Communism is a political theory derived from Karl Marx, advocating class war and leading to a society in which all property is publicly owned and each person works and is paid according to their abilities and needs. George Orwell was a fierce critic of this political theory being used by states as a primary system of government. When Orwell wrote Animal Farm, he looked back on events that led up to the Russian Revolution of 1917 and then on into the communist era of the Soviet Union led by Joseph Stalin.
In Animal Farm, Orwell sharply criticized the flaws of Soviet communism taking place in the Soviet Union following World War II. Orwell compared the early events that took place in Animal Farm to the Russian Revolution and went on to compare further plot in the novel, to the reality of life in the Soviet Union after the Revolution. The Russian Revolution occurred in 1917, when the tsarist dictatorship of Nicholas Il was overthrown by an army of rebellious Bolsheviks. The Bolsheviks captured Nicholas |l and his wife and children and executed them all.
The leader of this Revolution was Vladimir Lenin, who established a new communist state of government based off of the writings and ideas of Karl Marx. These ideas called for both social and economic equality for all itizens. In order to achieve this equality Marx called for the absolute elimination of private property (Dhar). Lenin’s health was in a long steady decline and as a result, he died a few years after the rebellion. Following Lenin’s death, there were two clear favorites to take his place as the leader of the Soviet Union: those two were Joseph Stalin and Leon Trotsky.
Stalin and Trotsky had two very different visions for the future of the Soviet Union. Stalin had the vision (or at least claimed to) of “communism in one country”, that country was of course, the Soviet Union. He believed the Soviet Union should build the erfect utopia of a communist state on its own, in only its own land. Trotsky, however, believed that the success of the revolution would only live on if it cascaded quickly all over the continents of Europe and Asia. Stalin’s vision won him the support of a large group of younger militant rebels and as soon as he had enough power he expelled Trotsky from the Soviet Union.
However, Stalin was incredibly paranoid, and he never rested easily while Leon Trotsky was still living, even though he was thousands of miles away in Mexico City. Stalin went so far as to hire an assassin who tracked Trotsky down all the way own to an office in Mexico where the assassin murdered him with a mountain climber’s ice pick (“Stalin Banishes Trotsky”). Trotsky was a brilliant public speaker and populist who was very well liked by a large segment of the population in the Soviet Union, and as a result, Stalin always feared the potential that he could return and steal power away from him.
Orwell mimicked Stalin’s tactics and uncontrollable paranoia in Animal Farm though a new political philosophy called Animalism. The system of communism in the Soviet Union was very comparable to the system of animalism in the newly found state of Animal Farm. Animalism included revolution against humans like Farmer Jones and the adoption of a communist animal utopia where every animal was equal. This is a direct correlation of the revolution against Nicholas II, and the communist utopia that was adopted in the Soviet Union.
Old Major’s political theory of animalism envisioned a place where all animals shared equal amounts of labor on the farm and all enjoyed the benefits of that labor equally. This compares very closely to Marx’s political theory of communism where all humans share the productivity of the economy and they share the wealth and goods created by hat very economy equally. The true realities of both animalism and communism were shielded by the illusion that “all beings are equal” and everything that the hierarchy did was for the “betterment” of the common citizens.
However, in both the Soviet Union and Animal Farm, this illusion was not the case and the proposed utopia never occurred. In both scenarios the leaders of their respected states took advantage of their power and through the use of military strength, intimidation, and propaganda were able to tyrannize over their citizens and freely pursue their own agendas. The fictitious characters in Orwell’s Animal Farm all represent non-fictitious characters of the early Soviet Union during the Russian Revolution and the early days following the Revolution.
George Orwell based Old Major off of both the Father of Communism, Karl Marx and the Russian Revolution leader, Vladimir Lenin. As Karl Marx established the political theory of communism, Old Major established the theory of Animalism. Marx and Old Major were both visionaries in their respected states who saw a utopia through the establishment of their ideas as systems of government. Old Major and Vladimir Lenin both used their brilliant and persuasive speaking abilities o gather support for their proposed rebellions and ideals. It was through their words that they were able to incite rebellions.
Mr. Jones was based off of the dictator Nicholas II. Mr. Jones was overthrown as a result of a great revolution in the same way that Nicholas II was overthrown by the rebellious Bolsheviks. Napoleon and Snowball are based off of Stalin and Trotsky, respectively. Following Old Major’s death, Napoleon and Snowball were the two leaders of their state, as Stalin and Trotsky were of theirs. Napoleon used the intimidation of the dogs to win the power struggle that existed between him and Snowball in a similar way that Stalin used young militants to win his power struggle.
Like Stalin and Trotsky, this power struggle was the result of two different visions for the future of their states. The egalitarian ideology of Old Major was quickly corrupted by Napoleon after Old Major’s death. Once Napoleon had absolute power, he abandoned the core principals of animalism preached by Old Major and pursued his own agenda. This compares directly to the way Stalin abandoned the principles of equality written by Marx and preached by Lenin, once he was able to gain absolute power in the Soviet Union.
In Animal Farm, Mr. Frederick was described as a “tough shrewd man” and an untrusting neighbor. Orwell based him off of Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany. Nazi Germany attempted, unsuccessfully, to invade the Soviet Union in the same way that Mr. Frederick attempted to invade Animal Farm unsuccessfully. Mr. Pilkington is described as an “easy going gentleman” who runs a clean, well-kept farm and treats his animals much better than Frederick and Jones. Mr. Pilkington and his farm is based off of England.
Pilkington and Frederick were bitter enemies in the same manner that the governments of England and Nazi Germany were during the Second World War. All of these comparisons made by Orwell create only a better picture and a stronger message of how the implementation of communism in a state never results in the glamorous utopia that is advertised. The examples of the early Soviet Union and Orwell’s Animal Farm show that the utopia that Marx envisioned will never be able to become a reality through the political theory of communism. Because there will always be those who will act in greedy ways and take advantage of power they are given, communism leads to nothing but an endless chain of rebellions.