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By retelling the story of the Russian Revolution and its aftermath in the form of a "Beast Fable," or a story where animals have the power of speech and abstract reasoning, George Orwell was able to satirize Communism without resorting to long historical or geographical explanations. The structure of a working farm is similar to that of a country under dictatorship or royal rule, and so it lent itself well to satirizing the Russian Revolution:
"Is it not crystal clear, then, comrades, that all the evils of this life of ours spring from the tyranny of human beings? Only get rid of Man, and the produce of our labour would be our own. Almost overnight we could become rich and free."
(Orwell, Animal Farm, msxnet.org)
The teachings of Old Major are almost identical to those of Karl Marx, but scaled to a smaller level; if animals can remove their human masters (if the proletariat can remove the bourgeoisie), then they can work only for their own benefit and not support a lazy upper-class who take and never give back. The animals, then, are perfect representations of the undereducated working class of Russia, who labored in vain for a better tomorrow for the benefits first of a royalty, and then for a ruling dictatorship that told unashamed lies about their success and the benefits for the working class.
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