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The magic of Harry Potter is still very much with us. The story of the “boy who lived” remains in the headlines, fueled by controversy over J.K. Rowling‘s participation in the cast reunion hosted by HBO Max and Jon Stewart‘s unfortunate statements regarding the alleged anti-Semitism behind the gnomes at Gringotts magic bank.
Meanwhile, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter continues to draw millions of people to Florida each year, hosted at Universal Studios’ Islands of Adventure, which doubled its number of attendees (from 4.63 million to 10.38 million) between 2009 and 2019. And around the world, words like muggle, Hogwarts, quidditch, Gryffindor or Ravenclaw have become part of the language.
All this happens almost 15 years after the release of the last book and more than a decade away from the last movie, which makes it very clear that this is not a mere pop fad. The magic of Harry Potter remains and will remain for generations (in a way comparable only to Star Wars within modern culture) because that magic appeals to more than the mere fantasy of enchantments: to the longing for a world sustained in tradition.
Is the magic of Harry Potter conservative?
Yes, it is undeniable that, for many years, J.K. Rowling made an effort to repeat in her interviews the progressive discourse of the moment in order to stay on good terms with the aggressive progressive gang (until she got fed up and put a stop to it with the issue regarding transgender women.) It is also true that, in her personal life, Rowling has identified much more with the political left. She is clearly not a Trump fan or a Glenn Beck listener.
However, in her books, the magical world is deeply conservative, and it is precisely the conservative values that give it that truly “magical” touch, which makes it a different place from our world and awakens in us the longing to escape into modernity in its pages.
What conservative values am I referring to?
To the value of tradition, to the relevance of the family, to the distrust of fads and innovations, to the conception of society as the result of an unspoken pact between those who lived before, those who live now and those who will live after.
Think about it: modern progressivism and liberalism despise or openly destroy (under the pretext of “deconstructing”) traditions, ride headlong into every new “trend” and essentially consider themselves entitled to reinvent themselves from scratch at every moment, with nothing previous being sacred, with nothing pre-existing being valuable beyond the current whim.
We are all, to a greater or lesser extent, immersed in this worldview, this liquid reality where everything flows, nothing is fully certain and nothing remains, except the will to question and destroy everything else: marriage, family, nation, identity itself.
The dynamism of our world has, of course, many good things: individual freedom, being less subject to the whim of criticism from those around us, technological advances and the creation of alternatives that allow us to live with comfort that would have been impossible under a traditional scheme. However, this dynamism also becomes exasperating.
That is where the magic of Harry Potter becomes a true balm for the spirit. To open the books is to enter a world where reality is the result of a consensus between generations, who nurture traditions as solid and ancient as the walls of Hogwarts. The classes, the ceremonies, the coexistence tell us about a way of being that has remained for more than a thousand years and that is still alive, because it is still valued.
A couple of examples:
In the books (unlike the movies) all wizards wear robes and remain voluntarily and absolutely separate from the fashions of the modern (Muggle) world which is especially clear in Rowling’s description of the wizards’ disguises to go unnoticed while camping out for the Quidditch World Cup final (at the beginning of “Goblet of Fire.”)
In the magical world, clothes, food, even homes are inherited and valued for their permanence. “The Burrow” of the Weasleys, the Black’s house or the Malfoy’s mansion are handcrafted homes, old, adapted and molded by history, in open contrast with the shocking industrialized space of the mass prefabricated house, where the very muggle Dursleys live, surrounded by a thousand other equal dwellings.
The magic of Harry Potter is conservative
Even the most progressive readers yearn, deep down, for tradition, certainty, and a life beyond themselves.
That’s why the seduction and potency of Harry Potter’s magic are not just in the ingenuity of the charms or the ferocity of the powers the wizards deploy, but in the homely, traditional way they use them, not to travel the world in Bentley’s or become Elon Musk, but to cook at home, write with quill pen under the dim light of a candle, sitting in the living room of a century-old castle or a house raised for generations.
It is not magic that transforms, but one that preserves. It is not a magic that deconstructs, but one that maintains and develops tradition. It is not magic that launches itself into the future, but one that values the past. It is not a magic that industrializes, but one that works in an artisanal way. It is not a progressive magic. The magic of Harry Potter is conservative.
Gerardo Garibay Camarena, is a doctor of law, writer and political analyst with experience in the public and private sectors. His new book is "How to Play Chess Without Craps: A Guide to Reading Politics and Understanding Politicians" // Gerardo Garibay Camarena es doctor en derecho, escritor y analista político con experiencia en el sector público y privado. Su nuevo libro es “Cómo jugar al ajedrez Sin dados: Una guía para leer la política y entender a los políticos”