As the queues at theatres worldwide where the latest in the Star Wars franchise, The Force Awakens, is playing, spill on to the streets, The Economist draws some interesting parallels between the Force—the power that guides all in the fictional universe presented in the franchise—and real-world economics. From key plot elements, thus, emerge insights about trade, globalisation and the new problems presented by technological progress.
The franchise makes a powerful case for how freer trade between nations offers a better shot at collective progress than nations’ attempts at autarky. If a tradeless system were to exist in the franchise, desert planets like Tatooine would have remained barren. Freer global trade, thus, should set even the poorest of nations on the path to progress.
But with globalisation (galacticisation), emerge problems like monopolies, whose control of trade not only allows them to exert considerable influence on policy, as the Trade Federation does in the Republic in Episodes IV, V and VI, but also fosters criminality as few attempt to circumvent the monopoly—for instance, Jabba the Hutt with his network of smugglers.
The Economist cites a study by Harvard economist Dani Rodrik to show globalisation prevents countries from achieving certain key goals. In Episode II , a Confederacy of Independent Systems moves to secede from the Republic in response to undue economic burden on poorer planets.
Isn’t there a mirror-image of this in the restrictions the WTO places on farm support policies of nations? Policymakers also should turn to the franchise for insights on what to do as technological progress makes human labour increasingly redundant. The cost of devaluation of human labour and aspiration could well turn a Jedi into a Sith Lord.