It is no easy task to go Through the Looking Glass, past Animal Farm, and establish The Republic. Yet, on a sacred mountain in southern China, a collection of nondescript concrete buildings has stoked and surpassed the imaginations of some of the world’s greatest writers. The tallest pig farm in the world, nine storeys high, with 1,270 pigs on each floor, both a porcine utopia and dystopia, an absurd fantasy and a marvel of the modern state.
“The time has come, the Walrus said” in Lewis Carroll’s classic, to ponder such deep questions as “whether pigs have wings”. In China, while the ungulate cannot fly, it can take the lift. Individual care, 24/7 medical facilities and quick, hygienic disposal of the diseased have been put in place in the condominiums on Yaji (“sacred”) mountain. This pampering of pigs — they are weighed, measured, sorted and kept in secure “bio-bubbles” — has ostensibly been necessitated by disease and the threat of dietary shortages. Over the last two years, China lost over 200 million pigs to African Swine Fever and other viruses. And the one-party state, that has been relatively unsuccessful in remaking Hong Kong, Tibet and Xinjiang, has set up a Platonic Republic for the animals. Each creature is cared for, its future predetermined.
But a word of caution: Pigs, like Politburo members, can become self-serving. A duck may ask, along with his sheep and goat friends: Why am I slumming it in farms, on the ground, while the portly pigs enjoy climate-controlled surroundings in high rises? In Animal Farm, while all animals were equal, some were more equal than others. The lesson from Orwell, which People’s Parties often forget, also is that before there was Utopia, there was dissent and revolution. Revolutions can always come around again
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines