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Joseph Stalin compared to Napoleon the pig on Manor Farm

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by MakiSupaStar, Jun 2, 2014.


  1. MakiSupaStar

    MakiSupaStar The Lowdown Diggler

    Apr 12, 2006
    Huntington Beach, CA
    I am currently teaching Animal Farm to my students and I have become reacquainted with my old friend 'Animal Farm' by George Orwell. Over the course of my life thus far, I have read this book numerous times. I consider it to be one of my favorite. One of the things I love about this book is the simplicity of the story itself, but the complexity it houses as an allegory to rise of Stalin and communism post Russian Revolution. The symbolism as an allegory is pretty straight forward. The pigs (three different ones) (Floyd added a little nod in the title to Stalin's council, or perhaps you could view it as another nod toward the Yalta conference with FDR, Stalin, Churchill) represent Russian figures. Marx and Lenin is kind of represented by Old Major, Snowball is Trotsky, Squeeler represents the media, and Napoleon represents Stalin. I discover subtleties in his references each time I read it, but I only just realized another layer to the story. Quite frankly, Orwell was a genius. His criticism of communism and Stalin was deep, biting, and ingenious.

    It was hunger that led to the revolution on The Manor Farm. Farmer Jones came home drunk and forgot to feed the animals, and that small act sparked the revolution. Just like it was basically Nicolas II's neglect that led to the Russian revolution. His bloody response to hungry workers striking, known as Bloody Sunday, eventually led to his exile and the rise of the Bosheviks (most notably Lenin and Stalin). It was hunger that united the animals on the farm, and ironically, Stalin, represented by Napoleon (obviously Orwell added a little nod to the little French dictator), would come to be associated with starving his own people to death. I had never noticed that before. Right away, Napoleon starts hoarding the cows milk for himself.

    So this got me thinking, this book has so many different connections and interpretations. What are some of your favorites? Or what other books have you found yourself rereading at this level throughout your life?

    tl;dr - Orwell is teh awesomes. Animals eating stuff. :D
     
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2014
  2. DerHoggz

    DerHoggz I like cats :| Banned

    Feb 13, 2009
    Western Pennsylvania
    Comparing Napoleon and Stalin, inconceivable! I thought this was going to be an Onion article with that headline.
     
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  3. I studied animal farm in school myself, and given that I also studied Russian history at the same time, I thought it was particularly clever- Jones representing the Tsar, borrowing money from his associate (representing France, I believe?) As well as the crow representing the church with its use of religious language. I also tremendously enjoyed Lord of the Flies by Golding, fascinating tale of a primal instinct to survive coupled with a child's fears and perspective. The ending, in particular, was almost humorous, but powerful.
     
    MakiSupaStar likes this.
  4. smeet

    smeet Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 27, 2006
    Woodland Hills, CA
    Nothing erudite to add, but... Two of my favorite books ever.... They paint a sadly accurate picture of humanity.
     
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  5. nukes_da_bass

    nukes_da_bass Banned

    Feb 19, 2006
    west suburban boston
    Can't believe I've never read either book, and I'm fairly well read.
    Next month.
     
  6. Been a long, long time. I'm due for a re-read I think!

    I'm a big Golding fan. Lord of the Flies is a favourite, and so are The Spire, The Paper Men... aw heck, I like all of his books!
     
  7. It has been years since I read Animal Farm, I should pull it off the shelf and give it another read. I remember how much I enjoyed it when I first read it. I like at the end of the book the pigs start walking upright, this completing their transformation into what they first fought against.

    lowsound
     
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  8. Have to reread that one along with "1984" AND "Lord of The Flies." Been too long since I read these.
     
  9. Unrepresented

    Unrepresented Something Borderline Offensive

    Jul 1, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    I'm still going on record that this book reached fame because it was a handy indoctrination for American kids against the Soviets rather than a quality piece in and of itself.

    See also: How "In God We Trust" ended up on our currency.
     
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  10. nukes_da_bass

    nukes_da_bass Banned

    Feb 19, 2006
    west suburban boston
    Fascinating theory considering it's not an American work.
     
  11. Unrepresented

    Unrepresented Something Borderline Offensive

    Jul 1, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    Okay. It's in English, and matched our status quo, and was written by a native of one of our allied nations.
     
  12. I agree, the words used are so clever "looking round unable to tell the difference between them". Great writing there. Stalin was actually called the Great Russian chauvinist, and George Kennan famously called him "the Red Tsar"- showing that people living outside Russia thought that things hadn't really changed in terms of leadership, only ideology. Yet, like in the book, people still thought that their lives had drastically improved, and I believe Stalin remains near the top of the Russian people's list of greatest Russians ever.


    Sent from my iPhone using TalkBass
     
  13. smeet

    smeet Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 27, 2006
    Woodland Hills, CA
    I think animal farm has resonated not because it skewers communism, but rather because readers recognize that to a large extent it describes all governments, and in fact most organized groups of people.
     
  14. Unrepresented

    Unrepresented Something Borderline Offensive

    Jul 1, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    Meh. I'll stick with it tying in to the jingoism we were trying to indoctrinate. You're the first I've heard discussing the universality of the allegory, without fail it's been smug boasts of how silly the Soviets were to be duped by a competing market system.
     
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  15. nukes_da_bass

    nukes_da_bass Banned

    Feb 19, 2006
    west suburban boston
    Fail.
    Orwell was a lifetime supporter of democratic socialism.
     
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  16. Unrepresented

    Unrepresented Something Borderline Offensive

    Jul 1, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    Good propaganda is good propaganda. It tied in nicely to our dogma, we used it.
     
  17. burk48237

    burk48237 Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2004
    Oak Park, MI
    I sincerely doubt that. He certainly wouldn't be regarded as one of the greatest Ukrainians ever. Stalins deliberate death toll lies somewhere north of twenty million, some claim it is as high as forty million. He made systematic genocide "cool" before Hitler. If you read the book "Bloodlands" by Timothy Snyder you will regard Stalin as perhaps the greatest systematic embodiment of evil in the planets history. Sadly many western journalist sympathizers to his "cause", deliberately and callously covered up the devastation he caused (people like Gorge Berbard Shaw, HG Wells, and William Duranty). Some were later found to be on the payroll of the KGB but all of them considered human life of little value compared to establishing a utopia that never came or had any evidence of even being viable. There was never a good Stalin Era, sadly like the Who's revolution, it was "meet the new boss, same as the old boss". And many are still getting fooled again.
     
  18. smeet

    smeet Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 27, 2006
    Woodland Hills, CA
    Unrep, you take it one way, I take it another. Perhaps it's just me that sees the universality in both of these books. I'll admit I don't tend to associate with jingoistically inclined persons. I can only relate what my associates thought.
     
    Bob Lee (QSC) likes this.
  19. Unrepresented

    Unrepresented Something Borderline Offensive

    Jul 1, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    I'm fairly certain you hang out with more intellectual types than I do.:p
     
  20. nukes_da_bass

    nukes_da_bass Banned

    Feb 19, 2006
    west suburban boston
    I'm really going to have to read this book in order to debate it properly.
     

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