...a blog by Richard Flowers

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Day 6200: The Triumph of the Dark. The Victory of the Light


The shortest day. The blackest night.

The Tories tearing the country apart almost as fast as they tear each other apart. The Labour Opposition slavishly not opposing. The Lib Dems going nowhere.

Winter is here. Even your passport is turning as BLUE as a White Walker.

Seems like things have got pretty DARK recently, doesn’t it?

So, disguising myself as a BB9-E-for-Elephant droid, I got the Daddies to smuggle me into Stockport’s new cinema, The Light – half Hipster Cornflake Bar; half Interior Star Destroyer, but they do a decent hotdog – in (first) order to watch the new STAR WARS movie.



Which was very excellent, but about as CHEERING as Emo Kylo Ren watching a double bill of The Empire Strikes Back and The Empire Strikes Back AGAIN (it’s his favourite).

Non-spoilery review:

It’s a wonderfully faithful examining of the original ideas about “The Force of Relations” that really hasn’t been attempted at all by these movies yet.

At the same time, it completely upends what you thought it meant to be a Star Wars story, by deliberately throwing away the tropes and clich├ęs of Campbell that have been the lynchpin of Lucas from the very beginning in part IV (if you see what I mean).

The first great twist comes in the title crawl, pointing out that actually the First Order WON halfway through The Force Awakens, but you might have missed it what with the second half of Episode VII covering a bigger remake of A New Hope. Again. Then Luke does [THAT THING] with [THAT THING].

Rey finds new ways to be feisty while learning the ways of the Force. Finn makes a new friend and learns to be braver. Captain Poe gets to double-check with BB8 about “naked Finn” before learning lessons in leadership from a lady with purple hair who is PROBABLY AUNTIE JENNIE. And Emo Kylo Ren pouts gloriously as he trembles between the Dark Side and the Light. Then HE does [THAT THING] with the [THAT THING]. Which is awesome.

So, if The Force Awakes was a reverent remake of A New Hope, then The Last Jedi is very much doing the The Empire Strikes Back Thing (yes, down to the “let us do [THAT THING] together as [THAT RELATIONSHIP] and [THAT RELATIONSHIP]”) but by DOING ITS OWN THING.

Also Green Milk.

Also you can still apparently get doughnuts once you’ve become one with the Force, as the appearance and sugar-rush of [THAT PERSON] clearly demonstrate.

On the DOWN side: the giant AT-M6 Walkers are apparently called “Gorilla Walkers” even though they are much BIGGER than the AT-ATs. (Evil metal war elephants are STILL elephants and should still be the BEST!)

Later in the week we saw an article in the Grauniad asserting that Star Wars: The Last Jedi is “as left-wing as Jeremy Corbyn”.

Now it’s EASY enough to think that MAYBE our columnist has been indulging a wee bit much on the EGG NOG at the Graun’s Winterval Cheese and Wine Do.

But perhaps he’s not ENTRIELY without a point as – mild spoilers for the STAR WARS – the BADDIES are the SPACE NAZIS.

But it’s more than just that. And, to get a teeny bit more spoilery, actually there IS a bit of a flavour of the “99%” movement about the film, both in the side-arc where some of our working-class heroes visit the casino-planet of Cantor Bight where the ultra-rich of the galaxy gamble with their ill-gotten gains or watch the races like it’s Space Ascot, and even more so in the way the narrative explicitly rejects the “Chosen One” narratives of the Prequel Trilogy for an egalitarian “The Force is for Everyone” theme.

But is that REALLY “lefty” in the Jez-We-Can Kenobi cult of personality Chosen One sort of way?

A lot of “fans” I understand are a bit Emo Kylo Ren about Luke Skywalker (of all people) saying it’s time for the Jedi to end. (That’s not a spoiler: he says it in the TRAILER. And also, that is the START of his character arc in the film, so I do recommend you go see it to see where that arc is going to take him.)

But, he IS right that that the Jedi Order was WRONG. Not because of the JEDI. Because of the ORDER.

The Jedi had decided that they would do GOOD by RULING THE GALAXY. Which is where Mr Corbyn comes in. And which isn’t that different from what the SITH wanted.

I mean, the REAL lesson of the Prequels – apart from “Don’t Let George Lucas loose with too much money and a CGI paintbox” – is beware of overthrowing your democracy for the nice kindly-seeming man who promises to solve all your problems for you by taking you back to a time that seemed simpler.

Daddy Richard was asked recently: “If you want to be an MP, why don’t you just join the Labour Party?”

To which the FLIPPANT answer is: “Have you SEEN the Labour Party?”

But, more seriously, if you REALLY HAVE SEEN the Labour Party when they get into unchallenged power, like in places like Tower Hamlets, you see how quickly power corrupts them absolutely, but also when you see that candidates like the missing-in-action MP for Sheffield Hallam are not, in fact, unusual, but products of Labour’s SYSTEM of rewarding the people who do not THINK but JUST do what the Party tells them (and behave HOWEVER the heck they want outside those parameters), then you do not want ANYTHING to do with them.

But, most seriously, this comes down to a VERY FUNDAMENTAL difference of philosophy between Socialism and Liberalism.

Socialism believes that they are doing good and will do good to you WHETHER YOU WANT THEM TO OR NOT.

Liberalism, informed by JS Mill and Harriet Taylor on the HARM PRINCIPLE, says that “doing someone good” is NOT good enough reason to override their freedom to choose; only stopping them harming someone else is reason enough to do that.

It is why Labour feel able to promise you everything you want – and rainbows and unicorns – because they will give you what THEY decide is good, regardless of whether you want it. Or even whether it really IS good. (see also, Iraq War.)

And why Liberals have to think VERY HARD before making promises like that, and by and large ASK MORE from people. We TRUST people. So we EXPECT BETTER of them.

Liberals are the real rebels.

Socialism, and the Labour Party, are just another kindly Senator Palpatine, ready to turn into the Evil Emperor, ready to bring peace and justice to the galaxy with Sith lightning and a red lightsabre. (see also, Iraq War.)

It is, as the saying goes, a DARK TIME for the galaxy, when the Conservatories are being absolutely terrible, but the alternative is not much better and not really much alternative. And the Lib Dems still on single-digit polling.

Those polling figures, I am SURE – and I mean this from TALKING to REAL people – are NOT a sign of huge love for EITHER big, establishment Party.

I mean it hardly seems likely that there is a huge wave of Love for Mrs Mayhem in the country. Pity, yes. Love, cough cough, I think not, actually.

And although there ARE a lot of people in love with Mr Jeremy – or at least their IDEA of Mr Jeremy, which is rather not the same thing at all – I think not 40% of the population.

No, those polls to me are more a sign of FEAR.

40% of people are absolutely terrified of getting a Labour government, after what the last one did to the economy; 40% of the people are absolutely horrified at the idea of the Tory government continuing after what they’ve done with austerity.

And FEAR is, as we all know by now, the path to the DARK SIDE.

Hope is thin on the ground. And the Liberal Democrats are the Party of hope. Of Freedom and the Future, which depend on hope.

So why do we do this? Why do we carry on, when it’s at its darkest and it’s so, so hard?

A brief swerve to paraphrase Dr Woo from his (soon to be her) recent adventure down a black hole: “We don’t do this for the rewards. We don’t do this because it’s fun. We do this because it’s right, it’s necessary and above all because it’s kind.”

But to return to the Star Wars movie (and this is in the trailer too):

“We are the spark. That will light the flame. That will return freedom to the galaxy!”

The Dark Side has taken control from the very beginning, from halfway through last time even if you didn’t notice. But they cannot extinguish the last of the Light. And that is why, in the end the Light will win.

May 2018 be with you.