The Barrow-Downs Discussion Forum


Visit The *EVEN NEWER* Barrow-Downs Photo Page

Go Back   The Barrow-Downs Discussion Forum > Middle-Earth Discussions > The Books
User Name
Password
Register FAQ Members List Calendar Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read


Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 07-13-2016, 07:43 AM   #1
Faramir Jones
Ghost Prince of Cardolan
 
Faramir Jones's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Lonely Isle
Posts: 648
Faramir Jones has been trapped in the Barrow!
Sting Tolkien's political views

Marwhini, I've taken the liberty of moving the debate on Tolkien's political views to a new thread. You said in the previous thread:

If you go up to the post I made where I linked to two YouTube videos, the second of which is just an audio-interview of Tolkien, and listen to the second one....

In it, Tolkien is asked directly about his Political Views, Monarchy, and Feudalism.

He is VERY CLEAR in that he considers Democracy to be a bad way to run a country, or government, and that Kings present the rightful means of "doing business" (with government).

This is an aspect of Tolkien that most people today have a hard time accepting, as it is a Reactionary Conservative view that is totally at odds with Modernity (as was Tolkien - He rejects the Enlightenment as well).

I even struggle with accepting that view. But in as far as I love Middle-earth, I wish to understand its creator (or, as Tolkien would say "Subcreator" - look more deeply into what he means by that, and you might find some pretty disturbing things out about Tolkien), and thus I need to understand both what he believes and why, as they are manifested in his works.

I even need to find those things I disagree with (although currently I am beginning to suspect he may be correct about Democracy, as much as it pains me to think that).


I'm sure that you and others are familiar with a similar view he put down on paper, in a letter to his son Christopher of 29th November 1943, published as Letter 52 of the published Letters:

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 remained obstinate! If we could get back to personal names, it would do a lot of good. 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. If people were in the habit of referring to 'King George's council, Winston [Churchill] and his gang', it would go a long way to clearing thought, and reducing the frightful landslide into Theyocracy.

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 mediaevals 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 Vizir (or whatever you dare 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 natural 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. The quarrelsome, conceited Greeks managed to pull it off against Xerxes; but the abominable chemists and engineers have put such a power into Xerxes' hands, and all ant-communities, that decent folks don't seem to have a chance.


To show Tolkien's views of two contemporary politicians, we can look at Letter 52 in the same collection, again to Christopher, and dated 9th December 1943. He was discussing the recent Tehran Conference, held between Joseph Stalin, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill, to discuss wartime strategy against Nazi Germany.

Unlike others at the time, Tolkien had no illusions about Stalin, calling him a 'bloodthirsty old murderer'; but while he and Churchill might have agreed on this, he had no time for the latter, saying that 'our little cherub W. S. C. actually looked the biggest ruffian present'.

While not agreeing with his views on hereditary monarchy, I can understand why Tolkien held them, and how he came to hold them.

It does not appear, from the letters I've quoted and the video Marwhini linked to, that Tolkien was a monarchist out of love for that system of government. He seems, like Winston Churchill said about democracy, to have thought that it was the least worst system available.

As we can see, Tolkien distrusted political power and 'government' of all sorts, believing that very few people were qualified to rule, and those who desired to do so he regarded as extremely suspect. Indeed, he was prepared to admit to anarchist sympathies as a result. As already mentioned, he believed that hereditary monarchy, with monarchs brought up to rule, was the least worst form of government.

If we look at what he wrote about N˙menor, as well as later Arnor and Gondor, we can see that he was prepared to show that bad monarchs existed whose bad behaviour had significant consequences for their realms. He appears to show, however, that things go well under a good monarch, such as King Elessar. That king does not want to impose a system of royal absolutism on his subjects. Indeed, he lets many of them carry on much as before. It seems to be that as long as his supremacy is acknowledged, people obey the law and stay out of trouble, and pay their taxes (those who have to), he leaves them alone. The Shire and Bree are particular examples of this.
Faramir Jones is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-13-2016, 04:22 PM   #2
Marwhini
Wight
 
Join Date: Jun 2016
Posts: 144
Marwhini has just left Hobbiton.
Exactly.

I did not intend to imply an equality or identity between Feudalism and Monarchy, either. The two are quite distinct, as there are forms of Democratic Feudalism (where the collective Feudal Lords each vote on either individual or collective policy), as well as other forms.

And I would have exactly pointed to Bree and The Shire as examples of his Idealized "State."

It should be pointed out, though, that the rest of Middle-earth existed under some form of Feudal Structure or Monarchy where the "States" endured (as, for example, is parody of "Democracy" in the Lake-town or Long Lake, which was very much a failure as a government).

It is slightly difficult to read Middle-earth as an explicit endorsement of his views, but merely a reflection of certain biases he had (especially in the case of The Shire, and Hobbits in General).

There is a rather peculiar psychology at work as well, where we can see conflicts in Tolkien's beliefs regarding what he describes as "Quality of Life" and the "Quality of Living Things" (their moral or ethical relationship to the Divine). That is a tough topic to really discuss in a world where we have no objective access to "the Divine," as they had for much of the History of Middle-earth.

But this is exemplified in the depiction of the Hobbits, and that of the Elves.

The Elves are described as closest to the "Gods" (or, rather: The Valar - "Gods" in the Olympian sense of the word), and thus the pinnacle of Earthly wisdom, and virtue (to say nothing of physical qualities as well).

Yet the Hobbits are depicted in a way that is so idealized and attractive that it tends to illicit an almost utopian quality to them: How life SHOULD be/have been.

In terms of moral philosophy, these depictions of these two groups call into question the ethical and moral values that would be considered "best" or "most appropriate" in a values-system that Tolkien describes, which itself is heavily influenced by a specific form of Catholicism (That form of Catholicism having a singular, objective definition of moral and ethical "Good"). And this is even more complicated by the existence of a form of Manichaean Dualism within Middle-earth as well (That Good/Evil, and Light/Dark can be "thing" that exist tangibly in their own right).

But, overall.... I have not yet looked too heavily at that contradiction (between Elves and Hobbits representing an idealized "Virtue" of Life) , and if there is a means of resolving it via the internal metaphysics of Middle-earth. It could very well be something that can be explained by the differences in the Peoples themselves.

But as far as Tolkien's political views are concerned... They do tend to echo many of the Medieval Monastic Orders, which seemed to have a similar rejection of "The State." Many of them got into rather a lot of trouble because of their conflicts with "terrestrial authority."

MB
Marwhini is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-14-2016, 06:36 AM   #3
Faramir Jones
Ghost Prince of Cardolan
 
Faramir Jones's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Lonely Isle
Posts: 648
Faramir Jones has been trapped in the Barrow!
Boots What happened to Lake-town?

Thanks for your reply, Marwhini.

I'd like to look at Lake-town. You spoke in your reply about the 'parody of "Democracy" in the Lake-town or Long Lake, which was very much a failure as a government'. I would say a few things in response. First, we don't have enough information about whether Lake-town is a democracy or not, due to not knowing who could vote. We can certainly say that it is a republic, with an electorate, which seems to resemble the maritime republic of Venice, although the Master has more power than the Doge would have later in the Middle Ages. Second, the failure was placed on the shoulders of the Master; but he was able to divert this by blaming the dwarves for stirring up Smaug, stopping the question of Bard replacing him as ruler. Third, the Master planned to rebuild Lake-town, something that had happened, according to Gandalf and Balin on a later visit, although there was a new Master, the old one coming to a bad end. It, the Kingdom under the Mountain, and the rebuilt Dale under the rule of 'King' Bard, were all rich and prosperous.

When he talked with Gloin in Rivendell decades later, in LotR, Frodo heard from him that King Brand, Bard's grandson, was 'a strong king, and his realm now reaches far south and east of Esgaroth [Lake-town]'. No indication was given there about whether Lake-town was still an independent state, or had become part of the Bardings' kingdom.
Faramir Jones is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-14-2016, 09:01 AM   #4
Kuruharan
Regal Dwarven Shade
 
Kuruharan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: A Remote Dwarven Hold
Posts: 3,363
Kuruharan is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Kuruharan is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Boots

Quote:
Originally Posted by Faramir Jones View Post
If we could get back to personal names, it would do a lot of good. 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. If people were in the habit of referring to 'King George's council, Winston [Churchill] and his gang', it would go a long way to clearing thought, and reducing the frightful landslide into Theyocracy.
I work for a government and I agree 100% with what Tolkien says here. We Moderns have this widely shared delusion that Institutions are fair and right because they are Institutions and Institutions are immune from personal bias and personalities because...they are Institutions! There is probably no other political idea so unquestioningly and widely held in the Western World as this, and yet it is utterly and wholly ridiculous! Working from the inside of an Institution I can assure you that they are just as personality driven from the top and from its members as every other human endeavor that has been conceived down through history.

But, of course, the Institution can do no wrong as it is not a person and it is always fair and right. (Caesar can do no wrong! The more things change, the more they stay the same.)

Human thinking hasn't really developed or changed much over the centuries. There is a political idea called "na´ve monarchism" that in many respects Tolkien's beliefs line up with. This is commonly (and rightly) criticized because of the fallacy of "if only the king were a just man, all would be right with the world." The sad fact of the matter is that all the Modern World has done is replace the word "king" with "administrator" or "director" and now it is "if only the Director of our Institution was a just person all would be right with the world." The underlying ideology of the Modern World in this respect is almost identical to that of the past. People just like to deceive themselves that it is not.

I like to tell people that I am an atheist when it comes to Institutions or Organizations. I do not believe they exist. They are a form of deceitful show intended to distract, hide the decision-maker, and pacify the people so that the individual decision-makers can get on with whatever scheme they wish to impose.

In many respects, I do agree with Tolkien. Give me an honest monarchy where I know who is responsible for decisions over a sham republic or a conglomeration of Institutions any day of the week. The conglomeration of Institutions probably have as much, if not more, power over me as a monarch would anyway.
Kuruharan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-14-2016, 01:11 PM   #5
Aaron
Haunting Spirit
 
Aaron's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: England
Posts: 92
Aaron has just left Hobbiton.
I wonder, when Tolkien says "Monarchy", would his ideal state of Monarchy be a later Anglo-Norman model of hereditary rule, or an earlier English elective Monarchy, where - as I understand it - Kings needed the consent of a Witan, a primordial parliament, in order to be crowned?
I agree with such a model myself, as I see the title of "King" or "Queen" as having deep cultural significance here in England. But I can not believe that Tolkien would overlook the problems of hereditary rule, the growing detachment from real people and the like.

For instance, when one looks at say Prince Charles, could you say he was connected with his people? Or had ever undergone real hardships? Whereas an earlier King like Alfred was not so removed from the plight of his people, and was both military commander and judge. Why, there is even a story of two common folk coming to the King to resolve a land dispute, but the King was in the bath, and so, as he sat in the tub, he heard their cases and rendered judgement then and there! Could you imagine a modern day Windsor monarch being so at ease with the English working classes?

Tolkien was an educated man, but one shaped by hardship, who bettered himself and pulled himself up by the bootstraps. Would he really have liked a decadent Royal class who worked half as hard as he, and reaped twice the benefits?
__________________
Remember, stranger, passing by: As you are now, so once was I. As I am now, so you shall be. Prepare thyself to follow me.
Aaron is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-14-2016, 02:25 PM   #6
Kuruharan
Regal Dwarven Shade
 
Kuruharan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: A Remote Dwarven Hold
Posts: 3,363
Kuruharan is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Kuruharan is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Boots

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aaron View Post
Tolkien was an educated man, but one shaped by hardship, who bettered himself and pulled himself up by the bootstraps. Would he really have liked a decadent Royal class who worked half as hard as he, and reaped twice the benefits?
That is a question we know he was not blind to.

There is the quote he made that "touching your cap to the Squire may be damn bad for the Squire, but it's damn good for you."

While he might not have liked all the aspects of the situation very much, my reading of Tolkien's comments taken as a whole, to my eyes seem to indicate a preference for inherited leadership.

At the very least, there is a distinct distaste for the self-seeking elected official who does nothing in life other than try to advance their own status and power.
Kuruharan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-15-2016, 05:39 AM   #7
Faramir Jones
Ghost Prince of Cardolan
 
Faramir Jones's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Lonely Isle
Posts: 648
Faramir Jones has been trapped in the Barrow!
White Tree Monarchy and Tolkien's social position

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aaron View Post
I wonder, when Tolkien says "Monarchy", would his ideal state of Monarchy be a later Anglo-Norman model of hereditary rule, or an earlier English elective Monarchy, where - as I understand it - Kings needed the consent of a Witan, a primordial parliament, in order to be crowned?

I agree with such a model myself, as I see the title of "King" or "Queen" as having deep cultural significance here in England. But I can not believe that Tolkien would overlook the problems of hereditary rule, the growing detachment from real people and the like.

For instance, when one looks at say Prince Charles, could you say he was connected with his people? Or had ever undergone real hardships? Whereas an earlier King like Alfred was not so removed from the plight of his people, and was both military commander and judge. Why, there is even a story of two common folk coming to the King to resolve a land dispute, but the King was in the bath, and so, as he sat in the tub, he heard their cases and rendered judgement then and there! Could you imagine a modern day Windsor monarch being so at ease with the English working classes?

Tolkien was an educated man, but one shaped by hardship, who bettered himself and pulled himself up by the bootstraps. Would he really have liked a decadent Royal class who worked half as hard as he, and reaped twice the benefits?
I was interested in what you said here, Aaron.

To be fair to Tolkien, he does give us bad monarchs. In particular, most of the later monarchs of N˙menor turned against the Valar and the Elves, the last one leading an attack on Valinor, an act of 'blasphemy' according to Tolkien. However, he is clear to point out that the acts of Ar-Pharaz˘n and most of his immediate predecessors were supported by most of their people, with the Faithful being a minority. This minority, under the leadership of Elendil, rebelled against the summons to attack Valinor, and escaped the Downfall to Middle-earth.

There's also the issue of Arnor being divided into three, among the sons of one king, which didn't help when fighting against external enemies. In Gondor, there was the Kin-strife, with one king, Eldacar, having his throne usurped by his relative Castamir, on the grounds that his mother had been one of 'inferior race'. The 'half-breed' Eldacar had to go into exile, but was able to gain back the throne due to Castamir behaving like a tyrant for 10 years, being called 'the Usurper', and losing the support of the people.

Tolkien may have felt that hereditary monarchy was preferable, but showed in his writings that bad monarchs existed, and that it was justified to rebel against a monarch who had become a 'heretic', and had engaged in 'heretical' behaviour.

About Tolkien, yes, he was of middle-class background, his father being a bank manager; but he and his brother Hilary lost both their parents at an early age. Both served in the First World War, Ronald losing all but one of his close friends; and he had to work hard to get into Oxford, and to then become a don. It's interesting that what has come out, in discussions among those close to him when they were young, is that they considered Ronald to be 'disadvantaged' compared to themselves, in terms of being both an orphan and lacking money. Like Captain Wentworth in Jane Austen's novel Persuasion, he had 'nothing but himself to recommend him'. He made this quite clear in a letter to his son Michael during the Second World War, in which the latter was serving, dated 12 January 1941, Letter 42 of the published Letters:

I was a young fellow, with a moderate degree, and apt to write verse, a few dwindling pounds p. a. (ú20 – 40), and no prospects, a Second Lieut. on 7/6 a day in the infantry where the chances of survival were against you heavily (as a subaltern). She [Edith] married me in 1916 and John [Michael's elder brother] was born in 1917 (conceived and carried during the starvation-year of 1917 and the great U-Boat campaign) round about the battle of Cambrai, when the end of the war seemed as far-off as it does now. I sold out, and spent to pay the nursing-home, the last of my few South African shares, 'my patrimony'.
Faramir Jones is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-15-2016, 06:10 PM   #8
Marwhini
Wight
 
Join Date: Jun 2016
Posts: 144
Marwhini has just left Hobbiton.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Faramir Jones View Post
Thanks for your reply, Marwhini.

I'd like to look at Lake-town. You spoke in your reply about the 'parody of "Democracy" in the Lake-town or Long Lake, which was very much a failure as a government'. I would say a few things in response. First, we don't have enough information about whether Lake-town is a democracy or not, due to not knowing who could vote. We can certainly say that it is a republic, with an electorate, which seems to resemble the maritime republic of Venice, although the Master has more power than the Doge would have later in the Middle Ages. Second, the failure was placed on the shoulders of the Master; but he was able to divert this by blaming the dwarves for stirring up Smaug, stopping the question of Bard replacing him as ruler. Third, the Master planned to rebuild Lake-town, something that had happened, according to Gandalf and Balin on a later visit, although there was a new Master, the old one coming to a bad end. It, the Kingdom under the Mountain, and the rebuilt Dale under the rule of 'King' Bard, were all rich and prosperous.

When he talked with Gloin in Rivendell decades later, in LotR, Frodo heard from him that King Brand, Bard's grandson, was 'a strong king, and his realm now reaches far south and east of Esgaroth [Lake-town]'. No indication was given there about whether Lake-town was still an independent state, or had become part of the Bardings' kingdom.
I doubt it was a "Republic." It is so small that it would be strange to have such a small population vote for representatives who would then vote for policy.

A "Democracy" just means that a population votes directly for the Head-of-State, or Policy, even if those given the right to vote is highly selective (Only males between 34.3 years old, and the first tuesday following the third full moon of their 45th year, AND who have red-hair, with grey-eyes, and flat-feet - just as an example.).

And the voting for the Head of State still does not make it a Republic, only a Federal Democracy.

But the precise form of government is beside the point.

The point is that Tolkien was mocking Modernity with Lake-Town.

As for who governed it in the later Third Age, the implication and interpretations I have seen are that Lake-Town was a part of the Kingdom of Dale. That Lake-town is not explicitly mentioned would imply that it was a part of the Kingdom of Dale. As if it were not, then it would need to be mentioned, by Gloin, in Many Meetings, as to what it was doing, as who was ruling it, as Frodo had asked specifically from News of that portion of the world. That Gloin mentioned the Beornings as ruling the Vales of Anduin, and charging a toll at the Carrock for crossing the Anduin, then he would likely mention any independent state levying their own tolls, taxes, and such within Esgaroth, which is explicitly mentioned as being a part of the Kingdom of Dale.

MB
Marwhini is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-15-2016, 06:14 PM   #9
Marwhini
Wight
 
Join Date: Jun 2016
Posts: 144
Marwhini has just left Hobbiton.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kuruharan View Post
That is a question we know he was not blind to.

There is the quote he made that "touching your cap to the Squire may be damn bad for the Squire, but it's damn good for you."

While he might not have liked all the aspects of the situation very much, my reading of Tolkien's comments taken as a whole, to my eyes seem to indicate a preference for inherited leadership.

At the very least, there is a distinct distaste for the self-seeking elected official who does nothing in life other than try to advance their own status and power.
Not only does Tolkien "indicate a preference for inherited leadership," in the BBC Interview I posted, he comes right out and EXPLICITLY SAYS he has a preference for inherited leadership.

But he seems to have a bias for a Traditional English sense of Propriety, and people "knowing their place." And as such, he is overly optimistic about such things working out quite as he likely believes they would.

MB
Marwhini is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-25-2016, 11:45 AM   #10
Belegorn
Shade of Carn Dűm
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Henneth Annűn, Ithilien
Posts: 459
Belegorn has just left Hobbiton.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kuruharan View Post
Give me an honest monarchy where I know who is responsible for decisions over a sham republic or a conglomeration of Institutions any day of the week.
It's supposed to be that way in the American republic as beauracrats are unconstitutional. Yet most of what you'd find in the Constitution is not followed much anyways. The legislature does not even write, or read, the laws they pass.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Marwhini
he comes right out and EXPLICITLY SAYS he has a preference for inherited leadership
Even though the U.S. is a republic, what's interesting is that for quite some time we've had a kind of inherited government with the two Parties. Like the House of D and the House of R, but the two Houses are constantly vying for power.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Faramir Jones
the acts of Ar-Pharaz˘n and most of his immediate predecessors were supported by most of their people,
Yet he drew from among those who did not support him human sacrifices. So where there was support he still abused a segment of the population, and he did force his cousin into marriage. The only guy I can compare him with is Castamir who likewise took the throne from his cousin and was not a great ruler, although I'm not sure if he actually had a majority of the people on his side.
__________________
"For believe me: the secret for harvesting from existence the greatest fruitfulness and the greatest enjoyment is - to live dangerously!" - G.S.; F. Nietzsche
Belegorn is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-25-2016, 06:36 PM   #11
Marwhini
Wight
 
Join Date: Jun 2016
Posts: 144
Marwhini has just left Hobbiton.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Belegorn View Post
Even though the U.S. is a republic, what's interesting is that for quite some time we've had a kind of inherited government with the two Parties. Like the House of D and the House of R, but the two Houses are constantly vying for power.
Just as a point of technicality.

The USA has two Parties for the same reasons that gravity exists.

And I am not talking about the mass of the Earth.

I am talking about because of the Physical Structure of the world.

We have Two Parties because of a Property of Political Science called "Duverger's Law."

It is a Law of Political Science in the same way that Newton's Laws are Laws of Physics, Aufbau's Laws are Laws of Chemistry, and Mendel's Law is a Law of Biology/Genetics.

Duverger's Law determines the number of VIABLE Political Parties that will exist given:

1) The Electoral Laws of a Government.
2) The Population Demographics and Geographical Ethnic Concentration/Distribution.
3) The Type of Government (Federal or Parliamentary).

In the USA, that number is currently TWO.

So....

The number of Parties is a Structural Property, and not something that anyone sat around and asked:

"How many Political Parties should we have?"

We can no more decide to have another number of Viable Political Parties in the USA than we can decide to fly by flapping our arms like bird-wings.

MB
Marwhini is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-26-2016, 07:41 AM   #12
Faramir Jones
Ghost Prince of Cardolan
 
Faramir Jones's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Lonely Isle
Posts: 648
Faramir Jones has been trapped in the Barrow!
White Tree Ar-Pharaz˘n and Sauron

Quote:
Originally Posted by Belegorn View Post
Yet he drew from among those who did not support him human sacrifices. So where there was support he still abused a segment of the population, and he did force his cousin into marriage. The only guy I can compare him with is Castamir who likewise took the throne from his cousin and was not a great ruler, although I'm not sure if he actually had a majority of the people on his side.
In terms of your comparison between Ar-Pharaz˘n and Castamir, it's not clear how much support the latter actually had, only that enough people supported his usurpation, and that enough later turned against him due to his tyranny, allowing his cousin, the rightful king, to take back his crown. The main difference is that Castamir didn't have Sauron as an advisor, and Gondorians did not, whatever their many faults, worship Morgoth or Sauron.

If we want to look at what happened in N˙menor, we need to first go back to the reign of the previous king, Tar-Palantir, who repented of what his father and immediate predecessors had done:

But his repentance was too late to appease the anger of the Valar with the insolence of his fathers, of which the greater part of his people did not repent. And GimilkhÔd [his younger brother] was strong and uncouth, and he took the leadership of those that had been called the King's Men and opposed the will of his brother as openly as he dared, and yet more in secret. (My italics)

When, after that monarch's death, his nephew Pharaz˘n, the deseased GimilkhÔd's son, usurped the sceptre and married by force his cousin, the rightful heir, there seems to have been little opposition to all this.

After Pharaz˘n led an army against Sauron, who surrendered, the latter had in 3 years become 'closest to the secret counsels of the King'. Under the influence of Sauron, who claimed Eru didn't exist, and was simply a phantom devised by the Valar, the King turned to the worship of Melkor (i.e. Morgoth) 'at first in secret, but ere long openly and in the face of his people; and they for the most part followed him'. (My italics)

The Meneltarma was 'utterly deserted' and 'though not even Sauron dared to defile the high place; yet the King would let no man, upon pain of death, ascend to it, not even those of the Faithful who kept Il˙vatar in their hearts'. (My italics)

Sauron later persuaded Pharaz˘n to fell Nimloth, the White Tree, a memorial of the Eldar and the light of Valinor. He later caused a temple to be built in the capital at Armenelos, with an 'altar of fire' in its midst. The first fire was lit with 'the hewn wood of Nimloth'. After that:

the fire and smoke went up without ceasing; for the power of Sauron daily increased, and in that temple, with spilling of blood and torment and great wickedness, men made sacrifice to Melkor that he should release them from Death. And most often from among the Faithful they chose their victims; yet never openly on the charge that they would not worship Melkor, the Giver of Freedom, rather was cause sought against them that they hated the King and were his rebels, or that they plotted against their kin, devising lies and poisons. Those charges were for the most part false; yet these were bitter days, and hate brings forth hate. (My italics)

Tolkien then made this general comment:

And men took weapons in those days and slew one another for little cause; for they were become quick to anger, and Sauron, or those whom he had bound to himself, went about the land setting man against man, so that the people murmured against the King and the lords, or against any that had aught that they had not; and the men of power took cruel revenge.

He spoke about the Men of N˙menor now being 'fierce men of war'. They hunted the men of Middle-earth, took their goods and enslaved them, and 'many they slew on upon their great altars'.

As a result:

Ar-Pharaz˘n, King of the Land of the Star, grew to the mightiest tyrant that had yet been in the world since the reign of Morgoth, though in truth Sauron ruled all from behind the throne. (My italics)

Sauron then persuaded Pharaz˘n to make war on the Valar. When rumours of this came to Amandil, leader of the Faithful, he told his son Elendil that he was going to sail to the West in the hope of speaking to the Valar, as their forefather Eńrendil had done. When Elendil asked his father if he would 'betray' the King, saying that before, when allegations were made that the Faithful were 'spies and traitors', they had been false, Amandil said that 'there is but one loyalty from which no man can be absolved in heart for any cause'. (My italics) He said he would plead for mercy upon Men and deliverance from Sauron, as 'some at least have remained faithful'.

He advised his son to seek out the Faithful known still to be true, and let them join him and share in the plan. His advice was to not meddle in the planned war against the Valar, and to watch. He said it was 'most likely' that Elendil and his people should fly from N˙menor, 'for the land is defiled'. (My italics) This was what happened, after Pharaz˘n and his force attacked Valinor.

It's clear that Tolkien believed that monarchs could become tyrants, and that it was legitimate on certain grounds for people to resist such tyranny. In the case of Pharaz˘n, the Faithful were right to rebel; because he and most of his people had become heretics, rejecting Eru and worshipping 'Satan', and had then committed the ultimate act of blasphemy by attacking Valinor. Amandil's statement about there being 'one loyalty' to Eru reminds me of St. Thomas Moore's statement before being executed at the orders of King Henry VIII that he died 'the king's good servant, and God's first'.

Last edited by Faramir Jones; 07-26-2016 at 07:47 AM.
Faramir Jones is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-26-2016, 08:38 AM   #13
Zigűr
Ghost Prince of Cardolan
 
Zigűr's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 649
Zigűr is a guest at the Prancing Pony.Zigűr is a guest at the Prancing Pony.
Castamir is a good example of a ruler who rises and then falls in the people's favour (and is a terrific example of Professor Tolkien's under-appreciated knack for conveying a great deal with impressive brevity):

Quote:
But Eldacar eluded his enemies, and came to the North, to his kinsfolk in Rhovanion. Many gathered to him there, both of the Northmen in the service of Gondor, and of the D˙nedain of the northern parts of the realm. For many of the latter had learned to esteem him, and many more came to hate his usurper.

This was Castamir, grandson of Calimehtar, younger brother of Rˇmendacil II. He was not only one of those nearest by blood to the crown, but be had the greatest following of all the rebels; for he was the Captain of Ships, and was supported by the people of the coasts and of the great havens of Pelargir and Umbar.

Castamir had not long sat upon the throne before he proved himself haughty and ungenerous. He was a cruel man, as be had first shown in the taking of Osgiliath. He caused Ornendil son of Eldacar, who was captured, to be put to death; and the slaughter and destruction done in the city at his bidding far exceeded the needs of war. This was remembered in Minas Anor and in Ithilien; and there love for Castamir was further lessened when it became seen that he cared little for the land, and thought only of the fleets, and purposed to remove the king's seat to Pelargir.

Thus he had been king only ten years, when Eldacar, seeing his time, came with a great army out of the north, and folk flocked to him from Calenardhon and Anˇrien and Ithilien. (Appendix A)
Unlike Ar-Pharaz˘n, Castamir loses his popular support. It might be worth considering, then, that Professor Tolkien's argument is particularly against illegitimate monarchs, those who achieved monarchy through violence and usurpation. Similarly, while Sauron certainly evokes a modern-day tyrant, dictator or despot, he describes himself as a king with titles like "King of Men" and "Tar-Mairon" (Admirable King). Morgoth also refers to himself (mendaciously) in monarchical terms as Elder King and King of the World. It seems that Professor Tolkien distinguishes between legitimate and illegitimate monarchs, suggesting that a tyrant is usually an illegitimate monarch or usurper, while he tends to give legitimate rulers fewer negative characteristics.

That being said, there are sufficient examples of legitimate monarchs who are incompetent or lacking in spiritual fortitude, like Atanatar II Alcarin who "lived in great splendour, so that men said precious stones are pebbles in Gondor for children to play with. But Atanatar loved ease and did nothing to maintain the power that he had inherited, and his two sons were of like temper. The waning of Gondor had already begun before he died, and was doubtless observed by its enemies. The watch upon Mordor was neglected." (Appendix A) Ar-Adűnakh˘r of N˙menor also seems to have been a nasty character despite being a legitimate monarch, who was not only a blasphemer (as seen in his name, "Lord of the West", which should have been used for ManwŰ only) but who also "began to persecute the Faithful and punished those who used the Elven-tongues openly."

As a point of interest, in regards to what Faramir has brought up, it's worth noting that in earlier versions of the N˙menor story found in the "Lost Road" era, the Temple to Melkor built by Sauron was actually on Meneltarma itself! "Tar-kalion raised a great temple to Morgoth upon the Mountain of Iluvatar in the midst of the land; and Sauron dwelt there and all Numenor was under his vigilance."
Furthermore, in "The Lost Road" itself, the nature of the Temple is quite different:
Quote:
"But now the Mountain is despoiled. Its trees are felled, and it stands naked; and upon its summit there is a Temple. It is of marble, and of gold, and of glass and steel, and is wonderful, but terrible. No man prayeth there. It waiteth. For long Sauron did not name his master by the name that from old is accursed here. He spoke at first of the Strong One, of the Eldest Power, of the Master. But now he speaketh openly of Alkar, of Morgoth. He hath prophesied his return. The Temple is to be his house. Numenor is to be the seat of the world's dominion. Meanwhile Sauron dwelleth there."
So in one early version of the narrative the use of the temple itself is mysterious ("evil rites" are associated with "chambers underground", although "smoke riseth from the temple") and it is a kind of strange, disturbing, empty mansion in which Sauron lives, claiming it to be the future house of Morgoth; "'Yet Morgoth cometh not. But his shadow hath come."

This was later changed such that Sauron never dared to defile the Mountain (it was abandoned instead) and the temple was at Armenelos.
__________________
"Since the evening of that day we have journeyed from the shadow of Tol Brandir."
"On foot?" cried ╔omer.
Zigűr is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-26-2016, 09:35 AM   #14
Faramir Jones
Ghost Prince of Cardolan
 
Faramir Jones's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Lonely Isle
Posts: 648
Faramir Jones has been trapped in the Barrow!
Shield Tyrants and illegitimacy

Thanks for your response, Zigűr, including your pointing out of earlier versions of the story of Ar-Pharaz˘n and Sauron in The Lost Road.

The issue of Morgoth was interesting. Because he was originally the chief of the Valar not ManwŰ, he regarded himself the lawful King of Arda. By his standards, anyone who didn't accept his rightful authority as King was a rebel, who could be dealt with accordingly. Examples of what he did to such people are given, including to H˙rin, who refused to accept him as the Elder King, and who indeed called him an escaped thrall [slave] of the Valar. For someone who regarded himself as the legitimate monarch of Arda, this would have been the most dreadful insult imaginable.

We need to look at who is a 'tyrant'. This can refer to a person who acquired power illegitimately in the first place; or it can also refer to a person who while acquiring power 'legitimately', like Ar-Pharaz˘n, then wields it in an illegitimate manner. I use inverted commas for the latter; because while he was a usurper, his usurpation appears to have been accepted by most of the population, due to his views on the Valar and the Elves agreeing with their own.

You're right to point out other types of monarchs, including those who are indolent and pay no attention to ruling. Atanatar II Alcarin of Gondor was not only indolent, not maintaining the power his ancestors had worked hard to build up; his two sons were of a similar nature. His eldest son, Narmacil I, declared Minalcar, son of his younger brother Calmacil, to be regent when he succeded their father as king. Minalcar ruled in the name of his uncle and father, before becoming king in his own right. Fortunately for Gondor, he was an able regent and king, taking the crown with the title Rˇmendacil II, due to his military prowess.

There's also an interesting example of a monarch who, while not tyrannical, was deeply unpleasant. King Fengel of Rohan was, according to what we are told, avaricious and gluttonous, and a lot of conflict took place with his family and military commanders. His son Thengel left and went to Gondor, marrying a Gondorian woman, and did not return until after his father's death and his succession as king.

Last edited by Faramir Jones; 08-22-2016 at 01:39 PM.
Faramir Jones is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-13-2016, 10:33 AM   #15
William Cloud Hicklin
Ghost Prince of Cardolan
 
William Cloud Hicklin's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 1,424
William Cloud Hicklin is a guest at the Prancing Pony.William Cloud Hicklin is a guest at the Prancing Pony.
Part of Tolkien's thinking, I suspect, with regards to "democracy" ran along these lines: it is a system which almost guarantees that our rulers will be politicians- the last people on earth one would want in charge of anything. The system is designed to select for the worst character traits: duplicity, hypocrisy, pandering, demagoguery and narcissism. Again, "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... The mediaevals were only too right in taking nolo episcopari as the best reason a man could give to others for making him a bishop."


The only actual politician depicted in his writings is the worthless Master of Laketown; but the character who speaks most recognizably like a modern politician is.... Saruman.
__________________
ôIt is good to be both loved and feared; but if one cannot be both, it is better to be feared than loved" --Machiavelli
William Cloud Hicklin is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-15-2016, 03:29 PM   #16
Kuruharan
Regal Dwarven Shade
 
Kuruharan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: A Remote Dwarven Hold
Posts: 3,363
Kuruharan is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Kuruharan is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Boots

Tolkien also referenced Denethor in a similar context.
Kuruharan is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -6. The time now is 08:27 PM.



Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.9 Beta 4
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.