Where is the Law in Star Wars? Why in films so resonant with our current times, saturated with technology, enmeshed in political turmoil and structured by international—or, rather, intergalactic—commerce has the law been jettisoned like space trash from an Imperial Cruiser? My argument is that despite the lack of any overt references to law and legality, the Star Wars franchise in its mythological creation, as well as its capitalist construction, is in fact saturated with law. This law can be found in both the mythology and legality of ‘the Force’—that mystical energy field that supposedly binds the galaxy together, desires a sense of universal order and balance and seeks to regulate destiny itself. This is not simply to read ‘the Force’ in its mythical trappings as a form of natural law that seeks to provide balance to the universe, but, rather, as a representation of modern law and its concern with the defence and preservation of order. As such, this article seeks to ‘read’ Star Wars and ‘the Force’ as a ‘telling instance’ of both popular culture and law: a law that is preoccupied with maintaining peace in a civilisation that is always precarious and under threat. It is this law that, as Obi-Wan Kenobi might say, becomes ‘more powerful than you can possibly imagine’ through its very suspension in what Georgio Agamben has termed the ‘state of exception’. What Star Wars shows us, however, is that it is the restoring of balance or order—the very reason for the declaration of the ‘state of exception’—that is of far greater concern. For ‘the Force’ and the law’s desire for order underlie both the ‘good’ Jedi and the ‘evil’ Sith—the liberal-democratic Republic and the totalitarian Galactic Empire!
Australian Feminist Law Journal / Vol. 36, No. 1, pp.125-143