Old Major’s speech

By George Volkov

“Now, comrades, what is the nature of this life of ours?

Let us face it:
our lives are miserable, laborious, and short. We are born, we are given just so much food as will keep the breath in our bodies, and those of us who are capable of it are forced to work to the last atom of our strength; and the very instant that our usefulness has come to an end we are slaughtered with hideous cruelty. No animal in England knows the meaning of happiness or leisure after he is a year old. No animal in England is free. The life of an animal is misery and slavery: that is the plain truth.”

“But is this simply part of the order of nature? Is it because this land
of ours is so poor that it cannot afford a decent life to those who dwell upon it? No, comrades, a thousand times no! The soil of England is fertile, its climate is good, it is capable of affording food in abundance to an enormously greater number of animals than now inhabit it. This single farm of ours would support a dozen horses, twenty cows, hundreds of sheep–and all of them living in a comfort and a dignity that are now almost beyond our imagining. Why then do we continue in this miserable condition? Because nearly the whole of the produce of our labour is stolen from us by human beings. There, comrades, is the answer to all our problems. It is summed up in a single word–Man. Man is the only real enemy we have. Remove Man from the scene, and the root cause of hunger and overwork is abolished for ever.”

“Man is the only creature that consumes without producing. He does not give milk, he does not lay eggs, he is too weak to pull the plough, he cannot run fast enough to catch rabbits. Yet he is lord of all the animals. He sets them to work, he gives back to them the bare minimum that will prevent them from starving, and the rest he keeps for himself. Our labour tills the soil, our dung fertilises it, and yet there is not one of us that owns more than his bare skin. You cows that I see before me, how many thousands of gallons of milk have you given during this last year? And what has happened to that milk which should have been breeding up sturdy calves? Every drop of it has gone down the throats of our enemies.

And you hens, how many eggs have you laid in this last year, and how many of those eggs ever hatched into chickens? The rest have all gone to market to bring in money for Jones and his men. And you, Clover, where are those four foals you bore, who should have been the support and pleasure of your old age? Each was sold at a year old–you will never see one of them again. In return for your four confinements and all your labour in the fields, what have you ever had except your bare rations and a stall?”

“And even the miserable lives we lead are not allowed to reach their
natural span. For myself I do not grumble, for I am one of the lucky ones.
I am twelve years old and have had over four hundred children. Such is the
natural life of a pig. But no animal escapes the cruel knife in the end.
You young porkers who are sitting in front of me, every one of you will scream your lives out at the block within a year. To that horror we all must come–cows, pigs, hens, sheep, everyone. Even the horses and the dogs have no better fate. You, Boxer, the very day that those great muscles of yours lose their power, Jones will sell you to the knacker, who will cut your throat and boil you down for the foxhounds. As for the dogs, when they grow old and toothless, Jones ties a brick round their necks and drowns them in the nearest pond.”

“Is it not crystal clear, then, comrades, that all the evils of this life
of ours spring from the tyranny of human beings? Only get rid of Man, and the produce of our labour would be our own. Almost overnight we could become rich and free. What then must we do? Why, work night and day, body and soul, for the overthrow of the human race! That is my message to you, comrades: Rebellion! I do not know when that Rebellion will come, it might be in a week or in a hundred years, but I know, as surely as I see this straw beneath my feet, that sooner or later justice will be done. Fix your eyes on that, comrades, throughout the short remainder of your lives! And above all, pass on this message of mine to those who come after you, so
that future generations shall carry on the struggle until it is victorious.”

“And remember, comrades, your resolution must never falter. No argument must lead you astray. Never listen when they tell you that Man and the animals have a common interest, that the prosperity of the one is the prosperity of the others. It is all lies. Man serves the interests of no creature except himself. And among us animals let there be perfect unity, perfect comradeship in the struggle. All men are enemies. All animals are comrades.”

Old Major’s Speech
Animal Farm
George Orwell

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5 thoughts on “Old Major’s speech

  1. Liberty of Thinking

    Hm, mr. Orwell, my all time favourite…
    I came across his AF after the Romanian “revolution”, since before, it was one of the top banned novels.
    Orwell’s genius transpires in his side-less critique of anything not reaching his hard-to-define, personal -leftist nevertheless- standards of “social justice”…
    For me Orwell is the essence of intellectual left, sensitive enough to understand social injustice, but smart enough to have understood that all revolutions will be assassinated by their very igniters…
    And when I say igniters, I am not at all talking about the intellectual parent(s) of revolutions. All true intellectuals are way too cautious (by nature of their cognitive complexity) to become bearers of their own flames. Their writing desks’ edges are the limits of their battlefields, knowing well that truth must be uttered, but also that the ones brave enough to raise the torch, are ultimately always the pigs…
    Yes, the pigs, these disgusting creatures which will eat their own excrements, should the need arise, and savagely turn against their own and not their own kind. Because gentlemen, the pigs, under their cute little rosy noses have fangs… And they aren’t afraid to use them, always in the best of their very own interests…
    Orwell was sublime choosing the pig for his main character, with their internal anatomy so strikingly similar to that of humans…

    “All are equal” says the one on the top podium…
    He has just forgotten to start his sentence with “We”…

    The rest is history..

    Rom

    Reply
    1. George volkov

      Ah, but what if snowball had succeeded old major, and freed all farms from the yoke of human oppression? We have a name for people who follow snowball and old major, whilst rejecting napoleon- Trotskyists

      Reply
      1. Liberty of Thinking

        Yes, what if…
        Trotsky is exactly one of those magnificent examples in support of what I have said, that intellectualism rarely has anything to do with practicality. Being of the same “stock” as him, I have to live with our common heritage of seeing more than we can reflect in an understandable manner.
        Yes George, what if…, nevertheless there’s always a “people’s choice”, with the thoughtless masses ready to follow a “dear leader” who doesn’t wear glasses and has his IQ in direct proportion with his lack of self- and anyone else- confidence…
        Look at Plato: does any “state” has anything to do with his ideas?

        In the end, all you’ve got at practical levels, is hijacked ideals…

  2. George volkov

    Orwell having fought with an anti-Stalinist militia in the spanish civil war.
    Read homage to catalonia.

    Reply
    1. Liberty of Thinking

      Anti-Stalinism? Good cause!
      Spanish civil war? Good cause!
      Orwell to war? Pathetic cause…
      Even though I deeply respect his selfless enthusiasm, reading some of his own conclusions strengthens my conviction that everyone has their own place in this historical mess called existence, and his would have been not in Spain…

      Reply

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