Skip to comments.How Did Lewis and Tolkien Defend the Old West?
Posted on 12/31/2015 9:21:01 AM PST by don-o
Not all modern evils appear as obvious as those of Stalin and Hitler, or as blatant as that of the mechanized and inhumane fighting of the first world war. Tyranny and modernity arrive in many packages, some of them brightly colored.
Understanding this, Tolkien despised the impersonal democratic capitalism of the twentieth century and especially its handmaiden, the softly oppressive democratic bureaucracies of the western world, almost as much as he hated fascism and communism. All forms of twentieth-century government-whether blatantly socialist such as fascism or communism, or just mildly socialist, such as bureaucratic democracies-involved planning, that is, putting men into categories and holes.
As much as Lewis in The Abolition of Man and That Hideous Strength, Tolkien feared the democratic conditioners and the "men without chests" who planned for the sake of planning, draining life of its vast richness and wonders [related, I think, to the Austrian desire for diversity]. Bureaucrats especially targeted language, Tolkien's specialty, and to the author, the spice of real life. "In modern England the usage has become disastrously confused by the maleficent interference of the Government with the usual object of governments: uniformity."
Democracy, itself the newly-fashionable word in England during the war, was nothing but a sham, according to Tolkien. In ancient Greece, democracy served as a fancy name for mob rule. Any Greek city-state worth remembering, Tolkien wrote, is worth remembering precisely because of its centralized ability to mobilize and tackle another power.
Even worse, Tolkien argued, democracy naturally ends in slavery: "I am not a 'democrat' only because 'humility' and equality are spiritual principles corrupted by the attempt to mechanize and formalize them, with the result that we get not universal smallness and humility, but universal greatness and pride, till some Orc gets hold of a ring of power-and then we get and are getting slavery," Tolkien claimed, echoing a number of critics of democracy from Plato in the Republic to Tocqueville in Democracy in America.
And I realize that criticism of "democratic capitalism" is an uncomfortable idea for those of us who know nothing else. But, there is a difference in "free enterprise" and capitalism, imo. I am no authority, but I hope, a willing learner.
That's why the Founders rejected democracy for Republicanism based on innate, God-given freedom. Which makes the names of our two main parties particularly ironic - the original fight continues to this day.
There is so much in this piece. Thanks for posting it! The main takeaway, if one will see it, is the importance of having a fundamental, systematic, Western philosophy that governs what you do. Since this is a forum for politics, I’ll say it should govern who you vote for. If a candidate does not have a systematic philosophy, if he wavers as opportunity demands, he’s not worthy of your vote. He’s part of the problem. It also stresses the importance of choosing to get a very good education so you can sort it all out, not simply accepting the one given to you or the one you’re getting from TV.
What a lot of people call capitalism, I found, is really what we call crony-capitalism where the regime is set up to create lots of money. What we mean by it is people doing what they want with their money without government getting in the way. That’s certainly how things were in the Shire until ‘Sharkey’ came along.
” But, there is a difference in “free enterprise” and capitalism, imo.”
And what would that be? Is it the same difference as between liberty and private property?
excellent piece for further pondering and filing away
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