Propaganda is the distribution of information in an effort to influence or manipulate society’s opinion (Britannica, 2013). Throughout the Russian Revolution, propaganda was widely used by the leaders of the revolution in order to gain support from the public. One example can be seen through the power struggle between Leon Trotsky and Joseph Stalin. After Lenin’s death in 1924 Joseph Stalin launched a propaganda attack on Leon Trotsky in order to discredit him and make it impossible for Trotsky to resume his leadership position (history.com, 1996).
Usage of Propaganda in Animal farm
Propaganda plays a really important part in the Russian Revolution, and as a result propaganda was also one of the main themes in Animal Farm. In the Novel, George Orwell portrayed the manipulation of speech through a character named Squealer, a pig who acted as a spokesperson for Napoleon. One example of Squealer’s use of propaganda to gain the animals’ support can be seen in his speech denouncing snowball part in the rebellion after he was banished from the farm. Using the animal’s stupidity to his advantage, Squealer played with the minds of all the animals, describing a twisted version of the events of the Battle of the Cowshed, one of the battles that were fought during the rebellion. In Squealer’s version of Snowball’s part of the battle, Snowball was planning to “leave the field to the enemy” (p54). Afterwards, Squealer described how Napoleon was the one who “sprang forward with a cry of ‘death to humanity!’ and sank his teeth into Mr Jone’s leg” when everything was so chaotic (p54). During his speech, Squealer describe everything in so much detail that it “seemed to the animals that they did remember it” (p54). As a result, Squealer has used propaganda to manipulate the memories of the animals so they would believe that Napoleon is the rightful person to trust and Snowball was actually on the side of the enemy.
Another form of propaganda was when the pigs started to twist the seven commandments, a list of seven rules the animals in animal farm must follow, to their own needs. At the start of the revolution, the sixth of the seven commandments read “No animal shall be killed by any other animal” (p15). However, in order to reason with the animals after killing those who opposed Napoleon, the rule has been changed to “No animal shall be killed by any other animal without cause” (p 61). As a result, Napoleon’s actions for eliminating those animals were justified because the animals thought a few words from the commandment was slipped from memory. Since the other animals were not as clever compared to the pigs and were not as capable of thinking for themselves, the animals used the seven commandments as an agreement to what was right and what was wrong. Therefore, when the pigs changed the seven commandments, the animals did not think badly of Napoleon’s use of cruelty and violence.
Author’s intentions and effectiveness
The propaganda that was used in the novel shows how a revolution, no matter how good their intentions are at first, can still gradually turn into a system that is no better than the one before. By twisting the truth to gain society’s trust, readers are able to see how good intentions were gradually won over by greed and dishonesty. Looking at how the pigs started to twist the rules to manipulate society into thinking the pigs were innocent, readers will also be able to understand the reason to why it was so easy for the pigs to gain their trust. Since the novel is a metaphor of the Russian Revolution, readers would be able to link the usage of propaganda in the novel to the usage of propaganda in the Russian Revolution. In conclusion, George Orwell successfully used propaganda in the novel to express his opinion on how the communist system of the Russian Revolution gradually went from an equal system, to a system that was overcome by greed and dishonesty from the authorities.