When Old Major had a dream, few speculated that it would ultimately turn into a nightmare for the inhabitants of Animal Farm. Old Major fantasized about a free society where animals would live in harmony and where they would work for themselves as opposed to working for free and being deprived of their work by humans who would use it for their own profit. Old Major illustrates the suppression of the animals which strongly resembles the work of Thomas Hobbes in Leviathan when he states, “our lives are miserable, laborious, and short…and the very instant that our usefulness has come to an end we are slaughtered with hideous cruelty.
(Orwell, 28) Soon after, the animals revolted and seized control of Manor Farm. This led to the creation and eventual abuse of the Seven Commandments of Animalism. The pigs learned to bend the rules in their favor in order to grow their power over the other animals through the use of propaganda.
Eventually, the struggle for equality comes to a standstill and ultimately regresses once a power struggle ensues which leads to an autonomous ruler rising to power and imposing his tyrannical rule over his subjects.
Regardless of the original intentions before taking over the farm, corruption scars Animal Farm by creating irreparable damage to the ideologies instilled by the fraudulent, once idealistic, pigs. Originally, the Seven Commandments of Animalism strongly reflected the ideas of the Communist Manifesto. They both share the message of equality and distinguishing themselves from anything bourgeoisie. In retrospect, Animal Farm is a solid commendation of Marxist theory by Orwell, but Orwell clearly depicts his stance against the ideologies adopted by Napoleon which were ultimately tainted with despotic fervor.
Napoleon progressively distances himself from the founding principles of Old Major as the story moves on, and establishes his dictatorial rule that beleaguered the animals and eventually corrupted the original Marxist perspective. To begin with, Napoleon consistently altered The Seven Commandments of Animalism through forms of cunning and manipulation in order to accommodate his ulterior motives which were aimed at thrusting him into power as the sovereign ruler of Animal Farm. It is important to note that the pigs initially took it upon themselves to become literate, but failed to educate the rest of the animals appropriately.
Knowledge is a form of oppression that is abused by the pigs to subjugate the animals. With the animals being neglected and denied of the right to communicate on effective terms, the stage has been set for the pigs to successfully hijack command of the farm by taking advantage of the obliviousness of the animals. With the pigs assuming power, the animals learned to simply agree with everything the pigs say because they do not know any better and lack a basis for comparison when it comes to a utopian society.
The reluctance by the animals to ever question Napoleon’s tactics due to their gullibility and fear of his retribution led to Boxer adopting the new axiom, “Napoleon is always right. ” (Orwell, 70) Consequently, the pigs established the Seven Commandments of Animalism which “would form an unalterable law by which all animals on Animal Farm must live for ever after. ” (Orwell, 42) These principles would serve as a mantra for the animals to adhere to, but more importantly as laws put in place used to regulate the behavior of all animals.
Given that the pigs were the smartest animals on the farm and everyone else’s intelligence was subpar, the rest of the animals simply nodded and accepted these new changes, and the pigs successively enforced their new plans unchallenged. The new changes which occurred after-the-fact always involved an alteration to the Commandments by Napoleon’s henchmen, Squealer. With a simple stroke of the paint brush and the addition of two words to the end of each commandment, Squealer managed to excuse the pigs’ behavior and set them apart from the rest of the animals.
Also, similar to 20th century propaganda utilized during World War II, the pigs quickly acknowledged the effectiveness of mottos and catchphrases which can become contagious in spreading an ideology and creating a false sense of unity. These aphorisms provided a sense of purpose amongst the animals and the false notion of a common goal that everyone agreed to work towards. The pigs applied these tactics surreptitiously by enlisting the aid of the sheep and Squealer; both, who enforced the new ideals by attacking the subconscious and through the use of gossip and fear.
Just like Napoleon, who had raised Jessie and Bluebell’s puppies in secret from birth to brainwash them and further his interests, the pigs had caught on to the influence of the sheep’s bleating of their slogans. A certain splendor developed from the chanting and weekly rituals implanted by the pigs which quickly established a tradition of pride and service to the greater good of the community. As the story continues and new objectives begin to take priority, the pigs utilize the bleating of the sheep by making alterations to the chants without first giving notice.
Since most of the animals are quite dense to begin with and cannot even recite the alphabet due to the lacking of a formal, human education, they perplexedly accept. Likewise, after the pigs would present new ideas to the animals with the intent to revolutionize the farm and make it self-sufficient, Squealer would meet with the animals afterwards and gain the animals’ support on false pretenses. Accompanied by the now fully matured adult dogs as his enforcers, Squealer imposed Napoleon’s ideas later on in the novel through the means of coercion and anecdotal claims that made Napoleon appear in a favorable, and sometimes heroic light.
Resultantly, Orwell makes the point about Communism concerning how easily it lends itself to despotism, exploitation by fundamentalists, and oppression as he describes the evolution of the original Seven Commandments of Animalism. Even with the best intentions in mind, sometimes the most innocent and harmless ideas can turn into a gateway for malicious opportunists to gain an upper hand. When the character Old Major began garnering support, he did so by inspiring the animals with a powerful speech and through the use of propaganda via his anthem “Beasts of England,” which is a common instrument used by communist factions.
Interestingly enough, Old Major is referred to as being a prize-winning boar. This detail cannot simply go overlooked as it conveys the notion that only the prosperous and bourgeoisie type individuals have the capacity and interest to produce ideas for an improved society. Meanwhile, the proletarians seem disinterested in an insurgence because they are typically preoccupied with meeting their basic needs for sustenance. After Old Major introduces his new perception of the future for the animals, the pigs undertake all leadership roles after his untimely death and begin defiling the original proletarian viewpoint.
The pigs immediately segregated themselves from the rest of the animals and instituted an autocratic government. Then, the pigs began deceiving the animals into working relentlessly and toiling in the fields with no rest or reward whilst they claimed all the profit and lived extravagantly. Following a hard day’s work the animals would retreat to their small, confined quarters to sleep on the cold floor while the pigs slept on comfortable beds in Farmer Jones’ home. After catching wind of such despicable rumors, the animals began to question amongst themselves why the pigs were sleeping in beds.
Clover proceeded to ask Muriel to recite back to her the Fourth Commandment of Animalism to which Muriel replied, “No animal shall sleep in a bed with sheets. ” (Orwell, 79) Confused and reluctant Clover humbly believed what Muriel said to be the truth, but could not overcome her doubts given that she had remembered the commandments differently; nevertheless, she accepted and moved on. Clearly, this is just another depiction of the treachery employed by the pigs in their efforts to uphold their tyrannical beliefs.
Their despotism reached its peak with the political appointment of all pigs in authoritative positions; and their muscle came in the form of the now fully matured blood thirsty dogs that served as their police force and acted as the symbol of Napoleon’s political muscle. Intimidation and deadly force become the standard by which all law enforcement proceedings were carried out effectively. In essence, power corrupts all who attain it by stimulating leaders to grow overly ambitious.
The evolution of the commandments denotes such a change by depicting a seismic shift from the founding philosophy of Animalism that originally promoted a self-governed, communal society. Correspondingly, the Seven Commandments of Animalism strongly reflect the message of the Communist Manifesto by enforcing the ideas of egalitarianism, popular sovereignty, and equal opportunity. Marx and Engels’ had a goal to bring about change because they felt that capitalism was a growing evil that created a major imbalance of power and served as a facilitator for exploitation, colonialism, and disproportion.
The whole purpose of Marx and Engels efforts is to bring about social reform and spread the message of socialism, so such a turn of events on the farm from the days when Farmer Jones was in charge to the point where the animals become self-governed would certainly be deemed a victory from a Marxist perspective. Marxists believe that capitalism, in due course, leads people to lead unhealthy lives centered on attaining wealth and material things. This creates a stage for competition which drives the cost of materials up and the value of labor down.
Shortly after, an efficient model for a means of production must be formulated to maximize profit and minimize costs. Here is where ninety-nine percent of the population begins to suffer by serving as mere pawns in the grand scheme of capitalism. Moreover, Farmer Jones symbolizes the capitalistic force that continually exploits his animals for his own personal gain. His relentless pursuit of money drives his animals to rally against him for the sake of their freedom.
Now that Farmer Jones has been labeled the enemy, he is easily ousted from the farm and is easily made out to be the scapegoat for all of the animals’ problems. Marx and Engels would be content to see such a change taking place as a result of citizens coming together and overthrowing their oppressor. The incrimination of Farmer Jones defers attention away from the true intentions of Napoleon who adapts by thrusting his concepts into the cognizance of the animals. Napoleon finds that his new methods work better than Old Major’s or Snowball’s whose approaches could be considered fundamentalist, but certainly not forceful.
So fundamentally, the Seven Commandments of Animalism embody the message of the Communist Manifesto because they uphold all of the keystone beliefs of communism while rejecting all capitalistic principles. Finally, Animalism started out as a wonderful dream that would allow everyone to live in a perfectly utopian society. Old Major intended to inspire everyone to achieve a common goal of happiness, but instead sparked the start of a violent revolution. At the end of the day, Benjamin was right; things stay the same and nothing ever changes.
Farmer Jones was eventually replaced by Napoleon and the animals continued to be oppressed, only this time by one of their own. Through means of manipulation and deceit the pigs harnessed sovereignty over the farm and imposed their values on the animals. The Seven Commandments were initially intended to protect the animals, but ended up restricting their behavior and subjugating them. Ultimately, Animalism like Communism works in theory, but when applied to real world situations flunks miserably and lends itself to absolute corruption and tainting of its morals.