My Leftist Take on Strixhaven as a Setting

I don’t actually know if I would be considered leftist by most, because my views don’t necessarily coincide with those of the stereotypical left leaning people. On the other hand, leftist thinking is also often misunderstood (also often on purpose), so maybe I am, maybe not, but here we go anyhow. Political compasses tend to place me in the lower left side somewhere between Pjotr Kropotkin and Emma Goldman. So, I guess I would be considered quite radical.

I’ve always felt that Bant very much sucks. Bant had a bunch of knights going out on quests to get trophies. If you look at the cards with those knights, you quickly see that they employ overly cumbersome and ornate armor. Those don’t come about easily or cheaply. This means that large parts of the society is employed simply to produce those armors and for what purpose? Nothing. Just so that certain rich elites can have an extreme hobby. And since they are centered on white, they are understood to be the good, civilized people by many, who don’t see their true col… nature. At least the other Shards were honest about theirs.

I guess you can say that whoever designed the world just didn’t think to look outside of their bubble and really understand what’s going on at Bant. This is just a weird priviledged Ren-Fair view of the past. You want to live there, because you would have been a great knight, even though you wouldn’t have been a knight in reality. It’s just nostalgia for something that didn’t actually exist.

How about Strixhaven? So, there’s this group of people called Oriq, who are the bad guys in this set. What do they want? They want to free the magic held by the school. Wait? This is bad? Shouldn’t this be what we actually want? Sure, their leader has other motivations as well, such as revenge, but still. Their core ideology seems very good and something we would definitely desire. Would we be okay, if smart phones or, I don’t know, modern offset printing was restricted from us by some undemocratic institution? Probably not. While those are not quite magic, magic could have similar benefits to the people of Arcavios (or something like that, I don’t remember the exact name of the plane).

The thing is, I don’t quite get what’s going on here. Of course the idea of education is good, but there is this constant right-wing talking point of limiting speech on campuses. Is this what they are going for? Are they pushing this specific idea? If not, they do seem to imply that strongly, even if the school represents the good side of this conflict. The school does supposedly promote the use of magic to help others, but at the same time there are also hints that this isn’t working: Students return to their own communities after graduation. That is helpful for that community specifically, but again this mostly does just make the rich richer. Also, it would seem that the way the contests between the colleges compete is almost designed to stop them making progress. New ideas are born from the meeting of old ideas. This system stops that. It’s actually horrible for the school as a whole that maths are restricted to one specific college. While mathematics is it’s own field, it is also almost like a grammar for other fields. Maths aren’t really about numbers, it’s about the relationships between things. Witherbloom can’t really function without these tools, at least not effectively, so why this sytem? Is it just unhelpful traditionalism from the dragons? Or is there another reason for this? I mean, if the wizards (and druids and shamans and clerics) at the school can’t research freely, that would mean that the dragons are able to keep the masses down.

Strixhaven seems like a very elitist institution. It’s hard to get accepted. So, if these people keep magic for themselves, they are in practice enforcing existing class divisions. By having access to the magic and thus the benefits of magic, certain families can basically keep Strixhaven and its education for themselves. I guess someone outside of these circles gets in once in a while, but that doesn’t really tip the balance. Quite the opposite. It keeps the aspirational hopes of the lower classes alive, thus not being interested in revolting.

Except for the Oriq, who would, again, seem like the heroes of this story, even if they are misguided by an evil leader. The proletariat, who overthrew the imperial rule in Russia almost a century ago didn’t exactly anticipate Stalin killing them by the tens of millions. And while Washington didn’t have quite the same repercussions, he was a horrible slaveowner, who did a lot of work to make sure he could maintain his slaves. Do we see all the people in the US as evil in 1770s because of Washington?

I guess part of this is that I’m not from the US. I mean, we don’t have things like college sports. Sure, many students are athletes and students do compete amongst themselves at times, but the former happens independently of the schools and the latter is just for fun. There are no stakes. Our upper education institutions have three mandates: education, research and influencing society positively. Since education is free, everyone has access to it (although there are class distinctions here, probably because some working families see upper education as negative – including parts of my own, but this is a far cry from countries where higher education costs are high). Our system is designed to serve society, not individuals.

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