Thursday, June 30, 2005

Harry Potter political structure

Last night, I stayed up far too late re-reading the fifth Harry Potter (in Hebrew, actually) and I found that the biggest problem in the wizard world is neither Voldemort nor the Dark Arts, but their own political structure. Unless I am very much mistaken, the Minister of Magic has almost absolute power. He controls the judicial (Harry's trial), legislative (all of Umbridge's new laws), and executive (controlling the Dementors and the executioner in book 3) branches of government. He also seems to control the one real newspaper in the entire wizarding world and can do whatever he wants with the one real school. And, most disturbing of all, there is never any talk of elections, impeachments, or any political opposition. The book mentions the post being 'offered' to Dumbledore, which implies that this absolute dictatorship is awarded by some shadowy counsel to anyone who catches their fancy. Nor do there seem to be any civil liberties, political action committees, or lobbyists. There is no one to prevent the rampant child abuse taking place in Hogwarts, nor does it seem that there's any to complain to. And this ministry seems to be a complicated, sprawling beaurocracy (almost all adult characters are employed by the ministry in some capacity) that legislates almost every aspect of wizarding life.
The only thing that confuses me is why Voldemort needed his reign of terror; it would have been simpler and more effective to have himself appointed Minister of Magic, and then he could rule the world without any opposition at all.

7 comments:

Rachel said...

But killing people is fun. Why would you want to skip the best part of taking over the world?

Rachel said...

You also have to remember how small the Wizarding world really is. There are less than 100 kids a year at Hogwarts, and it's the only school in England. That means a total population of less than 20,000 people (assuming 200 years average lifespan). It's hard to have checks and balances when you're in a community smaller than most towns.

Tobie said...

Granted, but there do seem to be some problems with the system even given such a small population. Especially considering the large amount of brain power invested in improving it from the likes of Dumbledore, you'd think that at some point someone would realize the fundemental flaws. I'm not asking for sophisticated checks and balances, but even maybe an election?

Mike said...

Tobie England may be just the beaurocratic government center and outside the country there are elections.

Tobie said...

No dice, Mike. HTe books are very clear that other countries have their own unrelated forms of governemtn, so England's beaurocracy is all there is to their whole system

MiriK said...

I thought there was at least one other school in England. and there certaintly seem to be way over a hundred kids at Hogwarts, at least from the movies. otherwise, what the heck do they need such a big palace for?

Tobie said...

Many kids, yes, but you forget that there are seven grades- that only averages to 15ish kids a year, boys and girls. I don't believe I've heard of any other houses in England. Beauxbaton is clearly in France and that other one is somewhere Russianish