Saturday, December 20, 2008

Never Would Have Guessed It

Sauron was a fascist, an implementer of the devil's theories:

After joining his new master in Middle-earth, he proved to be a devoted and capable servant: “While Morgoth still stood, Sauron did not seek his own supremacy, but worked and schemed for another, desiring the triumph of Melkor, whom in the beginning he had adored. He thus was often able to achieve things, first conceived by Melkor, which his master did not or could not complete in the furious haste of his malice.”[19] “In all the deeds of Melkor the Morgoth upon Arda, in his vast works and in the deceits of his cunning, Sauron had a part.”[20]

A sort of Goebbels-Himmler type to Melkor's Hitler. (Wingnuts would say he's Lenin to Melkor's Marx.)

The time would come, however, when Sauron was almost wholly consumed by evil. Tolkien wrote that he did not think there could be such a thing as "Absolute Evil" ("since that is Zero"), but "in my story Sauron represents as near an approach to wholly evil as is possible. He had gone the way of all tyrants, beginning well, at least on the level that while desiring to order all things according to his own wisdom he still at first considered the (economic) well-being of other inhabitants of the Earth. But he went further than human tyrants in pride and the lust for domination, being in origin an immortal (angelic) spirit."[2]

Now this probably sounds like socialism to a wingnut, but to me it sounds like neoliberalism.

Gandalf went for advice to Saruman the White, leader of the White Council, but discovered that Saruman had been corrupted by his long studies of Sauron. Using the palantír in the tower of Orthanc, Saruman was now in communication with the Dark Lord and acted as his ally, though he also secretly hoped to gain the Ring for himself and use its power to supplant Sauron.

I like this; it's an instance of what could be called the "Apt Pupil" syndrome, the corruption of scholars of the historically morbid.

It literally never occurred to Sauron that his enemies were attempting to send the Ring into Mordor to unmake it at Mount Doom. Rather he took it completely for granted that they would try to access and use its power. Sauron regarded all his opponents, even up to Manwë Lord of the Valar, simply as rivals for world dominion and just as cynical as himself: “His cynicism, which (sincerely) regarded the motives of Manwë as precisely the same as his own, seemed fully justified in Saruman. Gandalf he did not understand."[54] Exploiting this blindspot in Sauron's psychology had been Gandalf's strategy all along: "Into his heart the thought will not enter that any will refuse [power], that having the Ring we may seek to destroy it. If we seek this, we shall put him out of reckoning."[55]

Cynicism. This is no doubt true of all who abuse power -- not only of their own nature, but true with regard to how dimly they perceive the actual motives of decent people. Self-abdication always perplexes the power-mad; sometimes they are so thrilled with bewilderment that they fetishize the abdicator, witness the leaders of Rome, the Italian Republic, and Anglo-America in the respective cases of Cincinnatus, Garibaldi, and Edward VIII*. Proof, to me, is in the examples of the Founders: both Washington and Jefferson considered chasing power an unseemly endeavor. Both were embarassed by it. Yet both, at the same time, did exactly that -- often, behind the scenes, in a most rabid and ruthless way. Typically American in their hypocrisy, they knew better than to do what they did. They did it anyway, all the while denying it.

*In the Duke of Windsor's case, ignorantly.