02-20-2017, 07:23 PM
7 Things Harry Potter can teach us about libertarianismBy Gina Luttrell on July 18, 2011 in Theory
If you had come to my apartment looking for me around midnight this past Friday, I would not have been there. I was, like millions of other fans, sitting in a theater chair, eyes glued to the last new Harry Potter movie I would ever see. It was crazy, it was emotional. It was one hell of a ride.
Though Harry Potter is not something that actively informs my libertarianism, I do see a lot of libertarian themes in the books and movies.
#1 Government is ineffectiveIn Prisoner of Azkaban, the government takes a crack down on Harry’s life because they think there’s a mass murderer after him. Just how effective is Fudge in keeping this thirteen-year-old boy in the home where he’s safe? If Sirius black had been any sort of real threat, Harry Potter would have been dead. When Voldemort returns, Fudge’s reign is riddled with one crucial mistake after another — and that is even after he admits that Voldemort is alive.
#2 Government is cruelAnd who replaces Fudge as minister? One known as Rufus Scrimgeour, who makes George W. Bush’s policies on torture, habeas corpus, and illegal imprisonment look humane. He seizes a will and its contents against the law and threatens violence against a 17-year-old if he doesn’t comply with his wishes. Not to mention all the people sent to a prison (where they also torture you) without trial.
#3 One person can make a differenceIf Harry Potter had been meant as a statist’s wet dream, Harry would have been a government agent, trained and working for the Ministry of Magic. We would have heard the successes of the Ministry, instead of its failures all throughout the book.
Instead, we get the understanding that one person, or a group of highly motivated people, can make all the difference in the world. We see Harry, Ron, Hermione coming to face with horrible decisions that will effect not just them but their whole society. We see them make those decisions, and they do the right thing. They overcome adversity as individuals and as a voluntary group, and they change everything.
#4 Civil Society can alleviate sufferingNo amount of government prodding, sanctions, taxing, or force could have kept the Dursleys from locking Harry in his room, starving him, or abusing him. The only real solution was for Harry to get out of the home. Yet there is no magical orphanage for young witches and wizards.
Harry is taken out of the Dursleys’ every summer by members in his community — the Weasley family. Even though they are dirt poor and have little room for him, these kind souls take this Harry in every summer to get him away from his abusive caretakers. This crucial kind act is a part of civil society — namely, people organizing to help other people. Rowling shows how this is far superior to any option the government could have offered Harry.