George Orwell wrote Animal Farm in 1945 as an allegorical tale warning against the horrors of Joseph Stalin’s dictatorial rule in the USSR. It begins on an ordinary farm in England, until a group of animals decide that their labours are being exploited by their human master. They stage a rebellion and take over the farm, declaring, “All animals are equal.” But the idealism of socialist values are soon corrupted by the farm’s greedy and clever new leaders: the pigs. They impose a totalitarian regime until a new slogan emerges: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”
The egalitarian political system is often described as good in theory, but bad in practice - Animal Farm is the perfect demonstration of that argument.
Controversial socialist hero killed by cancer
Hugo Chavez, Venezuela’s combative and charismatic left-wing president, has died in office aged 58. Is this the final blow for state socialism? Or will his controversial ideas live on?
‘Hope has won’: Greece rejects austerity
In a bold rejection of austerity economics, Greece has elected a far-left party determined to challenge Europe’s economic order. But will idealism pave the way to anarchy and ruin?
Socialist festival shows Marx still draws a crowd
Twenty years since end of the Cold War, most people think of communism as a dying creed. Yet this weekend, modern revolutionaries converged on London for the Marxism 2012 lecture series. Why?
‘Some animals are more equal than others’ claim the ruling pigs of Animal Farm. Is economic equality a useful aim for society?
Obama declares war on inequality and super rich
This week, the American president declared war on inequality and called for a year of action. But should society demand that wealth is shared, or let those who make big money keep it?
More billionaires as the rich get richer
The 1,000 richest people in Britain and Ireland have more than doubled their wealth in six years, while others struggle to feed themselves. Should we accept the rich getting richer?
Boris Johnson claims ‘greed is good’
Low intelligence determines a bottom rank in society and ensures less wealth, Margaret Thatcher’s spiritual heir has claimed. But is Boris’s praise for greedy, envious ‘cleverer’ go-getters healthy or unfair?
Some believe that George Orwell was criticising corruption, not socialism itself. Can those in power ever be trusted?
China’s elite rocked by corruption crackdown
To reform the Communist Party, China’s president has launched the country’s largest ever anti-corruption campaign. But is it more about securing power rather than delivering justice?
Fifa in crisis over corruption arrests
As two investigations probe into bribery and fraud at Fifa, football’s governing body finds itself in yet another scandal. Is it inevitable that money and power will always corrupt?
Pop meets politics at Eurovision Song Contest
Sweden claimed a decisive victory at Eurovision this weekend. But for all its glitz, the annual contest is dogged by controversy. In host nation Azerbaijan, repression and corruption are rife.
The Soviet Union ruled parts of Eastern Europe between 1922 and 1991, and Animal Farm helped to characterise it in the minds of the western world. The union may be over, but its influence is not forgotten.
Russians in denial over Soviet era crimes
Joseph Stalin presided over the deaths of millions during his bloody reign, yet a startling survey has found many Russians today are ignorant of his atrocities. How can this be explained?
Putin greets ‘rigged’ election victory with tears
Russia’s most powerful man, Vladimir Putin, has won the presidency for the third time. But this time his victory is marred by protests that threaten to bring an end to his corrupt rule.
Rising turmoil in eastern Ukraine
Pro-Russian groups calling for independence have occupied more public buildings in eastern Ukraine. Is Russia behind all this? Does President Putin intend to annex it, as he did Crimea?
The pigs in the novel use songs and slogans to keep the animals in line. While propaganda was a defining part of the USSR’s politics, Animal Farm was often used by western governments for its anti-Soviet message.
Oscar-tipped movie glorifies war, critics say
Clint Eastwood’s new film American Sniper has smashed box office records and been nominated for six Academy Awards. But does its portrayal of war amount to militaristic propaganda?
Q&A: Osama bin Laden’s ten commandments
Both loved and loathed, he was one of the few men to change the course of history. What were the ideals that drove this fanatical leader?
Chinese journalists strike over censorship
Staff at a newspaper have rebelled against propaganda officials rewriting editorials: does the confrontation offer clues about whether China will open up under new leader Xi Jinping?