The Last Jedi Analysis

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The latest instalment of Star Wars written and directed by Rian Johnson, Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017), can be read as a deeply political text in which an essentially liberal Resistance force contends with an expansive and oppressive totalitarian regime, the Empire. Hope is a central theme in the film, as it is used as a political tool of the Resistance and constructed as a threat to the ability of the Empire to maintain control (Johnson 2017). In this paper I will demonstrate that hope as a political tool, especially as it is employed in The Last Jedi, can be used to transcend the limitations of contemporary political fear, and that only in the unification of political love and political fear can hope be functional in motivating a liberal…show more content…
While one may argue that it is possible to hope for the cessation of some negative experience or for an individual gain, our perceptions of the goodness of political actions are developed in reference to the principles we hold supreme. Centering these principles as a motivator for political action is what concerns Nussbaum’s (2013) book on the politics of emotion. For Nussbaum, we are only sufficiently motivated to stably uphold our principles when we truly love them, and have generated a surrounding political culture rooted in justice (2013, 6-7). Similarly, in The Last Jedi, resistance leader Vice Admiral Holdo remarks: “in every corner of the galaxy, people know our symbol and put their hope in it. We are the spark, that'll light the fire, that will restore the Republic” (Johnson 2017). The Resistance and Nussbaum’s work both make the argument that political emotion can be used to ensure the stability and unity of liberal societies, and should be encouraged through symbolism based upon the ‘overlapping consensus’ on liberal principles within the society (2013, 6-7). It is due to shared principles that the mere symbol of the Resistance is enough to invoke hope across the galaxy, even when the Resistance is not strong enough or in near enough proximity to invoke hope of a personal nature. This…show more content…
However, Nussbaum and the hope of the Resistance demonstrate that placing politics before fear can change the nature of fear itself, and thus the type of political response that is generated. Hope is the force that reconfigures the current political arrangement of fear Robin asks us to reject, transforming it into a unifying experience. When the possible destruction of our principles causes us to be afraid, we resist domination in their name. The Empire finds its normative commitment in the continuous acquisition of power and the growth of their ability to control and dominate the galaxy. This central commitment to power, and not a set of collective principles, is what leaves them susceptible to the fear in liberalism that Robin describes, a fear of sanction and loss of ability (2004, 18). While the Resistance is also afraid, their fear is transformed into a stable political emotion, hope, because their political claims are rooted in a deep love of shared principles to which they can aspire. This is why Kylo Ren murders the leader of the Empire in a sort of coup as an attempt to gain control, while the Resistance is a unified political force despite their relative weakness, diversity of personal motivation, and practical disputes. Both forces use the fear of loss as a motivator, though one uses the fear of losing power and the other, the fear
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