A few days later I switched on the TV in my Human’s guest room in Animal Farm and instead of the usual stories about the Best Working Horses I saw Stinky’s visit to Mr Johnson’s Farm. It was just like a royal visit, with a red carpet and a sea of journalists and cameras. Overnight, Stinky had become the most popular Pig in the world. Even Animals who had known him for years started to look at him with new eyes as he proclaimed: ‘We shall make our life every bit as jolly as that of the Johnsons.’ Until now life on Animal Farm had been boring but easy-going. Every animal got its low quality but ample fodder and had no reason to work harder. But all this was going to change.
Then, Max the Fox – a Fox of good standing with many influential Pig friends -received a novel toy from Johnson. It was a glorious, flashing, Japanese videobox. A Pig with access to the press that printed the chits for hay sales bought the videobox. But Max the Fox made a smarter move: he used his small worthless chits to buy huge amounts of hay which he drove to Johnson’s to swap for 20 more videoboxes.
This made quite an impact on the Animals. Now they could see that the good life was not tilling fields nor weaving cloth, but selling videos and exporting hay. The Foxes and Pigs started to sell hay to bring in Human delights. And hay became scarce. Proletarian Cows and Horses had to queue, waiting for its delivery.
They stopped working: queuing for hay was consuming all their time. As hay became scarce Foxes discovered that they could get handsome profits by selling hay for more chits. And although the Horses and Cows were unhappy nobody understood their language.
Some old-style Pigs opposed Stinky. They thought one should leave some fodder for Animals, and they were supported by a small and esoteric group of intellectual Horses who tried to remind the Animals that life outside also included slaughterhouses.
But Stinky was unstoppable. When he introduced a new freedom of speech campaign, Mr Johnson Senior unveiled a competition for the best piece of journalism debunking Animal Farm’s past. All dark spots of the Farm’s history were exposed, all skeletons were removed from the closets, while life outside was truly glorified.
The Farm became a miserable place. Stinky was awarded honorary doctorates at Salamanca and Oxford but became increasingly unpopular back home.
‘Very soon Stinky will be overthrown, the Old Guard Pigs will rule again and we shall lose all our hard-earned villas and millions,’ said Max the Fox to his friends. ‘It’s time to act.’ He remembered Tough the Hog, once in charge of a farmstead but dismissed by the senior Pigs in a row over stolen tarts. Tough was a great admirer of the Human way of life which he felt consisted of executive jets and whisky galore. Max found Tough inside his sty brooding over an empty bottle and offered him the chance of a lifetime…
Then Max went to Stinky and warned him of the danger: ‘You will be overthrown if you do not protect yourself. You must use the Dogs for your own defence.’
‘How can I – a Salamanca and Oxford Doctor of Philosophy – behave like an old founder of the Farm?’ Stinky whined. But eventually he agreed that the Dogs could be bought in on the sly.
Max chose old toothless Dogs and placed them around Stinky’s residence. Then Tough the Hog appeared with a carefully chosen band of Foxes. ‘Bite me if you dare,’ he exclaimed, ‘but you cannot stop the Animals craving for the Human way of life.’
These noble words were immediately broadcast by Johnson TV and brought many a cheer. The Foxes rushed for the palace, while the old Dogs could not figure out what they were supposed to do… Stinky claimed he had been imprisoned by the Dogs but this cut no ice with Tough’s band. He was dismissed and locked up. The Day of Great Victory over the Dogs was made a national holiday and a statue of Tough strangling a ferocious Baskerville Hound was erected on the main square.
‘The Pigs’ rule is over,’ proclaimed Tough the Hog. Pigs who supported Tough were renamed Swine. Tough did not care for the old style titles: he accepted a perfectly Human position of Executive Manager.
More and more meadows and pastures belonging to Animal Farm were handed over to Human ranch owners in exchange for Free Aid. Johnson fortified his fences to stop hungry Horses and Cows grazing there, and only Foxes and Swine engaged in export were allowed across.
‘But what could they export?’ I wondered – until I spotted Max overseeing a truck being loaded up with rather thin Cows.
‘It’s silly to be the only Farm that has lots of Cattle but does not export beef,’ he explained.
Some of the Animals – mainly Horses and few Pigs – began to notice what was going on and gathered in protest. ‘Animal Farm for Animals!’ they shouted. ‘Do not sell us to the butcher!’
The gates of Tough’s office opened and a pack of Great Danes stepped out. These were not old toothless creatures but strong, ferocious beasts that charged the crowd. Tough won the day – but discontent was strong. Even my guide Linda started to have her doubts as she saw her friends disappearing into the meat trucks.
Max the Fox, meanwhile, went to Mr Johnson Senior and came back with a contract: ‘Animal Farm will belong to Mr Johnson and will be called Johnson’s New Farm. Mr Johnson will provide the animals with hay. It is only natural that he will be free to take some animals to his facilities. Mr Tough will remain Executive Manager.
The contract was signed and that is how the troublesome history of Animal Farm came to its end. The new Human masters were forced to send quite a number of Animals to slaughterhouses. Nobody needed so many hay sales personnel…
Johnson made his Ranch even more efficient, closed a few outlying corrals and turned every literate Pig into chops. Foxes were sent to furriers and Johnson’s TV closed down as it now created inappropriate expectations among the Animals.
Thoroughly disgusted I left the blighted place. On board the train I met Max the Fox and Tough the Hog; they were on their way to Florida.
(Mr. Israel Shamir, is one of best-known and most respected Russian Israeli writer and journalist. He wrote for Haaretz, BBC, Pravda and translated Agnon, Joyce and Homer into Russian. He lives in Tel Aviv and writes a weekly column in the Vesti, the biggest Russian-language paper in Israel.)