What was Tolkien’s political vision?

At Mere Orthodoxy, Jake Meador offers a synthebsis, writing that Tolkien valued localism and was skeptical of industrialization. Also,

There is a further point that is important to understanding the differences in Tolkien’s approach to politics. For Tolkien, political justice is less about using certain policies to produce certain social outcomes and is more about approximation to boundaries and definitions defined from outside creation. Tolkien believed that the very act of staying loyal to those boundaries will, more often than not, guarantee a reasonably just, equitable, healthy society. It won’t be perfect, of course, but it will be healthy enough that one can live a good life in the community. (Note that it’s not the king per se who guarantees a society’s health, contra Martin, but is rather the entire society’s relationship to given norms.)

The creation myth of Tolkien’s legendary world suggests this when it begins with the one great being, Eru Iluvatar singing the world into existence. Those creatures who are good in Tolkien’s world join the song by harmonizing with the music of Iluvatar. Those who are bad introduce their own music and attempt to draw others into it and away from the song of Iluvatar. So for Tolkien moral goodness, on both an individual and a social scale, is about living within the (benevolently) defined limitations ascribed by greater authorities than oneself.

More practically speaking, goodness in Tolkien revolves around ideals of honor, fidelity, and humility. For honor, consider the hierarchical nature of many of the communities in Middle Earth, as well as the harsh judgment of Saruman, who is (rightly) seen as failing to fulfill his calling as a Maia sent into Middle Earth to oppose Sauron. A good example of fidelity, of course, is the beloved character Samwise Gamgee. The necessity of humility is seen in Tolkien’s suspicions about ambition and the importance of understanding that one cannot rightly, justly wield the One Ring. The characters who go bad, generally, are ones who desire power beyond what has been given to them. The ones who stay good accept the limitations of their unique role in society.

– See more at: http://mereorthodoxy.com/politics-tolkien/#sthash.lrs7Tqkc.dpuf

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s