Star Wars, whose next installment opens this week, includes many important themes. One of the most relevant today is that a democratic republic is precious thing. If it is not guarded, it can quickly turn into a dictatorship. People often forget that pre-Nazi Germany was a constitutional democracy and that Hitler came to power by perfectly legal means. Ancient Rome, Napoleonic France, and numerous other countries also followed this path from democracy to dictatorship. Perhaps this is what Benjamin Franklin had in mind when at the close of the Constitutional Convention he said he had given Americans “a republic, if you can keep it.”
In the new video below, Remy explains the parallels between Hitler’s rise to power and the storyline of Star Wars, which shows how a peaceful and prosperous republic becomes an evil empire. Both Hitler in Germany and Palpatine in Star Wars exploited the partisan divisions handcuffing their respective legislatures to become fascistic heads of state with dictatorial powers. Both of these moves were supported by popular will. Once in office both Hitler and Palpatine used fear to cement and concentrate their power.
Recognizing that liberty often dies with – in the words of Senator Amidala in Star Wars – “thunderous applause” is especially important today when constitutional rights are being suspended or revoked outright in response to security threats. Fear is the path to the dark side and dictatorship.