Lord of the Rings: Do You Know The Enemy?

Indeed in nothing is the power of the Dark Lord more clearly shown than in the estrangement that divides all those who still oppose him. Yet so little faith do we find now in the world beyond Lothlorien, unless maybe in Rivendell, that we dare not by our own trust endanger our land. We live now upon an island amid many perils, and our hands are more often upon the bowstring than upon the harp. – Haldir, Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Rings

Distrust has been sewn among the ranks of all those who oppose the Dark Lord. But they are right to be distrustful! Bad things do happen, and blind trust is more likely to allow the enemy his chance at sabotage. And since they are so accustomed to having to defend themselves, a violent reaction becomes second nature.

But I want to live in a world where the hand is more often upon the harp. When force is being used widespread against peaceful people, how can we not be on our guard? We don’t want to be victims of attack by the government or fellow citizens, so we can’t go placing blind trust in strangers. Many of us today do feel that we live “upon an island amid many perils.”

So what must be destroyed is the Dark Lord, but to do this, power itself must be destroyed; Tolkien embodied this power in the Ring. And it is like that today as well. Who do you trust? Well this is the live and let live philosophy. Don’t take action against someone unless they try to impose force on you. If multiple groups are working towards the same goal, eliminating power monopolies and therefore the government, we should not fight amongst ourselves.

Right now movements fight amongst themselves. The right claims to hate the power that the government wields, and the left claims to hate the power that the corporations wield. Yet this power is one and the same. Corporations could not use force without the government selling them their power. It is therefore the power that must be destroyed. But today’s equivalent to Sauron is happy to have Republicans fighting with the Democrats about whose ideas will lead to less oppression.

The enemy is the power of force. The elves and dwarves should not be fighting while they both oppose the Dark Lord, and neither should conservatives and liberals while they both seek to solve problems in our society. And when either side wants to use force to solve these problems through government, they will be corrupted and become the evil that they once fought to eradicate.

Indeed, many on the left and the right simply want “their side” to win, and gladly use the force government has to offer. They are the enemy, agents of Sauron. We should not be fooled by someone in our own movement, whatever that may be, who claims to believe in freedom, and then seeks to use force. And likewise we should not categorize everyone in a rival movement, when they may be working for the same goal. The test is easy: do they want to use force to get their way, or are their ideas good enough to stand alone?

If we all properly recognize the enemy as those who use force to get their way, instead of mutually beneficial transactions and agreements, we can join forces and achieve the better world, by destroying the ring of power, and destroying the power of force. And when that force is no longer legitimized with the magic word “government”, our hands will be more often on the harp.

Lord of the Rings: Let’s Use the Power for Good!

‘True hearted men, they will not be corrupted. We of Minas Tirith have been staunch through long years of trial. We do not desire the power of wizard-lords, only strength to defend ourselves, strength in a just cause. And behold! in our need chance brings to light the Ring of Power. It is a gift, I say; a gift to the foes of Mordor. It is mad not to use it, to use the power of the enemy against him…’

‘And they tell us to throw it away!’ he cried. ‘I do not say destroy it. That might be well if reason could show any hope of doing so. It does not.’ Boromir, Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Rings

Essentially Boromir is saying that all we need is the right people in positions of power, and everything will be fine. But he leaves out the important part about how we will make sure only good men are in positions of power, especially when power attracts the worst type of men.

Boromir’s folly is that he trusts men, even himself, with power. And how tempting it can be! If I was dictator of earth right now, I could create a paradise! But would I? Reason suggests such is impossible. As noble as I know myself to be, I cannot predict what that sort of power would do to me. Would I, would anyone, really be able to give up that type of power of force? Slowly the control would take over, and we would make excuses for ourselves as to why we needed to continue our rule. Just around the corner would always be the goal that if reached, surely we would give it up!

What I love is that Boromir admits that destroying the ring would be the best option, but that it is impossible to do so. I often hear people tell me that anarchy sounds good in theory, but reason shows no hope of attaining such freedom. So instead, they say, agreeing with Boromir, we must wield power in order to eradicate the world of evil… and then maybe we can destroy the ring.

This is sort of the same thing the communists said. We don’t want to keep the power once there is a dictatorship, we just need to eliminate the evil exploiters of the proletariat, and then control will be abolished, and everyone will live on in peace and equality forever. But people like Lenin and Stalin never destroyed the ring, they kept in and wielded it for either, just as all had before them.

Boromir is noble, yet before the first book is over he has attempted to take the Ring of Power from Frodo by force. Its allure is too strong for him. Even though he truly desires the Ring to protect Gondor and Middle Earth from Mordor, even outside his possession the Ring manifests evil through him. He was willing to steal from Frodo, to violently rob him at least, in order to gain power, the power of force.

As treacherous and unattainable as it may seem to destroy the Ring, it is the only option for lasting good to reign. If any remnant of legitimized force remains, then it is only a matter of time until Sauron rises again. This is why any bit of government that exists will eventually grow itself into evil that dominates all it touches.

We must start from the position that force is never okay, but only agreement and mutual benefit. Never can a peaceful individual who has harmed no one be deprived of his labour, life, or freedom. It must be recognized that anyone who inflicts such damage on him, even under the guise of government, through taxes, or “the greater good”, must be punished accordingly based on his transgression.

Destroy the Ring, destroy the power of force, for it is the only option if we are to hence forth recognize any aggression as wrong. No “necessary” evil, no brutal force to make the trains run on time, no local authority with the power of force, under the excuse that it is too small to ever become evil.

Force itself is evil, and it must never be given an excuse, or a disguise in the form of government.

Lord of the Rings: Power Can Corrupt the Best

‘You are wise and fearless and fair, Lady Galadriel,’ said Frodo. ‘I will give you the One Ring, if you ask for it. It is too great a matter for me.’

Galadriel laughed with a sudden and clear laugh. ‘Wise the Lady Galadriel may be,” she said, ‘yet here she has met her match in courtesy. Gently are you revenged for my testing of your heart at our first meeting. You begin to see with a keen eye. I do not deny that my heart has greatly desired to ask what you offer. For many long years I had pondered what I might do, should the Great Ring come into my hands, and behold! it was brought within my grasp. The evil that was devised long ago works on in many ways, whether Sauron himself stands of falls. Would not that have been a noble deed to set to the credit of the Ring, if I had taken it by force or fear from my guest?

‘And now at last it comes. You will give me the Ring freely! In place of the Dark Lord you will set up a Queen. And I shall not be dark, but beautiful and terrible as the Morning and the Night! Fair as the Sea and the Sun, and the Snow upon the Mountain! Dreadful as the Storm and the Lightning! Stronger than the foundations of the earth! All shall love me and despair!’

She lifted her hand and from the ring that she wore there issued a great light that illuminated her alone and left all else dark. She stood before Frodo seeming now tall beyond measurement, and beautiful beyond enduring, terrible and worshipful. Then she let her hand fall, and the light faded, and suddenly she laughed again, and lo! she was shrunken: a slender elf-woman, clad in simple white, whose gentle voice was soft and sad. –Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring

Yet amazingly, Galadriel says no to the power offered her. You would be hard pressed to find many with control these days giving up that opportunity. But what Galadriel realizes, is that none can properly wield the power of force. Even almost god-like creatures would be hard pressed to keep the power under their control. It will corrupt all those who wield it.

And the evil of the ring will last, even if Sauron does not. The evil that is created by growing the power of force will live on, whoever sits upon the throne. The person wielding the power may very well be evil, but the power itself is at the root of the evil. Always will there be someone next in line to step up and take control.

At first, surely Lady Galadriel would use the Ring for good, and vanquish the evil that once flourished with the Ring. But soon a new evil would rise, because problems will inevitably rear their heads. Without ultimate power, these problems would be solved in a way where all parties agree. But with the power of force, the temptation would be too large to force all those to bend to your will.

As noble as her first intentions may be, solving problems with force would not yield peace in the long run. With the power of the ring, the elves could have stayed in middle earth, and forced all others to stay out of “their realm”. But Galadriel passes on the power, and eventually the elves decide to leave middle earth, because their time has passed.

Do you think someone running for office would behave as Galadriel, and pass up the Ring? Of course not, they are seeking the Ring, and we choose to give it to them! Just like Frodo, we are afraid of the power, and feel helpless. But unlike Frodo, the ones to whom we offer the Ring gladly take it: some start with good intentions, some know they are evil from the beginning.

But like Frodo, we must seek only to destroy the Ring, as tempting as handing it off may be. It is a dangerous task, one that will take us to the depths of Mordor where evil will surround us, and seek to destroy us before we can destroy the power of force. But it is still in our power to do so.

Frodo was lucky, first Gandalf, and then Galadriel deny the Ring when offered to them by Frodo. We will find no such saints. We have the power to destroy the Ring, by offering it to no one, by refusing to be ruled, and by shrugging the yolk of authority from our shoulders.

We want to find a good ruler, but how can we expect to do so when even Gandalf and Galadriel do not trust themselves with power? They understand that they cannot free Frodo, he must do so himself. We cannot expect to be freed by a leader of government, by someone who will wield the Ring for good; none can! Instead we must walk ourselves to the mountain, and caste the Ring in the fire from which it was forged.

Philosophically we must be ready to rule ourselves. It will be a struggle akin to Frodo’s journey to the mountain. We will want to give up, we will be tempted to give power to those we see as good, not wanting the responsibility of self governance. But if we persevere, we can and will destroy the power of force, and live in peace and equality.

We must become 7 billion sovereign citizens by destroying the idea that is it right to be ruled. None can wield the Ring for good, none can govern better than a man can govern himself. We must take control of our own lives, we must take personal responsibility, stop looking for a savior, and be the change we want to see in the world.

Lord of the Rings: A Lesson on Power

For he is very wise, and weighs all things to a nicety in the scales of his malice. But the only measure that he knows it desire, desire for power; and so he judges all hearts. Into his heart the thought will not enter that any will refuse it, that having the ring we seek to destroy it. If we seek this, we shall put him out of his reckoning. –Gandalf, Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring

Gandalf is speaking of Sauron, the Dark Lord whose power is returning steadily. Sauron seeks the Ring of Power, which he forged ages ago, but lost. The Ring has an evil power of its own to corrupt, and bring out the worst lust for dominance. But with it comes strength. Gandalf is correct; Sauron, the creator of the most ultimate power ever seen by middle earth, views the Ring through the only lens he knows: the infinite and insurmountable desire for control over everything and everyone.

What Gandalf is saying, is that those who wield power cannot even fathom that anyone with the opportunity to freely take whatever power may be available to them, would refuse to do so. Those who want to exert their will over others through force are often too blinded by their desires to understand that others have different values and goals. Some people just want to live a happy life, knowing that others are in equal peace as well.

It would not occur to the Dark Lord that anyone who holds power, might destroy that power so that none may ever use it for evil again. Likewise it does not occur to many statists that those who seek to destroy the evil that is the state do not have ulterior motives (for instance, rising to power in the vacuum), but rather wish to destroy the power of force itself, so that none can wield it, nor the evil it brings.

Symbolism of the Ring

But what is the true symbolism behind the Ring? For what was this entire novel an analogy? Tolkien said himself it was not about World War II. It was broader than that. The lesson from Lord of the Rings applies now as it applied when it was first written, and will apply until the One Ring is destroyed, and forgotten.

The Ring is power: it is called in the text, the Ring of Power. But how can power itself be destroyed? Well the answer cannot be put into a sentence. It can hardly be put into a novel, but J.R.R. Tolkien tried to address the concept in his trilogy. He couldn’t simply say, and Frodo destroyed power so no one wielded unjust force. But symbolized by the ring, Frodo could do this. Through examining the story, points can be extracted about how to destroy a specific type of power. It is the power that Sauron created and exerted through force.

Defining Power

The power of force is what I am referencing. There are of course other kinds of power: economic power, the power of love, social power, the power to cure. But the power of force is the enemy to the golden rule, live and let live, do unto other as you would have them do to you; essentially the same as the non-agression principle. This type of power is always unjust to use, because it is not in response to aggression.

I am not sure if he knew it, but J.R.R. Tolkien laced his novels with strong anarchist messages. No one can wield the power of force for good. Only by destroying that power can good win over evil in the long term. The most noble and honorable characters in the books could not wield the Ring for good, and only by being guardian to its destruction did they restore peace and prosperity to the realm.

This summer I will be posting a series of essays on the classic trilogy Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien. Using quotes from the book, I will draw a parallel to how destroying the One Ring in the novel in order to restore peace to middle earth, compares to how abolishing the force and power used by government is the only way to achieve peace and equality in the real world.