In Animal Farm, what promise does Animalism hold for the animals? Does it sound like a good thing? What does it represent? 

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andrewnightingale eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Animalism offers the animals a utopian existence. A life free from slavery, exploitation and abuse. Essentially, it offers them a life liberated from the tyranny of man. The concept is based on the principles of freedom, equality and brotherhood. Each animal will have the same rights and privileges as any other animal. All animals will be equal and no one animal will be superior to another.

The basic principles of Animalism were contained in Old Major's speech when he addressed the animals and shared the dream he had with them. In essence, he told the gathering that Man was their greatest enemy and that if they should be rid of him, the produce of their labour would belong to them and they would become wealthy and free. He urged the animals to prepare for rebellion and be finally rid of Man's oppression. 

When Old Major taught the animals the lyrics of a song, "Beasts of England," which had come back to him in his dream, it becomes clear how grand a life without humans would be. The song promises 'a golden future time.' that 'the fruitful fields of England shall be trod by beats alone.' All forms of repression and abuse shall disappear and there will be more than enough produce for all to share. The song also urges all the animals to work towards their ideal.

After the Rebellion, the animals worked hard to ensure that the principles contained in Old Major's speech were established and understood. It was essential that every animal knew exactly what was required and, therefore, the pigs, who were the most intelligent and had assumed leadership, formulated seven commandments to which every animal had to adhere. The commandments were created based on the principles of Animalism and were there to ensure that the animals did not adopt Man's vices and to provide safeguards so that they would never experience such oppression ever again.

It is ironic, though, that the pigs did not share the ideals contained in Animalism. They consistently altered the rules and ensured themselves certain privileges, to the exclusion of all others. A good example of this is when they claimed the milk and windfall apples for themselves. They did not perform any physical labor and chose to supervise, instruct, and command.

The pigs eventually lived a life of exclusive privilege whilst the other animals worked even harder than they had done in Jones' time. In fact, they were worse off than before. Only the pigs were much better off. The end result was that Napoleon created a dictatorship once he had gotten rid of Snowball and anyone who challenged his authority was severely punished or even executed.

In the end, the animals could not see the difference between the pigs or the humans. Life on the farm had gone full circle. The only difference was that instead of humans being the tyrants, the pigs had now taken over that role. The other animals though, were too stupid to realise that or to remeber how things had been during Jones' time. They had also been fooled and misled so many times in the past by deception, manipulation and the savagery of the pigs that they were utterly confused and unable or too apathetic to rebel.