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Is Albus Dumbledore A Libertarian?

jat93
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8/27/2011 1:52:17 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
An Analysis Of The Political Views Of Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster of Hogwarts In The Harry Potter Series

--- This was originally written outside of DDO, so terms and ideas that are commonplace around here might be explained in greater detail to suit the average reader.

To start off, Albus Dumbledore is without a doubt a socially liberal character, like almost all the "good" characters of the series are. Among other things, social liberals support equality for same-sex couples, and equal treatment of individuals regardless of race or religion. For starters, Dumbledore is homosexual, as is hinted at numerous times throughout the book and can be observed in his overall demeanor. Rowling has confirmed Dumbledore's sexual orientation in a "real world" interview. Regardless of whether or not this has had any influence on his other social views, Dumbledore thinks that pure-bloods should have no special treatments over half-bloods or muggles ("mud-bloods" as the racial purists would have you say) and adamantly insists that they should all be given the same fair treatment in just about every aspect of life. It follows that he is profoundly anti-racist.

However, social liberalism is only half of libertarianism's unofficial "slogan": socially liberal, fiscally conservative. Libertarians and liberals, though generally on the same page on social policies, vehemently disagree on fiscal policies, with liberalism advocating a "big government" role in the economy and thus in personal economic lives, and libertarianism advocating a government that only interferes with personal lives when one's natural rights have been intruded upon, and thus for a generally "small government."

This is where things get more complicated, because Dumbledore's fiscal views are less obvious and far less discussed, if they are discussed at all. However, there are several instances in which snippets of his views of government can be gleaned. Throughout the Harry Potter books, it is mentioned that on numerous occasions, Dumbledore refused the job of Minister of Magic (essentially, the wizarding President or Prime Minister) despite being a favorite of the wizarding community. This is probably because Dumbledore, just as libertarian wizards doubtlessly would, views the Ministry of Magic as generally corrupt and self-serving and actually quite inefficient at sorting things out. He knows that the more power given to the government, the worse it is for everyone else not in the government, and he isn't shy about his opinion that the government generally stinks at solving problems that would best be left in the hands of those they directly concern.

He displays this "anti-government intrusion" attitude when he is absolutely outraged that Dementors are allowed, on Ministry orders, to situate themselves around and inside Hogwarts in order to enhance the search for Sirius Black, an escaped convict from Azkaban. Dumbledore correctly identifies this Ministry intrusion into his school and thus the personal lives of his students as counter-intuitive and something that will ultimately create far more harm than good. He recognizes that it isn't the Ministry's place to make decisions of this nature regarding his school, and that furthermore, the decision will only foster more fear, tension, and discomfort among Hogwarts students instead of helping to find Black or even keeping him out. This is a profoundly libertarian attitude and is one held by most libertarians today, just without magic and dementors and all that stuff us muggles believe doesn't exist.

Dumbledore displays this same libertarian attitude when the Ministry appoints a new teacher named Dolores Umbridge to the Hogwarts staff while Dumbledore, yet again, realizes that this appointment will create far more harm than good for Hogwarts and its students. The Ministry starts out slowly in implementing its crooked plan, because it is smart enough to know that not even young students are naïve and unassuming enough to believe that Umbridge's appointment is really for their own good; it starts off slowly, first letting Umbridge serve as a normal teacher and soon promoting her to "Hogwarts High Inquisitor," an unprecedented, outwardly dictatorial position created solely by the Ministry to implement its corrupt, brainwashing agenda. Needless to say, Dumbledore and all the staff (aside from Filch of course – my fellow Harry Potter nerds will understand why) are rightfully pissed off at this pathetic governmental power grab and recognize that the Ministry should stay out of people's private affairs unless they do something that really necessitates punishment, or someone else's protection, etc. (Ah, if only teachers in America today would be so concerned about the federal government deciding what is and what is not acceptable to teach to students.)

I think there is good reason to assume that Albus Dumbledore is indeed socially liberal and fiscally conservative, and thus, a libertarian. Now, did J.K. Rowling intend to portray him as such? I don't know if the word "libertarian" specifically came to mind when creating the character, but I imagine she intended to portray him as a social liberal who values giving equally fair treatment and opportunities to all of his students, regardless of race or any other kind of background.

I'm less sure that Rowling intended to portray him as even the least bit fiscally conservative. Fiscal conservatism also entails the belief that a free-market economy with as few government regulations as possible is ideal and will be more prosperous than one with maximum government control and regulations of all sorts. Sure, Dumbledore hasn't had the best attitude/relationship with government in the past, but who knows what he thinks about the economy and how it best thrives? Nobody, perhaps aside from J.K. Rowling herself. Using probable implications, we can assume that he thinks government should stay the heck out of it, due to the self-serving motives that the government tends to acquire when allowed excess power, and Dumbledore's awareness of those motives.

But perhaps his belief that everybody should be equal trumps his belief that government has a knack for messing things when it gets heavily involved in them. Equality for all students is something that, as Headmaster of Hogwarts, Dumbledore is always concerned with throughout the books, so maybe he values the "redistribution of wealth" so as to create some kind of equality more so than he values small government. Ultimately, implications are just that: implications.

Even so, if Albus Dumbledore is not a libertarian, he certainly has profoundly libertarian streaks in whatever philosophy he does adhere to.
SuperRobotWars
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8/27/2011 1:55:33 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
No, he's an Communist.
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: At 12/6/2011 2:21:41 PM, badger wrote:
: ugly people should beat beautiful people ugly. simple! you'd be killing two birds with the one stone... women like violent men and you're making yourself more attractive, relatively. i met a blonde dude who was prettier than me not so long ago. he's not so pretty now! ha!
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000ike
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8/27/2011 1:56:49 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
No, he's a warlock that can use magic to get whatever he wants.
"A stupid despot may constrain his slaves with iron chains; but a true politician binds them even more strongly with the chain of their own ideas" - Michel Foucault
Kinesis
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8/27/2011 2:04:34 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
That's a fair argument, but I'm fairly sure this is just a massive over-analysis and J.K. Rowling probably doesn't even know what a 'Libertarian' is and probably didn't intend to ascribe any specific political views to any of her characters at all. She is, btw, a Labour supporter in Britain (the centre-left party).
wjmelements
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8/27/2011 2:27:28 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 8/27/2011 1:52:17 PM, jat93 wrote:
But perhaps his belief that everybody should be equal trumps his belief that government has a knack for messing things when it gets heavily involved in them. Equality for all students is something that, as Headmaster of Hogwarts, Dumbledore is always concerned with throughout the books, so maybe he values the "redistribution of wealth" so as to create some kind of equality more so than he values small government.

You're confusing types of equality. He may value equal treatment or equal opportunity, but I don't think he ever valued equal result.
in the blink of an eye you finally see the light
Kinesis
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8/27/2011 2:37:51 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 8/27/2011 2:32:49 PM, LeafRod wrote:
Why wouldn't JK Rowling know what a libertarian is?

Libertarianism is, as far as I can tell, a far less popular or well known ideology in Britain than in America (and even then, I'm sure a lot of Americans wouldn't have a clue what one was either).
freedomsquared
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8/27/2011 3:10:31 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
In a previous post, we determined that Dumbledore was very similar to an anarcho-communist, with his group above the individual mentality.
But it's Norway, sort of the Canada of Europe."
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jat93
Posts: 1,440
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8/27/2011 3:19:37 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 8/27/2011 2:27:28 PM, wjmelements wrote:
At 8/27/2011 1:52:17 PM, jat93 wrote:
But perhaps his belief that everybody should be equal trumps his belief that government has a knack for messing things when it gets heavily involved in them. Equality for all students is something that, as Headmaster of Hogwarts, Dumbledore is always concerned with throughout the books, so maybe he values the "redistribution of wealth" so as to create some kind of equality more so than he values small government.

You're confusing types of equality. He may value equal treatment or equal opportunity, but I don't think he ever valued equal result.

The arguments I have heard from those who favor wealth redistribution seem to indicate that people support it precisely so that everyone will have equal opportunity. In other words, I'm not quite sure that those who support redistribution of wealth see it as forcefully creating equal result; it's more that the equal opportunity can only come after the wealth has been redistributed.
jat93
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8/27/2011 3:23:57 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 8/27/2011 2:04:34 PM, Kinesis wrote:
That's a fair argument, but I'm fairly sure this is just a massive over-analysis and J.K. Rowling probably doesn't even know what a 'Libertarian' is and probably didn't intend to ascribe any specific political views to any of her characters at all. She is, btw, a Labour supporter in Britain (the centre-left party).

While I did say admit J.K. Rowling in all likelihood did not intend to portray Dumbledore as the libertarian that I chose to interpret him as, I don't think I over-analyzed at all. I considered his personality and some of his views on government/government intervention throughout the Harry Potter series, only based on a simple reading of the text, no reading anything into the books that wasn't actually there.
jat93
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8/27/2011 8:56:54 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 8/27/2011 3:45:32 PM, Rockylightning wrote:
This is what charleslb does when he's high.

Charleslb doesn't get high because his government says not to.
Mirza
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8/27/2011 9:05:10 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 8/27/2011 2:37:51 PM, Kinesis wrote:
At 8/27/2011 2:32:49 PM, LeafRod wrote:
Why wouldn't JK Rowling know what a libertarian is?

Libertarianism is, as far as I can tell, a far less popular or well known ideology in Britain than in America (and even then, I'm sure a lot of Americans wouldn't have a clue what one was either).
Thatcherism, perhaps?
LeafRod
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8/27/2011 11:37:47 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 8/27/2011 2:37:51 PM, Kinesis wrote:
At 8/27/2011 2:32:49 PM, LeafRod wrote:
Why wouldn't JK Rowling know what a libertarian is?

Libertarianism is, as far as I can tell, a far less popular or well known ideology in Britain than in America (and even then, I'm sure a lot of Americans wouldn't have a clue what one was either).

I think she'd be aware enough to have an idea what it is, or at least have heard of it. Though now that I think about it, you might be right; she is a successful woman whom I'm sure leads an active and fulfilling life and probably doesn't spend all her time on the internet. The complete opposite of most libertarians.