Did you know that Fascism has a strange historical link to The Hobbit?

Bilbo Baggin’s home as depicted in Peter Jackson’s films – a secret base of Fascism?
(Photo: Pseudopanax / Wikipedia)
Bilbo Baggins, J.R.R. Tolkien's beloved fantasy hero from the novels The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, hardly feels like a Fascist icon. And yet, the small, hairy-footed creature with a love of comfort and his pantry and his dislike of visitors unwillingly ended up inspiring the Italian far-right decades after World War II.
 
The ultimate reason for the unlikely connection was Italian far-right philosopher Julius Evola, a contemporary of Tolkien. Evola's pre-war writings on his traditionalist, anti-progressive philosophy became an important inspiration for Mussolini's Fascism, even though the latter simultaneously also embraced the progress Evola hated so much.
Banner at the car park of Camp Hobbit
(Photo: Marina Simeone)
In the decades after World War II, the remnants of the Italian far-right struggled to establish a foothold in politics and were looking for new ways to reach the people. Enter the first Italian translation of Tolkien's other popular work, The Lord of the Rings, in 1971. Tolkien suddenly became massively popular, and post-fascists thought they found a backdoor into mainstream culture. Four so-called "Camp Hobbit" events were organized between 1977 and 1981, multi-day festivals modeled after the Woodstock music festival, but with a right-wing slant.
Tents at Camp Hobbit, with an obviously neo-Nazi flag
(Photo: Marina Simeone)
Concerts, theater and public debates were held, all based on the post-fascist view of Tolkien's works, identifying their political movement with the small, homely, peaceful – and very traditional – little hobbit facing the perils of unchecked progress and industrialization (representing the Left, obviously). Traditionally left-wing topics such as ecology and housing shortages were brought up as talking points to attract leftist youth to the traditionalist cause. The driving force behind the events was the Italian Social Movement, the political descendants of the Italian Social Republic, the North-Italian Nazi puppet state in the later years of World War II.
An event at the camp
(Photo: Marina Simeone)
The Camp Hobbit movement fizzled out with the rise of new far-right movements, but experienced some resurgence recently in the 90s. One self-professed Tolkien fan who participated in those new events was Giorgia Meloni, Italy's current prime minister, and the leader of neo-fascist Brothers of Italy party.

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Soldiers decorate a Christmas tree in Germany, December 1944
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