Animal Farm Questions and Answers
by George Orwell

Animal Farm book cover
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How can Animal Farm be viewed as a warning?

Animal Farm can be viewed as a warning in that it warns against the dangers of sudden, radical change. Old Major's emancipatory ideas may seem liberating, but in actuality, they contain within them the seeds of Napoleon's dictatorship, with its violence, bloodshed, and repression. This is because they advocate the sudden, violent overthrow of one regime and its subsequent replacement by another.

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Though Animal Farm is specifically a warning against the dangers of Soviet Communism as it developed under Stalin, it can also alert us to the dangers of radical change in general. Societies are fragile things, and successive generations of thinkers have argued that any social change should, therefore, be piecemeal; reform, not revolution, is the watchword here.

Yet the Animalist revolution is anything but gradual. It is an act of revolutionary violence that drives Mr. Jones from the farm, leaving the animals in charge of their destiny for the first time in their lives. And because the new regime was founded on an act of violence, one shouldn’t be too surprised that it eventually morphs into a ruthless dictatorship.

Running a society according to a blueprint is seldom a good idea. For one thing, societies are much too complex. They should be allowed to develop naturally over time instead of being built from scratch. Otherwise, as in the case of Animal Farm , what we tend to find is that...

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