The novel Animal Farm by George Orwell emphasizes the emergence and development of Joseph Stalin as a communist dictator through the character of Napoleon. These characteristics of Napoleon can be seen not only in Stalin, but in present dictators as well, such as Bashar al-Assad. Napoleon and al-Assad utilize many of the same tactics, such as removing competition, using fear to keep citizens loyal, and finding ways around the law, in order to maintain their position of power.
Although Napoleon and al-Assad are very powerful leaders, others have threatened their positions, so in order to stay in power both dictators have had to eliminate such competitors. In Animal Farm, Napoleon sent viscous dogs after his opponent Snowball, whom he had argued with several times over how to run Animal Farm. After Snowball had suggested constructing a windmill, he gained support from most of the animals, and there was “no doubt as to which way the vote would go,” (Orwell 52). Napoleon obviously would not have a chance in winning against Snowball, so he sent four viscous dogs that he had raised and trained to obey him after Snowball. The dogs chased Snowball off of Animal Farm and he was seen no more. Al-Assad has used similar tactics to eradicate those who were a threat to him. Al-Assad has reportedly killed and tortured many political opponents, notably the attack on Ali Ferzat. Ferzat, a political cartoonist, is a well-known critic of Syria’s government and some of his cartoons mock al-Assad. Ferzat’s attack came when he was seized by masked men on the street and dragged into a van. His attackers “targeted his hands, breaking them both, and told him it was just a warning,” before dumping him on the side of the road with a bag over his head (Ali). Al-Assad has been said to have killed and tortured other political opponents as well.
Not only have Napoleon and al-Assad used force against their opposition, but both dictators also use such tactics against their own citizens to keep them loyal. In Animal Farm Napoleon was never seen without his four ferocious dogs, and he used them as a way to intimidate the others animals on the farm. When four young pigs began to speak out against Napoleon, the dogs “let out deep, menacing growls, and the pigs fell silent and sat down again” (Orwell 54). Napoleon continued to use the dogs to keep the other animal in line.