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Old May 3rd, 2017 #1
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Post Animal Farm: Beware of the Language of Equality

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Animal Farm: Beware of the Language of Equality

The impulse for writing this brief essay comes from teaching the book for several years abroad. In my simple observations about the work, I've employed a medical analogy, whereby, Old Major is a social physician; his patient is the ailing, but equally oblivious, population of farm animals, and the illness is the daily life on that farm, owned by Mr. Jones. This analysis of Animal Farm follows a therapeutic progression: from a diagnosis, to a prescribed therapy, and ending finally in a description of a state of health that should result if the treatment is followed. In contrast to the usual interpretation of Animal Farm which highlights Orwell's famous quote that "all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others," the message of this medical analogy is that those who control language control politics and power.

In this respect, I'm aware of how Orwell uses Old Major to dramatize Karl Marx's critique of the struggle between owners and workers. But Orwell goes further, with important insights for the Alt Right. Aware that "Convictions are more dangerous enemies of truth than lies," Orwell puts aside whatever his sympathies with the workers might be; he challenges the idea that "All animals are equal." First, he shows the failure of this idea by focusing on who controls language, and then he presents reasons why equality among all the animals might not be all that desirable. In doing this, Orwell went against the egalitarian impulses of his day, displaying an intellectual originality that is rightly admired but perhaps all too seldom imitated.

Old Major educates the farm animals, making them aware that this is unhealthy. The animals "are forced to work," doing the most burdensome work to exhaustion, and in return, they only receive "just so much food as will keep the breath" in them so that they can continue to work. As Old Major understands life on the farm, work is a major measure of value for most animals, and "the very instant that our usefulness has come to an end we are slaughtered." Even at the end of a life-time of loyal labour on Manor Farm, animals don't get to enjoy retirement. Instead, they are mercilessly eliminated. Old Major assures Boxer that no animal is immune to this outcome: "the very day those great muscles of yours lose their power, Jones [...] will cut your throat and boil you down for the foxhounds." As with any good doctor, Old Major knows that it isn't enough to diagnose correctly the patient. The treatment must cure the illness.

A reader might ask: Why do the ills of Manor Farm have to be treated by the harsh remedy of rebellion? Any increase in animal rights is a decrease in Jones' control. Any further sharing out of resources diminishes profit for Jones. Moreover, not yet unified with the ot

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read full article at source: http://www.eurocanadian.ca/2017/05/a...-equality.html
 
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