By JONATHAN V. LAST, Weekly Standard
STAR WARS RETURNS... There will be talk of the Force and the Dark Side and the epic morality of George Lucas’s series. But the truth is that from the beginning, Lucas confused the good guys with the bad. The deep lesson of Star Wars is that the Empire is good.
It’s a difficult leap to make–embracing Darth Vader and the Emperor over the plucky and attractive Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia–but a careful examination of the facts, sorted apart from Lucas’s off-the-shelf moral cues, makes a quite convincing case.
First, an aside: For the sake of this discussion, I’ve considered only the history gleaned from the actual Star Wars films, not the Expanded Universe. If you know what the Expanded Universe is and want to argue that no discussion of Star Wars can be complete without considering material outside the canon, that’s fine. However, it’s always been my view that the comic books and novels largely serve to clean up Lucas’s narrative and philosophical messes. Therefore, discussions of intrinsic intent must necessarily revolve around the movies alone. You may disagree, but please don’t e-mail me about it.
If you don’t know what the Expanded Universe is, well, uh, neither do I.
I. The Problems with the Galactic Republic
At the beginning of the Star Wars saga, the known universe is governed by the Galactic Republic. The Republic is controlled by a Senate, which is, in turn, run by an elected chancellor who’s in charge of procedure, but has little real power.