In his speech, Old Major outlines his principles of “Animalism” which in essence reflect Marx’s political views as outlined in the Communist Manifesto.
As the prized “Middle White boar”, Old Major appears “majestic”, “wise” and “benevolent”. In contrast to the drunk and slovenly farm owner, Old Major is well regarded; he has and earns considerable authority.
Old Major is discontented about the cruelty to animals. They lack freedom, happiness and leisure and are denied basic human rights such as dignity and comfort. He attributes their misery to Man.
- Old Major’s main contention is that “the whole produce of our labour is stolen from us by human beings.” This act of theft is the “cause for hunger and overwork”.
- As a political theorist (like Lenin and Karl Marx), Old Major identifies/ analyses the problems of a capitalist system whereby the worker sells his labour to an employer. Man is “lord of all the animals” ; they are responsible for the “tyranny” over and exploitation of the animals.
- The problem with “man” is that he “consumes” but does not “produce”.
- Man exploits the animal/worker and uses his labour to enrich himself.
- None of the animals are able to enjoy the fruits of their labour.
- Old Major uses a provocative/ inflammatory/ indignant tone to encourage the animals to voice their dissent and stage a Rebellion.
- Old Major rejects the argument that they have a “common interest” or a shared economic and social interest. He rejects the argument that they work together for their mutual benefit and that the “prosperity of one is the prosperity of the others”. In other words, the man/owner shares the profits. Old Major is of the political view, that the interests of Man and animal (owner and worker) are mutually exclusive.
- Old Major outlines the rules of his new world order which relies on complete equality and neutrality. “All animals are equal” and “we are all brothers’.
- Old Major presents a solution, which is to run, manage and own the farm and equitably share the profits or the products of labour.
In the Communist Manifesto, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels outline their vision of a proletarian revolution. They state that the idealistic aims of Communists must be to “openly declare that their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions.” (258)
They believe that at the height of the Industrial revolution, that class antagonism has reached a climax in the economic and social relationship between the bourgeoisie, the owners of production, and the workers, or the proletariat, who sell their labour capital. This relationship, they believe, will inevitably come to an end owing to the self-destructive role of the economic ruling class, the bourgeoisie. The self-destruction of the bourgeoise occurs through its exploitation of the labour market and through its emphasis on the expansion and accumulation of capital. Marx and Engels note, “but not only has the bourgeoisie forged the weapons that bring death to itself; it has also called into existence the men who are to wield those weapons – the modern working class – the proletarian” (226).
Ironically, according to the authors, the ever expansion of modern industry, enables the workers to forge bonds and associate. The possibility for wide-spread unity further undermines the bourgeoisie class and continues to sew the seeds of its destruction. As the workers become “stronger, firmer, mightier” they are more able to demand and compel “legislative recognition” and as the Ten Hours bill in England shows, workers will become the catalyst for change. Marx and Engel affirm, “the proletariat movement is the self-conscious, independent movement of the immense majority, in the interest of the immense majority”. (232)
In one Preface published on 1 May 1890, Engels champions the universalization of the struggle of the proletariat. He writes, “Because today, as I write these lines, the European and American proletariat is reviewing its fighting forces, mobilized for the first time, mobilized as one army, under one flag, for one immediate aim: the standard eight-hour working day, to be established by legal enactment, as proclaimed by the Geneva Congress of the International in 1866, and again by the Paris Workers’ Congress in 1889”. ((211)
Marx’s radical communist world view prescribes a revolution staged by the proletariat which he believes is inevitable given the nature of the class struggle which has ensued throughout history. Marx and Engels foresee the “overthrow of the bourgeois supremacy” and the “conquest of political power by the proletariat” (2/234) “The proletariat will use its political supremacy to wrest by degrees, all capital from the bourgeoisie, to centralize all instruments of production in the hands of the State.” (243)
In their view the proletarian revolution will play out independent of nationality. Rather, there will be a body politic forged on mutual political interest. Whilst there will be some differences among countries, in the advanced countries there will be fundamental similarities.
Marx and Engels believe that the principle to abolish private property primarily affects and undermines the interests of the “modern bourgeois” class which has a monopoly on private property. This principle will, generally, not affect the peasant or the artisan whose labour does not enable him to create and own property.
Fundamentally, Marx and Engels believe that the acquisition of private property is associated with the division of labour that alienates the worker. They therefore criticize the notion of private property, which is created through capital, that is “that kind of property which exploits wage labour and which cannot increase except upon condition of begetting a new supply of wage labour for fresh exploitation”. As they also point out, up to nine-tenths of the population lack access or the economic means to own property. They state: “Private property is already done away with for nine-tenths of the population; its existence for the few is solely due to its non-existence in the hands of those nine-tenths”. (237) In other words, the majority of society is excluded, owing to their economic marginalization, from owning property.
As well as the abolition of private property, they also advocate the “abolition of all rights of inheritance” (243)
Whilst Marx and Engels are opposed to private property, they are not opposed to “social property”, which is “common property” and belongs to all members of society. (236) To this end they believe that it is imperative that credit is centralized in the hands of the State, “by means of a national bank with State capital and an exclusive monopoly” (243). This will be further supported by centralization of the means of communication and of transport.
In their “Preface to the German Edition of 1890”, Marx and Engels predict that the Russian Revolution may become the “signal for a proletarian revolution in the West”. They observe that “the present Russian common ownership of land may serve as the starting point for a communist development” (207).
In the Communist Manifesto, the authors lay the fundamental groundwork for the Economic plans that are developed by the Communist rulers in Russia by suggesting that there be a plan to extend factories and develop the instruments of production as owned by the State. This will be supported by industrial armies for agriculture and the equitable distribution of the population over the country. This plan will abolish the differences between the agricultural and manufacturing industries. (244).
Marx and Engels are radically opposed to the notion of “freedom” and individuality which exists, they believe, solely for the purpose of the enrichment of the bourgeoisie. In other words, they are radically opposed to a concept of the “individual” that seems to exist solely for the benefit and purpose of the “middle-class owner of property”.
Through the communist readjustment of economic power, it becomes impossible for man to accumulate the power to “subjugate the labour of others by means of (such) appropriation” (238)
Above all, Marx and Engels also believe that as man’s economic and material existence changes, as well as his social relations, so too will “man’s consciousness”. Marx states, “the Communist revolution is the most radical rupture with traditional property relations; no wonder that its development involves the most radical rupture with traditional ideas”. (243)
Inevitably, and eventually, Marx and Engels ideologically believe that their vision will cause a radical rupture in class relations that have dominated historical social organisation. Marx and Engels envisage a classless society which means that the notion of the proletariat as a ruling class will become obsolete. “In place of the old bourgeois society, with its classes and class antagonisms, we shall have an association in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all.” (244)
The stirring conclusion in the Communist Manifesto reinforces the radical worldview of the authors regarding a break with the past and a revolutionary new and dramatic social and political order. They state that the “proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win.” (258)