But there was a part of me that, from the very beginning (and increasingly as the series progressed), was really irritated by the fact that Potter and his buddies were constantly inserting themselves into dangerous situations because they thought they knew better than the adults. Even in the very first book, it turned out that the Sorcerer's Stone was never in real danger of being snagged by Voldemort, and all the kids' "bravery" and keeping secrets from the grownups was pretty much pointless except for the obvious reason that there wouldn't be a book to read without it.
Harry Potter is just naturally fantastic at flying around on a broom and conjuring illuminated stags up out of his soul and things, Hermione Granger is just naturally the most brilliant student Hogwarts has ever seen, and so on. Ron Weasley, the impoverished aristocrat, is a Sancho Panza-like figure whose rough common sense is meant to keep Harry on the straight and narrow; his noble blood is his “chosen” quality, and marks him, too, as an unimpeachable Establishment figure.
"I came to know more about being poor and isolated here than in any other city. It was in Edinburgh, rather than in Paris, London, Manchester or Oporto, all of which I inhabited during my nomadic twenties, that I became most acutely aware of the barriers, invisible and inflexible as bullet-proof glass, that separate those in the affluent and able-bodied mainstream of our society from those who, for whatever reason, live on the fringes"
I have slightly different interpretation, that Rowling's world represents a conflict between traditional aristocratic privilege assigned via birth (born to the right family) vs. capitalist meritocratic privilege assigned via… birth (winning the genetic lottery). What we can read in Harry Potter is that meritocracy is an affirmation of a hierarchical class system, it only means that you want it to be organized scientifically according to who has talent, perseverance, etc. The central political conflict of the series is the split in the wizarding community over whether the small percentage of muggles who demonstrate magical talent should be allowed to enter the ranks of the elites. That the anti-muggle side is represented as cruel, callous and immoral while the pro-muggle side is benevolent and wise only serves to legitimize their rule. Another disturbing aspect is how the benevolent rulers systematically conceal their existence, almost as if they are trying to avoid popular resentment from forming and threatening their rule. This is confirmed by the fact that, in the books, the International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy that hide the wizarding world from the muggles was enacted in circumstances essentially similar to the French Revolution. Therefore it's possible to read the narrative as a kind of conservative alternate history where the aristocracy reacted to the rise of democracy by making themselves invisible and continuing to rule in secret, and this is called capitalism. The cynicism here is quite breathtaking: the elites publicly pretend to live in an egalitarian, democratic society, but they control everything behind the scenes. It's tempting to write the other side of the story: the muggles know of the existence of the magical elite, but they pretend not to know because they believe they will be chosen to join them.
We can look at this through the lens of Hegel's master-slave dialectic: the master is dependent on the slave for recognition, and lords it over him, building impressive castles and so on, because he needs an Other to confirm that he really is a master. Rowling's insight is that this is ultimately what undoes the elite class, because it generates popular resentment who then revolt. So the idea is that the good wizards are somehow free of this dialectic, they have high self-esteem, don't need recognition and don't need to dominate and rule the muggles.
For kids and adults who read the books, the political implications are that they are solicited to endorse the hierarchical status quo. As a reader, it neutralizes your alienation from the system to reinforce the system, by flattering you and reframing your alienation so it's not an effect of domination, instead its your specialness gone unrecognized. The flaw in the system is that it doesn't see that your rightful place is among the elites, so rather than finding solidarity with other alienated individuals and overthrowing the system, you end up in favor of the existence of the hierarchy in general, only taking issue with the fact that you and your unique gifts are unfairly excluded from it. But this part is what makes Rowling's solution to the master-slave dialectic false. The reader who identifies with Harry Potter desperately craves recognition of his or her specialness from the Other, symbolized by the owl arriving with a message from Hogwart's that he/she has been chosen. The other side of this coin, of recognition of one's superiority, is the essence of the fascist Voldemortian wizard supremacist ideology.
Rowling's solution is that the elites can demonstrate their superiority through high-minded benevolence towards the lower classes instead of dominating them, a kind of noblesse oblige, as in Dumbledore's belief that love is the most powerful form of magic, which Voldemort was unable to see. But historically this sort of thing has turned out to be false ideological screen that only legitimizes domination, so someone should rewrite the story to show that Voldemort and Dumbledore are secretly working together to dominate the muggle world.
"But Sir," said Harry, making valiant efforts not to sound argumentative, "it all comes down to the same thing, doesn't it? I've got to try to kill him, or-"
"Got to?" said Dumbledore. "Of course you've got to! But not because of the prophecy! Because you, yourself, will never rest until you've tried! Imagine, please, just for a moment, that you had never heard that prophecy! How would you feel about Voldemort now? Think!"
Harry watched Dumbledore striding up and down in front of him and thought. He thought of his mother, his father, and Sirius. He thought of Cedric Diggory. He thought of all the terrible deeds he knew Lord Voldemort had done. A flame seemed to leap inside his chest, searing his throat.
"I'd want him finished," said Harry quietly. "And I'd want to do it."
"Of course you would!," cried Dumbledore. "You see, the prophecy does not mean you have to do anything! But the prophecy cause Lord Voldemort to mark you as his equal... In other words, you are free to choose your way, quite free to turn your back on the prophecy! But Voldemort continues to set store by the prophecy. He will continue to hunt you... which makes it certain, really, that-"
"That one of us is going to end up killing the other," said Harry. "Yes."
But he understood at last what Dumbledore had been trying to tell him. It was, he thought, the difference between being dragged into the arena to face a battle to the death and walking into the arena with your head held high. Some people, perhaps, would say that there was little to choose between the two ways, but Dumbledore knew - and so do I, thought Harry, with a rush of fierce pride, and so did my parents - that there was all the difference in the world.
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