The Hobbit Party: The Vision of Freedom that Tolkien Got, and the West Forgot by Jay Richards & Jonathan Witt

(San Francisco: Ignatius, 2014), 190

Chapter 1 - Big Government

  • Books Mentioned:
  • Tolkien was a lifelong enemy of big government in every form (16)
  • "No one can be a t the same time a good Catholic and a true socialist" (17, 191 (Quadragesimo Anno))
  • "four overarching themes of Western tradition": natural law, freedom, the transcendent, and the doctrine of the Fall (191)
  • don't fall into the temptation of cynicism (18)
  • Tolkien didn't like allegory because it took freedom from the reader (19)
  • Tolkienomics: much of modern economics is misguided because it doesn't have a proper vision of the human person (20-21)
    • Generalism: Tolkien was an integrative thinker with "deep and varied experience"
  • Leadership: "The most improper job of any man, even saints, is bossing other men. Not one in a million is fit for it, and least of all those who seek the opportunity." (25, from LOTR prologue)
  • Technology: Tolkien despised monolithic global consumer culture but appreciated a healthy use of technology (25-26)
  • de Tocqueville's warning about America: "petty, complicated, detailed, and uniform rules" (26-31)
    • Tolkien warns against this culture of "soft despotism" (29)

Chapter 2 - Adventure

  • Books Mentioned:
    • Hamlet (41-42)
    • Orthodoxy by Chesterton (42)
  • discussion of Hippies and [misreading] Tolkien (40)
  • Tolkien intentionally left religion out of ~The Lord of the Rings, and thought its inclusion in King Arthur weakened it (43)
    • Tolkien's writing is Catholic in nature, but not name
  • discussion of the importance of property rights (47-51)

Chapter 3 - Market

  • Books Mentioned:
    • Joseph Ratzinger's Crisis of Reason from Regensburg address
    • The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism by Novak (55, 196)
    • J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the Century by Tom Shippey
  • Smaug and a discussion of the proper virtues but also temptations of vice of both the aristocracy and bourgeois (54-60)
  • Humility: it's the ultimate pragmatism because it's the ultimate realism, as displayed by Bilbo (63)
  • Hagstrom: "hospitality reflects a radically different and compelling alternative to tolerance" (64)

Chapter 4 - Power Corrupts

  • connection to pornography: "the power to see others while remaining unseen is a power that 'corrupts absolutely'" (75)
  • "in the literary arts each reader participates in creation" (78)

Chapter 5 - Evil & Freedom

  • Books Mentioned:
    • Following Gandalf by Dickerson
  • discussion of evil (85+)
    • "the objective and subjective aspects of evil are united in the choices of free creatures" (88)
    • Lord's Prayer includes both "lead us not into temptation" and "deliver us from evil"
  • First person plural pointing to the Trinity in Genesis (95-96)
  • freedom: "freedom is only possible if God does exist" (98)
  • providence: God can bring good even out of our evil choices (98)
    • "providence doesn't destroy our freedom but rather guarantees it" (99)
  • politics:
    • "Tolkien emphasized the need for a moral culture to maintain freedom" (104)
    • "sin is the main reason we need government and also the main reason to limit government" (104)
    • Tolkien's ideal: ordered liberty, limited government, and freedom for excellence (105)

Chapter 6 - Just War

  • nuances of realism and pacifism and how just war theory fits between these (110-111)
  • Just war: war that is pursued publicly, as a last resort but with a realistic chance for success, by the proper authority for the right reasons to accomplish a just cause without using far more force than is needed to win (112)
  • W. H. Auden: "Evil has every advantage but one—it is inferior in imagination" (113)

Chapter 7 - Scourging of the Shire

  • Books Mentioned:
    • How Civilizations Die by David Goldman
  • mis-reading of Tolkien to associate him too closely with Rousseau (who thought people were not sinful) (126)
  • Marxism is economic theory out of touch with human nature (132)
  • Having children: "a culture's lack of fertility is the effect and cause of cultural decline" (139)

Chapter 8 - Localism

  • Books Mentioned:
    • Basic Economics by Sowell (208)
    • Small is Beautiful by E.F. Schumacher (147)
    • Everything I Want to Do Is Illegal by Joel Salatin (153)
    • The Country Farmer by Gene Logsdon
    • Essay on the Restoration of Property & The Servile State by Belloc (157)
    • Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt (211)
    • Common Sense Economics by James Gwartney et. al. (211)
    • Money, Greed, and God by Jay Richards
  • Schumacher: modern capitalist economies are unsustainable (147)
  • interesting: JPII was buried in a simple wooden coffin (148)
  • localism is good, but globalism is helpful too as long as not due to collusion/cronyism (150+)
  • Distributism:
    • Distributism: a third way between capitalism and socialism with a deep nostalgia for pastoral life (157)
    • don't over-romanticize the Middle Ages (158)
    • Belloc's error: like Marx/Engels, he mistakenly things the economic pie is fixed in size (160)
    • the distributist paradox: "a claim for equality of material position can be met only by a government with totalitarian powers" (161)
    • verdict: Tolkien was not a distributist
  • Economists to read: Joel Salatin and F.A. Hayek (209)
  • "When the German currency collapsed after World War I, peasants with land fared much better than the average city dweller." --> thoughts for a coming economic collapse (210)
  • See note 62: "For Catholics the goal should be to integrate the known truths and theoretical insights of economics with the normative truths and principles of ethics, Catholic social teaching, and ultimately, theology." (211)

Chapter 9 - Death

  • Tolkien: central theme of LOTR is "death and the desire for deathlessness" (168)


  • J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the Century by Tom Shippey

New Words

  • quotidian: of or occurring every day; daily. (55)
  • eucatastrophe: a happy ending (86)
  • peripatetic: traveling from place to place, in particular working or based in various places for relatively short periods. (136)
  • de rigueur: required by etiquette or current fashion. (151)
  • prolegomena: a critical or discursive introduction to a book. (162)

Notes started: 2019-03-24
Last updated: 2023-04-06-Thu