In what ways was Orwell's Animal Farm prophetic?
George Orwell's began writing Animal Farm in 1943; it was eventually published two years later as World War II was coming to an end. The novella has long been recognized as an allegory on the rise of communism among the Russians during the first decades of the 20th century.
In the course of Animal Farm, however, Orwell shows how the original ideals sets forth by Major would become corrupted by the leaders (Napoleon, Snowball) who came after him. In a similar way, the ideals of Karl Marx, which were subsequently picked up by Vladimir Lenin, the Russian revolutionary leader of the second decade of the 1900s, would gradually become corrupted and altered by subsequent Russian leaders (e.g., Joseph Stalin).
Orwell died in 1950; but if he had lived another 30 years or so, he would have witnessed the breakup of the Soviet Union. As in Orwell's novella, in which the pigs come to live far more luxurious lives than the other animals, those who held power in Russia were certainly not living at the same standard as the masses were.
Eventually, Russia, like the Animal Farm, could not produce everything it needed to survive and, like the Animal Farm, had to interact with other countries. Over time, even goods from Russia's arch enemy, the United States, began to creep into the country. We often hear stories about items like Levi's jeans being smuggled into Russia and being sold on the black market for hundreds of dollars per pair.
Although Orwell's Animal Farm does not show the downfall of the pigs, he seemed to think that this was the direction in which Russian communism was going, as the final chapter shows the pigs drinking beer and playing cards with the same humans with whom animals had previously been taught were evil:
There was the same hearty cheering as before, and the mugs were emptied to the dregs. But as the animals outside gazed at the scene, it seemed to them that some strange thing was happening. What was it that had altered in the faces of the pigs?