Fiction is an indicator of human thought and emotion, more truthful sometimes than any statistical fact.
I think that anyone can read Animal Farm and get the message of it, whether they know about Soviet history or not. The reason for this seemingly juvenile understanding stems from the fact that, even though Orwell may have intended to emit a message about Soviet history, there is also an inferred message which can be applied to almost every aspect of life. (Of course, there are also the extremely simple-minded members of humanity that will read this book and believe it to be merely a Charlotte's Web-esque story about talking farm animals. These readers are obviously not meant to read stories that make you think.) I can honestly say that you don't have to now Soviet history in order for this book to have an effect on you. (Yes, I'm speaking from experience.)
Animal Farm can be applied to political struggles and power struggles in our daily American lives.
"The animals believed every word of it. Truth to tell, Jones and all he stood for had almost faded out of their memories. They knew that they were usually working when they were not asleep. But doubtless it had been worse in the old days. They were glad to believe so. Besides, in those days they had been slaves and now they were free, and that made all the difference, as Squealer did not fail to point out."
This quote from page 115, at the end of the last paragraph, shows just how much the animals wanted to believe that everything was okay. So many times throughout history, people have been led to believe that if you just want something enough, it will be true. This is incorrect. Being human means being gullible,