Thursday, July 05, 2007

Harry Potter on Political Theory

I read this article over at Hogwart's Professor (a UofC grad, as it happens) about the ties between Machiavelli and Harry Potter. Irrespective of the important genre of contemporary literature that is Harry Potter, I finally understood the greatness of Machiavelli. In the chapter 17 of HPPS/SS* Quirrelldemort comments, "There is no good and evil, there is only power..." (p 291). This line dovetailed nicely with a thought the inimitable Jim Block offered me this summer. He said that while contemporary philosophy is finding difficulty hitting firm metaphysical ground, political theory can always take for granted Power, and its operations on systems.

Machiavelli is not merely a pragmatist, always making the proper chess move, but proposing an entirely new political geometry. Not unlike Einstein, Machiavelli claims that the universal political fabric is neither one way nor the other, good nor bad, but a geometry of power!

And no, I am neither proud that it took me this long to figure this out, nor that I had to learn it from Harry Potter. So it goes.

* Geek for Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone/Sorcerer's Stone.


Anonymous said...

This is silly. Harry Potter is a classic example of Good vs. Evil. One quote from her first book is not a good enough example to convince. Sorry, Zev.

Zev said...

I think a close reading of the text is in order to full appreciate how wrong you are.