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July 18, 2004

YESTERDAY, I linked to a piece by Jim Glassman saying that today's younger generation is smarter, healthier, and more conservative. My own column for next week looks at why that might be. But, silly me, I forgot to consult important French literary theorists, or I would have realized that the answer was Harry Potter:

On the face of it, the world of Harry Potter has nothing in common with our own. Nothing at all, except one detail: like ours, the fantastic universe of Harry Potter is a capitalist universe. . . .

The underlying message to young fans is this: You can imagine as many fictional worlds, parallel universes or educational systems as you want, they will still all be regulated by the laws of the market. Given the success of the Harry Potter series, several generations of young people will be indelibly marked by this lesson.

He says that like it's a bad thing. Of course, it's possible to imagine a post-capitalist world, but we won't get there by magic.

UPDATE: More thoughts in response to Glassman, here:

Although Democrats should be shaking in their boots about how this could change things for the next decade or so, traditional Republicans cannot take these young people for granted either. They do not trust institutions that abuse power, whether it be governments or large corporations. But they do embrace the system of free enterprise and they long to build stronger families that will last. The Republican shift back toward moderation may not resonate with this group for very long.

Yes. Today's two parties are split along historical interest-group lines, but I believe that divide is less and less reflective of how people actually think.