Tolkien's Political Views

Discussion in 'J.R.R. Tolkien : The Creator of Middle-earth' started by Azrubêl, Apr 13, 2017.

  1. Azrubêl

    Azrubêl Drúadan

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    I think anyone who reads Tolkien recognizes his perspective on industrialism and other societal trends that he saw emerging in his lifetime, but someone recently shared with me a 1943 letter from J.R.R. Tolkien to Christopher where J.R.R. Tolkien describes himself as leaning "more and more to anarchy". Here's the letter: https://peacerequiresanarchy.wordpress.com/2012/09/21/the-letters-of-jrr-tolkien/

    I wondered if anyone is familiar with more of Tolkien's political ideology. I have always noticed and liked his emphasis on the family unit and the community over reliance on a central authority, but I guess he wasn't as vocal publicly about his interest with anarchism. I'm also interested in what he thought about contemporary political events and that sort of thing. What do you all think?
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2017
  2. CirdanLinweilin

    CirdanLinweilin The Wandering Wastrel

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    Tolkien was a devout Roman Catholic, and in his religious and political views he was mostly a traditionalist moderate, with libertarian, Distributist, and monarchist leanings, in the sense of favouring established conventions and orthodoxies over innovation and modernization, whilst castigating government bureaucracy; in 1943 he wrote:
    The way he understood anarchy is much, much, different from our understanding. He didn't mean endless violence, murder, rape, and destruction like most people understand anarchy. Also, I don't see a devout Roman Catholic like Tolkien supporting that kind of anarchy either. (At least I hope not!! :eek::eek::eek:)

    Politics and race
    Anti-Communism
    Tolkien voiced support for the Nationalists (eventually led by Franco during the Spanish Civil War) upon hearing that communist Republicans were destroying churches and killing priests and nuns.

    Tolkien was contemptuous of Joseph Stalin. During World WarII, Tolkien referred to Stalin as

    .

    However, in 1961, Tolkien sharply criticized a Swedish commentator who suggested that The Lord of the Rings was an anti-communist parable and identified Sauron with Stalin. Tolkien said,

    Debate over race
    Christine Chism distinguishes racist or racialist elements in Tolkien's views and works as falling into three categories: intentional racism, unconscious Eurocentric bias, and an evolution from latent racism in Tolkien's early work to a conscious rejection of racist tendencies in his late work.

    Tolkien once wrote of racial segregation in South Africa,
    Opposition to National Socialism
    Tolkien vocally opposed Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party prior to the Second World War, and was known to especially despise Nazi racist and anti-Semitic ideology. In 1938, the publishing house Rütten & Loening Verlag was preparing to release The Hobbit in Nazi Germany. To Tolkien's outrage, he was asked beforehand whether he was of Aryan origin. In a letter to his British publisher Stanley Unwin, he condemned Nazi "race-doctrine" as

    He added that he had many Jewish friends and was considering

    He provided two letters to Rütten & Loening and instructed Unwin to send whichever he preferred. The more tactful letter was sent and was lost during the later bombing of Germany. In the unsent letter, Tolkien makes the point that "Aryan" is a linguistic term, denoting speakers of Indo-Iranian languages. He continued,

    In a 1941 letter to his son Michael, he expressed his resentment at the distortion of Germanic history in "Nordicism":

    In 1968, he objected to a description of Middle-earth as "Nordic", a term he said he disliked because of its association with racialist theories.

    Total war
    Tolkien criticized Allied use of total war tactics against civilians from Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. In a 1945 letter to his son Christopher, he wrote:

    He also reacted with anger at the excesses of anti-German propaganda during the war. In 1944, he wrote in a letter to his son Christopher:

    He was horrified by the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, referring to the scientists of the Manhattan Project as

    and

    I hope that was satisfying.

    CL
     
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  3. Azrubêl

    Azrubêl Drúadan

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    My conception of anarchy, friend, is one of spontaneous order and rejection of the use of force against others. :D I didn't think Tolkien meant the term to mean what we are "supposed" to think it means.

    Thanks for the long post. I learned a lot. One area that I was unsure about is the "debate" over Tolkien's depiction of race. Are there a large number of Tolkienists who think his work is actually racist? My impression is that it was indeed Eurocentric, but that is only because it is a reflection of the context in which Tolkien himself lived, it being the case that he sought to create a mythology for Europe itself. So I always thought it was a matter of seeing his work in context.
     
  4. CirdanLinweilin

    CirdanLinweilin The Wandering Wastrel

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    I'm glad I could help!

    Ah, so that's your conception? I'm still not sure what mine is. :D

    I've heard that argument a lot of times before, I think it's mostly The Professor's detractors of today who spew such nonsense. I've also heard the argument that his work is sexist as well, again, it's utter nonsense. They don't even take the time to understand the author's viewpoint, they just look for a reason to rant.

    We loyal readers of his great mythology know differently.

    I've also viewed his work as a mythology for Europe, because that's what it's supposed to be!

    CL
     

  5. Azrubêl

    Azrubêl Drúadan

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    Royal leaders of his great mythology! That we are!

    I think it's interesting how Tolkien was a pure Catholic but ends up writing more that is in common with paganism than a lot of less devout Christians, and he also seemed to have a positive view of benevolent monarchy, as well as anarchy. I think he would hate this "mob-rule" democracy that we have today most of all!
     
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  6. CirdanLinweilin

    CirdanLinweilin The Wandering Wastrel

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