I had to read Animal Farm by George Orwell in middle school. I was taught that it was an allegory for the Russian Revolution, when the last Czar was overthrown and the Soviet Union was established. My two favorite characters in the book were Benjamin the donkey and Mollie the horse. Benjamin was supposed to represent the cynic intellectual while Mollie was supposed to represent the bourgeoisie. If you know me, or if you know me by now, you can see why those two are my favorite characters.
But I was thinking about it recently as I encountered people who are deciding to not vote in this upcoming election. I’ve learned that being “apolitical” is a valid political act, but I wonder what greater purpose does that serve? Those people remind me of Benjamin, the cynic intellectual. In Animal Farm, donkeys have the ability to be literate (not all animals can be). Benjamin watches the fall of empire and the rise of Communism (represented through the pigs, like Snowball) and does not give a shit. He had all the opportunities to say something or do something, and he never did. Now, my other favorite character. Mollie, was kind of on a similar “apathetic” trajectory. Horses also have the ability to be literate and highly educated. However, the two horses in the book, Boxer and Mollie, never obtain the same educational status as Benjamin. Boxer is the proletariat, or the worker. He never learns the alphabet, he doesn’t feel like he needs to because he simply needs to work for whoever is in charge, and those in charge do not require him to be educated. Mollie, the bourgeoise, only learns the 5 letters needed to spell her name. That’s all she feels that she needs to know.
Can I be honest? I thought that Mollie was the smartest character in this book. Was she as “educated” as Benjamin? In the “book smart” sense, not at all. But I’m about to go on a spoiler alert, which is gonna help me prove that Mollie was smart.
The revolution sucked. The pig Napeleon (who represents Stalin) is a dictator. Lots of people get killed. Even though Benjamin knew that shit was gonna go down, he did nothing about it. He really cared about Boxer, and was extremely distraught when Boxer was turned into glue after he became injured and unable to work, no longer capable of being a productive member of society.
Mollie was gone. She left halfway through that book. That girl said “Where’s my money (or straw/hay), I’m gonna follow the money,” and she went to another farm. Now, maybe she was turned into glue there after the book ended, but she was happy. She only knew how to spell her name (which reminds me of wealthy people who go “The only thing I ever write is my signature on the check.”) and she made sure she was always where she was most comfortable.
I feel like I can learn something from her. The bougie bitches like me and her only care about money and the joy that money is supposed to bring. And as long as we follow the rules and follow the capital (since the bougie don’t have to work, at least not like the proletariat), we’re set. These old cynics like Benjamin and the apolitical educated elite can just watch as shit hits the fan, I’m gonna be fine and comfortable because I followed the rules, and made sure I got what I needed to stay comfortable.
Now for me, yes, maybe racism is real. Maybe I’ll be followed around by sales clerks in the store. Or maybe I’ll have someone bar my entry into a club or something and have them claim it was because of my outfit. But, those are just small prices to pay, I guess. I don’t have to live in the ghetto, unless I choose to because it’s becoming a nice place to live. I don’t have to live out in the country and farm for my existence, unless it’s a cute pastime of mine. As long as I stay out of the wrong places at the wrong time, I can be like Molly, and not be turned into glue, or be another Black body buried in the ground, or another undocumented immigrant erased from existence with no one having any memory of me. At least, that’s what I tell myself when I’m worried about my future at night. It pays to be a bougie bitch.