Previously: Ayn Rand’s Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.
“Steal Dad’s Anglia to fly to Hogwarts?” Ron cried in astonishment. “Mum would never let us hear the end of it!”
“The question isn’t who is going to let me,” Harry said, already climbing into the driver’s seat and making an informed, personal decision about whether or not he chose to wear a seatbelt, “it’s who is going to stop me.”
“A house-elf must be set free, sir. And the family will never set Dobby free…Dobby will serve the family until he dies, sir…”
Harry stared. “Listen, Dobby,” he explained, patiently taking a knee. “Freedom, in a political context, has only one meaning: the absence of physical coercion. It does not mean freedom from the landlord, or freedom from the employer, or freedom from the laws of nature which do not provide men with automatic prosperity. It means freedom from the coercive power of the state, and nothing more.”
Almost at once, Harry wished he hadn’t spoken. Dobby dissolved again into wails of gratitude.
“Harry Potter is t-too good to Dobby, sir!”
“Listen,” Harry continued briskly, “because I’m only going to explain this once; I’m late for Model UN Club, which I’m protesting as fascism disguised as cooperation this afternoon. Knowledge, thinking, and rational action are properties of the what, Dobby?”
“The–the individual, sir,” Dobby whimpered.
“That’s right, Dobby. And since the choice to exercise his rational faculty or not depends on the individual, man’s survival requires that those who think be free of…”
“The interference of those who don’t, sir?” Dobby asked hopefully.
“Exactly,” said Harry. “Now, since wizards are neither omniscient nor infallible, they must be free to agree or disagree, to cooperate or to pursue their own independent course, each according to his own rational judgment. Freedom is the fundamental requirement of man’s mind. A rational mind does not work under compulsion; it does not subordinate its grasp of reality to anyone’s orders, directives, or controls; it does not sacrifice its knowledge, its view of the truth, to anyone’s opinions, threats, wishes, plans, or “welfare.” Such a mind may be hampered by others, it may be silenced, proscribed, imprisoned, or destroyed; it cannot be forced. Which means…” Harry prompted.
“Which means…a wand is not an argument, sir!” cried Dobby in amazement.
“You have been free this whole time,” Harry said. “Have a fiver.”
Dobby’s eyes glinted with the fire of an individual who has come to appreciate the value of money.
“I heard he’s the heir of Slytherin,” one of the girls whispered as Harry walked by. He stopped in the loose, effortless manner of a man who is at home in his own body.
“Excuse me,” Harry said coolly. “Only the man who does not need it, is fit to inherit wealth, the man who would make his own fortune no matter where he started. If an heir is equal to his money, it serves him; if not, it destroys him.” He held his head in the manner of one who takes his beauty for granted, but knows that others do not.
“Yes, yes, I know what you’re thinking! ‘It’s all right for him, he’s an internationally famous wizard already!’ But when I was twelve, I was just as much of a nobody as you are now. In fact, I’d say I was even more of a nobody! I mean, a few people have heard of you, haven’t they? All that business with He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named!” He glanced at the lightning scar on Harry’s forehead. “I know, I know — it’s not quite as good as winning Witch Weekly’s Most-Charming-Smile Award five times in a row, as I have — but it’s a start, Harry, it’s a start.”
“A creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve, not by the desire to beat others,” Harry said from a davenport in the corner, half lying, sprawled limply like a kitten. It had often astonished Lockhart; he had seen Potter moving with the soundless tension, the control, the precision of a cat; he had seen him relaxed, like a cat, in shapeless ease, as if his body held no single solid bone.
“People think that a liar gains a victory over his victim,” Harry continued. “What I’ve learned is that a lie is an act of self-abdication, because one surrenders one’s reality to the person to whom one lies, making that person one’s master, condemning oneself from then on to faking the sort of reality that person’s view requires to be faked…The man who lies to the world, is the world’s slave from then on. There are no white lies, there is only the blackest of destruction, and a white lie is the blackest of all.”
“I…” Gilderoy began.
“You have no I,” Harry said abruptly, and rose to leave. “You barely exist.”
“You see, that’s what I admire about you, Harry. You always know.”
“Drop the compliments, Hermione.”
“But I mean it. How do you always manage to decide?”
“How can you let others decide for you?”
“But you see, I’m not sure, Harry. I’m never sure of myself. I don’t know whether I’m as good as they all tell me I am. I wouldn’t admit that to anyone but you. I think it’s because you’re always so sure that I–”
“I didn’t know it before. But it’s because I’ve never believed in God.”
“Come on, talk sense.” Hermione twisted the emerald cuff on her thin wrist.
“Because I love this earth. That’s all I love. I don’t like the shape of things on this earth. I want to change them.”
“Kiss me, you fool,” Hermione cried.
Harry did, efficiently. “You don’t have to applaud,” he said. “I don’t expect it.”
“In a capitalist system…” Dobby began, falteringly. He shot a look of unswerving devotion to Harry. Harry was used to such looks, as a man who behaved as he wished and not as others did.
“…and according to the dictates of the market,” Harry prompted.
“…And according to the dictates of the market,” Dobby continued, drawing himself up to his full two feet, three inches and jabbing Mr. Malfoy directly in the shins, “Dobby is already an independent agent, and may offer his services at whatever price he deems fit to whatever consumer wishes to procure them! Dobby is a free elf under capitalism!”
It was funny, Draco remembered, at one time he had wanted to be an artist. It was his mother who had chosen a better field in which to exercise his talent for drawing. “Wizardry,” she had said, “is such a respectable profession. Besides, you meet the best people in it.” She had pushed him into his career, he had never known when or how.
It was funny, thought Draco, he had not remembered that youthful ambition of his for years. It’s funny that it should hurt him now — to remember. Well, this was the night to remember it — and to forget it forever.
Wizards, he thought, always made brilliant careers. And once on top, did they ever fail? Suddenly, he recalled Henry Cameron; caster of great spells twenty years ago; old drunkard with offices on some waterfront today. Draco shuddered.
“Dobby is an end unto himself!” the elf chuckled as he capered down the hallway. “Dobby is dedicated to his own values!”
“Cheer up,” Harry said to Draco. “Have a fiver.”
Mallory is an Editor of The Toast.