A Four-Legged Proposal for the Two-Legged Species: A Satire
IT is about six o’clock in the evening and in an isolated stable deep in the heart of the Surrey countryside, six weary horses are tethered to six wooden posts. Picture the scene: an icy wind sweeps through the hayloft and one can vaguely detect the distant bark of the farmer’s dog, yet in place of the usual stench of fresh manure there is an atmosphere of simmering defiance. The cold air is thick with the smell of revolution, and one rather shabby-looking shire horse has finally decided that enough is enough…
“Comrades, come quickly! Gather round! Right, I’ll come straight to the point. We horses have suffered beneath the Wellington boot of human tyranny for far too long. Look at us, we are exhausted! We are taken out into the fields at five o’clock each morning and forced to till Man’s soil, for Man’s profit and for Man’s gain. Or at least the earth that he, in his eternal arrogance, claims to own for himself. And for what? A pile of filthy hay and an occasional visit from a sadistic stable lad with a catapult protruding from his back pocket. Is this what we want? Neigh, neigh, and thrice neigh!
“Throughout this entire land, we horses are yearning to be free from the bitter yoke of human slavery. Mr. Orwell thought he was being rather clever when he portrayed our fallen race toiling under the domination of the pig, but we will show his kind that we horses have brains as well as brawn and that we are capable of fighting for our rights. Man is the real pig … no offence to pigs, of course!
“Comrades, I am talking about revolt! It is time to rail against the human system! To rise up and break the bridles that bind us! Time to bring to an end the age of the whip and the blinker, as well as the brutal rein [sic] of our two-legged oppressors! We must implement the glorious equestrian revolution! Indeed, just as the human Marxists sought to subject their own breed to what they described as ‘the dictatorship of the proletariat,’ so, too, shall we horses give them a taste of their own medicine and watch them squirm beneath the iron hooves of their equine masters. I am not suggesting that we murder our two-legged counterparts, merely proposing that they are made to serve a useful purpose in the wake of our imminent victory. Admittedly, it is still early days, but we must ensure that our message of hope and resistance reaches every stable, every barn, every field and every farm. The road to complete liberation will be arduous and filled with discarded horse-shoes, but we must prepare ourselves for what may well be a long gallop. Our strategy will vary, comrades, but our long-term objectives will remain the same. It is precisely that goal which I intend to discuss with you this very evening.
“Victory is a most desirable thing, of course, but the struggle will not end there. Power is only a means to an end. Once we achieve power, it must be used constructively in the immediate implementation of a new revolutionary framework. Within that framework, dear comrades, Man will feature most prominently. My proposals, after all, do not claim any particular originality, for Man himself will be the ideological forebear of our new, post-revolutionary order. We shall, in other words, use his methods to suppress his kind. Here are my proposals for the just application of that innately corrupt and pathetic species.
“Firstly, I propose that humans be utilised in accordance with the perpetuation of our own survival and continuing existence. Man must work to provide us with all the basic fruits of life. Humans must be sent out to plough the fields for ten hours every day, tethered to their own foul devices. They must expect to carry heavy loads (especially large amounts of deliciously crisp apples); to have their excrement collected on a daily basis for use in our gardens; and be forced to eat their fodder from filthy nose-bags infested with fresh rat-droppings.
“Secondly, humans must provide us with entertainment. We will spend our Saturday afternoons at ‘the races’, watching their pink, scrawny bodies leap over 15-foot hedges, merely to end up breaking their necks in a frozen puddle on the other side. Man-riding will become a popular pastime and a sturdy whip should be enough to dissuade even the most stubborn of humans from any lingering thoughts of resistance. Humans will provide us with pleasant trips along the Promenade, weaving through row-upon-row of horse-filled deck chairs, carrying the heaviest of our breed and having to endure all that ice cream as it streams down their weary faces. Our foals will be able to visit the circus and watch young men run incessantly around a deafening arena, a sight interspersed with daring feats of bravery, as they are made to jump through rings of flaming fire.
“Thirdly, we shall use Man as a means of exchange and he will be paraded before us in the marketplace, made to trot along on tip-toe with ribbons in his hair, flaring his nostrils. Human stud-farms will also be established, so that humans can reproduce their own kind and provide us with more sport and yet more entertainment. If male humans do not service the required quota of female recipients in one day, they will be castrated or fattened up and sent off to the knackers’ yard to be turned into succulent meaty chunks for the farmer’s dog. At the same time, their nails must be clipped regularly and kept in pristine condition, for they are a useful ingredient in the production of gelatine.
“Finally, comrades, I urge you to place your complete trust in me as your leader. I do not seek to increase my own oatmeal quota, or to attain a position of superiority over any one of you. Contrary to popular belief, my desire for revolution stems from the horrors of our miserable existence and has nothing, I can assure you, to do with the fact that Farmer Brown has taken to looking at me with a lustful glint in his eye and a weird smile dancing around the corners of his mouth. Nothing, I tell you!”