Historically Speaking

Making sense of it all!

All Animals Are Equal But Some Animals Are More Equal Than Others

Posted by Elyse Bruce on March 21, 2011

The phrase “all animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others” comes from George Orwell‘s book, Animal Farm.  During World War II, George Orwell (1903-1950) served as a sergeant in the Home Guard.  He also worked as a journalist for the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), the Observer and the Tribune, where he was literary editor from 1943 to 1945. It was towards the end of the war that he wrote Animal Farm.  The story satirizes Communism and repositions the Russian Revolution in the story so that Russia is a typical English country farm and Russians are farm animals.

On October 8, 2009 both The Times and The Sunday Times published an article by Lucy Bannerman writing from Rome, Italy.  The article was entitled, “Opponents Rejoice As Court Rules Silvio Berlusconi Can Be Prosecuted” as judges of their Constitution Court removed Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi‘s immunity from prosecution.  This ruling meant that Prime Minister Berlusconi could now be tried for fraud, corruption, tax evasion and bribery.

The news article began with:

News that all animals are equal, even billionaire Prime Ministers, sparked a huge reaction that instantly flared along the fiercely polarised lines of Italian politics.

And it ended with:

Many Times Online readers rejoiced, however. “As an Italian citizen I’m so happy,” Elvira Frevalo posted, while Giorgio Marchetti commented: “Hope is back in poor Italy.”

Fabio Feliziani said simply: “Yes! All the animals are equal!”

On January 31, 1988 the Chicago Sun-Times ran a story entitled, “Mile High And Ready To Fly.”  The article, found on page 84 and written by Craig Matsuda, read in part:

It took a pig in a novel to come up with the thought that all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others. Well, pardners, when it comes to talkin’ about the Denver Broncos, their fans and their city, we’re not discussin’ a pig in a poke.  No, siree, this is a horse of a different color.

In Reading, PA the local newspaper, the Reading Eagle published Robb’s Corner, a column written by Inez Robb.  In that edition, she wrote this about politics in the U.S.S.R.:

What the latest upheaval in the Communist hierarchy means is any man’s guess, but experts on Russia in and out of the State Department are agreed that it consolidates Nikita Khrushchev’s power and makes him “the first among equals” among the commissars.  Or, as George Orwell put it so succinctly in “Animal Farm” all animals are equal only some are more equal than others.  (It is probably only a coincidence that the animal proclaiming this doctrine of equality was a pig, for Orwell wrote his little masterpiece on communism before Khrushchev hit the horizon.)

Over in Sydney, Australia the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper published the last installment of George Orwell’s book on their pages on February 15, 1946.  Famine, betrayal, murder, overwork and more had already been covered in previous installments of the book and the animals had learned too late not to put their trust in false leaders.  In this final installment, the following was found:

“My sight is failing,” she said finally.  “Even when I was young I could not have read what was written there.  But it appears to me that that wall looks different.  Are the Seven Commandments the same as they used to be, Benjamin?”

For once, Benjamin consented to break his rule, and he read out to her what was written on the wall.  There was nothing there now except a single Commandment.  It ran:

ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL BUT SOME ANIMALS ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS.

After that it did not seem strange when next day the pigs who were supervising the work of the farm all carried whips in their trotters.  It did not seem strange to learn that the pigs had bought themselves a wireless set, were arranging to install a telephone, and had taken out subscriptions to “John Bull,” “Tit-Bits” and the “Daily Mirror.” 

It did not seem strange when Napoleon was seen strolling in the farmhouse garden with a pipe in his mouth — no, not even when the pigs took Mr. Jones’s clothes out of the wardrobes and put them on, Napoleon himself appearing in a black coat, ratcatcher breeches, and leather leggings, while his favourite sow appeared in the watered silk dress which Mrs. Jones had been used to wear on Sundays.

Tomorrow, Idiomation continues with another expression from “Animal Farm” that has found its way into every day language.

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One Response to “All Animals Are Equal But Some Animals Are More Equal Than Others”

  1. William said

    Animal Farm is full of metaphors. The different kinds of animals represent different kinds of people under the Communist takeover and its system. A few can be directly linked to real individuals (Napoleon = Stalin, another was Trotsky, Beria, etc.). Each kind shows the role they all played in the Communists taking power. Even if you don’t know the history, the story itself is telling enough if you look at it not as a children’s tale but a real historic metaphor.

    I think it also has relevance for certain events of today. The revolution in Animal Farm started out as something grand for the people but turned into a nightmare instead. History shows that many revolutions were simply coups that took one group out of power as a like group took over.

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