Peer pressure is one of the most powerful forces on the planet. It isn’t just something that exists in the school years. Peer pressure exists from the moment you are born until you the day you die. In fact, it has changed the world and all the people in it.
Power to Govern
In late 1998, a group of students in Belgrade used peer pressure to oust the Milosevic, president of Yugoslavia. They couldn’t do it alone, and they knew it. In numbers, they were small. In power, they were none. While in physical power that is. Success had to be in pulling the rest of the nation together with the same agenda. They did it by making everyone feel left out for not joining them. Talk about peer pressure! (http://www.usnews.com/opinion/articles/2011/04/15/the-politics-and-power-of-peer-pressure)
As a group grows, its power increases on its peers. One protestor makes a little noise. As each person joins the protest, their power on others grows to add even more to their cause.
Power of Evil
Another great example was shown in the movie, The Wave. It was set in a high school history class. The students couldn’t understand how stupid the Nazi’s were to follow Hitler and do such horrific things. The instructor decided to do an experiment. The students didn’t realize that their very behavior was being changed due to peer pressure and the need to be part of something unique and even secretive. In the end, their follower was revealed to be Hitler. They had fallen for the exact same strategy he had laid out and followed him just as blindly. All due to peer pressure.
In Animal Farm, most of the animals stopped questioning what was happening only because others had stopped. If those around them didn’t object, why should they? It didn’t matter that the actions and decisions were unfair or even unethical. The majority in power found it acceptable which led to those being led to find it just as acceptable.
Think of a mob. A few protest. Then a few feel like they have to join. Before long, a mob is formed that usually results in horrible actions, typically the death of someone. The act is wrong. Many participants know that in their hearts, but they feel pressure to go along with the mob. To object would put them at odds with the mob set on destruction.
Peer pressure is only one theme within Animal Farm, but is one of the most powerful themes. It one that is felt in everyday life and one which everyone is exposed to at various times in their lives.