Historically Speaking

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Posts Tagged ‘Animal Farm’

Turn Black Into White

Posted by Admin on March 25, 2011

Squealer the pig was so charismatic that he was literally able to turn bad into good. He wasn’t too bright, however, which is how he became the propaganda spreader for the pigs. Anything evil was turned into something seemingly morally good once Squealer got a hold of it which led to the corruption of formerly good animals who easily fell into becoming very bad animals.

In an article entitled, “Moscow Gets Limited Support over Georgia” published by Euronews on August 28, 2008 it was reported that:

Referring to Georgia’s attack on the rebel province of South Ossetia, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said: “I am sure that the united position of the SCO member states will have international resonance and I hope it will serve as a strong signal to those who try to turn black into white and justify this aggression.”

Just over 20 years before that article, the Los Angeles Daily News published an article on October 8, 1987 entitled, “Billionaire Boys Unrealistic, Ex-Member Says.”  In it, the article reported on a court case involving Ben Dosti and Reza Eslaminia who were accused of concocting a scheme to wrest millions from Reza’s father:

Reality meant nothing to the associates of the bizarre Billionaire Boys Club, according to a former member.  The members fell into a pattern of paradox philosophy, ready to turn black into and white into black.  Dean Karny testified Tuesday in the murder-conspiracy-kidnapping trial of Ben Dosti and Reza Eslaminia, both 26.

And twenty years before that in Kentucky, the Middlesboro Daily News edition of July 15, 1967 published an article entitled, “Someone Should Define Diplomacy For Russians” that stated:

It was the usual Soviet exercise in propaganda — an attempt, by constant reiteration of simplistic phrases, to turn black into white and white into black.

On December 11, 1945 the Chicago Daily Tribune ran an article entitled “A Conspiracy To Turn Black Into White.”  The journalist wrote:

The similar tenor of several apologetic editorials which have appeared almost simultaneously in newspapers in different parts of the country suggests a common interest and a common direction toward the end of stifling the Pearl Harbor investigation.

But long before WWII and quite a few years before WWI, in New Zealand’s Wanganui Herald, there appeared a Letter To The Editor entitled, “Opposition Sorrows” in which the author, J.W. Kenah, wrote on September, 14, 1903:

You must not blame the Opposition papers; they are hard put to it to make out a case, and, like a drowning man, will catch at any straw.  As I have before pointed out, Conservatism acts contrary to the Creator’s laws in nature, and we need not therefore be surprised that the effort is being continually made to turn black into white and vice versa.

In George Orwell’s novel, “Animal Farm” the first chapter introduces the reader to Squealer and describes him in this way:

The best known among them was a small fat pig named Squealer, with very round cheeks, twinkling eyes, nimble movements, and a shrill voice.  He was a brilliant talker, and when he was arguing some difficult point he had a way of skipping from side to side and whisking his tail which was somehow very persuasive.  The others said of Squealer that he could turn black into white.

And so, while this phrase had been used prior to the publication of “Animal Farm” it appears to have been associated with the Soviet Union and Russia in the media on a number of occasions.

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All Men Are Enemies

Posted by Admin on March 23, 2011

In Orwell’s novel, Animal Farm, Major — one of the main characters — espouses the belief that rebellion is the path to freedom.  In fact, he is convinced that overthrowing the human race would instantly make all animals “rich and free.” Well, perhaps not all animals as Major is unsure as to whether wild animals count with regards to the rebellion.   He rallies the animals with cries that the animals must be united in order to overthrow man, stating clearly that, “all men are enemies. All animals are comrades.”

It’s an interesting point of view and certainly not an original concept created by George Orwell.  The concept of all men being enemies has been explored with that exact verbage in a number of books.

The Montreal Gazette reported on Richard Aldington‘s then most-recently published 344-page book, The Romance of Casanova.  The article began:

Richard Aldington is, indisputably, one of the most important of contemporary writers in English.  Death Of A Hero, was one of the most significant books of its era: The Colonel’s Daughter, All Men Are Enemies — even, Very Heaven — are fine examples of modern English prose, generous in concept, original in idea, brilliant in execution.  His current volume, The Romance of Casanova, is an annoyance, doing the author a literary disservice, and providing a source of considerable distress to his enthusiastic admirers.

Of course, the novel All Men Are Enemies was made into a film by Fox Films and went into production January 16, 1934 and wrapped up exactly one month later.  Hugh Williams, Helen Twelvetrees and Mona Barrie as the principals in the movie.  The story, published two years earlier in 1932, was described by movie critics as being a tedious but tasteful romance about a young Englishman who marries the wrong woman.

In fact, when the Los Angeles Times reviewed the movie, journalist Philip K. Scheuer wrote:

Beyond a perfunctory introductory caption explaining that “to the man who sets out on a brave and solitary way, all men are enemies,” there is nothing about the new film at Loew’s State to make its title particularly applicable.

Nearly a century before that, in the book, First Footsteps in East Africa or An Exploration of Harar, written by Richard F. Burton of the Bombay Army and published by Longman, Brown, Green and Longmans in 1856, this is written:

One of these events throws the country into confusion, for the vendetta is rancorous and bloody, as in ancient Germany or in modern Corsica. Our Abban enlarged upon the unpleasant necessity of travelling all night towards the hills, and lying perdu during the day. The most dangerous times are dawn and evening tide: the troopers spare their horses during the heat, and themselves during the dew-fall. Whenever, in the desert,—where, says the proverb, all men are enemies — you sight a fellow creature from afar, you wave the right arm violently up and down, shouting “War Joga! War Joga!”—stand still! stand still! If they halt, you send a parliamentary to within speaking distance. Should they advance, you fire, taking especial care not to miss; when two saddles are emptied, the rest are sure to decamp.

The concept that all men are enemies, however, comes from Colossians 1:13 where the concept put forth is that all men are enemies in their minds until God transforms them through the work of salvation.

While George Orwell has the character Major state, “all men are enemies” in Chapter 1 of Animal Farm, the sentiment is one that has made itself well-known before and after the publication of this book.

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Four Legs Good, Two Legs Bad

Posted by Admin on March 22, 2011

To reduce the concept of Animalism in “Animal Farm” into an easily remembered formula, the maxim, “Four legs good, two legs bad” was devised by Snowball.  It was based on the concept that whatever had two legs was an enemy and whatever had four legs or wings was a friend.  It’s a maxim that was repeated by the sheep constantly to distract the crowd from the pigs’ lies.

On March 21, Heather Mallick of the Toronto Star wrote about the Pepsi Refresh Grant competition where Canadians and Americans post great ideas to Pepsi’s Refresh Everything website in the hopes that their idea will garner enough votes to be awarded anywhere from between $5,000 and $100,000 to make their ideas come true.  The winners aren’t decided by Pepsi but rather by every day people who can vote up to 10 times a day.  In Heather Mallick‘s article, she wrote:

Great idea, but guess who’s winning. “I’m just as much of an animal lover as the next guy but this is ridiculous,” one Toronto autism charity leader emailed me in despair. “We are being beaten by cats. Yes. Cats.”

Four legs good, two legs bad. Who votes that way?

The Montreal Gazette published an article on November 1, 1983 written by Don McGillivray and entitled, “Big Deficits Are Not So Bad.”  It dealt with budget deficits in Canada and the United States, and the reaction of each country’s population with regards to these deficits.  The article read in part:

When the government decides to borrow these savings rather than raise taxes while the recovery is still fragile, it is obviously not “crowding out” eager private sector investors.  What does menace us is a vicious circle of other-directed thinking in government and the business community.  Sometimes business spokesmen talking about the deficit sound like the sheep in George Orwell’s Animal Farm.  Except that instead of bleating “Four legs good, two legs bad” they chorus “Deficits bad, deficits bad.”

Two decades before that, Russell Kirk‘s column “To The Point” published in the Reading Eagle newspaper on July 24, 1963 spoke about the need for improvement to school textbooks and American education.  He wrote:

Also one often encounters economic or political bias in these manuals — although less of it than one found some years ago.  What is nearly as bad, many social studies and history textbooks are woolly and sentimental in their approach.  “Democracy” is made a God-term rather as the animals in Orwell’s novel “Animal Farm” were taught to bleat, “Four legs good, two legs bad.”

On September 1, 1946, the Chicago Tribune wrote a review of Orwell’s “Animal Farm.” The article, entitled “Blunders of Soviet Rule Satirized in ‘Animal Farm’” began by stating:

One of the year’s most talked of books is sure to be “Animal Farm,” not only because among the Book of the Month club members it will have an enormous audience awaiting it, but because it is a satire so simple and so amusing and so delightful that even a child can chuckle over it.

It is the story of the revolt of the animals on an English farm against Farmer Jones and human beings in general. Their battle cry is “Four legs good, two legs bad.” A clever agitator, a pig stirred his fellow animals with such words as “Only get rid of man and the produce of labor would be our own.”

We continue with “George Orwell Week” tomorrow as we take a look at how another expression from “Animal Farm” has found its way into our language.

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

Posted by Admin 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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