Friday, September 23, 2022

Fascism and Hobbits

The NY Times:

Giorgia Meloni, the hard-right leader who is likely to be the next prime minister of Italy, used to dress up as a hobbit.

As a youth activist in the post-Fascist Italian Social Movement, she and her fellowship of militants, with nicknames like Frodo and Hobbit, revered “The Lord of the Rings” and other works by the British writer J.R.R. Tolkien. They visited schools in character. They gathered at the “sounding of the horn of Boromir” for cultural chats. She attended “Hobbit Camp” and sang along with the extremist folk band Compagnia dell’Anello, or Fellowship of the Ring.

All of that might seem some youthful infatuation with a work usually associated with fantasy-fiction and big-budget epics rather than political militancy. But in Italy, “The Lord of the Rings” has for a half-century been a central pillar upon which descendants of post-Fascism reconstructed a hard-right identity, looking to a traditionalist mythic age for symbols, heroes and creation myths free of Fascist taboos.

“I think that Tolkien could say better than us what conservatives believe in,” said Ms. Meloni, 45.

As I am sure I have observed here before, my politics and my artistic tastes don't go together very well.


G. Verloren said...

God, why are conservatives always so utterly oblivious and lacking in self-awareness?

Tolkien would have been disgusted by these people. Fascists in all but name and aesthetics, pretending they are hobbits when in reality they are orcs.

What is wrong with these people? How do you cynically engage in political militancy, and then compare yourself to a society of child-like near-innocents who engage in neither politics nor war?

How can you so blatantly resemble Sauron - a figure obsessed with restoring a mythical past, to the point of amassing as much power as possible with the intent of using it to enforce conformity at the point of a sword and by any means necessary - and then turn around and identify with figures like Bilbo and Frodo, who loathed power, who had no interest in controlling others, and who were little concerned by mythical pasts and far more interested in second breakfasts and humble backyard gardens?

If you're going to be a Fascist, you may as well have the courage of your own convictions and just admit it openly. But these people are cowards, and allergic to the truth. Orcs indeed!

szopeno said...

From time to time I met people who do not know that Tolkien was deeply believing Christian and a conservative. He voted Tories. Though he also called himself anarchist, while at the same time expressing support for monarchy - though I have no idea why some people find it puzzling. For me, my streak of conservatism is, amongst other things, always about government staying the f* away from me and my family.

John said...

Tolkien's politics don't fit into any category we have in our own time, because back then being a conservative meant wanting to conserve many things that have been swept away.

Tolkien certainly despised the fascists of his own time, but on the other hand the main issue driving Europeans to the right now is immigration, and I can't imagine Tolkine supporting mass immigration from Africa or the Caribbean.

G. Verloren said...


Oh, absolutely Tolkien would have been generally against immigration. But he also would have been wholly disgusted by outright Fascists trying to co-opt his works - regardless of the fact that they, too, did not support mass immigration.

Hitler was a vegetarian, and yet modern vegetarians / environmentalists / etc would be absolutely livid if modern day Neo-Nazis started to co-opt their messaging publicly as a political stunt.

David said...


If you want to feel better about your aesthetic predelictions, consider this gem from the Ukrainian Defense Ministry:

David said...

In any case, Tolkien was nothing if not anti-modernist, and both the hard right and the hard left have to them a strong streak of anti-modernism, so both can be attracted to Tolkien.

When I was growing up in Houston, The Hobbit Hole Restaurant was a major local hippie hangout. (Yes, even in Houston there were hippies.)

It would be interesting to know if there's a Tolkien cult among the BJP, or Likud.