Sleepy Hobbits? Or, Something Worse?


ARE WE “SLEEPY HOBBITS” – or something worse? Certainly, it doesn’t sound very sinister. Martyn “Bomber” Bradbury’s description of the New Zealand electorate seems a lot more like gentle chiding than a full-blown assault. Kiwis are upbraided for their general failure to respond appropriately to the increasingly alarming news reaching their ears. Comparing them to the complacent patrons of Hobbiton’s Green Dragon, Martyn chastises New Zealanders for being much more interested in listening to gossip than hearing news.

Martyn’s characterisation acquires greater force, however, if his audience’s only reference point is Peter Jackson’s film version of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. Significantly, concerns about the project’s burgeoning length required Jackson to leave out what is, in many respects, the most powerful chapter of the entire trilogy – The Scouring of the Shire.

It is only when Frodo, Merry, Pippin and Sam return home that the universal impact of Sauron’s bid for absolute power strikes them. With a rising sense of outrage, and horror, they see that their beloved Shire has been transformed into what Tolkien clearly wants his readers to recognise as an industrial wasteland. Worse still, the Hobbits themselves are in the process of being industrialised. The sturdy peasants and artisans of the trilogy’s opening chapters, along with their aristocratic masters, are on the point of being turned into proletarians. They have been driven from their hobbit-holes and herded into barracks. Trees have been cut down. The old flour mill belches black smoke.

Not everyone, however, believes this to be a bad thing.

“This country wants waking up and setting to rights … and Sharkey’s going to do it; and make it hard, if you drive him to it. You need a bigger Boss. And you’ll get one before the year is out if there’s any more trouble. Then you’ll learn a thing or two, you little rat folk.”

Even some hobbits have succumbed to the new order. Ted Sandyman, the miller, scoffs at Sam’s anguish at the Shire’s obliterated beauty:

“Don’t ‘ee like it, Sam? … But you always was soft. I thought you’d gone off in one o’ them ships you used to prattle about, sailing, sailing. What d’you come back for? We’ve work to do in the Shire now.”

Given the way Jackson behaved when his “independent contractors” made a bid for better wages and conditions, it is, perhaps, unsurprising that he decided to keep The Scouring of the Shire out of his movie.

TDB Recommends

Tolkien makes it clear that tyranny warrants only one response from those it oppresses: rebellion and revolt. Led by the four veterans of the War of the Ring, the Hobbits rise up against “Sharkey”, the new “Boss”, and overthrow his new order. More importantly, they follow the disease to its source – the Wizard Saruman, whose magic, corrupted by Sauron, has wrought so much havoc, even in the Shire.

It is only in Jackson’s movie that the Hobbits (with the obvious exceptions of Bilbo, Frodo, Merry, Pippin and Sam) are portrayed as sleepy and complacent. The film version, similarly, misrepresents the Shire itself. According to Jackson, it is a happy (if utterly powerless) Utopia from which brave souls, very occasionally, venture out, but into which nothing untoward – excepting, briefly, Sauron’s Black Riders – ever venture in.

Tolkien’s fantasy is much more realistic. His Shire is not overthrown by rampaging Orcs, but by the fear and greed of its own inhabitants. As the steadfast Farmer Cotton explains to Frodo:

“It all began with Pimple, as we call him … and it began as soon as you’d gone off, Mr Frodo. He’d funny ideas, had Pimple. Seems he wanted to own everything himself, and then order other folk about. It soon came out that he already did own a sight more than was good for him; and he was always grabbing more, though where he got the money was a mystery: mills and malt-houses and inns, and farms, and leaf-plantations. He’d already bought Sandyman’s mill before he came to Bag End, seemingly.”

If that doesn’t remind New Zealanders of the fate of their own beautiful country, then Martyn’s right, we really have become “Sleepy Hobbits”! Or, maybe, something even worse. Could it be that we, too, have fallen victim to our own Pimples, our own Ted Sandymans? That far too many of us have allowed ourselves to be ordered around by the Shirrifs? The Boss? By Sharkey?

We must hope not. Because in our own case – in our own Shire – we cannot rely upon four returning heroes to put things right. “Raising the Shire” is something we will have to do on our own. Forging our own swords. Stringing our own bows. Summoning our own neighbours. Only when we have fashioned our own horns and bugles will we, like Tolkien’s Hobbits in revolt, be able to send their clarion blasts echoing across New Zealand’s fields, towns and cities:

Awake! Awake! Fear, Fire, Foes! Awake!
Fire, Foes! Awake!


  1. Pimple was simply a willing pawn of free market capitalism, which is apparently the Holy Grail and will see us all achieve nirvana.

    Or end up serfs toiling in the fields for our neo-liberal masters.

    I’ve watched with increasingly bitter frustration as lie after lie, scandal after scandal has passed by seemingly unnoticed by the populace at large. This government is wholly corrupt, and they quite blatantly serve a host of masters, none of which is the one they’ve been elected to serve — namely, the people of New Zealand. They’re disingenuous, self-serving, contemptuous shits almost to a man, and they’ve no business running a cake stall, let alone the country.

    In the words of Jack Nicholson’s Joker, “this country needs an enema”. God only knows what nationwide catastrophe will be required to wake the slumbering masses from their self-induced catatonia. Perhaps when their ludicrously expensive house is on fire?

  2. Maybe we need our own Hillary Clinton, eh Chris??
    She could be like the White Witch of Narnia…you could be Uncle Diggory and the rest of us could play at being gullible little Edmunds sitting around like a bunch of ‘Bernie-dead-enders’ munching on Turkish Delight….

      • It is exactly your kind of abrasive, (passionately intense), self defeating enthusiasm, Siobhan, that reminds me so much of the Bernie or Bust brigade.

        Someone who has seemingly not noticed what becomes of a house divided against itself, as Left leaning, planless armies bicker, wrangle, clash by night and eventually disintegrate.

        To be (or not to be) a complacent, holier-than-thou cynic or to take up (metaphoric) arms against a sea of troubles and become an activist for some achievable first step to change. That is the question.

        Actually, it really is a choice we all have to make sooner or later.

        • Well, I’m also a Corbynista…so it’s worse than you might imagine. Much, much, worse.
          I guess all I can say is the Left has been what one or two of us consider a compromised position for the last 30 years…and look where it’s got us.
          We ARE making a choice.
          Left should be Left..the Centrists should PROUDLY form their own 3rd Party.
          It’s time.
          From our standpoint there is no need for conflict.

          The status quo is fast leaving the Labour Party on the wrong side of history.

          Certainly I am not a bystanding holier than thou critic, though I do dabble.
          My name is Siobhan McCormack.
          Along with Adrian Thornton (like me a regular on another political blog, but we won’t go there..).I own the Little Red Bookshop in Hastings.
          We are very publicly political in our town.
          Politicians actually have come into our shop to argue with us, the conversations are always surprisingly constructive, and hopefully they leave with some insight into a new and growing wave of political opinion.
          You are always welcome to pop in for a cup of tea and a robust exchange of views..
          Bring your own shortbread.

          • The wilderness is a fine place, but I wouldn’t want to live here forever. Even with a cup of tea in one hand and a delicious piece of shortbread in the other (that I had to bring myself). Thanks for the invite, though, Siobhan. With any luck, the way we are going, we might just be able to fit the entire party into the snug.

          • Thanks for that CleanGreen. My point was exactly that.

            As we retreat ever further into ultra-focused, factional groups, the big picture is that, if history is anything to go by, we are making it harder and harder to achieve anything meaningful at all.

            If, for instance, we can get three years tertiary available free but have no chance of making all education available on the same basis, how does that compare to three more years of no progress at all under the current regime. Believe me, I would rather choose my own compromises than hold out for everything I can imagine, knowing in my heart that the consequence will in fact be that I will have to just hope that John Key makes the right choices as we go into another three years in opposition. Wouldn’t you?

            There are, in fact, no easy options and name-calling is not the best start on a road to reconciliation, should you be interested in such an option.

    • MOST IMPORTANT news, trending right now, across the globe, and also in NZ media and social media:

      This is more important than children in poverty, it is more important than the war in Syria and suffering there, this is what gets people “excited” and “chatty”.

      And with such phenomena we are indeed in much worse territory than “hobbit” territory.

      It seems humans are simply not able to get rid of their “condition”, that is they fall for fame, looks, gossip and stardom, treat them like royals and overlords, as heroes and so on.

      What about informing people about stuff that actually matters?

  3. Sure, there are local opportunists who would sell their daughters into prostitution if they thought there was enough money in it, but the real driving force behind the looting and desecration of NZ is the transnational gang that is composed of primarily of international bankers and their hit men (and women).

    Various terms are used to describe the international saboteurs -Illuminati, Skull & Bones, PNAC, Bilderberg, Council on Foreign Relations and ‘old money’ families like Rothschild, Warburg, Rockefeller etc.- who orchestrate everything of significance.

    The vast majority of uninformed New Zealanders are oblivious of all of the above and still naively believe that politicians act in the interests of ordinary people. This childlike belief in the benign nature of the system is the product of careful training that commences not long after birth. And anyone who can see the truth is labelled a ‘tin-foil-hat-wearing conspiracy theorist’, which is the perfect strategy for keeping the sheeple in the enclosure: who want to be a tin-foil-hat-wearing conspiracy theorist?

    With the mainstream media owned and operated by ‘dark forces’, with the central government owned and operated by ‘dark forces’, with local government owned and operated by ‘dark forces’, and with the average New Zealander driven by ignorance, greed and stupidity, is it surprising we’re in the mess we’re in?

    The good news is, it’s all coming to an end via unravelling of the Ponzi financial system, declining energy availability and collapse of the environment.

    The bad news is, no one gets through the coming series of bottlenecks, however much fiat digital currency they might have in a computer system, because we’re on the path of accelerating environmental meltdown.

    Rather than addressing any of the issues that matter, the gang of transnational manipulators will continue to lie to the masses and continue to make everything that matters worse faster.

    412 or 413 ppm eight months from now. And ‘no one’ cares.

    • Bloody good wrap that was succinct Afewknowthetruth

      If we had a real media that would re-educate the public who are just like sheep now no-one’s noticed that RNZ is now banned from discussing bad Government policies or criticising government from now till next election else word is RNZ/NZTV will be sold off next!!!!!

      This Nactional Government is criminal and corrupt and being run from abroad from Bilderberg most likely or Washington elitist’s like Rothchiolds/Koch bros and their mates of Jonkey the PM of
      Nu- Zzzzzzeland.

  4. Well your quite right there with the analogy’s , Chris ,… to a point. It didn’t take long for the rot to set in post 1984 with Douglas’s neo liberalism. And took even less time for employers to jump on the bandwagon with the Employment Contracts Act a few years later.

    And after 32 years of neo liberalism people had to sink or swim , and did what was the most logical thing in a low wage economy and sank their savings and borrowed yet even more into housing and so became easy prey for the latest neo liberal liar aka John Key .

    Consequently , we are where we are today . An uncontrolled immigration providing cheap labour, an overburdened housing market and poverty like we have never seen since the Great Depression. And by that Im sure people slept rough back then as well, today’s counterpart being family’s sleeping in vans, garages etc…

    The root cause, … our ‘Saruman ‘… is the prolific numbers of neo liberal politicians and their supporters in key positions ie: news-media for example.

    And unlike Orcs , they did not use extreme violence to gain their objectives , but just like Sauron , …they DID use stealth and deceit. The original Labour party had no place at all for these types yet was successfully hijacked by them.

    A philosophical , economic and political coup d’etat ,no less.

    And the only way to change that and mobilize the voters is for Labour to renounce that ,- and for the Left in general to start providing the alternatives : a modernized Keynesian economic plan in tandem with a true example of a social democracy.

    Could New Zealanders ever accept that again?… or have they , like the victims of the ‘ Tommyknockers’ become so captive to this alien ideology of neo liberalism to such an extent that they can now see no other way?

  5. Until the property bubble collapses and we are treated to the unedifying sight of families forced from their over-priced, over-mortgaged, homes, then the complacent middle classes will continue to slumber.

    Unfortunately, it will take a rude shock before those 1 million voters who cast their ballots for National three times in a row realise they’re living in a mirage. A very expensive mirage.

  6. “Sleepy Hobbits” is a very harmless, humorous description, the reality is much, much more serious and worse!

    But it is not only New Zealanders who have fallen for the body and soul traders, and consumerism, making people mere mental and physical prostitutes, not so much selling sexual favours, but selling themselves and their working and other capabilities, to try and get whatever income, to then spend it on consumer goods. Consumerism and commercialism has the large ISMS of today, forget socialism, feminism, environmentalism, all those “trends” or movements have been replaced, and are marginalised now.

    We have more than one generation that simply more or less accepts things as they are, who are no longer seriously collectively interested and concerned, they are individualists, narcissists, opportunity, fun and pleasure seekers. They weigh up everything by what worth it has for themselves, in the short and immediate terms, not for the longer term.

    They no longer want to be “bound” and committed to one major cause, to organisations, parties, religions and so forth (apart a few), and they take their rights to change views and ideas as they change their clothes.

    We have a “society” now that is very materialistic also, and that is not cohesive, that is not all that predictable, that is hard to “organise”, and hence we have the political reality we have. Neoliberalism has succeeded in brainwashing enough people to keep itself alive and even more or less thrive, as it adapts itself, in commercial and consumer oriented ways.

    So people use social media, and seem little worried about giving away their private user information, gathered by businesses for advertising purposes, and by governments to better “manage” citizens. We have a faceless state now, as so much is now shifted online, where we no longer communicate with persons, often we get numbers for reference, and if lucky, a first name, that could be the name of thousands, not identifiable.

    People are willing or prepared to follow trends and technological changes, bringing radical social changes with them, so they are like charmed dreamers that follow a false prophet, who has ulterior motives. I see it all the time, the bling faith so many have, it is in my view ignorance and stupidity, but the ones I see, they think instead, they are “smart”, as they see themselves as “modern”.

    It is a fact we are despite of the internet now more “managed”, more manipulated, more misinformed and misguided as we as humans ever were. We are losing touch with nature, while some think they are “environmentalist” by supporting Greenpeace and wearing a green sticker or having a protected plant or flower as screen saver. But they have little first hand understanding of nature, they know not how nature actually works and functions, the greater environment that is.

    In reality we are creating a massive modern day tower of Babel, that will collapse, and then most have no knowledge of the basics of nature and life, of essential things, and how to survive. They will raid supermarkets, and when they are empty their neighbour’s home, after that total chaos is predictable, in this ultra complex world we have, and they will basically fight each other in the street.

    All free trade deals and political and UN supported agreements will not save us, as we are losing it, I fear.

    This stuff I noted on the weekend shows how shallow, brainwashed and short sighted many urbanites are, it should wake us up reading and seeing it, but instead most see this as the new normal – CONSUMERIST MADNESS:

    Meanwhile few vote in local body elections, most know too little and care too little and leave it up to technocrats and bureaucrats, collaborating with big business, to run the show. It is also happening at a national level.

    And as the opposition seems to struggle to change the narrative, we are looking for a fourth term of Key and his gang of politicians.

    There is a tale called the Pied Piper of Hamelin, read it, it may teach us something.

  7. 10 to 20 thousand semi-committed fighters, they can all be under 18. That will do. Sharkey is coming… best watch out, No Zealand…

  8. I would say we are more like Gollum/Smeagol.

    Our ‘precious’ being wealth and money. Smeagol’s killing of his friend in the opening of ROTK can be taken as a metaphor for New Zealand post 1991 (when the benefit cuts kicked in).

  9. And when the bubble bursts they will not no what to do and like the 2008 crash leave by the 12th floor window most likely or jump in front of a TRUCK.

  10. ‘John Perkins: Things have just gotten so much worse in the last 12 years since the first Confessions was written. Economic hit men and jackals have expanded tremendously, including the United States and Europe.

    Back in my day we were pretty much limited to what we called the third world, or economically developing countries, but now it’s everywhere…….’

  11. Karl Marx posited along these lines-“does a persons social being determine their political consciousness or vice versa?” in the 21st century it is not quite an either or proposition, but still relevant to the “sleepy Hobbit” analysis

    my take is that New Zealand is basically one rather fucked up little country with an enduring post colonial hangover, land of a thousand lawn mowing rounds; with beneficiary bashing barely second in popularity to rugby, while our glorious leader sets up a tax haven!

    low wages for so long only those over 50 can recall when it was not so, thus the sleepy Hobbitses it seems may be a mixture of Rogernomics/Ruthanaisia legacy “don’t knows” along with the Tory die hard “don’t want to knows”

  12. I think the trouble is that most NZ’ers regard anyone with an interest, and now by association, a growing realisation that we’re being fucked mercilessly without the kissing, tries to point that out to the avergae Joe, the average joe, by default owing to years of brainwashing react to any attempt at reaching out to them as being met with howels of scorn then called poofs and smartarses.
    It’s going to take an atom bomb of a jolt to shake them free of the parasites that have a hold of their brainstems. War, imprisonment, torture and starvation usually.

    • 1000% Country Boy.

      If we rallied around a corrupt short sell trader that emulates the Wall St “Big Short” set we deserve all we bargained for.

      I said to my wife of 40yrs right on the day I saw JonKeys wild eyes and deceptive looks as he criticised Helen Clark in 2007 “I said to her that this guy Key is going to be big trouble for us all” and after that day Helen Clark admitted “the political future for NZ is changing” as she saw what I recognised in those cold hard cunning deceptive eyes.

  13. If it wasn’t already there it wouldn’t have lasted so long.

    Many New Zealanders are xenophobes. Not ‘racists’. The ‘ins’ and the ‘outs’. The cold shoulder and the jeers, proceeding to putting the boot in. ‘If you don’t like it – leave! We don’t want your sort of stirrer living in godzone!’ Bless, little people. Don’t ever leave…

    Our tribe, your tribe. Our church, your church. Our island, your island – all the way to towns and cities.

    The cry for ‘community’ – this is the old ‘south of England’ where the doors are shut and the net curtains twitch. ‘Community’ is rare and suspect. So are decent folk who would put out a helping hand.

    ‘Community’ looks more like the ratbag bands of Fagin’s Kids on the bash, the Roastbusters, the Nimbys. The clumping of like to like.

    They’re not ‘sleepy’. They see, and hear, and interpret it differently. All is as it should be: those feckless Others have got all they deserved, and if they’re a bit short on full degradation – we’ll add a top-up through our agencies, including prisons.

    New Zealand is as it has ever and always been: mean, parochial, with a veneer of nice.

    • So true. The mean side of the culture will be regretted when there is a rise up and it will happen. You can only keep the masses down for so long before they realise they have been conned. The meaness promotes underlying violence that the veneer of niceness cannot hide.

  14. The primary thing Marx was wrong on was his writing off of the lumpenproletariat. The lumpenproletariat are the revolutionary class.

    • Eric Blair (George Orwell) suggested that revolutions are not instigated by proles. In ‘1984’, Winston is deluded for a while and believes the proles will rise up: they don’t. They adapt to whatever squalid conditions the authorities orchestrate for them. It is only what might be called the intellectual class that recognizes the fundamental hypocrisy and deceit that characterizes the government. And they are eliminated the moment they stray from the party line.

      In ‘Animal Farm’, the animals end up in almost exactly the same predicament they started in because the rules get changed slowly and subtly by those in power until ‘all animals are equal but some are more equal than others’.

      In both books those in power use continuous propaganda to maintain exploitation and inequality -just as we witness in the present day. Hence we describe government so-called plans and council so-called plans as Orwellian because they are presented as generating improvement while actually making everything rapidly worse. And the bulk of the populace fails to notice or understand. Even when the details are pointed out to them.

      It seems to me there can be no political revolution because the bulk of the populace is so completely clueless (as required and orchestrated by the system). I spend 20 years attempting to wake people up to reality, and just like everyone else with the same mission, I failed.

      For many years we have had a general populace that actively clamours for and participates in its own destruction -as required by ‘the system’..

      So we have to wait for economic and environmental collapse which is on the horizon, very likely coupled with major military conflict, to demolish the system.

      What’s coming is going to make World War Two look like an afternoon picnic on a beautiful day:

      1. A multi-metre sea level rise within decades. The last time atmospheric CO2 was around 400 ppm sea level was more than 15 metres higher than now. We’re not stopping at 400 ppm and have 450 ppm in sight.

      2. A rise in average temperature in excess of 3oC within decades, leading to widespread crop failure, devastation of forests and jungles, and annihilation of species at the base of the food chain.

      3. A collapse of the economic system (possibly as early as 2020) and death by starvation in all major cities or abandonment of cities.

      4. A decline in access to fossil fuels until effectively none are available.

      It naturally follows that the above, inevitable, scenarios will be accompanied by a drop in world population of the order of 7 billion.

      And all of the above have been known for DECADES!

      ‘The Mid-Pliocene (about 3.3 to 3.0 Ma) is the most recent time in Earth’s history when mean global temperatures were substantially warmer for a sustained period (estimated by GCMs to be about 2°C to 3°C above pre-industrial temperatures; Chandler et al., 1994; Sloan et al., 1996; Haywood et al., 2000; Jiang et al., 2005), providing an accessible example of a world that is similar in many respects to what models estimate could be the Earth of the late 21st century. The Pliocene is also recent enough that the continents and ocean basins had nearly reached their present geographic configuration. Taken together, the average of the warmest times during the middle Pliocene presents a view of the equilibrium state of a globally warmer world, in which atmospheric CO2 concentrations (estimated to be between 360 to 400 ppm) were likely higher than pre-industrial values (Raymo and Rau, 1992; Raymo et al., 1996), and in which geologic evidence and isotopes agree that sea level was at least 15 to 25 m above modern levels (Dowsett and Cronin, 1990; Shackleton et al., 1995), with correspondingly reduced ice sheets and lower continental aridity (Guo et al., 2004). ‘

      No wonder no one in authority wants to talk about the REAL future and we are subjected to a constant stream of irrelevant nonsense by politicians, bureaucrats, and the mainstream media.

      We could attempt to reduce the suffering that is to come. But we won’t. We will continue to magnify it because we [as a society] won’t even talk about it, let alone do anything about it.

      • Not the proles… the lumpenproletariat… the (blue collar) criminal class… armed and dangerous… quite a few will be Trump supporters, but may forget to vote…

      • 1000% I hear your message loud & clear Afewknowthetruth
        “No wonder no one in authority wants to talk about the REAL future and we are subjected to a constant stream of irrelevant nonsense by politicians, bureaucrats, and the mainstream media.

        We could attempt to reduce the suffering that is to come. But we won’t. We will continue to magnify it because we [as a society] won’t even talk about it, let alone do anything about it.”

        We very much appreciate your input to wake these sleeping MSM folks up.

        They should be telling the public to be active in this as we were in 1960’s, during the DDT “Silent Spring” and all other environmental episode’s that spread light on the future but alas today the MSM are controlled by “big chem/pharma” conglomerates so we are lacking any media truth now.

        As a 72 yr old I look out over the current crop of candidate’s for this circus called “Local Body Elections” and I wince at the lack of compassion and enlightenment seen in most candidates, to even believe that they even have any idea of what is inside of your clear message of truth as we enter the imminent danger & darkness ahead of a massive disastrous catastrophe waiting directly ahead of us.

        Thanks very much for that supreme effort on behalf of humanity.

        • “We” don’t exist. Society is just as much a weasel word as community… all there is only the economy… this will result in a brutal Lord of the Flies/Mogadishu style civil war when it all comes apart… the longer until the collapse… the bigger the crash will be… (truth may not be palatable, but nonetheless remains the truth even when none choose to acknowledge it)

Comments are closed.