According to the American Library Association the Harry Potter series topped
the most frequently banned books last year. Unfortunately this is not
because of revolutionary content, the reason that MIM literature is
frequently banned from prisons. The banning of Harry Potter is instructive
about mainstream political sentiment in Amerika. Fueled by advocates of
religious education, the fantasy content of the Harry Potter books is
driving the banning movement. Christianity is at odds with the witchcraft in
Harry Potter, and specifically with the lack of a biblical God in Potter's
world. This is a good start for MIM as a recommendation for the Harry Potter
series. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix in particular had much content related to
death and ghosts. The book implies that after death spirits live on, but
there is no heaven or hell, and no God to worship or answer to in the world
of Harry Potter.
As a result of the lack of religious content, the Harry Potter books have a focus on people, or in this case wizards and witches, having control of their world, and there are some good lessons for readers in this series. There is no power to rely on but themselves and the dark arts are only as evil as those who use them. In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Potter at age 15 is now in his fifth year at Hogwarts school of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The focus is still on Potter and his friends as they get caught up in the fight against evil people seeking to take power and rule the world as purebloods.
As MIM has mentioned in its review of the first Harry Potter movie, the evil witches and wizards are a pretty clear allusion to Hitler and his supporters. This is a good political lesson in and of itself. And in addition, the books empower kids to take action and leadership in their world rather than waiting for the adults to do everything. The Order of the Phoenix has the strongest adult in the book (the head of Hogwarts, Aldus Dumbledore) admit his failings because of his judgment being blurred by age and emotions, implying that youth are sometimes better fit to make decisions.
This book devotes some attention to the oppression of other races at the hands of witches and wizards but this is a small subplot at best. There are house elves in the book who serve the humans. They can only be freed by being given an item of clothing and most of the elves encountered do not want to be freed of their servitude. Many humans treat the elves very badly but one of the main characters, Hermione, a classmate of Harry Potter, is a strong proponent of freeing all elves. She knits clothing and leaves it lying around the school hoping the elves will discover it and accidentally be freed. But the elves refuse to clean the area where she leaves clothes, not wanting to be set free. Rowling takes things further having Aldus Dumbledore declare that elves have long been mistreated by humyns and that this relationship must change.
In addition to the elves, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix expands on the oppression of giants at the hands of humans, and the mistreatment of Centaurs, offering both criticism and hope as inroads are made to better relations with at least one of each race by humans determined to effect change.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix also does a good job promoting the relative importance of some work, such as saving the world from evil. Repeatedly Rowling has characters point out that some causes are worth dying for, and Harry Potter is reminded of the relative unimportance of school classes, romance, and the opinions of others in the context of the fight against Lord Voldemort. Rowlings turns what would have otherwise been uselessly obligatory teenage romance in the book into a lesson in relative priorities as Potter barely puts much attention at all into the girl he is trying to date as he focuses on other battles. And in the end he realizes he has lost interest in her entirely, after victory in a difficult battle, as he enjoys the close support of his comrades in the fight.
On the negative side, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, like its predecessors, is an escapist fantasy novel that doesn't focus on important real world issues of oppression. While that's to be expected in fantasy books under capitalism, MIM holds culture up to a higher standard. Overall this book should not be banned after the revolution, but we are confident that the people can do better and produce fiction that takes on oppression and exploitation head on with heroes devoting their lives to fighting for a better world for all people.