Orwell's rendition of the working class and how to make yourself essential
Shoutout to my cousin Daniel for suggesting this topic.
If you've been to a British or American high school chances are you've read Animal Farm and saw the obvious allegory regarding the rise of Leninism in the early Soviet Union, and all the problems that communism can generate, and to be frank, they really are many. Through different animals establishing this economic political system and their interactions, you get to see the nuances of communism and what were the fears of western intellectuals who were against the Bolshevik movement.
If you know how the story goes in real life, then you can pretty much work out how it goes in the book. Regardless, I'll do my best to avoid spoiling the story, but some of it will be mentioned because we will look at Boxer's life and learn from his mistakes. One important aspect in the system that the animals established, though, was this:
From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.
Boxer is probably the most sympathetic character in the novella because of his personality. He's loyal, dedicated, and being a horse is very well-suited to taking on big and heavy assignments that the other animals couldn't handle. This meant that he had a great skill to produce and little need besides a place to rest and nourishment. He could protect himself, and he didn't mind the grind.
His biggest issue was his naivety. Now, this is generally discussed as one of the biggest themes in the story for all the animals were "deceived" in some way or another, but Boxer's case was particularly heinous. In the new system working for the animals, he was exploited by the others, but he never saw it and always told himself he would work harder. He eventually collapses from exhaustion and is taken to a glue factory to be melted.
What can we learn from this?
Although the character is another factor to the whole critique on communism, that's not what this post is about. If you're working yourself to death in real life, just as the poor horse did it until his lung collapsed, and you're a one trick pony, you're doing it wrong and will eventually become obsolete and be disposed of without any real acknowledgement of your effort.
That's not to say hard work isn't good, on the contrary, it's pretty important that you make a strong effort in whatever you do. There's a book that is pretty well-known in the self-help communities called The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene. It basically tells you 48 different maxims that will help you with certain dynamics in your life, and it can help you in other areas beyond acquisition of power. Illacertus has a great series of videos on this book in case you don't have the chance to read it. Boxer could have done well to learn Law 11: Learn to keep people dependent on you.
You may ask how if Boxer's whole schtick was working hard than other animals. It's pretty simple. He was twice as strong as any other horse and could have basically kept some of his energy to himself to avoid exhaustion in the long run, which would have allowed him some time to recover and actually be able to work better, and maybe even teach some other horses how to be as strong as he was once he could no longer do that. Instead, he gave his life because he felt he had to do more and more.
Don't work hard. Work smart.