In Animal Farm, education is really important, but is education enough to prevent power abuse?I asked this because I wish to know how education serves as both the dividing line between those with...

In Animal Farm, education is really important, but is education enough to prevent power abuse?

I asked this because I wish to know how education serves as both the dividing line between those with and without power.



3 Answers

akannan's profile pic

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

Posted on

Certainly, the impact of an educated citizenry is undeniable.  It plays a very important role in ensuring that government abuse is minimized.  When a body politic is able to determine for itself that a government has exceeded the boundaries of public trust, those individuals can recall or change their government.  However, there might be times when government is able to consolidate their control through controlling messages and spreading propaganda which allows individuals to trust their government.  This could be the situation that is applicable to Orwell's work.  At the same time, government might be able to confuse and confound even the most educated of individuals when it colludes with other forces.  The notion of collusion could be something that would help to consolidate power between different interests, and might be able to be hide under concealment.  Additionally, another dimension to this might be if the most educated of people were "in on the fix" of government.  At this point, there might be true challenges if governmental agendas were helping to be manipulated by the educated of the society.  In this setting, Yeats' words might sound quite prophetic:  "The best lack all conviction while the worst are filled with passionate intensity."

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

It sort of looks like you're asking two different things:

  • Can people (if they are educated) prevent the government from abusing its power
  • Why/how do the educated, and not the uneducated, have power

These are two different things.  Have I correctly stated your questions?

For the first one: education alone is not enough to prevent the abuse of government power.  Germans in the 1930s were not notably uneducated.  Chinese today are not poorly educated.  In both countries, governments have abused their power.  Education is important, but it is not sufficient to prevent governmental abuse.

As to the second question.  Power comes from economic success or from political success.  Education really helps get both of those things.  So the educated people are much more likely to climb the ladder and become successful.

Is either of those answers useful?  Are those the right questions?  Let me know if you want to...

Top Answer

mkcapen1's profile pic

mkcapen1 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted on

Education can serve both ways.  It can serve to increase power, and it can serve to to prevent power abuse.  In the book animal farm there is a reflection that a totalitarian society develops when people have limited insight into what is really occurring.  If one educates oneself on the "powers that be" then one is more likely to make better decisions to prevent abuse of power. 

On the other hand, education can give people power which they can choose to abuse.  Many a well educated man has used his knowledge to keep other men down.  For example, before the Gutenberg Press, everyday people did not have books or an opportunity to read.  Only nobles, monks, and spiritual leaders in higher positions could read and learn from books.  The knowledge was theirs.  Even knowledge about the Bible was manipulated by the different religious orders.  In this manner education allowed power to be abused.