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Thread: FASCISM IN MIDDLE EARTH ??

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I wanted to create a new thread, because i read something that made me sad & angry....i read a quote, I won;t name the author, I guess that might not be allowed here...they dismissed LOTR (the book) as being "fascist " ?? Are they even reading the same book I am reading ? Tolkien was , in my view , the great pluralist. LOTR is a hymn to multicuturalism....not only do different ethnic groups have to get along...bur different species have to co-exist.... The anomosity between the Elves & Dwarves had been going on for years, and had at times come to war. It nearly did again at the end of The Hobbit; and note the reception Gimli initially got in Lothlorien. All this makes the growing friendship between Gimli & Legolas , all the more touching.... Set against this prayer for mulicultural toleration; you have Mordor; which insists uopn One Ring, One Culture......in the end, one of the defining factors of evil is that all differences have to be eliminated..... I think Tolkien was making a plea for friendship to transcend all the petty differences, to reach across nations; and hey, that is exactly what is happening on this site!!...friends from all over the world coming together to celebrate a common love....!! Well, sorry, I will get off my soap box now!!...h. ha...rant over!!...just had to get that off my chest.... And sorry if this got a bit "political".. Iknow that's not allowed... I 'll try & behave myself in future....lol.. love to everyone....

Hi Alana, dont worry, was probably an American! Only kidding, if anything there is a Fascist element in all of Tolkiens works and that element is the oneism of both Morgoth and Sauron.  These are always portrayed as evil, to be fought against, so I dont know where anyone with a pure heart and mind would get an overall Fascist feeling from any of Tolkiens work.... 

I choose to ignore anyone who gets stuck into Tolkien, and there have been a few over the years.  Kind of like the way I ignore the super purists who cannot stand the tiniest change to the great works of the professor for the great pleasure of those who can understand that the written word can never be portrayed visually without disapointing the avid reader who conjures a different vision/meaning to the next reader.

"was probably an American,,,!!"..ha, ha...Brego you are so funny...that's brilliant..i appreciate irony.... (no offence Americans, I love you; this is all just in good fun) yes, I agree the overall flavour of these works is about tolerance and friendship....and that's exactly what we have on PT isn't it ?....well maybe a little friendly banter now & then....haha...lol...I am playing my favourite role of peacemaker now....especially to Americans...

Brego wrote: Kind of like the way I ignore the super purists who cannot stand the tiniest change to the great works of the professor for the great pleasure of those who can understand that the written word can never be portrayed visually without disapointing the avid reader who conjures a different vision/meaning to the next reader. 

 

But who are these super purists who can't stand the tiniest change and don't understand this?

And maybe someone will think a given change is tiny while to someone else the same change isn't so small.  

Or maybe some are simply commenting now and again on how an admittedly small but arguably still needless change adds to what they think is an already notable negative set of changes. 

I doubt you simply mean anyone who thinks that the Jackson films are poor adaptations of Tolkien.

Brego and Galin, how dear you are, and Alana, how very faithful.

I suppose I am one of those purists, yes I will blushingly admit it. To my way of thinking, if you add but one drop of mud in clear water, never again will you have the pure clear water. Never. Now by that I do not mean that one cannot add one's own slant as it were and little scenes here and that that do not at all touch the meaning and the beliefs, the purity and the way the author absolutely and passionately meant his work to be understood and represented, well I can handle that. But, if a thought comes forth from a heart and mind a certain way, and others come along and present it in another way, to me that is wicked. Yes I mean that word. If a candidate for election says one thing with all his heart, and the media says he or she said it a completely different way then it ruins everything. I still again and again point to A Man for all seasons with Paul Scofield. Certain things were altered in the fact that he had many more children and only Meg is in the movie and certain things she did , well she in fact did not do, she represented the collective family of children as to portray all would have taken hours and hours. But all that Moore passionately believed and actually said was taken straight from existing manuscripts and said just as he said it in front of the tribunal. That germaine thing was not touched in the least. Therefore you get precisely into your mind what was in his.

And that is what I object to in what Peter has done. Attributing, for instance , a problem between those of the Rohirrim and those of the White City, what a lot of nonsense. It alters EVERYTHING. Shame on him!

So, there you have it, and I am quite willing for you to sling your arrows at me. For I think so highly of you all I can bear the pain! Smile Smilie

And by your own description LeeLee, I would say you are not a super purist as described above.

And for example, was Tolkien a super purist when he noted (in response to filmmakers) that Gandalf should not splutter? Seems like a small detail, and perhaps some might characterize it as such, but it's about the dignity of a character, which Tolkien knows is important to preserve... in book and film, and Tolkien knows there is nothing about film which necessitates a spluttering Gandalf! 

And we can't forget a 'moment of character' simply because it goes by quickly in a film, and might be somewhat forgotten when the next action sequence takes over.

LeeLee, I could never sling arrows at you...I love you too much.....and While maybe I perceived the films slightly differently; neverthess I am breathless with the passion of your committment to your point of view...you are something very special, LeeLee....but thank goodness we will always have the books, and no one can take those away from us...

Fascism in ME?  I think the very notion that Tolkien would have written such a thing would have made him livid, and confirmed him in the low opinion he had of publicity and pandering to a fanbase.  After all, didn't his faith condemn such things, and didn't he imbue his works with his faith?  But multicultural--I don't think so either.  He always shows friends from everywhere able to get along, but that is friendship, pure and simple.  He never suggests that because Rohan and Gondor are human kingdoms that they ought to be fused into one, that they both should give up their right to self-govern and become some kind of federation.  Nor does he ever hint that Mirkwood and Lothlorien should ever cojoin.  Each has its rights and he leaves them each those rights, even though they must cooperate when a common necessity occurs. 

If we look at a map of ME, we find it divided into various lands and kingdoms.  There is no such nation as "Middle Earth."  It is a continent on which many nations and peoples live.  LOTR shows how the good in all those countries unite to fight the common Enemy.  It shows how the King of Gondor is acknowledged by all the peoples, yet he does not rule Rohan or elves or dwarves or ents.  What truly unites these disparate peoples is the belief in something and Someone beyond the confines of their Middle Earth, an eternal goal to which all are called, and which all must freely answer each in his own life.  As Gandalf said, we don't choose our time or place to live, but we must do what we can with what we have.

Well said dear Gandalf, I can see professor Tolkien smile in my heart.

Alana, how kind you are, and undeserved your words(your cheque is in the mail) Smile Smilie

If one really studies the work one sees clearly that what our Gandalf has said is spot on, for even in the Shire there are groups and each group has its ways and thoughts and stands by them fiercely. And , there would have been, to my mind, no need for any council to assemble at Imladris. Each group affected was represented and quite strongly. The pride and dignity of each  place and peoples is clearly evident, and so there is no homogenous anything, no global village as it were. Indeed, our professor made it clear that, after creating a world to show off, to be able to actively use the languages he himself had created, the next thing was his desire to write something 'English' , he felt there was precious little of that. Else he would have written a sort of androgenous body of work. That in fact is a point of chagrin from one of my family . He writes music and says that although Howard Shore's music is exquisite, the Shire music did not give the flavour of England, but of the Celts, of Ireland instead of English. Tolkien said the real hero was Sam, Sam was the common 'man' as it were who lives and loves, marries, raises children and lives a fairly normal but fulfilling and good life.

So I don't know where the slingers of outrageous 'fascist' arrows get their information. I wonder, did they even read the LOTR?

Ha, ha...you are very welcome, LeeLee....seriously, I am very interested by your comments LeeLee & Gandalf-Olorin... i think you have it right...I suppose what I meant by Multicultural was the "salad Bowl" idea...rather than the "Melting pot"...(I am aware , I don't want to get too political here....); but I guess the Salad Bowl idea is that each culture keeps it's own identity & beliefs & independence; but that they all recognise a common "brotherhood" ...(sisterhood...?)...a recognition that there are some ideals, like freedom, that transcend national boundaries.....all of which , I guess, is what you were trying to say Gandalf-Olorin,,& LeeLee....

Very interesting what you were saying about the music having a Celtic feel, LeeLee...I had never thought of that before....

And you are right, I dont believe the people who use words like Fascist can ever have read LOTR....

oh...isnt it good to talk to friends....?...

One telling consideration about the One Ring argues strongly against this characterization of LOTR.  (This also is one of the changes for the movie that really bothers me as the One Ring is in itself a character, with its own agenda, in the books.) 

The Ring has a rather profound limit as we see when Tom Bombadil has the ring.  It can not hide from him, he sees Frodo despite the Ring and it cannot make Tom invisible when he puts it on.  Tom is the master of himself and he does not care to be the master of anyone else.  The ring is just a ring to him, and it tells us that the power of the ring works from within the wearer and his motivation. 

This also tells us something of the character of Hobbits as well and perhaps why they resisted as well as they did.  Consider the differences between in the hobbit ringbearers Bilbo, Frodo, and Samwise; certainly duration had something to do with the impact but Sam giving up the ring so easily while in Mordor always struck me as a subtle reinforcement of the unassuming nature of his character.

Sisyphus, a very astute bundle of thought, I appreciate your words and will think on them. And Alana, I hope yhave the privelege of getting to know our original Mellon and Sian also, these two ladies have been here a while, were already here when I came aboard. I have learned so much from them and had a wondrous good time visiting with them on Facebook. Their friendship is worth much mithral and I know they would love you as well.

This is a really awesome conversation here and I've been enjoying reading these posts so much.

   I really don't have much to add but do we know the etymology of the word Fascism or Fascist? A quick recap of high school history tells us that fascism comes from latin fasces which means a bundle of rods,a symbol of unity.And some people chose to misuse the usage and turned it into a heinous subculture and political system.

  It's really disheartening to hear such cruel things about Tolkien,but if we went with the initial usage of unity and oneness and peace,well his works are then certainly fascist.Sauron and Melkor,and all other villains we know however,are all fascists in the wrong sense of the term,the diabolical gathering or the oneness of all evil.It's always a war between two groups of fascists,the good and the bad.It all depends on one's perspective I guess.

Well..I have opened a can of worms here..haven't I ?...Ha, Ha..thanks so much for your contributions LeeLee & Odette, and thanks for the introductions...I look forward to talking to Mellon, (hey , that means "friend" in Elvish...!!) and Sian.

I was very interested what you had to say about the ring, Sisyphus...this begs a very interesting question concerning the ring....

When Gandalf asks Frodo to hand him the ring in Bag End; Frodo does so very slowly, I quote..."as if either Frodo or The Ring itself were reluctant....."

Which is it ?

Some commentators have pointed out; if it is Frodo who is reluctant, then we are in a Freudian universe; the ring is merely an object; and it's"power" of people is perhaps purely psychological...

If it is ring that is reluctant; then the ring is an "external power", with a will of it's own....it is interesting at this point Tolkien seems to be deliberately ambivalent....although later in the story, there seems to be no question that the Ring is an external power.....

mmmm....what do we think , guys ?....

 

*sigh* It's threads like that make be sad that I don't have much time to be on PT. Very Sad Smilie

"as if either Frodo or The Ring itself were reluctant....."

Which is it ?

In my opinion, it is both. Or it could be both. I think the point is to show that the Ring has started to get a grip on Frodo. Because that is what the Ring does, it makes you want to pick it up, it makes you want wear it and by doing so, helping the Ring to go home. If it had been any other ring, then Frodo would have given it to Gandalv. 

The Ring does have a will of it's own in a way, but that is because it is a piece of Sauron. It has a bit of Sauron's will in it. It just wants to return to him, and use the desires and weakness of the people near it to achieve this. 

Yes the ring itself, I believe, contained a certain amount of Saurons Life Force.  For me it certainly does have a character of its own and its character is every bit as greedy, merciless and dark as Sauron.  It is totally able to make its existence known and felt, when it wants.  This shows intelligence beyond simply a magical ring.

This concept is used by JK Rowling in the Harry Potter books.  Horcrux etc...

Back to topic.  There are some interesting expert notes on Tolkiens Books in the making of specials in the Appendices of TFOTR extended edition.....  From memory they cover Communism, Totalitarianism, World Wars etc etc.We forget that when these works were written the average Joe had no idea of the evil in our world and automatically figured that all people, rulers, politicians etc are fundamentally good people.  As we all know now, Evil can infect any of us, wherever we live, whoever we believe in.  These docos are great viewing.

 

 

 

Wow...this is a really good thread, is it not my good chums...!!...

Amarie & Brego, I think you have it right...Sauron' life force is bound up with the ring...that is why if the ring is destroyed, then Sauron is destroyed.....

That Sauron's "life force" was bound to the ring (and something of the why) is covered in the Silmarillion in the following passage "And much of the strength and will of Sauron passed into that One Ring: for the power of the Elven-rings was very great and that which should govern them must be a thing of surpassing potency..." 

It is interesting to speculate to what extent, if any, was the ring a free agent, working to purposes not directly related to Sauron's.  While I would not suggest that this was true to any great extent it seems that the choices of bearers was odd.  Even Gollum, or perhaps especially him, was resistant to the One Ring to an amazing extent.  It could have slipped his finger and "arranged" to be found by an orc over period of years when Sauron.  An orc would have been easily bent to the will of the Ring and would have been exposed to Sauron early on.  (Obviously we have no story then but if the ring was wholly under Sauron's control why did it keep falling to those with a capacity to resist?)

In any case I wanted to ask about the article that was referred to at the start of this thread.  Does anyone have a link or citation.  I have thought about this and it seems a very strange reference in a general sense though if applied to a specific situation it might be stretched to fit.  (I was thinking here of Isengard and Sauruman in particular.)

Well, the original article i read in a newspaper, I did not want to mention the person concerned, in case I get sued for libel...the remark could have been misattributed...athough I was very disappointed...It was a woman I had great respect for....

But, yes..fascism?...I don't know where this comes from ?

Do you think it is because the dark skinned races were all "baddies"; i.e. the Southrons....??

But if so, that has to be judged in context, surely....?

The extent to which the ring controls it's own destiny is a very interesting question....it seems that everyone who comes into contact with the ring is tempted to take it....(except Tom Bombadil, but there are special reasons for this...)...But people are not powerless, this temptation can be overcome....I think Gandalf is tempted in Bag End, but overcomes it....I think Aragorn is tempted in The Prancing Pony...(If it was the ring i wanted,,I could have it NOW)....was Elrond tempted...(mm not sure on that one)...Galadriel is the most famous temptation scene of all....Of course, Boromir succumbed....Sam was tempted in the scene at Cirith Ungol...

By the way , I think the screenwriters did a great job on the LOTR film, but I think they misunderstood the character of Faramir...they questioned his remark..."I would not touch this thing if it lay by the roadside"...they said it stripped all power from the ring,,,but I think this was just a piece of bravado from Faramir...I think he WAS tempted...."Here i have you..The Ring of Power...and a host of men at my Command"....

What do we think....?

Well, everybody, you know the historian David Starkey drew some very interesting parallels between The Ring and the medieval Crown of England.....

Bearing in mind always, asThe Professor was keen to point out; this is "Applicability" NOT "Allegory"; as Tolkien said Allegory is the purposed domination of the author; whereas Applicability lies within the freedom of the reader;-

Consider these parallels, though , between The Ring & The Crown of England;-

1. Both were "circles of  gold" that he owner wore on their body.....

2. Both conveyed absolute power to the wearer.....(the Medieval kings of England had absolute rights of Life & Death over their subjects...)

3. Wars were fought for the possession of both objects....

4.The very desire for these objects corrupted the heart...(The atrocities carried out by English nobles in pursuit of the crown are a matter of legend...murder . betrayal, locking the child princes in the tower until they died...)

Not that Tolkien probably thought of any of this...but that's what makes the applicability of these stories so powerful...each new generation can apply them to their own lives...

Ok, but I must not hog this thread..I will give someone else a chance now & shut up.....HaHa..my friend has just says the only way that will happen is if she nails my fingers to the desk...lol..she loves me really....HaHa..

Tolkien also did not like anyone applying his story to a particular historical period as he was writing something that has universal moral appeal.  And I think he would have disagreed with you over medieval kings having the power of life and death over their subjects.  Not if you mean they could govern by whim.  They had to govern by law, and this is why King John was forced to sign the Magna Carta--to return to the norm of the Middle Ages and govern by law.  It is only later kings who governed by their whims, the two princes you cite being killed off during the Renaissance, and notorious Henry VIII after that.

Gandalf

Regarding the temptation of the One Ring by various characters.

I think I have to respectively disagree with your interpretation of Faramir with respect to the One Ring or at least approach it from a different slant.  Perhaps the most pervasive recurring theme in Tolkien's writings is the concept that "pride goeth before a fall."  Boromir and Denethor lust for the One Ring as an object of power but they both seek power as part of their character (lsildur is another example and a nonhuman example of the same vice would be Saruman).  Faramir does not have that particular character flaw and recognizes that this lust for power is a character flaw even in those he loves.  He would undoubtedly be corrupted by the ring and almost certainly feels its allure but resists it by refusing to play the game so to speak.  His oath would indeed keep him from picking it up not because he is not attracted to it but because he is rightfully afraid of it.  (I really did not like the movie portrayal of Faramir very much.)

Galadriel rejects the ring based on elfish wisdom I believe.  She is clearly tempted but the consequences are clear to her and she rejects them.  The movie here did a wonderful job of bringing that scene to life.  (Leaving Sam out of that scene though was something of a loss as he learns that the wonder of elvish magic is not always wonderful.)  Elrond, by his actions after Sauron fell in trying to convince Isildur to destroy the One Ring, also seems to understand the dangers associated with the One Ring.

Gandalf (Mithrandir) is perhaps a different matter as he is neither human or elf.  He rejects the One Ring where Saruman (Curunir) lusts for it.  In the Silmarillion they are described when explaining how Saruman became the head of the White Council as follows "... his [Curunir's] pride and desire of mastery was grown great; but Mithrandir refused the office, since he would have no ties and no allegiance, save to those who sent him..."  Gandalf to may have been saved from possible folly by his understanding of the consequences or by his allegiance to the Valar, or both take your pick.

Anyway all of this relates back to my previous position that the ring influences characters based on their own personalities and desires.  The other half of this equation is that the characters realizations of the ring and their own limits could allow them to counterbalance and in some cases resist the temptation at least for a while.

Sisyphus, exactly.  I couldn't have said it better. 

Gandalf

Odette. Your words are very absorbing and give new light of understanding. I remember the professor, when speaking about trying to find the original meaning of a word cautioned the seeker, and said among other things that a word can mean a thing and then suddenly without warning or seemingly even sense means a completely different thing and thus in some ways it is near impossible to find the true original meaning to a word.