People often underestimate the power of books, especially classics and dystopian fantasies which have more chances to play out in real life than you’d think. The current scenario of the world warrants a look into the past, to be specific, into Animal Farm, a prophetic novella by critically acclaimed author George Orwell. Orwell’s political satire outlined something grave about the class system and government structure in a capitalist society, nearly all of which is applicable at the present time. If we’re thinking in political terms, Animal Farm is a stark reflection of the Russian Revolution. If you haven’t read the book yet or know naught about the Russian Revolution, it’s time to turn back in case you don’t want spoilers, and get some Wikipedia education. Or just read the novella and thank me later.
The most obvious example of Orwell’s narrative playing out in real life right now is the Trump administration. But it’s not limited to the United States. If we went in depth to find parallels of Animal Farm in the present time, we’d count in names like Syria, North Korea, Russia and closer to home, even India.
Classism, homophobia, sexism and racism are getting increasingly challenging in present day. This could very well mirror the power play dynamics depicted in Animal Farm. A clever and intriguing novella, Animal Farm draws attention primarily toward the Russian Revolution and how the power structure of the privileged can all but destroy the working class and leave a divided society in its wake.
One of the most famous quotes in Animal Farm says, “all animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others”. Replace animals with humans and you’ve got the exact class, race, and sex structure of the present time clear before your eyes. There’s no debating. This book was written in 1945; it’s 2018, and the societal structure is getting more fucked up as we speak. Even so, there’s not much anyone is doing about it. The powerful are exerting power in vicious ways in Animal Farm. How much different is the situation in real life right now? Oppression still isn’t a thing of the past.
The obvious way the character of Napoleon mirrors Stalin only proves how deep the philosophy of this narrative goes. Look at the present scene and you’ll see that POTUS (cue white supremacist outrage) bears resemblance to Napoleon as well. But Trump isn’t the only careless dictator in the universe. We have the revered Kim Jong-un on the other side of the world who keeps things balanced. Bring Putin into the loop and we could write another allegorical novel depicting the fact that history does repeat itself and that the world is only going to screw itself over in future.
Animal Farm has gems of proof to tell you how it’s relevant even today. There’s the upper class aka Mollie; there’s the working class aka Boxer, and there’s the rebel aka Snowball who fights for equality and gets killed. Look around you. Is the world crumbling upon itself with the class system, and to be more specific in India, the caste system? We’ve had a bunch of riots and protests in our country because of caste discrimination, and those who stand up and fight against it are thrown under the bus, including the innocents. Animal Farm doesn’t look much like fiction now, does it?
It’s a sad world we live in. Orwell’s political allegory outlines things that happened in the past during the Russian Revolution. And yet here we are, reliving a narrative that was presented as nothing but a fairy story. One would think that Orwell made a detailed satire about the social structure of Russia at the time, and yet he denied the very existence of the explicit allegory, making it more intriguing a matter and urging people to talk about it in socialist terms. It’s hard to believe that Orwell would want it to be a mere fairy story what with his following novel, 1984, being a dystopian masterpiece.
I’d strongly suggest everyone give Animal Farm a second or third or fourth read – first for those who haven’t read it yet – to look at the possible parallels that emerge out of the brilliant narrative by Orwell.
But this doesn’t mean that the social situation is anywhere close to changing at the moment, although we do hope for a brighter future in case the zombie apocalypse doesn’t hit us. Until then, to quote Orwell’s wise words that still hold truth:
“Let’s face it: our lives are miserable, laborious, and short.”