A Reader posted a review at 2009-09-15 12:08:55.
I just finished reading this, and I'm pretty much stunned. It's a wonderful look at how power corrupts.
I've always heard about it as an indictment of communism, but it seems to me to apply to any and every society. Mainly, it seems to imply that greed and exploitation are all that can be expected under any system of governance. There is nothing to be triumphal about. The end of the book is simply the beginning of the book.
Business is business, and the goal is to enrich those who are already rich. Fear, sloganeering, and even religion (which is very quickly dismissed) is used to distract the animals from their inevitable suffering.
The winners and losers change, but the winners, by virtue of power, assume the mask of the previous winners. The losers are treated with scorn and are threatened with the whip.
This is in no way a defense of the West or of Britain. It's simply a no-bullshit look at the futility of the human condition and the impossibility of utopia.
I say it's not bullshit, because it deals fairly directly with the fact there are stupid people who can be easily manipulated (the sheep, of course) into parroting any idea, no matter how contrary to their own interests. What to do with the stupid or vain people? Their lot is essentially the same under any system, and they comprise, by definition, essentially half the populace.
I may very well have more to say about this book. As mentioned, I just finished, and I'm just staggered. This is probably the best dystopian novel I've read. What I like is it doesn't cherry-pick targets in the way, say, <span style="font-style:italic;">The Handmaid's Tale</span> does. Every system (and every possible system) is guilty.
I understand why there was so much bleating about this book in the West during the Cold War, but the enthusiasm was as much propaganda as the pronouncements of Squealer in the book. Ahh, the irony...
As I'm reading more about Animal Farm on the internet, I see that Orwell had <a href="http://home.iprimus.com.au/korob/Orwell.html" target="_blank">penned an introduction</a> complaining about self-censorship in the press in Britain, without need even for the fetters of the state. This shouldn't surprise anyone who takes the book seriously.