Lord of the Rings a Political Metaphor

Posted: August 12, 2009 by administrator in Uncategorized

I’m a huge fan of Lord of the Rings. It is a beautiful piece of literature with compelling characters, riveting drama and suspenseful action. More importantly, underneath it all lay a philosophical ideal that Tolkien wished to convey.

Of The Ring

“Three for the Eleven kings under the sky, seven for the Dwarf lords in their halls of stone, nine for mortal Men doomed to die, one for the Dark Lord on his dark throne. In the land of Mordor where the shadows lie. One ring to rule them all, one ring to find them, one ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them. In the land of Mordor where the shadows lie.”

The ring of power is the center of the entire trilogy. Its creation, use, disappearance, discovery, and destruction. It was created for one purpose by Sauron, to give him an unlimited amount of POWER. The metaphor here is clear. The ring represents something destructive and dangerous. It is POWER wielded into a singular object. It can change it’s size to fit each bearer’s finger. Only when put to fire does it reveal its true purpose. When put on, the bearer disappears from sight and cannot be seen by those who want to know their purpose. It destroys the person who wears it, it turns them into a hideous creature who can never let go of it’s control. Those who carry it are constantly tempted to use it.

The ring is POWER, to use it is to use authority, to exert rule. This is the physical representation of the act of governance, the tool of the State. The government is a dangerous and destructive burden on society, an organization that thrives on killing and plunder. It survives on threats of force and the use of force. Each government has a different size and shape. Some may be called socialistic, other communistic, and even more are called fascistic. But they are the same thing, the use of force upon others. The act of humans using POWER against their fellow man.

Only when attacked does it show it’s true colors. Only when put under direct scrutiny does the truth show itself. The writing is as clear as red flame… a secret only fire can tell.
It is an ancient thing, and experiment tried and tested by despots and kings, tyrants and warlords since the beginning of society. Yet if not for this evil, society would be allowed to thrive and abide peacefully without the use of POWER.

Those who enter into its practice are corrupted. Some may be good men with noble intentions, but they are inevitably engulfed by the nature of that which they wear. It changes them from good men into criminals. Those who do use government are free from the sight of those who might criticize them, the media, the people, the rebellious intellectuals. It gives them a false sense of security, but they are not free from danger. Not when the people become fed up with the abuses at the hand of the State.

There are some who escape the temptation, but very few. Most, even those who are mere voters, or bureaucrats, or government employees, are tempted by the POWER. They are unable to resist putting it on and using it for whatever purpose they may desire. Only a rare few manage to escape its pull.

The State, like the Ring, is an evil which plagues society with the destructive and corrupting force of POWER.

Of The Dark Lord Sauron

“Sauron cannot yet take physical form, but from behind the gates of Mordor the Dark Lord sees all. His gaze pierces cloud, shadow, earth, and flesh. You know of what I speak Gandalf, a Great Eye, lid-less, wreathed in flame.”

The greatest evil which yearns for the Ring is that of the Dark Lord Sauron, the Great Eye atop the black tower of Bara-dur. He created the Ring, and he wants it back so that he may use it for his dark purposes. He wishes above all else to be reunited with the Ring, in order to use it to enslave all of Middle-Earth under his command. To use his cruelty, his malice, and his will to dominate all life.

Adolph Hitler has become the modern archetype for political evil, though there has been (and probably will be) worse dictators than him. But it is him, and those like him that use POWER for it’s own sake. They wish to see people suffer, die, and be oppressed under their hand. It is this pure evil that wants to use Government more than anything else.

The existence of Government has allowed these types to gain control over and over again. Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Mao, all the way back to tyrants like Ivan the Terrible. Their bloodlust, their greed, their drive for absolute POWER has made them the worst threat to humanity. They can come from any country, and people’s, at any time period. Their stories are the darkest written in history.

The Great Eye is another important analogy. The singular point of view, one that cannot be stopped. It sways those who look into it’s dark gaze. It’s servants are those who were bought off by money, threats, false promises. The ideology of hate and of unanimity. It engulfs some, others are affected by it, and only a few are left to resist it.

Of Saruman the White

“It is over, embrace the power of the Ring or embrace your own destruction!”

Saruman the White, a wizard who was once good, betrayed his sacred duty for his own devices. His treachery and subsequent alliance with the evils of Sauron led to many deaths and destruction. He was not bought off by threats, lies, or bribes. His purpose is that of desperation. He thinks the destruction of the Ring, and of Sauron, is impossible. Therefore, as his philosophy goes, it is better to be in service to the devil than in his path.

So many take this path. They think government will always be with us, the idea that it could be abolished is beyond their wildest dreams. They think it is unrealistic, an idea that can never be realized. So why fight for something that is impossible? They instead do what they can to survive, and make deals with the State in order to do so. They have sold their soul to the devil, and despite principle, will do what they consider necessary for themselves.

But this is a false philosophy to follow. You can never put your trust in liars. The belief that only those who resist will be oppressed is a folly. It is not so. When anyone is controlled for the benefit of the State, everyone will be. The only end of this is complete subservience to the new master, or death.

Of Denethor, Steward of Gondor

“Do you think the eyes of the White tower are blind!? I have seen more than you know. You may triumph in the field of battle for a day, but against the POWER that has grown in the East there can be no victory!”

Denethor believed that all hope was lost, that Sauron would win and the world of men would surely fall. It was because of this mindset that he went completely mad.

Some accept Government as an automatic entity in social order. They cannot imagine the possibility of the State ever ceasing, or rule ever negated. So they lose all hope. Some just accept the system and go on, others just give up and become apathetic. Either way their complacency only aides the drive of those who would use POWER to rule us all. They love to leave people who would otherwise oppose them in fear, so as to accept the circumstances. To surrender every principle in hopelessness.

Of Gollum/Smeagle and Bilbo Baggins

“It’s mine, my own, my love… My Prrreciouuusss!”

Smeagle became so corrupted by the Ring that he became the creature Gollum. He could not let it go. When it was taken from him, he stopped at nothing to get it back. Even though there was a part of him that wanted to do the right thing, he could not end his need for it. He hates and loves himself as he hates and loves the Ring.
Bilbo was but in the early stages of this destruction of character.

There are those so entrenched in the corruption of the State that they cannot let it go. If it were ever taken from them, they would strive to regain it at all costs. They are not malicious by a nature; in fact they may be good. But they are so taken by the POWER of Government that they simply cannot rid themselves of the massive temptation which haunts them. Eventually the corruption overcomes their better nature and leads them to do terrible things.

Of Gandalf the Grey

“There is only one Lord of the Ring, Saruman. Only one who can bend it to his will. And he does not share power.”
“Don’t tempt me Frodo! I dare not take it, not even to keep it safe. Understand Frodo, I would use this Ring from a desire to do good… but through me, it would wield a force to great and powerful to imagine.”

Gandalf is the one person (or more correctly, Wizard) in Middle Earth who understands the true nature of the Ring. He knows what Sauron wants; he understands that surrender and alliance will not save anyone. And he grasps what must be done. The Ring must be destroyed. It cannot be used; it cannot be hidden without the threat of temptation. It will always haunt them, if it is not put asunder. All are tempted by the Ring; even Galadriel was drawn to its POWER.

There are those who realize what Government implies, and what the State desires. They know it cannot be ignored or supported, for it will consume everyone. It is because of this that it must be destroyed; it has to be completely abolished. If the most evil and malicious do not take power, eventually it will corrupt even the most noble. The use of POWER can never be tamed; it must be ended all together.

Of Borimir and Faramir, Captains of Gondor

“It is a gift, a gift to the foes of Mordor. Long has my father, the Steward of Gondor, kept the forces of Mordor at bay. By the blood of our people are your lands kept safe. Give Gondor the weapon of the enemy, let us use it against him.”

Borimir is a good man. He wants to destroy the evils of Sauron… the oppression, the bloodshed, the plunder and destruction. However, he is willing to use the Ring against Mordor’s armies. He feels that if he could use it as a force for good, then it’s evil would not endure. He is dead wrong. As Aragorn said “The Ring answers to Sauron alone, it has no other master.” Sauron will suffer no rival. And even if he is destroyed, he would return again as long as the Ring remains. The Ring yearns of nothing more to return to the hand of its master, it wants to be found. Borimir himself could not use the Ring for good alone. The temptations would be to great, the Ring would eventually lead to evil purposes. Even the greatest of intentions would be pointless against the POWER of the Ring. Even Isuldur, when given the chance to destroy it, fell into corruption.

There are those in the State who have the same intentions. They think if they could but take control of the Government, then they could use it for good. They could make sure it was not abused, and that POWER was only used for noble causes. Yet, if the Government survives, the threat of tyrants is never gone. They will return. Where there is POWER, there are those tempted and drawn to it. And no one given the power would relinquish it, even if they had a chance to destroy it forever.

“I would not use the Ring, not if Gondor was burning to the ground and I alone could save her.”

Faramir thinks differently than his brother. He is just as noble and full of good intentions, but he understands that using the Ring would not save Gondor.

The use of POWER to defeat POWER is a pointless endeavor. Fire against fire burns the whole world to ashes. There are those today who would use the evils of the State (war, torture, negation of natural rights) in order to stop others who use it as well. This does not stop the enemy; it only creates a new one.
Even if used in a limited capacity, “only to be used at the uttermost end of need”, it is a false notion. The State cannot be limited, it will only grow.

Of Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee from the Shire

“I have to destroy it Smeagle, I have to destroy it for both our sakes.”

Frodo is just a Hobbit. A normal young man who just wants to live his life in peace and quiet under the hill at Bag End. He has not desire for fame, wealth, or POWER. Just a good life lived upright. But, when chance came, the Ring came into his keeping. He carried it, but did not wear it. He stood strong against the temptation, against it’s evil pull. For this reason it was appointed to him to destroy it. Sam, the ever loyal friend, was there to help him along.

There are those who join ranks with the parties, who fall in with the State. But they do not use its POWER, they do not become corrupted. They are there to weaken its effect, in an attempt to destroy its evil. These people who put themselves on the frontlines are to be commended. However, even Frodo could not destroy the Ring in the end. It took the fate of chance to plunge it into the heart of Mt. Doom, the place where the Ring was made and the only place it could be unmade.
The corruption of the Government is unavoidable, which is why it must be abolished.

“Let it be heard in every corner of the west… The Ring is altogether Evil!”

There is no use for it. Not for good, for it will not do so. It corrupts the noble, it draws evil to itself. Some men join it, some surrender and become complacent. Only a few have the will to stand against it, and even fewer the ability to work within it to hinder, attack, and attempt to destroy it.

This is a lesson that must be learned by everyone, a truth that must be passed on to the whole of society. The State cannot be trusted, even in a limited state… the use of POWER must be abolished entirely.

In J.R.R. Tolkien’s own words:

“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.”
                        

Justin Buell, June 2009

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