Darth Vader, Liberal Fascist: Liner Notes

I have a Friday column up at The Federalist, “Why Darth Vader Is The Archetypal Liberal Fascist.” Don’t worry, this is not one of these columns that decides to judge a popcorn entertainment through a political lens. Rather, because the generally bad prequels address the politics of the Galactic Republic, I have a little fun with how Anakin Skywalker views politics (and perhaps why). A tangentially related Twitter chat caused me to run the idea past Ben Domenech, who is an impressive Star Wars nerd, and we were off to the races. But in the process, I get to remind people of the common features of fascism and how easy it can be to shift from one flavor to another.

What got left out? To sustain the column’s conceit, I don’t get much into the nanny state of liberal fascists versus the bully state of traditional fascists. The films don’t get much into the question of whether the Republic has a social safety net and I didn’t want to get into ancillary products like books that may or may not be canon for hardcore fans. For reasons of space (no pun intended), I did not discuss Vader’s offer to Luke to kill the Emperor and rule the galaxy as father and son. Was this simply an offer to act as the Sith might — a master and apprentice? Or was this family again asserting itself as Vader’s main motive, in which case the ideology of the Empire might have shifted? such counter-factuals just went too far afield.

Lastly, it remains implicit in the column that a key concept to any free, non-fascist society is the right to be wrong. I have written here about how politics without compromise isn’t really compromise, and part of that is embracing the idea of making peace with those you believe to be wrong at any given moment. Moreover, politics without compromise looks like the pre-Enlightenment model that lacks the separation of church and state. This appears to have been a problem a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away.

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