Smaug the Magnificent: A Critical Analysis of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Anarcho-monarchism

Michael Hayes  Marquette University

For all of the political machinations at work in The Lord of the Rings, there is astonishingly little detail paid to political institutions in it or any of J.R.R. Tolkien’s works. Although readers may use such resources as The Lord of the Rings’ monolithic series of appendices to trace the names and deeds of kings back to the Elder Days, the author has surprisingly little to say about how governments throughout Middleearth actually function; so much attention is paid to the figure who occupies the throne that little to no description is
provided as to what kingship actually entails in Tolkien’s world. In a universe where rulers are the primary actors, this seems like a striking omission.

Even so, ever since the beginning of Tolkien’s mainstream success readers have been fascinated by the regimes of Middleearth and have sought to peer deeper into their designs. As far back as 1969, scholars like Malcolm Barnett evaluated the different political structures of Tolkien’s works and consider the implications of each (383). Such analyses have only proliferated in modern times, as Peter Jackson’s critically acclaimed cinematic adaption of The Lord of the Rings reintroduced Tolkien into popular culture. For the most part, authors have looked at Middleearth politics through a democratic lens: theorists like Dominic Nardi seem largely interested in the legendarium’s attitudes toward democracy and the ways in which authoritarian regimes display varying levels of liberalization within their hierarchies (109).


Categories: Anarchism/Anti-State

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