Douwe Osinga's Blog: How to save the Wizard World

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Just like half the planet, I've read the latest in the Harry Potter series. I did like the book, though it is more of the same (and rather a lot more of the same at over 700 pages, compared to just 280 for the first one). What did bother me this time was the arrogance of the wizards towards the muggle (non wizard) world. If I was a wizard, I would be worried.

The whole wizard thing seems to have started somewhere around the beginning of the second millennium. Back then, the power difference between the muggles and wizards was unbelievable large. The muggles didn't know anything about the world, lived uncomfortable lives and died young of avoidable diseases. They were ruled by cruel and often mad dictators, communicated by travelling bards and the horseback was the fastest way to travel and even that was to expensive for most people. Fast forward a thousand years. Not much has changed in the wizard world. They cling to traditions and most these traditions are old. But the muggles. Travelling by plane is faster and more comfortable than by broom. E-mail sure beats sending owls. Medicine has made tremendous strides forwards. Moving paintings are all very nice, but we have webcams and dvd players. The wizards still have some incredible tricks, but the way we're catching up, should worry them. It really should interest them why the muggles are catching up that fast. They should study it and learn something from it.

One of the first things the wizards should copy, is liberal democracy. The wizard world is run like a communist dictatorship. The Ministry of Magic tightly controls the press and is the juridical, executive and legistive branch rolled in one. If you are an enemy of the state, they'll make you disappear into their Gulag, Azkaban for any minor thing.

Economically, the wizard world is a disaster. The Weasleys are poor, even though mr Weasley works for the ministry. Apparently, the productivity of British wizard society per head is about equal that of the Muggles. How can that be, when the first group has magic at its disposal? Its for the same reason as why the Soviet Union couldn't keep up.

The wizard world is governed badly. This is problematic in the battle against Voldemort, but in the long run the competition is the Muggle world. The pas couple of hundred years, the Muggles were so far behind, it didn't matter that much. With the current technological and economical growth in the Muggle world, it will not take long before the Muggles will overtake the wizards in power, wealth and knowledge. This can only be avoided by fundamentally reforming the Wizard world. Press and market should be free. The powers of government should be separated and democracy should be introduced. Only then a new Golden Age with rapid economic and scientific (magic) growth can be attained. The alternative is domination by the Muggles.