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Animal Farm and Hoover

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Both Animal Farm, written by George Orwell, and J. Edgar Hoover’s Testimony before the House Un-American Activities Committee make powerful arguments against communism. Each man used a different method of persuasion to convince his audience, both with their own strong and weak points. For a plethora of reasons, Orwell made a more effective argument against communism, demonstrating communism’s faults and inconsistencies that ultimately pointed to its ineffectiveness as a system of government.

J. Edgar Hoover viewed communism as inherently evil and a direct threat to the American way of life. He said that the communists in America were trying to establish a communist state which could only be achieved by a “bloody revolution” that called for “plenty of guns and ammunition” which he derived from their chief textbook, The History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. According to Hoover, the communists began secretly infiltrating American society by adopting ideals “which all good citizens seek, such as old-age security, houses for veterans, [and] child assistance” to “conceal their true aims and entrap gullible followers. . .” Hardly a comforting thought for the “good citizens” of America.

Hoover employed a host of literary devices and rhetorical techniques to portray this image to his audience. His tone instilled a strong sense of fear and distrust toward communists saying that their main goal is to “infiltrate and corrupt the various spheres of American life.” This tone provided the picture of communists as single-minded in their quest for domination of the country, hoping that through instilling fear and mistrust of the communists that more people would become active in opposing their activities.

Hoover also used a condescending tone which amplifies the sense of fear in his speech. An example of such condescension is found when Hoover describes communism in the first paragraph of his speech. He said, “What has been disillusioning is the manner in which they [the communists] have been able to enlist support often from apparently well-meaning but thoroughly duped persons. . .” He believed that this tone would call for a heightened awareness of the communist threat and would cause the American population to put a stop to its expansion, and eventually result in its demise.

Another way that Hoover demonstrated communism’s evil and despicable nature was through the use of details and facts. As the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Hoover was respected and admired by many Americans as a patriotic American who was aware of what was happening in the country. Indeed, in his position, it could be assumed by his audience that he possessed unique information about communist activities that was unknown to the general population. So when Hoover referred to an instance where communists tried to infiltrate Hollywood, it was very convincing in the minds of his audience. He said, “The American communists launched a furtive attack on Hollywood in 1935 by the issuance of a directive calling for a concentration in Hollywood. The orders called for action of two fronts: One, an effort to infiltrate the labor unions; two, infiltrate the so-called intellectual and creative fields.” Hoover spoke of a conspiracy to take over the entertainment industry so that communists could, for example, make a movie sympathetic to communist ideals to reach out to “thoroughly duped persons.”

George Orwell’s view of communism differed from Hoover’s in that Orwell did not view communism as an intrinsically evil system of government. Rather, he believed that consolidation of power in the hands of a select few, as is the case in communism, leads to the abuse of power and a shift towards totalitarian rule.

To better convey this message, Orwell chose to use allegory in writing Animal Farm. It is no mistake that Orwell chose pigs, which have a reputation of being smelly and dirty, to represent communist leaders such as Marx and Lenin. These pigs at first bring happiness and prosperity to the farm until Napoleon, a pig that represented Stalin, abused his power and started changes that marked the beginning of corruption on the farm. First Napoleon seizes absolute control by exiling a fellow pig, Snowball, with whom he shared leadership. Napoleon calls upon his dogs, who represent the KGB, and they “dashed straight for Snowball, who sprang from his place just in time to escape their snapping jaws. . .and [Snowball] was seen no more” (Orwell 57). Afterwards, Napoleon made radical changes. For instance, he declared that the pigs will move from staying in the barn to living in the farm house and “the animals seemed to remember that a resolution against this had been passed in the early days. . .” (Orwell 69). Napoleon “was able to convince them [the animals] that this was not the case” through the use of propaganda, which is spread by Napoleon’s right hand man (or pig, rather), Squealer. Similar instances all throughout the book clearly demonstrate the corruption that occurs when power is placed in the hands of one extremely powerful individual.

Because Orwell’s method of proving his point was different than that of Hoover’s, Orwell was able to paint a more complete picture of communism. He not only showed the corruption of communism, but he also portrayed its benefits. The animals were quite happy after they overthrew their oppressor, Mr. Jones (who represented Tsar Nicholas II). After the revolution, the animals “hurled themselves into the air in great leaps of excitement” (Orwell 30). The animals also “finished the harvest in two days’ less time than it had usually taken



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