Lev Davidovich Bronshtein, also known as Leon Trotsky, was a principal leader in the Soviet Union, whom played a huge role in the October Revolution, as well as the creation of the Red Army. (Leon Trotsky. 1998). In George Orwell’s novel Animal Farm, the author uses Trotsky to characterize Snowball, one of the main characters in the novel.
Leon Trotsky was born on November 8th, 1879, in Elisavetgrad, Russia (Leon Trotsky. 2003). Born to a Jewish family, Trotsky was sent to Odessa to receive education when he was 8. (Britannica. 2013). However, in 1896, Trotsky moved to Nikolayev to further his studies, where he was introduced to Marxism. (Leon Trotsky. 2013). Following the incident, Trotsky "briefly [attended] the University of Odessa, [before] he returned to Nikolayev to help organize the underground South Russian Workers’ Union." (Britannica. 2013).
Joining the Bolsheviks
Trotsky was later exiled to Siberia in 1898 for conducting revolutionary acts, where he was introduced to Vladimir Lenin’s works. (Wikipedia. 2013). He soon escaped and joined the Russian Social-Democrats. (2013). He initially subsided towards the Mensheviks faction in 1903, but was later forced into the Bolsheviks Party after a crackdown on the Soviet Union in 1917. (Britannica. 2013).
Following the incident, Trotsky became a part of the Bolshevik's Central Committee, and took on the role as People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs. (Britannica. 2013). On October 8th, after Lenin’s attempt to gain support from the Petrograd Soviet (of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies), Trotsky was elected as the chairman of the group. (Leon Trotsky. 2013). Following the incident, he was in charge of planning the Bolshevik’s raid to takeover the Provisional Government, making sure “all the vital areas of Petrograd were effectively in Bolshevik hands.” (The Causes of the October Revolution. n.d.). As part of his plan, Trotsky established a military army, known as the Red Guards, which consisted of armed working classed citizens from the Petrograd Soviet. On the day of the revolution, Trotsky ordered the Red Guards to take control of key buildings in the city. (n.d.). This allowed the Bolsheviks to successfully infiltrate the Winter Palace and seize power from the Provisional Government. (n.d.). Trotsky’s efforts in the revolution were highly acknowledged and he was later considered the “second man in the Bolsheviks Party after Lenin.” (Wikipedia. 2013). In a Pravda article that was written following the October Revolution:
“All practical work in connection with the organization of the uprising was done under the immediate direction of comrade Trotsky, the president of the Petrograd Soviet. It can be stated with certainty that the party is indebted primarily and principally to comrade Trotsky for the rapid going over of the garrison to the side of the Soviet and the efficient manner in which the work of the Military-Revolutionary Committee was organized...” - Pravda. No.241, 1918 (The October Revolution. 1917).
Russian Civil Wars
Trotsky's Red Army
With the Bolsheviks in power, Trotsky became Military Commissar of the Soviet Union. (Britannica. 2013). Given this role, he had the task of organizing the Red Army - the military army of the Soviet Union. (2013). The army, composed of peasant farmers and labour workers from the previous Russian army, underwent military training under the hands of Leon Trotsky, and successfully brought the Bolsheviks to power following the Russian Civil War. (HistoryLearningSite. n.d.). Recruiting former tsarist officers, Trotsky was able to win against the counterrevolutionaries during Russian Civil War. (Wikipedia. 2013). From there on, Trotsky was noted for his military prowess, and also for being “Stalin’s military superior” at that time. (Wikipedia. 2013).
Exile from Soviet Union
Trotsky making public appearances
Following Lenin’s death, Trotsky and Joseph Stalin became the two main contenders for the new Soviet Union Communist Party. (ThinkQuest. n.d.). Praised for his “charismatic character” and his ability to make “brilliant speeches”, Trotsky received a letter from Lenin, stating that he should be his (Lenin’s). successor, and Stalin “should be gotten rid of”. (n.d.). However, Stalin hid the letter, and it was not publicized. (n.d.).
Although Trotsky was greatly acknowledged for his strong public speeches, his decisions were often challenged by Stalin. (HistoryToday. 1992). Trotsky’s theory of a "Permanent Revolution", for example, believed that “the Russian Revolution, to be permanently successful, would have to depend on revolutions in other countries.” (Britannica. 2013). His theory also stated that, the union should expand the working class, which will allow socialism to spread worldwide. (2013).
“It is impossible to build socialism in Russia. The peasants do not want it as collective farming and such are detrimental to their pockets. It is only possible to do so if the workers of the West, in America, revolted, as they would stand to gain more,” Trotsky stated. (ThinkQuest.com. n.d.).
This however, contradicted Stalin’s beliefs of “Socialism in One Country”, which led to rivalry and competition. (Britannica. 2013). As mentioned in an article written by Stephanie L. McKinney:
"Trotsky was far more popular than Stalin, so Stalin was given the less public role of General Secretary of the Communist Party in 1922. Trotsky, who was a persuasive orator, maintained a visible presence in foreign affairs and was perceived by many as the heir apparent." (n.d.).
Stalin, continuing to scheme plots, teamed up with other members of the Soviet Union to take down Trotsky, denouncing his motives and capabilities as Lenin's future successor. (ThinkQuest. n.d.). Trotsky, being outmaneuvered by Stalin, was forced out of important roles in the union, an was exiled from the Soviet Union in January, 1928. (Rosenburg. n.d.).
Formation of the Fourth International and Death
Trotsky wounded after assassination
In 1933, Trotsky moved to France, where he attempted to reform the Third International, (Britannica. 2013). which was an international communist organization aimed to promote world revolution. (Historians.org. 2013). His attempts ended in failure, and Trotsky established a Fourth International with his followers instead. While working in the organization, Trotsky continued to criticize Stalin for his evil motives, only to be considered a “major conspirator in a fabricated plot to remove Stalin from power.” (n.d.).
Following the Purge Trials Stalin established in 1936, 13 of Stalin's subordinates were said to have been assisting Trotsky in removing Stalin from power. (Britannica. 2013). Henchmen were later sent out to assassinate Trotsky, and on August 1940, he was attacked with an ice pick. Trotsky was sent to the hospital, leading to his death of August 20th, 1940. (Rosenburg. n.d.).
Tying it Back to the Novel - Snowball
The Pigs' Superiority
In context to the novel, Orwell bases Snowball on Trotsky’s past as a member of the Bolsheviks Central Committee. His views towards Lenin's ideals, for example, conveys Orwell's perception of Trotsky. In the novel, Old Major made his speech about bringing about peace and equality, glorifying his idea of a "utopia". (Orwell. P. 5) From his speech, Snowball and Napoleon felt as though "the work of teaching and organizing the others fell naturally upon the pigs, who were generally recognized as being the cleverest of the animals." (P. 9) As a result, the pigs were the leaders of the farm, and led the animals during the Rebellion. Napoleon also claimed that the pigs were the Brainworkers on the farm, and must receive portions of apples to provide them with brainpower. Here, Orwell demonstrates the dramatic irony behind the pigs' system of leadership. Although the pigs understand Old Major's idea of a utopia, they fail to address the equality in the farm, and instead, show how they are superior amongst all animals. However, the animals are oblivious towards this, and thus, their freedom gradually diminishes and the pigs' power increases. Snowball, the pig who promoted the hierarchal system, conveys the idea that the pigs are the leaders of the farm. As a result, the animals are treated as subordinates, following the pigs' orders and contradicting Old Major's ideals of an equal society. Orwell describes this to show how Trotsky is corrupted by the idea of superiority amongst all people, highlighting his failure to bring about equality, resulting in his fall from power (i.e. his exile).
Napoleon's role in the Rebellion, also mirrors Trotsky’s role in the October Revolution. In the novel, Snowball was commanding and leading the animals throughout the Rebellion. He “threw onto the fire the ribbons with which the horses’ manes and tails had usually been decorated on market days,” (P. 13) stating that it was the ‘mark of a human being’ and should be destroyed. He also went with Napoleon and “butted the doors [of the farmhouse] open with their shoulders and the animals entered in single fill.” (P. 14) Additionally, Snowball announced the harvesting of hay and crops in the farming, setting down the Seven Commandments for the animals to follow. (P. 16) Snowball’s leadership in this scene parallels Trotsky's control over the Red Guards during the revolution. The roles Snowball played, including the burning of the ribbons, the raid into the farmhouse, as well as the Seven Commandments, assimilates the variety of roles Trotsky had during the October Revolution, such as the People's Commissar of Foreign Affairs, Chairman of Petrograd Soviet, leader of Red Guards, etc.
Although Snowball’s actions during the Rebellion did not fully mirror that of Trotsky’s, Orwell added it in the novel to make a contrast between Snowball’s and Napoleon’s power in the farm. Compared to Snowball’s role, there was little mention of what Napoleon did in the Rebellion, excluding the fact he provided food for the animals and assisted Snowball in writing the Seven Commandments. (See more: Joseph Stalin) From this, Orwell brings out Snowball's importance in the Rebellion, concreting his heroic, towering image in the farm. He uses this to allude to Trotsky's great contribution to the revolution, advocating his
In this scene, Orwell also sees Snowball as a mirror image of Vladimir Lenin. Vladimir Lenin, was the previous leader of the Bolsheviks, who established the Soviet Union, and brought Marxism (communism) into Soviet Russia. (Britannica. 2013). He successfully led the Bolsheviks to victory in the October Revolution, and created the first modern totalitarian state in the Soviet Union. (2013). In the rebellion, Snowball led the animals throughout the battle, mentioning little of Napoleon's role in the same scene. The contrast projects Snowball as a glorifying, towering leader that guided the animals to victory. This can be compared to Lenin as he executed the October Revolution and made the whole plan possible, showing how Snowball is a mix of both Trotsky and Lenin . By making this connection, Orwell comments on the great similarities between Trotsky and Lenin, using Snowball to merge their traits together, showing how Trotsky is considered Lenin's equal.
The Battle of Cowshed
In addition to the Rebellion, Snowball continues to portray Trotsky’s role as a soviet revolutionary through the roles they played during the Battle of Cowshed and the Russian Civil War. In the novel, Snowball was claimed of setting up various committees within Animal Farm, including the re-education committee, the Animal Committee, the Egg Production Committee, etc. (P. 20 - 21) Similarly, during the Civil War, Trotsky played a huge role in various committees. Originally being Commissar of Foreign Affairs, Trotsky soon stepped down and became the Military Commissar for the Bolsheviks. On the other hand, whereas Snowball was noted for setting up 6 committees, Trotsky was only a part of 2. Readers can interpret this as Orwell’s method of exaggerating the Trotsky’s importance and responsibility in the Bolsheviks Central Committee.
Additionally, on the day of the Battle, Snowball was claimed of “[studying] an old book of Julius Caesar’s campaigns,” and on the day of the Battle of Cowshed, “[he] was in charge of the defensive [military] operations.” (P. 26) By giving out orders, the farm was able to achieve victory, and Snowball was given the medal for being “Animal Hero, First Class”. (P. 28) In context to the Russian Civil War, Snowball’s role as commander of the animal army during the battle mirrors Trotsky’s role as a military tactician. Orwell’s reference of Julius Caesar in particular, can be seen as his way of emphasizing Trotsky’s military prowess. Julius Caesar, famous for his great victories against rivaling German armies, is well known for his military prowess and capabilities as a leader. By describing how Snowball studied Caesar's books, readers believe he has trained himself to be equally powerful as Caesar. This ties in with Trotsky’s military prowess during the civil war, of which exemplifies Orwell’s views on his skills as a military tactician. Snowball’s medal ‘Animal Hero, First Class’ further highlights this, bringing out Trotsky's heroic image and military prowess.
Although Snowball was depicted as a hero, Orwell also uses the scene to portray his flaws as well. In the novel, Orwell describes how Snowball's projects resulted in failure (P. 20) He illustrates how the Re-education Committee "broke down almost immediately" and many animals "simply took advantage of it." (P. 20). The different committees he formed for particular animals, such as the Egg Committee for the hens, diminished the animals' freedom. Snowball's forceful acts harmed the animals in the farm, who he considered his subordinates in the hierarchy. From this, Orwell denounces Snowball's committees, and showed how it has no purpose in the farm. Orwell uses this to digress readers from Stalin and exemplify Trotsky's faults, emphasizing upon his animosity towards those inferior to him. Not only does he violate their freedom, but also fails to establish policies that would benefit the union. As a result, Orwell suggests that Trotsky is not as heroic as he seems, and as a result, was exiled from the committee.
Trotskyism (Trotsky's Ideals)
Similar to Napoleon and Stalin, Snowball's theories and ideologies of the revolution mirrors that of Trotsky. In chapter 4 of the novel, Orwell described how “Snowball often won over the majority by his brilliant speeches.” (P. 31) This relates back to Trotsky’s ability to make to make strong public appearances. Additionally, Snowball also believed that “[the animals] must send out more and more pigeons and stir up rebellion among the animals on the other farms,” (P. 34) arguing that “if rebellions happened everywhere [the animals] would have no need to defend themselves.” (P. 34) In context to the Russian Revolution, Trotsky believed in a “permanent revolution”, which stated that a revolution could only be successful by spreading socialism outside of the country and expanding the working class population. By stirring up rebellion among other farms, Snowball aims to spread his theories and ideas to other farms, of which mirrored Trotsky’s ideals as a leader.
Although Orwell does not use any special method to display Trotsky's ideals in the novel, unlike previous examples, he aimed to make Trotsky's ideology and beliefs more clear and straightforward. The way he directly mentions Snowball's urge to spread the revolution, allows reader to link it back to Trotsky's theory of "Permanent Revolution", providing them with a clear idea of his motives, and how it contradicts Napoleon's idea of "Socialism in One Country". By directly portraying both Snowball and Napoleon's ideas, readers see how they portray the concept of black and white, good and evil, yin and yang, etc. The contrariness of the two theories is emphasized; their theories are depicted as a pair of polar opposites. Orwell has outlined his idea in a straightforward manner that makes it easy to understand, thus highlighting the differences in the two theories. As a result, readers gain a better understand the reasons behind Trotsky's exile, making his rivalry with Stalin more apparent.
In contradiction to Napoleon's name, for example, the name "Snowball" can be interpreted in various ways. At first glance, the term 'snowball' can be directly inferred as a white ball of snow. In symbolic terms, white is considered the symbol of purity and sacredness. (Symbolism - Colours. n.d.). The colour white is the polar opposite of black, which symbolizes power and evil. (n.d.). Relating back to the novel, Napoleon was described as a "berkshire pig", (P. 9) a type of pig that is black in colour. (Britannica. 2013). The symbolic meaning behind the colour strongly ties in with the berkshire pig Napoleon, who was corrupted by power, and used many cunning methods to consolidate his dictatorship. (See more: Joseph Stalin) On the other hand, Snowball was considered a hero and leader of Animal Farm, leading the animals throughout the Rebellion and Battle of Cowshed. He played an important role in the farm, and Orwell uses the colour white to highlight this. He relates the colour with the pig, portraying a glorified, heroic image of Snowball. In contrast, Napoleon is considered evil and hostile, while Orwell purposely used white to exaggerate the purity and importance Snowball demonstrates in the farm. Using the term 'Snowball', Orwell aims to create a relation between Trotsky and the colour white, portraying his heroic image in the revolution. He also uses the colour to evoke the contrariness between him and Stalin, showing how they are unable to bond and cooperate together.
Through the many examples and clear messages, Orwell has successfully created a strong connection between Trotsky and Snowball. By focusing on Snowball throughout the first half of the book, Orwell provides readers with more than enough information regarding Trotsky's active participation and heroic image as a leader of the Soviet Union. The way he uses the name Snowball in particular, also concretes Trotsky's purity and heroism as a revolutionary. Nonetheless, Orwell has provided readers with more than enough information regarding Napoleon's character, theories, and leadership. By doing so, he not only commends Trotsky for his profound leadership and theories, but also points out that power can lead to corruption. Although Orwell has failed to mention Snowball's death - of which would relate to Trotsky's assassination - the roles Snowball has played in most parts of the story is more than enough to tie in with Trotsky, forming a strong connection between the two characters.
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