Propaganda is usually defined as information which is biased or misleading and designed to convince or manipulate people to believe a given point of view. Arguably, Old Major 's speech at the beginning of the novel is neither biased nor misleading, although it is certainly designed to convince the animals...
Propaganda is usually defined as information which is biased or misleading and designed to convince or manipulate people to believe a given point of view. Arguably, Old Major's speech at the beginning of the novel is neither biased nor misleading, although it is certainly designed to convince the animals of a given point of view.
Old Major uses various language techniques to try to convince the animals that they need to unite and overthrow their human oppressors. For example, he uses rhetorical questions such as when he asks the animals, "what is the nature of this life of ours?" Referring to the "misery and slavery" of their lives, Old Major also asks the animals, "is this simply part of the order of nature?" A rhetorical question can be an effective tool of persuasion because it implies an answer that appears obvious. The implied answer to the first rhetorical question is that the nature of the animals' lives is, as Old Major has already suggested, "misery and slavery." The implied answer to the second rhetorical question is that a life of "misery and slavery" is not "simply part of the order of nature" and thus can be changed.
Throughout the whole novel, the pigs, headed by Napoleon and Squealer, use various methods of propaganda in order to keep and tighten their grip on power. One such method is scapegoating. Hitler and the Nazis scapegoated Jewish people for many of the problems Germany was facing in the period after World War One. In the Soviet union, Stalin scapegoated Trotsky and condemned those against his regime as Trotskyists. In Animal Farm, the pigs scapegoat Snowball. They blame him for the destruction of the windmill after the storm. They blame him too for broken windows, broken eggs, and any other problem that arises. Snowball thus becomes "some kind of invisible influence, pervading the air about (the animals) and menacing them with all kinds of dangers." Scapegoating is a useful propaganda technique because it allows those in charge to avoid responsibility for problems of their own making. By providing a scapegoat, or a villain, those in power can also present themselves as the heroes and as the only ones who can repel the villain and protect the people.
Another method of propaganda used by the pigs is historical revisionism. Stalin used to revise history by having people removed, retrospectively, from photographs. If somebody who Stalin had been photographed with later turned out to be a Trotskyist, Stalin would often have that person removed from the photograph so that he could deny ever having being associated with him. In Animal Farm, the pigs revise history several times. Napoleon, for example, claims that he was always in favor of the windmill, and that it was in fact him who originally drew up the plans. The pigs also tell the animals that Snowball was fighting on Jones' side during the Battle of the Cowshed. The reader of course will be aware that Snowball, and not Napoleon, drew up the plans for the windmill. The reader will also know that Snowball led the animals from the front in the Battle of the Cowshed, whereas Napoleon was conspicuously absent.