As Joseph Stalin did, Napoleon prefers to work behind the scenes to build his power through manipulation and deal-making, while Snowball devotes himself, as Leon Trotsky did, to winning popular support through his ideas, passionate speeches, and success in debates with his opponent. Snowball seems to work within the political system, while Napoleon willingly circumvents it. Napoleon, for instance, understands the role of force in political control, as is made clear by his use of the attack dogs to expel Snowball from the farm.
Despite Napoleon’s clearly bullying tactics, Orwell’s text doesn’t allow us to perceive Snowball as a preferable alternative. Snowball does nothing to prevent the consolidation of power in the hands of the pigs, nor does he stop the unequal distribution of goods in the pigs’ favor—he may even, in fact, be complicit in it early on. Furthermore, the ideals of Animal Farm—like Orwell’s ideal version of socialism—are rooted in democracy, with all of the animals deciding how their collective action should be undertaken. For any one animal to rise to greater power than any other would violate that ideal and essentially render Animal Farm indistinguishable from a human farm—an unavoidable eventuality by the end of the novella. Though their motives for power may be quite different—Napoleon seems to have a powerful, egocentric lust for control, while Snowball seems to think himself a genius who should be the one to guide the farm toward success—each represents a potential dictator. Neither pig has the other animals’ interests at heart, and thus neither represents the socialist ideals of Animal Farm.