Roots of Radicalism

J.R.R. TOLKIEN: An inspiration to Nationalists


THE EARLY SEVENTIES saw the death, in a Sussex nursing home of a quiet and unassuming Englishman. His death was mourned by many thousands of people around the world, for he was J.R.R.Tolkein, the author of the 'Lord of the Rings' saga and creator of the 'Middle Earth', a fictional world more real, in many ways, than our own. For British Nationalists, Tolkien's loss was especially felt. His writings, rooted deeply as they are in the mythology, culture and racial spirit of the Celtic and Germanic peoples of North-western Europe, touched a special chord in our hearts, and were to go on doing so after their author was no more.

Tolkien deserves close study and analysis by racial Nationalists. Firstly, to what extent was Tolkien a British Nationalist? And secondly, and perhaps more profoundly, to what extent is Tolkien's sub-creation, his world of 'Middle-Earth', a Nationalist one?

It is evident from his letters and writings that Tolkien's actual views, whilst not always totally in line with ours, would have been far less palatable to our opponents. References in correspondence to his son Christopher to "that bloodthirsty old murderer Josef Stalin" and suggesting that in a photo of Churchill, Stalin and Roosevelt "our little cherub W. S. C. actually looked the biggest ruffian present" together with, in the same letter, the arch-heresy that "I do find this Americo-cosmopolitanism very terrifying ... I am not really sure that its victory is going to be so much better for the world as a whole and in the long run than the victory of ------. I don't suppose letters in are censored" (His son was in the RAF) "But if they are or not, I need to you hardly add that them's the sentiments of a good many folk – and no indication of lack of patriotism" would not commend JRRT to anti-Nationalists.

By May 29th, 1945, Tolkien was telling his son that "I am not even supported by a glimmer of patriotism in this remaining war. I would not subscribe a penny to it, let alone a son, were I a free man. It can only benefit American or Russia, prob. the latter." Four days later, Tolkien confided in his son that the War that was over, "or the part of it" (i.e. against Germany) "had largely been lost".

Tolkien denounced "that ruddy little ignoramus Adolf Hitler", in a letter to another of his sons, Michael, on 9th June 1941, for "ruining, perverting, misapplying and making for ever accursed, that noble Northern spirit, a supreme contribution to Europe, which I have ever loved, and tried to present it in true light".

Tolkien then said, in the same letter, "People in this land seem not even yet to realize that in the Germans we have enemies whose virtues (and they are virtues) of obedience and patriotism are greater than ours in the mass. Whose brave men are about as brave as ours .... I have spent most of my life, since I was your age, studying 'Germanic' matters (in the general sense that includes England and Scandiniavia). There is a great deal more force (and truth) than ignorant people imagine in the 'Germanic' ideal"

A better idea of Tolkien's implicit, as opposed to explicit, views on race surface in the Lord of the Rings, with Elrond bewailing the fact that "the race of Numenor has decayed" (LOTR Vol. I, p.257) because "the blood of the Numenoreans became mingled with that of lesser men". Tolkien himself remarking of the Prince of Dol Amroth "he and his knights still held themselves like lords in whom the race of Numenor ran true" (III, p. 98).

Whilst describing Negroes as "black men like half-trolls with white eyes and red tongues" (III, p. 121) may have been all right at the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, is liable nowadays to land you in the dock on a Race Act charge!

More generally, Professor Paul Kocher of Stanford University is clearly right in his study Master of Middle Earth: the achievement of J.R.R. Tolkien (Thames & Hudson, 1973, pp 127-8) to remark on the virtual absence of "race-mixing" in LOTR: "The general rule is that the free peoples do not interbreed ... where possible it seldom happens. The three lonely unions between elf maidens and men, with their historic but largely tragic results, only prove the rule. Sexual matings between free and unfree peoples are disastrously wrong. The original breeding of orcs and trolls by Mogoth, followed later by the crossing of orcs with men by Sauron and Saruman, is regarded with horror by everyone in the West. Such unions provide not only the Uruk-hai but 'squint-eyed' half-men".

"Tolkien does not desiderate any such mingling of species as will erode the special identity of each. They are not to inhabit the same towns and adopt the same modes of life". Echoing the NF view of race-relations, "the coexistence of the free peoples of Middle-Earth with one another is founded on mutual respect and appreciation".

Not, be it noted, cosmopolitanism and miscegenation, both anathema to Tolkien's basic world-view. The Orcs, incidentally, are put in their racial place by Tolkien in a letter to U.S. film producer Forrest J. Ackerman in June 1958: "They are (or were) squat, broad, flat-nosed, sallow-skinned, with wide mouths and slant eyes: in fact, degraded and repulsive versions of the (to Europeans) less lovely Mongol types" No wonder, discussing Stenton's Anglo-Saxon England in a 1945 letter to his son, Tolkien remarks "it is the things of racial and linguistic significance that attract me".

The final word on the subject of Tolkien and Race may be left to Professor T.A. Shippey of Leeds University (The Road to Middle Earth, Allen & Unwin, 1982, p185) when, speaking of Tolkien's great mythic "prequel" to LOTR, he says, "The Silmarillion follows Norse belief, if not Norse convention: this is the conviction, shared also by the Beowulf-poet, that people are their heredity." This is the very root and core of NF ideology, as it clearly was of Tolkien' world-view.

Tolkien disdained the crudities and manifest errors of Nazi 'race-science' – as do we, with the added benefit of fifty years more scientific knowledge – but at heart he was a racialist.

Regarding Tolkien's socio-economic views critic Colin Wilson is surely right when he says in his essay Tree by Tolkien that Tolkien was clearly influenced by G.K. Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc and what he calls their "two acres and a cow Distributism". The Hobbits' Shire is not only, as Tolkien avowedly intended, quintessentially English, it is also in effect a Distributist, ruralist society, and as such is a Utopian model for the kind of Britain the NF would build.

Courageous and determined, yet modest and self-effacing – hobbits symbolised all that Tolkein felt was finest in the English character; whilst the character of Gandalf is a Merlin-esque character straight out of English folklore.

But perhaps the deepest political feeling of J.R.R. Tolkien, the only one which, as we shall see, inspired much of his writing, was a simple, heartfelt patriotism. It was an English, rather than a British, nationalism; indeed, it was rooted more locally than that, in his West Midlands ancestral home.

In conclusion, therefore, Tolkien's world-view, far from being utterly at odds with the NF is recognisably similar, though not identical, with our own. Tolkein's patriotism and Catholic-influenced social ideas, like those of Chesterton and Belloc, find echo in the thinking of today's NF.

And the underlying hereditarian, anti-cosmopolitan, anti-egalitarian world view Tolkien and we share. Not surprisingly – except perhaps to the Chairman of the Tolkien Society – Tolkien was on good personal terms with the founding Chairman of the National Front, A.K. Chesterton.

But what of his mythology itself? We have seen that it reflects and embodies Tolkien's racial and social ideas, so akin to our own. That alone should and does inspire us. But in fact the inherent nationalism of Tolkien's work goes much deeper than merely happening to reflect the vaguely nationalist ideas of its author. It is embodied in the very reason and purpose of the entire work, the reason why Tolkien wrote the Lord of the Rings, Hobbit, and the Silmarillion.

For they were written for a purpose, a fundamentally patriotic purpose. This purpose Tolkien first began to suggest in a paper read at Exeter College, Oxford, in 1912, when he was a twenty-year-old undergraduate. The paper dealt with the Kalevala, the national epic of Finland, a collection of heroic mythological ballads assembled from folk sources and published in 1835 by Finnish Nationalist Elias Lonnrot with the intention of awakening the national spirit of the Finns, then subject to Russia.

At the end of his paper, Tolkien lamented "I would that we had more of it left - something of the same sort that belonged to the English". For England, as Tolkien saw, lacks a coherent national mythology, such as the Norse and Celtic peoples have: all we have left is Beowulf and a few odd unconnected war or Christian religious Anglo-Saxon poems.

Tolkien set out explicitly to remedy this lack, to create a mythology for England, to give to his people a national epic to rank, if his abilities were equal to the task, with the Eddas, the Tales of the Red Branch and the Mabinogion.

Later Tolkien himself, visibly blushing at what he saw as his own effrontery, put it thus "Do not laugh! But once upon a time ... I had a mind to make a body of more or less connected legend, ranging from the large and cosmogenic to the level of romantic fairy story, the larger founded on the lesser in contact with the earth, the lesser drawing splendour from the vast back-cloths – which I could dedicate simply: to England, to my country."

Yet, as Professor Kocher rightly remarks (A Reader's Guide to the Silmarillion, Thames & Hudson 1980, p.2) "In spite of the defensive modesty which led Tolkien to speak of his undertaking as absurd and laughable, he was utterly serious in his design to create a mythology for England. His lifelong labours show that ... He need not have been so critical of his own patriotic wish to provide England with a fitting mythology."

So Tolkien's mythology, the Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, and the Silmarillion, and the vast corpus of fragments now being dutifully collated, edited and published by his son Christopher, doesn't just 'happen' to be set in North-west Europe, so that by chance its enemies all 'happen' to be visibly racially non-European.

It is European, North-West European and indeed specifically English ("The Shire is England" said its creator) because that is its whole point and purpose. It is intended as a national, a nationalist, epic, and it is nothing if not that.

So Tolkien's work is truly, uniquely our inspiration. For it does not just incorporate Nationalist ideas. It is a Nationalist idea. It was written, in half a century or more of patient effort, from the tumult of the First World War Flanders trenches to the quiet of an Oxford study, by one Englishman, to serve one nation.

It is not by chance that Tolkien's writings have touched a chord in the Nationalist heart. It resonates in sympathy with Tolkien's own, the great heart of a true and a visionary patriot, who saw that England alone amongst the nations of Britain lacked her own special story and dream, and set out to give her the national myth she lacked.

For we need a national myth, a national dream, to lift our land and our people from the soulless, cultureless, materialistic trance in which they slide to the abyss to a funeral march of American jungle rythms. The 'Sword that was Broken' must be forged anew. Tolkien began to do just that.

Boromir, at heart a good and valiant man, yet led to destruction by the temptation of power. A character with all too many parallels in the real world.