Thank you for joining us! Harry and the Potters’ new song The Sword, The Cup, and the Dragon will be widely available soon on their new album, Lumos. You can pre-order it right now at Kickstarter.
In the Harry Potter Universe on the first of May in the year 1998, Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Griphook broke into the Bank of Gringotts. They committed acts of theft, violence and destroyed large portions of the bank and private property as they escaped on the back of a dragon that they liberated.
In the wider world May 1 is celebrated as May Day and as International Workers’ Day. This worldwide celebration of workers and their struggle has its roots in an 1886 general strike in Chicago that aimed to achieve an 8 hour work day. It is now regarded as a universal celebration of solidarity between workers, a time to commemorate the collective social and economic achievements of workers.
Where’s the intersection here? Are you ready to ride this dragon with us?
As Harry, Hermione, Ron, and Griphook break into the bank, their world suffers from the effects of an accumulation of power into the hands of Voldemort and the Death Eaters. Quirrel summarizes the Death Eater’s philosophy way back in the first book saying, “There is no good or evil, there is only power and those too weak to seek it.” The aims of the Death Eaters are to use the existing structures of their society to maintain a power imbalance. While we don’t know much about how those massive fortunes at Gringotts were built, we can clearly see the manifestation of wealth inequality within the wizarding world. Such inequality is frequently a symptom of the exploitation of labor. What are the solutions to this? How can we create a more equitable society?
Towards the end of the 19th century labor movements took aim to redistribute the power that the owning class had accumulated. May Day began to be known as International Workers’ Day around this time and the culture of organized labor movements spread worldwide. Throughout the 20th century, Labor seized power from the owning class through revolution and through governing policies that regulated capitalism. However, since the end of the 20th century, once the West declared communism dead, planned and regulated economies were deregulated and labor was once again devalued on a global scale. The inequality of wealth distribution is now on the rise and the transference of that wealth-power occurs increasingly through inheritance.
Which takes us back to Gingotts, where Griphook, the rogue banker, makes a deal with Harry Potter to assist in the break-in in exchange for the goblin-forged Sword of Gryffindor. For a thousand years the ownership of the Sword has been disputed between wizards and goblins. Wizards claim that inheritance should pass to the descendants of the purchaser, while goblin laws of inheritance are more nuanced and dictate that a purchase is temporary and ownership reverts to the makers at the end of the purchaser’s life. We must wrestle with the immense scale and consequences of inheritance and its role in extending power. Who should control the the tools made by yesteryear: the descendants of their creators, the descendants of their purchasers, or are there other systems to explore?
When you celebrate this May Day, send messages of appreciation and solidarity to all you know who labor. Whether that labor is paid or unpaid, compensated with the material power of capital or not, labor is labor! Together we can dream of the day the dragon breaks free from her chains, blasts her way out of captivity at the biggest wizarding bank, and is given the leisure time to sip cool water from the shores of an unpolluted lake.
The Sword, The Cup, and the Dragon
There’s a goblin on my head that nobody can see
Underneath my cloak of invisibility
We’re going to the bank but we’re not getting paid
We’re gonna rob the vault of Bellatrix Lestrange
What are you thinking up there?
Under the cloak we share
A thousand years since Gryffindor, finally return the sword
To a noble race of creatures men deprived of wandlore
A reparo twixt our people would this settle your score
When I really need that sword so we can win this war
I really need that sword
The power seeker split his soul and locked it in the bank
I touch the cup, levitate and burn over its multiplying prank
We are brave and afraid, we are horcrux takers
Sacrifice Godric’s sword, returned to Goblin makers
We’re breaking in
We’re going down
We’re busting out
Breaking the chains of the blind guardian we fight
Blasting goblins and tunnels, they’re crumbling under her might
Climbing up on her back, we launch into the sky
Busting out, we’re riding a dragon tonight
Riding a dragon tonight
I hope she don’t bite
Pre-order the new album Lumos right now at Kickstarter.
P.S. Dragon Rock Rules, all the time.