- As the 19th century dawned upon the world, a phenomenon occurred dissimilar to anything experienced before. In the place of blacksmiths, machines crafted nails and forged iron bonds; in the place of seamstresses and tailors stood mechanical arms, replacing sewing bobbins and threading together fabrics for clothing. As the Industrial Revolution took over the world like a plague in the body, the age of agrarianism ended abruptly. The movement of production, craftsmanship, and the marketplace to factories and assembly lines altered the day-to-day lives of countless individuals who would uproot their families to move into the city where jobs were guaranteed to be had in the booming urban economy. However, in addition to the increase and stabilization in the economic sector of the West, the social dynamic of family life drastically changed as well. Husbands and fathers were often away from home for long hours or days, children became an economic liability, and women began to fulfill non-traditional roles in the name of progress and feminism.
Industrialization inevitably led localism to the guillotine, swiftly shifting the familial focus on closely-knit communities and a traditional family dynamic to a globalist paradigm while opting to travel many miles to work an industrial position. This factor upset the family dynamic in that while mothers, fathers, and children would continue to live under the same roof, the need to familiarize one’s self with one’s immediate surroundings became obsolete. With the invention of the internet, the connectedness that families had experienced in the medieval, renaissance, and early modern era came to an end, and technology provided a continuous social stream outside of the family unit.
Such is the advent of globalism, rising out of the dust kicked into the air by the industrialization of the work sector. Small businesses were quickly swept under the rug or rendered obsolete by the cheaper, quicker processes afforded by larger factory-based corporations.
Tolkien’s view of industrialization dormant in his fantastical trilogy is marked with globalization. Consider the following exchange from The Fellowship of the Ring:
“I wonder if this is a contrivance of the Enemy,” said Boromir. “They say in my land that he can govern the storms in the Mountains of Shadow that stand upon the borders of Mordor. He has strange powers and many allies.”
“His arm has grown long indeed,” said Gimli, “if he can draw snow down from the North to trouble us here three hundred leagues away.”
“His arm has grown long,” said Gandalf.
The arm of Saruman is a topic revisited until the white wizard’s capture and defrocking, referring to the vast reach that Isengard’s influence has and the powerful alliances made with various political figures such as Mordor. The vast army industrially generated by Isengard reveals the endgame of industrialization: global conquest.
During the course of Tolkien’s intricate story, the protagonist Frodo receives a mystical vision during his stay in an elf-state, wherein he witnesses the possible outcome of Isengard’s success, if its industrial process continued unhindered.
Instead of the happy fun-loving locals in the Shire, Frodo’s friends and family are chained together and whipped by tall shadowy men, forced into labor to continue the generative success of industrialization. Their homes are torched and they are either slaughtered to be brought into some Isengard-based slavery.
In Middle-earth, the ultimate fruits of the Industrial Revolution was inevitably a globalist dystopia, stopped only by the sheer willpower and hardships undergone by two small hobbits. Despite all odds, Frodo and his gardener Sam, representing strong proponents of localism, distributism, and simple living destroy the evil foundation of Saruman’s corrupt and immoral ideological bent. The goal of abolishing agrarian traditions and societies is to further civil reliance on a particular entity, essentially enslaving the masses to industries.
Globalism, therefore, according to Tolkienic literature is the product of industrial progress and the abolition of appreciating agrarian artisanship and local quality. Instead, workers are imported from faraway lands, resources are consumed and never replenished, and people are alienated from their neighbors rather than united. In working to provide for humanity the greatest tool of manufacturing, industrialism has given the world something quite different: the demise of what it means to appreciate the immediate world around us.