Leaders use many tactics to withhold power and maintain control over the ignorant people. Joseph Stalin, the leader of the USSR from 1922-1952, used many clever and sometimes gory techniques to keep his power over the Soviet people. These strategies are shown in George Orwell’s allegory of the Russian revolution, Animal Farm. Napoleon, the self-proclaimed leader of Animal Farm and allegorical representation of Joseph Stalin, has quite a few crafty and cunning ways to retain his authority over the animals.
For example, by only educating the piglets and dogs, Napoleon keeps the majority of the animals uneducated and ignorant and therefore easier to manipulate. By blaming mistakes and wrongdoings on Snowball, an exiled pig who is an allegorical representation of the exiled Russian leader Leon Trotsky, Napoleon is able to create a common enemy. This takes the blame off of himself and instills a fear in the animals, making it easier for Napoleon to control the public. Finally, he trains puppies to become attack dogs and uses them as a police force, forcing the animals obey his every word by fear of bodily harm.
By keeping the masses ignorant and afraid, Napoleon is able to retain his power over Animal Farm. Since he restricts formal education to the piglets and dogs, Napoleon is able to keep the remaining animals uneducated and docile, using their stupidity to his advantage. For example, after Napoleon murders many of the animals who are supposedly in league with Snowball, the animals are a bit uneasy because they recall a Commandment that states, “No animal shall kill any another animal” (Orwell 58).
Muriel, a literate goat, reads the Commandment after the massacre, and it says, “No animal shall kill any other animal without cause” (151). She thinks that “somehow or other the last two words had slipped out of [her] memory. But [she] saw now that the Commandment had not been violated; for clearly there was good reason for killing the traitors” (165-166). Because Napoleon only educates the wealthy, the rest of the animals are oblivious to what is going on and believe everything that they are told.
When Napoleon changes the Commandments, the animals blame their own faulty memories and proceed to believe whatever is written in the commandment because “Napoleon is always right”(111). Napoleon exploits the animals’ gullibility when he modifies the Commandments to justify his atrocities and garner even more power. Since the animals only believe what they are told by Napoleon and the media, he is able to maintain his control over the farm. By limiting education to only a select few, Napoleon is able to manipulate the masses and get away with changing things to his benefit.
Napoleon creates a scapegoat and common enemy for the animals by blaming everything that goes awry on Snowball. This, in turn, brings about a sense of fear that helps Napoleon strengthen his rule. One instance where Napoleon executes this strategy is early in the spring, when the animals receive news from Napoleon that Snowball is secretly frequenting the farm at night and disturbing the animals in their sleep. After hearing this news, “the animals [are] thoroughly frightened.
It seemed to them as though Snowball were some sort of invisible influence, pervading the air about them and menacing them with all kinds of dangers” (147). Blaming Snowball for everything that goes askew is a good way for Napoleon to create a common enemy and inculcate fear in the animals. By putting Snowball under a bad light, Napoleon makes it seem as though he is the good guy and Snowball is the bad one. His actions make his reign seem “perfect” since everything is blamed on Snowball. This way, he will receive no opposition.
Additionally, by depicting Snowball as the reason for all their troubles, the rest of the animals look up to Napoleon to make the right decisions and lead them through this time of crisis. Animals that are afraid are always easy to control. Creating a scapegoat allows Napoleon to deflect the blame from himself and create nationalism within the animals, making it easier for Napoleon to rule. Napoleon uses the dogs as a police force to control the animals through fear of bodily harm. After Jessie and Bluebell have nine puppies, Napoleon takes and trains them in seclusion.
They soon grow into nine vicious killer dogs. One day, Napoleon assembles the animals in the yard to confess their crimes. Any animal who opposed or rebelled against Napoleon steps up, confesses his crimes, and is slain on the spot by the attack dogs, right in front of the other animals. The dogs are ruthless and tear the animals’ throats out. After witnessing this bloody massacre, none of the animals know why “they had come to a time when no one dared speak his mind, when fierce, growling dogs roamed everywhere, and when you had to watch your comrades torn to ieces after confessing to shocking crimes. There was no thought of rebellion or disobedience”(161). Napoleon, by publicly executing anyone who happens to displease or disobey him, sets a precedent of what will happen if any of the animals rebel. The attack dogs are able to crush any signs of rebellion. This puts Napoleon in supreme power because every animal will do whatever he tells them to do, in fear of being killed. By using the dogs as a means to control, Napoleon is able to crush any signs of rebellion and maintain his control on the farm through fear of physical harm.
In Animal Farm, the public is uneducated and afraid, which makes them much more easily manipulated by Napoleon and the pigs. By only educating the wealthy, Napoleon makes sure that the general public is uninformed and therefore easier to control. Blaming Snowball for everything that goes astray creates a scapegoat and common enemy, which inflicts a fear in the animals. This also makes Napoleon seem more perfect, so the animals are more likely to listen to him and give him more power. Napoleon also creates a “police force” from the attack dogs, who help control the general public by fear of physical harm.
In Animal Farm, Napoleon goes to extreme lengths to remain in power, much like other dictators around the world. In the 1900’s, Stalin did many violent things to keep in control of the Soviet Union, including mass murdering innocent people who spoke up against the government. Leaders go to extremes and use oppressive tactics to remain in control of their land. In future circumstances, the public should be careful not to trust their leader too much or give them too much power, otherwise the leader will become the dictator of a totalitarian regime.