Why is Bilbo Baggins a fascist favourite? J.R.R. Tolkien’s pint-sized characters are revered as role models by the Italian heirs to Mussolini
If you were asked to think of a perfect fascist, never in a month of Sundays would you suggest Bilbo Baggins of Bag End. Hobbits such as he, after all, grow no more than four feet tall and have slightly pointed ears and a round jovial face. Their feet have leathery soles and are covered with brown fur. They hardly ever wear shoes, let alone jackboots. Hobbits dress in bright colours, favouring yellow and green, definitely not black; and though capable of great courage and amazing feats in the proper circumstances, they are a little shy.
No creature, surely, could be further removed from the macho ‘new man’ with which the founder of fascism, Benito Mussolini was determined to replace the fascist class enemy: the pipe and slippers middle classes? And no creature’s loyalties could be more different either. For hobbits are on the side of good and fascists on the side of bad, aren’t they?
Yet ever since the 1970s, J.R.R. Tolkien’s hobbits and their quest to save Middle Earth from wicked Sauron have enjoyed cult status in Italian post-fascist circles.…