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Thread: Get Hammered and Sickled! - Marxism in the Wizarding World

  1. #1
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    Get Hammered and Sickled! - Marxism in the Wizarding World

    [WARNING: The following post contains COMMUNISM. To those unfamiliar with the theories of Marx, this will make little sense.]

    Privet, Comrades!

    I have some thoroughly useless questions about Marxist theory and what it has to do with the wizarding world!

    Marx divided up history into different economic phases, from first to last: primitive communism/tribalism, slave society, feudalism, capitalism, the dictatorship of the proletariat (transitional), and lastly communism. Though traditional Marxism stresses the need for each stage to follow the others in sequence, later communists had their own interpretations. For instance, Mao Zedong determined that China was still in the feudal stage (China still being agrarian and lacking a large urban proletariat) but decided to skip the capitalist phase altogether and proceed straight to communism (or at least a mangled, self-destructing attempt at it).

    Now, here are some questions about the wizarding world and Marx's historical dialectic:

    What stage of history would the wizarding world of Britain, as seen in the Harry Potter books, be in? How would wizarding Marxists classify their own society?

    If magical Britain is NOT deemed as being in the capitalist phase, do you think wizarding Marxists would want to develop capitalism to create the perfect conditions for communist revolution, or would they just want to bypass it?


    Now for the joyous topic of CLASS STRUGGLE!

    To Marx, there are essentially just two kinds of people: the exploiter and the exploited. If you work more than is necessary to support yourself, than you are exploited. If you work less than is necessary to support yourself, than you are a dirty capitalist exploiter. The basic goal of Marxism is to eliminate exploitation, and therefore ensure that everyone receives as much as their labour is worth.

    But who is "exploited"? For Marx, the most prominent of the exploited peoples are the industrial working classes. Being urban proletarians and not farmers, these people have to work for someone else to survive, and are thus utterly dependent on their capitalist employer/exploiter in a sort of "wage slavery" relationship. Therefore, the urban industrial proletariat is the foundation of the Revolution according to Marx, since they are the most exploited class and in the most practical position to force change in a class struggle against capitalists.

    Now for some questions:

    Are there any people/beings/classes in the Harry Potter series whose economic situation resembles that of the classical Marxist industrial proletariat? What/who would a wizarding Marxist determine to be the foundation of a Revolution?

    What about House Elves? Do you think wizarding Marxists would consider them the vehicle of revolutionary socioeconomic change, or do you think wizarding Marxists would rather rely on human support?

    From a Marxist perspective, how would you describe the economic situation of goblins? How exploited (or not) are they?


    And now for a random question:

    Could you see Hermione Granger as a Marxist? Are there other Harry Potter characters who exhibit Marxian tendencies?

    Those are just the questions I have for now. ĦHasta la victoria siempre!

    Го Пролетариат, Баби!

    Tim the Enchanter

  2. #2
    Inverarity
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    What stage of history would the wizarding world of Britain, as seen in the Harry Potter books, be in? How would wizarding Marxists classify their own society?

    If magical Britain is NOT deemed as being in the capitalist phase, do you think wizarding Marxists would want to develop capitalism to create the perfect conditions for communist revolution, or would they just want to bypass it?


    Wizarding Britain in many ways seems stuck in a pseudo-Victorian society, but I think it's rather more capitalist than feudalist. The domination of pureblood families notwithstanding, we're told in HBP that wizards don't really have an aristocracy, and we know that banking and commerce plays a large role in wizarding society.

    I don't think that Marxists believe that a society necessarily must go through all those historical phases in order to arrive at Marxism, though, so if they deemed the society to be more feudal than capitalist, I think they'd try to move it directly towards Marxism rather than pushing into capitalism first as an "intermediate" stage.

    Are there any people/beings/classes in the Harry Potter series whose economic situation resembles that of the classical Marxist industrial proletariat? What/who would a wizarding Marxist determine to be the foundation of a Revolution?

    Well, house-elves, obviously. I think Marxists would expect house-elves to be natural footsoldiers in their cause, and see their reluctance to break their chains as signs of just how thoroughly the wizards have oppressed them.

    I would expect that Marxist wizards would mostly come from Muggle-born ranks (though some purebloods might be seized with revolutionary fervor as well, just as many Marxists came from wealthy bourgeois families), and purebloods would be the natural target of their revolutionary goals -- even if it's not always clear that purebloods do actually exploit non-purebloods. Discriminate against them and treat them as inferiors, yes -- one could see the wealth of pureblood families as evidence of their exploitation, but then there are the Weasleys. I suspect in a wizarding Marxist revolution, though, the Weasleys would go up against the wall along with everyone else.

    What about House Elves? Do you think wizarding Marxists would consider them the vehicle of revolutionary socioeconomic change, or do you think wizarding Marxists would rather rely on human support?
    Marxists, like all revolutionaries, have a remarkable ability to not let their ideals interfere with their ingrained prejudices. For example, in theory Marxism seeks gender egalitarianism along with equality in all other things, but in practice, Marxist revolutionaries were typically as sexist as anyone else. So I think Marxist wizards would preach liberation for house-elves (and Centaurs, and Merpeople, and in fact would probably regard all non-humans as fellow proletariats exploited by the wizard ruling class), but in practice, I think many of them would still treat house-elves in a patronizing fashion, and regard them as tools and cannon fodder for their revolution.

    From a Marxist perspective, how would you describe the economic situation of goblins? How exploited (or not) are they?
    That's a toughie -- goblins obviously believe they are oppressed by wizards, and Marxists would be sympathetic to that. On the other hand, accumulations of wealth are pretty clear indications of exploitation; Marxists do not generally have a high opinion of bankers. The goblin view of ownership is somewhat Marxist, regarding goblin artifacts as property of the goblin community, effectively on "loan" to the buyer, but only for that person's lifetime. So I think goblins and Marxists would find a lot of common ground, and I wouldn't be surprised if some goblins joined the cause. However, I think fundamental differences in viewpoint would cause friction, and neither side would entirely trust the other.

    Could you see Hermione Granger as a Marxist? Are there other Harry Potter characters who exhibit Marxian tendencies?

    I could see Hermione going through a Marxist phase, especially if her parents (about whom we know nothing) have any socialist leanings. I think the point where Hermione would balk is the logical progression to violent revolution. She might be willing to preach revolution, but I don't think she'd be willing to carry it to its bloody conclusion.

    Nobody else seems particularly Marxist, but I could see a lot of young Muggle-born kids also going through a Marxist phase, especially as a way of waving a flag in the faces of purebloods. I think Luna might also find the idea of Marxism interesting, but I'm not sure she'd really be interested in revolution.

  3. #3
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    Interesting answers, Inverarity. I was thinking that the existence of a pureblood pseudo-nobility and a large servile class would make the wizarding world of Britain lean more towards the feudalist stage in the social dimension. The economics are tricky, however, since the wizarding world is not agrarian, but it is not dominated by huge companies either - it seems to sit in the middle with small family businesses the norm.

    Anyway, here are some more random questions that involve imposing Marxism on the wizarding world!

    One of the greatest flaws of socialist command economies was the lack of incentive to work. Since the government guaranteed employment and equal wages, most people were perfectly content to slack off and not get any work done, but still get their wages and food rations (after waiting a few hours in line) anyways. In a hypothetical socialist country in the wizarding world, do you think productivity and/or efficiency would be affected by the existence of magic? How would a magical socialist command economy fare compared to a Muggle one?

    On a related note, the traditional socialist state was supposed to have NO unemployment, with jobs guaranteed for all citizens. However, the wizarding world doesn't have any factories or industry (that we're aware of), or similar trades to soak up large amounts of labour. How do you think a wizarding socialist state would provide jobs for all of its citizens?

    The Hammer and Sickle is the signature symbol of communism, representing the industrial proletariat and peasantry, respectively. However, how much relevance would a hammer and a sickle have with wizards and witches, seeing that there is neither a large peasantry or industrial proletariat in the wizarding world? Would wizarding Marxists use the hammer and sickle, or do you think they'd use a symbol or symbols with more relevance to the wizarding world? If so, what would it/they be?


    Thanks for perusing this rather strange thread, and I appreciate all comments and answers.

    Tов. Tim the Enchanter

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