Wednesday, June 24, 2015

wizarding politics.

all right, it's about time that i blogged about harry potter.

i have read each harry potter book 50 times. yes, you read that correctly. 50 times. each.

i don't want to get too into my extensive harry potter knowledge, but i know enough about harry potter to have an entire june go! challenge where each and every post is devoted to an aspect of harry potter.

today's aspect: politics.

when i was looking at grad school programmes where i live instead of abroad or across the country, i was also reading the prisoner of azkaban for the 51st time. and i began to form a super intense political theory about the ministry of magic based on that book and how it sets up the political structure for the rest of the books.

and then i was like, WHY CAN'T I GET A PHD IN HARRY POTTER?

like, all i wanna do is write academic papers about the wizarding world. that's pretty much it.

we are going to assume that the rest of the blog post deals with the BOOKS and not the MOVIES.

the third book is where we really get into the politics of the wizarding world and a deep glimpse into the ministry of magic. it's in the second book that we learn about azkaban when hagrid is sent there for being a suspect in opening the chamber of secrets again.

once we learn what azkaban is and that it's gaurded by dementors, this brings up a lot of questions, the first being...

you're going to send a dude there simply for being a suspect? without proof? because you think he did it once before fifty years ago? 

that doesn't seem quite right, does it?

let's just talk about azkaban for a hot second.

azkaban is a gigantic cement block in the middle of the north sea. you can only get to it by flying (that's only been mentioned ONCE in the sixth book) or swimming, and you'll probably die attempting that. it is guarded by dementors, who are like, the worst creatures to ever inhabit the earth. they suck the life and happiness out of you. some people are more greatly affected than others, but by the end of your stay in azkaban, you will have gone insane.

hagrid was there for maybe... a month. and he lost his will to live. that quickly.

as far as we know, this is the only prison.


so what that means is that anybody that commits a crime that's worthy of prison goes to this hell hole in the middle of the north sea that's almost entirely inescapable (until the dementors join voldemort).

pirated some music and got busted by the FBI?


got caught peddling stolen cauldrons?


harry doesn't know too much about the wizarding world, but he knows that when you break wizarding law, you go to azkaban. in the third book, when he accidentally blows up aunt marge, his first thought is that he's going to go to azkaban.

he's thirteen and this is his first thought. when he's fifteen and he uses a patronus charm, it's another thought that crosses his mind.

i've broken a few laws and going to prison is certainly not MY first thought.

any offence can get you into azkaban, no matter how small, if the ministry sees it as prison worthy, and they seem to find a lot of things to be prison worthy. stan shunpike gets thrown in there for merely talking about being a voldemort supporter. (he's not.)

now let's talk about the judicial system as a whole. here are some pretty weird things that they've done in the books.

1. threw hagrid in azkaban on a hunch.
2. completely stopped a murder investigation after finding a finger. that's it, close up shop, we're done here, life in azkaban for sirius.
3. not giving sirius a trial with hardly ANY investigation.
4. denied harry a witness in a full jury trial for underage magic. do you even need a full jury for that? 50 members of the wizengamot for underage magic?
5. threw a lot of innocent people into azkaban to make the government look like it had things under control.
7. seemed complacent in weeding out voldemort's followers without proper trials, investigations, or meaningful testimony or witnesses.
8. became complacent in getting rid of muggle borns in the new voldemort regime.

8 is a bit of a fluke because we don't accurately know if the people working for the wizengamot were all voldemort supporters or not. but we do know clearly that umbridge is not a death eater, she is just a terrible, bigoted human being that believes in blood purity and is completely and utterly happy stripping the rights of people that she believes to be lesser than she is.

but 7 still stands. barty crouch senior did same major damage and stuck a lot of people in azkaban without a trial, including sirius black.

don't even get me started about sirius. that's an entirely different harry potter post.

wizards, especially the ones in the ministry, tend to think that they're much better off than muggles. (arthur weasley is one of the exceptions.) some of the more bigoted ones believe that they are superior to muggles. they have magic. they have flying cars. their memos can fly through the office. their ministry is large and reaching and encompasses all kinds of magic and magical beasts.

basically, the wizarding world prides itself on being forward thinking because what up, we have magic!

i've found that this is exactly the opposite of true. i think that the wizarding world is stuck in the past and refuses to move forward because they believe that they are innovative when they aren't.

one of the major themes in harry potter is the inability to change and to let history repeat itself. the entire premise is that a really evil man is coming back and wreaking destruction again. he's done it before, there were signs that it was happening, and the all-knowing government ignored it and it let it happen again. not because they didn't see it, but because they refused to change what they were doing.

muggles are FAR more advanced than wizards. muggles have found innovative ways to solve problems that wizards cannot solve. british muggles perform police investigations that wizards don't believe they need to perform because they have magic. muggles, for the most part, don't lock up the wrong people in prison. muggles have a superior government and judicial system, they don't kill each other nearly as often, they're happier, and they're always creating new ways to advance their society.

the wizarding world doesn't come out with new technology very often. their society is not advancing at all. there are lots of times where ron is like, "we can't do that" and harry is like "lol i can do that in the muggle world."

sure, in the muggle world he can't fly his broom, but he can operate a telephone. ron can't, he can only send letters or a talking patronus. ron doesn't even know what a dentist is.

like, who cleans ron's teeth? i'd really like to know.

the cool thing about harry potter is that it doesn't have to take place in a magical world. hogwarts could very easily be a british boarding school and the plot would still be revelant. a bunch of teenagers at their boarding school are witnessing the rise of a dictator and the collapse of their government and they work together to help set things right. there just happens to be magic involved.

even after everything gets cleaned up and we get to the epilogue, how much in the wizarding world has changed? are people still in azkaban? are dementors still around? is the government still useless at running investigations? are they still throwing everyone with minor to serious offences into the equivalent of guantanamo bay? does society actually evolve and move forward? do they get dentists?

these are the real questions that i want answers to.

along with: are there humans that work in azkaban? because i'm just like, picturing dementors cooking all the meals and cleaning the cells and stuff. and somehow i just can't imagine a dementor cooking.

forreal tho. dementors cooking.

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