Historical Background To “Animal Farm” Karl Marx was a German scholar who lived in the nineteenth century. He sp most of his life studying, thinking and writing about history and economics. A many years of study, much of it spent in England, he believed that he understo more deeply than anyone who had ever lived before him why there is injustice i world. He said that all injustice and inequality is a result of one underlying conflict in society. He called it a ‘class struggle’, that is, a conflict bet the class of people who can afford to own money- producing businesses, whom he called ‘capitalists’ or ‘the bourgeosie’, and the class of people who do not surplus money to buy businesses and who are therefore forced to work for wage whom he called ‘workers’.
Marx said that, because it was always in the economic interest of capita to take advantage of or ‘exploit’ workers, nothing could persuade capitalists change their ways. In other words, peaceful progess toward equality and socia justice was impossible. The only way to establish justice, he said, was for t workers to overthrow the capitalists by means of violent revolution. He urged workers around the world to revolt against their rulers. “Workers of the worl unite!” he wrote.
“You have nothing to lose but your chains.” Another thing Marx taught was that organized religion, the churches, help capitalists to keep the workers quiet and obedient. Religion, according to Mar ‘the opiate of the masses’. The church tells working people to forget about th injustice they meet in their lives and to think instead of how wonderful it wi in the after- life when they go to heaven. Marx, with his colleague, Engels, spread his ideas in two famous books, Capital’ and ‘The Communist Manifesto’. In the early years of the twentieth century, Russia was ready for the ide Marx.
The Russian people were extremely discontented with their ruler, Tsar Nicholas II, who had little interest in governing and was neglecting the count badly. Making conditions even more miserable for the people were the hardships the First World War and a particularly cold winter. By 1917, the Russian people were desperate enough to accept a revolution. fact, they got two for the price of one, the first in March when the Tsar was deposed and a provisional government was set up. Then in November a political called the Bolsheviks led a further rebellion which ousted the provisional government.
The leaders of the Bolsheviks, Lenin and Trotsky, began to build a Russia, one built on the ideas of Marx, where everyone was equal, where all property was owned by ‘the people’ rather than by capitalists and where the wo were in control of the goernment. Not long afterward, Communist Russia was attacked by Britain, America and France, who wanted to get rid of the communist government. They were afraid th workers in their own countries might be inspired to imitate the example of Rus Trotsky, a highly intelligent and energetic communist leader, led the defence Russia with great success. After Lenin’s death in 1924, a power struggle began between Trotsky and a leader within the Communist Party named Stalin. While Trotsky was a brilliant intellectual and an idealist, Stalin was a simpler, quieter sort of person, wh based his power not so much on plans and ideas as on alliances with other memb of the Communist Party.
While Trotsky believed in Russia’s trying to assist wo all over the world to rise up in communist revolutions against their bosses, S wanted Russia to take care of its own business. The rivalry between the two leaders went on for several years. Eventually 1929 Stalin gained the upper hand and drove Trotsky from Russia. Stalin later up a scheme to industrialise the backward country which he called the Five-Yea Plan. It included a number of Trotsky’s ideas which Stalin had previously oppo As Russia developed under Stalin, members of the Communist Party took for themselves many privileges.
All the original communist ideals of Marx received service, but it became clearer and clearer that members of the Communist Party becoming a ruling class that was not equal to non-members. Most important of all to Stalin was ensuring that he remained in power. H often used the most brutal tactics. Chief among his creations were two highly effective political weapons – an efficient propaganda machine which more and m promoted the idea of Stalin as a great, nearly god-like leader, and a secret p force which kept the country quiet through the use of terror. At one point dur his rule, he organized ‘Show Trials’ in which many of the people he did not li strangely ‘confessed’ to very serious crimes and were executed or sent to har prison camps.
Eventually Stalin began trading with non-communist countries of western Europe, although he continued to be hostile to Germany. Then, in a shocking ab face in 1939, he suddenly signed a non-agression pact with Hitler. Not long afterward, though, Hitler broke this agreement and attacked Russia. In 1941 St was forced to enter World War II and make an alliance with Britain and America This takes us up to the time of the writing of Animal Farm – 1944. As you see, nearly every event in the novel can be traced directly to an event in Rus during the period from 1900-1943. An interesting project is to list the events the novel and match them up with the real events which Orwell intended to sati In fact, the story has many, many similarities to the real historical events, of them very detailed. For example, the digging up of Major’s skull, and the h destroying their own eggs, both refer to specific events that took place durin rule of Stalin.