In the world there are many different kinds of governments. There are democracies and dictatorships and there are tyrannical government as wells as fair governments. I disagree with the idea that, When people fear the government, there is tyranny, and when the government fears the people, there is democracy.
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Across the 3 texts we’ve been reading, Animal Farm, Shooting an Elephant and The Hanging there are many examples of different types of government as well as different perspectives on those governments. Through these 3 texts it is very clear the reason some governments are fairer and less tyrannical then others is not the mindset of the people but the way the rulers are using their power.
The first reason I disagree with this prompt is the way the government uses its power in Animal Farm.In Animal Farm we see the government undergo many changes. In the first chapters of the book the farm is under the control of Mr.Jones and the humans. Under his control we see an extremely tyrannical government; the animals are underfed, overworked and are completely unhappy with their lives but they don’t do anything about it. In theses first chapters we see that the animals are very afraid of the government and we do see tyranny take place so that agrees with the prompt. However as the story progresses and the pigs take the power from the humans, the people stop fearing the government and begin trusting it. While the animals trust in the government increases, the amount of tyranny taking place doesn’t. At first the pigs allow a council of animals to vote on decisions and the farm becomes a happier place for everyone but as the pigs, specifically Napoleon, become more power hungry, Napoleon starts taking things into his own hands and making the decisions for the farm himself as well as dealing with the humans who are supposed to be the animals enemy. One large example of the tyranny that takes place under Napoleon’s control is the massacre that occurs in chapter 7. During this Napoleon forces the animals to confess to participating in a conspiracy with Snowball, another pig who left the farm, and kills everyone who confesses even though he forced them to. He also cuts the rations of the hens unless they give up their eggs to him which causes 9 hens to die. It is very clear that Napoleon’s government is very tyrannical but the animals trust him. Although they may be brainwashed they are still trusting of him and do not really fear the government, they believe that Napoleon is doing the right thing. The mindset of the people does not change but Napoleon starts taking advantage of his power and that is what leads to the corruption of the farm.This is an example of an extremely tyrannical government where the people do not fear their leader.
Another reason I disagree with this prompt is the mindset of George Orwell in Shooting an Elephant. In this text we see a government that is very scared of its people, or at least the employees of the government are. George Orwell was a high ranking British official based in Burma where Britain was supposed to be the ruling government. Orwell was in a position of power and he got a call that an elephant was on the loose. He followed the lead and found the elephant but was left with the difficult decision of whether or not to shoot it. He didn’t want to shoot the elephant at all but he was so scared of what the Burmese people would think if he didn’t go through with it that he ended up shooting and killing the innocent elephant despite what he believed would have been the right thing to do. In the text he states And suddenly I realized that I should have to shoot the elephant after all. The people expected it of me and I had got to do it. In this quote we see how the people really had the control over the Government even if it didn’t seem like it. The opinion of the people mattered so much to George Orwell that he ended up killing an innocent animal, which he regrets for the rest of his life. Here we see a situation where the government fears the people, but that doesn’t make it a democracy. Britain was still the ruling power in Burma and had control over all its people, just because the people weren’t scared of the British doesn’t mean it wasn’t a tyrannical government. The Burmese people were still extremely discriminated against by the British and were constantly killed and punished for unfair reasons. Even though the Burmese people were the ones who in a way, were in control of Orwell, the dynamic of this government comes from how those higher up in Britain have treated the Burmese people throughout the years. This shows how even if the government fears the people there could still be tyranny.
Some people might say though that the text The Hanging does support the prompt. In The Hanging George Orwell has to witness the hanging of a man during his time serving the British Government in Burma. In this text George Orwell recounts his experience of being at a man’s hanging. After the hanging everyone starts chattering gaily and nobody seems to really regard the man’s life that they just took. In this example we do see a tyrannical government in which the people are afraid of the government but the reason the government is like that is not people of the people’s fear, it’s because of the way the government uses its power. The government could choose to not execute its citizens and treat them with a little more respect but it doesn’t, and that’s not because the people are afraid of it, it because the people in charge are just using their power unfairly. This is the case in many governments across the world and we see multiple times in this text that the main cause of tyranny is people abusing their power and not the overall fear of the people.
In conclusion there are many valid reasons among the 3 George Orwell texts that agree with the prompt of when people fear the government, there is tyranny. When the government fears the people, there is democracy. All 3 of these texts provide a different insight into government and how it can be corrupted. The Hangingand Shooting an Elephant give a very real insight into what it’s like to work for an unfair government while being surrounded by its people and Animal Farm gives an interesting commentary on the events of the communist revolution through the eyes of animals on a farm. The discussion of government and power dynamics comes up very often throughout these texts and everyone handles it a different way but they all come to same conclusion of how easily a government can turn tyrannical. Although having the people fear their government does help encourage a tyrannical government and having the government fear its people helps encourage a democracy those are not the 2 deciding factors, in the end it’s about the people behind the government and the way they conduct their power.
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