Ric Amurrio
18 min readAug 15, 2019


Now, the Middle East, especially the desert area, is the last place to raise pigs they need abundance of water to regulate their temperature. it was possible, to a small extent, to raise pigs as a luxury food, it is important to have a taboo or prohibition that says, under no circumstances are you to experiment with this animal, because over the passage of centuries it is the collective wisdom that to do so is to waste resources.

Marvin Harris

All that is required is to control people who believe in fairness, is to remove any evidence suggesting that the world might fundamentally not be a fair place, and mask it appropriately with a justice principle such as an afterlife calculus, or a retirement fantasy.

Venkatesh Rao

On the final date of the Animals tour at the Montreal Olympic Stadium, a few raucous and enthusiastic fans in the front row irritated Waters to such a degree that he spat at one of them. Waters later spoke with producer Bob Ezrin and told him of his sense of isolation on the tour, and how he occasionally felt like constructing a wall to detach himself from the crowd, which later became the concept for The Wall.

Old Major

Old Major is the first major character described by Orwell in Animal Farm. This “purebred” of pigs is the kind, grand fatherly philosopher of change — a metaphor for The Pig messiah or as Venkatesh Rao would have it the sociopath messiah. Old Major proposes a solution to the animals’ desperate plight under the Jones “administration” when he inspires a rebellion of sorts. But old Major’s philosophy is only an ideal. After his death, the socialism he professes is abandoned when Napoleon and the other pigs begin to dominate.

It almost seemed as though the pigs fed off old Major’s narrative and then used it to enrich themselves. This could be Orwell’s attempt to dig not only at Stalin, but all demagogues and Captains of Industry both from democracies and authoritarians regimes. Using old Major’s seeming naivety, Orwell concludes that no SOCI is perfect, no pure socialist civilization can exist, and there is no way to escape the evil grasp of vertical organizations. (A vertical organization structure is one that relies on managers to command and control their members’ work. A business owner, president, pope, etc is typically at the top of a vertical chain of command)

Pigs (Three Different Ones)”

The song’s three verses defines three different “pigs”, the identities of whom remain unknown, however the third verse identifies campaigner Mary Whitehouse as its third “pig”, describing her as a “house proud town mouse” who has to “keep it all on the inside.” In 2016, during the Roger Waters Desert Trip set, “Pigs’ was played with massive images and quotes of Donald Trump projected on screen but it could easily have been Bill Clinton, or Steve Jobs.

Like the previous article on Dogs, this one expands on Venkatesh Rao: The Gervais Principle. The Pigs layer comprises the Darwinian/Protestant Ethic will-to-power types who drive an organization to function despite itself. Good Pigs operate by what they personally choose as a higher morality, in reaction to what they see as the dangers, insanities and stupidities of mob morality. Sheeps and the Dogs, of course, avoid individual moral decisions altogether.

If there is one thing that characterizes them, it is a fierce desire to control their own destiny and, deep down, they resents yielding that control to the Organization, no matter how velvety its grip… they want to dominate, not be dominated…

The organisation is programmed by Pigs at the top, run by the Dogs petty bureaucrats or priests in the middle, and Sheep at the bottom.

Historically, this laziness was deliberately manufactured by emperors working through eunuchs, slave-soldiers, celibate priesthoods, and other asexual and estranged-from-family types who could be relied on not to look out for their kin

They contribute creativity in early stages of a organization’s life, neurotic leadership in the middle stages, and cold-bloodedness in the later stages, where they drive decisions like mergers, acquisitions and layoffs. They are also the ones capable of equally impersonally exploiting a young idea for growth in the beginning, killing one good idea to concentrate resources on another at maturity, and milking an end-of-life idea through harvest-and-exit market strategies.

Venkatesh Rao

Allegedly, the first verse depicts a deceitful businessman, the hypocritical and collusive self-proclaimed superior who feels he can cheat and persuade his way to the top. The “pigs” are displayed as gluttonous and immoral and are shown to suffer beneath these character flaws, despite being atop the social order.


Orwell describes Snowball as a pig very similar to Napoleon — at least in the early stages. Both pigs wanted a leadership position in the “new” economic and political system (which is actually contradictory to the whole supposed system of equality). But as time goes on, both eventually realize that one of them will have to step down.

“Snowball and Napoleon were by far the most active in the debates. But it was noticed that these two were never in agreement: whatever suggestion either of them made, the other could be counted to oppose it. “These two disagreed at every point disagreement was possible.”

George Orwell

Soon the differences, like whether or not to build a windmill, become too great to deal with, so Napoleon decides that Snowball must be eliminated. It might seem that this was a spontaneous reaction, but a careful look tells otherwise. Napoleon was setting the stage for his own domination long before he really began “dishing it out” to Snowball.

For example, he took the puppies away from their mothers in efforts to establish a private police force. These dogs would later be used to eliminate Snowball, his arch-rival. Snowball represents Trotsky, Steve Jobs exile from Apple or other Pigs that need to go Valley crossing for a while .


Napoleon is Orwell’s chief villain in Animal Farm. He represents the human frailties of any revolution, vertical organization or SOCI. For example, although Napoleon seems as first to be a good leader, he is eventually overcome by greed and soon becomes power-hungry.

Of course Communist leaders did too in Russia, Popes in Rome and corporation leaders in Detroit leaving the original idealisms behind, giving themselves all the power and living in luxury while the common peasant suffered. Thus, while their national and international status blossomed, the welfare of Sheep remained unchanged.

“Somehow it seemed as though the farm had grown richer without making the animals themselves any richer — except, of course for the pigs and the dogs.”

George Orwell

The true side of Napoleon becomes evident after he slaughters so many animals for plotting against him. He even hires a pig to sample his food for him to make certain that no one is trying to poison him. By the end of the book, Napoleon doesn’t even pretend to lead a socialist state. After renaming it a Republic and instituting his own version of the commandments and the Beasts of England, Comrade Napoleon, he quickly becomes more or less a dictator who of course has never even been elected by the animals.


Squealer is first described as a manipulator and persuader. Orwell narrates, “He could turn black into white.” You could correlate Squealer with the Pravda, Goebbels, and Edward Bernays. Propaganda and PR was a key. In Animal Farm, Squealer is the link between Napoleon and other animals. When Squealer masks an evil intention of the pigs, the intentions can be carried out with little resistance and without political disarray.


Like most successful musicians the future Pig must be agnostic. Like the average Sheep, he recognizes that the world is fucked up. Unlike the risk-averse Sheep though,

he does not try to make the best of a bad situation by doing enough to get by. He has no intention of just getting by. He very quickly figures out — through experiments and fast failures — that the game is not worth becoming good at.

Venkatesh Rao

For the pigs is about proactively engineering systems and processes that reliably, predictably and stealthily generate successful outcomes.


When there is something specific to be achieve Pigs offer a performance-linked bonus for the accomplishment. Next, they set up a committee and charter it to collect, vet and recommend ideas where drop hints and suggestions to create ideas that they personally favor. And finally they would create the appropriate level of urgency to achieve the risk-levels he wants in the ideas produced.

If it works, Pigs praise everybody generously, hand out a few gift certificates, keep your bonus to themselves, and move on. If it fails, Pigs blame the Dogs in charge of the work for failing to consider an “obvious”(the chair of such a committee would likely be a Dog, his appointment being a false honor — a case of being set up take a fall)

If the blame would be divided sort of three-way distribution designed to discount the full magnitude of all-around culpability: The Dogs chair would be charged with incompetence. The Sheeps would be blamed for poor esprit de corps. The committee as a whole would be charged with using bad systems and work processes. The last is often followed up with a mitigating rationalization, “well, at least we learned something, and can improve our processes next time.”

In 1962 McLuhan’s The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man was released. In it McLuhan introduced the term “the global village” to describe the globalization of the mind, a process set in motion by electronic media’s power to interconnect minds worldwide, ending in the compression of the globe into a village. McLuhan, a man ahead of his time, was no Pollyanna. He foresaw that the new media would have a retribalizing effect on man. “The global village”, he wrote, “absolutely ensures maximal disagreement on all points.”

Peter N Limdberg

When the bureaucracy fails

The Dogs and Sheeps debate whether or not ends justify the means. Pigs use whatever is justifiable to cover up whatever they want to get done. The result is a theater of justification. Behind the scenes Pigs organize parallel power structures that challenge the hold the organization has and to divert the consequences of their actions; bribery, murder, intimidation and even general massacres (such as the machine-gunning of strikers).

The Hanlon Dodge

Via Rao

The basic mechanism by which Pigs transfer blame to the Dogs, while reducing the overall severity of the penalty, is an application of Hanlon’s Razor: never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by stupidity.

Because Hanlon’s Razor is often true, it is a believable dodge even when it is not. Hanlon’s razor is double-edged, and Pigs use it to feign incompetence themselves or to charge others with incompetence, as necessary.

The Gervais Principle V: Heads I Win, Tails You Lose

When ends are defensible, but means are not, Pigs feign incompetence, and you get the first kind of Hanlon Dodge. When means are defensible, but ends are not, Pigs engineer execution failures via indirection and abstraction in the requests they make, thereby achieving their ends via “lucky accidents.” This is the second kind of Hanlon Dodge. In summary, seasoned Pigs maintain a permanent facade of strategic incompetence and ignorance in key areas.

When you want to use them in engineered “failures” that give you the outcomes you want, you give them autonomy in areas where they are weak. If they can be relied upon to break laws, turn to violence, exhibit useful overzealousness or cut corners, those are the areas where you allow them discretion.

Venkatesh Rao

Divide and Conquer

Via Rao

Sheep are far too smart to fall for Hanlon Dodge maneuvers as individuals. You need to work them in groups to get them behaving in sufficiently stupid ways. The key to successful divide-and-conquer moves lies in recognizing and exploiting two features that Sheep have

The first is the presence of many active fault-lines.

The second key feature of Loser groups is that they naturally apportion credit for successes and failures in ways that don’t balance the books.


Bureaucracies are structures designed to do certain things very efficiently and competently: those that are by default in the best interests of the Pigs. They are also designed to do certain things incompetently: those expensive things that the organization is expected to do, but would cut into Pig profits if actually done right. Instead of having to expend effort executing Hanlon Dodge maneuvers, putting on justification theaters or engineering divide-and-conquer situations, they program the organization to act in those ways by installing bureaucracy-ware.

The purpose of a form is not to serve the person who submits it, but to protect the person who processes it. The unpredictable part of risk-management work of an organization is the responsibility of the line hierarchy, and the predictable, repetitive part that is the responsibility of the staff hierarchy.

Venkatesh Rao

Pigs design the system this way because they are only interested in building an organization that lasts long enough to extract the easy value from whatever market opportunity motivated its formation. Expensive investments that will not pay off before the organization hits diminishing returns are not made (it is revealing that the longest-lived businesses are family-owned.

As an added benefit, this means that over time, the “design” gets increasingly burdened with byzantine complexity. It becomes progressively more error-prone and arbitrary. A bureaucrat in charge of a truly byzantine process will likely be too confused and intimidated to challenge it (especially in modern IT-enabled bureaucracies, that are literally automated decision-rules systems run on computers).

Venkatesh Rao

How does this work in practice?

You shake your head at its irrationality and slowness. You marvel at how it actually grows more byzantine and complex as it ages. You go from blaming the insiders for malicious pettiness in a young bureaucracy, to blaming them for being dumb cogs in mature ones. You periodically attempt to “reform” it through means that only ensure it gets worse (adding complexity).

Venkatesh Rao

Complicity becomes Dark Matter

The degree of complicity in this state of affairs varies: the Pigs are highly complicit, but are able to deny almost all of their complicity. The Sheeps are trapped into complicity in the process of divide-and-conquer moves, and are not in a position to completely deny their complicity, except to themselves. The Dogs are put within systems that are designed to protect them from ever knowing about their complicity.

But there are visible signs of this accumulating dark matter in the form of decreasing morale, reinforcement of incompetence, building of an increasingly error-prone architecture, as it pretends to evolve and self-correct. As the value declines, Pigs gradually start cashing out, let exceptions pile up, and allow the organization to die. And so the organization starts to die because of invisible unaccounted-for sins accumulating as dark matter somewhere.

Power from Emptiness

Some people are born psychopaths/sociopaths who can’t feel compassion, but I feel like there’s a lot of Lady Macbeths out there, who will themselves into coldness. In slightly milder form, the famous “unsex me here” speech describes a lot of people I know, both male and female.

Venkatesh Rao

Pigs (if they survive) generate amoral power from increasing inner emptiness, transforming themselves into forces of nature. As a side-effect, they also manufacture transient meanings to fuel the theaters of religiosity (including various secular religions) that lend meaning to lives of Sheeps and the Dogs.

This meaning is achieved via subtraction, through withdrawal of complexities that the latter are predisposed to ignore, leaving behind simpler, more satisfying and more tractable realities for them to inhabit.

When Pig stories end, the Sheep and Dogs stories that continue become bereft of meaning; sound and fury signifying nothing. When Pigs turn their attentions en masse to new frontiers, they leave behind complete cargo cults that continue to function for a while.

The Quest for Unmediated Realities: The Pigs Journey

Pigs begin their unscripted journeys to rid themselves of that fundamental dissatisfaction; the sense that reality is more complex than whatever is being presented to them. That important things are being hidden from view, and not for their own good. They are not entirely sure what they are looking for, but they do know that they are looking to engage reality directly, without mediation by other humans.

The Pig’s journey, mythologized to serve the religious needs of the Dogs, is what gives us the Hero’s Journey. In seeking to penetrate mediated experiences of reality, they unexpectedly find themselves mediating those very realities for others. Mythologized in a different way to serve Sheep religiosity, the Pig becomes the priestly agent of larger intangible forces, offering absolution for sins and unpredictable signs of grace.

In each case, the Pig’s role is marked by a withdrawal of information from the scene: information about their own personalities and inner lives, and information about specific situations and material realities.

From the persona they present to the Dogs, they subtract human fallibility and imperfection, presenting an illusory ideal of heroic perfection for the Dogs to identify with, and hopelessly strive toward. Dogs can only process the legible so a legible world is presented to them. Sheeps can process a world where emotional significance is the only kind of significance, so a world pregnant with emotional significance is created for them.

Where the material cannot be separated from the emotional — financial negotiations — they cannot process reality at all. What the Dogs and Sheeps cannot process, the Pigs withdraw from the scene. What is left behind is more meaningful by virtue of being simpler than unmediated. From the Sheep and Dogs points of view, Pigs are merely removing noise that they don’t know how to deal with anyway.

To the Pig this is a nihilistic journey into emptiness, a gradual abandonment of the possibility of ultimate meanings. As the journey proceeds, Pigs progressively rip away layer after layer of social reality.

If morality falls by the wayside when the first layer is ripped away, other reassuring certainties, such as the idea of a benevolent universe, and predictable relationships between efforts and rewards, fall away in deeper layers.

With each new layer decoded, Pigs find transient meaning, but not enduring satisfaction. The creative destruction they script in the world of Sheeps and Dogs is mirrored by a creative destruction in their minds.

This process creates power, but destroys meaning, especially the meanings of social realities. The result is increasing inner emptiness and external power.

Power Literacy

This process of carving out, via subtraction, finite and tractable realities for the Dogs and Sheeps to inhabit, can be repeated ad infinitum, creating layers of social realities for evolving Dogs and Sheeps to journey through. If this sounds like gamification, it’s because it is. It is possible to progress through these layers without discovering the Pig world at all. Sheeps and Dogs can discover and decode specific bits of social reality, like the idea of amorality.

Social realities exist as a hierarchy of increasingly sophisticated and specialized fictions for those predisposed to believe that there is something special about the human condition, which sets our realities apart from the rest of the universe.

Venkatesh rao

There is only one reality governing everything from quarks to galaxies. Humans have no special place within it. Any idea predicated on the special status of the human — such as justice, fairness, equality, talent — is raw material for a theater of mediated realities that can be created via subtraction of conflicting evidence, polishing and masking.

Reality Shock: Children of an Absent God

But the acquisition of this skill comes with a cost. So the Pig’s journey is fundamentally a nihilistic one. Pigs comes face-to-face with the oldest and most fearsome god of all: the absent God. In that moment, the Pig viscerally experiences the vast inner emptiness that results from the sudden dissolution of all social realities. There’s just a pile of masks with no face beneath.

This is reality shock: the visceral experience of the fact that there is only one reality, with no special place for humans. This moment is visceral, not intellectual.

Darwinism here is merely a motif for an experienced reality, not a description of it. It is a way for a Pig to explain his condition to others using the categories of our times. A thousand years ago, an awakened Pig might have used any of a hundred theological motifs for the same idea: the absence of god, the absence of deeper meanings beneath visible social realities.

This is why some of the greatest Pigs in history have actually been sincerely religious. The reality shock really is a shock for the Pig. To weather the shock is to first process the sheer terror of a viscerally absent god, and then suddenly awaken to the deep freedom the condition represents.

Non-Pigs dimly recognize the nature of the free Pig world through their own categories: “moral hazard” and “principal-agent problem.” They vaguely sense that the realities being presented to them are bullshit: things said by people who are not lying so much as indifferent to whether or not they are telling the truth.

What non-Pigs don’t recognize is that these aren’t just strange and unusual environmental conditions that can be found in small pockets at the tops of pyramids of power, such as Lance Armstrong’s racing team, within a social order that otherwise makes some sort of sense.

It is the default condition of the universe.

The universe is a morally hazardous place. The small pockets of unusual environmental conditions are in fact the fictional realities non-Pigs inhabit.

So Pig hero-god-priests come to inhabit entire universes imagined for them. And from these universes, a peculiar sort of Pig sometimes descends. One who seems to play neither hero, nor detached priest. One who strives, but fails, to participate in the emotional realities of non-Pigs. One who seeks to protect the innocent and help the disillusioned rediscover faith.

The Birth of the Messiah

Of those who weather reality shock, most simply accept their life and their permanent estrangement from non-Pigs. They have ascended to freedoms they cannot explain to those who do not possess them. They are somewhere between contemptuous and mildly indulgent towards those who inhabit the realities they create. Indifference is the default middle-ground attitude.

In other words, most Pigs learn to creatively exercise and enjoy their freedoms.Some freely emulate other Pigs. Others carve out more imaginative paths.

Morality becomes a matter of expressing fundamental dispositions rather than respecting social values. Kindness or cruelty, freely expressed. Those who are amused by suffering use their powers to cause it. Those who enjoy watching happiness theaters, create them through detached benevolence. But freedom can also be a scary condition. It offers no canned reasons to do one thing instead of another, or even do anything at all. It offers no fixed motivations. There is nobody to blame for failures, no meaningful external validation for success. If physics allows it, you can do it. The consequences mean whatever you decide they mean.

Venkatesh Rao

So for some, freedom becomes a burden rather than a source of power. Life without scripted purposes and roles, instead of being viewed as a canvas for creative expression, becomes intolerably meaningless. The visceral knowledge that every act is a free choice, for which one can only hold oneself accountable, with nowhere to direct blame and nowhere to seek solace or absolution, becomes something they yearn to un-know.

The dissolution of social realities leaves behind only the cryptic material universe that must be painstakingly decoded through that supremely nihilistic behavior, scientific inquiry. But without a social order within which to value and make sense of decoded realities, such inquiry comes to seem like a worthless endeavor.

Freedom gained becomes paradise lost: the paradise of finite realities, mediated meanings and a comforting social order. And so some Pigs reject the freedom and attempt to rejoin humanity. And fail.

What is known cannot now be un-known. There is no way to reverse the effects of the red pill of Piggyhood .

So instead, such Pigs turn into compassionate Messiahs, protecting the innocence of the Dogs, restoring the faith of Sheeps, using their Pig powers to guard the exits of paradise lest some unwittingly walk out. Old Major, a prize-winning boar, gathers the animals of the Manor Farm for a meeting in the big barn. He tells them of a dream he has had in which all animals live together with no human beings to oppress or control them. He tells the animals that they must work toward such a paradise and teaches them a song called “Beasts of England,” in which his dream vision is lyrically described.

They continue hopelessly to try and participate, especially in collective emotion. But the experience is empty for them, knowing what they know. So despite themselves, they subtract emotional content rather than adding either positive or negative content. They become social black holes.

Because you see, while it is somewhat important that everybody drink some kool-aid, it is absolutely crucial that Pigs drink a lot of their own kool-aid. The geese who lay the golden eggs must not be killed by despair at the slow rate of progress. If they want to believe the wealth being created by the new economy is largely a consequence of their brave, individual, Randian striving, then that illusion must not be disturbed too much.