I know that this book was written as a satire of communism, and I'm sure that's been drilled into everyone's head a thousand times over. I won't talk about that; instead, I'll talk about what the books means to me. I skirted around reading this book for a while because the subject seemed like something I wouldn't be particularly interested in, but I was wrong.
Animal Farm was started on an idea that was planted in the mind of the other animals by an old and respected farm figure -- Old Major. He had a dream that animals would take their place as the true heirs of the land. After Old Major dies, a revolution takes place on the farm, and the animals overthrow the owner, Mr. Jones, and claim the farm as their own.
At first, things went as planned. All animals were equal, and many things were done with the good of the animals in mind. Then, the pigs (who were smarter than other animals, naturally) began to slowly warp this dream into something more cruel and deceitful until the animals can hardly distinguish between the pigs and Man.
I think this story can apply to any form of government. The pigs kept the other animals in line by telling them what they wanted to hear or by using excessive force -- much like many governments in the world today. They twisted and warped the thoughts of the masses, making themselves look more heroic and "for the masses". They even had the scapegoat in the form of a banished pig named Snowball on which all their problems were blame. "Blame Snowball" seemed to be an underlying motto in the book.
The pigs benefited from the prosperity of the farm while it's other inhibitants suffered. Most of the animals were fiercely loyal, and the pigs misused this trust. A great example is Boxer who worked harder than anyone on the farm, and when he was no longer useful to the farm, he was suddenly an expendable asset (and you can imagine what happens from there). And you can see hints of that in any society. I never expected to enjoy this book as much as I did, and it will definitely be a part of my library for years to come.