"Democracy is the worst form of government, except for those others that have been tried from time to time." - Winston Churchill
One of the most biting and devastating satires in literary history, George Orwell (real name: Eric Blair) wrote this masterpiece mostly influenced by his experience fighting in the Spanish Civil War from 1936-39. Yes, Virginia, this book was based on real life events and is not just a fable about animals and certainly not a book about Farmville.
The Spanish Civil War broke out due to the struggle between two ideologies: traditional Spanish values as represented by the Spanish elite and the military, and republicanism, socialism, and-later in the war-Soviet communism. This complex plethora of ideas and values was not peacefully settled and broke out into open war by the mutiny led by General Francisco Franco and the military against the Spanish Republic.
Orwell, who was himself a socialist, went to Spain initially as a correspondent for a leftist newspaper. But he was soon actively involved in the war on the side of the Republic. But if he thought that the only enemies were on the the side of the rebels led by General Franco, he was in for a rude shock.
The Spanish Republic sought the help of the Communist Soviet Union in its struggle against the rebels. The Soviets did send some help - and more. They sent agents from the Communist International to eliminate the Soviet Union's enemies (real and perceived), including those in the ranks of their own comrades-in-arms. Many Spanish and international volunteers who fought for the Republic were suspected of being "infiltrators" and "counter-revolutionaries". In true Stalinist fashion, the Communists were often more interested in purging their own ranks rather than effectively fighting the military rebels.
Orwell was a witness to all these as he himself admitted that they were lucky to escape with their lives from the clutches of the Soviet Union's agents. He was deeply shaken by his near-death experience and became a vocal critic of the communists and Soviet totalitarianism under Stalin.
And so was born Animal Farm. George Orwell had the guts to voice his criticism against the excesses he himself saw perpetrated by people who claim to be fighting for the oppressed and the downtrodden, the "vanguard of the proletariat".
I read this book in the early 2000s, well after the end of the Cold War. Since the collapse of communism in Europe, the world has known
of all the failures and atrocities the Communists have left in their wake. So reading the meaning of the book is not hard to miss.
So for all the talk of "class struggle", "classless society", and paradise on earth, all the Communists have done and are still doing are having blood on their hands, a trail of corpses, and other incalculable damage in the name of the false theories of Marx, Lenin, and Mao. Done by "revolutionaries" who ended up being the exploiters and tyrants that they claim to have "liberated" the people from.
Churchill's words could not have rung louder.
*For those who are interested in the relevance of the Spanish Civil War with this book, I recommend "Homage to Catalonia" also by Orwell and "The Battle for Spain: The Spanish Civil War" by Antony Beevor.