All revolutions, whether successful or not, start with an idea, a philosophy. The success of a revolution often depends on how true its founding philosophy is.
The animals of Manor Farm initiate a revolution. It is their revered philosopher, Old Major, who inspires this revolt. One of Major’s maxims that rallied the animals to action was “Man is the only real enemy we have. Remove man from the scene, and the root cause of hunger and overwork is abolished for ever.”
It is fairly easy to work out how true and accurate Major’s prophecy is because he makes a cause and effect prediction. The animals achieve the first point of Major’s formula for success by driving out the men, so they should therefore look forward to a life together where hunger and overwork are only memories. Of course no such utopia is created; by the end of the tale the majority of the animals are probably more miserable and oppressed than ever before. Major’s philosophy therefore fails its practical test. In many ways, the more interesting question is why this happens.
Major’s vision is flawed because he fails to identify the real cause. He sees the problems as being outside the animals. If only they can change the environment, he urges the animals, things will improve. He is a pragmatist.
What his philosophy ignores is the thing that really counts – morality. Man is not the real enemy; the real enemy of the animals (and of course the humans too) is their own sinfulness.
The animals that most clearly show the destructive sinfulness, with all its selfishness, exploitation and betrayal, are the pigs.
The pigs, led by Napoleon, show throughout the book that they want to run Animal Farm for their own benefit. Once the animals had rid the farm of the humans, the pigs saw the opportunity to seize power. From the start of the animal’s rule over the farm, the pigs established themselves as the rulers. They would order the animals to start working in the fields and told them who...