by Dan O’Connor
Several years ago, I composed an article entitled "Darth Greenspan" in which I compared former Federal Reserve Chairman, Alan Greenspan to Hollywood's greatest villain Darth Vader bringing attention to his early adherence to a gold based currency and the marketplace, later shifting his allegiance to central banking and centralized power. This article was far from a perfect analogy (as no analogy is perfect) yet many different parallels can be drawn between the Star Wars series and modern day America. In fact, after composing my original article, I began to notice more and more parallels and notice how clairvoyant producer George Lucas was, having scripted this epic story in the 1970s. Whether deliberate or not, George Lucas created a story that was once my childhood fantasy and is now my adult reality — especially as a student of Austrian economics.
To simplify this analogy, the theme shall be limited to the past 100 years beginning with the rise of Austrian economics led by Ludwig Von Mises in the early part of the twentieth century. As Ludwig Von Mises was so intellectually consistent and pure he can be compared to none other than the great Jedi Master Yoda, whose main role in the Star Wars series was to educate others and impart his knowledge of the force on to other Jedis. In the 1920s the Austrian economists were the world's leading economists as they had accurately predicted so many events of that period. In Episode I of the 6 part series, The Jedi Council (Austrian economists) was respected all throughout the galaxy known for their mental purity, their opposition to the dark side (central banking), and their understanding of the force (the economy and the business cycle).
It was also during the early twentieth century when a central bank (a Sith lord) reappeared in America and the power of this institution began surreptitiously expanding its influence over the Republic. In Episode I, the Sith lord reappeared in the galaxy and it then became the top priority of the Jedi council to thwart the plans of Sith lord and destroy it as soon as possible because they knew how insidious the dark side of the force could become. The Sith lord and the dark side spread its influence behind the scenes by manipulating the political system just as central bankers and the creators of central banks did.
In Episode I, the Sith begins plotting his empire and building up military capabilities just as weapon production capability and military power in the U.S. also began expanding dramatically between 1910 and 1940. Simultaneously, the U.S. government introduced an income tax in 1913 allowing the government to expand its own power even moreso as government expansion boomed in the 1920s and 1930s. The Federal government's militarism abroad also expanded significantly during this period as the nation began its blatant transition from republic to global empire. Although American citizens were very anti-imperialistic in the 1930s the attack on Pearl Harbor justified the intervention in Europe much like the assaults on planet Naboo which "threatened the stability of the Republic" in Episode I and Episode II. Only subsequent to World War II, have U.S. Presidents been able to deploy soldiers abroad without Congressional approval — historically this was always the authority of kings and emperors.
It was also during the 1930s when the economic debate in Europe and the U.S. shifted from liberalism (led by Austrian economists) to inflationism and interventionism (led by John Maynard Keynes). Fittingly, Frederick Hayek can be compared to Mace Windu, as he was Yoda's closest master on the Jedi council. Frederick Hayek and John Maynard Keynes were colleagues at the London School of Economics during the 1930s and they were fierce intellectual opponents on campus. In the early part of the decade Hayek's name grew after his scathing and accurate critique of Keynes' Treaties on Money. Later in the decade, Keynes published his magnum opus, The General Theory, which Hayek refrained from dissecting at the time.
Metaphorically, it was from this point on when Keynesianism began to dominate economic classrooms across the world, The General Theory became one of the best-selling economics books in history and Austrian economists were cast aside by the political establishment and the corporate controlled media. Shortly thereafter, WWII began and Ludwig Von Mises escaped Europe to America. As a Jew, Mises fled Europe out of fear of the Nazis whereas Yoda sought exile into a remote area of the galaxy out of fear of the new emperor.
Since WWII, The U.S. government has expanded its global military presence tenfold. In 2009:
"Deputy Under Secretary of Defense Dorothy Robyn referenced the Pentagon’s “507 permanent installations.” The Pentagon’s 2010 Base Structure Report, on the other hand, lists 4,999 total sites in the United States, its territories, and overseas. In the grand scheme of things, the actual numbers aren’t all that important. Whether the most accurate total is 900 bases, 1,000 bases or 1,100 posts in foreign lands, what’s undeniable is that the US military maintains, in Chalmers Johnson’s famous phrase, an empire of bases so large and shadowy that no one — not even at the Pentagon — really knows its full size and scope." — The Nation. January 2011
Throughout the past 100 years, those within and closely surrounding the central banks have operated behind the scenes as did the sith lord and the dark side of the force throughout the story. In Episode III, if the Senate had known that they were under the control of a sith lord his quest for empire would have been foiled immediately.
Fortunately, the sith was never able to completely wipe out the Jedi. Mises (Yoda) and Rothbard (Obi Wan Kanobi) labored in obscurity propounding the principles of freedom, anti-imperialism and anti-inflationism and spreading these ideas on to others. Even though they were up against an enormous political machine where banks, military contractors and mega-corporations profited from the status quo and used all of their influence to maintain the status-quo they were determined to spread Austrian economics and were convinced that freedom was the only moral alternative to the welfare-warfare state.
In the 1970s another young Jedi emerged in the United States who was enamored by the writings of Austrian economists such as Rothbard and Mises. This young Jedi warrior was Ron Paul. In his life, Ron Paul spent a lot of time studying directly with Murray Rothbard and drove across Texas in 1971 during his lunch break just to meet Mises in person. Mises was 90 years old at the time and died 2 years later.
Luke Skywalker also took a sudden trip across the galaxy to see Master Yoda in his dying years in order to become a Jedi. Upon first meeting, Luke does not know who he'd met explaining that he is "looking for a great warrior". Yoda laughs and replies "Wars not make one great." Yoda and Mises were both humble and they constantly preached the evils of the dark side. Yoda emphasized that understanding the force should be used for good and that if lured in by the dark side the force could be used for evil.
If central bankers and their cronies are able to manipulate the economy and the business cycle through central banking they could exploit economic panics, which always lead to government expansion. Through central banking, the government can expand its military presence globally, by deficit financing and monetizing debt. Through central banking, the government can expand the government by secretly printing money when taxing and borrowing is not a popular option. Through central banking, cronies on Wall St can be bailed out after taking risky bets with their clients' money. Through central banking, megabanks can grow larger and use those very profits to pay politicians to support policies that benefit banks. It is a self-sustaining structure. Manipulating the economy and the business cycle through central banking is the "secret" way to finance the growth of government and the path to empire — yet politicians and federal reserve employees prefer the euphemism "independence" rather than the word "secret".
Federal Reserve employees do not traditionally attribute themselves for creating economic crises as this would be liable to invoke too much scrutiny around the dark bank but on rare occasions some insiders will go as far as admitting that low interest rates and easy credit do contribute to the boom part of the business cycle. Nonetheless, it is the elite private banking institutions with very close relationships to the Federal Reserve Bank that ultimately benefit from Federal Reserve policy, therefore if the heads of these banks fully understood the business cycle ("the force") it would be profitable for them to exploit this knowledge of the force, and to join The Dark Side. It is easy to be drawn into the dark side because of the allure that it represents by increasing ones power.
In Episodes II and III, we begin to witness an inner-conflict arising within Anakin Skywalker who begins to lose confidence in their political system of democracy through elected officials and tells his new wife Padme that a more powerful figure should be empowered to make decisions for all, to circumvent the senate with "less deliberating and more action" — an early indication of his willingness to sacrifice principles for a "greater purpose". In our modern-day political world, politicians and mainstream media pundits often justify the abandonment of principles or rights for the sake of some form of "greater good". Throughout Episode III, Anakin's new thirst for greater power becomes increasingly apparent which ultimately attracts him to the dark side. Central banks have complete monopoly control over money and credit, which has been the most sought after power for thousands of years. Chancellor Palpatine offers Anakin increased power, which is something that the Jedi Council would not grant him.
Episode III is when the republic officially transforms to an empire. Shortly before the official transformation, Padme asks Anakin:
"Have you ever considered that we may be on the wrong side? What if the democracy we thought we were serving no longer exists? And the Republic has become the very evil we fought to destroy?"
Anakin denies this claim stating that Padme is beginning to sound like a "separatist" — someone not completely loyal to the republic. This has become very much the case in political discourse in modern-day America. When people deviate from the status-quo and challenge the political establishment, they are outcast as "un-American" or "on the fringe." Anakin, like many Americans, falls blindly into the tricks and even believes Chancellor Palpatine when he accuses the Jedi of trying to overthrow the Republic.
On the floor of the Senate, Chancellor Palpatine accuses the Jedi of trying to assassinate him, as a direct attack on the republic, even though this was Palpatine's plan all along. As a result of this planned attack, the Chancellor is now finally able to rule the galaxy in stating:
"In order to ensure the security and continuing stability, The Republic will be reorganized into the first galactic empire! For a safe and secure society!"
From inside the senate, Padme replies:
This is the perennial theme during the growth of America's federal government and continuously expanding empire — political leaders always justify this trend with false promises of safety and security. After the death of Mises and Rothbard, Ron Paul became one of the sole public voices propounding the value of liberty and rejecting the empire's false image of government safety and security. For decades he battled the empire in solitude urging congress not to sacrifice freedom for a promise of security.
Even though Ron Paul used his knowledge of the force to predict the internet bubble and predict the housing bubble the empire was too strong and tightly knit for his predictions and knowledge of the force to be impactful enough to bring down the empire. Fortunately his predictions did gain much attention, comparable to when Luke Skywalker destroyed half of the death star in Episode IV, A New Hope. Since this time, Austrian economics and the Jedi's place in the galaxy is what central banks fear most, so they will use all of their power to shut down the Jedi and maintain the empire. Historically, empires have always derived their power from control over others while shutting out any threats to the power structure, which is why many members of the political establishment (including media establishment) still deliberately dismiss Ron Paul and the resurgence of the Austrian Tradition.
In Episode V, The Empire Strikes Back, Darth Vader and the emperor target Luke Skywalker and his growing rebel alliance in order to stifle any potential threats to the empire. Following the internet bubble bust and 911 attacks, the American empire exploited this opportunity to prevent future rebellion by passing "the patriot act" to suppress the people, creating The Department of Homeland Security and launching pre-emptive attacks across the Middle East, followed by unmanned drone attacks across more and more of the globe.
Luke knew how powerful Darth Vader and the empire was so he began rigorous training in the ways of the force during Episode V, as did many students of Austrian economics over the past 10 years, who have grown so passionate and well educated in learning the Austrian tradition. With more and more people around the world studying Austrian economics and the business cycle we are well prepared to enter Episode VI, The Return of the Jedi.
The Austrian school of economics has resurfaced and is officially a major voice in the global battle of ideas. The above analogy is obviously imperfect which is why it is important to focus on the many similarities rather than the countless dissimilarities. What's more, if one digs deeper into the six part movie, many more parallels can be drawn between the story and real world politics. For example, as the sith operates "behind the scenes", a great book to download for understanding behind the scenes political maneuvering is called Tragedy and Hope, written by Harvard scholar and Bill Clinton's closest professor at Georgetown, Carroll Quigley.
Unfortunately, Ron Paul does not own a light saber and if he did he is no longer as mobile as Luke Skywalker at this late stage of his life but he has surely been a great warrior in fighting for the cause of liberty. Moreover, a light saber battle with the head of The Federal Reserve Bank would not be enough to bring down the American empire and shift back in the direction of a freer society. However, educating more people in Austrian economics is a great real world solution for creating a genuine political change. I remain optimistic that the Jedis' quest to restore balance in the galaxy can be achieved in our world and that good will conquer evil. Watching the circus in Washington DC or the grand scale theft at the Fed are not my source of optimism — however, I am most encouraged by our victories in the battle of ideas on the internet and the small political victories such as the recent and peaceful, grassroots revolution in Iceland.
For victory, knowledge of the force is only part of the challenge. Remaining relentless and stern in our principles is what allowed Luke Skywalker and the Jedi to ultimately restore the republic — resist the empire and the dark side. Spread the ideas of liberty far and wide.
Dan O’Connor [send him mail] spent almost 6 years in Asia, living in major cities. He speaks fluent Mandarin and a professional level of Cantonese. Before returning to the US, he worked for a free-market think tank in the world’s freest economy, Hong Kong. He recently ended a campaign for U.S. Congress in representing NYC and his neighborhood of Chinatown.