Was J.R.R. Tolkien a Libertarian?By
Could J.R.R. Tolkien, most famous for his splendid Lord of the Rings Trilogy, have been a libertarian?
Well, strictly speaking one must say no; the term was hardly around at the time. But in the following quote, he seems fairly clear that he is, philosophically, opposed to centralized power in a way that resembles modern libertarianism. Apparently he wrote this to his son in a letter.
My political opinions lean more and more to Anarchy (philosophically understood, meaning abolition of control not whiskered men with bombs) – or to ‘unconstitutional’ monarchy . . . Anyway, the proper study of man is anything but man; and the most improper job of any man, even saints (who at any rate were at least unwilling to take it on), is bossing other men. Not one in a million is fit for it, and least of all those who seek the opportunity. And at least it is done only to a small group of men who know who their master is. The medievals were only too right in taking nolo episcopari as the best reason a man could give to others for making him a bishop. Give me a king whose chief interest in life is stamps, railways, or race-horses; and who has the power to sack his Vizier (or whatever you care to call him) if he does not like the cut of his trousers. And so on down the line. But, of course, the fatal weakness of all that — after all only the fatal weakness of all good things in a bad corrupt unnatural world — is that it works and has worked only when all the world is messing along in the same good old inefficient human way.
How interesting… Comments from the Tolkien-lovers around here? What do you think this indicates about him? Is there any other evidence out there about his political leanings? Did this have anything to do with his Christian beliefs? How do you think he might have reacted to the libertarians of today? Oh, so many questions!
Tags: anarchy, recommended books, tolkien