Heroism and Hope

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Heroism and hope 

Evidence of the crumbling of collectivist thought is given in “Return of the Heroes: The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Social Conflict” (Cybereditions, 2003, 176 pages) documenting the continued resiliency of the “heroic” novel in a world where the intellectual elites have succumbed to mind-numbing nihilism. Hal G.P. Colebatch wrote the first version of this intriguing monograph many years ago (prior to the Harry Potter phenomenon) for the Australian Institute for Public Policy, an economic liberal group. His writings were prescient in that he saw, in the midst of the intellectuals’ self- hatred, the seeds of rebirth. Despite the writings of the best and the brightest, the populace continued to find mean- ing and pleasure in novels of hope, of heroism.

Colebatch takes as his primary texts to develop his thesis the Lord of the Rings novels and the Star Wars movies, but enriches his discussion with frequent references to the works of C.S. Lewis, Arthur Ransome (the author of the “Swallows and Amazons” books of the early 19th century), and even Robert Heinlein. (There is much more that could be said about the idealism and morality of the Heinlein juvenile series – wonderful books for the moral education of youth.)

Colebatch argues that humanity cannot abide the doom and gloom of the modern intellectual, nor does it find compatible the arrogance of the earlier collectivist “heaven on earth” hubris. Mankind, he notes, has never responded well to the efforts of the mandarins to strip away history, tradition, and faith. He quotes some of these apostles of despair: “The race is to be freed from its crippling burden of good and evil.”

As a devotee of the Lord of the Rings series, I will always. remember the lines with which the wizard Gandalf confronts the defeatist Denethor, Steward of Gondor. Denethor, a Neville Chamberlain character, believes that defeat is inevitable, the West has proven too weak, Gondor will fall, and after that fall – he believes – there will be nothing left worth saving. Better to die now than

The battle for liberty is never decisively won – and never foreordained to victory.


live in that blackest of worlds. To that negativism, Gandalf responds: “Know too that I am a steward. And if, in the blackness that may occur, one flower survives in one remote vale in the mountains, I will not have totally failed in my charge.”

The battle for liberty is never decisively won – and never foreordained to victory. It requires each of us to fight and never surrender. Readers of Liberty should find this book worthy of their attention.

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