Harry Potter 6: The Half Blood Prince

J. K. Rowling

While certainly less political than the previous book, the 6th book in the series offers some interesting insights into Harry’s relationships and loyalties both to his schoolmaster, Dumbledore, and the Ministry of Magic, now headed by Rufus Scrimgeour who supplanted Cornelius Fudge.

At the beginning of the book, Rufus and Fudge both teleport into the actual British Minister’s office and basically tell him that he’s way out of his league and has no idea how to deal with the problems the wizards are creating by fighting Lord Voldemort. I expected a bit more to come from this confrontation, but to no avail. At any rate, we see that the general/muggle government is subservient and deferential to the Ministry.

Suspension of Habeas Corpus

One thing the Ministry does in this series is arrest a whole lot of innocent people. They are heartlessly ripped them from their homes, families, jobs, and loved ones; they are put into Azkaban without due process and hearings. The Ministry has no means of solving the actual problem, as governments generally do not, so they must be seen as “doing something”. 3 arrests is better than no arrests, the Minister laments, despite those 3 arrests being of innocent people.

The history of governments violating what is known as “habeas corpus”, a writ requiring a speedy trial under a judge/jury. The 5th amendment is supposed to ensure this right for all US citizens. Yet, Abraham Lincoln suspended it by arresting journalists and those who resisted him politically, only releasing them in many cases after the war was over. FDR suspended it by putting Asian Americans in concentration camps during WW2. George W Bush suspended it formally with the Military Commissions Act of 2006 and informally worldwide with his secret torture facilities such as Guantanamo Bay.

Now, the US courts are so backed up (read: government services rarely scale with supply necessary to meet demand, which is why you get bread lines in eastern Europe and road congestion in the US) that there is little chance of a “speedy” trial here anymore. In fact, most people opt for a generally unjust “plea bargain”. They would rather pay an enormous fee or a set time in jail than wait around for years locked up in an unending court case (see my review on The Trial for more on this). Only 2% of all federal court cases actually take place. And you can bet that many of the people who go to jail are unjustly imprisoned, even more so if you consider that libertarian property rights do not find any legal ability to prosecute any victimless crime including drugs or operating a business without a government license.

The Ministry has quite a legal precedent to arrest and imprison innocent people with no legal recourse. The idea that the government should “do something”, even if that something is horribly unjust, is unfortunately quite common.

A Mascot

Potter is confronted by Rufus in the middle of the book and is asked to “come by” the Ministry more often in order to give the impression that he approves of what the Ministry is doing to combat Voldemort. Harry is aghast at this and quickly says he does not approve of what the Ministry is doing and that they should release all of the innocent prisoners they have arrested. He goes on to say that he doesn’t trust them or their behavior (with good reason; see Harry Potter 5).

The State often co-opts “mascots” to cheer on it’s growth, abuses, and mass violence through war. The media is the most blatant subscriber to all things Statist/Marxist in America, as they use any excuse at their command to convince people that more and more State power will somehow make people better off. It’s their solution to every problem, even those problems created by previous government interventions (spoiler: most current human social problems are caused by them).

Consider their recent response to Georgia implementing a law to require those who vote to show some form of identification: they are restricting voting!! The will of the people is being suppressed! Poor people don’t have identification! As with the Democrat’s desire to reduce the voting age to 16, when younger people are lured by the siren song of “getting everything for free” and tend to support bigger government because they don’t have any real world experience of holding a job, owning a home, having a family, or general resource allocation towards savings/consumption/taxation, allowing anyone to vote even if they have no property or real stake in the outcome of the voting tends also to favor bigger government. Democracy, as the media and pro-goverment forces would have it, truly is 2 wolves and 1 sheep voting on what’s for dinner.

But we see this also with celebrities, young children like Greta Thunburg, large businesses/corporations (who of course directly benefit from bigger government), academics, and others. Murry N Rothbard dedicated a chapter in his book For a New Liberty to describing the collusion between academics and the State. He said:

“Throughout the ages, the emperor has had a series of pseudo-clothes provided for him by the nation’s intellectual caste. In past centuries, the intellectuals informed the public that the State or its rulers were divine, or at least clothed in divine authority, and therefore what might look to the naive and untutored eye as despotism, mass murder, and theft on a grand scale was only the divine working its benign and mysterious ways in the body politic. In recent decades, as the divine sanction has worn a bit threadbare, the emperor’s “court intellectuals” have spun ever more sophisticated apologia: informing the public that what the government does is for the “common good” and the “public welfare,” that the process of taxation-and-spending works through the mysterious process of the “multiplier” to keep the economy on an even keel, and that, in any case, a wide variety of governmental “services” could not possibly be performed by citizens acting voluntarily on the market or in society. All of this the libertarian denies: he sees the various apologia as fraudulent means of obtaining public support for the State’s rule, and he insists that whatever services the government actually performs could be supplied far more efficiently and far more morally by private and cooperative enterprise.”

Surely, the State’s mascots are very important to it’s ideological acceptance by the people. Who otherwise would accept any agency that forces you to give it money upon threat of punishment and arrest while it provides lackluster services that barely meet any standard of quality, generally quite the opposite? Who otherwise would accept that this organization may kill and bomb anyone it wants throughout the world with no consequence other than by the shielding provided to it by these mascots?

Harry would be playing possibly the most important role that anyone could play in the justification for State power, and he refuses to do so. Hurrah for Harry and the conscience of the individual acting in opposition to the abuses of the Ministry! Despite even all of what the Ministry had offered him such as protection, glory, money, and everything else; he still refuses to be their pawn.

Voldemort the Teacher

At one point in the book, Voldemort comes to Dumbledore asking for a position as a teacher. Dumbledore refuses, acknowledging some of the evil actions and henchmen Voldemort has already accumulating, and mentioning how he has been pushing the magical powers of the dark arts and destruction past previous boundaries.

Why would Voldemort want to be a teacher? I think, personally, for some of the same reasons I wanted to start a blog. To become a teacher is to instruct and to instill ideological concepts into impressionable young minds. This is one of the reasons the leftist/Marxists in particular set up shop in the colleges and public school education systems. To inculcate an entire generation of children into a set of ideas will very likely determine the direction of society and the future actions of those children.

In the last book, Fudge was worried that Dumbledore was training an army of children to rise up against the Ministry; here too we see the implied use of education as an ideological weapon. Hitler, Stalin, and many other tyrants were all too eager to reach into the minds of children also and convert them to support and enforce their twisted societal aims.

Teaching can of course also be enlightening through rationality and reason. I did not create a blog to brainwash young children into libertarian concepts; I merely want to passionately convey the incredible societal benefits and beautiful consistency of logic and ethics that libertarianism embodies. I do not want power over others, and I want to empower others to give up that desire as well. We can have a free society of true equality of rights where there are no tyrants and rulers who are “more free than others” and who violate ethical laws at will.

Voldemort recognizes education as a potential source of power over others and, given his unending quest for power over others by magical means in the book, we can be almost ensured that he wanted to teach children for that exact reason.

The Next Book

I’m saving the space here in my blog for the next and final book in the series, something I have a LOT to say about. While the 6th book in the series is an excellent book, it doesn’t have nearly as much to say about politics and the relationship of Man and State. But please do enjoy the excellent plot line of this book otherwise; it has history and intrigue and adventure and treachery galore.

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