So there me and Harad were, talking about the disappointment of the Sherlock episodes that have come out recently, when Harad found something suggesting that Martin Freeman was basically a communist supporter as a teenager, which obviously shocked me. Then it somehow got onto Bilbo Baggins being a communist and thus another one of our crazy theories was born.
Ok, before you go and say I've gone too far with this theory, just hear me out. Tolkien is a considerably conservative Christian, so obviously he didn't intend to write his innocent, friendly main protagonists who smoke weed all day and basically just live the best life ever, as commies who live in a Marxist state. Obviously. But when you apply the idea of politics today to Middle-earth, (a really sad thing to do but meh), you can actually justify the Shire being seen as a communism:
- There's not really any social classes in the Shire. They all just sort of hang about and farm.
- There are no official leaders of the Shire. There's the mayor of course, and there's a Thain (who doesn't really do much) but as a whole it's mainly run as a community.
- They all do labour (for example farming and fishing) but receive no wages from private businesses
- There's no companies or corporations like 'Hobbit farming inc.' or any sort of organisations in the Shire designed to make a profit. The hobbits all just sort of....exist. Where does their produce go to? A medieval state in the real world has the feudal system with serfs giving their produce to their lords, but as we've said, the hobbits have no lords, leading us to believe produce goes directly to the State.
These could all mean two things: either they live in a fantasy world which shouldn't have the logic of the real world applied to it, or they're COMMUNISTS. The Soviet Shire. Basically, since hobbits are the most innocent incorruptible little things ever to exist, and our (the humans') ability to be corrupted is why communism never works, it actually kind of makes sense for the hobbits to be living in a successful communist society. With this information you can easily twist the story Bilbo and the Dwarves going off to fight a dragon hoarding mountains of gold from being a story of greed to being a story of communism vs capitalism. Smaug is the perfect metaphor for capitalism, being a greedy gold hoarding dragon.
So there you are. The Shire is a Communist State. But why stop there. Why not politically map all of Middle-earth? No you say? Well tough, it's too late.
Let's have a look at fascism, the polar opposite of communism (despite what some redneck Americans think). Well, I don't have to tell you who fits the bill, it's Mordor, it's obviously Mordor. There's really nothing much to say about it. One man (in this case God) in charge, the racial eradication of everything different, generally doing bad things, etc. It's as fascist as they come. Isengard is just fascist, and they're both meant to be representations of industrialisation, which Tolkien was very against, as you would be if you lived through two World Wars. The Easterlings and Haradrim are just Asians and Africans/Arabs/Turks and there's basically no source material to go on for them so we'll skip them. The Men of Umbar fit into this category as well.
Let's move on to the good guys. The Elves are clear socialist hippies. They live in the woods in a pretty much equal society singing and dancing all the time. I bet they're vegetarians as well. The Dwarves are the opposite, they're pure capitalists. Living in mountains (maybe a metaphor for the skyscrapers developing during Tolkien's time...?) hoarding gold much like Smaug, known for being merchants that trade all over the world and are famed for their greed by all the races. Again, it's obvious.
The race of Men are basically just different medieval societies. Rohan is based on Anglo-Saxon England, the only difference being they have horses. So yeah, it's just Anglo-Saxons with maybe a tad of Central Asian nomadism mixed in. Gondor is the typical medieval state, with kings and knights. Not much else to say.
(Work In Progress)
"What's kiwi fruit got to do with shoes?"
~ Rodolin McFly The Unwise
I see the Shire as an ideal South, assuming they hadn't gotten obsessed with slavery and aristocratic social hierarchies. Here's why:
- They live in an extremely anti-federalist society, as you pointed out they have leaders but they have little power. (Different than the ideal Commune in which there would be no need for a leader figure, which is really preposterous given the human tendency to f-up everything).
- Jeffersonian agrarianism is strong there, and that point of view is against city life, which works in the Shire. Farming, fishing, etc. instead of industry and financial mumbo-jumbo.
- There is a moral code in the Shire, just as the South was (and to an extent still is) a place where manners, honor, and family values are big. The Hobbits are social and festive and keep big family histories and family trees.
- Conservatism and isolationism are the key features of the Shire. The early USA and particularly the South where they loved the conservative politicians were against opening up to European affairs. The Shirelings are against opening up to other peoples and are suspicious of them to a great extent. They have a distinct culture that is not mixed with much else in Middle Earth because of this ideology.
As for the other places:
Mordor is certainly Nazism and Fascism, with no freedoms and loads of hatred going around. Also the expansionist ideas are there of course.
I also agree that Dwarvish realms are very capitalist. Obvious classes there, with poor and rich very distinct.
Elves are too detached from the world of mortals for any reasonable relation to current affairs in my opinion. They are just fantasy characters that do their thing.
Umbarians and Gondorians, plucked from the same branch, are both Monarchical societies. As is Rohan. Umbarians seem like Turks to me, given geographical location.
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