Though it is entitled “A New Hope,” the story of Luke Skywalker is really a tale as old as time. The characters of Leia, Han and Obi-Wan may have been original, but their types are ageless: the underdogs rising up from humble positions to face a universe bigger than ever imagined, deeply in need of rescue and reform.
Since the ancients, the ability of men to harm one another has called for some way to maintain order in society. The idea of the populous voting for individuals to perform this function was already in place by the time of the Roman Empire. This protective entity is, of course, the government, and it can do much in the way of controlling crime and serving humanity. However, the danger is that the government is run by men as flawed as those they are trying to assist, but these men are legally allowed to use force for their purposes. This is why internal checks and balances are so necessary to limit corruption.
Of course, sometimes even these fail. As mentioned in my previous Star Wars article, the Galactic Senate was one such entity. As “A New Hope” progresses, its last echoes, now under the name of Imperial Senate, are dissolved. When Grand Moff Tarkin is asked how the Emperor will be able to maintain control post-bureaucracy, he reveals the true power of the death star, “Fear will keep the local systems in line. Fear of this battle station.”
A government for the people is all well and good, but when it finds it necessary to rule by fear, historically men have found the need to rise up in defense of liberty. In Ancient Rome, the suspension of the senate added to the discontentment of its people, and though it took through the Middle Ages to recapture their rights, individual freedoms returned with the signing of the Magna Carta centuries later. Fighting for this same liberty, the colonists in America separated from a parliament who wrongfully exercised their legal force and declared their independence from such offenses. Through the years, though the flame has wavered through numerous wars and the coming and going of political philosophies, the spark of freedom has never died.
When Luke Skywalker found the nerve to fly his X-wing into the face of an oversized enemy, it was not to further develop and expand the galaxy, but to return to the freedoms and individual liberties of the old Republic. The rebel’s rallying cry is not so much for “change” as for “renewal” of the time tested system that reigned in brighter days. Observing similar movements in America by regulation rebels such as the Tea Partiers, one could call it a rebirth of interest in the founding principles. Once again, citizens are coming to remember the excessive government control the country was founded to avoid.
Though times change, empires rise and fall and movie sagas endlessly progress, the image of Luke Skywalker taking on the Death Star is engrained in our culture. It reminds us decade after decade that there will always be men to fight for freedom, because that is the oldest hope in the Galaxy.