Hobbitonby Brad Nelson8/20/15
Everyone wants to be a Hobbit. No one wants to be a Ranger  •  Conservatives don’t tend to be the touch-feely, artsy-fartsy types. They tend to be serious people (but with a healthy sense of humor). They are more likely to own a gun than a water pipe. They dig NASCAR, not those little Flintstone-like coffin cars driven by those who are trying to “save the planet” (but who might be better off saving themselves behind the solid metal of an SUV).

Still, one can appreciate the desire to be happy, free, contented, and full of the buzz of kumbaya. And you see that hope every day. You see the tie-dye liberals walking around, suspended sometimes on a cloud of fumes, and it can tug at your heart that what these grown children want is simply what most of us want: a little security, happiness, safety, friends, and a fulfilling sense of meaning.

And that’s all good. I admire this artsy-fartsy, touchy-feely crowd. We need compassionate people. We need nice people instead of mean people, even if they range toward the goofy just a bit. We need to surround ourselves with beauty and kumbaya vibes. That’s all to the good.

But from watching and thinking about The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings lately, I couldn’t help thinking how nice Hobbiton (the land of the Hobbits) is. It’s a green environmental Utopia where everyone gardens, makes art, pals around with neighbors who are mostly of good cheer, sit on the porch and smoke weed, and have a glass of ale at the small corner pub and swap stories.

But as we see painfully portrayed in the books, Hobbiton is not a self-contained place. It is, in the end, devastated by outside forces of evil. It is an island that exists, and can only exist, because there are Rangers such as Strider unknowingly and selflessly protecting it. Being off to the side, to the West of Middle Earth, Hobbiton avoids many of the conflicts in and around the Eastern parts. But not forever, as we see in the books.

I would hope all conservatives understand, perhaps even share, the Utopian impulse to live a fulfilled, peaceful, and kumbaya life with like-minded people. But life does not allow sheep to live outside of the influence of wolves. And there are always wolves.

And it is a shame that this simple fact tends to put people at odds with those who would defend us from the harsh realities of the world. I’m sure that most of the Left’s animosity toward “pigs” is because the police are a reminder that their Utopian visions are false. The Utopian vision of the Left is that conflict arises because of racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, etc., focused and enhanced by a Christian/capitalist society that has become very good at exploitation — and not because there are many bad people in the world.

This is a child-like mindset, but we must remember that it is widespread and that some people turn very mean when their cherished delusions are challenged. For the True Believer, Utopia and a widespread kumbaya are very possible. And they are so in love with this idea that they become hostile to the sheepdogs, to those who would remind us that there are real dangers out there.

One can see this in the dealings with Iran. Certainly these dealings betray a host of Leftist weaknesses and delusions. But I think not least among them is the idea that kumbaya is what all people want and that therefore if there is some angst in the world, it’s somebody’s fault (America’s fault, in this case) because we have not been “fair” or sufficiently “sensitive” to the various needs of the tribal “people of color” in the third world. This belief is so powerful, they will overlook giving nuclear weapons to crazies.

Hobbotin is a very compelling image. But it cannot exist without someone safeguarding its borders. And as our society regresses to a child-like state, it’s perhaps no wonder we have no answer to the illegal aliens pouring over our own. We would simply wish-away the reality of the world and our necessity to engage it as it is. We can try to make “sanctuary cities” but they never do turn into Hobbiton. They are more likely to be places where dissolution is concentrated.

Still, it’s a wonderful image. And, ironically, the only way it ever has a chance of taking root is if one foot is in kumbaya and the other firmly planted in the reality that there is always a Mordor out there which must be defended against.

Brad is editor and chief disorganizer of StubbornThings.
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Brad Nelson

About Brad Nelson

I like books, nature, politics, old movies, Ronald Reagan (you get sort of a three-fer with that one), and the founding ideals of this country. We are the Shining City on the Hill — or ought to be. However, our land has been poisoned by Utopian aspirations and feel-good bromides. Both have replaced wisdom and facts.
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14 Responses to Hobbiton

  1. Timothy Lane says:

    In the end, the Shire was more or less restored to its utopian status, helped by the return of the King of Gondor (Aragorn). But Tolkien didn’t hesitate to show that there were a variety of (mostly minor) problems in this paradise. Consider Frodo the young scamp stealing mushrooms for farmer Maggott, or the conversations between the Gaffer and the elder Sandyman regarding Frodo’s family. The Sackville-Bagginses were not very nice people (and as popular as they deserved to be). And for so long they were unaware of why they were able to live in their rural English idyll.

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      You should not forget that the Shire underwent a drastic change brought about by Sharkey and his henchmen, some of whom were hobbits.

      In the end, it was the Fellowship hobbits who were forced to take things into their own hands and resist the men who worked for Sharkey. Even so, many hobbits were afraid to get involved.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      It’s interesting watching the start of both The Hobbit and LOTR, both of which primarily start in Hobbiton at a particular Hobbit-hole at the end of Bagshot Row: Bag End. Life is tranquil, green, and beautiful. The worst one has to deal with is squabbling relatives (which was a contributing factor to Bilbo eventually moving to Rivendell).

      You watch this bucolic scene knowing that evil is closing in. Many conservatives, such as myself, see the all-seeing-eye (which some call the NSA) peering our way. We see the evil of entitlements, race-bating, moocherism, and grievance-mongering changing the character of people. It’s all smiles now. But what will be released from Mordor should the economy hiccough?

      We see what drugs have done to our culture. We see crime replacing work. We see fully healthy people on Social Security disability. We see mobs of black people beating up white people just because they are white. We see criminals coming from south of our border and given free rein. We have a government that is less and less responsive to real problems and instead creates them.

      In some ways, we must have faith, hope, and love and find a light in the midst of this gathering darkness, for we know many of our neighbors are “nice” but they are not good. When outrage is fomented by trifles and killing and then selling unborn baby parts for fancy cars raises barely an eyebrow, you know Sauron is gaining power, through the various guises he takes, one of which is Obama.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        I’m not so sure Obama is equivalent to Sauron, and certainly not Morgoth. Perhaps the Mouth of Sauron? Sauron would be the combination of rich radicals such as George Soros and Tom Steyer. (On this basis, Harry Reid would be the Witch-King and Nancy Pelosi would be Shelob.)

        • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

          I like your comparisons. Would Karl Marx be Morgoth?

          • Timothy Lane says:

            Probably a combination. Remember, the Left actually tends to be oligarchic rather than favoring a single dictator (hence the old Soviet concerns about a cult of personality). Marx and Engels would be part of Morgoth. Bertrand Russell (“England’s oldest, most doddering peer”) would be a later addition to the collective; (And we probably need another group for Ungoliant.)

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          I’m not sure who should be who. But those Hobbits are a wonderful example of people power. Theirs is a story of reluctant involvement in the wider world — the kind of involvement all conservatives need. I’ll have to re-read the book again, because I’m still not clear on why Bilbo went on his adventure. He seemed satisfied enough at Bag End. Perhaps the prompting of his friend, Gandalf, was enough (and the prospect of gold). And I don’t offhand remember any of the backstory on how they met or became friends.

          But it’s a conscious choice for Bilbo to go there and back again, never knowing for sure if he’d come back. For Frodo, he was thrust into it, ripped out of Hobbiton by the dire need to get the ring out of there so that evil would not be drawn to it. (We need only vote these fiends out of office…and we’re not even up to that task.)

          In the end, these small Hobbits (because they are written that way, of course) have an impact far larger than their stature until it finally ends with this scene.

          Couldn’t we use a president and a Congress to bow at least to the Constitution and to the people?

          • Timothy Lane says:

            Actually, I’m not sure Gandalf ever really gave Bilbo a choice, though it should be noted that Bilbo sort of (if unintentionally) indicated that he would like some sort of adventure in their first meeting. Bilbo certainly never had any idea that the dwarves were going to show up, and I don’t know that he’d decided whether or not to join him until Gandalf showed him the letter and sent him on his way.

            • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

              I think old Bilbo got bamboozled and caught up in the moment.

              Of course, one might take the view that fate and the Ring had something to do with it.

            • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

              It’s interesting the way the whole adventure for Bilbo is underwritten. We suspect (eventually) that Gandalf knew far more than he has let on about the Big Picture. But at the same time, he seems drawn to an ill-defined sense of destiny that he acquiesces to and is successful in transmitting in some respects to Bilbo, if perhaps packaged as “adventure.”

              And I think there’s a bit of that acquiescence in Bilbo, and I think it’s a good point the ring has some pull on him as well…from one Hobbit (Sméagol) to another perhaps.

              Wiki says:

              The Fallohides were the least numerous group and the second group to enter Eriador. They were generally fair-haired and tall (for hobbits). They were often found leading other clans of hobbits as they were more adventurous than the other races. They preferred the forests and had links with the Elves. Tolkien created the name from the archaic meanings of English words “fallow” and “hide”, meaning “pale skin”.[15]…Bilbo and three of the four principal hobbit characters in The Lord of the Rings (Frodo, Pippin and Merry) had Fallohide blood through their common ancestor, the Old Took.

  2. Pst4usa says:

    Does everyone want to be a Hobbit? I think not, most do of course, but there are warriors among us today. You alluded to some, the police, but there are the other warriors, the war fighters. Not the politicos of the military, the ones that suck up to the political leaders, for the sake of promotion. No I am referring to the real war fighters, the ones that understand honor and sacrifice, those are our rangers of today. The rest of us seem to be more like the relatives that just want to get something from someone else.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Yes, I agree, Pat, that those in the military are the Rangers of today (although often the missions we send them on are murky). My shtick regarding the Hobbit isn’t so much to split people into various classes and roles — the sheep and the Rangers — but to say that unless we all pin that Ranger badge on ourselves, we can’t protect the kind of good society we want to live in. We can’t put that all on the professional Rangers.

      We need a Ranger sense ourselves. We need to be constantly balancing our desire for kumbaya with the reality that not all things are permissible, not all people can be reasoned with, and not all causes are good ones. Simply calling illegal aliens “compassionate” was Jeb Bush’s rather embarrassing, but understandable, attempt to explain away the wolves.

      We see many today, especially including libertarians (whose conceit is that they are the Rangers of our day), apologizing for Iran, just as the Democrats do. When our Rangers are corrupt or deluded, that isn’t much better than having no rangers at all.

      We should all have a sense of the danger when government at every level becomes intrusive, even if their selling point is to supposedly create a widespread and permanent kumbaya. The price of kumbaya, not to mention liberty, is eternal vigilance.

  3. Pst4usa says:

    Brad, I agree with your overall point and I did get that, I was just picking nits with the first sentence and those who want to be rangers. You are of course correct about the rest of us and the fact, that if we don’t, those that do chose to be the rangers will dominate in the end and become just as, if not more tyrannical than the do-gooder utopites of today, leftist or libertarians.
    There is one group that should get special mention in their failures to maintain the one foot in each world approach, that is the pastors. I think it was Charles Finney back in the early 1800’s who said something like if the people become immoral than the pulpit is to blame, if our rulers become corrupt the pulpit is to blame… and he goes on and on laying the responsibility for maintaining the part ranger part utopian view on the pulpit. I think he is right, and it can not be displayed better than a Pope that is a communist and a spiritual leader of this nations president that is more consumed with social justice than the word of God.

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