“Fear will keep the local systems in line.” Thus spake Grand Moff Tarkin at his last recorded meeting of directors of the Death Star.
Ah, the movies. Too bad you can’t see one in a theater.
Darth Vader’s infamous Death Star, contrary to popular belief, was not built to destroy planets. Its purpose was fear.
Joe Biden is not great with words, so while it does not have a catchy name, Biden has a superweapon of his own: The Biden Plan to Combat Coronavirus and to Prepare for Future Global Health Threats.
Let’s call it The Biden Death Star.
The Biden Death Star is a liberty-killing weapon based on the idea of perpetual pandemic. Its basic structure has four major parts:
- Progressive control over the economy – “an immediate set of ambitious and progressive economic measures …”;
- Profligacy – “We must spend whatever it takes, without delay…”;
- Expertise over self-government – “ [l]eadership grounded in science.”
- Forever – “…even as we respond to this crisis, we must prepare for the next one.”
- To paraphrase Orwell—or Darth Vader (take your pick)—the Biden Death Star is a mask, strapped to a human face, forever.
Oh, and I forgot, globally. It’s always global.
The Biden Death Star has many other details. But these are ancillary to its central purpose, which is fear.
Fear is an instrument of control in a struggle to cede deliberative government to an administrative state. The English philosopher Thomas Hobbes recognized this. Hobbes built an entire political theory—a depraved one—around fear. In so doing, Hobbes systematized Machiavelli’s political advice that it is better to be feared than loved.
Fortunately, like the fictional Death Star, a readout of the Hobbesian and Machiavellian plans behind the Biden Death Star reveals it has a weakness: failing to take into account our courage.
Courage, it is often said, is the first of virtues, because without courage the other virtues are not possible.
Even in simple ways, when we witness the phenomenon of courage in our daily awareness of the world, we know it is vital to our well-being. A fireman enters a burning building or a slightly-built police woman faces off with violent Antifa rioters, and these things remind us that mere living is not the point of life.
Film moves us by illustrating fictional accounts of courage. A small force against the odds liberates an enslaved people. Whether it is “Star Wars” or “The Guns of Navarone,” we are inspired by this sort of archetypal imagery. As good people, we know that when our fears control us, we cannot live our lives confidently and for their higher purposes. Indeed, ironically, we cannot even live them safely.
You probably remember the film “The Great Santini.” The protagonist in the film, a navy pilot modeled after an actual navy pilot named Don Conroy, dies when in order to save lives on the ground he refuses to eject over an urban area, instead flying his crippled aircraft over the ocean.
Don Conroy did not actually die in that manner, but he was used as a model of courage based on the book The Great Santini, written by his son, Pat Conroy. When Don Conroy did finally die, Pat Conroy delivered a remarkable eulogy. In it, he said:
Donald Conroy is the only person I have ever known whose self-esteem was absolutely unassailable. There was not one thing about himself that my father did not like, nor was there one thing about himself that he would change. He simply adored the man he was and walked with perfect confidence through every encounter in his life. Dad wished everyone could be just like him. His stubbornness was an art form. The Great Santini did what he did, when he wanted to do it, and woe to the man who got in his way.
Remind you of someone?
When President Trump left Walter Reed Hospital, three days after being admitted there for worsening symptoms of COVID-19, he gave a short speech. “Don’t let [Coronavirus] dominate you! Don’t be afraid of it… Don’t let it take over your lives. Don’t let that happen.”
It was a message of courage, and a rebellion of sorts. Courage in an age of technocrats, and the technocrats’ bizarre counterpart, the mob, is revolutionary. Biden’s allies in the corporate leftist media—his Storm Troopers, to stretch our initial metaphor—denigrated Trump’s message as “dangerous,” “reckless,” and an “Evita moment.”
But it was none of that. Trump’s message was very American: don’t let anyone dominate you. You were born for a higher purpose, and your country has been chosen for a higher purpose than mere survival. The ally of those who seek to dominate you is fear.
Trump will be—and is being—punished for saying so. And for this, he is courageous.
The Left seeks to dominate you through many means; the Biden Death Star is just the latest iteration. Indeed, you can count on a Harris Second Death Star and probably even an AOC Starkiller Base, as reliably as you can count on a related Disney Princess merchandising campaign.
The Left strives to dominate you with speech codes and by impeding your movement by acts of false imprisonment. The Left prosecutes you for defending yourself, and persecutes children for standing up for themselves. The Left shutters your business and directs its revenue to their corporate allies. The Left impedes your right to assemble and the exercise of your faith.
What is the administrative state but domination by unelected, accountable bureaucracy? The Russia thing? Usurping an election. Retire the Electoral College? Majoritarian domination. Alter the Constitution through the courts? More domination. Ballot harvesting? Domination.
But, as readers of Plato know, justice is not the interest of the stronger. The defense of justice—the hope that right makes might—requires courage. The president has called Americans to courage in the face of a pandemic, practically, sensibly, in the confidence that “this too will pass away” as, we know, all other pandemics have passed.
And in so doing, the president has exhibited the first of virtues.