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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/9303/tolkien-was-a-hoppean/

Tolkien Was a Hoppean

January 24, 2009 by

“My political opinions lean more and more to Anarchy (philosophically understood, meaning abolition of control not whiskered men with bombs) — or to ‘unconstitutional’ Monarchy. I would arrest anybody who uses the word State (in any sense other than the inanimate realm of England and its inhabitants, a thing that has neither power, rights nor mind); and after a chance of recantation, execute them if they remain obstinate!… Government is an abstract noun meaning the art and process of governing and it should be an offence to write it with a capital G or so as to refer to people… The most improper job of any man, even saints, is bossing other men. Not one in a million is fit for it, and least of all those who seek the opportunity.” — J.R.R. Tolkien

Thanks to AnarchTeacher for the quote.


Gregory Campeau January 24, 2009 at 8:53 pm

As it happens, I’m reading a splendid biography of Tollers at the moment, written by Humphrey Carpenter (who also wrote a tremendous bio of the Inklings, not surprisingly titled The Inklings). I’d recommend either book to those interested in Tolkien or his literary clique.

Bruce Koerber January 24, 2009 at 9:08 pm

In my youth I was enraptured by Tolkien and so it is good to find out that he freed my spirit from some of the chains of the propaganda of public education.

I salute J.R.R. Tolkien!

Sherry January 24, 2009 at 9:39 pm

I may have my children memorize that (we homeschool).

Franklin January 24, 2009 at 10:51 pm

This was fascinating to read and a seeming paradox, as I suspect many left liberals champion Tolkien as one of their own. Especially those who call themselves environmentalists. Considering the great scholar’s magnum opus has exceeded 50,000,000 copies worldwide, not including criticisms, supporting works, and other books about Middle Earth, I figure the impact to be around 5,000,000 trees — a good chunk of Fangorn Forest.

Vanmind January 24, 2009 at 11:58 pm

Yes indeed, political power is precious.

College Parasite January 25, 2009 at 12:57 am

Apparently he also had a flirtation with Franco’s fascism because of the dictator’s support for Catholicism.

Since becoming a libertarian, I’ve read Tolkien with a weight in my conscience, knowing that his ideals of greatness and righteous might (while entertaining and inspiring) were utterly incompatible with anarcho-individualism. On seeing this blog post I almost believed Tolkien redeemed, but reading the whole thing, I’m not so sure. He sounds much more like a religious man first, and a vague libertarian second, than anything else.

Religion can be twisted and interpreted for various purposes – and even those who believe Christianism to be indisputably individualistic cannot deny that. Anarchism in the Rothbard tradition, on the other hand, is built on a rock solid foundation of its own. Reading this has made me aware of the giant leap that rational individualism represents from its religious predecessor.

I know that religious people will be irritated after reading this, but as an atheist, I cannot accept that liberty is a right *given* to me by someone, even if that someone is God. In fact, I’d be especially scared if God had the power to take away my rights – all in all, He seems rather volubile, or at the very least, I can’t hope to understand his true motives. Am I to trust a being I can scarcely understand with my liberty?

What an eye-opener this has been. Thanks.

newson January 25, 2009 at 2:16 am

i loved his books just as stories long before i had any views on politics. reading this article just consolidated my admiration for the man.
thank you.

Miklos Hollender January 25, 2009 at 9:14 am

Tolkien was very clearly a Tory Anarchist. In some respects it’s indeed Hoppean. Another Tory Anarchist blogs here:


Franklin January 25, 2009 at 11:34 am

College… writes, “I know that religious people will be irritated after reading this, but as an atheist, I cannot accept that liberty is a right *given* to me [by God]…”

I am not sure of the definition of a “religious” person, but as one who does happen to believe (needs to believe) in something more or something beyond what we see today, I find nothing irritating in what you write; moreoever, you state it well, though I might quibble that anarchism’s “rock solid” foundation might be a tad overstated. : )

By the way, is there anything more frustrating and off-putting then the “conservatives” who must (they must, they have to, they can’t help themselves) from insisting this is a “Judeo-Christian country… founded on religious principles….blah, blah, blah….” They gotta bring in God or Jesus or you name it….
And then they wonder why the hell they scare the body politic.

God help me.

Juan January 25, 2009 at 11:50 am

The only nice thing about tolkien was his paganism. His politics and anti-industrialism left a lot to be desired.

College Parasite January 25, 2009 at 11:56 am

I had always imagined Christian Libertarians as libertarians who happened to be Christian, which I have no problem with. But reading this has made me aware that there may be another kind, the one who supports liberty for no reason other than: God made it so, and therefore I must obey.

Sorry if I went a little overboard with that comment. I guess I should have directed it at Tolkien primarily and not assumed so much about others.

And I do believe that the *foundations* of Rothbardian anarchism are rock solid. Of course it may be possible to derive minarchist arguments from them, but that’s simply not taking the full implications of the theory far enough. And there may be some who disagree with those very foundations. But the latter do form an extremely cohesive world view, more so than any other I’ve seen.

VinceP1974 January 25, 2009 at 1:08 pm

I’m a libertarean-leaning Christian conservative and it does not irritate me when people disagree with the premise of where American rights come from.

What I do get irritated with is this smug arrogance lately in anti-Christians (for want of a better word… please no need to quibble about it)


By the way, is there anything more frustrating and off-putting then the “conservatives” who must (they must, they have to, they can’t help themselves) from insisting this is a “Judeo-Christian country… founded on religious principles….blah, blah, blah….” They gotta bring in God or Jesus or you name it….
And then they wonder why the hell they scare the body politic.

It’s simple a matter of fact that many of the people who came here as settlers came here to establish an order based on their view of Christianity. (and many who did not).

It’s also factual that within a few hundred years later in the late 1700s, that the men who established the Constitution had done so believing it to be the case that such a system as they were establishing was possible only because of the values the Christian religion and by extension, Judaism, instilled in the people. The personal morality and restraint of harmful behavior as well as the respect given to each person owning to their being made in God’s image.

One could question whether or not they attributed all this to a real God (ie: some say Franklin was an Atheist, ) nevertheless, they sure believed that the social morality of Bible believers made it possible for self-rule and Liberty. And they also believed that Self-Rule and Liberty would quickly perish in any society that were to reject it.

For surely I do believe our rights are from God. The moment that people stop believing this, then our rights do come from Man and are trampled on by men.

I have no problem with those who say Not God, but Nature. That’s fine.. our rights come from Nature / Natural Law then. I dare say that those who reject that rights come from God willl be just as dismissive to Nature when they seek to abuse your rights for their political objectives.

This is a good page of quotes from that time

The brief exposition of the constitution of the United States, will unfold to young persons the principles of republican government; and it is the sincere desire of the writer that our citizens should early understand that the genuine source of correct republican principles is the Bible, particularly the New Testament or the Christian religion.

The religion which has introduced civil liberty is the religion of Christ and His apostles, which enjoins humility, piety, and benevolence; which acknowledges in every person a brother, or a sister, and a citizen with equal rights. This is genuine Christianity, and to this we owe our free Constitutions of Government.


Corrupt or incompetent men will be appointed to execute the laws; the public revenues will be squandered on unworthy men; and the rights of the citizens will be violated or disregarded

If a republican government fails to secure public prosperity and happiness, it must be because the citizens neglect the divine commands, and elect bad men to make and administer the laws.

Corruption of morals is rapid enough in any country without a bounty from government. And…the Chief Magistrate of the United States should be the last man to accelerate its progress.

- Noah Webster “History of the United States” 1832

or.. Change is Coming.

Telemachus January 25, 2009 at 1:31 pm

* TL;DR warning * :-D Imma ‘fended an’ ah mus r’spond!

I’m a devout Catholic (w00t J.R.R. Tolkien), and was more statist in my thinking as an agnostic before I ever came to the Church. I have been made completely free by trusting in Christ and His Church because I need not fear this world, and therefore am content to not know the “World System” that will finally give us whatever form of utopia we happen to prefer at any given moment in time. I can live my life and do the right thing, and not have to look at existence in hopelessness. I have no idea what the personal lives of “College Parasite” and “Franklin” are, but if this sounds even remotely appealing at all I’d invite both of you to take a closer look at Christianity. I also invite you to consider the parallels between “worship of Man vs. worship of God” and “worship of the State vs. worship of Liberty.” In the end, you should not believe in God for any other reason that He exists and should be believed in, so I pray that you both reach this point.

I take issue with the idea that ANY ideology — and yes, libertarianism & anarchism are ideologies, let’s not split hairs here — rests on any “foundation” except personal preference. It was Marx’s fundamental mistake to believe that his preferences were justified by his discovered “science of history.” I think if both of you are honest with yourselves and don’t resort to a form of scientific presumption with regards to economic determinism or what have you, you’ll be able to admit that a free society without reference to principles higher than the material of our universe cannot stand except on the personal virtue of each and every individual… virtue that also has no foundation except in principles higher than material. Any way you cut the cake, it’s simply “I like my preferences better than I happen to like yours” if there is no underlying rational, non-material basis to existence.


Let me address some specific comments:
(1) College Parasite: “…as an atheist, I cannot accept that liberty is a right *given* to me by someone, even if that someone is God.”

For an atheist, it is perfectly rational that liberty is not given by God, because you do not believe God is real. On what does your personal liberty stand then? Why are you an “individual,” and why should such be respected? Mutualism? Voluntary non-coercive agreement? Do you have the liberty to do anything you want? If not, where do you draw the lines and on what grounds? If you are an atheist, you are no doubt a materialist also, and how can their be moral truth about material? Material and the interactions of material are neither moral nor immoral, they simply are. If you are not a materialist, on what basis do you justify your non-materialism? “I’m still waiting for science to answer that question” won’t suffice, unless you’ve made a god out of human scientific inquiry.

(2) Franklin: “By the way, is there anything more frustrating and off-putting then the “conservatives” who must (they must, they have to, they can’t help themselves) from insisting this is a “Judeo-Christian country… founded on religious principles….blah, blah, blah….” They gotta bring in God or Jesus or you name it.”

This statement is childish, painting Christians and conservatives as nothing more than robots who simply can’t help but tyrannize the unbelieving populace, etc. Tell me friend, what actually sets you apart from all the other so-called “freethinking liberals” in this country, with your obvious disdain for religion in human history? This disdain bespeaks an ignorance of humanity in general, and therefore discredits the idea that you have anything worthwhile to say concerning human civilization, for example economics.

And, um, yeah, the United States WAS a country founded on so-called “Judeo-Christian” ideas of liberty, justice, and right. How is that even in dispute, unless you are simply ignorant of the beliefs of not only the majority of people that ever populated and built the United States, but also it’s Founders? Or are you making the common mistake of thinking that Jefferson and Madison, two of the only Founders that ever seem to be referred to in this absurd debate, are the only people who ever had anything useful to say about America? Let’s not forget that 39 signatures are attached to the Constitution. Jefferson is not on this list.


I know it may sound like I’m making arguments from consequences. I’m not. All I’m arguing above is that there are reasons for believing that something “should be” rather than not giving a crap. This is either a hold over from the magic of evolution (which I know many are trying to argue today), or there is an “inner compass” within us that is pointing us to a Truth higher than ourselves. I accepted the latter and it led me to Christ, and that He IS Liberty (but not only).

Finally, the opinions expressed on this post lead me to suspect that so-called “Rothbardian anarchism” is nothing more than one of a million secular religions in vogue among various small “intellectual” minorities in what was formerly known as the West. God help us indeed, for the war of all against all — which nicely sums up “radical individualism” — approaches at a stunning rate.

And before I get denounced as a heretic or a troll, let me just say that Rothbard and von Mises seem to be correct about much of economics. I would not be here, reading this post, otherwise. However, there is always the risk that their economic thought will be perverted into a pseudo-religion of a Randroid variety, and the degree to which this happens determines whether or not Rothbard and von Mises will have a say in the economic liberty of this country.

You tell me: would Rothbard and von Mises have been pleased to see their ideas made into stagnant ideologies? Please be prudent.

Curt Howland January 25, 2009 at 1:34 pm

I recently had a rabid christian tell me that his bible is the truth because it’s so complex.

I suggested he read The Silmarilian. It has an internally consistant and complex genesis story, as well as histories and morality tales enough for anyone.

I tried to point out that to say one book is truth and the other fiction is silly. Why not both truth, or both fiction?

But sadly, this discussion of religion came out of a very nice demonstration that J.R.R.T. could think and look at history, and see that power corrupts. After all, wasn’t that the entire reason for getting rid of the Ring of Power?

“The Ring would give me the power of command! Men would flock to my banner!”

Franklin January 25, 2009 at 7:53 pm

Telemachus and VinceP, kindly don’t question my scholarship of U.S. History. You fail to read closely: “… as one who does happen to believe…” I was raised in a Christian household and do the same for my children. Yet you react. Why is this? Ostensibly because Jesus’ name is mentioned, perhaps? It is unclear.
Assess the problem of which I speak — off-putting “conservatives” who have to yank out their God during discussions of the nature and role of government and the rationale for good policy. And then they wonder why they are dismissed by so many?
Listen to the pop so-called conservatives of the day, the Hannitys, the O’Reillys, or the more extreme Religious Right….. I see a great distinction between their brand of liberty versus the Deists, Christians, and agnostics who invented the nation.


stuff January 25, 2009 at 9:15 pm

What is an unconstitutional monarchist?

Heathroi January 25, 2009 at 10:02 pm

What is an unconstitutional monarchist?

I suspect he means an absolute monarch.

stuff January 26, 2009 at 3:05 am

I thought that too Heathroi, but then why not call it an absolute monarch?

I think there’s a distinction I am missing.

P.M.Lawrence January 26, 2009 at 3:30 am

A mediaeval monarch was neither absolute nor constitutional (in the modern sense). Being king only gave him powers under the law, yet those formed a wide prerogative he used in practice and not just in theory, and generally he had powers from his position as a feudal lord and overlord as well (those aligned with the monarchy but did not derive from it).

Current January 26, 2009 at 4:25 am

Much of Tolkien was influenced by Thomas Hobbes.

Hobbe’s attitude to aristocracy and kings is there plain to see in “The Hobbit”.

The whole story of “Lord of the Rings” can be seen as Hobbesian’s attempt to reconcile support for aristocracy and monarchy with the fact that “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely”.

J.K. Baltzersen January 26, 2009 at 9:48 am

What is an unconstitutional monarchist?

Note that unconstitutional is in quotes. I would assume that’s based on the abuse of the term constitutional monarchy, which so often is used to denote a monarchy where the monarch has been all but totally emasculated.

I’d guess ‘unconstitutional’ monarchy is used as opposed to ‘constitutional’ monarchy, but not necessarily to denote an absolute monarchy, which, BTW, also is a very abused term.

A longer version of the quote can be found here.

David Ch January 27, 2009 at 6:39 am

JK Baltersen said:

‘Note that unconstitutional is in quotes. I would assume that’s based on the abuse of the term constitutional monarchy, which so often is used to denote a monarchy where the monarch has been all but totally emasculated.’

hehe… in the case of the current british monarchy, ne’er a truer word…….. And I guess that when the next generation assumes the throne as expected, no less true, for less , er, biological reasons……….

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