Friday, November 8, 2013

Leadership and The Animal Farm

I just finished reading Geroge Orwell's Animal farm. It's regarded as one of the best books of all time and in on the Time Magazine Top 100 Books List. I thought it fitting to tell you about it. Although the story is told using animals, it's actually about the leadership in Russia. It can also be used to understand leadership elsewhere including the leadership in revolutionary and activism groups.

Here's the gist of Animal Farm so if you don't like ***SPOILERS***, don't read any further.

1) Jones is a man who owns the farm. The animals become tired of being his slaves, revolt, and chase Jones and his wife off the farm. Now they own the farm.

2) As a group they come up with rules that the animals will follow so that they never become like humans. Rules include things like not living in houses, not sleeping in beds, never wearing clothes, ALL animals were equal, and never killing another animal. They get rid of anything they have that violates those rules.

3) The pigs are the smartest to they start making plans for the farm and telling others what to do. The lead pigs are Napoleon and Snowball. They learn to read and write while most of the other animals are not smart enough to do so. So the other animals are used for labor. At one point the humans come back and start a fight, Snowball was heroic, and they chased the humans off.

4) Snowball starts coming up with plans to make a windmill and the animals start looking up to him. Napoleon got jealous. He trained a bunch of dogs to attack at will and unleashed them on Snowball. Snowball was chased away.

5) From that point on Napoleon was the leader, he had guard dogs, and lived in the house. He was the the best reader and writer and everyone just accepted him as leader because he was the smartest.

6) Napoleon started spreading rumors that Snowball was always a traitor, was working for the humans, and was sneaking onto the farm to sabotage things. He forced animals to confess to working with him and they were executed on the spot. Slowly Napoleons lackeys would change the list of rules to benefit the pigs. Everyone went along out of fear of having their throats ripped out.

7) Animals were made to work long hours for little food but because they owned the farm they were willing to make the sacrifice. The less intelligent animals kept believing that Napoleon was always right and was looking out for their best interests not his own.

8) By the end of the book Napoleon created two classes of animals. The pigs were the upper class, they started living in the house, wearing clothes, and standing upright. They also started trading goods with humans. The other animals were the workers, they got less food than the pigs and had to do labor while the pig worked on "forms and memos".

9) By the end of the book the pigs looked just like the humans and acted like them. They made friends with the humans and were actually worse than Jones. Older animals forgot about all the betrayals and how things used to be. Young animals thought that things were always that way.

So what happened was that although the animals had good intentions and wanted equality, the smartest ones took over first and appointed themselves the leaders. Then by using slander, violence, and manipulation one leader took over and attempted to destroy the other leader and his supporters. Then the leader eventually did all the things that the original leaders did so he was no better than the original oppressors. Very interesting how power corrupts and treating each other as equals is the first rule to be thrown out.


  1. Great breakdown of the book! This is one of my favorite reads. Orwell does an amazing job at illustrating the power dynamic of a corrupt government (dictatorship). Even in my democratic society, I saw parallels between the classes of animals and my own political leaders.

  2. Thanks for the synopsis. I have not read the book but now I'm inclined to do so. It validates the old saying, "Absolute power corrupts absolutely."

  3. great book. great lady. thanks elegance

  4. Elegance, I stumbled over your site and you sucked me in with this post. It's such a great synopsis. You should try to compare it to Willie Lynch's speech. Anyway I love your posts and appreciate your honesty in your messages. Your are straightforward without being obnoxious and your absolutely positive. Keep posting! Thank you!

  5. Elegance, great post. Do you have a contact e-mail address? Have some great ideas for you but cannot find the contact information on this blog. :-)

  6. So true!!! I forgot about that book read it in high school. It reminds me of the utterly toxic intellectual climate in my women's studies class. Disagree or challenge anything and you are demonized as a brainwashed victim of the patriarchy or secretly out to oppress everyone else. Keep blogging, the world needs you.

  7. great book. great lady. thanks elegance

  8. I totally agree with all of you seriously. Eh check this out...when i get my Dental clinic up with other people of races just get at me here in South Carolina. I'm One and not a male or female. Change the world with whatever views and go feminist!! One thing though...if you can kill colorism we can all make more money worldwide; group think project.

  9. Hi there! I was just reading up on your blog and had a quick question. Could you please email me when you get the chance? - Emily

  10. Your blog has changed my life and my way of thinking tremendously. Thank you so much for taking the time out of your life to help other sisters embrace their true feminine selves and change our image so we can get the love and respect we deserve. Your blog along with many others have inspired me to start a blog focusing on black femininity, specifically for a younger audience. It's a mixture of tips and advice, social awareness and my own personal journey of embracing femininity. I hope you can check it out! It's