20 August 2007

The Politics of Harry Potter

Judging by their commentaries on J. K. Rowling's seven-volume Harry Potter series, Lakshmi Chaudhry (writing for The Nation) hates what Lisa Schiffren (writing for The Weekly Standard) likes. Chaudhry thinks Rowling's moral lessons in what is, after all, a work of children's literature, are "politically evasive." Schiffren is put off by Harry's not ever killing anyone, not even his worst enemy.

Come now. Do we really want to politicize our children? And do we really want Harry to become one of those "underage fighters" like those who are the scourge of developing societies in places like Africa and Central Asia?

Finally, Chaudhry decries the triteness of the personal - it seems that the great conflict wasn't really about some noble abstraction (like liberating the masses, one supposes), rather it was about the freedom to live an ordinary life. Schiffren celebrates this, rightly claiming that all the great causes are ultimately about the freedom to live our ordinary lives - that, ultimately, all political philosophy, political economy, all politics is about the personal life, and who should determine how we might best live it. Schiffren thinks that determination is best made by each of us. One wonders who Chaudhry thinks should make it.

The tug-of-war between the two reviews reinforces my opinion that Liberals and Conservatives each live in half of reality, more or less.

1 comment:

In Russet Shadows said...

In my personal experiences with liberals (namely, just about everyone I have ever worked with), I've found that they don't often connect the dots. The positions they take are purely defensive one-offs against a deep internal wellspring of fear. Whether it's fear that they are incorrect, fear that the world is truly an awful place and they are unprepared, fear of something other -- I think it is some rancid combination of the three. Thus, emotional eruptions; thus lack of dialog; thus inability to debate.