By chapter 8 of George Orwell’s allegorical tale of the rise of Joseph Stalin and the subversion of revolution, Animal Farm, the animals have begun to question the direction in which their purported utopia is moving. Animals, especially hens, are being murdered for the crime of speaking up and questioning the policies laid down by Napoleon. The dogs who serve as Napoleon’s instrument of terror may or may not be acting on their own, but suspicions regarding Napoleon are growing. Just as Stalin manipulated, maneuvered, and murdered until he stood alone atop the Communist Party hierarchy that inspired Orwell’s narrative, Napoleon has similarly schemed and murdered his way to the top. As with Communist Party leaders the world over, however, it is not enough to murder political opponents (real and imagined). The suspicions of the populace must also be manipulated to ensure political stability and fealty.
Of particular note as chapter 7 comes to an end, the animals are mourning the executions of their comrades and begin in somber tones to sing their anthem of revolution, “Beasts of England.” In an important application of the power of language in manipulating thoughts, however, Squealer, the main propagandist, informs the assembled animals that henceforth “Beasts of England” will no longer be sung, the call to revolution having been achieved.
As chapter 8 begins, the animals are struggling to survive but have succeeded in rebuilding the windmill. The work is difficult and, the animals are noticing, not exactly improving their lot. The quality of their lives is not improving as the pigs had promised. In what represents one of the chapter’s more important references to the propaganda typically employed by dictatorships to deceive the masses, Squealer begins to display statistics purportedly showing a more productive process than the observable facts seemed to merit:
On Sunday mornings Squealer, holding down a long strip of paper with his trotter, would read out to them lists of figures proving that the production of every class of foodstuff had increased by two hundred per cent, three hundred per cent, or five hundred per cent, as the case might be. The animals saw no reason to disbelieve him, especially as they could no longer remember very clearly what conditions had been like before the Rebellion. All the same, there were days when they felt that they would sooner have had less figures and more food.
False information intended to manipulate minds, especially the minds of the destitute, is a common tool of autocratic governments. It is not only manipulation or fabrication of data, however, that is required to shape the thought processes of the masses. Also used is propaganda intended to instill in the minds of those masses the infallibility and indispensability of the dictator. This is what occurs next in chapter 8:
Napoleon was now never spoken of simply as "Napoleon." He was always referred to in formal style as "our Leader, Comrade Napoleon," and thus pigs liked to invent for him such titles as Father of All Animals, Terror of Mankind, Protector of the Sheep-fold, Ducklings' Friend, and the like. In his speeches, Squealer would talk with the tears rolling down his cheeks of Napoleon's wisdom the goodness of his heart, and the deep love he bore to all animals everywhere, even and especially the unhappy animals who still lived in ignorance and slavery on other farms. It had become usual to give Napoleon the credit for every successful achievement and every stroke of good fortune. You would often hear one hen remark to another, "Under the guidance of our Leader, Comrade Napoleon, I have laid five eggs in six days"; or two cows, enjoying a drink at the pool, would exclaim, "Thanks to the leadership of Comrade Napoleon, how excellent this water tastes!"
This passage can be better applied perhaps to the ruling dynasty in North Korea, where the masses are required to memorize and recite very similar verbiage. The new anthem is right out of the dictator’s playbook, with its exultations of support and love for the leader. Having explained that “Beasts of England” is no longer warranted, because the revolution has occurred and succeeded, Squealer next informs the animals that a new anthem extolling the virtues of their leader, Napoleon, will now be sung: “Friend of the fatherless! Fountain of happiness! Lord of the swill bucket!” All of this is propaganda employed by Napoleon and his minions, and chapter 8 of Animal Farm is noteworthy for its use of such tactics by the dictatorial pig to influence his followers.