What conditions are needed for revolution to occur? Based on your readings so far, what is the single most significant factor leading the animals to revolution?
For a revolution to occur, the majority of a society needs to collectively agree there is a major problem that dramatically affects their life in a negative way. In most cases, this problem involves the person in power treating the people unfairly. In George Orwell’s Animal Farm, the main factor that leads them to revolt is that Mr. Jones, their owner, doesn’t provide them with enough food and care to live a sufficient life. The animals are also aware that once they reach a certain age, Mr. Jones will slaughter them and this is something they fear. To solve this problem, the animals band together and “[chase] Jones and his men out on to the road” (7). “The Rebellion […] successfully [carries] through, Jones [is] expelled, and the Manor Farm [is] theirs” (7). This is a team effort and it only happens because they all collectively work together to fix the problem with Jones.
Some specific conditions that are needed for a revolution to occur includes having a strong leader, a strong ideology, and a group of people willing to make a change. A strong leader should hold the same values as the group, shows confidence and have the group’s best interest in mind. The leader, or the group in general, should have a clear solution to how to solve the problem before they start a revolution. This isn’t necessary but it helps to motivate the group and align their values and beliefs. In Animal Farm, Old Major meets all of these conditions. He convinces the group that “nearly the whole of the produce of [their] labour is stolen from [them] by human beings” and by “[removing] Man from the scene, […] the root cause of hunger and overwork is abolished forever” (2). Major clearly and confidently states the problem and provides a solution, which convinces the farm animals to join his cause. The last condition needed to start a revolution is a co-operative and willing group. Even if the people agree with the idea of a revolution, there some that are unwilling to take action. Without people who are willing to take action, enough supporters cannot be banded together to successfully revolt. In conclusion, a revolution occurs when the majority of a society band together to fix a problem that majorly impacts their life in a negative way. A strong leader, a strong ideology, and a willing group of revolutionists are all factors that contribute to the start of a revolution.
To what extent do power and privilege, or a lack thereof, affect the beliefs of and actions of an individual in a revolution?
Increase in power can affect a leader positively or negatively, depending on the person. In George Orwell’s Animal Farm, the increase in power affects Napoleon negatively. He starts to use force and manipulation to get his own way, without considering the well-being of the other farm animals. When he asks Squealer to tweak the commandment that “no animal shall kill any other animal” to “No animal shall kill any other animal without cause,” and uses that to his advantage to kill the farm animals he dislikes, nobody objects or tries to stop him (8, 27). Because it worked the first time, he continues to change the other commandments, and soon they hold a different meaning than they originally had. Power also affects Napoleon in a negative way because he begins using force to achieve his goals. He breeds dogs to follow his command and guard him, protecting himself from both the other animals and the outside world by promoting fear. Another effect power has on Napoleon is that he begins to view the other farm animals as lowers rather than equals. For example, he casually and freely executes troublesome animals “until there [is] a pile of corpses lying before [his] feet and the air [is] heavy with the smell of blood, which had been unknown there since the expulsion of Jones” (25). He also makes them worship him, by “wearing both his medals (for he had recently awarded himself ‘Animal Hero, First Class,’ and ‘Animal Hero, Second Class’)” and creates a poem about himself as “the giver of all that thy creatures love” (28). This shows that the increase in power changed his beliefs to take away his empathy and bring out his arrogance. By examining Napoleon, we can see that an increase in power can influence a leader to use force and manipulation to gain more power and control over a group.
In your opinion, was the revolution successful? Were there any other options available to bring about the animals’ desired changes? If so, what might have been done? If not, why was the revolution inevitable?
The farm animals carry out the revolution successfully. They chase Mr. Jones and his men out of the farm, and finally they have the freedom that they wished for. But the conditions change under Napoleon’s rule and after many years, the farm animals realize that they were in the same situation that they started with, before the revolution. The goal had been to “get rid of Man” so that “the produce of [their] labour would be [their] own,” but Napoleon took that away from them, just like Jones did. He treated the farm animals the way that Mr. Jones treated them, and made them work long and hard hours. At the end of the story, when the farm animals compare Napoleon and the other pigs to the humans, for the animals “it [is] impossible to say which was which” (3, 42). Even though they revolted to gain their freedom, they ended up losing it again in the end.
There are alternate actions that the animals could take in order to avoid violence. Rather than overthrowing and controlling animal farm, they could escape the farm and headed into the wilderness. Through-out the book, they never consider this possibility but it would be for the best since they are animals and they can live in the wild. The only other option is to try to communicate with Jones about their problem, but seeing as he always drinks and views himself superior to the farm animals, he would not cooperate. Overall, violent revolutions should be avoided if possible, because most of the time there are other alternatives that can be taken.