Harry Potter and the millennial mind: How J.K. Rowling shaped the political thinking of a generation

Harry Potter and the millennial mind: How J.K. Rowling shaped the political thinking of a generation, by Lara Prendergast.

The ‘Potterverse’ is the millennial universe. It informs the way we see ourselves and the way we look at the world; our moral imagination. If you have ever wondered why young people are often so childish in their politics, why they want to divide the world between tolerant progressives and wicked reactionaries, it helps to understand that. …

It is a naive landscape in which most problems are solved by magic. To believe in it, even ironically, is to divide people into goodies and baddies, and ignore the complexity of reality. …

Harry Potter may be a literary fantasy but for many it is also a substitute religion in a secular era. The books are about the fight between good and evil, and the power of magic. They teach you that bigotry must be fought at all costs, that tolerance and difference must be celebrated.

The great symbol of malevolence is Harry’s nemesis, Lord Voldemort — or ‘He Who Must Not Be Named’. He wants to rid the wizarding world of Muggles (people from non-wizarding heritage) and is obsessed with the idea of blood purity. The Harry Potter generation sees real-life Voldemorts everywhere. Donald Trump, Nigel Farage, Marine Le Pen, Vladimir Putin, Viktor Orbán — all are compared to the Dark Lord. Following Trump’s election, a number of articles drew parallels between his administration and the Potterverse. … ‘Who Said It — Steve Bannon or Lord Voldemort?’. … At Harvard, students launched the ‘Resistance School’ to fight back against Trump’s agenda, comparing themselves to ‘Dumbledore’s Army’, a force set up in the books to combat ‘dark magic’. Articles such as ‘Ten Things Dumbledore’s Army Taught Us about Activism and Political Resistance’ were published. At anti-fascism protests across the world, placards reading ‘Dumbledore’s Army’ or ‘Hermione wouldn’t stand for this’ have become a common sight. …

Rowling and the Potterverse are pro-Remain:

In the EU referendum, 75 per cent of 18- to 24-year-olds voted Remain. Could it be that the messages contained in the Harry Potter series helped direct Britain’s younger generation? Harry’s uncle, Vernon Dursley, is the archetypal Little Englander. He lives in boring suburbia, at 4 Privet Drive in Little Whinging, Surrey, and reads the Daily Mail. He’s a narrow-minded, mean-spirited man who makes his nephew sleep in a cupboard under the stairs. No self-respecting Potter fan would want to be associated with him — or his political views.

Prior to the referendum, Rowling confirmed what many suspected: horrible Uncle Vernon would have voted Leave. In the wake of this revelation, an ironic piece was published on the website of the US TV channel Comedy Central, suggesting how other characters would have voted. Heroes such as Harry Potter, Hermione Granger and Hagrid would all have voted In — as would Dumbledore, because he’s ‘seen what wartime is like too many times’. On the Out side were some of the books’ most notorious villains: Professor Snape, Draco Malfoy and Bellatrix Lestrange (who would vote Out ‘to restore the primacy of true Brits’). ‘The Potterverse is pro-Remain’ wrote one fan, who urged everyone to ‘Vote in sync with Rowling to keep the monsters once again at bay.’ …

And in favor of open borders:

Following the attack near Finsbury Park mosque last Sunday, the author was quick to accuse Nigel Farage of being responsible. ‘Let’s talk about how the #FinsburyPark terrorist was radicalised,’ she said, attaching a picture of the former Ukip leader in front of the now infamous ‘Breaking Point’ poster, which showed a queue of refugees. The tweet received 25,000 likes within a few hours.

hat-tip Stephen Neil