Go to links

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

"Atlas Shrugged" vs. "Lord of the Rings"

As much as Ayn Rand's novel [Atlas Shrugged], with its strictly modernist message, could have been at some point in the past an effective remedy against the plagues of socialism and collectivism, the world described in it does not fit today's reality and does not help in introducing the idea of natural order. Today, it is no longer necessary to protect big business from people. On the contrary, it is people who need protection from big business, which now goes hand in hand with Leviathan in trying to create a homogenous and completely atomized society.

The Lord of the Rings shows not only the great danger associated with all attempts to defeat evil power by power, but it also teaches that collectives do not really exist, that every one of us is the hero of his own individual story, and that law and order can easily exist without the state. Despite its egoistic message, Atlas Shrugged is full of imperatives to act, to fight, to bring salvation. Rand's characters suffer not only because the state reaches into their wallets, but because the society rejected their rational, "enlightened" vision of what is good and right.

Tolkien, on the other hand, disliked such imperatives. He hated the outlook that if something can be done, it has to be done, and once even admitted that the greatest deeds of mind and spirit are born in abnegation.[16] That is most likely the reason his characters do not look for great challenges, nor wish to change the world, and instead live quietly, fulfilling Voltaire's dictum Il faut cultiver notre jardin.

This is what makes The Lord of the Rings a much better means for conceptualizing the ideas of freedom than Atlas Shrugged. Reading Tolkien helps realize that, even after the "end of history," the world and society can move in the direction of Merry Old England rather than a soulless homogenized mass of atoms. Moreover, The Lord of the Rings conveys an extremely important and optimistic message, namely that a plurality of many different cultures, languages, societies and visions, all existing together, yet separate and independent of each other, is still viable — not in a democratic regime, but in the new world of Hoppean natural order.
-- from "Tales of Titans and Hobbits" by Juliusz Jablecki

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home