CBN News correspondent Paul Strand recently talked with Jay Richards, co-author (with Jonathan Witt), of The Hobbit Party: The Vision of Freedom That Tolkien Got, and the West Forgot:
"Tolkien had more to offer than just a really good yarn," Richards told CBN News. "There's a theme throughout The Lord of the Rings of a concern over the centralization of power. The ring itself -- the ring of power that the good guys spend the entire story trying to get rid of, not trying to gain, has this power to dominate the will of others."
The evil, power-crazed Sauron came out of Tolkien's experience of witnessing the freedom-obliterating brutalities of Nazism and fascism in World War II and the Cold War Communist cruelties that followed.
Tolkien had faced horrifying trench warfare himself in World War I and hated the senseless slaughter of war. But he loved liberty even more, so his heroes constantly fought for it in his books.
"The good guys in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit recognize that sometimes you need to fight, you need to be willing to die," Richards said. "And the cause in every case that they're willing to die for is freedom."
Tolkien said he himself was a hobbit in all but size. The Shire where hobbits lived reflected not only his most idyllic childhood hometown, but the way he thought society should run - a place of almost no laws and only a tiny bit of government.
He admitted to his son Christopher in a letter that he leaned towards anarchy and hated the idea of people lording it over other people.
"Tolkien said famously, 'It is the most improper job of any man to boss others, least of all those who seek the opportunity," Richards explained.
Tolkien wrote The Lord of the Rings as he watched his homeland Britain sliding into a soft socialism that was slowly sapping the freedoms of his countrymen.
He was horrified the citizens of the Christian nations would give up their God-given liberty in exchange for security offered by all-powerful governments.
Tolkien could relate to similar concerns expressed by the famed 19th century traveler and writer Alexis de Tocqueville.
After years of keenly observing America, de Tocqueville wrote in 1840s Democracy in America that he feared it and like nations would come under the sway of a future ruling power that would cover "…the surface of social life with a network of petty, complicated, detailed, and uniform rules."
"It does not break men's wills but it does soften, bend, and control them," he wrote.
"Rarely does it force men to act but it constantly opposes what actions they perform," De Tocqueville continued. "It does not destroy the start of anything but it stands in its way; it does not tyrannize but it inhibits, represses, drains, snuffs out, dulls so much effort that it finally reduces each nation to nothing more than a flock of timid and hardworking animals with the government as shepherd."
Tolkien was hopeful art like his could wake people up and shake them up.
Read the entire article, "Tolkien Truth: Giant Lessons from Little Hobbits" (Dec. 21, 2014).