On the face of it, Animal Farm is a book that highlights the dangers of power and control, manipulation and advantage, trust and perspective. George Orwell wrote it, careful to refer to it as a "fairy story," due to external pressures (the publication was even delayed) and this gives it a universal, timeless appeal. However, the events, regime, figureheads and characters in the story purposefully compare to real life politicians from the Russian revolution of 1917. In Orwell's view, Napoleon compares to Stalin, Snowball to Trotsky, Jones to the Czar, the dogs to the secret police and the sheep to the proletariat or working classes. The events mirror some of the actual events such as the Czar's abdication which is similar to when Jones leaves Manor Farm and the seizing of land by the communist government is comparative to the animals' seizing of the farm. However, due to the ability of the novel to stand alone, the story could just as easily relate to more recent events and situations.
1. Ironically, one significant, recent event involves Russia and its annexation of Crimea, part of Ukraine. There was widespread unrest across Ukraine, leading up to the annexure of Crimea in 2014 and Vladimir Putin took full advantage of that. Animal Farm does the same; the animals taking advantage of the farm owners' poor management style. Crimea was renamed. Manor farm was renamed. A referendum took place in Crimea much like the meeting in the novel when the animals discuss issues such as the windmill.
2. A well-known quote from Animal Farm is "All animals are equal" but "some animals are more equal than others." This could relate to many twenty first century problems of equality in respect of racism, sexism, homophobia and so on.
3. The problems in Syria and the rise of ISIS or Islamic State may have similarities to Napoleon's version of Animal Farm. Many people, involved with ISIS appear to have been indoctrinated (the sheep are indoctrinated and chant without any understanding) and propaganda is a significant weapon for ISIS in its recruitment, much like Squealer's skill in propaganda.
4. North Korea is controlled via its state policies. Human rights are guaranteed in North Korea but the problem is the subjective definition of human rights and the fact that the protection of the State supersedes all else. When the animals take over the farm, the equality of the animals is paramount. However, equality is secondary to the rights of the pigs as "brain" workers, again some animals being "more equal than others."
5. The strife in several African countries also has similarities to the events in Animal Farm. Peoples have been mistreated, whether racially, ethnically or religiously and eventually rise up, only for, in some instances, their leaders to create their own sense of inequality as they then dominate their countries. Disillusionment and discontent replace the euphoria but, much like the ending of Animal Farm, the masses appear powerless.
- Chinese Communist Revolution (led by Mao ZeDong)
- Cuban Revolution
- Russian Revolution (especially after during Stalin's regime)
- Haiti Revolution
- overthrowing Khadafi (Libya)
Mainly, the book itself was written as a satire of the aftermath of the Russian Revolution. Napoleon symbolises Joesph Stalin, Old Major symbolises Lenin, Snowball symbolises Trotsky. The treatment the animals receive and the propaganda used by the pigs also closely resembles Stalin's regime.