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In a recent radio programme for the BBC J.K. Rowling discussed Voldemort's personal ideology and philosophy.

Bridget Christie: When there were studies that found that people who read the books had more empathy and were more tolerant was that something that was quite a...?

J.K. Rowling: Well, it's an amazing thing to read. And those themes are deeply embedded in the books. Ideas of being different. Racism is obviously there in allegorical form. Totalitarianism is there because Voldemort is obviously an authoritarian...I wouldn't say he's a populist but I suppose he's a kind of nationalist. So, yeah, those ideas are all in there and it's an incredible thing to think that people would have softened in their attitudes because of reading them.
(The Museum of Curiosity, Christmas Special, BBC Radio 4, 23rd December 2019).

Plainly there's plenty of evidence that Voldemort was a totalitarian and an authoritarian. The claim that he was a nationalist strikes me as being less clear. Yes, Voldemort restricted his campaign of terror to Britain and didn't show much interest in the rest of the world. But he was much more self-evidently pro-wizards than he was pro-UK.

I can't really think of any examples from the books where Voldemort exhibits nationalist tendencies. Are there any such examples? (I'm primarily interested in the books and Pottermore rather than other forms of canon).

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    It's pretty clear that JKR randomly accuses people of being like characters from her books in order to make a point. This time she seems to have gone the other way.
    – Valorum
    Jan 4, 2020 at 13:26
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    Are you sure by "kind of nationalist" she didn't mean something like "the wizarding nation"? Jan 4, 2020 at 13:46
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    Found out something new about yourself, did you? Jan 5, 2020 at 20:48

1 Answer 1

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Voldemort's nationalism does not necessitate a connection to the UK.

The term nation is often used as a shorthand for nation state. However, in itself it does not necessarily imply a shared territory, only a shared origin, bloodline, common culture, etc. In many cases it is used to describe a diaspora of people such as Native American tribes or Jews (The Nation of Israel is an old term for the Jewish diaspora all over the world).

In Voldemort's case, his nationalism is what is referred to as ethnic nationalism. His pursuit is very much that of common culture, bloodline, and possibly origin. He may want to create a world-wide nation state, or he may want to stick with the UK - but, in either case, he has a very clear idea of who the constituents of his nation are and aren't.

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    So, the wizarding nation then.
    – Valorum
    Jan 4, 2020 at 15:23
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    @Valorum Sure. Or Voldemort's wizards, but then they might have to fight Volkswagen over the logo.
    – Misha R
    Jan 4, 2020 at 21:14
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    When it's really all about power, anything and everything is forgiven if you help.
    – EvilSnack
    Jan 5, 2020 at 12:33
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    And, of course, He Who Must Not Be Named was a half-blood himself. Though I guess he could make himself an exception if he wanted to narrow his nation to the pure-bloodeded. Jan 5, 2020 at 21:51
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    @JohnBollinger Kind of like Adolf Hitler, short and dark haired, who promoted Aryan race of high and blonde people? I guess Voldemort would prefer to only work with pure-bloods, but in absence of those Muggle-haters are good enough. Jan 6, 2020 at 0:19

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