Shared Text: Voldemort’s Farm Subsidies

I have an American friend residing in Sri Lanka, a man writing a Young Adult series of novels with whom I correspond about ring composition and other writing devices. I look forward to sharing more here about Michael and his nomadic adventures when his books are published.

In our frequent email exchanges, he often sends links to articles available online about subjects of interest to him; it’s a relatively random set of news pieces and commentary, though Michael has set in granite political convictions and beliefs about the world, few of which I share. I suspect he sends them less to say ‘Hurrah for our side!’ or ‘Can you believe this?’ than to note that I need to change my ideas to better ones, say, his own.

I confess to clicking through in each email he sends, despite or because of my complementary aversion and addiction to news stories (cue link to ‘Avoid News’ by Rolf Dolbelli). Today’s piece was from The New York Times, in my youth a bastion of journalism, for at least a quarter century an advocacy newspaper: The Money Farmers: How Oligarchs and Populists Milk the E.U. for Millions. If you want an education in why millions of UK voters voted to leave the EU and why the elite have fought that mandate in order to remain at the trough in Brussels, this article is an excellent short course.

Why do I share it here? Even in an article about corrupt politicians in Central Europe and how they continue the feudal traditions of the Catholic Middle Ages and of the Marxist serfdom in the Communist era by redirecting subsidies to farmers from the EU to their own coffers, we get a reference to Harry Potter.

In one example, a powerful Fidesz lawmaker, Roland Mengyi, inserted himself into the leasing process in Borsod-Abauj Zemplen County, where one of his associates won leases for more than 1,200 acres. Mr. Mengyi is an outsized character, who referred to himself as “Lord Voldemort.” He was later convicted and sentenced to prison in a separate case for corruption related to European subsidies.

Clicking through on the link provided, I didn’t find the reference to Lord Voldemort made by Mengyi; it seems to be rather hearsay that the newspaper writer wanted to include to cast the villain in the properly dark light. The Times repeats it because the reference works. Everyone reading the article knows who the Dark Lord is, that he is a very, very bad man, and will conclude that any man referring to himself as “Lord Voldemort” is as indifferent to others and to right and wrong as can be.

That’s the power and constancy of allusions to Harry Potter, our era’s shared text. Let me know what you think in the comment boxes below (click on ‘Leave a Comment’ up by the post headline).


  1. DAVID M MARTIN says

    For an instance of a writer using an image from Harry Potter to interpret an item in the news, see this:
    I cannot think of a clearer image or metaphor the writer could have used to make her point.

  2. The relevant passage in the article cited is:

    It seems to me that Confederate monuments are the horcruxes of the Confederacy. The Confederacy put the power of its tortured soul into a beautiful thing like a monument to fallen soldiers. The cause of the Confederacy still looms large when you think about these monuments. The dark power of the Confederacy, with its slave holding and subsequent Jim Crow practices, has a hold on these monuments.

    Read the whole thing.

    Thanks for sharing this Shared Text sighting, David!

  3. Mengyi-Voldemort: In the court case there were witness testimonies claiming that he referred to himself as such.
    Which newspaper writer do you mean when suggesting hearsay? That of the New York Times or the linked Hungarian article?

  4. …in the Hungarian article “Voldemort” is mentioned in the first (bold) paragraph, in the subtitle to the second picture and in the last paragraph. “Lord” is also there, but in translation.

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