Study Guide

Animal Farm Power: Control over the Intellectually Inferior

By George Orwell

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Power: Control over the Intellectually Inferior

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American conservative William F. Buckley once said that he'd rather be governed by the first 2000 names in the Boston phonebook than the 2000 faculty members of Harvard. (Somewhat ironic, coming from a guy who went to Yale and then founded an intellectually rigorous journal.) But our point is, Orwell might have agreed: in Animal Farm pigs take control because they're the smartest animals on the farm and then turn right around and start abusing that power.

But you can't just blame the eggheads. The pigs would never have succeeded if they other animals hadn't blindly gone along with it. Moral of the story: you don't need to go to Yale, but you do need to form some opinions of your own.

Questions About Power: Control over the Intellectually Inferior

  1. Truth: the sheep seem completely useless. But are they, really? At the end of the day, do we actually need these less intellectual workers to keep everyone all nice and cozy in merino sweaters?
  2. Do the sheep have a certain power? You know, the kind of power that only a numerous group of brainwashed and brainwashing individuals can have?
  3. Is Orwell suggesting that intellectuals are inherently untrustworthy, or does being smart just make people susceptible to thinking other people are abuse-worthy?

Chew on This

The pigs and sheep are both to blame for the disaster on Animal Farm—both the intellectuals and the people who are happy to let others do the thinking for them.

Orwell isn't saying that intellectuals are evil, but he is saying that being smart tends to make people believe it's okay to be unethical.

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