Manufacturing a consenting peoples history of middle earth

Zinn: Indeed. Gandalf darkens the room and yells at poor Bilbo for rightfully accusing him of trying to steal his ring. It is abundantly obvious that Gandalf wants to steal the ring. But if he is caught with the ring himself, his pretext will dissolve. He needs to throw as much plausible deniability into his scheme as possible, which is why, later, he has Frodo carry the ring for him.

Chomsky: Gandalf knows the ring is powerless. It’s interesting that he attaches so much importance to it and yet will not pick it up himself. This is because he knows that merely possessing the worthless ring will not help his cause. It’s important to keep others thinking that it can. If Gandalf held the ring, he might be asked to do something with it. But its magic is nonexistent.

From Timothy McSweeney’s Unused Audio Commentary for ‘The Fellowship of the Rings’

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