Propaganda In Animal Farm

What are examples of propaganda in Animal Farm?

A good example of propaganda in Animal Farm comes from Squealer's speech in which he tries to convince the other animals that the pigs only eat apples and drink milk to preserve their health, not because they're greedy. Pigs are brain workers and need the nutrition provided by milk and apples to carry out their selfless work.

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The animals say of Squealer that he "could turn black into white," which is what propaganda does by distorting the truth or dealing in outright lies to advance the agenda of a particular group. Orwell was acutely aware of the dangers of propaganda in misleading and confusing the public, thus...

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The animals say of Squealer that he "could turn black into white," which is what propaganda does by distorting the truth or dealing in outright lies to advance the agenda of a particular group. Orwell was acutely aware of the dangers of propaganda in misleading and confusing the public, thus allowing unscrupulous groups to seize power.

Squealer is the chief propagandist among the pigs, and everything he says or does is meant to advance the interests of the pigs. An example of propaganda occurs after Napoleon drives Snowball off the farm. At this point, he announces that he is ending the Sunday morning meetings in which all the animals, together, hashed out the work of the farm. Instead, a committee of pigs will decide what work must be done and inform the rest of the animals of it on Sunday. The debates over the best way to solve problems are to be ended. Instead, the other animals will receive their "orders."

As might be expected, this move from democratic to dictatorial methods of running the farm causes some unrest. At this point, Squealer comes to the fore with propaganda that twists the truth and lies blatantly. He frames Napoleon's brutal and self-interested power grab as a "sacrifice" and plays on the fears of the animals, stating:

I trust that every animal here appreciates the sacrifice that Comrade Napoleon has made in taking this extra labour upon himself. Do not imagine, comrades, that leadership is a pleasure! On the contrary, it is a deep and heavy responsibility. No one believes more firmly than Comrade Napoleon that all animals are equal. He would be only too happy to let you make your decisions for yourselves. But sometimes you might make the wrong decisions, comrades, and then where should we be? Suppose you had decided to follow Snowball ... who, as we now know, was no better than a criminal?

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One of the most effective propaganda techniques is gaslighting, a form of psychological abuse whereby an attempt is made to get people to question their sanity, their memories, or their perception of reality. In dictatorships such as the one observed in Animal Farm, a regime will use gaslighting as a way of reinforcing the picture of reality they wish to convey.

So for instance, Napoleon and the other pigs want to give the impression that they're tireless, selfless workers, toiling night and day for the good of the other animals. It's a complete lie, of course; the reality is that the pigs are lazy, ignorant, and selfish and have cynically distorted the teachings of Old Major for their own benefit.

Nevertheless, Squealer, in making another of his propaganda speeches, seeks to challenge the perception that the pigs are only in it for themselves. He does this by maintaining that the pigs only eat apples and drink milk because they need the nutrition. They're not doing so because they're greedy; it's because, as brain workers, they need to preserve their health. According to Squealer, this is ultimately for the animals' benefit:

Day and night we are watching over your welfare. It is for your sake that we drink that milk and eat those apples.

Squealer knows full well that the animals' perception of the pigs as lazy, greedy, and selfish is completely accurate. But he also knows that if the pigs are to maintain their grip on power, then they need to gaslight the other animals into believing that what they know to be true isn't.

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There are many types of propaganda in Animal Farm - in most cases, the propaganda is used by the pigs to further their own ends and present their words and actions in a more positive light.

One of the earliest examples comes in Old Major's speech, when he calls all of the other animals "comrades" and presents himself as just one of the "plain folks", when really he has lived a rather privileged existence on the farm.  He uses many "rhetorical questions" to get the animals on his side, for who among them can disagree with what he is saying?

Soon after the animals take over the farm, the animals notice that all the apples and milk are missing and are being consumed by the pigs.  Squealer emerges as the chief propagandist, using "testimonial" arguments and telling the other animals the pigs need this "brain food" to help them lead the farm.

Napoleon and Squealer later use "name calling", "scapegoating", and "logical fallacies" in their representations of Snowball.  They call him "traitor" and "criminal," quickly destroying his good name among the animals, then use scapegoating to blame every bad thing that happens on him (ie. the destruction of the windmill).  They also use logical fallacy: Snowball is bad.  Bad things are happening on the farm.  Therefore, Snowball must be doing the bad things.

At other times, the pigs use "euphemisms" to put a good spin on some of the negative things happening on the farm.  They don't have a "reduction" in food - they have a "readjustment." 

The pigs also use "bandwagon" techniques.  This is seen both when they teach the sheep to sing "Four legs good, two legs bad," then later, "Four legs good, two legs better." 

One of the primary forms of propaganda the pigs use is "scare tactics/fear."  We see this first with the use of the dogs to chase Snowball off, then later to force confessions from the animals.  Additionally, any time the other animals begin to question the pigs' actions or what is happening on the farm, the pigs ask them, "Do you want Jones to return?" as if this is the only possible outcome of going against the pigs' decisions and wishes.

All of these techniques help the pigs to achieve their ends by blinding the other animals to their true purposes, actions, and motives.

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