“In a democracy you believe it or not. In a dictatorship, you believe it or else” (Evan Esar). Today we see dictators rise to power and force their beliefs on others and eliminate those who oppose them. Written during the time of Stalinist Russia, Animal Farm, which uses animals to tell the story, displays the harms of communism and their leaders. It is a marvelous, yet comical illustration, recording the “evolution from revolution against tyranny to a totalitarianism just as terrible” (Animal Farm). We can agree that being forced into opinions and actions is not favorable. Some would agree and say that the dictator inflicts the most harm, while others would argue that the propagandist inflicts the most harm. However, the dictator inflicts the most harm because of his common character, his twisted ideals, and his horrible actions.
Firstly, the dictator inflicts the most harm because of his common character. Most dictators embody very similar character traits. They are often self-centered, selfish, prone to anger, and easy liars. In Animal Farm, Napoleon the pig, who is the dictator, has all these same characteristics. “Then he was up again, running faster than ever; the dogs were gaining on him again. One of them all but closed his jaws on Snowball’s tail, but Snowball whisked it free just in time. Then he put on an extra spurt and, with a few inches to spare, slipped through a hole in the hedge and was seen no more” (Orwell, 53). Snowball is running because Napoleon hates the thought that he could convince the other animals to his side. Napoleon wants all the power, but Snowball is in his way. He becomes so upset and angry about it that he sends the dogs after Snowball to kill him. “They had thought the Fifth Commandment was ‘No animal shall drink alcohol,’ but there were two words that they had forgotten. Actually the Commandment read: ‘No animal shall drink alcohol to excess’” (Orwell, 109). Over time, Napoleon begins changing the Seven Commandments of Animalism to work to his liking. He cannot move past what he wants and his agenda, to consider what is best instead of harmful. “Surely, he cried indignantly, whisking his tail and skipping from side to side, surely they knew their beloved Leader, Comrade Napoleon, better than that? But the explanation was really very simple. The van had previously been the property of the knacker, and had been bought by the veterinary surgeon, who had not yet painted the old name out. That was how the mistake had arisen” (Orwell, 125). Boxer the horse is taken away in a van because his is sick. Some of the animals, however, notice that on the side of the van is written: “Alfred Simmonds, Horse Slaughterer and Glue Boiler, Willingdon. Dealer in Hides and Bone Meal. Kennels Supplied” (Orwell, 122). To keep the animals from revolting against him, Napoleon communicates through Squealer, that it is the vet in an un-repainted van. This is a lie. Napoleon is a perfect representation of the selfish, angry, lying, and self-centered nature of the common dictator. Therefore, that is why dictators inflict the most harm.
Secondly, the dictator inflicts the most harm because of his twisted ideals. The common dictator contains the most bizarre ideas and believes in the most outrageous things. For example, Hitler believed that the Jews were “‘parasitic vermin’ worthy only of eradication” (Holocaust Encyclopedia). He believed that his race was superior and that the Jews were a danger to his ideals, and so they needed to be exterminated. Stalin also held the same ideals when he was dictator over Russia. In Animal Farm, Napoleon believes in a very similar idea. As stated in Commandment One in the Seven Commandments of Animalism: “Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy” (Orwell, 24), Napoleon suggests that animals are superior to humans. He believes that humans are evil and a danger to his agenda, and so they must be destroyed. Napoleon also believes that “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others” (Orwell, 134). This idea does not make any sense, and it discredits the first statement in the second part. Napoleon is always coming up with wild and crazy ideas that do not make any sense, and is an almost perfect reflection of the common dictator’s ideas and how they think. And so, that is why the dictator inflicts the most harm.
Thirdly, the dictator inflicts the most harm because of his horrible actions. Dictators rarely care about their people. They do what they desire, and their actions can be horrendous. Hitler killed millions of Jews by placing them in Concentration camps because he believed that they were a threat. He forced them to work until death. They were barely given any food. They lived in horrible conditions. Many of them were experimented on, and in numerous cases they were gassed to death. Vladimir Lenin “instituted the ‘Red Terror’ or the systematic elimination of millions of people, including members of his own political party” (List 25). Chiang Kai-shek “was known as the ‘White Terror’, purging the opposition for better leadership and country stability” (List 25). Both of the actions committed by Lenin and Kai-shek are very similar to Napoleon’s action of eliminating Snowball from the picture in Animal Farm. Besides this action, Napoleon forces his way into leadership and wrongfully influences the animals through the things he says. Eventually, Napoleon turns against his ideals in the end and is almost unrecognizable to the other animals. “The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which” (Orwell, 141). Dictators often become unrecognizable when they rise higher into power. Power influences their actions and because of this they commonly rise against their original beliefs. However, no one dares oppose them because these dictators’ actions have placed an abundance of fear in their hearts and minds. Therefore, that is why dictators inflict the most harm.
Some would argue that the propagandist inflicts the most harm instead of the dictator. They say that he is more deceiving. “A propagandist is someone who actively creates propaganda material, or is involved in spreading it” (Study.com). “…they are consciously involved in disseminating their material for the purpose of influencing attitudes” (Study.com). Propagandists deceive the people into agreeing with their beliefs. However, this is invalid because propagandists commonly spread lies that are from their government to influence the people. Many of the ideas and lies that the propagandists are promoting are directly from their leaders/dictators. In Animal Farm, Squealer the pig is the propagandist. He communicates everything that Napoleon wants said to the other animals. All of his statements, ideas, and lies are directly from Napoleon. In real life, it works the same way. The propagandists do not create their own material. They receive it from their leaders and their government. And so, that is why dictators inflict the most harm and not the propagandists.
However, some would still argue that the propagandist inflicts the most harm instead of the dictator. They say this because he causes everyone to trust the leader/dictator. Propagandists are friendly and create a false reality when it comes to their leader. However, this is also invalid because while the propagandist may cause the people to trust their leader, he is just a robot. He is programmed to act in the way that he is told by the government and the dictator. It is the dictator who is influencing the propagandist and committing all the horrible acts towards the people and against their beliefs. Therefore, that is why dictators inflict the most harm and not the propagandists.
In conclusion, the dictator inflicts the most harm because of his common character, his twisted ideals, and his horrible actions. When we understand the dictators, we will realize who the true harm to the people is. They are controlling, self-centered, selfish, prone to anger, and easy liars. Dictators work for themselves and against the people. And so, that is why dictators inflict the most harm.
“25 Of History’s Deadliest Dictators.” List25, List25, 6 Jan. 2018, list25.com/25-of-historys-deadliest-dictators/.
“Dictator Quotes.” Notable Quotes, www.notable-quotes.com/d/dictators_quotes.html.
Orwell, George. Animal Farm. Orwell, George. Animal Farm. Harcourt Inc., 1946.
“Propagandist: Definition & Examples.” Study.com, Study.com, study.com/academy/lesson/propagandist-definition-examples-quiz.html.
“VICTIMS OF THE NAZI ERA: NAZI RACIAL IDEOLOGY.” Holocaust Encyclopedia, www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10007457.