Friday, January 22, 2010

Misunderstood Mordor?

Here is a new set of insights into that myth of capitalism: The Lord of the Rings. Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky probe beneath the surface level and deconstruct this myth of genocide, violence, cultural superiority, monarchy, and evil. Mordor is misunderstood. The fate of the orcs is tragic. Aragorn is a drug smuggler, Gandalf is a dictator and Gondor-Rohan is a military-industrial complex. Here is my favorite bit - it deals with the council in Rivendell.
"Chomsky: Boromir's an interesting case. His culture is threatened by the Orcs in a very real way. But he's also seen that this occupation of Orc land is engendered by his people's own aggressive policies. So he's like an enlightened Israeli who looks at the situation and says, "If I were in their situation, I would be just like them."

Zinn: Boromir here is talking about the eye, and how horrible Mordor is, which reveals the basic limitations of his cultural situation. Boromir embodies the prejudices of his culture, but I too think he's an interestingly problematic figure. He's really the only one who understands… my God. Look at this. Keep in mind that these are supposed to be Middle Earth's enlightened people at this Council, and they're all fighting, they all hate one another.

Chomsky: It's just so complicated, the webs of relationships.

Zinn: Now Frodo, son of Drogo, agrees to take the ring to Mount Doom. Something tells me that no one in Mordor calls it Mount Doom.

Chomsky: And everyone baits Frodo into this. "You are our agent, going on a suicide mission. You have to do it for the Motherland."

Zinn: So is Frodo the Mohammed Atta figure in this story?

Chomsky: He's a fanatical true believer. And crazy. Obviously, totally insane.

Zinn: And listen to what Aragorn tells Frodo: "You have my sword."

Chomsky: So militaristic.

Zinn: Notice that no one says, "You have my diplomatic skills." I think the only real diplomat of Middle Earth is Gollum. He's the only one who makes any meaningful, cross-cultural exchange with any of these people. Being a torture victim at the hand of the Orcs, and his attempted strangulation of the Hobbits."

Frodo is a suicide bomber and completely insane. Mordor is misunderstood. Orcs are victims. Middle Earth is ruled by a violent, capitalistic, military industrial complex. The Marxist take on the history of Middle Earth makes about as much sense as its take on our history.

Read it all here. It is utterly hilarious!

1 comment:

youtube said...

Chomsky and Zinn - video on demand, on

Noam Chomsky

Reads NY Times for Paper Tiger

Howard Zinn: Paper Tiger/Class Dismissed and Axis of Evil. Perforated Praeter Naturam