Animal Farm Questions and Answers
by George Orwell

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

Snowball simplifies the seven commandments down to the maxim: "four legs good, two legs bad," a statement that makes for effective propaganda. In its simplicity, it is easily memorized and grasped by all the animals on the farms. In addition, it appeals to a shared sense of collective identity. It also introduces a hostile other that the animals need to unify against. This is a standard technique in propaganda.

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In the Gospel of Matthew 22.37-40, Jesus replies to the question of which are the most important of the Ten Commandments, saying:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.

George Orwell clearly had this passage in mind when he had Snowball select the first two Commandments of Animalism as the most important, and condense them into the pithy dictum "Four legs good, two legs bad." This, in fact, reverses the order of the first two commandments, but it preserves their sense. It also encapsulates in the phrase "two legs bad" the principle behind the third, fourth and fifth commandments, all of which are about refusing to emulate human behavior. The phrase "four legs good" similarly stresses the same note as the sixth and seventh commandments, which stress the unity and brotherhood of...

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