Monday, October 31, 2011

Animal Farm by George Orwell – Oct 28, 2011

Animal Farm First Edition Cover

Animal Farm is perhaps the most popular and widely translated of the books by George Orwell. Its relevance continues unabated because leaders in democracies, no less than in autocracies, continue to behave in the ways satirised in the novella.

 Priya and Soma

When his first wife, Eileen O'Shaughnessy, died in 1943, Orwell left London and went to the Hebrides Islands and worked there on Animal Farm from Nov 1943 to Jan 1944. He published it (after initial rejections from several publishers) in 1945 as the war was coming to an end.

Mathew, Sunil, Samuel, Bobby, and Sivaram

The themes of Animal  Farm cover a large canvas: Rebellion, Regime Change, Propaganda and Duplicity, Violence and Terror as Means of Control, Exploitation, Human Rights, Obsequiousness, Silent Acceptance of Despotism, etc. These themes were discussed, with illustrations from global and local politics.

Priya, Thommo, KumKum, and Talitha

 KRG welcomes four new readers in our midst. Here they are with the others gathered for a group photograph:

Thommo, Talitha, Soma, KumKum, Priya, Gopa, Bobby, Samuel, Sunil, Mathew, and Sivaram

To read a full account of the discussions and the readings, please click below.


Animal Farm
Reading on Oct 28, 2011
George Orwell

Present: Soma, Priya, Talitha, KumKum, Thommo, Gopa, Sivaram, Bobby, Samuel, Sunil, Mathew, Joe
Absent: Zakia (no reason), Minu (no reason)

A number of readers wishing to be initiated came to the reading. Welcome to Gopa Joseph, Samuel Verghese, Sunil George, and Mathew Chakala. We hope they will find it congenial to join us and commit themselves fully to participating regularly in our Poetry and our Fiction readings.

Participation in both is required according to our charter.

The next novel after reading Lucky Jim on Dec 9, 2011 has been selected by Joe and KumKum; it is Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne; the date is yet to be fixed. 

The next session is Poetry, on Nov 14, 2011.

References:
Describes the Spanish Civil War background to Animal Farm, in the words of George Orwell. It deals with how Orwell came to write it, in order to expose the “Soviet myth in a story that could be easily understood by almost anyone and which could be easily translated into other languages.” “Animal Farm was the first book in which I tried, with full consciousness of what I was doing, to fuse political purpose and artistic purpose into one whole. I meant the moral to be that revolutions only effect a radical improvement when the masses are alert and know how to chuck out their leaders as soon as the latter have done their job. The turning-point of the story was supposed to be when the pigs kept the milk and apples for themselves.”

Animal Farm Themes

Collector's Edition of Movie

Soma 
Soma displayed the edition she purchased in 1982 (Penguin) as a teenager to read Animal Farm. It was the first personal book she owned. As a selector she was determined not to miss the reading and came in spite of transport problems. She read a passage from Ch IX showing how badly duped the animals were who had joined the Rebellion. All the commandments had been changed to suit the new rulers. The advertised democratic equality had been turned into an autocracy to benefit the rulers at the top (the pigs, Napoleon in particular).

As she started reading three new readers arrived (Sunil George, Mathew Chakala, and Samuel Verghese). “The men have taken over now!”, exclaimed Bobby, who was long discomfited by our customary preponderance of women. KumKum replied, “At last, the men have become literate!” There was laughter all round at the changed balance, and cheers for the record attendance.

Soma's reading ended with one of the most quoted passages from the novel:
All animals are equal
But some animals are more equal than others


Priya
Orwell wrote: “The turning-point of the story was supposed to be when the pigs kept the milk and apples for themselves.” That's where the revolution of the masses, and hoped-for utopia, are converted into a personal fiefdom for the few at the top who give orders that everyone else must obey. Priya chose her passage to illustrate the point. The rationalisation of the selfish behaviour of the pigs, turning it into a virtual necessity for the revolution to succeed, is typical of what we call “spin” today: the transparent tissue of lies by which media advisers turn the most unethical or immoral of actions by leaders into national imperatives for the security of the homeland, or some other such abstract goal that nobody dares question.

The moral is that revolutions can only be effective if such lies are exposed and countered as soon as they are reported. But how to counter the state terror that is let loose to impose these lies on the masses?


Talitha
In the passage Talitha read, Snowball is denounced by Squealer, Napoleon's hatchet-pig, as a traitor to the cause. But Boxer, honest and stolid, remembers the battlefield actions otherwise and counters. He is silenced by Squealer quoting Napoleon: “Our Leader, Comrade Napoleon has stated categorically — categorically, comrade — that Snowball was Jones’s agent from the very beginning.”

Ah, that is different!” said Boxer. “If Comrade Napoleon says it, it must be right.”

Thus are the masses duped by their masters who arrogate Truth to themselves alone. The passage ends with the menacing threat of each animal becoming a spy to report on the actions and words of every other animal. This was taken to its ultimate nadir when German efficiency was combined with Soviet treachery to create the dreaded STASI organisation in E. Germany; its miles of secret files are a record of the strict surveillance E. Germans were subject to.


KumKum 
KumKum read her short prepared background on the novel.

George Orwell, a British author, was born in India, June 25, 1903. He died in London Jan 21, 1950. His real name was Eric Arthur Blair. After graduating from Eton College, Orwell joined the Indian Imperial Police in Burma. In his article Why I Write Orwell confessed, that it was his life long ambition to be a writer, though he did not turn into a serious writer until much later in life. He was a restless and searching person by nature, and lived quite an adventurous life. He even fought for the Republican cause against the Fascists in the Spanish Civil War. His book Homage to Catalonia has captured this phase of his life. Incidentally, the book continues to be read in Catalonia.

Orwell wrote many other books and wrote extensive essays, but his name is most closely associated with his two brilliant satires:
Animal Farm (1945) and Nineteen Eighty-four (1949). Both these books manifest all aspects of Orwell's genius. Animal Farm definitely mocks at Stalin's brand of Communism. But keeping his Nineteen Eighty-four in mind, one can conclude that Orwell did not trust any form of autocratic government. He later wrote: “Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for democratic socialism, as I understand it". (Why I write)

About
Animal Farm, George Orwell had this to say: "It was the first book in which I tried, with full consciousness of what I was doing, to fuse political purpose and artistic purpose into one whole." (Why I write).

As one reads the book one can't miss his point. His masterly style of writing prose makes
Animal Farm sparkle with satire.”

The reading from Ch X shows the farm in a stage of maturity, large in extent and population and full of activity, none of which benefits the proletariat: “Somehow it seemed as though the farm had grown richer without making the animals themselves any richer-except, of course, for the pigs and the dogs.”

Commentary on the style and form of the novel got under way when Joe siad that the style was “boringly plain.” It suits the satire, said Priya.

Bobby responded that the “protagonists were illiterate.” Are we saying that by implication that the Soviet people were illiterate? On the contrary, one of the few achievements that even Rabindranath lauded when he visited the Soviet Union, was that universal education had reached the masses, and education was extended to people who had long been left illiterate peasants by the boyars. Not to forget that in the many “-stans” of Central Soviet Union, there was hardly any education for the people before Communism arrived.

Bobby also stated that the novel “can be read by children.” KumKum replied that her children did not like it. Thommo noted that a play with children acting was put up some 15 years ago at the Fine Arts hall in Kochi. Here below is Ian Wooldridge's stage adaptation of Animal Farm, published by Nick Hern Books in the UK:
 http://www.ian-wooldridge.com/animalfarm.php


Talitha had a more pointed remark to Joe: “You are missing the rhythm.” She reread the first paragraph of KumKum's passage to prove that the form and weight of the sentences indeed convey the sense of time having overhauled life:
Years passed. The seasons came and went, the short animal lives fled by. A time came when there was no one who remembered the old days before the Rebellion, except Clover, Benjamin, Moses the raven, and a number of the pigs.”

It is quite evocative, Talitha said.


Thommo 
Thommo decided to read from the opening of the novel which gives a placid view of life when Mr. Jones ran Manor Farm. Strikingly, in a few sentences each animal's character is delineated and we see how they will relate to each other as the novel develops.

Someone made a comment that politics takes place at two levels: the outer face to the public, and the real intentions and machinations, generally hidden from public scrutiny: what they say when they want to get elected, and what they do (or neglect to do) once in power. Joe supported the view and said Mr Obama, now President of USA, came to power on many slogans (an end to war, closing down the Guantánamo torture camp, better regulation of banks, etc.) but once in office the actions showed he was not sufficiently serious about any of these manifesto points to act decisively.

Thommo stated that though Orwell may have written to expose the lies of the Soviet brand of Communism under Stalin, he was himself a convinced socialist who espoused democratic means to achieve socialism. As Russell Baker says in his preface to the novel:
What's curious was Orwell's insistence that he had no intention of damaging the “socialist” cause . You would never have guessed this after reading the book, but he insisted that he intended only to write a cautionary story for the democratic West, waming it against a dangerously alien form of “socialism.”

Mention was made of Sidney Sheldon writing to Orwell to make a Broadway adaptation of his work. But Sheldon's object in 1949 had been to ask whether he could adapt the newly published Nineteen Eighty-Four for the Broadway stage, not Animal Farm. See:


Gopa
Gopa, our new reader, had come thinking it was Nineteen Eighty-Four we were going to read. But she was quite familiar with Animal Farm too and proceeded to read two short passages. The pigs are described in the first: Napoleon is the one who will have his way, although Snowball, also a Berkshire boar, is more inventive. And Squealer, a mere porker, is shown as the persuader, or enforcer.

In the second reading Snowball's role is established as the one who champions the Rebellion and brings the animals around to why they need to revolt. Later he will be deposed. In the West they use the denatured term “regime change” for the same action nowadays. It is more clear than ever that what Orwell described allegorically, inspired by his personal experience in Spain at the hands of Soviet communism in the 1930s, remains true today regarding the democracies of the West. No wonder it is widely read, for it remains as relevant in the modern world as when it was written some 70 years ago.

Was it clear in his time to dispassionate observers that what he described was what Soviet communism would become in future? This question was discussed. To some he was a prophet, seeing before it happened what would be the fate of Communism under Stalin. Yet, his experiences in Spain had taught him quite a lot first-hand about Stalinism. Russell Baker in his preface writes:
More or less by chance, he had ended up in a Troskyist outfit at a time when Stalinists were trying to destroy every trace of Trotsky's contribution to the Russian revolution. These purges were directed from Moscow but had deadly consequences even in faraway Spain, where Stalin was ostensibly supporting a democratic Spanish government.

Many of our friends were shot, and others spent a long time in prison or simply disappeared,” Orwell recalled in his preface to 1947 Ukrainian-language edition of Animal Farm. This narrow escape from the long reach of Moscow-style politics left him alarmed about the gullibility of other well-meaning, decent people in Western Europe.

Talitha argued for the foresight of Orwell. Bobby suggested that artists have a prevision of things to come. But Joe said Orwell was not speaking with Cassandra's vision as a forecaster. He had already experienced the duplicity of Soviet Communism first-hand in Spain, and how life-threatening it could be to its own adherents. All the things that are written by Orwell, were facts deliberately ignored in the early forties in the West, because the Soviet Union was then an important ally in the fight against Nazi Germany. But the purges, the executions, the totalitarian expropriation of a revolution waged in the name of the people – all this had already taken place two decades before Orwell's writing.

In this connection it is interesting as a historical note to document why T.S. Eliot as an influential director of Faber and Faber publishers, rejected Animal Farm. It has come to light from records that T.S. Eliot thought that to “publish such an anti-Russian novel would jar in the contemporary political climate.” It amounted to self-censorship, without any governmental authority intervening.

See:
"It is regularly voted one of the best books of all time, a timeless piece of satire which has never gone out of print in the 64 years since it was first published. But when George Orwell sent Animal Farm to TS Eliot for consideration, the poet - then a director of Faber and Faber - rejected it as 'unconvincing'."
In a letter from 1944 explaining why he would not be publishing the work, Eliot told Orwell that he was not persuaded by the "Trotskyite" politics which underpin the narrative. To publish such an anti-Russian novel would jar in the contemporary political climate, explained the poet.
"We have no conviction ... that this is the right point of view from which to criticise the political situation at the present time. It is certainly the duty of any publishing firm which pretends to other interests and motives other than mere commercial prosperity to publish books which go against the current of the moment," wrote Eliot, before going on to say that he was not convinced that "this is the thing that needs saying at the moment." The letter, which has been in the private collection of Eliot's widow, Valerie, since he died, is explored in a forthcoming edition of the BBC documentary series, Arena.

But Eliot saw much to praise in the work. "We agree that it is a distinguished piece of writing; that the fable is very skillfully handled, and that the narrative keeps one's interest on its own plane - and that is something very few authors have achieved since Gulliver," he wrote.

Samuel said every revolution can get hijacked, as the Communist revolution was. He vouched that little faith should be put in government press releases of the day, which are purveyed by the media as news next day.

Sunil emphasised the last sentence from the first passage Gopa read: “The others said of Squealer that he could turn black into white.”


Sivaram
Sivaram prefaced his reading by saying that he “hated” Communism. The passage he read traces the gradual blending of the animals and the very men whose domination the animals had overthrown. The passage ends: “The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”

Sivaram said even in real life today, “Communists have become capitalists.” A Kerala Marxist politician was described as tippling from a bottle of Blue Label Scotch daily. Reference was made to Arthur Koestler's novel Darkness at Noon . Totalitarian government is exposed there and the meaningless confessions extracted from people under duress in prison is highlighted. It is doubtful at the end whether a just and humane state can result by totalitarian means.

Others chipped in with their inside knowledge of the leftist leaders in Kerala today. “K is now porcine,” somebody said, evoking laughter at the notion that pig-like persons from Animal Farm strut the stage of current leftist Kerala politics. Sivaram insists they are fooling the masses. Priya asked if Sivaram would not change too if he were elected to power. He would, said Sivaram, but not turn into a hypocrite. The leftist leaders do not want the poor masses to change, and would rather leave them disadvantaged and illiterate so the leaders can be elected to office, but they themselves aspire to all the luxuries of an upper-class life.

A brief reference was made to Hegelian dialectics in argument, but it was not germane and led nowhere.


Bobby 
Bobby got a laugh by starting off thus: “All readers are equal but some readers are more equal than others.” Presumably he meant himself jokingly, since he was the one to start the group that has now become the KRG.

In the reading, it seems the hard life of the animals has left them no better off than under the previous Manor Farm regime of Mr Jones. They were promised things would be much better under the revolution, but all that was forgotten now.


Samuel 
Samuel's reading was about the insidious manipulation of thought processes under a totalitarian regime. There is at first a mild resistance to Napoleon's assuming superior airs, but it is all pacified by the claim that if the animals were left to their own thinking they could be misled by the likes of Snowball with his crazy idea about windmills. Hence ordinary animals needed 'thought guidance'. This finally ends with Boxer the faithful and resolute servant of the Rebellion concluding: “If Comrade Napoleon says it, it must be right.”

Talitha said common people may not have believed a word of what was fed to them in the Soviet Union, but they didn't have a choice. Or rather, as we know now, the many who resisted, or even expressed mild reservations were reported to the secret police by neighbours and colleagues and that was the last they were heard from. Some confessed and were executed, some were exiled to regions beyond the Caucasus mountains, and others to labour camps to suffer the extremes of Siberia.

Gopa said that even if the common man is silent, it doesn't mean he believes the false propaganda. Benjamin belongs to that class of people, shrewd enough to know what's going on, but not about to rock the boat.

Fascism and Communism are two sides of the same coin,” said someone. Samuel made the cynical statement that in the eyes of the ruling classes, “the common man is irrelevant in politics.”

Joe said the art of deception and propaganda and how to manufacture consent were perfected, not by the Soviet commissars, but by the Nazis. Goebbels was the one who as Propaganda Minister said he could exploit the lowest instincts of the German people – racism, xenophobia, class envy and insecurity. He could, he said, "play the popular will like a piano," leading the masses wherever he wanted them to go.

All these lessons of totalitarian regimes have been absorbed by western democracies also. Witness how Mr Blair was able to convince Parliament that Britain could be attacked in 45 minutes by Mr Saddam Hussein of Iraq. And how Mr Bush convinced the American people that Iraq, a country that had nothing to do with the demolition of the World Trade Towers, should be attacked in retribution. The Bush regime even got the assent of two so-called liberal newspapers, the New York Times and the Washington Post, to support the attack on Iraq. An enormous number of lies (the high-grade aluminium tubes to make rockets, smuggled uranium from Niger to make bombs, mobile trucks to manufacture biological weapons, etc.) were marshalled by the US ambassador to the UN, Colin Powell, to urge war on Iraq. To his eternal shame he realised all these lies had been manufactured to 'justify' a war that had already been decided in the upper echelons.

In another vein, Samuel Verghese said apropos of Jammu and Kashmir: “What you read in the papers has no relation to reality.”


Sunil
Sunil read from the preface by Russell Baker to Animal Farm, since his selected reading had already been pre-empted by another person. The preface begins:
"We were very lucky to get out of Spain alive," George Orwell wrote afterwards.


Mathew 
The passage read concerns Snowball's original scheme to generate electrical power with a windmill; that idea had been set aside by Napoleon, and then resurrected again as his own scheme. Events are turned on their head. This is called “tactics” by Squealer, the chamcha of Napoleon. When the other animals show a sign of not understanding the tactics, Squealer calls out the goons, the three dogs, whose mere growl is enough to induce acquiescence.

Concerning which, Sunil narrated a story about a college in Thrissur whose student union had been monopolised by the Communist-led SFI by using the threat of force by CITU goons. Someone who dared to oppose them got thrashed. He then brought his own goons from Palai before next year’s student elections and gave back more than he got to the SFI chaps. For five years thereafter the SFI could not win.


Joe 
Animal Farm is a charming way of lampooning the Soviet experiment, which began with a call from Marx to workers to throw off their chains and claim their rights. It was a powerful movement of the 20th century to liberate the working class, but fell into the hands of Lenin and Stalin to implement. To the credit of Orwell he was not fooled about the vices of the Marxist experiment because of his early experience, when so many liberal thinkers in the West were willing to give Communism the benefit of the doubt. The word 'fellow-travellers' became the phrase to denote such well-meaning western liberals.

It was not until the revelations in the memoirs of Nikita Khruschev about the terror with which Stalin ruled, and the sheer paranoia of Stalin's dictatorship and his massacres, that the world learnt from a close witness what it was to live under the Stalinist regime. It took a further 30 years before Mikhail Gorbachev began dismantling Soviet terror with his twin reforms of Glasnost (openness and right to information) and Perestroika (restructuring to make the socialist state more efficient). These moves, and the refusal of Gorbachev to put down miners' strikes in the Baltic states by force, ultimately led to the dissolution of the Soviet state, freedom for the republics, and a tremendous decline of the Russian economy – all results Gorbachev had not foreseen.

There are many allegorical events: the October revolution, the Battle of Stalingrad, the Secret Police, the terror mechanism, fear of criticism, silence, revenge on rebellious spirits, exile and torture, obsequiousness, confessions. The only significant feature of the Soviet state I did not find here are the gulags: they were secret and not known widely until Alexandr Solzhenitsyn in 1962 published One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, an account of Stalinist repression, by the use of labour camps.
Quotes:
ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL
BUT SOME ANIMALS ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS

 
life would go on as it had always gone on — that is, badly. (Benjamin)

hunger, hardship, and disappointment being, so he said, the unalterable law of life. (Benjamin)

It was a pig walking on his hind legs. (the rest of the animals see what Clover saw)
 


Remarks about the prose style:
We get vivid impressions of what's happening. Yet it's very understated; there is no purple prose even in the revolutionary speech of Old Major, but yes, there is eloquence. Few, if any, abstract notions.
Orwell doesn't use many adjectives to characterise the animals who people this book. They are described in terms of their actions. Napoleon, for instance, is never called by any epithets suggestive of his duplicitous or dictatorial nature. But it all comes out of how he acts: “a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.”
The farm vocabulary is as precise as Hardy's: whelped, knacker, muted, mangels, porker, etc.
"Good prose is like a window pane," Orwell wrote in his essay, Why I Write. This novella is an object lesson in clarity.

KumKum mentioned the relative passivity of US university campuses regarding politics. However, some readers remarked that it is okay that student campuses should be relatively isolated from the operation of political parties on campus, because they distract from the student issues that should be of prime interest. Sunil said the SFI, for instance, is an arm of the Communist party on campus, and does not believe in freedom of speech. The debate went on whether political parties being active on on campus is good or bad.

A diversion was the question of RTI (Right To Information) which results in much waste of time by bureaucrats, for questions are asked that have answers already in the public domain. However, the petitioners demand the answer by an RTI petition because the resulting response becomes a document that can be produced in court as evidence.

Talitha was good enough to rope in Thommo to sing the anthem of the animals sung by Old Major, “
a stirring tune, something between ‘Clementine’ and ‘La Cucaracha’ ”:
Beasts of England, beasts of Ireland,
Beasts of every land and clime,
Hearken to my joyful tidings
Of the golden future time.

With that the lively discussion came to a close ...


A Note on the target of the satire
Dwight Macdonald, the critic, wrote in December 1946, soon after the publication of Animal Farm in the US to Orwell:
anti-Stalinist intellectuals of my acquaintance claim that the parable of Animal Farm meant that revolution always ended badly for the underdog, “hence to hell with it and hail the status quo.” I himself read the book as applying solely to Russia and not making any larger statement about the philosophy of revolution. I’ve been impressed with how many leftists I know make this criticism quite independently of each other—impressed because it didn’t occur to me when reading the book and still doesn’t seem correct to me. Which view would you say comes closer to you own intentions?

Orwell’s reply appeared in George Orwell: Life in Letters,
Re. your query about Animal Farm. Of course I intended it primarily as a satire on the Russian revolution. But I did mean it to have a wider application in so much that I meant that that kind of revolution (violent conspiratorial revolution, led by unconsciously power-hungry people) can only lead to a change of masters. I meant the moral to be that revolutions only effect a radical improvement when the masses are alert and know how to chuck out their leaders as soon as the latter have done their job. The turning-point of the story was supposed to be when the pigs kept the milk and apples for themselves (Kronstadt).1 If the other animals had had the sense to put their foot down then, it would have been all right. If people think I am defending the status quo, that is, I think, because they have grown pessimistic and assume that there is no alternative except dictatorship or laissez-faire capitalism. In the case of Trotskyists, there is the added complication that they feel responsible for events in the USSR up to about 1926 and have to assume that a sudden degeneration took place about that date. Whereas I think the whole process was foreseeable—and was foreseen by a few people, eg. Bertrand Russell—from the very nature of the Bolshevik party. What I was trying to say was, “You can’t have a revolution unless you make it for yourself; there is no such thing as a benevolent dictat[or]ship.




The Readings


Soma 
There was a deadly silence. Amazed, terrified, huddling together, the animals watched the long line of pigs march slowly round the yard. It was as though the world had turned upside-down. Then there came a moment when the first shock had worn off and when, in spite of everything-in spite of their terror of the dogs, and of the habit, developed through long years, of never complaining, never criticising, no matter what happened — they might have uttered some word of protest. But just at that moment, as though at a signal, all the sheep burst out into a tremendous bleating of —
Four legs good, two legs BETTER! Four legs good, two legs BETTER! Four legs good, two legs BETTER!”
It went on for five minutes without stopping. And by the time the sheep had quieted down, the chance to utter any protest had passed, for the pigs had marched back into the farmhouse.
Benjamin felt a nose nuzzling at his shoulder. He looked round. It was Clover. Her old eyes looked dimmer than ever. Without saying anything, she tugged gently at his mane and led him round to the end of the big barn, where the Seven Commandments were written. For a minute or two they stood gazing at the tatted wall with its white lettering.
My sight is failing,” she said finally. “Even when I was young I could not have read what was written there. But it appears to me that that wall looks different. Are the Seven Commandments the same as they used to be, Benjamin?”
For once Benjamin consented to break his rule, and he read out to her what was written on the wall. There was nothing there now except a single Commandment. It ran:
ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL
BUT SOME ANIMALS ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS


Priya The disappearing milk 
“Comrades!” he cried. “You do not imagine, I hope, that we pigs are doing this in a spirit of selfishness and privilege? Many of us actually dislike milk and apples. I dislike them myself. Our sole object in taking these things is to preserve our health. Milk and apples (this has been proved by Science, comrades) contain substances absolutely necessary to the well-being of a pig. We pigs are brainworkers. The whole management and organisation of this farm depend on us. Day and night we are watching over your welfare. It is for YOUR sake that we drink that milk and eat those apples. Do you know what would happen if we pigs failed in our duty? Jones would come back! Yes, Jones would come back! Surely, comrades,” cried Squealer almost pleadingly, skipping from side to side and whisking his tail, “surely there is no one among you who wants to see Jones come back?”
Now if there was one thing that the animals were completely certain of, it was that they did not want Jones back. When it was put to them in this light, they had no more to say. The importance of keeping the pigs in good health was all too obvious. So it was agreed without further argument that the milk and the windfall apples (and also the main crop of apples when they ripened) should be reserved for the pigs alone.


Talitha
I do not believe that,” he said. “Snowball fought bravely at the Battle of the Cowshed. I saw him myself. Did we not give him ‘Animal Hero, first Class,’ immediately afterwards?”
That was our mistake, comrade. For we know now — it is all written down in the secret documents that we have found — that in reality he was trying to lure us to our doom.”
But he was wounded,” said Boxer. “We all saw him running with blood.”
That was part of the arrangement!” cried Squealer. “Jones’s shot only grazed him. I could show you this in his own writing, if you were able to read it. The plot was for Snowball, at the critical moment, to give the signal for flight and leave the field to the enemy. And he very nearly succeeded — I will even say, comrades, he WOULD have succeeded if it had not been for our heroic Leader, Comrade Napoleon. Do you not remember how, just at the moment when Jones and his men had got inside the yard, Snowball suddenly turned and fled, and many animals followed him? And do you not remember, too, that it was just at that moment, when panic was spreading and all seemed lost, that Comrade Napoleon sprang forward with a cry of ‘Death to Humanity!’ and sank his teeth in Jones’s leg? Surely you remember THAT, comrades?” exclaimed Squealer, frisking from side to side.
Now when Squealer described the scene so graphically, it seemed to the animals that they did remember it. At any rate, they remembered that at the critical moment of the battle Snowball had turned to flee. But Boxer was still a little uneasy.
I do not believe that Snowball was a traitor at the beginning,” he said finally. “What he has done since is different. But I believe that at the Battle of the Cowshed he was a good comrade.”
Our Leader, Comrade Napoleon,” announced Squealer, speaking very slowly and firmly, “has stated categorically — categorically, comrade — that Snowball was Jones’s agent from the very beginning — yes, and from long before the Rebellion was ever thought of.”
Ah, that is different!” said Boxer. “If Comrade Napoleon says it, it must be right.”
That is the true spirit, comrade!” cried Squealer, but it was noticed he cast a very ugly look at Boxer with his little twinkling eyes. He turned to go, then paused and added impressively: “I warn every animal on this farm to keep his eyes very wide open. For we have reason to think that some of Snowball’s secret agents are lurking among us at this moment!”


KumKum 
Years passed. The seasons came and went, the short animal lives fled by. A time came when there was no one who remembered the old days before the Rebellion, except Clover, Benjamin, Moses the raven, and a number of the pigs.
Muriel was dead; Bluebell, Jessie, and Pincher were dead. Jones too was dead — he had died in an inebriates’ home in another part of the country. Snowball was forgotten. Boxer was forgotten, except by the few who had known him. Clover was an old stout mare now, stiff in the joints and with a tendency to rheumy eyes. She was two years past the retiring age, but in fact no animal had ever actually retired. The talk of setting aside a corner of the pasture for superannuated animals had long since been dropped. Napoleon was now a mature boar of twenty-four stone. Squealer was so fat that he could with difficulty see out of his eyes. Only old Benjamin was much the same as ever, except for being a little greyer about the muzzle, and, since Boxer’s death, more morose and taciturn than ever.
There were many more creatures on the farm now, though the increase was not so great as had been expected in earlier years. Many animals had been born to whom the Rebellion was only a dim tradition, passed on by word of mouth, and others had been bought who had never heard mention of such a thing before their arrival. The farm possessed three horses now besides Clover. They were fine upstanding beasts, willing workers and good comrades, but very stupid. None of them proved able to learn the alphabet beyond the letter B. They accepted everything that they were told about the Rebellion and the principles of Animalism, especially from Clover, for whom they had an almost filial respect; but it was doubtful whether they understood very much of it.
The farm was more prosperous now, and better organised: it had even been enlarged by two fields which had been bought from Mr. Pilkington. The windmill had been successfully completed at last, and the farm possessed a threshing machine and a hay elevator of its own, and various new buildings had been added to it. Whymper had bought himself a dogcart. The windmill, however, had not after all been used for generating electrical power. It was used for milling corn, and brought in a handsome money profit. The animals were hard at work building yet another windmill; when that one was finished, so it was said, the dynamos would be installed. But the luxuries of which Snowball had once taught the animals to dream, the stalls with electric light and hot and cold water, and the three-day week, were no longer talked about. Napoleon had denounced such ideas as contrary to the spirit of Animalism. The truest happiness, he said, lay in working hard and living frugally.
Somehow it seemed as though the farm had grown richer without making the animals themselves any richer-except, of course, for the pigs and the dogs.


Thommo 
Mr. Jones, of the Manor Farm, had locked the hen-houses for the night, but was too drunk to remember to shut the pop-holes. With the ring of light from his lantern dancing from side to side, he lurched across the yard, kicked off his boots at the back door, drew himself a last glass of beer from the barrel in the scullery, and made his way up to bed, where Mrs. Jones was already snoring.
As soon as the light in the bedroom went out there was a stirring and a fluttering all through the farm buildings. Word had gone round during the day that old Major, the prize Middle White boar, had had a strange dream on the previous night and wished to communicate it to the other animals. It had been agreed that they should all meet in the big barn as soon as Mr. Jones was safely out of the way. Old Major (so he was always called, though the name under which he had been exhibited was Willingdon Beauty) was so highly regarded on the farm that everyone was quite ready to lose an hour’s sleep in order to hear what he had to say.
At one end of the big barn, on a sort of raised platform, Major was already ensconced on his bed of straw, under a lantern which hung from a beam. He was twelve years old and had lately grown rather stout, but he was still a majestic-looking pig, with a wise and benevolent appearance in spite of the fact that his tushes had never been cut. Before long the other animals began to arrive and make themselves comfortable after their different fashions. First came the three dogs, Bluebell, Jessie, and Pincher, and then the pigs, who settled down in the straw immediately in front of the platform. The hens perched themselves on the window-sills, the pigeons fluttered up to the rafters, the sheep and cows lay down behind the pigs and began to chew the cud. The two cart-horses, Boxer and Clover, came in together, walking very slowly and setting down their vast hairy hoofs with great care lest there should be some small animal concealed in the straw. Clover was a stout motherly mare approaching middle life, who had never quite got her figure back after her fourth foal. Boxer was an enormous beast, nearly eighteen hands high, and as strong as any two ordinary horses put together. A white stripe down his nose gave him a somewhat stupid appearance, and in fact he was not of first-rate intelligence, but he was universally respected for his steadiness of character and tremendous powers of work. After the horses came Muriel, the white goat, and Benjamin, the donkey. Benjamin was the oldest animal on the farm, and the worst tempered. He seldom talked, and when he did, it was usually to make some cynical remark — for instance, he would say that God had given him a tail to keep the flies off, but that he would sooner have had no tail and no flies. Alone among the animals on the farm he never laughed. If asked why, he would say that he saw nothing to laugh at. Nevertheless, without openly admitting it, he was devoted to Boxer; the two of them usually spent their Sundays together in the small paddock beyond the orchard, grazing side by side and never speaking.


Gopa
Reading 1. Three nights later old Major died peacefully in his sleep. His body was buried at the foot of the orchard.
This was early in March. During the next three months there was much secret activity. Major’s speech had given to the more intelligent animals on the farm a completely new outlook on life. They did not know when the Rebellion predicted by Major would take place, they had no reason for thinking that it would be within their own lifetime, but they saw clearly that it was their duty to prepare for it. The work of teaching and organising the others fell naturally upon the pigs, who were generally recognised as being the cleverest of the animals. Pre-eminent among the pigs were two young boars named Snowball and Napoleon, whom Mr. Jones was breeding up for sale. Napoleon was a large, rather fierce-looking Berkshire boar, the only Berkshire on the farm, not much of a talker, but with a reputation for getting his own way. 


Snowball was a more vivacious pig than Napoleon, quicker in speech and more inventive, but was not considered to have the same depth of character. All the other male pigs on the farm were porkers. The best known among them was a small fat pig named Squealer, with very round cheeks, twinkling eyes, nimble movements, and a shrill voice. He was a brilliant talker, and when he was arguing some difficult point he had a way of skipping from side to side and whisking his tail which was somehow very persuasive. The others said of Squealer that he could turn black into white.
Reading 2. Some of the animals talked of the duty of loyalty to Mr. Jones, whom they referred to as “Master,” or made elementary remarks such as “Mr. Jones feeds us. If he were gone, we should starve to death.” Others asked such questions as “Why should we care what happens after we are dead?” or “If this Rebellion is to happen anyway, what difference does it make whether we work for it or not?”, and the pigs had great difficulty in making them see that this was contrary to the spirit of Animalism. The stupidest questions of all were asked by Mollie, the white mare. The very first question she asked Snowball was: “Will there still be sugar after the Rebellion?”
No,” said Snowball firmly. “We have no means of making sugar on this farm. Besides, you do not need sugar. You will have all the oats and hay you want.”
And shall I still be allowed to wear ribbons in my mane?” asked Mollie.
Comrade,” said Snowball, “those ribbons that you are so devoted to are the badge of slavery. Can you not understand that liberty is worth more than ribbons?”
Mollie agreed, but she did not sound very convinced.


Sivaram
Mr. Pilkington had referred throughout to “Animal Farm.” He could not of course know — for he, Napoleon, was only now for the first time announcing it — that the name “Animal Farm” had been abolished. Henceforward the farm was to be known as “The Manor Farm”— which, he believed, was its correct and original name.
Gentlemen,” concluded Napoleon, “I will give you the same toast as before, but in a different form. Fill your glasses to the brim. Gentlemen, here is my toast: To the prosperity of The Manor Farm!”
There was the same hearty cheering as before, and the mugs were emptied to the dregs. But as the animals outside gazed at the scene, it seemed to them that some strange thing was happening. What was it that had altered in the faces of the pigs? Clover’s old dim eyes flitted from one face to another. Some of them had five chins, some had four, some had three. But what was it that seemed to be melting and changing? Then, the applause having come to an end, the company took up their cards and continued the game that had been interrupted, and the animals crept silently away.
But they had not gone twenty yards when they stopped short. An uproar of voices was coming from the farmhouse. They rushed back and looked through the window again. Yes, a violent quarrel was in progress. There were shoutings, bangings on the table, sharp suspicious glances, furious denials. The source of the trouble appeared to be that Napoleon and Mr. Pilkington had each played an ace of spades simultaneously.
Twelve voices were shouting in anger, and they were all alike. No question, now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.


Bobby 
Meanwhile life was hard. The winter was as cold as the last one had been, and food was even shorter. Once again all rations were reduced, except those of the pigs and the dogs. A too rigid equality in rations, Squealer explained, would have been contrary to the principles of Animalism. In any case he had no difficulty in proving to the other animals that they were NOT in reality short of food, whatever the appearances might be. For the time being, certainly, it had been found necessary to make a readjustment of rations (Squealer always spoke of it as a “readjustment,” never as a “reduction”), but in comparison with the days of Jones, the improvement was enormous. Reading out the figures in a shrill, rapid voice, he proved to them in detail that they had more oats, more hay, more turnips than they had had in Jones’s day, that they worked shorter hours, that their drinking water was of better quality, that they lived longer, that a larger proportion of their young ones survived infancy, and that they had more straw in their stalls and suffered less from fleas. The animals believed every word of it. Truth to tell, Jones and all he stood for had almost faded out of their memories. They knew that life nowadays was harsh and bare, that they were often hungry and often cold, and that they were usually working when they were not asleep. But doubtless it had been worse in the old days. They were glad to believe so. Besides, in those days they had been slaves and now they were free, and that made all the difference, as Squealer did not fail to point out.


Samuel 
“Comrades,” he said, “I trust that every animal here appreciates the sacrifice that Comrade Napoleon has made in taking this extra labour upon himself. Do not imagine, comrades, that leadership is a pleasure! On the contrary, it is a deep and heavy responsibility. No one believes more firmly than Comrade Napoleon that all animals are equal. He would be only too happy to let you make your decisions for yourselves. But sometimes you might make the wrong decisions, comrades, and then where should we be? Suppose you had decided to follow Snowball, with his moonshine of windmills — Snowball, who, as we now know, was no better than a criminal?”
He fought bravely at the Battle of the Cowshed,” said somebody.
Bravery is not enough,” said Squealer. “Loyalty and obedience are more important. And as to the Battle of the Cowshed, I believe the time will come when we shall find that Snowball’s part in it was much exaggerated. Discipline, comrades, iron discipline! That is the watchword for today. One false step, and our enemies would be upon us. Surely, comrades, you do not want Jones back?”
Once again this argument was unanswerable. Certainly the animals did not want Jones back; if the holding of debates on Sunday mornings was liable to bring him back, then the debates must stop. Boxer, who had now had time to think things over, voiced the general feeling by saying: “If Comrade Napoleon says it, it must be right.” And from then on he adopted the maxim, “Napoleon is always right,” in addition to his private motto of “I will work harder.”


Sunil
Sunil read from the preface by Russell Baker to Animal Farm. Here's a link to the entire preface:
"We were very lucky to get out of Spain alive," George Orwell wrote afterwards.

What's curious was Orwell's insistence that he had no intention of damaging the *socialist" cause . You would never have guessed this after reading the book, but he insisted that he intended only to write a cautionary story for the democratic West, warning it against a dangerously alien form of "socialism." Devoted to British socialism,Orwell cannot have found it very pleasant being denounced an enemy of what the Russians, and many of his count4tmen too, called "socialism." Orwell, of course, was seldom happier than when he was attacking fraud and hypocrisy and hearing the squeals of the injured.

Orwell, of course, was seldom happier than when he was attacking fraud and hypocrisy and hearing the squeals of the injured.

Despite his insistence on being “political” in his work, Orwell’s career suggests his politics were the sort that real politicians detest. Why, for example, was Orwell so determined to make the case against Soviet communism at precisely the moment all proper people preferred not to hear it? Devoted socialist he may have been, but he had none of the politician’s instinct for trimming sails to the wind when it is expedient to tell people what they want to hear. Worse, he insisted on telling people precisely what they did not want to hear.
He was that political figure all politicians fear: the moralist who cannot bear to let any wrong deed go undenounced. As a politician he had the fatal defect of the totally honest man: He insisted on the truth even when the truth was most inconvenient.
There is an aloneness about Orwell, an insistence on being his own man, on not playing along with the team as a loyal politician is so often expected to do, or else. This is brilliantly illustrated in his classic essay “Politics and the English Language,” showing how politicians twist the language to distort and deceive. This amounts to an act of treason within the political trade. The man is trying to make it harder for a politician to fool enough of the proper enough of the time to gain power.
Orwell showed us the edge of terror on which we lived fifty years ago and help us understand why that generation was willing to spend so much treasure and take such daring risks to keep totalitarianism at bay. And in Animal Farm Orwell left us a lesson about the human contribution to political terror that will always be as up-to-date as next year’s election.


Mathew 
On the third Sunday after Snowball’s expulsion, the animals were somewhat surprised to hear Napoleon announce that the windmill was to be built after all. He did not give any reason for having changed his mind, but merely warned the animals that this extra task would mean very hard work, it might even be necessary to reduce their rations. The plans, however, had all been prepared, down to the last detail. A special committee of pigs had been at work upon them for the past three weeks. The building of the windmill, with various other improvements, was expected to take two years.
That evening Squealer explained privately to the other animals that Napoleon had never in reality been opposed to the windmill. On the contrary, it was he who had advocated it in the beginning, and the plan which Snowball had drawn on the floor of the incubator shed had actually been stolen from among Napoleon’s papers. The windmill was, in fact, Napoleon’s own creation. Why, then, asked somebody, had he spoken so strongly against it? Here Squealer looked very sly. That, he said, was Comrade Napoleon’s cunning. He had SEEMED to oppose the windmill, simply as a manoeuvre to get rid of Snowball, who was a dangerous character and a bad influence. Now that Snowball was out of the way, the plan could go forward without his interference. This, said Squealer, was something called tactics. He repeated a number of times, “Tactics, comrades, tactics!” skipping round and whisking his tail with a merry laugh. The animals were not certain what the word meant, but Squealer spoke so persuasively, and the three dogs who happened to be with him growled so threateningly, that they accepted his explanation without further questions.


Joe
Old Major's rebellion speech (Ch I)
Our labour tills the soil, our dung fertilises it, and yet there is not one of us that owns more than his bare skin. You cows that I see before me, how many thousands of gallons of milk have you given during this last year? And what has happened to that milk which should have been breeding up sturdy calves? Every drop of it has gone down the throats of our enemies. And you hens, how many eggs have you laid in this last year, and how many of those eggs ever hatched into chickens? The rest have all gone to market to bring in money for Jones and his men. And you, Clover, where are those four foals you bore, who should have been the support and pleasure of your old age? Each was sold at a year old — you will never see one of them again. In return for your four confinements and all your labour in the fields, what have you ever had except your bare rations and a stall?
And even the miserable lives we lead are not allowed to reach their natural span. For myself I do not grumble, for I am one of the lucky ones. I am twelve years old and have had over four hundred children. Such is the natural life of a pig. But no animal escapes the cruel knife in the end. You young porkers who are sitting in front of me, every one of you will scream your lives out at the block within a year. To that horror we all must come — cows, pigs, hens, sheep, everyone. Even the horses and the dogs have no better fate. You, Boxer, the very day that those great muscles of yours lose their power, Jones will sell you to the knacker, who will cut your throat and boil you down for the foxhounds. As for the dogs, when they grow old and toothless, Jones ties a brick round their necks and drowns them in the nearest pond.
Is it not crystal clear, then, comrades, that all the evils of this life of ours spring from the tyranny of human beings? Only get rid of Man, and the produce of our labour would be our own. Almost overnight we could become rich and free. What then must we do? Why, work night and day, body and soul, for the overthrow of the human race! That is my message to you, comrades: Rebellion! I do not know when that Rebellion will come, it might be in a week or in a hundred years, but I know, as surely as I see this straw beneath my feet, that sooner or later justice will be done. Fix your eyes on that, comrades, throughout the short remainder of your lives! And above all, pass on this message of mine to those who come after you, so that future generations shall carry on the struggle until it is victorious.”

Or as a Bengali Communist leader, holding forth in a thunderous oration below the Ochterlony Monument in Calcutta in the olden days would put it, more graphically (translation by KumKum):

“Amader rakto diyei ei mati khopay,
Our labour tills the soil
Amader gobar diyei sei mati hoi sufala,
our dung fertilises it
Tathapi, amra amader piter chamra chhara aar kichhur adhikari noi.
yet there is not one of us that owns more than his bare skin
Tomra goroordal, jara aamar samne boshe achho,
You cows that I see before me
Koto hazar gallon dudh tomra ei gelo bachhar utpadan koreychho
how many thousands of gallons of milk have you given during this last year
Sei amrito-samo dudh gachhe kothai?
what has happened to that milk?
Je dudh susshto bachhoorder paner janya uchhito hoi,
which should have been breeding up sturdy calves? 

Tar prattekta bindu amader shatrur pete gachhe.”
Every drop of it has gone down the throats of our enemies.


3 comments:

paul said...

Joe,
Thank you for all the work.
By 'some readers are more equal, I meant you !
It is important to read with passion.
thanks again
Bobby Paul George

aditi said...

hi!!Am so excited to see this page!Somebody please tell me how do I join!!

Management - Learning from Experiences by Reflection said...

Dear Aditi,

We are happy you read something here that took your fancy sufficiently that you asked to join us.

I assume you are in Kochi.

After a recent recruiting drive there are thirteen of us. Everyone has to read and participate in the discussion; so that's about the limit we can accommodate.

If a couple of people drop out, as happens from time to time, we can invite you. Please leave your e-mail.

Meanwhile keep reading, enjoying and commenting.

-- joe