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Saturday, May 02, 2009


Ugh, I knew Moore was a liberal tool. In fact, I remember when I was a Wobblie and we were trying to get him to cancel his Borders engagements in solidarity with a couple of Wobs that a Borders in Philly had fired for attempting to organize. He completely ignored us until he hit a Borders store in (Lexington was it? I don't remember) where the local Wob branch had managed to pull out a respectable couple hundred folks, at which point Moore invited them in to state their position (which they should not have agreed to I still feel) and then proceeded to ignore us for the rest of the book promotion tour. But! Even though I knew that, that paean to Obama is just so utterly craven and shameless it still managed to surprise me.

I understand the mindset--it's the way I feel about Aragorn. When I read LOTR, I enter into the fantasy world and I adopt some of the politics and I feel great reverence and loyalty to the good king, the man born to lead, the noble hero willing to suffer great hardships for decades and lay down his life for his people, and someone who is humble and yet makes all the right decisions and deserves to be king. If Aragorn popped into our world I'd vote for him in a heartbeat, and I'd probably start a blog and say all sorts of embarrassing things on it.

Maybe there's some need to believe in Great Leaders in this way--you certainly see this mentality on display in both parties, except that people don't seem to realize they're worshipping a fantasy figure.

Maybe there's some need to believe in Great Leaders in this way...

Nahh, if that was the case there'd be billions of people around the world subscribing to irrational notions of all-powerful, benevolent beings who deserve not just our admiration but our worship. But since there's nothing of the sort in human experience, your point is clearly mistaken.

Donald, that is one of the things that irked me about LOTR when I finally got around to reading it -- though "irked" isn't really the right word, come to think of it. Rather, it clarified something for me. There was a passage somewhere, probably in the third book, where Sam looks at Aragorn and realizes that he, a mere humble hobbit, was not meant or born to rule, but Aragorn was. I realized that in Middle Earth, this was true, which was one more thing I don't like about Middle Earth: racism is valid there because there really are different kinds of people and some people are born to be kings (as shown later on when Aragorn is crowned and heals the wounded by the laying on of hands) while others are born to be subjects. I think this is one reason why many people like the trilogy, because they'd like to live in a world like that, or at least think they would. In our world, of course, those who rule are not a different kind of people (though scientific racists still try to prove that they are) from those they rule over. Still, many of the ruled believe that they are not the kind of people whose opinions matter, that they should defer to the Great, who are more real somehow than they are.

Maybe it'd be okay if you started a blog but instead refrained from saying all sorts of embarrassing things.

Um, isn't that pretty much the entire point of a blog?

I'm sure this point has been made many times before, but "Roger and Me" is better understood as an expression of disappointment in a bad Corporate Leader, Roger Smith, than as a critique of the corporate system itself. Remember, as Martin Luther King said of his own "disappointment" at the U.S. invasion of Vietnam, "There can be no great disappointment where there is not great love."

Just two sides of the same coin: wrath directed at elites who aren't fulfilling their noblesse oblige, and love directed at other elites who are going to lead us to the promised land.

Like Oprah, Arianna and the Kennedys, Michael Moore is a rich liberal. Obama is a rich liberal's appointee. I don't begrudge anyone their money, as long as the working people don't get sucked dry. Moore has left the working people ages ago, indeed scampered off in a hurry.


I wouldn't mind living in Middle Earth, though I think it might be rather dull much of the time and when it wasn't it would either be because one was taking long arduous journeys by foot to some lovely Elvish vacation spots or alternatively, because one was about to be eaten by a dragon. But Middle Earth is different from the real world because there we have different species of hominids who really are "differently abled" and not just in a PC way, but have varied talents. That's not racist in itself--it's racist if you think the real world is like that one (though 50,000 years ago we did have different species of hominids running around). Also, Tolkien's heroes are the multiculturalists, the members of each species who genuinely respect the others. The bad guys (including bad elves, though you only find those in the Silmarillion rather than LOTR) are the ones with the superiority complex and contempt for other species.

Tolkien does have some racism in him and there are a few passages that make me cringe, but I think that he's a product of his era and as racists go, he was more foolish rather than malicious. (That is, there are some racists who seem to delight in their hatred of the other, while some racists merely seem like people with stupid prejudices that they grew up with and haven't questioned. It was easier to be that way if you grew up in Tolkien's era.) Tolkien has this thing about "swarthiness", but he also has Sam wondering whether the dead Haradrim soldier wouldn't have preferred staying at home rather than fighting in a distant land. And his bad guy Numenoreans in the Silmarillion initially show their badness by their desire to go and rule over others. Tolkien is an anti-imperialist, at least in his mythology.

As for the love of monarchy, it's also stupid, of course, but it works fine for me in a fantasy, where kings really are noble. Tolkien's Middle Earth politics applied here would be moronic.

See, this is the sort of crap you'd get if I blogged. Whereas as things stand, I just tuck it away harmlessly in a comment section somewhere.

SteveB: I'm sure this point has been made many times before...

If it has I haven't seen it, and I think it's a very good one.

Just two sides of the same coin: wrath directed at elites who aren't fulfilling their noblesse oblige, and love directed at other elites who are going to lead us to the promised land.

And I suppose that even applies somewhat to "elites" like Moore himself at this point, doesn't it? We're always looking to leaders (at one level or another) when we should be looking to ourselves.

On the other hand, Moore's essentially one of us who's managed to wrangle a major media platform for himself and who used to use that platform to say highly worthwhile things. And still does, of course...but that's nonetheless why it's sad to see that he's so snowed.

Donald: If you posted that on ATR you'd get an avalanche of comments—it'd be a full-on political geek-fest.

Donald, I basically agree with you, and from what I gather Tolkien's politics were rather more progressive than even you give him credit for; I think I read that he opposed the Vietnam War, for example. It's just that I don't find such a world an attractive fantasy either.

I'd rather read your putative blog posts than Bernard Chazelle's or TGGP's, myself. I don't think it's crap at all. But I'm evil, so consider the source.

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