Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Animal Farm is 60 years old

NPR reported that today marks the 60th birthday of a seminal work of political satire, George Orwell's Animal Farm.

Animal Farm is one of those classics of literature that should be on everyone's reading list. Through its broadly drawn caricatures of Soviet revolutionary leaders, Animal Farm demonstrated not only the danger of blind adherence to an ideal and how that ideal can be twisted to serve nefarious purposes, it also highlighted the reasons why desperate people turn to revolution as a last ditch effort to improve their situation. The enemy in Animal Farm is not only the Stalinist pigs, but also the Capitalist humans against whom the animals rebel in the first place, and whose brutal reign the pigs finally learn to imitate. The moral of the story is not "Capitalism good, Communism bad," it is simply "don't blind yourself to an ideal so much that you lose sight of reality."

I think that's a lesson that resonates today as much as or even more so than it did in Orwell's time.