And Trump against everyone.
We all know George Orwell would have hated James Bond. But what about the work of JRR Tolkien, and in particular The Lord of the Rings? Orwell loved the English countryside, so some of the descriptions might have appealed to him. He might also have liked the idea that someone could imagine a full-fledged language and then write some literature to go along with it (I mean Elvish and its associated works). But overall he would have hated the Lord of the Rings. He hated inequality, and inequality is something that comes with swords and quests.
Feudal England had survived in Orwell’s England in the form of a mass of stupid prejudices and verbal affectations whose main function was to dress up a brutal degree of class injustice. Orwell’s “Politics and the English Language” is best known for his attention to the verbal blunder used by the left to disguise meaning. But the essay deals with the Olde Tyme language used by right-wing British newspapers to embellish the war and its realities (culprits included “kingdom”, “throne” and “shield”). Tolkien’s trilogy would have struck Orwell as a catalog of such a whiff. Above all, the relationship of Frodo and Sam, master and man, would have disgusted him, and the book celebrates this relationship as well as the woodland of swords, pennants, lieges and overlords that romantic feudalism stack on top, that is, on top of the idea. that a man was born to live in the service of another. Long before he reached “Scouring the Shire,” Orwell would have taken the measure of the book. He trusted conservative Christian writers as much as he trusted Communist writers, and here is a culprit peddling his heap of Old English kitsch to promote a bunch of crippling lies. Hobbits would have made everything worse.
I’m not saying my hypothetical Orwell would have been wrong. I also wouldn’t blame anyone for having an opinion that in real life they never had time to support (if only because the book was published a few years after Orwell’s death) . But when we hear about the power of ideas and stories, we may notice that this power doesn’t always kick in. Generations of happy fans have now read and loved Tolkien’s book. They did so without leaning in the direction of feudalism. I will reinforce that. the the Lord of the Rings topped various reader polls as the most beloved novel of all time. But the book did nothing to push the world into a shape Tolkien might have wanted. Whatever Christian conservatives have in mind for Western society, they have had to settle for something else. Conservatism itself has long escaped their grip. Take the simple question of kicking a man when he’s down. Tolkien and his chivalrous friends scorned the idea. Orwell too. Donald Trump and his admirers? It seems doubtful. Orwell would have looked at Trumpism and called it cult of power. Tolkien would have given it a name from Christian theology. But they would both have been appalled and neither would have mattered so much.