Most political journalists are also nerds, so it was probably only a matter of time until someone started debating the politics of Star Wars. This particular discussion started when an official with the Canadian prime minister's office sent out a press release announcing that the forthcoming national census would be optional.
- Jedi Knights Are Libertarian The release noted that, during the previous census in 2001, 21,000 respondents listed their religion as "Jedi Knight." The official presumably pointed this out to suggest that these Canadians were protesting the personal question on the census form. Canadian blogger P.M. Jaworski did some research and found that Canada is not alone in this behavior. Jaworski concludes that Jedi Knights, by opposing the privacy intrusion of the census, are political libertarians.
According to 2001 census reports from the English-speaking world, England and Wales led the world in absolute terms, with over 390,000 (0.8%) Jedis. "The 2001 census reveals that 390,000 people across England and Wales are devoted followers of the Jedi 'faith,'" the BBC reported in 2003. England also has the distinction of having elected a Jedi Member of Parliament. Jamie Reed, then-newly-elected Labour Party MP, commented on the proposed Incitement to Religious Hatred Bill by saying, "as the first Jedi Member of this place, I look forward to the protection under the law that will be provided to me by the Bill."
Canada also lagged behind Australia, with over 70,000 (0.37%) Jedis in 2001. In May of 2001, the Australian Board of Statistics released a press release to the media on the topic of Jedis. "If your belief system is "Jedi" then answer as such on the census form. But if you would normally answer Anglican or Jewish or Buddhist or something else to the question "what is your religion?" and for the census you answer "Jedi" then this may impact on social services provision if enough people do the same," read the press release. The honour of most Jedis on a per capita basis goes to New Zealand, with over 53,000 adherents, making up 1.5 per cent of the population, second only to "Christian" at 58.9 per cent ("No Religion" accounted for 28.9 per cent, with 6.9 per cent objecting to the question).
- Jedi Knights Are Socialist Reason's Jesse Kline believes that Jedi knights, the heroes of the Star Wars science fiction film series, are in fact big government liberals.
Although the Jedis did assist the Rebel Alliance in overthrowing a tyrannical emperor, it's clear that the Knights were originally set up to enforce the Galactic Senate's big government agenda. Not to be outdone, the empire continues its assault on private property. Security cameras in Long Island caught Darth Vader holding up a bank yesterday morning. If only police in Long Island had census data showing the names and addresses of the local Jedi population, they might have an easier time apprehending the dark lord. And the circle is now complete.
- Jedi Knights Are Sensible Centrists Foreign Policy's Daniel Drezner weighs in, arguing that Jedi Knights are centrist moderates.
Are the Jedi big government advocates? That's unclear. I think it would be more accurate to describe them as cartelistic -- they refuse to permit a free market in learning the ways of the Force. After all, the Jedi Council's initial inclination is not to train Anakin Skywalker despite his obvious talents, using some BS about fear as a cover. Only when Qui-Gon threatens to go rogue do they relent. The Council does not inform the Senate that their ability to detect the force has been compromised. They're reluctant to expand their assigned tasks -- they're keepers of the peace, not soldiers. Just as clearly, their anti-competitive policies weakened their own productivity, given the fact that they were unable to detect a Sith Lord walking around right under their noses for over a decade.
So, were the Jedi perfect agents of liberty? No, probably not. But neither were they handmaidens to the greatest concentration of state power in galactic history.