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The Jedi and free trade – the political economy of Star Wars July 27, 2010

Posted by Sverre in : Political economy, Political Science in Popculture , trackback

Were the Jedi knights enemies of liberty? The political philosophy of the Jedi is explored by both Reason‘s Jesse Kline and Dan Drezner of Foreign Policy in recent blog posts. Kline claims that the main goal of the Jedi was to enforce the big government agenda of the Galactic Republic. Drezner refutes that we actually know too little of the agenda of the republic at all. What we do know, however, is that Palpatine tried to set up a totalitarian state that would surely be anti-liberal and big government.

The Trade Federation - evil trade monopolists

Drezner claims that we have little information on the pre-Phantom Menace policies of Supreme Chancellor Vallorum, leader of the Galactic Republic. We do however know that the monopolistic and militaristic  Trade Federation appears to be at least partially sanctioned by the Republic, as they have their own representatives in the Senate. Vallorum does however appear somewhat opposed to their blocade of trade to Naboo, as he at the beginning of The Phantom Menace  dispatches the Jedi to negotiate.

If we go beyond the films, to the Star Wars: Republic comic1, we learn that the Trade Federation’s monopoly on interstellar trade indeed seems to have Republic support. When the “pirate” Iaco Stark tries to break their monopoly on trade of the medicinal substance bacta, the Republic actually goes to war with him and puts an end to the free trade of the substance that was much to the benefit of consumers on the Outer Rim. The Senate might have been manipulated and deceived into it, but they were not able to prevent it, and did not appear overly concerned about freeing trade.

When it comes to trade, it indeed appears that the Galactic Republic had clear tendencies towards supporting monopoly and an oligarchic corporatism without competition. In the economic sphere there seems to be some circumstantial evidence that the Jedi and their allies had clearly illiberal tendencies.

Feels good to be a nerd… 🙂

  1. which I have not read, and am referencing second hand []

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