Continuing to crack on with the 30 books that I want to read before I’m 30 I picked up a secondhand edition of George Orwell’s 1945 novella Animal Farm. Originally written at the height of the Second World War and at a time when Stalin and The USSR had come to be held in great esteem after joining the allied nations which was phenomenon that Orwell hated.
The book focuses on the aftermath of a revolution in which a collective of farm animals unite in a common cause to expel their human master and seize the means of the production for themselves, in a manner reminiscent of the Russian Revolution of 1917.
The post revolution farm begins with contentment and satisfaction founded on lofty ideals under the leadership of the Pigs, but things start to turn sour when a cult of personality develops around the lead pig Napoleon, exiles and executions begin and the ideals that underpin communism (sorry animalism) are twisted to suit those that hold the power and that it actually moves back towards the original status quo, or a situation that is actually worse for the people (or in this case animals) the book really shows the development of almost every communist nation there has been, I mean you could retitle the book China From Mao To Now and you would see parallel development from glorious revolution towards oligarchial wealth hoarding for ruling elite.
One thing that did strike me was that in the modern world this would never happen, but I suppose that because of the level of education and the access to information that is available, if you can barely read and solely rely on the sate controlled media/ propaganda machine, you have little alternative but to believe what you are told, and thinking that this wouldn’t happen now is actually woefully naive as looking around at recent elections and referendums, it shows that stupid people will unquestioningly believe anything they read in the newspaper.
Orwell painted possibly the first real look at Stalin’s Russia and the abuses of power by those at the top and how it was worsening a country that would have no options but to expand outwards in order to satisfy its own excesses and the excesses of the ruling classes, and that the nation could go to hell as long as those who rule and the people that keep them there can keep their snouts in the trough.
Look out for more reviews from my Thirty Before 30 reading list coming soon.