Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Potty Potter-y

Good leftists should apparently have guilty consciences about enjoying Harry Potter, at least according to this commentary. You see, J.K. Rowling ultimately can’t free herself from essentialist racist and sexist stereotypes. We can only hope for better from her in the future:

The hierarchical, patriarchal undertones of the fantasy genre will likely be lost on children caught up in Harry’s quest to defeat the evil Lord Voldemort. The series is great fun, and I wouldn’t deny anyone the pleasure of reading these books. But the politics of Harry Potter, while broadly anti-authoritarian, are far more complicated at the level of individual identity, and cannot be described as progressive. Perhaps this is why science fiction is ultimately a more radical genre than fantasy. While fantasy looks backwards for its myths and mores, sci-fi looks forward. So here’s hoping the next J.K. Rowling washes her hands of Tolkien and, perhaps in her next series of books, popularizes Madeline L’Engle instead.

I should add that
this story might put paid to libertarian readings of the septology. And this isn’t terribly penetrating, but it’s on the right track, I think. For a loving lengthy version of this argument, go here, but only after you’ve read the book.

Discussions - 4 Comments

The Leftists are just silly, as usual. Thank goodness Harry isn't a numbing standard-issue progressive. Rowling has come off as a believer all along, considering that the prime virtue of the tales--underscored by Dumbledore--has been love. Book 7 just builds on it in a more thoughtful, even inspiring, way than before. But I still think Tolkien, with his rich prose, is the best of the lot.

Albus Severus Potter the next series? Will Harry's kid join Slitherin?
Can a trully good wizard emerge from Slitherin, or does power corrupt?
Awesome series!

In any case I think any political discussion of Harry Potter should begin with the four different Ontological structures/models held up by Hogwarts. In what sense is Hogwarts only Hogwarts by virtue of the differing virtues of its founders? Does the sorting hat reserve greatness only for a particular set of virtues or can Hufflepuff, Grinffindor, Ravenclaw and even Slitherin all share in producing greatness?

An interesting ending... The way Potter fights He who shall not be named (for Ron's benefit) reminded me a lot of Aslan in the Chronicles of Narnia. Perhaps the two kings of Narnia and the two queens of Narnia relate to the 4 houses of Hogwarts? Dumbledore allows himself to be killed in order to save Draco Malfoy (Slitherin) In the same way that Alsan dies to save Edmund(whose desire is power, recognition...Slitherin Virtu).

In a sense Severus Snape is the Anti-Judas....

I think Severus Snape is the key to understanding the quote from Aeschylus’ the libation bearers at the Beginning of the book. He is haunted by guilt that Voldemore killed the one he loved(Harry's mother)

He feels the guilt of her death and atones for it by pouring his liquid memories out to Harry. Without this final corner of the puzzle Harry would have been at a loss. Severus Snape gets his revenge on Voldemore.

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