31st of October, 2014
Democracy is a Fallacy: How George Orwell’s Animal Farm Parallels Fascist Italy
It was the culmination of the first World War when a new ideology was introduced, one that was promoted as the dusk of socialism and the dawn of a new world. Benito Mussolini, renowned for his violent and aggressive demeanour was close to achieving what his predecessor, Caesar, had achieved centuries ago. The Russian Revolution has become synonymous with George Orwell’s Animal Farm. With obvious parallels between Russia during the Stalinist era and Napoleon’s tenure as the leader of the farm, it can be easy to forget that Russia was not the sole inspiration for the novel. The events in Animal Farm parallel fascist Italy just as much as they do Russia as evidenced by the use of law enforcement, the element of control and the introduction of new ideologies.
Napoleon and Mussolini both assumed power of their respective territories in a quick matter of time thanks to their use of law enforcement. In the case of Mussolini, his rise to power in 1922 came to fruition over 4 days. On the 26th of October, the Italian government resigned under pressure from fascists. Four days later, Mussolini forms a new government and is declared the premier of Italy (HistoryOrb). In the case of Napoleon, not too long after the ensuing Battle of the Cowshed, Napoleon releases the dogs on Snowball and turns on his partner during a meeting and assumes control of the farm. Mussolini used his own form of law enforcement to instill fear within the people under his rule. These people were known as the “Blackshirts.” Officially known as the Voluntary Militia for National Security, these retired soldiers, anti-communists, and middle-class youth were responsible for breaking up strikes, destroying trade union buildings, and driving the opposition, namely out of power. Similarly, Napoleon used his very own form of militia to aid his cause. As he could not personally excommunicate Snowball without unrest within the animals, his dogs had done the job for him. The bellowing and howling of the dogs put to bed any potential of an animal stepping in to help, just as the Blackshirts’ authority enabled control over the populous. Although Stalin also had an army, they were not used for the same purpose as Mussolini and Napoleon. Stalin’s army grew for economic reasons; the war meant more money for Stalin. However like Napoleon, Mussolini’s army grew because war and service to the nation was glorified; it was socially motivated. This is evidenced by the support that eventually grew towards Napoleon from the animals.
“Then there came a moment when the first shock had worn off and when, in spite of everything-in spite of their terror of the dogs, and of the habit, developed through long years, of never complaining, never criticising, no matter what happened-they might have uttered some word of protest. “ (Orwell p.89)
This shows us how the support of Napoleon is socially motivated. Napoleon wasn’t making money or resources by use of his army, but demanded more respect. This quote proves that behaved largely the way they did, in fear of the dogs. The end of the quote says that they might have protested, but they never actually did. Stalin, on the other hand, had consistent problems with the cotton workers and labourers. Another thing fascist Italy and Animal Farm have in common that supersedes that of Russia and the farm is the element of control instilled by the leaders, while not being a proactive part of the farm. To begin with, both leaders had almost complete control of the economy. William Bolitho’s book entitled Italy under Mussolini has an entire chapter written on Mussolini and his control of the economy. He says that Mussolini’s Italy posited that the economy was controlled by public syndicates, but it was his government who controlled all economic activity (Bolitho). This enabled him to get businesses and