The Order of the Phoenix
By Ian Striz
The effect of Dumbledore’s death on the Order and its future cannot be overstated. This was his secret society. Everything about it represented who he was and what he stood for. The loss of his leadership is likely to threaten its continued existence; and have an effect on its activities.
That leads us to the first, and most important, issue facing the Order of the Phoenix. This is the question of “Who will lead them?” They can carry on for a time as they were, making decisions as a committee and doing the things they were already doing. That cannot last, though. Eventually they will need to select a leader, or someone will have to step up to that role. Luckily, the Order is comprised of many strong, capable people. Let us analyze four of the most obvious candidates to follow in Dumbledore’s footsteps.
In order to examine their merit as successors, we must first define what Dumbledore brought to the group as its leader. None of these people can fill his shoes, truly, not even all combined could do that. J.K. Rowling, in response to a question about Dumbledore, mentions McGonagall in her capacity as his lieutenant and says, “So I think that, while I ask the reader to accept that McGonagall is a very worthy second in command, she is not an equal.”1 No one can be Dumbledore; but, by understanding what type of leader Dumbledore was, we can understand what his successor will need to do the job.
The first thing Dumbledore brought to the Order was a vision, purpose, and ideology. This is how he was its soul. His vision was to create an organization that would be capable of carrying out his purpose and representing what he thought were the most just and highest-minded ideals of the wizarding world. His purpose was to resist, and ultimately defeat, Lord Voldemort and his aims. His ideology is much broader than that, and permeates the Order at all levels. Central to this ideology is a theme of inclusiveness. One of Dumbledore’s greatest criticisms of the wizarding community was its exclusion, in varying degrees, of all those who were not completely human. He displays this sentiment when he tells Harry about the lie of the Fountain of Magical Brethren at the end of the Order of the Phoenix.2 This air of exclusiveness extends to people who not only discriminate against non-human sentient creatures like house elves and goblins, but also discriminate against non-pure-blood wizards and witches. Complementary to this overarching idea is a resistance to arbitrary authority and exercising power for power’s sake. Though Dumbledore was the head of the Order, it is apparent in our readings that he gave a great deal of leeway and authority to its members to act and make decisions. He was not present at every meeting and his subordinates were empowered to take even extreme action consistent with the group’s activities.
Therefore, the person who next leads the Order needs to not only live up to that standard as much as possible, but to also lead the group through what is likely to be its most difficult time ever.
Four people who may reasonably aspire to leadership of the Order of the Phoenix are Minerva McGonagall, Remus Lupin, Alastor “Mad-Eye” Moody, and Arthur Weasley. There are many capable people within the group, but these four people are particularly well positioned to take over control of the Order and its missions.
McGonagall is the front-runner of this group. She is the closest thing Dumbledore had to a second-in-command. At Hogwarts, she was his second-in-command as the Deputy Headmistress of the school. Now that Dumbledore is gone, she has taken over as head of the school, and it appears that she will remain there. As his lieutenant she has experience as a leader and is one of the most senior members of the Order. Only Moody, out of this group of four, is likely to have as much time in the service of the Order as she does; Remus Lupin was only a young man at the time of the first Order of the Phoenix and Arthur Weasley was not in the first Order at all, according to Moody’s photograph.
However, those advantages do not make her appointment a sure thing. She will be very, very busy with the management of the school. Yes Dumbledore did both, as well as many other things, but McGonagall’s job, in the short term, is plagued with challenges that Dumbledore did not have during the modern era of the Order. She will have to deal with staff changes and new security measures in an effort to keep the school open and running smoothly.
After McGonagall it gets harder to guess at who might lead the Order. Remus Lupin is one person who could take over. He does not have the same commitment conflicts that McGonagall has, quite the contrary; he is free to devote almost all his time to the Order. In addition to that, he has shown himself to be good leader who people will follow. Dumbledore himself recognized this quality when he made Lupin a prefect while he was a student at Hogwarts. Furthermore, in many of the interactions we have seen between Order members, the others defer to him for decisions or the last word. He seems to be the leader of the group that comes to get Harry from Privet Drive in Order of the Phoenix.
A major problem for him to overcome, though, is the fact that he is a werewolf. If we dismiss the fact that he is unavailable for a short period every month, because Dumbledore was often unavailable too, that still leaves us with the stigma his condition carries. One of the Order’s main tasks is to recruit new members. This was much easier when Dumbledore was the head. He already had the respect and admiration of much of the wizarding community. People were inclined to believe what he said and were eager to follow him. It is a fact that werewolves are mistrusted by most of the wizarding world. As capable as Lupin might be, many people will not be able to get past their prejudices about him. This will create problems for the Order in its efforts to recruit new members, and to create and maintain a respectable image with those who do know of its existence.
A third likely successor to Dumbledore is Alastor “Mad-Eye” Moody. Like McGonagall, he is probably one of the most senior members of the Order. In addition, he has by far the most experience in dealing with dark witches and wizards and combating them. His tactical expertise is virtually unmatched among the members of the Order. This comes from his time as an Auror for the Ministry of Magic. He is an authoritative presence who will command the respect of the rest of the Order. Furthermore, we have gotten to know Moody as someone who is rather aggressive in his attitude towards Dark Magic. It is possible that Moody would take a more militant approach to stopping the Death Eaters and order preemptive missions in an effort to capture them before they strike.
Moody’s commanding presence may be intimidating to some, especially the Ministry. Whether or not he will change the tactics of the Order and make it more aggressive, the Ministry may jump to that conclusion on their own. His status as leader may incline the Ministry to take a stricter approach to limit the activities of the Order.
Of the four people suggested, Arthur Weasley is probably the longest shot. He has been a member of the Order for only two years, compared to decades for the others. He does have many of the same qualities the others have that would make him a good leader. Like the others, he has leadership experience. He is the head of a department, albeit a small one, at the Ministry of Magic.
It is his ability to stick to his own beliefs when it matters that is his most attractive trait as a leader. This is also the one thing that makes him the most like Dumbledore out of the four candidates. He has a clear sense of what is right, and does not waver from that position. He knows when to stand his ground, but also how to and when to pick his fights. We have seen him fist fight Lucius Malfoy, yet back down to Molly when it is appropriate.
Another advantage Arthur has is that he is the least threatening of the group to people outside of it. His reputation is not likely to elicit strong reactions from people in the community, as Moody or Lupin would; on the contrary, he’s likely to make people feel more comfortable. He is a much less polarizing figure.
What works against him are his commitments to his job and family. He is an able spy within the Ministry of Magic, and his connections there have helped in the Order’s efforts to recruit new members. He is taking a big risk participating in the Order; it is not likely that he would be able to keep his role as a leader secret from his employers long. The Ministry certainly knows about the existence of the Order, even if they don’t know its name. It is reasonable to believe they would find out Arthur was in charge of the group and fire him or imprison him. He is already under suspicion there.
Although we do not have may clues about who will follow Dumbledore as the leader of the Order, it is not unreasonable to assume that the course the Order will take from now on strongly depends on who they select as their new leader. The worst thing the group could do to itself is to get into a power struggle that could split it into different factions. Luckily, there does not seem to be any evidence that this will happen.
Now is a good time to begin looking at what the activities of the Order will be in the seventh book. They will need to continue to gather information from and about the enemy, they will need to use whatever information they gather to plan missions, and need to continue recruiting new members and spreading their message.
The biggest obstacle for the Order of the Phoenix to overcome, immediately, is how they will gather information from Voldemort, now that their most important spy is no longer available. The loss of Snape may well prove to be an insurmountable loss for the Order. After Dumbledore himself, Snape was arguably the most important member the Order had. We can assume that it was only through him that the Order knew of any of Voldemort’s plans. Since the Order’s main goal is to foil Voldemort’s plans and ultimately defeat him, information about what he is doing is crucial to their effectiveness. Without getting into a Snape-is-good/Snape-is-evil debate, after the events of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, the Order will be assuming that Snape is no longer on their side, and will likely distrust any information he provides them in the future, were he even to do so. Unless they have another embedded spy that we don’t know about, this will be virtually impossible.
Mundungus will be useful in the same way he has been before, but he is nowhere near Voldemort’s inner circle; and there must be concern about the timeliness and validity of whatever information he is able to come by. Lupin may be able to continue his recruiting and spying efforts among the werewolves, but after the Battle of Hogwarts Fenrir Greyback will be very careful not to spill any beans if Lupin is around.
As it is highly unlikely that any of the current Order members will make it into Voldemort’s inner circle, the Order most likely will have to continue to gather information second hand through the Ministry of Magic, while trying to make inroads themselves or recruit a spy within Voldemort’s ranks. Shacklebolt and Tonks must be at the forefront of this action. Being in the Auror office, they will be the closest to any information and hear it first. Arthur may be of some use, but only if the Death Eaters move against Muggles. Otherwise, he will be relaying third party hearsay. They’ve already been performing these tasks; they just take on more importance and urgency after the departure of Snape.
What the Order must hope for is someone to approach them. Preferably someone close to Voldemort, a Death Eater ideally. It is possible that Narcissa Malfoy could come to them for and with aid, especially if something happens to Lucius or Draco. Her path to the Order could be through her sister Andromeda and her niece Tonks. However, this is an outside shot and there is no evidence to prove that Narcissa is a Death Eater herself. Peter Pettigrew remains a possibility as well. He has shown himself capable of playing a dual role in the past, if he had proper motivation it is not impossible to see him turning spy for the Order. It doesn’t seem very likely, but it is worth considering.
Before moving on, this seems like a good opportunity to bring up one of the least mentioned and most enigmatic members of the Order, Aberforth Dumbledore. There is a whole bunch of wild speculation about him amongst readers. Without going too deeply into those theories, it doesn’t seem likely that Rowling would have spent as much time on him as she has, albeit little, if he were not going to play some significant role before the end. She has also stated that Dumbledore’s family is a good avenue for investigation.3 Since we don’t know of any other family he has, it is reasonable to assume that means Aberforth. What will his role be?
We haven’t heard of or seen Aberforth play a role in any of the main actions the Order has undertaken. He apparently didn’t help guard the Department of Mysteries, and wasn’t on hand for the Battle of Hogwarts. What we have to assume is that his role has been one of personal support for Dumbledore. We know that he has passed information on to him in the past; Dumbledore claims to be friendly with the local barmen while interviewing Tom Riddle for the Defense Against the Dark Arts teaching job. We can presume that Aberforth picks up some or most of this information as the barman at the Hog’s Head, though it remains possible that he has other sources and means in addition to eavesdropping.
If that is his role, one of personal support, we have to wonder how that role will change now that Dumbledore is dead. It is possible that in that capacity he has knowledge or information that no one else has. If he does, and he has passed that on, it could be a big, unexpected help to the Order. Rowling has said, “there is one member of the Order of the Phoenix that you have not yet met properly and you will well, you know that they are a member, but you haven't really met them properly yet and you will meet them in seven.”4 This seems to point to a role for Aberforth more than any other character.