• medium-logo
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Aly Sultan

Animal Instinct



Preface

The 2016 United States presidential elections heralded a new era. Undoubtedly an election like no other, the period was marked by hyper-emotions, public vitriol, and an intense focus on the candidates’ personalities over policy. The Clinton vs Trump contest shook the world. Donald Trump displayed a disturbing mastery of mendacity and primal politics, combined with brazen attempts to delegitimise his rivals. Despite his campaign’s naked racism and serrated rhetoric, Trump rose to the top, claiming his seat as the 45th U.S President. Animal Instinct is an allegorical critique of the 2016 United States presidential elections. Taking inspiration from George Orwell’s Animal Farm (1945), it weaves together political and artistic purpose. Animal Instinct comments on the insidious ways public officials abuse their power and how democracy can gradually dissolve into tyranny. It evokes explicitly the skulduggery in American politics and, implicitly, the rise of fascism. Holistically, it is a cautionary tale against the animal instincts that drive the quest for political power.

Animal Instinct

Mr Graves, of Eagle Ranch, had gathered the eggs from the hen house and, in his usual curmudgeonly haste, had forgotten to replenish the feed. Led by the sallow light of an old lantern, he wobbled back to his ramshackle ranch house. He carelessly kicked open the creaky backdoor, took a swig of the cheap hooch that was stewing on the dining table and retired to his bedroom.

The sound of his loud, gruff snoring set off a hustle and bustle outside, as the ranch creatures — eagerly awaiting this moment — started heading to the barn house. Word had spread throughout the day that old Renegade, the prized boar, wished to share a message. His fellow animals were more than willing to give up their slumber to catch his wise words. Renegade rested on a bale of hay at the end of the barn. At eight years old, he had a rather gaunt appearance for his portly species. His grey bristle glowed under the light of a nearby lantern. One by one, the farm animals shuffled in and made themselves comfortable in their different fashions.

First came the pigs, who settled down in the straw directly in front of Renegade. Then came the sheep, followed by the hens who perched themselves on the windowsills. The horses trudged into the back of the barn and the crows retreated into the darkness of the rafters. When Renegade was certain that all the animals had assembled, he cleared his throat and began:

“My fellow animals, as I approach the end of my term, my time with you will soon be over. All through my years, l have always believed that we are all created equal, endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights, among them life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness [1]. The soil of our ranch is fertile, our climate is good. We are capable of welcoming more animals from poorer pastures. But man stands in our way. For man is the root cause of hunger and overwork. For man strips us of the fruits of our labour. For man gives good reason to revolt. I do not know when Rebellion will arrive, it may be in a week or a year, but know this, Eagle Ranch — it will come. Let the words 'yes we can' echo through Eagle Ranch, for hope will carry us to freedom. Make no mistake, all men are enemies and all animals are compatriots.”

Renegade’s final words were greeted with a tremendous roar, thumping, pecking, bleating, and fluttering of approval. The frenzied excitement, alas, awoke Mr Graves, who staggered out of his bed, suspecting a coyote in the yard. Snatching his shotgun, he let fly a volley of six-shots into the darkness. The pellets freckled the barn wall, brusquely breaking up the meeting. The hens leapt into their coops, the animals scurried to their stalls, and the whole ranch was asleep in a moment.


***


Renegade’s rousing speech had offered a completely new outlook on life to the more daring and desperate, and they embraced the idea of rebellion. The work of planning the uprising naturally fell upon the pigs, known for their intelligence. Prominent among the boars were Evergreen and Mogul. Both were strong-willed and determined to have their own way. Although Evergreen gave off an air of aloofness, she appeared to have the best interests of the ranch at heart. Mogul had a nasty look: sulphur-yellow eyes, barb-like bristle and a jagged left tusk. Playing second fiddle to Mogul was the oddly named Fox, a patriotic little pig whose jarring voice echoed across the ranch.

Finally, the day of the rebellion had arrived. Upon entering the barn, Mr Graves and his farmhands found themselves encircled. Their usually docile animals wore menacing looks and threatening growls. Completely thrown by this strange behaviour, the humans took it as a sign of some mad cow disease. Whatever the case, the very creatures whom they had wantonly abused had turned the tables on them. After putting up a dispirited fight, the two-legged ones were in full flight down the dusty track leading to the main road, with the animals in triumphant pursuit behind them.

To the shock and delight of all creatures, the rebellion had been an amazing success: Graves was gone, and the Eagle Ranch stood free.


***


Over the coming days, the news of the rebellion’s success made its way like wildfire to neighbouring ranches, whose four-legged residents were soon conspiring to make good their escape to this new land of freedom. Back at Eagle Ranch, it was Fox who first spotted a family of horses jumping the southern fence. Fox’s jarring squeal brought all the farm animals to the scene.

Evergreen stepped forward to welcome the horses, who explained how their master had worked them to the bone and forced them to escape to this liberated land. The horses pledged loyalty to Eagle Ranch and pleaded for a place in the free land. Evergreen urged the gathered citizens to welcome their fellow animals who must not be denied the opportunity of their Eagle Dream. However, Mogul, stepping into the centre, outright rejected this idea and argued that the horses simply wanted to steal their food. He threatened to lock the horses in the hen house and declared that if the animals elected him as their leader, he would build a great, great fence on the southern border [2]. The sheep bleated in enthusiastic approval and ignored Evergreens pleas. In the end, the horses were granted temporary leave pending the results of the upcoming Eagle Ranch election. Later that afternoon, a crate of apples went missing from the harvest. Yet again, Fox was first on the scene, followed by Mogul. They wasted no time blaming the horses for this crime. Mogul began conspiring with the crows, whose wings carried the rumours throughout the farm. Before long, the anti-newcomer lobby had turned almost the entire Ranch against Evergreen and the horses.

A lone mule warned the others that they were falling into Moguls trap and urged the crows to stop sowing disinformation. Evergreen, meanwhile, in her eagerness to win the election decided to put the blame on Mogul for the missing apples. Mogul scoffed at the idea and dismissed it as “fake news.’’


***


At last, election day had arrived. It was time to put in place new leadership, now that old Renegade had passed, and Graves was no more. The animals congregated to choose the next in line. A thick smell of manure hung over the ballot stalls. Evergreen began her spiel, blaming Mogul for all the Ranch’s woes. The sheep, however, did not forget the crows’ words and turned a deaf ear to Evergreen.

Finally, It was Mogul’s turn to speak. Although he lacked Evergreen’s eloquence, his forthright churlishness appealed to many who could see their fears reflected in his flawed figure. Without preamble Mogul urged the animals to embrace his vision, his vision of a much greater ranch. He bellowed:

Beasts of this Ranch, Beasts of this plain, Beasts we have removed man’s chain Make this Ranch great again.

Fellow patriots our day has come, Tyrant man is no more, The fruitful fields of this land are ours Harvest will be like never before.

Let us build a wall to keep them out, To protect and let our ranch remain Land of the free and home of the brave, For they will steal our fruit and grain.

Beasts of this Ranch, Beasts of this plain, Beasts make me your leader For I will make this Ranch great again!

Before Mogul had even reached the end, the bleating sheep began echoing his beguiling rhyme. Even the dimmest of them had already picked up the tune and a few of the words. And after a few tries, the whole flock chanted ‘make this Ranch great again’ in powerful unison. They were now firmly under Mogul’s spell. Giddy with excitement, Fox’s tail wagged with the rhythm of the chant. The crows monitored from above, as they now seemingly filled every perch in sight. Under the oily light of the lantern, Mogul’s shadow cast a humanoid figure that consumed the barn.

THE END



[1] Extract from Barak Obama 2017 Farwell Speech [2] Extract from Donald Trump 2016 Phoenix speech

28 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All