hero’s burial. Boxer and Snowball each receive medallions engraved: “Animal Hero: first class”. The animals eventually discover Mr. Jones’ gun of which he has dropped in the mud. They place the gun by the flagpole and agree to fire it on the anniversary of the battle and of the rebellion. The gun represents a successful, but violent way of overthrowing Mr. Jones. This is again, contradictory to Marx’s (Old Major) teachings that the revolution is to be accomplished with integrity, virtue and reflexive resolve. Soon after this, Napoleon and Snowball rise to power in a premature way, with the animals entrusting them with the power to ratify laws proposed during the meetings on the barn. Napoleon, according to several studies on this novel, represents Joseph Stalin. He is presented as a corrupt character, never contributing anything to the revolution. He attends the meetings, but keeps quiet. Although he is most directly modeled on the Soviet dictator, Napoleon represents, in a more general sense, the political tyrants that have emerged throughout human history and with particular frequency during the twentieth century. His image may also be due to George Orwell’s political preference at the time. Though after his death Orwell was fought over by the side of Trotsky’s followers and Stalin’s advocates, he makes it obvious through his works that he was a Trotskyist by heart. Orwell’s stint in a Trotskyist battalion in the Spanish Civil War at the time he first started to create plans for making a critique on totalitarianism had a great impact on his creating Snowball as a character in the novel. He creates Snowball as a symbol for Leon Trotsky, putting him under an ideal light as a character dedicated to Animalism. This, though, leads to his downfall because he is no match for Napoleon’s use of brute force. He may have used his intelligence and logic to gain loyalty from the animals, but this is changed when he is driven out of the farm as Squealer (another pig) starts to create all sorts of black propaganda against him. A general theme of ‘Apathy and Acceptance’ actually surrounds the story, evident with the way the animals simply accept their tasks and do what they are told. Napoleon uses methods of propaganda with the help of Squealer to blind the other animals to the truth of what he is doing: hoarding apples (symbolic for resources in an economy, i.e. money), living inside the Joneses empty house (symbolic of engagement into luxury), and even changing the seven commandments of Animalism, degrading to only five commandments. This is to suit the pig’s comfort and desires and to justify their actions. The most striking change was for the seventh commandment. From: “All animals are equal”, to: “All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others”. “It is for your sake that we pigs drink that milk and eat those apples. Do you know what would happen if we pigs failed our duty? Jones would come back! Surely comrades… surely there is no one among you who wants to see Jones come back?” There is no scientific basis, that milk and apples enhance the pigs’ intelligence, or that they need these to be able to think clearly for the greater good, but because the other animals lack knowledge of these things, they accept it and do what they are told, scared that Mr. Jones might come back to the farm and harm them. There are also a good number of false ideals and consciousness present in the story. According to Marx, these ideals and consciousness are one of the reasons why most lower classes do not fight back against repressive and oppressive governments and establishments. One major false ideal exemplified in the story is ‘Rugged Individualism’, shown very concretely by the character of ‘Boxer’. Boxer is the most hardworking of the animals, even adopting the maxim ‘I will work harder’ which is an alteration of Squealer’s suggested maxim: ‘I will work hard’. Many of the animals praise Boxer for his hard work, but what he does not realize is that because he has created that maxim for himself, he now does not pay attention to what is happening outside of his work. He concentrates on his load, even taking on some other animals’ work and is absorbed in it. Another false ideal in the story is ‘Classism’. It happens as the morals that used to maintain the farm turn into controls, which then make the animals effectively split themselves into classes. This happens through Hegemony, resulting in the acceptance of these classes with ease by the animals. Hegemony, according to Raymond Williams, is “a form of social control that becomes accepted as ‘normal’ after becoming the predominant influence”. Take for example the pigs: they took it upon themselves to rule and follow the teachings of Old Major. This becomes socially acceptable to the animals after some time and is even perceived as normal, even if there are no scientific basis to the pigs’ claims that they are mentally superior compared to the other animals. And then of course, from all the aforementioned points, its to be seen that this is exactly what Karl Marx had talked about, that the capitaists always try as much as possible to twist the laws to suit their own needs and their own agendas, that the law is an instrument of manipulation that is to utilised to the utmost to get whatever it is that they want the law to do for them. Communism and the End of Law The meaning of history, that man’s destiny lies in creation of a Communist society where “law will wither away” , as men experience a higher stage of being amounting to the realisation of true freedom, will after transition through Socialism, be achieved. And this also what was opined by Orwell in his satirical novel which was perfectly encapsulated in the speech that was proferred by Old Major when he was giving the animals what can be called his farewell speech in the barn about the need for them to overthrow the powers that be, that in order for them to outrun the cruel fate that awaited them all at the end of their short, miserable lives, that they all had to work toward the ovethrow of man and all that he stands for. This is the central message of Karl Marx to the proletariats, that they must, by means of a revolution, try to overthrow the powers that be so that they can achieve a classless society. Owing to the scientific nature of Historical Materialism, and upon the need for the recognition of the role the state and its law supply that is geared exclusively towards the protection of the rich against the poor, the proletariat will seize political power and turn the means of production into state property, and then according to Marxist as soon as class rule and the individual struggle for existence ….are removed, nothing more remains to the repressed”. Then, there would be much freedom all around for everybody so that there won’t be the need for stratification. That is the scenario envisaged in the early pages of Animal Farm, where Old Major propounded that after the Rebellion which can occur at any time, whether or not he would be there to see it and also whether it would take the next century before they were able to actualise their dreams, that there will be nothing like tyranny or forced organization; that there will be freedom for all the animals and then the old ones can even go on a retirement. That was also the main ideal of the forerunners of the Russian Revolution, and their wish was for an end to tyranny and for a time, they succeeded. Yes, they all succeeded both in the book and for the soviet revolution.But in the end, there has to be some to form of control; everybody cannot just be left to do as they please. The ideology is that the animals/Russia shall create a communist society where “law will wither away”, and this extremely important, even more than is being realized now. But yet, spite of the laudable ideology; in spite of the fact that the overthrow of the capitalist bourgeoisie was achieved (Mr. Jones and the Czar of Russia were both wrenched out of their respective thrones, and in the case of the latter, was murdered when the needed objective was realised by the revolutionaries), one of the glaring inadequacies of Marxism was showcased: “that Marxism is not realistic because the society is a belligerent society where everyone is a prey to everyone else because all are predators….” And this is true, because a new government still sprung up right in the wave of the overthrown capitalists and was just like them, so that the proletariat i.e. the animals, could never recall if there’d ever been a time when their lives was better. So, the main point here is that there can never be an elimination of the engine of the state. Orwell’s patrician interpretation of the Russian Revolution with its communism principle turned upside down has helped to make it profoundly clear that capitalism and democracy would outlive a system of government-mandated equality of all. And even at that, this equality for all doctrine had never been practicable, and this has been one of the foremost criticisms against the doctrine which even George Orwell had brought to the fore of his work in order to ridicule the principle. Even though what Marx had postulated was very good in tthe theory aspect when looked at on paper, it is something that cannot be really practised in the current society that we’ve now. The work thst had been penned by one of the greatest satiric writers of the world has its own niche of morals because of the fact that the characters that appear in the work are not just ordinary characters to be read for the sole purpose of enjoying the work; they can all be definitely tabulated into a particular niche of persons that had palyed a role in the revolution that gave rise to the soviet union in 1917.


About kingsleyadrian

Kingsley Adrian is a model, poet, novelist, blogger/infopreneur, & Lawyer living and working in Victoria Island, Lagos...
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