One Confusing Aspect of Tolkien’s Works – Tobacco

So here’s a confusing aspect of Tolkien’s writing…

One of the many messages in his writings is anti-industrialism. The destruction of Isengard, the entire sequence regarding it, is riddled with anti-industrial and pro-environmental messages. Okay well who isn’t tired of main battle tanks and the cutting down of forests? So far so good.

BUT… if you’ll remember, Tolkien loved a good pipe of tobacco.

And without industrialism… tobacco would be out of the reach of most people. Now it’s time to be confused.

If we had a pure pre-industrial life as Tolkien seems to envision, there would be insufficient quantities of tobacco in the world and the price of what there is would be extreme.

There are simply too many humans on the planet. Industrialization is absolutely necessary to support the sheer numbers we’re talking about. Industrialization… big tractors, cheap fertilizers, and increased labor efficiency are all necessary for the production of tobacco (and virtually all crops).

So to rephrase, Tolkien would lose out on his access to tobacco if his books had their way. At least in the real world. In the general ideal world of his writings everyone would have their own patch of tobacco planted and there’d always be enough to go around… which I can certainly get behind.

This is just an example of how idealistic writing can have confusing consequences if brought into the real world…

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