"Do not imagine, comrades, that leadership is a pleasure. On the contrary, it is a deep and heavy responsibility. No one believes more firmly than Comrade Napoleon that all animals are equal. He would be only too happy to let you make your decisions for yourselves. But sometimes you might make the wrong decisions, comrades, and then where should we be?" This one perfect quote from Animal farm I feel, pretty much sums up the entire text.
On a superficial level, we may say that animal farm is a fable about a group of animals who are inspired by the grandiose philosophy of a pig Old Major into revolting and overthrowing their human master Mr. Jones. But thereafter, history repeats itself and the animals are ill treated again, this time by their animal master Napoleon, a pig. With this simple story written in very simple words, Orwell communicates profound wisdom. With this simple tale, Orwell comments on Russia at that time but strangely, the book seems just as relevant today too.
This book was written between Nov 1943, and Feb 1944 when Russia had emerged freshly from the revolt and was being established on Marxist principles. Mr. Jones is the czar Nicholas II, old Major is supposed to be Karl Marx, Snowball Trotsky, and Napoleon is Stalin.
During the Russian revolution, Czar Nicholas II is ousted from power in Russia and the new system in Russia is along the Marxist philosophy. Lenin is the first leader who seizes power but after his death four players emerge, the major ones being Trotsky and Stalin. Trotsky is the more passionate one, who, it is believed wants to run Russia on the idealist lines. But Stalin being crafty and clever consolidates power behind the scenes and has Trotsky exiled. He thus unites the people of Russia against Trotsky by blaming all the problems of Russia on him. Many believe that the major Russian media, Pravda which was run on the whims of Stalin, is quite akin to Squelor.
But is this story just of Russia? If you think hard, it sounds so much like Prez Musharraf ousting Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto, rearing the army mantle in his favor, manipulating the media and changing the rules as is so evident in the Mai rape case. For that matter, all the tyrants that the world has seen, seeing and will see seem analogous to the characters of this book.
Finally, lets get down to understanding the underlying message behind this book. Orwell opposes all kinds of totalitarian states where the tyrants? word is followed with a full stop. We are the ones who actually run a country. We must never surrender our right to question and to make mistakes to any one not even an ethics spouting inspirational leader because as they say Absolute power corrupts absolutely.