What maxim does Snowball use to simplify the seven commandments? Why is this maxim a good propaganda technique?

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gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Following the death of old Major, the pigs use his ideas regarding the rights of animals to develop a complete system of thought called Animalism. Under Snowball's leadership, the pigs create the Seven Commandments, which include tenets that promote the solidarity of all animals and prohibit certain human behaviors. Snowball and the other pigs then attempt to educate the animals on the farm by teaching them to read and write. Unfortunately, the majority of the animals are not able to grasp literacy.

Since many of the animals are unable to read the Seven Commandments and comprehend the tenets of Animalism, Snowball reduces the Seven Commandments into one maxim: "Four legs good, two legs bad." Snowball believes that the maxim contains the essential principles of Animalism and whoever grasps the concept will be safe from human influence. The simplicity of this maxim is an excellent propaganda technique because it precisely contains the essential meaning of the Seven Commandments in an easy-to-learn form, which every animal can remember and understand. It is so effective that the sheep, hens, and ducks constantly repeat the maxim throughout the day.

scarletpimpernel eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Snowball tells the animals to remember "Two legs bad; four legs good."  This is an example of several propaganda techniques.

First, it represents simplification--taking a complex situation and narrowing it down to a clear-cut choice between good and evil.  The maxim forces the rest of the farm animals to see the humans as evil, implying that no human can have good intentions.  In addition to viewing the humans as their evil enemies, the farm animals see the pigs (or leadership) as their rescuers and heroes.  Like Hitler and his propaganda machine in Nazi Germany, the German people and farm animals do not question their leadership because they are led to believe that everything their leaders do is for their well being.

Secondly, the maxim represents assertion.  Snowball gives no specific evidence to support his claim that all two-legged creatures are bad or that the opposite is logical.  Because he knows that the farm animals are eager to follow, he makes it easy for them to do so, and they ask no more from him.