The Dude has a point here:
The company of Dwarves isn\’t the hand-picked band of mighty warriors that the Fellowship of the Ring was, but ordinary (if short) blokes united by faith and loyalty. This is a thread which runs through all Tolkein\’s work: the idea that free people thrust into extraordinary situations will do remarkable things. Tolkein never claimed to have been influenced by his experiences on the Western Front in 1916, but it\’s clear he was. He asserted there to be no analogy to the second world war in his books.
Gandalf\’s greatest insight is that Hobbits – a sort of idealised rustic Englishman were a better bulwark against evil than the great princes and warriors of greater strength and fame, who\’re too easily corrupted by power. This is perhaps the reason the mythological cycle of which the Hobbit forms a part is so appealing to the Anglo-Saxon world: it speaks to a dimly remembered folk-memory of doughty farmers and nascent local democracy dating from the dark-ages. The idea that we\’re free, and they\’re not.
And it\’s very similar to Chesterton\’s point here:
Smile at us, pay us, pass us; but do not quite forget,
For we are the people of England, that never has spoken yet.
There is many a fat farmer that drinks less cheerfully,
There is many a free French peasant who is richer and sadder than we.
There are no folk in the whole world so helpless or so wise.
There is hunger in our bellies, there is laughter in our eyes;
You laugh at us and love us, both mugs and eyes are wet:
Only you do not know us. For we have not spoken yet.
They have given us into the hands of the new unhappy lords,
Lords without anger and honour, who dare not carry their swords.
They fight by shuffling papers; they have bright dead alien eyes;
They look at our labour and laughter as a tired man looks at flies.
And the load of their loveless pity is worse than the ancient wrongs,
Their doors are shut in the evenings; and they know no songs.
We hear men speaking for us of new laws strong and sweet,
Yet is there no man speaketh as we speak in the street.
It may be we shall rise the last as Frenchmen rose the first,
Our wrath come after Russia\’s wrath and our wrath be the worst.
It may be we are meant to mark with our riot and our rest
God\’s scorn for all men governing. It may be beer is best.
But we are the people of England; and we have not spoken yet.
Smile at us, pay us, pass us. But do not quite forget.
It might be that this is all wromantic and wrong. Certainly it\’s very much out of place with this modern world. But I do think this is at the heart of the English exception. Hmm, perhaps English isn\’t quite right. Some bloody minded mixture of Anglo Saxon and Viking perhaps. The basic underlying reaction to plans and order and regulation and systems and high falutin\’ ideas being, yes, lovely, now bugger off and what time does the pub open these days?
It\’s why the bureaucrat with his clipboard is a standard figure of fun in England. In a way that the fonctionnaire is not in France. Our default is just that we\’ll manage quite well on our own thank you.