The Surprising Conservatism of Star Wars
Recently, May 4th has taken off as a day for Star Wars fans of all stripes to celebrate their fandom, thanks to the opportunity to use the truly awful “May the Fourth be with you” pun. But even conservatives who don’t keep Jedi robes hidden in their closet might have more reason than they think to praise the series. In the end, the world’s most successful sci-fi series is about defeating a brand of galactic socialism.
Of course, Star Wars fans come from all ideologies, and the movies aren’t typically seen as having much of a political agenda. The Galactic Empire is evil, certainly, but besides having snappy Nazi-inspired uniforms hints towards its governing principles are sparse.
However, a deleted scene from the original Star Wars film, A New Hope, gives a surprising insight into the Empire’s beliefs.
Most Star Wars viewers will recall the character of Biggs Darklighter, who briefly appears near the end of A New Hope before promptly getting blown up by Darth Vader during the attack on the Death Star. Fewer people, however, know that Biggs was also in several scenes at the beginning of the film that were deleted from the final cut.
In one key scene, Biggs encourages Luke to join the Rebel Alliance like him, but Luke declines, saying he needs to help his uncle Ben run the farm. Biggs’ rebuttal is a revelation about how the Empire’s economics of evil.
BIGGS: I feel for you, Luke, you’re going to have to learn what seems to be important or what really is important. What good is all your uncle’s work if it’s taken over by the Empire? … You know they’re starting to nationalize commerce in the central systems … it won’t be long before your uncle is merely a tenant, slaving for the greater glory of the Empire.
LUKE: It couldn’t happen here. You said it yourself. The Empire won’t bother with this rock.
BIGGS: Things always change.
(WATCH (skip to 2:35):
Collectivized agriculture, of course, is a hallmark of 20th-century communist governments, and there are few policies that are more explicitly identified with those regimes. Not only that, but the collectivization campaigns in the USSR and Maoist China led to the deaths of tens of millions of people, sometimes through deliberate famines, a loss of life that can easily be compared with, say, blowing up an entire planet:
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