In Farm Manor, Mr. Jones’ farm, the animals, discontent with the treatment they receive from the humans, rebel and rid the farm from them. But what starts as a dream of equality and prosperity for all animals, devolves into a system where the smartest and the fiercest—pigs and dogs—rule and impose their wills. Years go by and the oldest animals no longer remember if their lives were better before or after the rebellion; meanwhile the pigs become the mere enemies they meant to defeat.
When I first heard of Animal Farm, it was a banned book. My father borrowed it secretly from a friend, and I lent it to a friend in similar fashion. I didn’t read it until many years later when living in the U.S. I could freely buy a copy and I suddenly understood why the book was banned. I’ve read Animal Farm again and again over the years and I find it poignant, bittersweet, right on target and just plain genius. I wish I could write that way!
At first glance Animal Farm is just a fable describing how “absolute power corrupts absolutely”, but it’s so much more. Animal Farm is a political satire that not only describes a specific political system, in this case socialism or communism, but can be extended to totalitarianism since the salient features of the former are definitely present in the latter regardless of the side of the spectrum the government is from.
I find Animal Farm genius because it starts with a dream, always a dream, that devolves into corruption and power struggles at the top, the exploitation of the masses, and finally the vitriolic disappointment and the realization that you spent your life fighting for a utopia, and describing that process in the way George Orwell did in 1945, which is the date of the first edition of Animal Farm is simply transcendent; that’s being a visionary because the dream finally exploded forty four years later.
For people who live in democratic countries Animal Farm is a cautionary tale whereas for those who live under oppression it is their very existence become a satire.
“Las ovejas eran las más aficionadas a las Demostraciones Espontáneas, y si alguien se quejaba (como lo hacían a veces algunos animales, cuando no había cerdos ni perros) alegando que se perdía tiempo y se aguantaba un largo plantón a la intemperie, las ovejas lo acallaban infaliblemente con un estentóreo: <<¡Cuatro patas sí, dos pies no!>>. Pero a la larga, a los animales les gustaban esas celebraciones. Resultaba satisfactorio el recuerdo de que, después de todo, ellos eran realmente sus propios amos y que todo el trabajo que efectuaban era en beneficio común. Y así, con las canciones, los desfiles, las listas de cifras de Squealer, el tronar de la escopeta, el cacareo del gallo y el flamear de la bandera, podían olvidar por algún tiempo que sus barrigas estaban poco menos ya que vacías.” Page 162