The Objectivist Hobbit: Part two



Philosophical Anarchy

Philosophical Anarchy:

In reading Tolkien, one might be struck by the almost total lack of government structures. The folk of his greatest hero, Frodo, practically have no governing agency whatsoever, and one of the last chapters of the book is a fight to overthrow the foreign power that has imposed one. Rivendell is more like a big Elven commune than the center of a ruling family. Things pretty much are decided by councils of the individuals involved in whatever problem they are sorting out. That four Hobbits were included in the Fellowship is an example of the egalitarian nature of the Council, for it was the ‘Lord’ Elrond that wanted to keep Pippin and Merry out.

Frodo is probably the greatest hero of Philosophical Anarchy ever and maybe the most reluctant hero in fiction of all time as well. The reluctance to be a hero is actually a shared trait of the Ayn Rand hero as well. Today, it is not uncommon to find those who believe that the Rand hero is the businessman, but her greatest heroes were of more mundane nature. Howard Roark is an architect and is cast into a heroic figure completely by time and circumstance. The same is true with John Galt, her other great hero. He’s an engineer and really only wants to create things. In fact the primary difference between say a Frodo and a Galt is that Frodo is even more mundane. Frodo is curious about the world, but mostly content to enjoy the simpler things of life, like beer and pipe-weed. He is hardly the creative type, whereas the heroes of Ayn Rand’s novels are all driven by the need to be creative, to solve problems and to overcome a hostile world. The Heroes in Tolkien’s fiction are far more likely to want to live in harmony with the world order; they don’t find it hostile and in fact, they find it rather pleasant and fulfilling. Of course, there are problems out there.

In the Shire, most problems are small in nature, but being part of a much larger community, important crises do crop up. In Frodo’s case it is the One Ring; in Roark’s case, it is a scheming individual that wants to see him fail and fail hard. Frodo can deal as an individual with the small problems of his local life, can put up with rude or greedy neighbors and can handle unsavory relatives as the case may be. The same is true of Howard Roark; when clients fail to appear he takes a job as a laborer in a quarry and waits for his kind of client to appear. He does not consider this a true crisis, but a small problem that can be overcome with time, patience and persistence.

The true nature of both is revealed as the story-lines unfold. Frodo, small and unskilled, finds the strength to carry his burden. He develops skills that further his goals. He finds companions to trust; he finds unlikely and untrustworthy folk to help along the way as well. And in the end, he triumphs. He does this of his own free will, as an individual that weighs the costs of failure and success. Roark, on the other hand, is not small or unskilled. He has already developed the skills to fight his battles. But like Frodo, he has friends, companions both worthy and unworthy of him. He too fights and wins against foes both hidden and seen.

It is the nature of their character that demonstrates the virtue of the individual, which is the primary focus of the Philosophical Anarchist. “Philosophical Anarchists may accept the existence of a minimal state as an unfortunate, and usually temporary, ‘necessary evil’ but argue that citizens do not have a moral obligation to obey the state when its laws conflict with individual autonomy. “ The individual is the measure, not the society, not the culture and certainly not the economy; this is why Tolkien and Rand resonate with so many people.

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