Reading Animal Farm was definitely one of the best choices I made last year. For those that do not know, Animal Farm is a famous novel by English writer George Orwell which through its allegorical storytelling shows the techniques that dictators and those in power use to keep the masses submissive and from revolting, even as living conditions get worse and worse.
One of the techniques those in power use is controlling the narrative. That is, to say what is true and what is not, what happened and what didn’t, who is good and who is bad. This is shown very clearly in the book when Napoleon (the leader of the animals on the farm) has his second-in-command Squealer periodically tell the lower animals things about his rival Snowball which at first makes the animals see Snowball’s ideas in a negative light, then Snowball himself is made to seem detrimental to the animals’ plight, then the problems that happen on the farm are blamed on Snowball, then finally Snowball is made out to be a traitor and enemy, with a death sentence on his head.
Napoleon also gains control of the narrative in Animal Farm by slowly (and without any announcement) changing the actual rules that all the animals originally agreed upon. Thus, “No animal shall kill any other animal” turns into “No animal shall kill any other animal without cause.” Of course, when Napoleon decides to change things he has Squealer eloquently rationalize and justify the changes to the lower animals. If any animal raises objections, Squealer is quick to remind the animals how “lucky” they are to have what they have and how well Napoleon and the others in charge take care of them (as of course, this veneration of those in power has also been subtly woven into the narrative), and if all else fails, he uses the animals’ fear of “the enemy” to silence them into submission. And so even as life grows more and more unfair and cruel to lower animals on the farm, they do not realize it, and still consider themselves lucky to live on Animal Farm.
This very clearly shows the danger of oversight, the danger of missing out on what is going on right under your noses. This is what those in power rely on, your ignorance. Those in power – dictators, presidents, senators, etc. – rely on your unawareness, your oversight, to pass the laws which benefit them and the corporations/wealthy people that have given money so those specific puppet politicians could have that office.
Do not give them that power.
Pay attention to news stories, and more importantly, pay attention to trends. Pay attention to the narrative that is being told to you, both overtly and subtly.
Do not let your rights and the rights of others be taken away due to oversight.