by George Orwell
Animal Farm Power: Control over the Intellectually Inferior Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Chapter.Paragraph)
The birds did not understand Snowball's long words, but they accepted his explanation, and all the humbler animals set to work to learn the new maxim by heart. FOUR LEGS GOOD, TWO LEGS BAD, was inscribed on the end wall of the barn, above the Seven Commandments and in bigger letters (3.10, 3.11)
Big words bad, small words good: it's easier to understand rules when they're simple, but simple rules tend to gloss over the complexities of human society. Like, "don't tell lies" is all well and good—right up until your best friend asks if you like her haircut.
At the Meetings Snowball often won over the majority by his brilliant speeches, but Napoleon was better at canvassing support for himself in between times. He was especially successful with the sheep. Of late the sheep had taken to bleating "Four legs good, two legs bad" both in and out of season, and they often interrupted the Meeting with this. It was noticed that they were especially liable to break into "Four legs good, two legs bad" at crucial moments in Snowball's speeches. (5.8)
"It was noticed"—LOL, Orwell. In other words, Napoleon has trained the sheep to ignore Snowball's clever and probably half-decent ideas to bleat his simplistic slogan over and over. They probably watch a lot of cable news.
At last the day came when Snowball's plans were completed. At the Meeting on the following Sunday the question of whether or not to begin work on the windmill was to be put to the vote. When the animals had assembled in the big barn, Snowball stood up and, though occasionally interrupted by bleating from the sheep, set forth his reasons for advocating the building of the windmill. Then Napoleon stood up to reply. He said very quietly that the windmill was nonsense and that he advised nobody to vote for it, and promptly sat down again; he had spoken for barely thirty seconds, and seemed almost indifferent as to the effect he produced. At this Snowball sprang to his feet, and shouting down the sheep, who had begun bleating again, broke into a passionate appeal in favour of the windmill. (5.13)
Brain Snack: this is almost literally what happened during the Party Congress in 1927: when opposition leaders tried to speak in front of the Communist Party, Stalin's supporters shouted them down. Just like sheep.