One of the central themes in ANIMAL FARM by GEORGE ORWELL is the exploration of how a new social or political regime can fail to live up to the original idealism that inspired its introduction. In the modern world there are many examples of this occurring, such as in Iraq and Zimbabwe where their leaders were originally welcomed by their people but now their regimes have failed or are in the process of disintegration.
ANIMAL FARM shows examples of a communist regime throughout (the equality in food, work and living conditions) and how communist regimes often fall apart, in this case into a dictatorship, when Napoleon becomes the absolute leader and completely changes the core values of the farm. The first example of communism is at the beginning of the book, when Old Major recounts his dream and rallies the animals to the idea of equality: "Is it not crystal clear, then, comrades that all the evils of this life spring from the tyranny of human beings?
Only get rid of man and the produce of our labour would be our own. " He then goes on to say that "almost overnight" they would become "rich and free". This gives the animals the thought of equality and that they would be much better off without Man and, therefore, the thought of a revolution. For the first few months after the revolution every one is getting along, sharing food, and generally feeling much better now that Mr. and Mrs.
Jones are no longer controlling the farm, "the animals were happy as they had never conceived it possible to be … with the worthless parasitical human beings gone there was more for everyone to eat. " This is often the case in communist regimes, that for the first while it seems to be going great and everything to plan, but, after a short time, things started heading in a downwards spiral, reflecting a trend seen in many past communist regimes, such as the demise of the Soviet Union, existing between 1917 and 1989.
The two pigs, Napoleon and Snowball, that have sub-consciously become the farm's leaders, begin arguing over mundane tasks. This culminates when Napoleon, obviously having had enough of Snowball's trouble, runs him out of the farm with a pack of dogs. This also shows a struggle for power, which appears a lot in modern societies, such as in Zimbabwe at the moment with Robert Mugabe throwing his opposition out of the country and burning villages. Immediately after running Snowball out of the farm, Napoleon begins to make changes to guarantee him absolute power.
In real dictatorships, Dictators may surround themselves with loyal henchmen, such as secret police or, in Hitler's case, the Gestapo, while Napoleon makes do with a pack of bloodthirsty dogs which he uses to quash any opposition: "Four young porkers in the front row uttered shrill squeals of disapproval and all four of them sprang to their feet and began speaking at once. But suddenly the dogs sitting around Napoleon let out deep, menacing growls, and the pigs fell silent and sat down again. Napoleon also uses Squealer, another pig, to spread propaganda about Napoleon's regime to try and boost morale from the other animals, cover up Napoleon's errors or and portray Snowball as a treasonous criminal. Therefore Animal Farm gradually becomes less and less of a communist state and more and more of a dictatorship, with Napoleon slowly gaining hold, starting with the changing of the Seven Commandments and the moving into the farmhouse, and culminating in the pigs standing on hind legs, wearing clothes, and holding parties with the humans.
This novel shows that because of the inherent nature of human beings, portrayed in this case by the pigs, of greed, jealousy and power, communist ideals are very hard to sustain, or even implement. Animal Farm brilliantly portrays the easy collapse of communism into dictatorship, and how one greedy and power hungry yet intelligent and charismatic person can change a whole society.