Mises Daily Articles
Star Wars and Our Wars
As we await the release of
While critics attacked Lucas for his leading-boy character, his young-girl queen, and his politically incorrect characters (Jar Jar Binks and the admiral with the Japanese accent), others such as myself celebrated Lucas's brilliant use of modern history (the experience of the British and American empires) to create an age-old saga in such an unfamiliar setting with characters and events that are familiar to us.
Those who understand that it is not just fiction, but a real human story, easily forgive Lucas for his young, undeveloped characters--they had to be young for the story to make sense. Those who don't understand the message believe that
The first prequel was based on British colonialism and the problem of mercantilism (the theory that nations benefits by protecting their producers from outside competition). Here the increasingly evil Republic uses its powers to tax trade routes, blockade, and invade in order to assert power and enforce mercantile economic policies on its subjects in Naboo.
The Viceroy is the old title for British colonial rulers. Queen Amidala rules over a society based on British India, and Jar Jar Binks comes from the water people on the other side of the planet, who are obviously suppose to represent the island people of British Jamaica. In the 19th century, both of these peoples were slaughtered by British Viceroys.
Thus can we see that Lucas is taking bits and pieces of our own historical experience to retell a battle between good and evil that also touches on themes in political economy, particularly the choice between self-determination (essential to freedom) and imperialism (linked to war and state expansion).
Attack of the Clones, due to hit theaters May 16, the Republic officially becomes the evil empire and sends an army of clones to destroy a group of separatists (secessionists) that want no part of this evil democratic empire. The main substantive point is that the Republic has willingly become an evil empire; it was not destroyed or conquered but simply gave in to evil despite its tradition and system of government.
What are the real-life analogies? Most directly, it presents the transition of world dominance from
The evil democracy is based on the
If my interpretation is correct, the neoconservatives, the establishment Republicans, and the gang at National Review are not going to like this movie. (Another option is to attempt a tortuous spin on the movie’s otherwise clear message.)
The original Star Wars trilogy planted within all of us the seed-notion that the "good" will always--eventually--triumph over evil. It’s not just a notion for philosophers and idealists; it’s something that everyone can believe because it is part of our nature.
To be sure, matters will get worse in the third prequel. Perhaps we will be treated to some fascism, nationalism, New Dealism, Nazism, and communism.
People will no doubt eventually recognize that
Neoconservatives such as
Someday we will recognize that there is no such thing as a good empire, because empires necessarily crush the right of self-determination, which Mises defines as follows:
whenever the inhabitants of a particular territory, whether it be a single village, a whole district, or a series of adjacent districts, make it known, by a freely conducted plebiscite, that they no longer wish to remain united to the state to which they belong at the time, but wish either to form an independent state or to attach themselves to some other state, their wishes are to be respected and complied with. This is the only feasible and effective way of preventing revolutions and civil and international wars.
May the force--not consolidated government--be with you.