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Animal Farm. How isn't that about government, in general?

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The Backlash Cometh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 09:22 AM
Original message
Animal Farm. How isn't that about government, in general?
I know the theme of Animal Farm was about communism, and how leaders eventually evolve into the very people who exploit the working class. Well, I know that now, but when I first read it, I thought it applied to Capitalism. The theme: that anyone who steps up to represent you, eventually morphs into someone who chattels your welfare in order to improve their own standard of living.

Am I the only one who picked up on the polarity of the theme?
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ThomWV Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 09:24 AM
Response to Original message
1. Yep
You're the only one.
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The Backlash Cometh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 09:29 AM
Response to Reply #1
3. Do you see it differently now?
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ThomWV Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 09:43 AM
Response to Reply #3
10. You are only looking at the part the animals played, not the farmer
Edited on Thu Sep-17-09 09:44 AM by ThomWV
You forget where the real power was.
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The Backlash Cometh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 09:44 AM
Response to Reply #10
11. What am I missing?
How could the farmer not represent the Corporate world?
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ThomWV Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 10:03 AM
Response to Reply #11
21. Two things
The first is that the Farmer never had anything at all to do with "corporate" anything. If you had called him a monarch then that would have been fine, but he certainly did not represent remote ownership interests.

But to the point - what you missed was the name of the farm at the end of the book.
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The Backlash Cometh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 11:19 AM
Response to Reply #21
31. Well? Don't leave me hanging.
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JonQ Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 09:27 AM
Response to Original message
2. I'm pretty sure it was only about the perils
of communism.
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el_bryanto Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 09:30 AM
Response to Reply #2
4. It's clear that's what Orwell intended; but Art sometimes contains more than the creator intended
Bryant
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The Backlash Cometh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 09:33 AM
Response to Reply #2
5. And now?
Maybe it was because communism was such a distant threat (I was just a kid), that I never did see the ideas encroach into our way of life. What was more feared, was that Communist believed so deeply in the principles that they would go to war over it.
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JonQ Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 12:38 PM
Response to Reply #5
38. And now what?
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The Backlash Cometh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 01:09 PM
Response to Reply #38
41. Do you think it just applied to Communism? Or doe it have a much
broader message about the people who represent us?
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JonQ Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 01:20 PM
Response to Reply #41
44. I think it could be applied to any totalitarian regime
To some extent.

But that fails in some ways because fascists, monarchists, etc don't set themselves up as the champions of the lower class, overthrow the upper class, and then immediately fall in to those same tricks.

They will use nationalism, racism, divine right and so forth, but typically not class envy, which was a major component of AF.
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notesdev Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 09:39 AM
Response to Original message
6. It's about any system
that devolves into haves and have nots... which is pretty much every system humanity has tried so far.
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Nuclear Unicorn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 09:43 AM
Response to Reply #6
9. Maybe the anarchists
are on to something.

Just sayin'
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notesdev Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 09:49 AM
Response to Reply #9
12. That too
devolves into haves and have nots. The haves in that case are those who can impose their will by force.
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The Backlash Cometh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 09:55 AM
Response to Reply #9
15. They're the other side of the spectrum.
Extremes: Not good.
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anonymous171 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 11:31 AM
Response to Reply #9
33. Screw communism, Anarchy is the true ideal system
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The Backlash Cometh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 11:40 AM
Response to Reply #33
34. Is not.
Anarchy applied to property rights alone would devolve us into the Hatfield and McCoys.
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anonymous171 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 11:47 AM
Response to Reply #34
36. I thought that Anarchists were against private property?
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The Backlash Cometh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 11:50 AM
Response to Reply #36
37. Perhaps academically.
The way you define it, only gypsies, travelers, rainbow children and survivalists would be anarchists.

The way modern day anarchists apply the tenets, they just don't want government encroaching on their property, but they'll cite the law if it means they can expand on their personal estates. i.e. adverse possession.
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The Backlash Cometh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 09:53 AM
Response to Reply #6
13. Exactly.
Edited on Thu Sep-17-09 09:54 AM by The Backlash Cometh
I'm seeing that too. The key is that in every social order there will be those that will make it to the top and try to reinforce the status quo, in order to maintain their power. Which isn't essentially a bad thing, unless the create inequities in society which become unbearable.

So, assuming this is a given, that people at the top will try to root in, what we should be focusing on is how to create churn in a passive way? The key being, that people in the middle and lower levels should not be unfairly hindered by improving their lot.

I've got it down to two socially acceptable ways of achieving this:

Better white collar crime departments; and,
Better media coverage.
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HopeHoops Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 09:40 AM
Response to Original message
7. In a lot of ways, Animal Farm is more real than 1984.
Think about the rules on the side of the barn.

FOX tells the sheep one thing one day. Circumstances change. The sign changes and FOX tells the sheep the opposite thing the next day. The sheep don't notice.

That's still 1984, except that people were somewhat aware of what was going on in that book. They just didn't say anything. The FOX sheep are too stupid to realize that the "truth" has changed.

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ThomWV Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 09:54 AM
Response to Reply #7
14. More real?
As I see it 1984 is by far the more complex book and almost infinitely more enlightening. As an example I'd say that just one line in 1984 has a stronger message than the entire book of Animal Farm; "Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past"
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The Backlash Cometh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 10:00 AM
Response to Reply #14
18. Loved the way it was shown how they were always fighting against
someone, but the people never really got under the skin to understand who they were fighting against, because the enemy kept changing.
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HopeHoops Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 10:02 AM
Response to Reply #14
20. 1984 is more of what is going on in general. I was speaking of the teabaggers
They are the sheep in Animal Farm. The sign changes and they don't notice. The sign is FOX.

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ThomWV Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 10:06 AM
Response to Reply #20
23. Its been ages since I read the book, but as I recall it was the puppies that changed the game
Didn't the pig take the puppies and train them to be his private police force - the one's after training (and growing into dogs) did the pig's bidding when they ran the rabbit (snowball?) off even though it was the rabbit who was doing to work to improve the farm?
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HopeHoops Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 10:12 AM
Response to Reply #23
25. Yes, the pigs stole the puppies.
They turned them into, well, animals. They were the only non-aware creatures in the book.

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The Backlash Cometh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 09:56 AM
Response to Reply #7
16. It's like Alice in Wonderland, the way those ideas were presented so
abstractly.
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TexasObserver Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 09:42 AM
Response to Original message
8. The theme is that power corrupts, and former reformers become despots, if allowed.
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The Backlash Cometh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 10:00 AM
Response to Reply #8
19. Yes.
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TexasObserver Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 10:08 AM
Response to Reply #19
24. Like you, I don't think the type of governance is germane to the point.
communist, capitalist - power is concentrated and then abused
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Tierra_y_Libertad Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 09:59 AM
Response to Original message
17. "Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one
Thomas Paine
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RaleighNCDUer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 10:04 AM
Response to Original message
22. When we were kids in school we were told it was about communism -
and the various piggy characters were pointed out to be Lenin, Stalin and Trotsky, but I always thought it was a fable about how power corrupts, even (or maybe especially) when placed in a context of revolution against corruption.

Communism was just a red herring.
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The Backlash Cometh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 11:17 AM
Response to Reply #22
28. Class training vs. ferral understanding.
I was never exposed to a class on Animal Farm. It seemed that I was at the cut-off of the ideals that were taught in that era. Between the slide-ruler era and calculators.
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JonQ Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 12:41 PM
Response to Reply #22
39. True it could be applied to any power structure
left unregulated, power corrupts and all that.

But what system puts more power in the hands of government than communism? Literally every aspect of life is controlled by a few at the top.

If power corrupts then it seems to follow that more power would lead to more corruption.
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The Backlash Cometh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 01:12 PM
Response to Reply #39
42. Agreed.
It also holds that it's easier to see flaws when the example is stretched to the extreme, but that doesn't mean that there aren't lessons can be applied even to moderate societies.
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RaleighNCDUer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 08:59 AM
Response to Reply #39
47. Actually, that is totalitarianism, not communism.
There is nothing about communism that makes it inherently totalitarian - Hitler and Stalin borrowed very heavily from each other in structuring their parallel system, and Hitler was certainly no communist.

But if you are talking about Stalinism and calling it communism, which is the common error in America, then you are right.
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izzybeans Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 10:36 AM
Response to Original message
26. Totalitarianism is most accurate.
Edited on Thu Sep-17-09 10:38 AM by izzybeans
Orwell was a democratic socialist and deplored any form that totalitarian regimes took, capitalist or communist. He critiqued Stalinism in a way that would demonstrate that "it could happen here".

Animal Farm is similar to 1984 in that way, its just way more specific about the subversion of the Russian revolution and the purging of democratic reformers. So it's less a work of fantasy than 1984, and more "real" as a poster said above. But both are educationally "factional" in their blending of fact and fiction, so that the lessons learned are obvious to people who actually read them, unlike the many who use the term Orwellian to indicate anything they don't like.

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The Backlash Cometh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 11:18 AM
Response to Reply #26
29. Thanks. That is what I suspected.
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TxRider Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 10:54 AM
Response to Original message
27. Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely
And there we have the reason for term limits..

Which IMO should apply to congress as well.

The only way to really change Washington politics is to remove lifetime politicians from running the system.
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The Backlash Cometh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 11:19 AM
Response to Reply #27
30. Term limits, and the avoidance of dual office holding.
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Gman2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 11:28 AM
Response to Original message
32. George Orwell wrote from a perspective of wartime GB.
He did not tell about communism, on purpose. It was a cautionary tale of what can happen in familiar societies, not exotic ones.
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The Backlash Cometh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 11:41 AM
Response to Reply #32
35. I like. Thumbs up.
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deutsey Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 12:51 PM
Response to Original message
40. I think it's pretty obvious that Orwell was drawing specfically from the Russian Revolution
Edited on Thu Sep-17-09 12:51 PM by deutsey
and how Stalin and his cronies betrayed it.

With that said, though, I think his "fable" can be applied in general to any movement with leaders who cynically exploit for their own selfish purposes the idealism and sacrifices of people in the movement.

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The Backlash Cometh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 01:13 PM
Response to Reply #40
43. A very diplomatic response.
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deutsey Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 01:41 PM
Response to Reply #43
46. Here's something I wrote in 2002 comparing Bush's America with Animal Farm
Many disturbing comparisons have been drawn between the totalitarian society George Orwell
describes in 1984 and George Bushs Amurika.

The similarities are easy to see, even if youve only read the Cliffs Notes version of Orwells book:
Citizens are encouraged to spy on one another, theres endless war with ever-changing enemies,
the media herald Big Dubya as the greatest leader in human history (while promptly dispatching his
many embarrassing gaffes down the memory hole), and, as weve seen in Portland recently,
dissent is coldly quashed with police-state tactics.

The parallels between 2002 and 1984 are obvious. However, as I listened to news reports
of the anti-Bush protest in Stockton, California on Friday, the book that came to mind was
Orwells other classic, Animal Farm.

With its obvious allusions to Soviet Russia, this dark satire about animals taking over and running a farm
isnt usually associated with the cabal of rightwingers currently controlling this country in the same way 1984 is.
But aside from the striking correlations between members of the Bush regime and the avaricious pigs that run
Animal Farm (Ari Fliescher and Squealer the pig propagandist could easily have been separated at birth),
what happened in Stockton is something straight out of Orwells barnyard.

If you didnt hear about the protest (and chances are you didnt if you get your news from corporate media),
heres what happened:

MORE: http://www.bartcop.com/082702farm.htm

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Tierra_y_Libertad Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 01:26 PM
Response to Original message
45.  It wasn't about "anti-Communism." Orwell was a Trotskyite who deplored Stalin's dictatorship.
Particularly, when the Communists, under Stalin's direction, turned on the Trotskite P.O.U.M. and Anarchist CNT/FAI in the Spanish Civil War.
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