Skip to comments.Harry Potter and the realm of big government
Posted on 08/17/2005 1:10:26 PM PDT by T-Bird45
I'll admit to liking the Harry Potter books, but I can't suspend disbelief any longer. The kid lives in the realm of big government, and it's interfering with my enjoyment of the Half-Blood Prince. Consider these facts about life in the wizarding world:
Huge government bureaucracies: Every time another department within the Ministry of Magic is mentioned, I wonder if the real threat to Harry's liberty is Voldemort or the Leviathan government, which has a branch overseeing all aspects of wizard daily life. There's the Improper Use of Magic Office, the Department of Magical Accidents and Catastrophes, even the Department of Magical Games and Sports, which may be needed to investigate steroid use among Quidditch players.
Most ministry departments are regulatory agencies, suggesting that Ronald Reagan's observation about how government operates ("If it moves, tax it; if it keeps moving, regulate it; and if it stops moving, subsidize it") applies to the wizard world as well as to Washington. The ministry has a Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures; a Decree for the Reasonable Restriction of Underage Sorcery; a Misuse of Muggle Artifacts Office; even a Broom Regulatory Control agency. The ministry interferes with free trade by banning the importation of flying carpets and prohibits the ownership of certain pets such as dragons. Animagi (wizards who can turn themselves into animals) and werewolves are required to register with the ministry. Gun owners could be next.
The police power of the state is also worrisome. The Department of Magical Law Enforcement acts as a sort of KGB, rounding up citizens to appear before the Wizengot, where the accused are tried in a dungeon while bound to a chair. The guilty might be sentenced to Azkaban, a prison worse than Abu Ghraib under Saddam Hussein; at least he didn't employ Dementors as guards. Government agents known as obliviators go about brainwashing people by erasing their memories. The Floo Network Authority gives the ministry the ability to monitor communications, sort of like your boss reading your e-mails at work. I hate to say it, but the wizarding world could use the ACLU.
Everyone works for the government: Aside from George and Fred Weasley, the young entrepreneurs who dropped out of Hogwarts School to start a joke shop, everyone else seems to work for the government. The private sector is limited to a handful of merchants on Diagon Alley and in Hogsmeade Village, and most of them seem essentially to be government contractors who supply Hogwarts students. The one bank, Gringotts, has a state-protected monopoly. Even the heretofore obscure Office for the Detection and Confiscation of Counterfeit Defensive Spells and Protective Orders has a staff of 10, we learn in the most recent book. Harry himself aspires to become an Auror, a government agent, when he grows up. Do any witches and wizards earn their knuts, sickles and galleons by providing goods or services that add value?
Free national health care: No one admitted to St. Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injures is ever asked about insurance, not even victims of the entrails expelling curse, which sounds very expensive to fix. It's the sort of situation a goody two-shoes know it all like Hillary I mean, Hermione must love.
Government run schools: Children are taken away from their natural parents at age 11 and remanded to a government-run school, where they are required to wear uniforms and tuition is free. After five years of indoctrination, they are given a mandatory test, the O.W.L., the results of which define what vocation students can pursue. Unhappy with the independent-minded leadership of Professor Dumbledore at Hogwarts, the ministry installed Professor Umbridge as High Inquisitor in his place. And some think No Child Left Behind represents heavy-handed federal intervention in public schools.
State-controlled press: Although the Daily Prophet is nominally independent, it is clear the ministry is able to control what stories get printed and how they are presented.
Mass Transit Subsidies: The Knight Bus and Hogwarts Express are subsidized more than E-ZPass transponders. Why anyone would need buses or trains in a world with portkeys, floo powder, Nimbus 2000 flying brooms, and travel by apparition? All these transportation systems must require costly infrastructure, which brings up another point:
No one in the wizard world seems to have to pay taxes for any of this. Now there's some real magic.
I've never read any Harry Potter. Is all this true?
Pretty much, yes.
I have to also note that Johnathan Swift wrote satire attacking the excesses of the govenment of his time, and today these satires are mostly remembered as children's stories.
In other words, it's a like England (except the no taxes part)
The best part about the Harry Potter books is that Harry and his friends continually work AGAINST all that bureaucracy and WIN!
Pretty much, yes. BUT in the Order of the Phoenix the ministry rep gets run out of Hogwarts (not quite) on a rail...
Harry Potter is an interesting read on society
The media in HP is irresponsible and vindictive, constantly pushing opinions as news. When confronted with truth, they ignore it in favor of stories that fit their view. They live by the Clintonian phrase "How can we fool them today".
The Ministry of Magic is chiefly concerned with perpetuating itself. It also takes a dim view of the truth if the truth is different from its views. If truth is different from their beliefs, truth is BAD and evil. They don't hesitate to use their police powers to guard themselves from the truth.
The House elves are bound by rules that lack reason. They love slavery and hate freedom. Anyone who enjoys freedom is considered a freak and is sometimes punished. Being kept down is a full time job with them. Slavery is freedom.
So, J.K. Rowling is more observant that we give her credit for?
She is extremely observant and wary of big government, and the books are extremely good!
I agree! Like the author's home (Britain) there are a lot of government agencies that seem to regulate everything. However, it is interesting to note that the bureaucracy is portrayed in a very negative light and the heroes constantly fight against it as well as Lord Voldemort.
BTW, I believe the author mischaracterized or exaggerated a few aspects of the Harry Potter mythos. For example, attending Hogwarts appears to be a privilege and is not free.
"The scariest implications come in the sixth book."
I think it is the fifth book that all of this starts in. The Order of the Phoenix.
Herminone is the weird one. Her family aren't witches but she knows too much inside info. She should be as clueless as Harry. It's illogical.
I suspect JK is a closet Libertarian but she'll have to play a liberal to keep her celebrity status. She owes her fortune to the media that hates Christianity. When they picked the Cathedral to film Hogwarts, the media in England and the US did story after story about the neanderthal Christian church being up in arms and howling in protest. They claimed the uneducated rabble would descend on filming with pitchforks, flaming torches and drooling mouths.
In reality, one protester showed up. The media was so disappointed. Their boogeyman didn't cooperate.
Hermione reads books for fun. Harry doesn't. That's all there is to it. As Hermione points out time and again.
Her books are subversively conservative --- ineffectual government officials "protecting" you being one of the big themes; followed by the MSM-is-a-bunch-of-lies (the "Daily Prophet" being the newspaper); wand control merely disarms the good-guys.
There was an excellent article on NRO about Rowling being an "Inkling" --- that is, a Christian writer who weaves Christian themes and symbolism all throughout her books.
Yeah but books wouldn't explain the amount of inside info at her young age. She knows too much of the culture. I believe something will come out in the last book.
The witch hunt(yuk yuk) for Sirius Black in GOF and OOP reminded me of the Clarence Thomas mess. It's not the weight of evidence but the seriousness of the charges that is important. I loved the "Oh whatever he died" response when the PM mentions Black to the Magic Minister in HBP. The Magic Minister should be a corporate case study in covering one's arse.
Long Live Luna Lovegood and her Family!!!! Long live the Revolution
Doesn't really seem that different that normal England, I mean this is the place that has people driving around with special antenaes looking for people watching TV who haven't paid the TV tax.
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