What is the main theme regarding power and propaganda in Animal Farm?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that one of the most basic themes of Orwell's work is the idea that power and propaganda go together for governments that wish to consolidate their power over the populace.  The idea of needing to consistently exist in the minds of the body politic happens only through means of propaganda.  Orwell's point is that politicians will stop at nothing to ensure that the propaganda machine constantly appropriates all reality and makes it a political one.  Squealer's "spin" infects all aspects of life on the farm.  Whenever there is a shortage in food, Squealer renames it as "readjustments."  Whenever someone launches a legitimate complaint, Squealer brings up the ghost of Jones and then Snowball.  Whenever there is suffering, Squealer invokes the idea of how struggle is felt by all in the acknowledgement of something better, larger, and more transcendental.  Propaganda is the means by which power is consolidated for it is the means through which government denies individuals the ability to think and act globally regarding their own predicaments.  In this, Orwell makes clear that one gains greater power through propaganda, and if one covets it, the ability to spread misinformation through propaganda becomes an essential reality to those in the position of political power.

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