There is a really ridiculous op-ed piece (linked by Instapundit)in the New York Times today by Ilias Yocaris, a professor of literary theory and French Literature at the University Institute of Teacher Training in Nice, France. This piece should be labeled with a warning that what you are about to read is simple, mind-numbing Marxist drivel. What is the topic of this hogwash? Harry Potter—or, as the title of the piece puts it: “Harry Potter, Market Wiz”.
The point of this so-called “literary theory” is that the world of J.K.Rowling in its presentation in the Harry Potter series is “a capitalist world” and that this is a very bad thing.
“The psychological conditioning of the apprentice sorcerers is clearly based on a culture of confrontation: competition among students to be prefect; competition among Hogwarts “houses” to win points; competition among sorcery schools to win the Goblet of Fire; and ultimately, the bloody competition between the forces of Good and Evil.
This permanent state of war ends up redefining the role of institutions: faced with ever-more violent conflicts they are no longer able to protect individuals against the menaces that they face everywhere. The minister of magic fails pitifully in his combat against Evil, and the regulatory constraints of school life hinder Harry and his friends in defending themselves against the attacks and provocations that they constantly encounter. The apprentice sorcerers are thus alone in their struggle to survive in a hostile milieu, and the weakest, like Harry’s schoolmate Cedric Diggory, are inexorably eliminated. “
All this points to the fact that:
“In other words, in the cultural universe of Harry Potter, social sciences are as useless and obsolete as state regulation.
Harry Potter, probably unintentionally, thus appears as a summary of the social and educational aims of neoliberal capitalism. Like Orwellian totalitarianism, this capitalism tries to fashion not only the real world, but also the imagination of consumer-citizens”
You would think that with the discrediting of socialist and communist systems the entire world over; with the untold millions of people who were executed and gulagized in these so-called paradises; and with the incredible prosperity and liberty afforded to the citizens of market—that is Capitalist---economies, that at the beginning of the 21st century we would not have to endure this kind of claptrap analysis. Instead, people all over the world with the same murderous ideology as the totalitarian dictators of the 20th century are STILL AT IT! How dare this intellectual moron compare Capitalism (even neoliberal capitalism—whatever the hell that’s supposed to mean) with Orwellian totalitarianism!
But let us look for a moment at one area in which Yocaris is accidentally correct in his analysis, but not in the way he intends, fortunately. In the world of Harry Potter, the government, as personified by Cornelius Fudge the head of the Ministry of Magic, is in complete DENIAL about the nature of the evil that their world faces. In fact, in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, Fudge insists that Voldemort (the main bad guy) has not really returned to enslave the magical society; and that Harry Potter is completely insane (as in mentally ill) because he claims the opposite. This aspect of the Harry Potter Books is undeniable close to the reality of our world today. Some pundits have claimed, and I would agree, that the world is now divided into September 10 people –i.e., people who are still living in a pre-9/11 world, denying the obvious fact that a war of enormous proportions and portent has been brought to our shores and that we must unite to defeat the threat that faces the entire civilized world; and the September 12 people, who are already attempting to confront that threat (like the Order of the Phoenix in Harry Potter), but must contend with the coalition of hear-no-evil, see-no-evil nitwits in the anti-war’s LaLa Universe.
If Harry Potter does unwittingly convey capitalist values to the young of today, I say Hooray! Hooray! If the books convey a competitiveness and a belief in the individual ability and desire to eliminate evil, then I hope J.K. Rowling doesn’t end the series after Harry defeats Voldemort. Because Harry will, you know. Evil will be defeated. The cost may be high, and the suffering intense, but Good will triumph eventually. As it did in WWII; and in the Cold War; as it will in the War on Islamofascism. Go, Harry!