Any consideration of Animal Farm must start from the fact that the text is a fairy story. The feature of fable, defined by a millennial tradition, allows Orwell to write a work in which moral, social and political meaning transcends the historical events allegorically referred to, the Russian Revolution and its outcomes in Stalinism, to put itself in universal terms. In this sense, Animal Farm can be read in the key of sociology and political philosophy by referring to Walter Benjamin’s Zur Kritik der Gewalt (Critique of Violence, 1921). In this essay Benjamin argues that the social order, and the legal order it expresses, is affirmed and preserved through violence. In the words of Benjamin, to the revolutionary moment, representing what he calls “divine violence”, follows the “mythical violence”: a connection between the “lawmaking” / “law-preserving” violence and the establishment of “the State power”. This logical-dialectical oscillation is exemplified in Animal Farm. At the promise of a happy society for the animals liberated, with the uprising against the master, follows the slow and unstoppable establishment of a dictatorship of some of them, the pigs, on all the others. The decisive point in this process is the writing of the 7 commandments: the fundamental rules of the new social order that represent the Law as the guarantor of the order itself and the source of the social memory. Even before the use of repressive violence, represented by dogs at their service, pigs employ a subtle violence by intervening on the commandments and modifying the contents to their advantage. The manipulation of the legal sphere coincides with the manipulation of social memory. Animal Farm is, in this perspective, a complex allegory of social order developed on multiple levels. It is a fairy tale in the sense of Phaedrus: a “slave’s tale”, we could say: a story written by the losers of History. It is a narrative representation of the “force of law” in Derrida's sense: “a performative and therefore interpretative violence” affirmed through writing and related to the “mystical foundation of authority”. And, lastly, it is a bitter apologue on the distance that always separates Justice from Law and the consideration of Law as an instrument of power, domination and oppression.

A tale of violence. Animal Farm as an allegory of social order

Altobelli Dario
2018-01-01

Abstract

Any consideration of Animal Farm must start from the fact that the text is a fairy story. The feature of fable, defined by a millennial tradition, allows Orwell to write a work in which moral, social and political meaning transcends the historical events allegorically referred to, the Russian Revolution and its outcomes in Stalinism, to put itself in universal terms. In this sense, Animal Farm can be read in the key of sociology and political philosophy by referring to Walter Benjamin’s Zur Kritik der Gewalt (Critique of Violence, 1921). In this essay Benjamin argues that the social order, and the legal order it expresses, is affirmed and preserved through violence. In the words of Benjamin, to the revolutionary moment, representing what he calls “divine violence”, follows the “mythical violence”: a connection between the “lawmaking” / “law-preserving” violence and the establishment of “the State power”. This logical-dialectical oscillation is exemplified in Animal Farm. At the promise of a happy society for the animals liberated, with the uprising against the master, follows the slow and unstoppable establishment of a dictatorship of some of them, the pigs, on all the others. The decisive point in this process is the writing of the 7 commandments: the fundamental rules of the new social order that represent the Law as the guarantor of the order itself and the source of the social memory. Even before the use of repressive violence, represented by dogs at their service, pigs employ a subtle violence by intervening on the commandments and modifying the contents to their advantage. The manipulation of the legal sphere coincides with the manipulation of social memory. Animal Farm is, in this perspective, a complex allegory of social order developed on multiple levels. It is a fairy tale in the sense of Phaedrus: a “slave’s tale”, we could say: a story written by the losers of History. It is a narrative representation of the “force of law” in Derrida's sense: “a performative and therefore interpretative violence” affirmed through writing and related to the “mystical foundation of authority”. And, lastly, it is a bitter apologue on the distance that always separates Justice from Law and the consideration of Law as an instrument of power, domination and oppression.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11564/724802
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