2021/02/03

Use the Ring

Isildur One Ring

Conservatives are fond of invoking the Ring of Power from J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings as a symbol of government power. It's easy to see the attraction that metaphor holds for them. Having raised individual liberty and limited government to cardinal virtues, a talisman of ultimate control fits their image of the shadowy, vaguely superhuman bureaucracy in Washington.

In Tolkien's masterpiece, the plot was a type of anti-quest wherein the heroes had to overcome long odds--not to recover some powerful artifact, but to destroy it. Meanwhile, a Dark Lord seeking world domination was after the same prize. The spoils were winner take all with no silver medal for second place. Those conditions set a nuclear doomsday clock-sized timer that kept the tension high.

Conservatives' penchant for equating the One Ring with government explains itself when you consider that it lets them cast themselves as the underdog Fellowship striving to destroy the source of tyranny--or in their case, return America to Constitutional government. It's a highly flattering image.

There are a couple of problems with that allegory, though. First of all, the Fellowship's goal wasn't placing checks on the Ring. They were out to destroy it, specifically because its power was illimitable. Following the analogy to its logical conclusion, Conservatives actually propose something more along the lines of Frodo's original idea: managing the Ring by keeping it out of the wrong hands. Due to its corrupting influence, that also meant refusing to use it himself.

Tolkien staunchly resisted attempts to frame Lord of the Rings as an allegory, and here we have a good reason why. Plugging "government" into the story for all values of the Ring results in something more like anarchism. The story itself contradicts this reading, since one of the good guys' victory conditions is crowning a new king. Tolkien's opus can more readily be seen as two groups of monarchists slugging it out with a small faction of distributists deciding which monarchy wins.

The other issue is that it's far too late to destroy the Ring. Proposing a return to the Constitution is closing the barn door after the horses have not only left, but have been shipped to China for stew meat.

Here's Conservative commentator Bill Whittle declaring that the Enemy already had the Ring way back in 2012:


If a normiecon like Whittle considered Obama-era shenanigans a Game Over scenario, we have to see runaway tech censorship, the jailing of political prisoners, and police snipers enforcing the corruption of children as the Eye of Sauron triumphant.

The Conservative project might've had merit while there was still a chance of bringing the state to heel through grassroots organizing and voting in the right people. Now, by their own measure, Conservatives are about as relevant as the Whigs. The folks running establishment Conservatism know this. That's why their operation has shifted toward milking Boomers for cruise money while pushing butt stuff on college kids.

Point this out to Conservatives, and they'll often quote from Lewis' Abolition of Man or Tolkien's line about fighting the long defeat. That attitude makes sense coming from British men of letters who held a vestigial fondness for pagan stoicism and who'd seen the two apocalyptic 20th century wars. One wonders what they'd say if they saw that England will be minority English by next century and heard that the state can rip children from their fathers' arms for summary castration.

Tolkien never showed us what would happen if Sauron won. Now we're seeing it firsthand. Clown World thwarts the Ring metaphor.

Perhaps an alternate timeline sequel to LotR would have seen a daring burglar stealing the Ring back from under the Dark Lord's nose. 2016 actually gave Conservatives the chance to play out that scenario--to try Boromir's way and use the Ring now that all bets are off--or else destroy it. They squandered their last chance to do both. The urge to languish on the sofa and sigh about the long defeat proved irresistible.

The current kleptocracy cannot be reformed. The silver lining is that it's certain to collapse under its own incoherence. Soviet Russia took 70 years to do the same. Dissidents can hasten the process by gradually and discreetly inflating the expense of rulership for our elites. The more they tighten their fist, the more easily the Ring will slip from their fingers. Firmer hands with no irrational fear of wielding power in service to friends and to the detriment of enemies must be waiting to seize the moment.

The swelling ranks of dissenters won't repeat Conservatives' mistakes. Their task is to slowly scale the mountain until they stand where Boromir did. And this time, they'll use the Ring.


19 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. Funny that they will quote Lewis but not Chesterton.

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    1. Chesterton was memoryholed hard after he died. If it wasn't for people like Joseph Pearce or Dale Ahlquist he would have been forgotten and we would all be worse off.

      Yet another thing conservatives didn't conserve. But hey, anyone like Cardi B?

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    2. Eww...nope. Not even. Dressing (and singing?) like a fat stripper is empowering to women? Only in clown world.
      I don't see any of the appeal, except to poke a finger in the eyes of people that the Left don't like.

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    3. Chesterton was too anti-Big Business for what post-War conservatism became.

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    4. My favorite rationalization of theirs is convicting Chesterton of gluttony in absentia.

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    5. Antisemite, socialist, and "dangerous" (thanks for that one, Hitch) were common reasons he was neglected by the "based" crowd while the woke crowd hate him for just about every religious writing he ever did. Too extreme for centrists, to Christ-pilled for the pagan larpers.

      Truly the best writer of the 20th century.

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    6. May God hasten his canonization!

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    7. Anyone who hasn't yet read Heretics, Orthodoxy, and The Eternal Man should do so pronto.

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    8. You think Chesterton's forgotten? Try his good friend Belloc. But I know why Belloc was buried.

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  3. Con Inc. in this case is like the elves. They say that using the ring is too dangerous, and though they advocate for destroying it, they won't, given the chance (though Tolkien's elves admit it while ours don't), and the reason is the same. The elves' powers derive from the ring, and destroying it will destroy them. Con Inc. can't grift if the ring is destroyed, so they will never pull the trigger.

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    1. It is never clear just WHY Elrond just stood there yelling at Isildur, telling him to destroy the ring... and then he watched as Isildur rode away.
      A little "tough love" in the right time and place would have saved so many lives in the future.

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    2. We may not do evil that good may come of it, and the only way to destroy the Ring at that point would have been through forcing him to do so or casting him into the Fire with it.

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    3. "That dude is walking away with the suitcase nuke we were supposed to defuse, but the only way he'll be stopped is if he's restrained or shot, so we have to let him go."

      That's not how the principle of double effect works.

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  4. One of the problems is that professional cons tend to look at it all as some kind of rhetorical exercise with no real world consequences. At the moment, they are so focused about how "right" they were about Trump, that they are missing the shit show that is Biden. I guess they plan on being the last against the wall.

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  5. Elrond did not try to take the Ring from Isildur because, if he had, the Ring would have gained enough control over him to stop him from destroying it - and Elrond knew that this was how the Ring worked. It was no mere instrument, as a normal weapon would be, but had a will of its own.

    The Ring is not the State. The Ring is sin. To use it, even against Sauron, is to become like Sauron. All the Wise in the story say so. Boromir falls because he wants to turn the Ring against Sauron; his brother Faramir lives because he sees Boromir's folly for what it is.

    The Ring's modern parallel is the Death Cult's use of systematic falsehood to rule - requiring people to affirm arrant nonsense on penalty of being ostracized and prevented from earning a livelihood. No one can do this without being corrupted. Do not, for God's sake, urge anyone to "use the Ring" - no good can ever come of it.

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  6. Don't look at me. By philosophical inclination, I'm actually an anarchist. It seems almost definitional to me by this point that anything the government does, it does badly. So why have it?

    I don't know how we'd get there, but I've yet to hear a clear explanation why I'm wrong about this.

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    1. Read the book of Judges.

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  7. You should know that those protesting did put the kibosh on drag queen storytime. To this day library staff are warned that taking on a project like this for young people is risky . Grass roots gamer gate style resistance is effective.

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