08 Jan 2009

Tyler Cowen Went to the Dark Side a Long Time Ago

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You think I’m referring to his (always very qualified and nuanced!) support for government intervention? Nope, I am being quite literal. Today in a post designed to bring new readers up to speed with what his blog is all about, Tyler links to his 2005 post on Star Wars. Now in fairness, go read his post to see the tone; there are some funny lines. But all in all I think he’s serious, and remember, this isn’t some random post upon which I stumbled in my stalking of Cowen–he listed it as one of MR’s highlights of all time. Anyway here is our favorite economist:

The core point is that the Jedi are not to be trusted:
1. The Jedi and Jedi-in-training sell out like crazy. Even the evil Count Dooku was once a Jedi knight.

2. What do the Jedi Council want anyway? The Anakin critique of the Jedi Council rings somewhat true….Aren’t they a kind of out-of-control Supreme Court, not even requiring Senate approval (with or without filibuster), and heavily armed at that? As I understand it, they vote each other into the office, have license to kill, and seek to control galactic affairs. Talk about unaccountable power used toward secret and mysterious ends.

3. Obi-Wan told Luke scores of lies, including the big whopper that his dad was dead.

4. The Jedi can’t even keep us safe.

5. The bad guys have sex and do all the procreating….

6. The prophecy was that Anakin (Darth) will restore order and balance to the force. How true this turns out to be. But none of the Jedi can begin to understand what this means. Yes, you have to get rid of the bad guys. But you also have to get rid of the Jedi. The Jedi are, after all, the primary supply source and training ground for the bad guys….

8. The core message is that power corrupts, but also that good guys have power too. Our possible safety lies in our humanity, not in our desires to transcend it or wield strange forces to our advantage…

Addendum: By the way, did I mention that the Jedi are genetically superior supermen with “enhanced blood”? That the rebels’ victory party in Episode IV borrows liberally from Leni Riefenstahl’s “Triumph of the Will”? And that the much-maligned ewoks make perfect sense as an antidote to Jedi fascism?

On his blog, I said that, much like his belief in Paulson’s rhetoric, this post makes me say: “Then you truly are lost.”*

I was going to engage in a point-by-point refutation, but we can largely avoid such geekiness by linking to Bryan Caplan’s response.

The only additional point I want to make–and one that really does have more to do with Tyler’s view of things than just Star Wars–is to focus on his point #2. He’s upset that the Jedi are allowed to exclude people from their ranks. Huh?! Suppose I want to start blogging at Marginal Revolution. Should Harry Reid have a say in the matter?

* UPDATE: Thanks to Bill R. for giving me the precise spot in the clip where the crucial dialogue occurs, and also for showing me how to “jump” to that spot! Note that in the clip Obi Wan doesn’t have the word “truly” in the line, but I swear he said it in the theaters. (Also, I had googled it to refresh my memory, and the website I found agreed with my recollection, and had Obi Wan saying “truly.”)

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