Tolkien on Politics
Tolkien Lore | 4 May 2020
2:43 What is the common foe of the Anarchist and the Monarchist?
In that precise quote, I feel a certain, shall we say distant kinship, to Action française in one of Maurras' less conventional moments.
"Au delà du socialisme il y a le syndicalisme, audelà de l'anarchie est la monarchie. Certains le considèrent comme le mal, nous la considérons comme le bien"
Not the least saying JRRT was a card carrying member of Action française or that he would have favoured all of Maurras' views, and one of those expressed in his aphorism collection ("collected tweets") Mes Idées Politiques that was omitted from Nos raisons pour la monarchie / contre la démocratie ("posthumously collected tweets") could have inspired Denethor. Maurras, alas, also thought that the soul is unknowable and that the statesman needn't bother about the Catholic soul in terms of salvation, other than as this coinciding with Traditional French Identity (which he valued more than the soul).
But this particular thing, I think Tolkien was no fan of parliamentarian democracy. Or bureaucracy.
3:22 I think you will find that early on he is basically Distributist anticapitalist. Like Chesterton and Belloc;
THEN he mellows up on mass production (famously, printing LotR in millions of copies from the same* physical press is mass production). Somewhat.
Let's take two types of changes in farming since horse drawn ploughs were widely spread.
- tractors pulling ploughs and also sowing machines reduce the number of people needed to produce a certain amount of food, and transports decrease the necessity to live close to where the food is grown;
- fertilisers (recall that horse manure was one too) and pesticides (recall that some of them are poisonous) and searching out new varieties tends on the contrary to increase the amount of food produced per acre.
If ever the continents get so crowded that a human being absolutely no longer can get three acres and a cow, but only two acres, and this after grazing ground has reduced his cow to half a cow, on average, even if one can imagine ship gardens with soil from composted algae, the second kind of change will arguably be vital for survival.
But the first change is basically creating unemployment. In France, tractors became a thing in World War I, to replace farmers who were drafted for the war. After the war, tractors meant quite a lot of them couldn't get their land back. A similar spiral of farming unemployment and forced urbanisation of farm born people was in England at Napoleonic wars, when lots of farmers were needed to fight "Oh Napoleon Bonaparte, you're the cause of my woe, since my bonnie dear sweetheart to the wars he did go" and they had no more any enclosures from which to start paying off debts that their farms had incurred in the meantime.
Sure, one can reason like "well, the more farmers are out of work at farms, the more of them can get other jobs" - but overall it's unemployment in "necessary" jobs (for a list of vital necessities, see corporeal works of mercy, Matthew 25 - farmers and brewers come before weavers and carpenters who come before medical doctors, kind jailors and - not mentioned here but in Matthew 2and John 12 - undertakers), which increases a "workforce pool" that's uneasily balanced between "jobs of luxury" (that's the nicer part of not being a farmer), cleaning jobs (less nice, but perfectly honest - unless you harrass a homeless by denying him clean toilets from time to time), unemployed, and those surveying the unemployed so they don't make trouble. In times of unrest and simply bad conjectures, the part of this that goes to "jobs of luxury" clearly is likely to decrease. With an ensuing polarisation between unemployed and those watching over them. More homeless and more police officers. And some kinds of not so kind jailors - the type who will frown on escapism rather than on physical escape. CSL mentioned some of them in The Pilgrim's Regress, the City of Claptrap. On some occasions robbed stingy shop keepers and evil jailors (clap trap type or Alcatraz type) may get together to make evil plans against Genesis 1:28 by speculation on what types of people there could be less of and society would be more peaceful ... God may laugh at their plans, but not all of the victims do. Of all Fascist movements, Nazism involved Eugenics and is for that reason unacceptable, but so did historically several parties of a Democratic type in Canada, US and Scandinavia. In Germany, Patton ended Eugenics in 1945. In the other parts, this was more like 1970's.
If the West has less fossil fuels over a certain war or any future war, it might be a good idea to get people out to farms and start replacing tractors with horses and people. And as many lost jobs or even businesses during lockdowns, some who don't dare count on getting that back would probably be willing, so no constraint would be needed.
* For those reading this and aware that I want to earn money for my writing, my economic setup, which first I present:
- A little note on further use conditions in general and ...
- Copyright issues on blogposts with shared copyright in particular if some other writer's still extant copyraight is affected ...
is such that decentralised printing in many different companies in several smaller editions is possible. Not necessarily that I'd like to have far fewer copies overall ... but they would involve less transport (and at least in some cases more amateurism).
4:11 Government, except as verbal noun for the action of governing ...
He would approve of "during the government of Churchill as PM" because it pinpoints Churchill as personally responsible, and speaks of "government" as one activity in his life, but he would not approve of omitting the name and just say "government" as "the government has decided" ...
4:49 It is a bit ironic, while what he jocularly proposes as a kind of Stalin purge is precisely against the kind of attitude Stalin was requiring - like Stalin was requiring people to say, not that a policeman or judge or army officer had a limited right to command you, but that the Government, because it was People Incarnate, had a right to command any and every area of your life it chose to so command and found practicable to so command.
5:12 Unlibertarian. I would actually go to his letters a bit more on that issue before we go to his fictions.
In the active common lifespan of JRRT and CSL in Oxford, the no fault divorce by mutual agreement was being introduced.
Both agreed that what was going on before that was extremely hypocritical, some wealthy people wanted to divorce, got a few dollars for a gigolo, got a few dollars for a private detective, got even more dollars on lawyers to punish the unfaithful wife with a divorce. A poor man was basically stuck with his wife.
Now, for CSL, the issue was, the people are anyway not likely to obey laws they don't really understand or relate to. Giving poor people an equal share in a guilty pleasure was kind of just because it made things more equal, and also because it made things less hypocritical.
For JRRT the issue was, the law as it stood incarnated some shadow of the law of God (though it was not exactly a carbon copy of the Canon Law of 1917), and the fact that getting around it was costly was protecting the poor from occasions to sin. So, JRRT was for a just restriction, even if in practise it only incapacitated the poor from vice.
Let's compare prohibition. BOTH would, like Chesterton, have favoured the ending of Eighteenth Amendment, BOTH would, like Chesterton, have dreaded its importation to England, BOTH would have denounced also its hypocrisy, a rich man could pay a bootlegger or could get a bottle of alcohol for wound desinfection in the pharmacy, without getting suspected, and then get into the cocktail party. Here JRRT would have agreed with CSL to end the hypocrisy, but in this case, the restriction was in the view of all three (or four if you add Belloc) an unjust one, an impure importation from Mecca.
5:37 Have you skipped all the chapters about Laketown?
"Master of Lake-town is the title given to the elected leader of Esgaroth. The Master of the town when Bilbo and Thorin's Company arrived in The Hobbit was portrayed as a capable businessman, but more than a little greedy and cowardly. He was stated as having run off with a large amount of gold and dying in the epilogue."
"Bard is a descendant of Girion, the last lord of the city of Dale, which had been destroyed by the dragon Smaug two centuries before the events of The Hobbit, which takes place in year 2941 of the Third Age. He is the captain of a company of archers in Esgaroth (also known as Lake-town). His friends accused him of prophesying floods and poisoned fish, but they knew his worth and courage. He is described as tall and grim with black hair."
And if you go to some things in the books, Bard is also described as ridiculed for being basically paranoid or apocalyptic.
Two centuries - somewhat reminiscent of the time from the French Revolution ... basically 150 years back in 1937. Or even the time from Culloden. 1745 - 1937, nearly two centuries.
If we want year by year two centuries, that's 1737 : "July 9 – The direct male line of the Medici family becomes extinct, with the death of Gian Gastone de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany."
Previous year : "January 26 – Stanislaus I of Poland abdicates his throne."
"April 14 – German adventurer Theodor Stephan Freiherr von Neuhoff is crowned King Theodore of Corsica, 25 days after his arrival on Corsica on March 20. His reign ends on November 5 when he flees the island."
"April – The Genbun era begins in Japan. The era of Kyōhō Reforms ends."
"November 5 – King Theodore of Corsica flees the island after a reign of seven months and the kingdom reverts to French control. "
1735 "October 3 – An agreement between the European powers brings a ceasefire in the War of the Polish Succession, one week short of the second anniversary of the war. With France and Spain on the side of the reigning monarch, Stanisław Leszczyński, and Prussia, Russia, and Austria supporting Augustus III, a preliminary peace is signed that was ratified in 1738 as the Treaty of Vienna. By the terms of the treaty, Stanisław Leszczyński renounced his claim on the Polish throne and recognized Augustus III, Duke of Saxony. As compensation he received instead the duchies of Lorraine and Bar which were to pass to France upon his death."
To me this sounds like:
- A) Tolkien was a kind of Fascist (organising disaster relief, as Bard does, was a very current motif with Fascist movements, just like proposing a somewhat more authoritarian rule in times of obvious unrest, also as Bard does);
- B) but his ideal Fascism was very far from Hitler's and far closer to attempts of monarchic restoration.
6:30 And obviously, Bard's refusal to usurp the position of an elected official, as long as he exists, is a criticism of Communism, but probably not (despite Azaña still being there) of Franquism. Other Fascist takeovers up to 1937 had been constitutional or sham constitutional, never done by open violence against obvious representatives of the "kind of entity that must not be named" ...
Oh, unless you would count Pilsudski as starting out as Fascist, when bearing arms against Russia, Prussia and theoretically also Austria (but Austria never shot a single bullet in his men's direction, Austrian units had orders to simply allow his takeover). But some would say, he was socialist then and only later became kind of Fascist.
One could of course say, Smetona deposing Kazys Grinius in 1926 did not get Tolkien's approval. And when Smetona fired on farmers in 1935, I think that also was not quite JRRT's taste - or mine.
11:28 Thranduil, Elrond, Celeborn and Galadriel - three elven kingdoms. Oh - four. Cirdan is arguably not just a private citizen within human ruled territory, but actually king of the Grey Havens area.
If Celeborn and Galadriel don't do very much governing, at the least they make laws on who may visit Lothlorien and make a very notable exception to that law. They also organise the defense against Orcs. That puts them as much into Kingship as Alfred was (or even a bit more, since they weren't on the run) in the time of his life a few years up to defeating Guthrum at Ethandune.
I think they are also in the White Council which if I recall correctly is not just the five Istari.
A rose by any other name ... if you call it Gül or you don't name it but describe its petals, it is still a rose.
If you want to decrease the number of kingdoms by denying Celeborn and Galadriel running one, that's a bit bad faith*, after you admitted (correctly) that Denethor was de facto king, though the title was different.
There are two elective societies in Middle Earth, and you get Masters of Laketown and Mayors of Michel Delving.
And a few unconstitutional monarchies (as moderns would analyse them) are bad. Sauron, Saruman, Goblin King of Misty Mountains ... however, in Aristotelic and Thomistic terms, these would be the vice of Tyranny, and actually in opposition to Monarchy.
* Bad faith - a bad translation of "mauvaise foi" which in a context like this simply means "disingenious" ...
15:08 If you recall Girl Next Gondor, she was stating Shire was "not a Utopia" because people were occasionally very spiteful to each other.
But if you see what she is polemising against, the idea is probably best stated that "the Shire is a Distributist Utopia" - and it is in fact not naiveté but plain observational fact that a village with property well distributed and no one landlording the others actually can remain very stably in its customs.
Chesterton gives the Serbian village as an example. One can add Greeks in both Greece and formerly Greek parts of Turkey who have kept up steles of the Decretum Maximum of Diocletian.
Basically up to modern times.
Now, the Decretum maximum gives maximal prices for diverse goods and services. Probably the currency changed, but the translations to later currencies were in the people's awareness, or keeping up the stelai would have been pointless.
"The first two-thirds of the Edict doubled the value of the copper and billon coins, and set the death penalty for profiteers and speculators, who were blamed for the inflation and who were compared to the barbarian tribes attacking the empire. Merchants were forbidden to take their goods elsewhere and charge a higher price, and transport costs could not be used as an excuse to raise prices.
"The last third of the Edict, divided into 32 sections, imposed a price ceiling – a list of maxima – for well over a thousand products. These products included various food items (beef, grain, wine, beer, sausages, etc.), clothing (shoes, cloaks, etc.), freight charges for sea travel, and weekly wages. The highest limit was on one pound of purple-dyed silk, which was set at 150,000 denarii (the price of a lion was set at the same price)."
17:23 "Mostly military decisions ..."
My guess is, he was not a fan of governments banning homeschooling - partly because his mother Mabel had been a very capable homeschooling mother ...
He was also not a fan of mass vaccination. When he complains about inflation in PhD's he comparing worthless PhD's to vaccination at birth.
It is true, the more people have a PhD, the less it is worth on the work market.
18:45 An excellent parallel to how Christendom conjugated respect for laws concerning slavery with the ending of slavery.
It is a curious fact that the abolitionist who died in 680 was Anglo-Saxon of origin, even if she was Frankish Queen. She had been a slave, and she promulgated the abolition of slavery.
Someone who was probably rooting for a reintroduction of Mosaic legislation on a world wide scale claimed the abolition of slavery was looking away from the law and looking at gain (yes, some people at some times gained as capitalists and factory owners by helping to forbid others to be slave owners), but I answered that Exodus 21:16 puts slave hunt as a death penalty offense, and slaves were so often being actually kidnapped (one Byzantine example in he ninth century got kidnapped and later liberated, and he wrote about slave hunters meriting death), and abolishing slavery was a way of safeguarding against such crimes by taking away the market for such criminals. Vivat Wilberforce!
21:33 "the king cannot do much on his own"
As a Swede ... so totally true.
We have had two systems of constitutional monarchy, unless you count the present one as distinct third when it codified what had long been the practise.
Between the first and second there was a span of two kings who actually ruled without consitutional restraints. Gustav III and his son Gustav IV Adolph, not to be confused with Gustav II Adolph from the Thirty Years war.
Now, Gustav III was "enlightened" and was very popular with the military. This is how he could end the first version we had of constitutional monarchy. While the King had a formal veto, could formally refuse to sign a law, the Parliament (which had four chambers) could use a stamp with his signature instead. Gustav III ended that system and became a real monarch.
His son was more like perceived as what Erasmus would have called a "dark man" - while Napoleon was popular, our king thought of him, since the illegal execution of the Duc d'Enghien, as the Antichrist. He didn't do any gematria for it, he just saw the acts. Well, perhaps some, perhaps he too, added "Napoleon" sounds a bit like "Apollyon" which in the five cases added together adds up to 4666, but anyway, he considered Napoleon a malefactor of Apocalyptic proportions. As a result, he refused to join Napoleon's continental blockade. And as the Czar back then was an ally of Napoleon ... the Czar was tempted to start a war.
Now, Gustav IV Adolph was deposed when the war ended, with acceptance of defeat, but even at the very start, he was not being obeyed by people. He had no chance if Hell froze to ice to get the staff he wanted into the war. One can discuss whether the actual staff were traitors, Masons trying to align with Napoleon via a defeat, or whether they were incompetent. But one cannot deny, he, the King, had no chance to get the staff he wanted. The military just wouldn't obey him. That treason, arguably for a Masonic preference for Napoleon, was very clear from the start.
And it was due to the king having a Christian conscience. A hatred of the French Revolution, and its deeds and its pomps. Perhaps his having become fatherless early on due to another regicide contributed.
22:57 Yes, you can say that again.
Small shops. Letting sons of shopowners remain shopowners and not letting others buy them up and reduce them to employees.
Chesterton considered this could be done without Corporatism both on the country and in city businesses.
Belloc considered, for city businesses, Corporatism was needed.
And in Austria, before 1938, you had Corporatism very clearly meant to favour small business - that's a reason Chesterton spoke of "the paradox of Fascism in Italy, the parody of Fascism in Germany" since Hitler was really good friends with Big Business.
25:33 It is abundantly clear both from this and from Letters that JRRT was no fan of Stalin.
25:53 He is criticising Socialist Peoples' Republics.
Social Democracy did not create that want, they were - like Fascism - pretty well providing for widespread material well being. It's just that they are too oppressive (basically no homeschooling, and when I was at school age no Christian private schools, except for 7DA, for some reason) and sexually permissive (with contraception - not sure whether abortion sould count as sexual permissivity, but it was marketted in a context of that type), and formerly, as said, oppressive by eugenics, like our PM did in early 70's what Patton did in 1945 to disestablish medical doctors from that particular type of slave hunt.
Obviously, during the post-war rationing, England had and US hadn't certain traits of the Soviet Union. You recall "Brideshead Revisited"? Well it ends up with that kind of property being confiscated by the state, since the owners weren't rich enough to pay the prohibitive real estate taxes that rose in an anti-aristocracy surge of socialism.
CSL mentioned the war time drills as a threat to liberties in the post-war era, in an essay called Blimpophobia.
26:57 Tolkien expressed his utter dislike for Stalinism more than once.
The Yalta conference ... recall that letter?
As to post-War England, remember that Churchill was in office 10 May 1940 – 26 July 1945, and was in the immediate post-War days replaced by Clement Attlee. In office 26 July 1945 – 26 October 1951. Party? Labour.
"The following provisions of this Part of this Act shall have effect for the purpose of securing that owners of agricultural land fulfil their responsibilities to manage the land in accordance with the rules of good estate management, and that occupiers of agricultural land fulfil their responsibilities to farm the land in accordance with the rules of good husbandry."
Quoting Clement Attlee's Agriculture act.
Meaning, probably, government got more power to get rid of small and inefficient farmers.
"(1)For the purposes of this Act, an owner of agricultural land shall be deemed to fulfil his responsibilities to manage it in accordance with the rules of good estate management in so far as his management of the land and (so far as it affects the management of that land) of other land managed by him is such as to be reasonably adequate, having regard to the character and situation of the land and other relevant circumstances, to enable an occupier of the land reasonably skilled in husbandry to maintain efficient production as respects both the kind of produce and the quality and quantity thereof."
"(2)In determining whether the management of land is such as aforesaid, regard shall be had, but without prejudice to the generality of the provisions of the last foregoing subsection, to the extent to which the owner is providing, improving, maintaining and repairing fixed equipment on the land in so. far as is necessary to enable an occupier of the land reasonably skilled in husbandry to maintain efficient production as aforesaid."
"(3)The responsibilities under the rules of good estate management of an owner of land in the occupation of another person shall not in relation to the maintenance and repair of fixed equipment include an obligation to do anything which that other person is under an obligation to do by virtue of any agreement."
I can see how some farmers previously getting by were ruined and their land bought up into larger farms because of this Act.
Ah, yes, here are a few more titles from that same Act:
Dispossession of owners or occupiers on grounds of bad estate management or bad husbandry.
16.Dispossession on grounds of bad estate management.
17.Dispossession on grounds of bad husbandry.
18.Power of Minister to take possession where occupier dispossessed and no other arrangements made.
19.Power of tenant or landlord to apply for dispossession of owner or occupier under supervision.
You recall Enid Blyton's Famous Five sometimes stopping at farms and trying to pay for the provisions they got and then housewife insisting "no, that's on me" ?... well, in the time after this act, such generosity might have been curbed.
29:20 [individual responsibility, whether that means anarchy or unconstitutional monarchy]
And by individual responsibility, let's not mean "responsibilities under supervision" ...
30:46 In fact, neither did Chesterton.
He specifies it in England by being neither LIberal, nor Labour, nor Conservative, and not succeeding in getting an own group elected (Belloc at at least one election was a candidate, circumscription being Brewers' Guild of London), and he specifies it for the US in stating he falls between two chairs, but if he had to chose, it would arguably be the party of "Rome, Rum and Rebellion" (this was before Nancy Pelosi was pushing for abortions, obviously). With very obvious reservations against then rampant Eugenics racism.
For the video on law-breaking, go here:
Lawbreaking in LOTR: Conflicts of Moral and Legal Duties
Tolkien Lore | 9 Dec. 2019
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