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CONTENTS P AGE 2 E DITORIAL P AGE 3 T OLKIEN: A M YTHOLOGY FOR E NGLAND P AGE 6 T HE L ORD OF THE R INGS V ERSION,1978 R EVIEWED P AGE 7 T OLKEIN: A P ANORAMA P AGE 10 R ACISM & T OLKEIN P AGE 13 D ISTRIBUTISM P AGE 15 E COLOGY
Editorial . . . . .
Allegory and Applicability
The first objection that will be made to Tolkien and Politics is that the authors are treating the Lord of the Rings (LOTR) as an allegory. It will be pointed out that in the Foreword to the second edition of LOTR Tolkien wrote: "I cordially dislike allegory in all its manifestations". It's not as simple as that, of course. Tolkien went on to write: "I much prefer history, true or feigned, with its varied applicability to the thought and experience of readers. I think that many confuse 'applicability' with 'allegory'; but the one resides in the freedom of the reader, and the other in the purposed domination of the author." Tolkien disliked allegory because it suggested authorial dominance. He preferred that readers discerned whether it was applicable. Yet Tolkien as a writer was shaped by experience, environment and beliefs. His realistic view of war, his love of nature, and his strong ethical beliefs are communicated. How could it be otherwise? The authors of Tolkien and Politics do not, however, believe that Tolkien was writing a code in which one thing stood for something else - that the One Ring represented nuclear weaponry or that Sauron was Stalin or Saruman Hitler. One of the strengths of LOTR is that it is timeless. The points it communicates concerning the nature of power, the relationship between man and nature and the struggle between good and evil are not problems found only in one era (or in one country). Because LOTR deals with life and the questions it throws at us it cannot avoid dealing with ethics and politics. On one level LOTR could be read as a story of how the exercise of power becomes habitual, even addictive, warping and corrupting the personality. A debate runs through the whole story as to how or if power should be used. On this level alone, how could anyone deny that it deals with politics? Many of our establishment intellectuals hate LOTR and are appalled at its popularity. Sometimes they ask the right questions, however. Ann Barnes asked: "What is it that we - or Waterstone's customers - are so hell bent on escaping from." Independent Education, 23 January 1997. Ross Shimmon, chief executive of the Library Association said: "It's astonishing that The Lord of the Rings has this impact. The idea of a parallel world... I wonder whether it’s something to do with trying to make sense of the world around us." The Times, 23 April 1997 So, when we read Tolkien are we trying to escape from our world or make sense of it? The Hobbits have moments in LOTR when they enter into enchanted worlds where they gain some respite from their troubles and the demands placed on them. In Tom Bombadil’s Old Forest and later when they stop with Galadriel in Lórien they are protected to a degree. Yet they do not dwell in these places. They move on to fight evil. The authors of Tolkien and Politics accept and value the different aspects of LOTR but assert that ultimately it is not about escaping the 'real world' but understanding and even, dare we suggest, changing it.
© THIRD WAY PUBLICATIONS December 18, 2003 All rights reserved. Those wishing to reprint articles, artwork or photographs from this magazine must first gain the written permission of a Director of the company and must undertake to include with the reprinted matter the name and address of this magazine. Notice: This book has not been authorised, prepared, approved, licensed, or endorsed by the Tolkien Estate, New Line Cinema, or any of the publishing companies associated with the Lord of the Rings and other literary works written by J.R.R. Tolkien. Third Way P.O.Box 1243 London SW7 3PB email@example.com www.thirdway.org ISBN 0954478827
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The making of the three films, which comprise the Lord of the Rings, was probably the riskiest bet in motion-picture history. It cost $310 million. If the first film had failed, the second and third (made at the same time) would have added to the losses. It didn't fail. Fellowship was the second highest grossing film of 2001, just behind Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (Sorcerer's Stone in the US). The Two Towers grossed $339,787,500 in the US alone. The films have introduced a whole new generation to the work of Tolkien. All very well you might say, but why should this matter to us? Tolkien had something to say to us. He had very deep ethical and political opinions and these are reflected in his work. The popularity of the films and consequently his books gives a starting point to discuss some vital issues which ordinary people might otherwise find off-putting or over complicated. This is one reason why I was delighted to contribute essays to Tolkien and Politics. Another reason has been my distaste at the way in which attempts have been made to misinterpret what he had to say - not just by those on the far right who have failed to understand the complexity of his views and underlying philosophy but also the 'PC' ''Left'. In this article I want to examine one aspect of his outlook - his attitude toward England and the English. When I've had conversation with friends and workmates about Tolkien they have been surprised when I've asserted that the Hobbits are
English or at least that they shared the traits Tolkien identified with and found admirable in the English. I hasten to add it's not just me saying it! As Tom Shippey points out: "This makes another anachronistic point about Bilbo, and about hobbits in general, which is that they are very specifically English. Tolkien was to rub the point in very firmly indeed in the 'Prologue' to the Fellowship of the Ring in which he makes the whole history of the Shire correspond point for point with the history of early England."1 Another biographer, Michael White is equally clear: "There is no question Tolkien was a patriot, he loved his country, but he never really considered himself 'British'. Instead, he saw himself as most definitely 'English'. His ancestors had left central Europe some two hundred years before he was born, but he did not approve of the concept of the British Empire and still less the British Commonwealth and he identified himself with an older tradition linked to the ancient heart of England.2 Still, some of my friends object saying that this is just conjecture and interpretation on the part of later biographers. People like Hobbits and sometimes it's tough going getting them to admit that their creator thought well enough of the English to use this as his basis! Fortunately, Tolkien himself can be invoked.
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Tolkien told an interviewer that "The Hobbits are just rustic English people"3 Tolkien went further. The character of Sam Gamgee was: "a reflection of the English soldier, of the privates and batmen I knew in the 1914 war, and recognised as so far superior to myself."4 Tolkien told his publisher (Rayner Unwin): "The Shire is based on rural England and not any other country in the world “The toponymy of the Shire” is a "parody" of that of rural England, in much the same sense are its inhabitants: they go together and are meant to. After all the book is English, and by an Englishman"5 Tolkien told his son "I love England (not Great Britain and certainly not the British Commonwealth (grr!)."6 Tolkien is clearly a Progressive Nationalist and an anti-imperialist. The Shire is an inwardlooking, idealised England. There are clearly class differences amongst the Hobbits but these are resolved (or at least lessened) through friendship and mutual respect. This underlying paternalism and accompanying deference is something we no longer see as positive. Perhaps our leaders have let us down too often? Perhaps we have just become better educated and aware? Hobbit society is, however, based on Distributist principles and this is vividly contrasted with industrial capitalism that follows the scouring of the Shire. Distributists believed in the widespread ownership of property as an alternative to wage slavery or State control. This ethos is summed-up by a passage in LOTR: "Deep down in Sam Gamgee still unconquered lived his plain hobbit-sense - The one small garden was all his need and due, not a garden swollen to a realm; his own hands to use, not the hands of others to command."7 The inhabitants of the Shire are suspicious of strangers and parochical. Remember Farmer Maggot's advice to Frodo: "You should never have gone mixing yourself up with Hobbiton Folk, Mr Frodo, Folk are queer up there."8
Gandalf is himself viewed with suspicion on his visits, though tolerated for practical and entertainment value. The Hobbit attitude is probably very close to Eomer of Rohan when he tells Aragorn: "We desire only to be free, and to live as we have lived, keeping our own and serving no foreign Lord."9 That's not to say that co-operation with other peoples is ruled-out. Far from it.The Company of Nine represent all of those Tolkien described as the "Free Peoples" - the Dwarves, Hobbits, Elves and Men opposed to Sauron's totalitarianism. These separate nations/groups confederated militarily to fight a common enemy without forsaking their own identities. Their differences can be both a source of potential conflict and rivalry (for instance between Elves and Dwarves) but also of great strength. The Council of Elrond arrives at decisions after fierce debate. Personal friendships develop (Gimli and Legolas) and deep respect is fostered (Gimli and Galadriel) between individuals whose cultures had been in conflict. The skills and attributes of each people add strength to the common endeavour. They fight to maintain their freedoms, their right to differing cultural identities and self-rule. They don't fight to set-up a new universal Empire. As Patrick Curry points out when the King is restored: "Aragorn merely grants to the Shire, and other areas, the kind of effective independence they already had".10 It is the fate of the Hobbits to be dragged into the struggles of the outside world whether they like it or not, however. The experience wearies and changes the individual Hobbit heroes, Frodo and Bilbo in particular and culminates in the scouring of the Shire itself: "This is worse than Mordor' said Sam. 'Much worse in a way. It comes home to you, as they say, because it is home, and you remember it before it was all ruined."11 Tolkien feared for England and the World. Although seen as old-fashioned by some critics,
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to me he was more aware of the way things were heading than almost anyone of his time. He feared and despised the standardisation and commodification of life. In 1943 he wrote to his Son Christopher: "The bigger things get the smaller and duller or flatter the globe gets. It is getting to be all one blasted little provincial suburb. When they have introduced American sanitation, morale-pep, feminism, and mass production throughout the Near East, Middle East, Far East, USSR, the Pampas - the Danubian Basin, Equatorial Africa, Hither Further and Inner Mumbo-land and the villages of the Darkest Berkshire, how happy we shall be. At any rate it ought to cut down travel. There will be nowhere to go." (Letters, p.65) Tolkien, was an admirer of the Finnish Kalevala. The Kalevala was put together as a collection of epic mythology at the beginning of the twentieth century by E. Lonnrot. Tolkien wanted England to have a mythology like Finland. He described his vision: "to restore to the English an epic tradition and present them with a mythology of their own."12 Tolkien also made it clear in a very long letter to Milton Waldman that his aim was to create a series of related legends as a gift to his country, England (Letters, #131). Tolkien rejected the idea that the King Arthur mythology would serve (for complex reasons I will not explain here!). Don't think that I'm arguing that Tolkien has nothing to say to those who aren't English! As Virginia Luling has said: "All mythologies are necessarily both universal and local: universal in their scope, because they deal with the nature of things; local in point of view and 'temper', because they arise out of particular cultures. This tension is present in the mythology devised by Tolkien, since it is about the human condition in general, and deliberately made specific to a certain part of the world."13 Tolkien was passionate about England and his own little local area in particular. He loved his country. That love of place and culture shouldn't be seen as threatening as Tehanu argues: "The Love of place is an appealing thing that
draws us into a book even when the place is very foreign to us. I have fallen in love with Hilllerman's Navajo desert country through his detective novels, the Greek island of Cephalonia through Louis de Berniere's 'Captain Corelli's Mandolin', Harper Lee's Alabama through 'To Kill a Mockingbird', and on and on. Love of place doesn’t repel us - when it doesn't exclude us."14 Tolkien was able to create a world drawn from our own culture, with particular resonances for our culture, but with a kindly understanding of common humanity providing lessons for all. I hope that those who love England as Tolkien did, and those around the World who want to maintain their cultural autonomy and political liberties will draw inspiration, hope and strength from his work for the continuing fight against 'Mordor in our midst'. * This article first appeared in Issue 9 of Steadfast magazine. Steadfast, 27 Old Gloucester Street, London, WC1N 3XX.
1. JRR Tolkien, Author of the Century by Tom Shippey, P.9. ISBN 0261104012. 2.Tolkien A Biography, Abacus 2002, by Michael White, P.177. ISBN 0349116202. 3. JRR Tolkien: A Biography, George Allen and Unwin, 1977 by Humphrey Carpenter, p.180. 4. The Letters of JRR Tolkien, p.88. ISBN 0261102656. 5. Ibid, p.250 6. Ibid, p65 7.Lord of the Rings, p.135. 8. Fellowship of the Ring, Book I, Chapter IV. 9. The Two Towers, Bk III, Chapter II. 10. Defending Middle-Earth, Tolkien: Myth and Modernity by Patrick Curry, p.50. ISBN 0261103717. 11. Return of the King, Book 6, Chapter 8. 12. On Fairy Stories, Tolkien. 13. An Anthropologist in Middle Earth, in Reynolds and GoodKnight, Proceedings of the J.R.R. Tolkien Centenary Conference (Milton Keynes: The Tolkien Society, and Altadena: The Mythopoeic Press, 1995, p. 56. 14.The People's Guide to J.R.R. Tolkien, p.114 ISBN 1892975904.
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Director: Ralph Bakshi. Producer: Saul Zaentz. 128 minutes (PG)
Peter Jackson's magnificent trio of movies - based on J R R Tolkien's masterpiece - has delighted many people across the world. This is not surprising. The book hasn't been out of print for over fifty years and still features highly on most people's 'best books' list, much to the horror of the literary establishment. It topped Waterstone's 'book of the century' list and shortly before we went to press it had just won BBC television's The Big Read List. This doesn't mean that success for Jackson's film trilogy was a forgone conclusion. A previous animated film, made by Ralph Bakshi in 1978, was not a great success. Then, there was little interest in animated films. 'Cartoons' were regarded as 'just for kids', despite the fact that Bakshi made his reputation with the world's first feature-length pornographic movie, Fritz the Cat. Today, of course, Japanese adult-themed Manga and Anime films have a massive cult following. In effect, in aiming his 'cartoon' at an adult audience, Bakshi's film was a bit ahead of his time and it suffered accordingly. It was largely forgotten soon after it was made and plans for a sequel fell through. This is quite a shame as it's not a bad film at all. The good news is that Warner has now issued it in VHS and DVD formats. Unlike the Jackson films, which follow Tolkien's three-volume structure, Bakshi's interpretation takes the story part-way through The Two Towers to the Battle of Helm's Deep. In its time, this was a groundbreaking film for its unusual mix of regular animation and live-action rendered into animation. There may well be a proper term for this unique art form, but if there is, I don't know it! It's quite startling when you see it, right from the opening sequences depicting the forging of the Nine Rings and history of the One Ring before it fell into Bilbo Baggins' hands. It allows for a more naturalistic sense of motion in the scenes in the Prancing Pony, Frodo's horseback chase to Rivendell, and especially in the battle scenes. By modern CGI standards it looks quite primitive now, but don't knock it. Today's techniques had to start somewhere!1 As I say, Peter Jackson's films are incomparable, but occasionally Bakshi gets closer to Tolkien's original. Anyone watching The Fellowship of the Ring would think that Frodo and his company had set off immediately after Bilbo's eleventy-first birthday party for Rivendell by way of Bree. In fact, it was seventeen years later. Bakshi makes a great attempt to capture the atmosphere of the story. The scene in which Frodo is wounded in a fight with the Ringwraiths is truly terrifying when he puts on the ring in an effort to become invisible to his pursuers. Instead he enters their world of shadows and is stabbed for his troubles with an enchanted blade which breaks leaving a piece inside him. Powerful stuff! Two portrayals have clearly influenced Jackson's interpretation. Most notable is Gollum-Smeagol's dilemma over his promise to Frodo to be good as set against his obsessive desire to regain his 'Precious' from the 'nasty Bagginses'. The other one is the slimy Wormtongue, -the treacherous 'advisor' to King Theoden who is secretly working for Saruman. One the other hand, Bakshi's Sam Gamgee is intensely irritating at times: more like Scrappy Do than is healthy. Full marks to Warmer Bros for this re-release. Look out for it in your local video shop or purchase it from Amazon UK.
1. Peter Jackson's team used specially developed software called Massive which can drop up to 200.000 computer generated extras into movie fights and let them do their own fighting.
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By Anthony Cooney
Tolkien warns us in the Foreword to the second edition of The Lord of the Rings, that it is not an allegory, for he "dislikes allegory in all its manifestations". He accepts that it might have applicability to our time and our world, but "applicability is not to be confused with "allegory" for the"one resides in the freedom of the reader, and the other in the purposed domination of the author." He also says, "I much prefer history, true or feigned". The Lord of the Rings, is a history. A feigned history true, but a history nevertheless, a history drawn from Nordic legend and folktale, a panorama of sweeping scenes, desolate landscapes, massed armies and raging battles. It is also a history shaped by individual initiatives and personal courage and resolve, acts which change the course of events and the unfolding of time, a history bedded in Belloc's dictum that "History must be effectively caused." A history which justifies Karl Popper's insistence that "all collective phenomena is due to the actions, interactions, aims, hopes and thoughts of individual men and is due to traditions created and preserved by individual men". (Emphasis added). It may seem odd to ask of a novel, but how much of Tolkien's vast canvass is "true" and how much is "feigned" history? His saga opens with dark hints of former Ages, a time of war and devastation, of battles between light and darkness, good and evil, in which the power of Sauron is partially triumphant so that the shadow of the past spreads slowly over the unconquered parts of the "Middle Earth", casting angst over the lives of elves, dwarves and men, strengthening the power of goblins, trolls and wolves. But where and what is "Middle Earth"? Is it "middle" in time or in place? Are there lands beyond the great mountains and wasted plains? There are hints, but no more, that this is so. Of one thing Tolkien gives certainty, "Middle Earth" is our earth. It existed in an Age long gone and a place unknown. Its history is the thousand legends, fears and hopes woven into the great tapestry of the folk memory. Tolkien is ambiguous, his time-scale spreads over three Ages and heralds a fourth, but his territory, geographically, is restricted. The core of the saga is the story of the rings, forged by Sauron as "gifts" to the Elven Kings, the Dwarf Lords and Mortal Men, with one ring to bind the wearer to the Dark Lord who possesses it. But the master ring is lost in battle. It must be found again, by Sauron to yield him absolute power, or by allies of light, to destroy it by casting it into the volcanic furnace in which it was forged. In Tolkien's saga it is the least and smallest folk, scarcely aware of the great struggle, who carry out this task; the Hobbits. Tolkien happily adds to the folklore that is ancestral memory and invents entities of his own. Whilst his "Orcs" can be identified as a form of goblin, the maggot brood of the giant Ymir, his tree people, "Ents", are entirely his own invention. His saga expands the horizons of the folklore, he creates new
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legends. Hobbits, the subject of the prelude to The Lord of the Rings do not exist in the sense in which Elves, Dwarves, Trolls and Goblins exist; these exist in our folklore, the Hobbits do not, they exist, two steps removed from reality, as it were solely in Tolkien's saga. There is nothing entirely original in literary invention, only a re-assembling of divers elements, and we may find in the Hobbits traces of the "Brownies", the small, dark Neolithic people who went to ground in long barrows, the "hollow hills", dwelling in remote places and keeping out of sight of the tall strangers who arrived to dispossess them. We may also find in the description of the Hobbit hole echoes of Badger's underground home in The Wind in the Willows. The Hobbits are a peaceable, prosperous people, fond of good food, good beer, good company, good tobacco and wellstocked larders and fuel stores. There is no poverty amongst them, though there might be frugality. Neither are there great landlords to reap rent from the harvest. The Hobbits do not like machinery more complex than the water mill, the handloom and the forge, they see no use in anything not made by craftsmen to last, a heritage through generations. They are zealous for land and property, and too eager to claim inheritance, as we learn in the last chapter of The Hobbit. A grandmother's rocking chair or a grandfather's axe or saw, we may divine being causes of controversy between cousins. They prefer fair fields and hedges, stands of timber and trim gardens to the wild and the waste, for which they see no great use. They are in fact our memory of the English yeomanry of the end of the Middle Ages. Hobbit society is Distributist. On the adventures of the Hobbits I will not dwell, for they are all recorded in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. The first Hobbit we meet, Bilbo Baggins, is reluctantly sent by the Wizard Gandalf, on a quest to recover the dwarf hoard of gold and silver stolen by the dragon Smaug. It is upon this quest that he finds the ring of power, lost centuries ago. he keeps his discovery secret from his fellow Hobbits. However the servants of the
Dark Lord are on his trail and he decides to leave "The Shire" (the heartland of the Hobbits) revealing the secret of the ring to Gandalf and passing it to his young cousin Frodo. Gandalf decrees that Frodo must take the ring to Mordor, where it was forged, and destroy it. Frodo and a party of Hobbits, dwarves, elves and humans set out upon this perilous journey and their adventures, setbacks and final success, are related in The
ANTHONY COONEY Anthony Cooney was born in 1932 in Liverpool. He was married in 1958 and has two daughters and two grandchildren. His education was somewhat disrupted by the war. He attended elementary school in Liverpool and in Caernarvonshire, leaving at fourteen. His working life began as an office boy with Liverpool Corporation. He obtained a School Certificate through night classes and a Bursary for the Gregg Commercial College in Liverpool. His next employment was as a shipping clerk and national service in the Royal Air Force. He later qualified as a teacher and obtained a B.A. degree with the Open University. From 1970 to 1993 he edited the Social Credit/Distributist journal Liverpool Newsletter. His published works include:
The Social Credit Papers of the Liverpool Parliamentary Debating Society, ISBN 0946258023. The Sources of Poverty(Monograph) One Sword at Least -G. K. Chesterton, ISBN 0953507718 Hilaire Belloc, ISBN 0953507734 Clifford Hugh Douglas, ISBN 0953507742 Distributism, 0953507726 Social Credit -Obelisks, ISBN 0953507734 Social Credit - Asterisks, ISBN 0953507750 Social Credit - Aspects The Story of St. George, ISBN 0906324238. Bread in the Wilderness (poems), ISBN 0946258236 (Salzburg University Press) The Leonine Corpus as a 'Third Way'. (paper in progress) The Proto Nazis (Paper) Catholic Social Teaching (with Medaille, John and Harrington, Patrick) ISBN 0953507709
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Lord of the Rings. The destruction of the ring however is not the end of the story. Returned to The Shire, Frodo and his friends find that it has been bought up, field by field and house by house, by the evil Wizard Saruman, acting through the agency of a vain and foolish Hobbit, Lotho. he has imported humans into The Shire, thugs to terrorise the Hobbits into obedience, settling groups of them strategically about the land. He has banned beer and closed down all inns. Food is rationed, tobacco almost unobtainable. No one may travel without a licence nor stay away from home overnight. The water mill has been replaced by a mill which pours poison into the river. The greater part of the harvest is seized "for fair distribution", but is exported, along with beer, tobacco and
timber, Noble trees are felled for no purpose, the Hobbit holes have been smashed and replaced by mean houses. The Distributist society of The Shire has been overthrown by a capitalist revolution. The Hobbits, having lived in peace for centuries with neither invaders nor planters to fear, are too disorganised to resist. Frodo and his friends, fresh from battle and hardship, determine to raise The Shire. Frodo sounds his horn and the Hobbits pour out of their houses and worksheds to do battle. Victorious, they restore the Distributist society. And so ends the Third Age of Middle Earth and its Fourth Age commences. Meanwhile we must wait he who will come and give the blast on the horn which will rouse the Nation.
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by David Kerr
The liberal literary intelligentsia seem to have a big problem with the works of J R R Tolkien despite - or perhaps because – of their enduring popularity. In the Waterstones Top Hundred Books competition at the turn of the century, The Lord of the Rings was voted in as the greatest literary work of the Twentieth Century. It also came out top in the recent Big Read competition on BBC2. This latter competition, which ran right through the autumn of 2003, pitted The Lord of the Rings against such heavyweights of literature as Pride and Prejudice, War and Peace and 1984. This anti-Tolkien backlash is mostly a form of literary snobbery. Germaine Greer lamented, “Ever since I arrived at Cambridge as a student in 1964 and encountered a tribe of fully grown women wearing puffed sleeves and clutching teddies and babbling excitedly about the doings of hobbits, it has been my nightmare that Tolkien would turn out to be the most influential writer of the Twentieth Century. The bad dream has been realised.”. Cited Sunday Tribune 14th December 2003. How terrible for her! Tolkien’s works will still be in print long after Ms Greer’s dreary feminist rant, The Female Eunuch, has long been forgotten. Johann Hari in the Dublin Sunday Tribune complains that “the success of his dire trilogy obviously cannot be attributed to literary merit” citing a ‘great critic’ who described it as ‘balderdash’ and ‘juvenile trash’ when it was first published. A great critic in Mr Hari’s eyes is obviously one who shares his own opinions. So, if it is balderdash with no literary merit, how come that The Lord of the Rings is so popular? Hari has the answer. “The Lord of the Rings
isn’t loved because it’s a great novel, but because it taps into some of the most atavistic and ugly impulses of our times.” Sunday Tribune 14th December 2003, page 19. We only like it because deep down we’re a bunch of reactionary, racist bigots. What is to be made of this serious accusation against Tolkien’s masterpiece; an accusation that has also carried over to Peter Jackson’s films – the accusation of ‘racism’? As is often the case with such sweeping accusations their real basis is hard to pin down. It seems to be a basic discomfort with the essential Englishness of the Shire and the underlying Anglo-Saxon and Northern European mythology of Middle-Earth. ‘Racism’, though, is never properly defined, although the strong suggestion is usually given that Tolkien was some kind of Nazi racial ideologue. The line put forward by most complainants amounts to the observation that the heroes are all white-skinned men or tall fairskinned ‘Nordic’ elves who fight against evil dark-skinned orcs. All the virtues, they claim, are attributed to the fair-skinned races and all the evil to the dark-skinned races. Johann Hari puts it this way, “The purely evil orcs are in Tolkien’s words, ‘squat, flat-nosed, sallow-skinned, with wide mouths and slant-eyes’. The enemy is the Dark Lord and he lives in the Black Land. The heroic hobbits and elves are by contrast, über-Ayran.”
Ibid. 14th December 2003, page 19.
Certainly, this superficial interpretation has been seized on by some modern far-right elements in Britain and North America to bolster their cause. Could they be right? Is The Lord of the Rings a thinly veiled tract for a policy of ‘Aryan’
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supremacy or racial bigotry? A closer examination of this claim shows that it has no foundation in fact. Mr Hari’s assertion that hobbits are ‘über-Aryan’ is utter nonsense! Hobbits are described by Tolkien as, “a little people, about half our height…” who “wear no shoes because their feet grow natural leathery soles and thick warm brown hair like the stuff on their heads (which is curly)…” The Hobbit, page 2. This image could not be further from the idealistic ‘Aryan’ stereotype: the tall, blondehaired, blue-eyed, long-headed superman of nazi mythology. Tolkien was a professor of Anglo-Saxon by the age of 33. His Middle-Earth is not an Aryan paradise that has had to be cleansed from the pollution of alien ‘untermensch’. It is a fantasy world peopled by various races of Men, Elves, Orcs, Hobbits and Ents. Tolkien created a series of languages, alphabets, calendars, histories and maps to bring this world to life. Tolkien based his Middle-Earth on that of an idealised Anglo-Saxon England and on northern European mythology. Had he specialised in another language and culture, say ancient Sanskrit, or that of China or the Inca civilisations, his works would have reflected that instead. Of course, then he would have been open to the accusation of hijacking and plundering other folks’ cultures to create his Middle-Earth. Instead, he grounded it on the familiar Germanic, Norse and English cultures where his characters by default would be white and placed in a distinctly Northern European environment. In a letter he explained his use of northern European mythology: “Not Nordic, please! A word I personally dislike; it is associated, though of French origin, with racialist theories… “Auden has asserted that for me, ‘the North is a sacred direction’. That is not true. The Northwest of Europe; where I (and most of my ancestors) have lived, has my affection, as a man’s home should. I love its atmosphere, and know more of its histories and languages than I do of other parts; but it is not ‘sacred’, nor does it exhaust my affections.” Letters of JRR Tolkien
Chamberlain in the early part of the last century. Although these doctrines were prevalent in Europe, and especially in Germany, Tolkien consciously rejected them. In 1938, a Potsdam-based publisher, Rutter and Loening showed interest in a German language edition of The Hobbit. The publisher wanted to know if he was of ‘arisch’ or ‘Aryan’ origin. In his reply, Tolkien challenged the validity of the Nazi ‘Aryan’ designation. “I regret that I am not clear as to what you intend by arisch. I am not of Aryan extraction: that is Indo-iranian; as far as I am aware, none of my ancestors spoke Hindustani, Persian, Gypsy, or any related dialects. But if I am to understand, that you are enquiring whether I am of Jewish origin, I can only regret that I appear to have no ancestors of that gifted people.” Letters of JRR Tolkien page 37. In a related letter, to his own publisher, Allen and Unwin, Tolkien wondered if he had suffered from the German publisher’s “impertinence” because of his German surname or if it was a general policy under Nazi Germany’s “lunatic laws.” As far as he was concerned, a German language edition could “go hang” as “I should object strongly to any such declaration [of Aryan origin] appearing in print. I do not regard the (probable) absence of Jewish blood as necessarily honourable; and I have many Jewish friends, and
DAVID KERR David Kerr is a founder-member of Third Way, and contested one of the Northern Ireland seats in the 1994 European Elections. He is a regular contributor to both Third Way magazine and editing the Ulster-Nation magazine and website, in addition to which he has written articles on the Ulster situation for many other journals. David authored 'The Real McCoy: W.F. MCoy, Prophet of Ulster Nationalism' (ISBN 0953507785). David, a keen cyclist, has a strong interest in environmental
Tolkien was no racial bigot. He was aware of the ‘Nordicist’ and ‘Aryan’ racial theories first popularised by Gobineau and Houston Stewart
and housing issues. Based in Belfast, he is prominent in a number of local community projects, and describes himself as a non-sectarian radical Ulster-nationlist.
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should regret giving any colour to the notion that I subscribe to the wholly pernicious and unscientific race-doctrine.” There’s not much comfort for neo-Nazis there! The fact is that there is no taint of racism in Tolkien’s books. The struggle in the books is not a great racial conflict but rather a profound spiritual struggle. Tolkien’s materialistic detractors (and indeed supporters) fail to understand this spiritual aspect. Tolkien relates the seductive and corrupting nature of absolute power as represented by Frodo’s ring: the One Ring to rule them all. Paul Comben believed that “the great and good nations of Men on Middle-earth are all White and for the most part acutely aware of the bonds of blood and racial heritage” Tolkien: Ring-bearer
for Racial Nationalism, New Nation number 6; Winter 1984, pp 4-5. The ancient Numenoreans in
The problem for those who interpret The Lord of the Rings in racial terms is that Sauron corrupted these great proto-Aryan ‘White warriors’ because of their moral failings. Great mariners, they had been forbidden to go to the Elves’ Undying Lands or to become immortal. They sought riches, power and immortality and persecuted the Faithful. Robert Foster. The Complete Guide to Middle-earth. page 134. They became easy prey for Sauron whose counsel brought them to destruction. They did ‘mix their blood’ with the dark-skinned Haradrim over whom they ruled, but this was a consequence of their fall from grace, not as asserted by Comben, its cause. Robert
Foster. The Complete Guide to Middle-earth, page 47. 10 Sunday Tribune 14th December 2003, page 19 Three
of the ringwraiths had been Numenoreans. The nine ringwraiths – the Nazgûl – had been men who had been corrupted by Sauron because of their desire for power. Their animosity towards the Men of Gondor – the descendants of the Faithful - and the other free peoples was not racially motivated. Each one of them wore a Ring of Power, which enslaved them to the will of Sauron. They were not known as the Black Riders because of their racial identity but because
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particular, he argued, were like the Romans; favoured by the gods until they became corrupted by mixing with ‘lesser men’, whereupon the gods punished them by destroying their island kingdom. Only a remnant - according to Comben, “those pure in blood and mind” – survived to establish the Middle-Earth kingdoms of Men still extant in Frodo’s day.
A visceral hatred of modernity
Tolkien must be acquitted of the charge of promoting Nazi-style racial doctrines. So, let’s now look at the other ‘atavistic and ugly impulses’ that The Lord of the Rings is accused of tapping into. Here’s Johann Hari again: “Tolkien was animated by a visceral hatred of modernity, and its glorious embodiment, the cosmopolitan city. He is part of the Romantic backlash against the Enlightenment, an enemy of science and progress who is trying to recover myths and rehabilitate mysticism.” What a monster! There is so much in the above passage that says more about Hari than it does about Tolkien. Like most liberal-leftists, Hari despises places like the Shire and Hobbiton where there is a real sense of shared community. He prefers the atomised soulless ‘mega-city’ where everyone is just an anonymous passive consumer unit with no grounding in society. He calls it ‘glorious’. Tolkien, like Fritz Shumacher, Leopold Kohr
and other visionaries realised that such artificial places have no genuine sense of community. They breed enormous disparities of wealth and poverty in which crime increases as society breaks down. In the end this can lead only to one thing – a concentration of state power in an increasingly totalitarian society. This is the direction that Nulab’s Britain is heading today. Many today do question ‘science and progress’ because not all scientific discoveries are progressive. The atomic bomb was a great scientific discovery, but was it progress or, like the One Ring, an instrument of power that destroys and enslaves those who possess it? Scientific discoveries have brought us many great benefits, but also many horrors that have been detrimental for mankind. Is it really ‘reactionary and atavistic’ to point this out? If so, sign me up! Better a loose federation of Shires under a faraway king who leaves us to get on with our own affairs without any interference than a ‘modern’ overgoverned ‘scientific’ urbanised liberaltotalitarian state like Terry Gilliam’s Brazil. If this is modernity and progress, Mr Hari, you can keep it!
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By Patrick Harrington
In his article "Tolkien: A Panorama" my good comrade Anthony Cooney asserts that "Hobbit Society is Distributist." He is right and in this article I want to try to give a very brief outline of what Distributism is and how Tolkien portrayed The Shire as a Distributist society in the Lord of the Rings. As Patrick Curry has stated: "The Lord of the Rings begins and ends with the hobbits, in the Shire. This is the social, cultural and political world. It includes such things as the hobbits' strong sense of community, their decentralised parish or municipal democracy, their bioregionalism (living within an area defined by its natural characteristics, and within its limits), and their enduring love of, and feeling for, place. In all these respects, the ultimate contrast is with the brutal universalism and centralised efficiency of totalitarian Mordor."1 Families for the most part managed their own affairs in the Shire. Within the Shire there are three officials: a Mayor of Michael Delving, a Postmaster and a First Shiriff. Both the Mayor and Shiriff are described as having very limited duties. In the case of the Mayor "almost his only duty was to preside at banquets". As for the First Shirrriff his job was principally "to see that Outsiders of any kind, great or small, did not make themselves a nuisance." Other than these officials there were only hereditary heads of clans. Tolkien emphasises again and again that he believes that political authority should be strictly limited. Though the story ends with the Return of the King it is not an absolutist or authoriatarian King At the end of the book Gandalf revisits the Prancing Pony and engages in conversation with Mr. Butterbur. Gandalf tells him there is a new King and that the highway will be reopened. Butterbur retorts: "We want to be let alone". Gandalf assures him they will be. Butterbur finally accepts that the outcome "will be good for business, no doubt. So long as (the King) lets Bree alone." Tolkien expressed his views as follows: "My political opinions lean more and more to Anarchy (philosophically understood, meaning abolition of control not whiskered men with bombs) or to 'unconstitutional' Monarchy. I would arrest anybody who uses the word State and after a chance of recantation, execute them if they remained obstinate! Government is an abstract noun meaning the art and process of governing and it should be an offence to write it with a capital G. Anyway, the proper study of Man is anything but Man; and the most improper job of any man, even saints is bossing other men. Not one in a million is fit for it, and least of all those who seek the opportunity...Give me a king whose chief interest in life is stamps, railways, or racehorses"2 This limited political authority has led some neoconservatives to praise The Lord of the Rings and hail Tolkien as a kindred spirit! Of course he was nothing of the sort. Their mistake is to apply subsidiarity only to the political sphere and not the economic. In fact subidiarity arises from the interaction of autonomy and unitive authority. Tolkien, being a good Distributist, understood this well.
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Distributism is simply an economic system in which private property is well distributed, in which "as many people as possible" are in fact owners. The most complete statement of Distributism yet can be found in Hilaire Belloc's book, The Restoration of Property (1936). Distributists argue that under capitalism property, certainly productive property, was the preserve of the rich, and that this gave them an influence and power in society far beyond what they had any right to. Whilst the formal right to private property exists for all under capitalism, in practice it is restricted to the rich. Hobbit society has limited political authority but property is also distributed. Whilst there are differences of wealth these are not extreme. In this it is clearly based on Distributist principles and this is vividly contrasted with industrial capitalism that follows the scouring of the Shire. Distributists believed in the widespread ownership of property as an alternative to wage slavery or State control. This ethos is summed-up by a passage in LOTR: "Deep down in Sam Gamgee still unconquered lived his plain hobbit-sense - The one small garden was all his need and due, not a garden swollen to a realm; his own hands to use, not the hands of others to command."3 Distributist ideas are based on Thomist philosophy and Catholic Social Teaching. As Coulombe writes: "The concept of society as an organic whole, without class conflict, with a communal structure, is one that has characterised Catholic social thought since the Roman Empire. In many ways the Shire expresses perfectly the economic and political ideals of the Church, as expressed by Leo XIII in Rerum novarum, and Pius XI in Quadragesimo anno. Traditional authority (the Thain), limited except in times of crisis; popular representation (the Mayor of Michel Delving), likewise limited; subsidiarity; and above all, minimal organisation and conflict. It is the sort of society envisioned by Distributists Belloc and Chesterton in Britain, by Salazar in Portugal, by Dollfuss in Austria, and by Smetona in Lithuania. However far short or close these dwellers in the real world came to their goal, the fact remains
that it is something very close to the shire they had in mind."4 Tom Shippey has drawn attention to an interesting aspect of Sharkey's vengeance on the Hobbits and the Shire: "More significant may be the curious 'socialism', so to speak, of Sharkey and his men. They are robbers and bandits, and Sharkey/Saruman's only goal is vengeance, as he says himself, but it is strange that the ruffians camouflage their intentions with some sort of ethic of fairness. 'It's
PATRICK HARRINGTON Patrick Harrington was born in Kennington, South London in 1964. He attended Pimlico Comprehensive and later Archbishop Tenison's Grammar School. In 1979 he joined the National Front after a brief spell in the Young Communist League, and was at the centre of student disputes at the Polytechnic of North London in the 80s as an infantile faction of the "left" sought to deny him access to classes on account of his then political views. The court cases he initiated and won at that time form precedents which continue to protect the rights of all individuals. He graduated with a degree in Philosophy, but since then has obtained qualifications in advertising & marketing and computing. Pat is also a qualified teacher (holding a Post Graduate Certificate of Education (FE) from the University of Greenwich), but currently works on Britain's (much undervalued) Railway. In 1990 he joined with others to found Third Way, having radically altered many of his views and widened his base of social and political contacts; he cites his discussions with Rabbi Mayer Schiller as having a particular influence on him. Pat's outlook is nowadays pretty close to that of mainstream socialism. He established a collection on both the extreme right and left from his own extensive library of political material, and made it available at the Modern Records Centre of Warwick University. He has contributed to additional research (soon to be published) on politics during the 1980s, and currently serves on the National Executive of Third Way. Patrick wrote 'The Third Way - An Answer to Blair' (ISBN 095350770X), co-authored the 'Third Way Manifesto 2001' (ISBN 0953507793) and Edited 'Catholic Social Teaching' (ISBN 0953507769). Patrick is a life-long vegetarian with a strong interest in animal welfare. Outwith family, his main leisure activities are computing and martial arts; favourite authors are JRR Tolkien, Ursula LeGuin, CS Lewis and Isaac Asimov.
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all these 'gatherers' and 'sharers', says Hob Hayaward again, 'going round counting and measuring and taking off to storage. They do more gathering than sharin, and we never see most of the stuff again'. Farmer Cotton confirms that they gather stuff up 'for fair distribution', and the quotation marks indicate that that is their phrase, not his; he also admits that some fraction of this does come back, as the 'leavings' at the Shirriff-houses."5 Is this Tolkien taking a sly dig at State Socialism? Certainly his letters show that he had a healthy dislike for Stalin and viewed planning (including central planning) and planners with great suspicion. Once Sharkey is deposed Sam the new Mayor (and a gardener) plants the seed given to him by Galadriel and renewal begins: "an air of richness and growth, and a gleam of beauty beyond that of mortal summers that flicker and pass upon this Middle-earth. All the children born or begotten in that year, and there were many, were fair to see and strong, and most of them had a rich golden hair that had before been rare amongst Hobbits. The fruit was so plentiful that young hobbits very nearly bathed in strawberries and cream. And no one was ill, and everyone was pleased, except those who had to mow the grass." Anna Bramwell has pointed out what she sees as some of the political undertones: "The cleansing of the Shire (carried out, one notes, by the radical working class Sam Gamgee, while the paternalist Tory Frodo waits for death and resurrection) can be interpreted in several ways. The trees that were cut down are replanted again, the dark, smoky mills are demolished. The bearers of exploitative capitalism are chased out by the sword and the fist."6 Note that, unlike Shippey she sees the exploiters as capitalist rather than socialist in nature. Do we have any direct evidence of an interest on the part of Tolkien in economic reform? The short answer is 'yes'. Tolkien subscribed to Candour and preserved its 24 volumes. A.K. Chesterton, a cousin of G.K.Chesterton, founded Candour. Chesterton edited Oswald Mosley's publications
in the Thirties. In 1954 he established the League of Empire Loyalists. In 1967 the League merged with other groups to form the National Front. In 1973, Tolkien's copies of Candour were sold out of his estate for £10. Stephen Goodson who leads the Abolition of Income Tax, and Usury Party in South Africa currently owns them. Through his subscription to Candour Tolkien would have been very familiar with both Distributist and Social Credit doctrines. The attack on the Shire was led by outside forces but in our world we face an enemy within from a class devoid of loyalty and bond, steeped in materialism and corrupted by greed and vanity. 1. Defending Middle Earth, p.27, Patrick Curry. Harper Collins. ISBN 0261103717. 2. Letters, P. 65 ISBN 0261102656. 3. The Lord of the Rings, p.135. 4. The Lord of the Rings: A Catholic View, p.7 Coulombe. 5. J.R.R. Tolkien, Author of the Century, p.167, Tom Shippey. ISBN 0261104012 6. Ecology in the 20th Century, p.132, Anna Bramwell. Yale University Press. ISBN 0300045212.
Third Way advocates a shift to Citizens Income for all, instead of the present complex, often anomalous and expensive to administer mess of benifits. Citizens Income (sometimes called “Basic Income”) is a sum, the same for all, payable through the State as an inalienable right to all citizens of the country, throughout their lives and sufficient to at least meet the cost of their basic needs. It is true “stakeholding” in the society and its economy. There would of course be some additional provision to cover exceptional needs or contingencies. Above is an extract from the Third Way manifesto. We also advocate the debt-free financing of public and social infrastructure. For more 3W policy plus articles on a diverse range of subjects, visit our website
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By Patrick Harrington
You might be tempted to think that I argue that Tolkien was an environmentalist simply because it is a fashionable cause or that I'm seeking to latch on to a big name and claim he (like us) favoured Green politics. Before you make your mind up please allow me to argue my case. Tolkien took great care and trouble when describing the natural world of Middle-earth. Patrick Curry states: "I count sixty-four species of non-cultivated plants specifically mentioned in The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings - surely an unusual number for any work of fiction - in addition to his own invented (or, as it were, discovered) kinds: athelas, mallorn, lebethron, elanor, niphredil, simbelmyne, the pale white flowers of Morgul Vale and the Huorns of Fangorn." Defending Middle-Earth, Patrick Curry, p.62. ISBN 0261103717 Tolkien's passion for trees is well documented. In a letter to the Daily Telegraph Tolkien took issue with an editorial description of Forestry Commission plantations as possessing "a kind of Tolkien gloom": "In all my works I take the part of trees as against all their enemies. Lothlorien is beautiful because there the trees were loved - It would be unfair to compare the Forestry Commission with Sauron because as you observe it is capable of repentance; but nothing it has done that is stupid compares with the destruction, torture and murder of trees perpetrated by private individuals and minor official bodies. The savage sound of the electric saw is never silent wherever trees are still found growing." Daily Telegraph, 4 July 1972 Any reader of the Lord of the Rings (LOTR) could not fail to notice that Evil is marked by unchecked industrialism. Great woods are destroyed in order to fuel the machines of Sauron and Saruman. Mordor is depicted as a land of mines, slag heaps and clouds of noxious gases: "Here nothing lived, not even the leprous growths that feed on rottenness. The gasping pools were choked with ash and crawling muds, sickly white and grey; as if the mountains had vomited the filth of their entrails upon the lands about. High mounds of crushed and powdered rock, great cones of earht fire-blasted and poison-stained, stood like an obscene graveyard in endless rows, slowly revealed in the reluctant light." The Return of the King, book VI, Chapter 2; The Land of Shadow. Isengard, a once splendid fortress of Gondor is turned by Saruman into "a graveyard of the unquiet dead." The Scouring of the Shire is itself linked to pollution: "It was one of the saddest hours of their lives. The great chimney rose up before them; and as they drew near the old village across the water, through rows of new mean houses along each side of the road they saw the new mill in all its frowning and dirty ugliness: a great brick building straddling the stream, which it fouled with a steaming and stinking outflow." The Return of
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the King, book VI, Chapter 8; The Scouring of the Shire Saruman One of the main villains of LOTR, Saruman, is described by Treebeard thus: "He has a mind of metal and wheels; and he does not care for growing things, except as far as they serve him for the moment". The Two Towers, book III, Chapter 4; Treebeard Saruman wants to bend nature to his will. In this respect he is the archetypal Black magician. Saruman is also the most modern figure in Middleearth. He believes that the end justifies the means. He states this explicitly when trying to persuade Gandalf to join him: "We can bide our time, we can keep our thoughts in our hearts, deploring maybe evils done by the way, but approving the high and ultimate purpose: Knowledge, Rule Order; all things we have striven in vain to accomplish, hindered rather than helped by our weak or idle friends. There need not be, there would not be, any real change in our designs, only in our means." The Fellowhip of the Ring, book II; chapter 2 The Council of Elrond Consider also though how many Scientists and Political leaders also accept this Philosophy and seek mastery of Nature. Tom Shippey explicitly makes this link: "The Sarumans of the real world rule by deluding their followers with images of a technological Paradise in the future, a modernist Utopia, but what one often gets (and this has become only more relevant since Tolkien wrote and since he died) are the blasted landscapes of Eastern Europe, strip-mined, polluted and even radioactive." J.R.R. Tolkien Author of the Century, p.171 Saruman's defeat at Isengard is therefore particularly fitting: "What destroys the doors of Isengard is the 'Great Sea' that fills the 'bowl' of the plain of Isengard and isolates the single tower of Orthanc. The River Isen has been dammed up by the furious
Ents in order to flood Isengard's tunnel and thus overwhelm the city. Appropriately, the tree-killer Saruman is overcome by trees - and the rocks of Isengard torn asunder by the root-splitting power of the victimised." Lord of the Rings: The Mythology of Power. The University Press of Kentucky, p.75. ISBN 0813190177 Tolkien was suspicious of men like Saruman and claims of technological 'progress'. He reacted strongly against nuclear weapons: "The news today about 'Atomic bombs' is so horrifying one is stunned. The utter folly of these lunatic physicists to consent to do such work for war-purposes; calmly plotting the destruction of the world! Such explosives in men's hands, while there moral and intellectual status is declining, is about as useful as giving out firearms to all inmates of a gaol and then saying that you hope 'this will ensure peace'". Letter 102, 9 August 1945 Tom Bombadil Tom Bombadil is a character worthy of comparing and contrasting with Saruman. For me he is one of the most fascinating characters in the LOTR. When I first read it I was puzzled and astounded by one particular passage concerning Tom. Throughout LOTR the power and corrupting influence of the One Ring is emphasised. When Tom asks: "Show me the precious ring" the word "precious" contains more than a hint of sarcasm. Tom seems to imply that the value of the Ring is questionable. Tom puts it on his finger without fear and does not become invisible. When Frodo puts it on Tom has no trouble seeing him. He can even make the Ring itself disappear. What are we to make of this puzzle? Tolkien wrote to the original proofreader of the trilogy in 1954. He writes that "even in a mythological Age there must be some enigmas, as there always are. Tom Bombadil is one (intentionally)" (Ibid., p. 174). He explains, "Tom is not an important person - to the narrative. I suppose he has some importance as a 'comment'." The War of the Ring is a struggle for power and control. Tolkien writes:
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"The story is cast in terms of a good side, and a bad side, beauty against ruthless ugliness, tyranny against kingship, moderated freedom with consent against compulsion that has long lost any object save mere power, and so on; but both sides in some degree, conservative or destructive, want a measure of control." (Ibid., p.179). Tom in contrast, though very powerful, has renounced power in a kind of "vow of poverty," "a natural pacifist view." In this sense, Tolkien says, Tom's presence reveals that there are people and things in the world for whom the war is largely irrelevant or at least unimportant, and who cannot be easily disturbed or interfered with in terms of it (Ibid., pp. 178-79). Although Tom would fall if the Dark Lord wins ("Nothing would be left for him in the world of Sauron"). Tom is able to handle the One Ring without fear because he disdains ownership, possession and control. To summarise Tolkien, the rights and wrongs of power and control are utterly meaningless to Tom and the means of power quite valueless (Ibid., 179). This is very unusual to say the least! It has led a number of writers to identify Tom with Nature - something which is beyond or outside judgements of good and evil. Edmund Fuller asserts that Tom is "unclassifiable other than as some primal nature spirit". Tolkien and his Critics, p.23 Ruth S. Noel remarks that: "Tom Bombadil is a character like Puck or Pan, a nature god in diminished form, half humorous, half divine Mythology of Middle Earth, Ruth S. Noel, p.127 When faced with the threat to the Hobbits of Old Man Willow he reacts casually: "that can soon be mended. I know the tune for him." (LOTR 1:131). When he deals with Old Man Willow he does so by reminding him of his true purpose in creation. I think it's interesting to ask whether this is even an exercise of power? Certainly it changes things but only because Old Man Willow is reminded of what his essence is and accepts it. I don't think that the case for Tom as an embodiment of Nature is proved beyond doubt. Others have argued that Tom is a Vala and they can make a good case too. Whatever Tom is,
however, it is clear that his power (if we want to call it that) is very different from other characters in LOTR, that he has a special bond with Nature and that unlike Saruman he values creations for what they are rather than any utility to him. Tom delights in things as they are without desiring to dominate or control them. Tolkien then identified industrialisation and pollution with Evil and created a Villain in Saruman who represented a technocrat who wanted to dominate and use nature - remember his cross-breeding experiments, his use of a kind of napalm against the Ents and his use of explosives at the battle of Helms Deep. In Tom Bombadil we are introduced to a being who does not desire power and instead loves growing things for what they are. He understands their true nature and where they stray from it seeks to remind and return them to it. Creative Work Tolkien didn't just dislike industrialisation because of its effect on our natural environment or because men like Saruman were aping the role of God. Tolkien was concerned at the effects on men of industrial capitalism. As someone influenced by Catholic Social Teaching and Distributism Tolkien saw industrial capitalism producing a sub-class alienated and prevented from exercising their right (or fulfilling their duty) to act creatively within nature. Look at the example of Ted Sandyman. His father was the Miller but Ted was reduced to cleaning the machines after the Mill is automated and outsiders are brought in to run it. Those of us within the co-operative Socialist and Distributist tradition well understand why Tolkien stresses the importance of sub-creation and distrusts developments that seek to reduce us effectively to machines, wage-slaves, mere numbers. As Anwyn points out: "Tolkien's position was that to allow the machines to take over was to devalue the human mind and to abdicate a responsibility both to nature and to the real business of humanity - sub-creation and using it to form a happier, more well conducted society based less on power and more
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on contribution to the Good." The People's Guide to J.R.R. Tolkien, p.135. ISBN 1892975904 I believe Tolkien thought a lot about the notion of stewardship. When I read about Tom Bombadil or the gardener heroes of LOTR, or Aragorn I feel he was making a point. As a Catholic
interested in social questions he viewed man as having a true role of stewardship in creation. In our world there is a clamour instead for domination and control. Tolkien is a still, calm voice calling instead for the alternative philosophy of stewardship and care.
St. George’s Committee
Interested in exploring and celebrating English culture in a fun way? If so the St. George’s Committee could be for you. We are looking for representatives to ‘fly the flag’ in your area! Contact the National Committee at PO Box 48, Hornchurch, Essex RM12 4PJ
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they rode swift black horses and dressed in dark clothing. The best example of the craving for power leading to spiritual corruption is found in the career of Saruman the White. Here was a man whom racial ideologues would consider the brightest and the best of the Aryan Race. If the racial interpretation had been really true, he would have been a hero rather than the traitor and villain he actually turned out as. He was learned and powerful as the head of the White Council but he secretly coveted more. He wanted the One Ring for himself. He used his agents to undermine Rohan and sent a band of Orcs after the Fellowship of the Ring to get hold of it. In his overweening
pride and ambition, he himself became a tool of the Dark Lord, Sauron. The same Dark Power in the Ring almost seduced one of the Fellowship, Boromir of Gondor, into killing Frodo. Frodo himself was tempted by it on the very edge of Mount Doom when he claimed the Ring as his own. The great power it offered would destroy anyone who used it no matter how ‘pure’ or exalted their racial bloodline might be. The true hero of the book is not a mighty conqueror or great warrior. He’s just an ordinary hobbit who stands by his friends in all kinds of adversity on the road to Mordor and back again. He’s the loyal, true and humble and distinctly ‘non-Aryan’ Samwise Gamgee.
Catholic Social Teaching by Anthony Cooney, Patrick Harrington (Editor), John C. Medaille ISBN 0953507769 Third Way Publications £5.00 Paper - 20 A4 pages This Third Way special edition examines how far Catholic social teaching represents a challenge to capitalist economics and offers a radical alternative. It puts forward practical suggestions as to how this teaching should influence our political choices and considers the practical implementation of the underlying ideals. The authors are upfront in their belief that for the Church to defend justice it must be prepared to challenge and oppose exploitation. Shaw V. Chesterton George Bernard Shaw and G.K. Chesterton ISBN 0953507777 Third Way Publications £3.50 Paper - 26 A5 pages This booklet presents the text of a debate between noted Fabian George Bernard Shaw and Distributist, novelist and poet G.K. Chesterton with Hilaire Belloc in the chair. It tackles issues such as the right to private property, state ownership and central planning versus the market. Issues that are as important now as they were then. The tone of the debate is good-humoured and each participant makes jokes at the other's expense. Chesterton states that "Mr Shaw is making abstract diagrams of triangles, squares, and circles; we are trying to paint a portrait, the portrait of a man. We are trying to make our lines and colours follow the characteristics of the real object. Man desires certain things. He likes a certain amount of liberty, certain kinds of ownership, certain kinds of local affection, and won't be happy without them." This booklet should allow you to judge for yourself which of these literary giants gets the better of the debate. An Essay on the Restoration of Property Hilaire Belloc ISBN 0954478800 Third Way Publications £5.00 Paper - 78 A5 pages Belloc never saw Capitalism and Communism as opposites: “The only economic difference between a herd of subservient Russians and a mob of free Englishmen pouring into a factory of a morning is that the latter are exploited by private profit, the former by the State in communal fashion. The motive of the Russian masters is to establish a comfortable bureaucracy for themselves and their friends out of the proletariat labour. The motive of the English masters is to increase their private fortunes out of proletariat labour. But we want something different from either." Belloc not only saw the essential similarity of Capitalism and State Socialism, he had a clear picture of the alternative - a third way: "There is a third form of society and it is the only one in which sufficiency and security can be combined with freedom and that form is a society in which property is well distributed and so large a proportion of the families in the State severally own and therefore control the means of production as to determine the general tone of society; making it neither Capitalist nor Communist". Belloc argues passionately for a society in which property is well distributed. Third Way Manifesto 2001 by Patrick Harrington and Cliff Morrison ISBN 0953507793 Third Way Publications £5.00 Paper - 12 A5 pages The 2001 General Election manifesto of the Third Way is a groundbreaking document. It calls for a complete change in the power relations of British society. It advocates co-operative ownership, direct democracy, reform of company law, establishment of a Citizens Income and a New World Order based on Justice. It is the creative power of the ideas expressed rather than numbers or establishment patronage which gives Third Way clout. Third Way leads and others follow. Read now what will be policy over the next few years.