Column | The radical right fans Tolkien because stories are an important part of our lives

The future Prime Minister of Italy Giorgia Meloni considers the Lord of the Rings books as her political guide. The fantasy world created by JRR Tolkien also appeals to politicians representing the radical right in Finland.

The column was originally edited on March 15, 2017 based on the published text.

The West gallant culture is at risk.

People moved in the east and south. There are many and they are coming. They are dark-skinned and speak coarse-sounding languages. They do not share our values, and our lifestyles cannot be reconciled.

We are the lesser descendants of our great ancestors. Before, the world was better and the blood was stronger. We stand on the last shore. We must fight or the flood will come after us.

This kind of rhetoric has been heard a lot in Europe recently, and politics is also made with it. However, the thoughts are not about the politics of the day, but the writer by J. R. R. Tolkien of works.

Giorgia Meloni, president of the Italian Brothers party.

Italian election winner, chairman of the Italian Brothers party Giorgia Meloni is an avid fantasy fan who has dabbled in dressing up as hobbit characters. He has said that he likes the creations of J. R. R. Tolkien Lord of the Rings – book series also as a political guideline.

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“I believe that Tolkien could say better what we conservatives believe in,” Meloni has said. “I do not like The Lord of the Rings as a fantasy.”

The New York Times reported in its article about the Italian far-right’s surprising connection to Tolkien.

Read more: Giorgia Meloni, the future prime minister of Italy, attended the hobbit camp of the Italian extreme right when she was young

Also served as chairman of the Basic Finns Jussi Halla-aho and former chairman of the parliamentary group Sampo Terho are both Tolkien fans.

Halla-aho has named Tolkien’s work as her first hobby. Sampo Terho, on the other hand, when he was younger, inspired by Tolkien, even dreamed of becoming a fantasy writer.

Politicians representing the radical right therefore use fantasy literature published almost 70 years ago in their rhetoric.

What kind of world view can be found in Tolkien’s books?

Tolkien was naturally his time and his world raised.

The academic gentlemen who fought in the First World War tended to be politically conservative. Tolkien himself did not want his works to be read as an allegory of world history. However, we have every right to look at them critically, as part of this world. It does not detract from the artistic excellence of the books.

I think it’s clear that Tolkien, at least unconsciously, wrote his own biases into his books.

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We Tolkien fans have formed our own way of dealing with this fact. Lord of the Rings -fantasy novel’s black and white world view is very familiar to us. The West and light-skinnedness equate to good. East, south and dark skin are mainly associated with evil. There are creatures like orcs that are thoroughly corrupted. Yes, there are exceptions to these, but these are the main guidelines.

But what does it matter if certain politicians like tolkien or not? It’s all about stories though, right?

No, it’s not just about the stories.

I am not interested in whether Tolkien may have influenced the development of the political views of Melon, Halla-aho and Terho. First of all, it’s impossible to answer, and it’s not even relevant.

But it’s worth thinking about how important stories really are to us.

I don’t think that stories and imaginations remain safely separated from real life, everyday life and the broad lines of politics. Stories are a central part of our lives in this Europe of the 2020s, where we have a weekend and a lot of free time anyway.

Stories are consumed, a lot. And they don’t stay on book covers, DVD cases or theater stages. That is, the stories that matter. They become part of what we think, feel and experience, whatever the cause and effect relationships are.

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We understand the world, other people, society and also politics as stories.

In party politics, stories are told out loud. Politics is a competition for whose story best meets the voters’ wishes for better and more right.

And these wishes of ours are also stories in the end. When we explain something to ourselves, we usually silently tell ourselves a story in our minds.

We tell ourselves a story when we think about what values ​​are worth working for, worth living for, or maybe even dying for.

Populist politics has taken a seemingly permanent place in our political imagination. The story of a sinking west told by the radical right, for example Giorgia Meloni, is a fantasy, only slightly more real than Tolkien’s stories.

But that doesn’t make it any less influential. There have always been periods in history when stories like this get a lot of listeners.

That’s why it’s not just about stories.

Read more: When the orcs were created, they were based on “representatives of the ugliest race” – Now Mika Loponen, who has argued on the subject, tells why it is right to remove racial stereotypes from the world’s most popular role-playing game

Correction 27.9. at 7:29 p.m. Sampo Terho has not acted as chairman of Basic Finns, but as chairman of the party’s parliamentary group.

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