To understand Bilbo, we need look no further than his creator, J.R.R. Tolkien. The clues are not only in Tolkien's collected letters, but also in the novels themselves.
Bilbo's nephew, Frodo, is a proponent of nonviolence near the end of The Lord of the Rings. Plus, Tolkien loved trees and detested the ugly side of industrialism. Surely if the Oxford don were alive today, the thinking goes, he would be a Prius-driving, organic smoothie-drinking, COEXIST bumper sticker-sporting liberal. Wouldn't he?
But wait. What of all the stuff in his work about honor, chivalry, family, battlefield courage and moral absolutes? Focusing on this, some on the left have concluded that, no, Tolkien must have been an old-fashioned dead white male conservative.
Both views can't be right. Is the truth somewhere in the middle? Was Tolkien a soft-edged moderate? Tolkien was a moderate beer drinker. He was a moderately good rugby player as a boy. But there was nothing moderate about his political views.
In the recently released The Hobbit Party: The Vision of Freedom That Tolkien Got, and the West Forgot coauthors Dr. Jay Richards, a Catholic, and Dr. Jonathan Witt, an Evangelical Christian, show how Tolkien's Middle-Earth novels championed liberty, trade and limited government, key issues in the upcoming midterm elections. They believe Tolkien's novels of Middle-Earth draw us a map to freedom and liberty, and that perhaps brushing up on our Tolkien lore can help us prepare for this midterm election vote.
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