George Orwell (real name Eric Blair), an Englishman, was born in 1903 and died in 1950. Animal Farm was first published in 1945, the year that World War Two ended. His reason for writing it was as follows: “Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism… Animal Farm was the first book in which I tried, with full consciousness of what I was doing, to fuse political purpose and artistic purpose into one whole.” He said the book reflected events leading up to the Russian Communist Revolution of 1917, as well as events of the Stalinist period. Although he was a Socialist he hated totalitarianism and Communism and used the book to expose these things. Animal Farm, therefore, is an exposé of Communism, and a brilliant one at that, and it has enabled every generation since it was written to see what Communism is really all about, in a very simple, very readable manner.
C.M. Woodhouse, in his introduction to the book, gives an outline of what it is about: “It tells how the animals captured the Manor Farm from its drunken incompetent farmer; how they changed its name to Animal Farm and established it as a model community in which all animals were equal; how two pigs, Napoleon and Snowball, gained control of the revolution and fought each other for the mastery; how the neighbouring humans reacted and counter-attacked and were beaten off; how Napoleon ousted Snowball and declared him a traitor; how economic necessity compelled the animals to compromise with the human system; how Napoleon negotiated an alliance with the human enemy and exploited it to establish his personal dictatorship; how the farm learned that ‘some animals are more equal than others’ and their last state was as bad as their first; and how the ruling pigs became daily more and more indistinguishable from their human neighbours.”
We could re-write the above paragraph as follows: the book tells how Communist revolutionaries captured a non-Communist country from its incompetent government; how they changed the country’s name and claimed to establish it as a model community in which all the citizens were equal; how two of the Communist leaders gained control of the Red revolution and fought each other for the mastery; how the neighbouring, non-Communist countries reacted and counter-attacked and were beaten off; how one of the two leaders ousted the other and declared him a traitor; how economic necessity compelled the people of the Communist country to compromise with the Capitalist system; how the leader negotiated an alliance with the Capitalist, anti-Communist enemy and exploited it to establish his personal dictatorship; how the masses learned that ‘some people are more equal than others’ in a Communist dictatorship and their last state was as bad as their first; and how the ruling Communist elite became daily more and more indistinguishable from the super-Capitalists they professed to hate.
Orwell, of course, had the Russian Revolution and the later Stalinist Soviet Union in mind when he wrote the book. But it so well describes the Communist revolution in South Africa! Prior to 1994, South Africa was a conservative, anti-Communist country. But after decades of waging a relentless Communist/terrorist campaign against the State, and under huge international pressure, the revolution was eventually successful, and in 1994 a tripartite alliance, consisting of the African National Congress (ANC), the South African Communist Party (SACP), and COSATU (the Congress of South African Trade Unions), came to power, led by Nelson Mandela. Although calling it a “tripartite alliance” gives the impression that all three parties were separate but equal, the truth is that the leadership and membership of all three overlapped, and the ANC was put forward as the leading party of the three. But the ANC itself came under huge Communist domination. The revolution in South Africa was, truly, a Marxist revolution.
Not every single aspect of Animal Farm fits perfectly with the South African revolution and its aftermath, of course; there were, and are, differences between this revolution and all those that went before it, and this is to be expected, as each country is different. But even so, there are so many similarities, and they parallel those of the Russian Revolution in so many respects, as will become blatantly evident to the reader of the present work. And this is because Communism is the same everywhere it is found.
The parallels between Animal Farm and South Africa are so very obvious, that in 2014 they were even noted by no less a person that Thuli Madonsela, South Africa’s public protector. As a “human rights” lawyer and one who was involved in assisting with the drafting of the ultra-leftist constitution of SA in the mid-1990s, she could not be called a conservative. But she is a woman of principle, and as public protector she had to investigate allegations against President Jacob Zuma, SA’s third president since the Communist revolution succeeded in the country, concerning the public funding of the construction of his massive homestead; and her report, after many months of careful investigation, was damning indeed. Not long after the report was published, she gave a talk to university students – and she compared SA under Zuma’s presidency to Animal Farm in no uncertain terms. This is what she said:
“George Orwell tells us about a community, pretty much like ours [note that: “pretty much like ours”], but it’s a community of animals. These animals were enslaved by humans, and the humans made those animals work very hard…. one day the animals revolted and kicked the humans out of the farm. When the animals then decided to govern their own farm, they created rules for themselves. These rules included all animals are equal…. It was going to be each according to their ability, and each according to their needs [the classic Communist slogan]. After a little while everyone was happy. The humans were gone.
“The animals that liberated most of the other animals were the pigs. After a period of time, that pigs started to feel that we liberated you, we deserve better, and after time the pigs started to eat more than the others…. And the rules started changing, imperceptibly overnight…. It used to say all animals are equal, then suddenly, it said some are more equal than others.”
Although she was only drawing a parallel between Animal Farm and the period of Jacob Zuma’s presidency, and was not directly referring to the entire period of ANC governance from the time of Mandela onwards – even though in truth, as shall be seen, the parallels fit the entire period of ANC misrule – nevertheless it was immensely significant that she could at least see as much as she did. In the words of one journalist who reported on her talk: “As she told her story, the jam-packed Senate Hall – students crowding the aisles, hanging on every word – went deathly quiet. Everyone understood exactly what she was saying – and that there was no other way she could say it.” And: “The Animal Farm reference was devastatingly applicable to South Africa’s current polity, with liberators-turned-tyrants, and Comrade Napoleon, chief of the pigs [by whom he meant President Jacob Zuma], with his snout firmly in the trough. As for the rest of us – well, we’re the other animals, wondering what happened to our glorious liberation.” There of course lies the problem for liberals: they turn a blind eye to the brutal reality that it was not a “liberation”, but a Marxist revolution, and there was nothing glorious about it. But again – the significance lies in the fact that even thinking leftists were, by 2014, beginning to see the parallels with Animal Farm, even if they could not see them before – or did not want to.