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Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Book Review : 'Animal Farm' by George Orwell

I had heard of the book from one of my author friends while he had been explaining revolution in the current context and it was rather recently that one of my friends (from within the communist party!) reminded me of the book.The exclamation mark is out of realisation because 9 out of 10 times I can assure that you will be criticised inside a Marxist party if you claim to be an anarchist.This is not very illogical since there are "anarchists" (literally billy goats) who make political posters while drinking Coca Cola.Again,I have seen communist students mention Stalin as a solution for the ongoing problem of religious fundamentalism in India.Sighs.In fact,it is hard to find people who are not capitalistic yet not maximalistic here in India.
Having the impression that this must be one of the most important texts for students interested in International Relations and the urge to counter a rather childish article I had found the presence of one of the quotes from the book in back in 2014 was what led me to read this.
Anarchism,after all,when wrongly comprehended can even be prefixed with fascism!




Plot Summary
(Credit : Wikipedia)

Old Major, the old boar on the Manor Farm, summons the animals on the farm together for a meeting, during which he refers to humans as "enemies" and teaches the animals a revolutionary song called Beasts of England. When Major dies, two young pigs, Snowball and Napoleon, assume command and consider it a duty to prepare for the Rebellion. The animals revolt and drive the drunken and irresponsible farmer Mr. Jones from the farm, renaming it "Animal Farm". They adopt Seven Commandments of Animalism, the most important of which is, "All animals are equal."

Snowball teaches the animals to read and write, while Napoleon educates young puppies on the principles of Animalism. Food is plentiful, and the farm runs smoothly. The pigs elevate themselves to positions of leadership and set aside special food items, ostensibly for their personal health.

Some time later, several men attack Animal Farm. Jones and his men are making an igukdyoxtkxthgxghhjkurattempt to recapture the farm, aided by several other farmers who are terrified of similar animal revolts. Snowball, who has been studying the battles of Julius Caesar in anticipation of such a fight, orders the animals to retreat, then attacks the men and beats them back. Snowball's popularity soars and this event is
 proclaimed "The BattThe book is definiitely a genius workle of the Cowshed" and celebrated annually with the firing of a gun alonhxgkcgxgt5kxkymg with the anniversary of the Revolution.

Napoleon and Snowball struggle for preeminence. When Snowball announces his plans to build a windmill, Napoleon has his dogs chase Snowball away and declares himself leader of Animal Farm.

Napoleon enacts changes to the governance structure of the farm, replacing meetings with a committee of pigs who will run the farm. Through a young pig named Squealer, Napoleon claims credit for the windmill idea. The animals work harder with the promise of easier lives with the windmill. When the animals find the windmill collapsed after a violent storm, Napoleon and Squealer convince the animals that Snowball is trying to sabotage their project. Once Snowball becomes a scapegoat, Napoleon begins to purge the farm with his dogs, killing animals he accuses of consorting with his old rival. When some animals recall the Battle of the Cowshed, Napoleon (who was nowhere to be found during the battle) frequently smears Snowball as a collaborator of Jones, while falsely representing himself as the hero of the battle. Beasts of England is replaced with an anthem glorifying Napoleon, who appears to be adopting the lifestyle of a man. The animals remain convinced that they are better off than they were under Mr. Jones.

Mr Frederick, one of the neighbouring farmers, attacks the farm, using blasting powder to blow up the restored windmill. Though the animals win the battle, they do so at great cost, as many, including Boxer the workhorse, are wounded. Despite his injuries, Boxer continues working harder and harder, until he collapses while working on the windmill. Napoleon sends for a van to take Boxer to the veterinary surgeon, explaining that better care can be given there. Benjamin, the cynical donkey who "could read as well as any pig",[9] notices that the van belongs to a knacker, and attempts a futile rescue. Squealer reports that the van was purchased by the hospital and the writing from the previous owner had not been repainted. Squealer also tells of how Boxer died peacefully, and the pigs hold a festival one day after Boxer's death to further praise the glories of Animal Farm and have the animals work harder by taking on Boxer's ways. But in reality, Napoleon has sold his most loyal and long-suffering worker for money to buy whisky for himself and the pigs.

Years pass, and the windmill is rebuilt along with construction of another windmill, which makes the farm a good amount of income. However, the concepts which Snowball discussed, of animal stalls with running water and lighting are forgotten, with Napoleon advocating that the happiest animals live simple lives. Besides Boxer, many of the animals who participated in the Revolution are dead, as well as Jones, who died in another part of England. The pigs start to resemble humans, as they walk upright, carry whips, and wear clothes. The Seven Commandments are abridged to a single phrase: "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others". Napoleon holds a dinner party for the pigs and local farmers, with whom he celebrates a new alliance. He abolishes the practice of the revolutionary traditions and restores the name "The Manor Farm". As the animals look from pigs to humans, they realise they can no longer distinguish between the two.



Book Review

The book is genius when judged from most of the angles that can be thought of. When read from the beginning,the tone is sarcastic and very casual.It would almost seem that you have just began reading a folk tale but the surprising point is when the animals start referring each other as "Comrades." The story ends in less than 60 pages and it has put such a large part of History in its stomach that it is hard for us to digest it all in a go!

The animals first gather for the right goal,the need of the hour : freedom.Freedom here was the journey and the destination.When they are able to snatch away freedom of their own,for their sake,for the majority's sake from the unjust landlords,they slowly limit all of freedom in 7 little laws and a few slogans and vague bases that would only stay alive for not even their lifetimes.Right from setting limits,problems will arise at the farm.The animals will still manage to defend themselves when attacked by the landlords and maintain a strong state.The modernist methods will slowly be worked out of the plan and the primitive will claim that loyalty and discipline is far more important than bravery.The power hungry will consume greed with gritted teeth and saliva filled mouth from chairs of authority and power will tend to corruption,fixed definition will engulf concepts of morality and conscience and the more attempts are made to nationalise everything,the worse will the situation become,gradually eliminating reformist and relatively new,progressive ideas.
Then this morality will one day be converted to law and be imposed upon the citizens.The citizens,when convinced of the presence of an entity called imposition will begin to realise it more gravely than it is existent ; and in reality the graver they will turn as days pass.A situation will ultimately arise when the animals on the farm will fail to figure out the differences between pigs and human beings.

..................

The approach is satirical and ironical at the same time,as well as very,very strangely metaphorical as well.This doctrine can be sought to find the key reasons why the communist regimes failed to make their way in the contemporary world and were slowly suppressed by or evolved to brutal forces who are the most reluctant to think about the working classes,or their spirits and are actively involved in a slow poisoning process which drips imposition in the blood of the people without letting them know,or by eliminating a section who realise this brutality and then propagandising the other part of the plan so that the people are regulated in a manner that benefits them and their chairs,and what they mean themselves and their chairs to be and the connection so established between autocratically evolved concepts.Revolutions,primarily formulated by uprisings have never bourne much fruitful results in the long run.They might be the necessity of the hour but the birth of Stalins or Bordigas are perhaps highly undesired in the years that are to come.We surely need leaders when imperialism is screaming at the top of its voices and most of us are in the dark,unheard but we also need devicing that makes their resonance sustainable.This is what might lead us towards unimposed versions of truth,real and right.Questioning and subsequent re-questioning to a necessary extent is important and can help both red and freethinking survive in the otherwise dreary future that is to follow.

The book is a must read for anyone and everyone interested in any of the Social Sciences.

Overall Score :- 4.5/5 (-0.5 for turning anarchistically radical at points)



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