Karl Marx was a German scholar who lived in the nineteenth century. He
spent 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 understood 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 social 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 world 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 the injustice they meet in their lives and to think
instead of how wonderful it will 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 two were in control of the government.
Not long afterward, Communist Russia was attacked by Britain, America
and France, who wanted to get rid of the communist government. They were
afraid the 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, who based his power not so much on plans and ideas as on
alliances with other member of the Communist Party. While Trotsky believed
in Russia’s trying to assist two all over the world to rise up in communist
revolutions against their bosses, S wanted Russia to take care of its own
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 industrialize the backward country which he
called the Five-Yea Plan. It included a number of Trotsky’s ideas which
Stalin had previously opposed.
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 during his rule, he organized ‘Show Trials’ in
which many of the people he did not lie strangely ‘confessed’ to very
serious crimes and were executed or sent to harsh 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-aggression 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 during rule of Stalin.