What are the basic principles of Animalism in Animal Farm? How do the animals respond?

The basic principles of Animalism are that any animal that walks on two legs, not four, is an enemy, while any animal that walks on four legs or has wings is a friend. Animals cannot wear clothes, sleep in beds, drink alcohol, or kill other animals, and all animals are equal. While the animals initially respond with skepticism and fear, they ultimately support Animalism and the rebellion.

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Animalism is derived from what the animals were taught by Old Major, the now-deceased boar who represents Karl Marx in the book. Animalism is a highly idealistic system of thought based on the premise that animals are innately superior to human beings.

Old Major believed that if animals could only get control of their farms, they could run them for the good of all the animals, dividing the profits among themselves to enjoy a higher standard of living, more self-respect, and more leisure time.

To differentiate the animals from humans and to try to avoid the human pitfalls that the animals see leading to disaster, such as Farmer Jones's alcoholism, the pigs devise the Seven Commandments of Animalism. These include some peripheral rules, such as not wearing clothes or sleeping in beds, that are meant to keep the animals culturally distinct, but also some important ideals. One is that animals cannot kill one another. Another is that all animals are equal. Animals are posited as superior to humans, and alcohol drinking is banned.

Those animals that stay on the farm adopt the tenets of Animalism with pride and take them seriously—except for the pigs.

Despite the high ideals the pigs first exhibited about running the farm, the temptation to replicate human systems of hierarchy lead them to gradually abandon all the principles of Animalism. The other animals are too easily deceived and soon find themselves as exploited as they were under human rule.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on April 27, 2020
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The basic principles of Animalism are derived from the dream that Old Major had before his death. The pigs had elaborated Old Major's teachings into a “complete system of thought” and call it Animalism. The pigs teach the principles of Animalism to the other animals on the farm, encouraging them to join in a rebellion against the farm’s master, Mr. Jones.

Ultimately, the pigs are able to reduce the principles of Animalism to what they term the Seven Commandments, which form the basic laws that all the animals on Animal Farm must obey forever. Snowball and Squealer explain these Seven Commandments to the others and also inscribe them in white letters that are big and bold enough so that the animals can read can read them from thirty yards away. Of the Seven Commandments, the Golden Rule is to avoid men or anyone that walks on two legs, not four. Specifically, the first rule of Animalism is that “Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy.”

Conversely, any animal that walks on four legs or has wings, is a friend. Moreover, no animal shall wear clothes, because it is not natural, according to Animalism, just as no animal shall sleep in a bed. No animal can drink alcohol. Most importantly, no animal shall kill any other animal, and all animals are equal.

Initially, the animals in Animal Farm respond with some skepticism. In fact, the author notes that "at the beginning," the pigs' unveiling of Animalism

met with much stupidity and apathy. Some of the animals talked of the duty of loyalty to Mr. Jones, whom they referred to as "Master," or made elementary remarks such as "Mr. Jones feeds us. If he were gone, we should starve to death.

Ultimately, however, the animals are all on board with Animalism and for the rebellion against Mr. Jones. They look forward to self-rule and the expected freedom that it will bring. They are also proud of their farm, as it belongs to them under the tenets of Animalism.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on April 27, 2020
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After old Major passes away, the animals adopt the tenets laid out in his speech into a system of thought known as Animalism, which promotes solidarity among all animals and warns against behaving like humans. Animalism allegorically represents the political theory of communism developed by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, which was adopted by Vladimir Lenin and served as the basis for his political theory known as Leninism. The main principles of Animalism promote solidarity and encourage equality among animals. The principles of Animalism can best be summed up by the maxim, "Four legs good, two legs bad" (Orwell, 13). The tenets of Animalism are also adapted to create the Seven Commandments, which prohibit the animals from interacting with humans, behaving like them, and adopting human vices, such as drinking alcohol and killing each other. Before the animals on Manor Farm revolt, the pigs attempt to teach the other animals the principles of Animalism. After successfully driving Mr. Jones from the farm, Napoleon usurps power and alters the entire political theory of Animalism.

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The basic principles of Animalism are summed up in the seven commandments.

          1. Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy.

          2. Whatever goes upon four legs, or has wings, is a friend.

          3. No animal shall wear clothes.

4. No animal shall sleep in a bed.

          5. No animal shall drink alcohol.

          6. No animal shall kill any other animal.

          7. All animals are equal.

These principles are intended to give guidance for the animals after the rebellion. Think of these as laws or like a constitution. Animals are expected to abide by these rules.

 

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