"What Is Thy Bidding,
My Master?": Star Wars
and the Hegelian Struggle
BRIAN K. CAMERON
Star Wars, as the name suggests, is about struggle and conflict, hope and renewal, war and death. On the one side, there are the Rebels, whose struggle for freedom from Imperial domination and fear motivate their supporters and give life to the movement. On the other side, there is the Emperor and his minions who, driven by what philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900) refers to as the "will to power," willingly sacrifice entire planets and their populations in a ruthless attempt to achieve their goals. Art really does imitate life or, at the very least, it illuminates an important feature of it—namely, the exercise of a certain kind of power.
It isn',t difficult to explain how this kind of power arises; fear is the mechanism that accounts for its existence and strength. It is fear of losing his sister that moves Luke to do the Emperor's bidding and strike down his father. It is fear that motivates the Senate to form the clone army that ultimately brings about its own demise. And, it's the fear of losing his mother that sends the young Anakin Skywalker down the path to the Dark Side and prompts the ancient Jedi Master, Yoda, to voice the mantra of his religion: "Tear leads to anger … anger leads to hate … hate leads to suffering."
Fear illuminates the path to slavery and suffering, the path that leads to the Dark Side. At the same time, though, it reveals a certain mode of exercising power—the way of the Sith Master. The Master rises to his station and maintains his dominance over his apprentices or slaves by evoking and playing upon their