*Warning: Spoilers for all seven Harry Potter books and movies follow. If you haven’t read the complete series, step away from the computer. Also, did you have a childhood?
On Monday I talked about some major failings in the wizarding educational system. Today I’m going to discuss another huge absurdity in the Harry Potter universe that I only considered as an adult. Namely…
2. Cultural Xenophobia and Market Blindness
First, I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume that witches and wizards are a global minority. Considering the fact that Hogwarts is the only wizarding school in all of Britain, and every magical child is obliged to attend, and all the wizarding families all know one another…yeah, definitely a global minority. Now let’s take a look at the wizarding community’s relationship with the Muggle world. That’s right–they don’t have one. Witches and wizards actively eschew any dealings with the Muggle world, and when a witch or wizard (like Arthur Weasley) shows any interest in the technology or culture of Muggles he is assumed to be a bit mental and generally shunned. And that’s the best case scenario.
And when forced to go out and interact with the Muggle world, witches and wizards seemingly take great pains to dress like idiots. The Minister of Magic himself, who is the only prominent magical personage to have any official dealings with the Muggle world, is described as wearing a pinstriped suit, scarlet tie, long black travelling cloak, pointed purple boots, and lime green bowler hat. Lime green bowler hat? Really? Where would one even acquire such a thing? It seems to be a badge of pride in the wizarding world to have absolutely no clue about Muggle customs or culture, and behave as though Muggles don’t exist, despite the fact that they outnumber the wizarding community a thousand to one.
Second, let’s consider wizarding economics. I have one word for you: goblins. Goblins run Gringotts, which is the only bank in the wizarding world; therefore, goblins control the wizarding economy. And Gringotts serves only one apparent function: storing money. Wizards seem to have no concept of economics beyond saving the money they’ve already made. There is no mention of a wizarding stock market, or even a system of loans and credit, nor does there appear to be any industry, manufacturing, or agriculture in the wizarding world. Not to mention the fact that the wizarding currency is extremely rudimentary, with coins minted out of actual precious metals and no paper money. How Harry’s parents came to possess such great piles of gold is somewhat mystifying; if defying Voldemort paid so well, I’m surprised more people didn’t do it.
So, on top of being extremely dismissive of Muggle global hegemony the wizarding world has no concept of economics. And to that I say: big mistake! A synthesis of wizard magic and Muggle technology could lead to great things, the least of which would be making every witch and wizard in Britain fabulously wealthy. The wizarding world is missing out on a huge market with Muggles. Think about it: wizards have a monopoly on magic, so any addition of magic to the Muggle lifestyle would equal Galleons in pockets. Everything from technology to healthcare to science could be revolutionized by the addition of wizarding ability and knowledge. Pepperup Potions, Ten-Second Pimple Vanishers, Pygmy Puffs–what Muggle wouldn’t want them? Enterprising witches and wizards could be getting filthy rich while advancing human progress.
But no. They’d rather prance around in lime-green bowler hats and pointy-toed purple boots, feeling superior while their outdated fiscal policies bankrupt the wizarding world one misused Galleon at a time. Way to go, wizards.
Stay tuned for Friday’s third and final instalment of Harry Potter and the Illiterate Wizards!