Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Animal Farm

first edition of Animal Farm
People have all kinds of relationships with their pets that often are a mirror of the kinds of societies they inhabit. For instance benevolent despotism seems to be a common relationship between a dog and his master—and it’s reflective of the kind of governance in which relatively little faith is placed in the autonomy of the citizen. You’ve heard of the divine right of kings with its corollary assumption that the masses of subjects have little or no—divine rights that is. Frederick the Great was the epitome of the benevolent despot. In modern times you had Tito who kept Yugoslavia together. When he died, chaos reigned and there were wars in which centuries of historical baggage played out in bloody slaughters at Sarajevo and Srebrenica. Tito was the pater familias of a raucous and divisive family that would become murderously dysfunctional. In any case it turns out that Frederick was buried next his favorite greyhounds. Now in terms of democracy there are dog owners whose relationships reflect Jeffersonian ideals and cats whose litters are shrines to the Federalist papers. Athenian democracy is another form of government that's reflected in animal maintenance and care of a beneficent kind. And, of course, you can see isolationism in the concept of the goldfish bowl. Remember George Orwell’s Animal Farm? Everyone always thinks of it as a political allegory, but it’s also an excellent handbook for pet lovers.

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