Prompt: ‘Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely’ – (Lord John E.E.D. Acton) Topic: Write an expository essay exploring how the prompt relates to the context of power and Animal Farm.
Power is a reality. Almost all societies, developed or primitive, have systems of government in which authority figures direct and shape the structure of their communities. Moreover, these figures may be drawn to government through a genuine wish to enhance the welfare of the people, and assist with important public processes and institutions. Power therefore, needn’t be a negative concept in and of itself – it can be wielded productively and responsibly, so long as it is not without reasonable limits. In ‘absolute power’ however, a single leader or political group exercises power dictatorially over its subjects, with few or no constraints. This, naturally, leads to abuse – if leaders or groups are accountable to no one, they may act unscrupulously, leading to corruption in two forms. First is a kind of philosophical corruption, in which individuals or groups, at first motivated by noble ideals, deviate from their social vision once absolute power is attained. Second is political corruption, in which leaders or groups act dishonestly or fraudulently to service their own interests. As such, absolute power can be said to lead not only to absolute corruption, but to the absolute certainty of injustice, as well as the exploitation and neglect of the powerless. (1)Drawing inspiration from this idea, George Orwell penned his satirical novella ‘Animal Farm’, which – by depicting the ultimate failure of an ‘animal revolution’ - condemns the absolute power of one group, the Bolsheviks, and one man, Joseph Stalin. Orwell uses an allegorical framework to achieve this; the common animals represent the Russian working classes, while the pigs act as the ruling intelligentsia, the officials of the Bolshevik revolutionary government. On the eve of the revolution, the ageing but stately...
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