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Law, culture, and Catholicism...up in smoke!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Four Legs Good, Two Legs Bad!

Still just can't help marvelling at the progression of Jonestown Coastal.  Recently, I tore through Animal Farm over a cup of tea in order to help a friend's child who is reading it for class.

Some of the more interesting developments in the story.
1.  the disappearance of Mollie (for letting the outsider pet her nose) (no communion with outsiders!):
"Mollie! Look me in the face. Do you give me your word of honour that that man was not stroking your nose?"

"It isn't true!" repeated Mollie, but she could not look Clover in the face, and the next moment she took to her heels and galloped away into the field.

A thought struck Clover. Without saying anything to the others, she went to Mollie's stall and turned over the straw with her hoof. Hidden under the straw was a little pile of lump sugar and several bunches of ribbon of different colours.

Three days later Mollie disappeared.
Seems a familiar tale.

2.  Self aggrandizement through mouthpieces, and the castigation of others who do not conform to the master agenda, no matter how good:
Afterwards Squealer was sent round the farm to explain the new arrangement to the others.

"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?"
I especially like that part where Napoleon's contribution is made grander than everyone else's thereby exalting him into a place beyond reproach.  It's almost as if, through this trick of juxtaposition, Napoleon was giving everything he had to the farm and thus, all of the other animals owed him something they could not, through the terms of the rhetoric, repay Napoleon but should blondly follow him, which is actually Squealer's next directive to the Farm:
"Bravery is not enough," said Squealer. "Loyalty and obedience are more important.["]
3.  The development of animals accepting the false doctrines and aggrandizement through fooling themselves.  By playing the party line, they can avoid what happened to Mollie and Snowball.  Note that there is no truth in the following line, but rather, it is believed by force, or rather by reaction to perceived force:
"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."

The only thing Orwell left out of the story was the part where the dogs had commissioned the pigs to do a feasibility study of the windmill project.  That would have been priceless.  But the pigs did labor over the project for some time, at least in the minds of the other animals, because Napoleon said they did.

This point in the story could be marked as the departure from reality into the mutual storyland controlled by Napoleon.  Control took many measures, but mostly fear and the threats made by enforcers (the dogs), as the chapter ends with this image:
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.
We have to wonder how much, besides an extra biscuit, Napoleon paid the dogs to be mindless enforcers.  Throughout all of this, you really see how fear shapes certain groups to react (irrationally at that), and Napoleon uses those groups in concert against anything he perceives to be a threat to his agenda.

It doesn't matter if Napoleon is right or wrong.  What Napoleon wills is right.

The next chapter (5) deals with how the rules change over time to favor the extra-loyal.  Sort of a reward for the sycophant.  Then it gets interesting with the actual battles for power among enforcers.
This theme goes throughout:
"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!"
After this point, the rules start to change to favor the leaders and introduce some subjective standards that could used against the animals.  So the standards of conduct became relative, and the unwritten rule was whether you were in alliance to Napoleon.  Rather, whether Napoleon liked you.

And then, I love this part...  the farm has no actual productivity, but Napoleon says it is the best, etc...  What I get such a kick out of is the description of the place by Squealer:
There was, as Squealer was never tired of explaining, endless work in the supervision and organisation of the farm. Much of this work was of a kind that the other animals were too ignorant to understand. For example, Squealer told them that the pigs had to expend enormous labours every day upon mysterious things called "files," "reports," "minutes," and "memoranda." These were large sheets of paper which had to be closely covered with writing, and as soon as they were so covered, they were burnt in the furnace. This was of the highest importance for the welfare of the farm, Squealer said. But still, neither pigs nor dogs produced any food by their own labour; and there were very many of them,  and their appetites were always good. 
I guess they put those reports in the furnace so that they'd never be discovered.

You'd almost think Napoleon had given all his money in addition to all the extra work he did.