Why did George Orwell write Animal Farm?

Why did George Orwell write Animal Farm?

George Orwell wrote Animal Farm to bring public attention to the abuses of Stalinism. Orwell wrote the novella in the context of World War II, when Britain and the Soviet Union were allied against the Nazis and support for Stalin and the Soviet Union would have been at its strongest.

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Orwell wrote Animal Farm because he was disturbed at the British left's whitewashing of Josef Stalin's tyranny and atrocities. He feared that if Stalin's lies were accepted as truth and his dictatorship approved, it would be all the easier to undermine democracy and freedom in England. He did not believe...

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Orwell wrote Animal Farm because he was disturbed at the British left's whitewashing of Josef Stalin's tyranny and atrocities. He feared that if Stalin's lies were accepted as truth and his dictatorship approved, it would be all the easier to undermine democracy and freedom in England. He did not believe supporting the principles of communism countenanced supporting the man who betrayed those principles in the real world.

Stalinism was the immediate target of Animal Farm, but it was not that alone that distressed Orwell. He wanted to speak out against any regime that twisted language and truth to serve its own agenda. He wanted, too, to speak out against any regime that oppressed the mass of the population for its own benefit. He didn't care what the ideology was of the ruling party, whether fascist or communist, if it was harmful to individuals in its society.

Orwell wanted to warn the British people in the simplest possible language and in the simplest possible story to beware being swayed by propaganda and the threat of force into giving up either their freedoms or their right to a fair share of society's resources. Even though this made him unpopular with his left-wing friends, Orwell believed speaking the truth essential. Many of the themes he brings in up in this work crop up later, in a more fleshed-out form, in 1984.

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Orwell actually describes his motivations for writing in the essay "Why I Write," stating,

The Spanish war and other events in 1936–37 turned the scale and thereafter I knew where I stood. Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for democratic socialism, as I understand it.

Animal Farm, much like 1984, was written largely with this political motive in mind.

Remember, Animal Farm, the famous satire of the Soviet Union, was originally published in 1945, written during a context in which the United Kingdom had actually been allied with the Soviet Union against Nazi Germany during World War II. This immediate political context must also be weighed against pro-Stalinist apologists among journalists such as Walter Duranty.

With this in mind, it is also worth noting that Orwell himself was not alone in trying to publicize and bring attention to the oppression of Stalinism, as can be seen in Arthur Koestler's Darkness at Noon, which sought to bring public awareness to the Stalinist purges.

It was in this context that Orwell wrote Animal Farm, seeking to influence public opinion against Stalin in a time when public support would have been at its strongest. Indeed, on these grounds, Orwell's novella was actually quite controversial when it was originally written, but at the same time, one might also state that this was also the reason it was so important for Orwell to write Animal Farm to begin with.

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Orwell had been shaped by his experience in the Spanish Civil War and by watching the way the revolution evolved in Russia and then the Soviet Union. He was concerned, as so many in the West were, about the rise of Stalin and what he saw as a "cult of personality" being raised around him. This danger only appeared to increase as Stalin consolidated his power during the second world war.

Orwell himself described Animal Farm as his first effort to use an artistic novel to also try and accomplish a political aim. He was proud of the way he was able to combine the two elements into this very memorable and significant story.

In particular, he felt it was a better representation of Stalin and the Soviet Union than what was generally accepted in Britain at the time he wrote it. He wanted to push back against the very positive image of Stalin held by some leaders and bureaucrats in the government.

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Orwell felt that political action and political speech were necessary in order to live a life of integrity and honor. Setting aside his particular views, we can say that Orwell wrote Animal Farm because he felt that he must say something about the political climate in which he was living. 

Had he held different political views, he may have written an allegory informed by capitalist beliefs...who knows, but given his outlook on integrity he probably would have written something even if he wasn't an adherent of democratic socialism. 

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This is a great question. There is also a good answer for this. Here is some of the background that might be helpful. The book was published in August 1945. This is still the context of World War II. Also there was a rising feeling among the British and Americans that Stalin was a force that they needed to oppose. Orwell did not like what he was seeing. Although he was democratic socialist, he was very wary of Stalin. He did not agree with his type of communism with all the abuses of power - the arrests, which seemed arbitrary, censorship, and simple abuse of power.

In light of this background, Animal Farm can be seen as an allegory to his historical context. In short, the power of corrupt leaders destroys the possibility of any type of utopia.

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