Was Tolkien a socialist?

I just had a discussion over what type of economic system J.R.R. Tolkien adhered to. Some have read and heard that Tolkien fits closest to the socialist economic system, defined as the state controlling the means of production. This intepretation of Tolkien is incorrect.

The most comprehensive study on Tolkien's philosophy was given by Dr. Bradley Birzer of Hillsdale College. If you would like to read the whole article, copy and past this link:


Tolkien hated socialism because socialism held to a degrading, materialistic, and a mechanistic outlook on human nature. It sought to subordinate man to the state and destroy man's God given freedom. The best condemnation of Socialism in the text comes from a conversation between Gandalf and Saruman. The conversation begins when Saruman attempts to enlist Gandalf in his quest to replace Saruman. Saruman argues that since the old world is gone and the middle world is changing, they need the "power" to "order things as we see fit, for the ends that only the wise can see." Gandalf immediately sees through this saying "this sounds like the words of the enemy." For Tolkien, good intentions are not enough to insure a successful outcomes. Tyranny will not bring about human happiness. Socialism, because it is tyrannical, will ultimately degrade man and destroy humanity, whatever its initial desires were. Tolkien has also said in other works that the Dark Lord Sauron originally started off benevolent, only seeking power to make the world a better place. But his need for absolute power eventually corrupted him, turning him into a being consumed by evil.

Tolkien will go down as one of the most important writers of the 20th century. His insights on human nature are so profound as to make his contemporaries seem childish.