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The Dark Riders of Social Change

A challenge for any Fellowship of the Ring (Part #1)


"I believe that legends and myths are largely made of 'truth',
and indeed present aspects of it that can only be perceived in this mode."

(The Letters of J. R. R Tolkien, page 131)


Background
Rings of power
Relationship between the rings
The "Dark Riders"
Nature of the "One Ring"
Shadow
Fellowship of the Ring
Cycles: lost and found
The "One Ring" of cycles
Conversations with ourselves
In conclusion: varieties of ring
References

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Background

The movie Fellowship of the Ring has again given prominence to the archetype of the "Dark Riders". In J R R Tolkien's novel, The Lord of the Rings, these nine riders, "neither dead nor alive", hunt for the "ring". For young people today -- encouraged by the movie's promoters to join the Fellowship [more] -- that ring might well be understood as providing the bearer with the most repressive forms of control over social change and development.

This "One Ring" is described by Tolkien in the following description of the 20 Rings of Power:

Three rings for the Elven-Kings under the sky,
Seven for the Dwarf-Lords in their halls of stone,
Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die.
One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.
One Ring to rule them all,
One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.

This archetypal tale may be used to explore the modern dilemma of social change and sustainable development -- and the emergence of viable alternatives to planetary and psychosocial degradation. There is a strong case for relating the mythical crisis for the world to the planetary crisis of today -- especially when the former has captured the imagination more effectively. This exploration recognizes that social policy needs to take account of the vehicles for meaning that capture popular imagination -- whether or not that meanhing is given legitimacy by the mainstream scientific or policy thinking which is itself faced with a crisis of legitimacy through its apparently limited ability to respond to manifest social needs.

s of legitimacy through its apparently limited ability to respond to manifest social needs.


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