Feature Article of Tuesday, 10 April 2012
Columnist: Atawura, Philip
The book “Animal farm” written by Eric Arthur Blay under the pen name “George Orwell”, is a classical personified political book which advances on propaganda and other pertinent socio- economic issues that affect a people or nation.
It touches on social conflict and structural functional prospects which are an integral part of any politically minded society. It gives a graphical presentation of what may be seen as the pre- and post –liberalism of a people; struggle for independence and the authoritative nature of the elite class once liberty is achieved. It also outlines mischief and inequality within the system.
Reviewing “Animal Farm” with recourse to political Ghana, it is imperative to outline the colonial and post colonial antecedents that took place as examples to justify the political nature of the book. In doing this, this write-up seeks to touch on struggle for liberty, Libertarian Regimes, Authoritative Regimes, Social conflict and propaganda as was seen in the book vis-a-vis Ghana.
STRUGGLE FOR LIBERTY
The struggle for liberty always begins with insightful messages, the formation of pressure groups and a common voice to attain independence. In “Animal Farm”, Old major-a middle white boar started agitating for self rule from a strange dream he had. He crowned his message with a song titled “Beasts of England” to act as a revolutionary song (pg.7). This vision was taken up by two young boars, Snowball and Napoleon to cause the revolution (pg.10-15). In the end, the revolution took place and the animals won their liberty and formed a new state which they called Animal Farm. “Then Snowball took a brush between the two knuckles of his trotter, painted out MANOR FARM from the top bar of the gate and in its place painted ANIMAL FARM”(pg. 16).
From the first two chapters of the book, it is evident that man loves to be their own boss. We recall of Mohammed Bouazizi, who incited the 2011 January Tunisian revolution after setting himself on fire in front of the Egyptian Parliament building as a start point of the revolution. In Ghana, and in all other African nations but Ethiopia, the struggle for self rule was burning like wild fire across the continent in the last five decades. The United Gold Coast Convention, the Aborigines Protection Rights Society, the Conventions Peoples Party, the W.E.B. Dr Bois Pan African Movements and other groups struggled to liberate Ghana. These were paramount when Dr Kwame Nkrumah spearheaded the discussions. The difference in these scenarios is that there were elements of dialogue to liberate Ghana, whereas the revolution in Animal Farm used force and anarchy.
Liberalism is best defined in the literature as “the tradition of optimism” (Clark 1984:49-66). According to Hoffman (1987:396), the essence of liberalism is “self-restraint, moderation, compromise and peace” whereas the essence of international politics is exactly the opposite: “troubled peace or the state of war”. In Animal Farm, the animals believed they could live in peace and were guided by the principles of animalism (pg. 16).As a prerequisite of any liberal institution, law must be enforced to promote the peace desired. As a result, the “seven commandments” were institutionalized to guide animals to exercise self-restraint, moderation, compromise and peace (Pg. 16&17).
To also announce their liberty, the ‘Beasts of England’ in one way or the other was considered their National Anthem. The “seven commandments” became their constitution and the animals hoisted a green flag to signify their independence (the national flag).As another tenet of liberalism, elections were held when the farm was proclaimed a republic later on. (pg. 80)
In Ghana, the hoisting of the Red, Gold (with the black star embossed in it) and Green flag announced the independence of the nation. A national anthem titled “Raise High the Flag of Ghana” was sung and a new constitution was written to govern the nation. As evident in Egypt and Libya, the transition governments are drawing up constitutions to return the countries to liberal democracy.
Not long after the animals had gained their independence, the love for power took over Napoleons head. Napoleon did not want to contest Snowball for fear of losing and secretly trained nine dogs to overthrow Snowball, who was most innovative in ideas than he was. As cited in pages 36 and 37 of the book,
“At this there was a terrible baying sound outside, and nine enormous dogs wearing brass studded collars came bounding into the barn. They dashed straight for snowball, who only sprang from his place just in time to escape their snapping jaws. In a moment he was out of the door and they were after him. Too amazed and frightened to speak, all the animals crowded through the door to watch the chase. Snowball was racing across the long pasture that led to the road. He was running as only a pig can run but the dogs were closed on his heels. Suddenly he slipped and it seemed certain that they had him. Then he was up again, running faster than ever, then the dogs were gaining on him again. One of them all but closed his jaws on Snowball’s tail, but snowball whisked it free just in time. Then he put on an extra spurt and, with a few inches to spare, slipped through a hole in the hedge and was seen no more”.
This was evident of the authoritative nature of Napoleon. He also imposed titles such as ‘Father of All Animals, Terror of Mankind, Protector of the Sheep Field” and so on to show his love for power. He also made away with the “Beasts of England’ and instructed the animals to recite the poem titled “Comrade Napoleon” in its stead (pg. 64).
Ghana and almost all other African nations have tasted coup after winning political and sovereign power from their colonial masters. In Ghana, the National Liberation Counsel, the Supreme Military Counsels I &II, the Armed Forces Revolutionary Counsel and the Peoples National Defense Counsel all staged military coups after Ghana’s independence, to overthrow a probably constitutional government or an inactive military junta.
Social conflict theorists, Karl Marx and W.E. Dubois, believe society is not relatively peaceful as proposed by Talcott Parsons’ structural functionalism. It is clear that society is made up of several religious, socio-economic, political, racial and gender disparities. The belief that some people were born to lead or elitism was very vivid in the book. From pages 77 to 78 and 92, the book exposed such inequality characteristics of the farm.
This is broad in every country where some people believe they are the best to do certain jobs, attain certain levels of education or socio-economic advantages. As a result, some people must work hard, bow to others and in addition be instructed to enrich others. This clearly manifests itself recognizing the gross inequality between the bourgeois and proletariat in a Ghanaian society like ours, largely driven by our political system. In Animal Farm, this is made clear in page 88, “Somehow it seemed as though the farm had grown richer without making the animals themselves any richer-except of course for the pigs and the dogs…”
All aspects of the political system are made up of inequalities where the allocation of goods and services are always toeing toward a certain distinct direction.
Propaganda is the distortion of information to suite the one sending out the message. Not only was a propaganda massively used in soviet communism and most commute states, is it also widely used in the 21st liberal democracy century. As a result, institutions have been enacted to specialize in doing so. To persuade an individual deals with inductive reasoning more than deductive reasoning. However institutions have been set up to carry out propaganda. Some of these institutions include; fourth Psychological Operations Groups (Airborne), Office of Global Communications, Office of Strategic Influence and many others all in the United States. The United Kingdom also has fifteenth Psychological Operations Group, D– Notice Committee and Lobby System
The book places emphasis on propaganda and how Napoleon used it to affect Boxer as he lamented, “If comrade Napoleon says it, it must be right” (page 56). Also, the whole of pages 38 to 40 emphasized how propaganda was used. Citing examples, this is what Squealer, Napoleon’s propagandist had to say; “Comrades, I trust that every animal here appreciates the sacrifice that Comrade Napoleon has made in taking this extra labour upon himself. Do not imagine, comrades, that leadership is a pleasure! On the contrary, it is a deep and heavy responsibility”. And, “He had seemed to oppose the windmill, simply as a manoeuvre to get rid of Snowball, who was a dangerous character and a bad influence. Now that Snowball was out of the way, the plan could go forward without his interference”.
Propaganda has been used in Ghana by both opposition and government parties to persuade people to channel their votes to them. This is usually done by bastardizing and castigating humane and falsifying of each other’s successes.
It is evident that George Orwell, who experienced the Second World War, would write about the power systems which pertained in those days. His views were well informed by the circumstances surrounding him, and he made no mistake in using the book “Animal Farm” to portray the power systems in action then. It is clear that the book is a political one and has explained to us how power plays in the society. From pages 1 to 97, the incident when analyzed is represented of what happened in pre and post colonial Ghana. The story still unfolds with many insurgencies and inceptions of political concepts and theories in the country.