It's official. The Catholic Knight is retired.  I'm hanging up the helmet and passing the torch. There will be no more articles, no more commentaries, no more calls to action. THIS BLOG IS CLOSED. I've spent a very long time thinking about this, I believe the time has come, and is a bit overdue.  I want to thank my readers for everything, but most especially for your encouragement and your willingness to go out there and fight the good fight. So, that being the case, I've spend the last several weeks looking for bloggers who are fairly active, and best represent something akin to the way I think and what I believe.  I recommend the following blogs for my readers to bookmark and check on regularly. Pick one as your favourite, or pick them all. They are all great..... In His Majesty's Service, THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

On TEA Parties and Hobbits...

Anime Cartoon of Hobbits
THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT:  So the topic of hobbits has entered the American political landscape.  Why this happened, nobody knows, except to say that now some G.O.P. Republicans and Wall Street giants have decided this is a great way to describe those Americans who have faithfully supported the grassroots TEA Party movement.  If this was intended to be an insult, than it was done with very poor aim, because I rather like hobbits, and think this just goes to show the TEA Party is really a Distributist movement at heart, rather than a Libertarian movement, as some mistakenly believe.  That is what has both the mainstream Democrats and Republicans scared out of their minds.

It's funny really, because the TEA Party movement is the one and only reason why Republicans did so well in the 2010 election cycle, and it's their one and only chance at doing well in the 2012 election cycle.  So why on earth would some Republicans attack the TEA Party?  Seems rather stupid when you think about it.  That stupidity all begins to make perfect sense however, when you realize the intended insult is really quite a complement.

The hobbits were mythical creatures in J.R. Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" trilogy and "The Hobbit," fantasy adventure novels.  Tolkien was a Roman Catholic and a contemporary of C.S. Lewis who was an Anglican.  Both men sought to incorporate Christian morality into literary fantasy.  Lewis created the beloved "Chronicles of Narnia" allegory series mainly designed for children, while Tolkien preferred a more classical and adult approach, attempting to create a truly original source of Christian mythology and storytelling, that simply incorporated the principles of Christian thought in deeply veiled allegory that is almost undetectable, except under very close examination.  In Tolkien's novels, the hobbits were self-sacrificing heroes who saved the world.  In the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Frodo Baggins is a hobbit who takes on a nearly Christ-like character, carrying the evil ring which nobody else could bear.  In the mythical world of "middle earth," the hobbits were despised creatures, thought of as weak and childlike by the humans and elves.  They were most particularly despised by a schizophrenic creature named Gollum, who himself was once a hobbit-like creature before being transformed into a monster by the evil ring.  He referred to the hobbits with a sneer of disgust as "cruel little hobbitses."

So it struck me as no surprise when a Gollum-like figure within the GOP referred to the TEA Partiers in a similar way...

Gollum McCain
Not cool Senator McCain, not cool at all. To think some TEA Partiers actually supported you in 2008. Well, you can be sure they'll never repeat that mistake again. Now to be fair, Senator McCain's words were not his own. He was reading an article published by the Wall Street Journal that morning, but he was reading it in agreement. The article itself was not flattering of the TEA Party at all, and this is ironic, since were it not for the TEA Party, the fiscally conservative Wall Street Journal would still be having to deal with a very liberal Democratic Congress. So why would the Wall Street Journal attack the TEA Party? Well, you can read the article yourself here and piece together the convoluted nonsense, or you can pay particular attention to the word they used to describe the TEA Party. They are called "hobbits" of all things. Why not "trolls" or "goblins" or "gremlins" of some sort? Why not just called them "terrorists" like Vice President Joe Biden did? Why hobbits? What is it about hobbits that makes them so strikingly descriptive of TEA Partiers? What is it about hobbits that makes them so repulsive to the Wall Street Journal and the rank and file G.O.P. that is beholden to the interest of large corporate donors? The only way to answer these questions is to do a little study on hobbits.  Fortunately, the Political Housewyf blog has already done that for us...
Think about it:
  • Hobbits frown upon excessive wealth.  It’s considered, at best, to be in seriously poor taste.
  • Those who are better off share generously with everyone around them.  Bilbo is known for handing out toys to children and being rather free with his money.  In fact (and the movies totally botched this), Frodo gives his large family home over to Sam’s growing family, saying that he’d rather see the home full of children again, and he doesn’t need Bag End all to himself.
  • Even less-well-off hobbits, including Sam Gamgee’s family before being given Bag End, have their own homes and gardens, however modest they may be.
  • Grubbing after money is seen as a nasty eccentricity.  Think of the Sackville-Bagginses.  They’re always envying Bilbo and Frodo for having Bag End, which they want for themselves.  Apparently, everyone else in the area knows it, too, and doesn’t much like the Sackville-Bagginses for it.
  • There is communal property, most notably including the Party Field.
  • There are very few instances of anyone working for anyone else, and, when they do occur, it’s a very friendly relationship.  Sam and his father consider themselves as friends and defenders of Bilbo and Frodo, who they work for as gardeners.
The analysis is a wonderful illustration of Distributism really, not Libertarianism, as so many mistakenly believe the TEA Party is all about.  Libertarian Capitalism would work to the advantage of big business, and even Socialism helps big business to some degree.  Distributism however, now that's a little scary to the people on Wall Street, and absolutely terrifying to rank and file politicians who rely on political donations from big business.  What is Distributism?  Well, it's the teaching of the Catholic Church on the Free Market, namely that the Market is not truly free until everybody has free access to it.  Namely that goods and services are better "distributed" by small private business at the local level, rather than through large impersonal corporations.  Namely that people cannot truly be "free" economically until as many people as possible have ownership of productive property, whether that property be privately owned by many, or cooperatively owned by more.  It's the idea that a truly Free Market cannot really be free unless it is local.  In other words, small-business is the key, and where things must be done by big business, than that big business should be cooperatively owned by the people who work for it.

So what is the message of the TEA Party?  That could be summed up in three neat and tidy points.  (1) First, balance the federal budget by cutting spending without raising taxes.  (2) Second, stop all corporate welfare via taxpayer funded bailouts.  (3) Third, kill Obamacare.

By itself the TEA Party doesn't have a very big message, but when you read between the lines, it's something that has Wall Street Capitalists more terrified than Main Street Socialists.  (1) The TEA Party wants smaller federal government -- i.e. "Subsidiarity."  (2) The TEA Party wants to stop robbing the middle class to give away cheap money to the excessively rich.  (3) The TEA Party wants to seek localized solutions to the health care cost crisis, rather than using a federal top-down big-government approach.  In total it sounds very Distributist, and that just smacks of "hobbitism."  So if it looks like a Distributist, walks like a Distributist and quacks like a Distributist, than it must be a HOBBIT!!!  It would appear the Wall Street Journal sees something in the TEA Party that the rest of the mainstream media hasn't figured out yet.  These people aren't "right-wing conservatives."  They're Distributists!  Which is worse!  Because the Wall Street Journal is used to manipulating conservatives.  That's relatively easy.  When it comes to Distributists however, that a different story, because they are driven by principles.

As a TEA Party Catholic, and an open Distributist, I am proud to wear the distinct honor of being compared to a hobbit -- those heroic and beloved creatures of fantasy novels that saved middle-earth from certain doom through their self-sacrificing nature.  The irony is that most TEA Partiers around the nation don't yet know enough about themselves, or Catholic fantasy literature, to realize that the hobbit insult is in actuality an unintentional complement.

You can learn more about Distributism HERE. (pdf)