In Animal Farm, how does Napoleon use propaganda effectively, and how does he change history?

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Napoleon uses propaganda, or twisting the truth to serve political ends, to make himself and the pigs look good—particularly through using Squealer as his propaganda minister.

Closely related to this is the rewriting of history to make Napoleon look like a savior, hero, and master strategist. In the new versions...

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Napoleon uses propaganda, or twisting the truth to serve political ends, to make himself and the pigs look good—particularly through using Squealer as his propaganda minister.

Closely related to this is the rewriting of history to make Napoleon look like a savior, hero, and master strategist. In the new versions of events after Napoleon runs Snowball off the farm, facts get entirely turned on their heads. Napoleon says, for example, that all along, he was the one who wanted to build the windmill (which was, in reality, Snowball's idea) but only pretended not to want it to thwart Snowball's treachery. He portrays himself as the hero of the Battle of the Cowshed, rather than Snowball. When the windmill falls down, Napoleon blames it on Snowball's sabotage, not, as is the case in both instances, his own gross incompetence. In fact, anytime anything goes wrong, Napoleon rewrites history to blame it on Snowball.

Napoleon also gradually has the Seven Commandments repainted at night so that they are twisted into their opposites.

In showing Napoleon doing all this, Orwell shows how totalitarian dictatorships operate. Such dictatorships are based on the ultimately false premise (as Hannah Arendt states) that power creates truth.

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As with all dictators, Napoleon uses propaganda as a means of consolidating his power. Having become the sole ruler of the farm, he is determined to make sure that he remains in charge. Through his propagandist-in-chief Squealer, he constantly churns out the message that everything he does is for the good of the animals. We see this in one particularly notorious example when Squealer tries to justify the pigs eating all the apples and drinking all the milk by claiming that they're only doing it because they need the extra nourishment for their superior brain power. A shameless act of greed is presented as a noble sacrifice; the pigs aren't eating apples and drinking milk because they want to, they have to keep their brains in tip-top condition if they're going to run the farm for the good of the other animals.

As part of his propaganda campaign, Napoleon systematically tries to rewrite history. He is insanely jealous of Snowball for having played such a prominent role during the Battle of the Cow Shed. Now that Snowball has been successfully driven off the farm, Napoleon sets about trashing his reputation. To that end, Squealer tells the other animals that Snowball is a traitor in league with the hated human oppressor and that he is hell-bent on returning to the farm and destroying all the gains of the Animalist revolution. Squealer also greatly exaggerates the almost nonexistent role that Napoleon played in the Battle of the Cow Shed, making him out to be some kind of hero.

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Napoleon's biggest ally when using his propaganda on the animals of the farm is their ignorance and faulty memories. He uses Squealer, an accomplished well spoken pig whom the animals listen to in order to push his ideas and implement his plans. Squealer is almost hypnotic when he speaks to the animals and quells their concerns, he swishes his tail back and forth and always reminds the animals how bad it was when Jones was in power. He threatens the animals with the possibility of Jones returning if they do not agree. Napoleon blames the farm's failures on Snowball who is no where to be found so he cannot deny or confirm any truth of what is said, for example when the windmill was destroyed the first time. Napoleon also waits for enough time to pass before he changes history and says that it was he who led the attack on Jones during the revolution and it was he who was awarded the medal of honor. He claims that it was he who thought of building the windmill and that he drew the plans for it. He has the commandments changed secretly to reflect the actions of the pigs. The animals question it, but the pigs confirm it's true with such conviction that the animals believe it must be true because the pigs are so much smarter than them. Napoleon also uses fear when propagandizes the farm. He has the nine ferocious dogs by his side threatening harm or even death if the animals refuse to go along with his ideas.

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Propaganda typically sends a message that fogs truth. In other words, the message might contain accuracies, but it is skewed in order to manipulate its target. For the most part, propaganda was used effectively in Animal Farm because the animals using it played on the fears of others. In the beginning of the book, the pigs wanted to liberate themselves from an oppressive work environment. While Napoleon was in power, he would often tell the other animals that if they did not follow his agenda, the humans would take over and the entire farm would be back where it started. While this may be true, the fact is that the farm is even more oppressive than before Napolean took over. In order to cover this up, Napolean tells them that there must be difficult times now in order for a better future. Again, this is only partially true because as each small goal is attained, another goal is created -- thus perpetuating an oppressive work environment.

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Napoleon uses Squealer to be his mouthpiece for propaganda. Napoleon, Squealer and Snowball first codify Old Major's sayings into "Animalism". This give the animals some kind of guide and explanation for changes made to the Animal Farm. However, Napoleon is not opposed to changing some of the tenets of animalism to suit his own purposes. Using Squealer as his voice, he has explanations for why the pigs need the milk, and why the commandments keep changing. His biggest coup is changing history to include the idea that Snowball was really an enemy of the revolution and never received the order of "Animal Hero, First Class." Napoleon also has Squealer teach the animals a new song to replace Old Major's original anthem. The new song explains why the pigs are walking on their hind legs. Like all good propaganda,the changes are instituted slowly with just enough time in between to allow the animals to absorb the change and not to question the next change.
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