This is the primary premise of the book “Animal farm” by George Orwell. The book starts off at a farm house where animals are holding a meeting, and the Old Major (the boar) is urging all the animals to revolt against farmer Jones. Humans are unproductive, parasitic, yet dominant over the hard working animals. Animals work hard and yet humans reap all the reward, leaving animals with nothing more than a temporary shelter for as long as they remain productive. Taking the old Major’s words to their heart, the animals overthrow Jones, run him off the farm and take it over for themselves, proclaiming all animals as equals on the farm.
Hence begins the saga of Orwell’s utopian novel, outlining the idiocy of human behaviour, with emphasis on the political structures of the communist society. When this book was first written it gained very little importance, on account of it being a satire and cynical piece, tearing apart the myths of the Soviet Communism. Here we are not going to discuss the political influences or implications of the book, instead let’s look at some patterns of human behaviour.
In the book, there are two main characters “Napoleon and Snowball” with opposing views and personalities, both eager to lead the animals (despite all animals being equal). The constant battle for power between the two leaders brings to light the greed of ambitious human beings to grab power with whatever means they can. If this means discrediting the opposing party by means of deceit, so be it. Just the way Napoleon not only overthrows Snowball with the help of his personal army, but also steals his ideas and presents them as his very own. There are references in the book throughout about the powerful leader placing blame of all calamities on the exiled leader. This is very reflective of human beings’ nature of rising and retaining power not by building ourselves up but by dragging others down.
In real life, we see the average person being used as a pawn to keep the powerful in power. This is depicted in the book as animals are constantly made to occupy their minds with one conspiracy or other, they are weaved into a web of never ending responsibilities and tasks that are posed to achieve their own betterment. This constant whirl wind of commotion created by leaders leaves very little room for thought or imagination. Peer pressure and fear of mockery also never allows one to question the forever changing rules to suit the needs of those in power. Such is the case of the rules written by animals themselves and how “all animals are equal” changes overtime into, “all animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others”.
Orwell has successfully sketched the delicate play of (im)balance of power in the world. What is the take away? In our fight to seek justice, we inadvertently become what we try to avoid- “fours legs good, two legs better”!