Star Wars is not a Rebellion

The Game Stormtrooper Red Star Wars

By the grugq
Insurgentsia guest contributor

This article originally appeared on

Disney is not an authoritative source on conflicts

I am frequently angered by the poor world building of the Rebellion in the Star Wars universe. Even the Empire is problematic, but I won’t dwell on it here. My primary grievance is that real rebellions, real insurgencies, are only possible because of The Vision. This is the end state that the rebels want to achieve. The raw recruit may join up over local grievances or other mundane reasons, but once indoctrinated they will have accepted a world view filtered through The Vision. Examples of The Vision abound in real life: “United Ireland,” “Communism,” “Liberty from colonialism,” “The one true Religion,” etc. etc. In Star Wars, there is no Vision.

The What?

The Vision is the reason that the rebellion exists. It is what unites the rebel group, the cause of fractures and splits when different segments can’t agree on the specifics of The Vision, or can’t agree on the strategy/tactics to achieve it. Essentially, The Vision is the critical load bearing pillar of a rebellion:

  • It allows autonomous cells to operate towards a common goal,
  • Provides a framework for sensemaking about events,
  • Is critical for sustaining morale when problems arise, and
  • Provides a reason for the population to support, join up, and make sacrifices

The Star Wars Rebellion is best defined by the complete and total absence of a Vision. The closest the movies come to articulating a Vision is essentially “we are against the Empire.” That is not a sustainable Vision because it is defined in negative terms rather than positive sentiment, and it doesn’t provide a reason to remain in the Rebel Alliance after the Empire is defeated.

Righteous Justification

The Vision is what justifies the violent actions of rebellion, and the sacrifices necessary to sustain it. It is not simply window dressing, it is the core of the rebellion itself.

Culture of Rebellion

The Vision manifests itself not just via armed conflict, but through cultural artefacts that preserve and promote it to the general population. It is critical that the population is aware of The Vision and at least some portion buy into it, because rebellions are hungry. Rebellions need recruits, funds, weapons, hiding places, support and logistics. As critical as armed conflict is to a rebellion, propaganda is just as vital. This, again, is an area where Star Wars comes up short. Where are the people, posters, or pamphlets explaining why the chaos and destruction of the rebellion is a necessary sacrifice to achieve The Vision?



Cultural elements of rebellion are everywhere and easy to see. For example, Irish Rebel music is particularly well known. Indeed many rebel movements have defining aspirational music, from FARC rap, to Islamic nasheeds, to the Communist Internationale. Music is just one outlet for disseminating The Vision.


The written word is an important part of any rebellion. The American Revolution was preceded by prolific pamphleting and documentation outlining The Vision. Northern Ireland has republican newspapers that report the news filtered through The Vision. The Russian revolutionary parties were hardly short on pamphlets Indeed, the Tsarist secret police, the Okhrana, valued capturing an underground printing press just as highly as they did finding an arms cache. Verbose explanations of the righteousness of The Vision are to be found everywhere there is rebellion. Except in Star Wars.

Street Art

Besides music and text tracts, there is also street art promoting The Vision. Posters, murals and graffiti are major parts of any rebellion. They provide an outlet for young recruits to show support and begin indoctrination, and for the more risk adverse supporters to contribute to the cause. They show the authorities that the rebellion remains a viable threat. Street art is an important, and frequent, element in rebellions. Except, of course, in Star Wars.

No Vision, No Rebellion

Without a Vision to unite, guide, and provide justification for the rebellion there is nothing but criminal activity. The Vision is an essential part of a rebellion, and the Star Wars Rebellion has none to speak of. This is a serious problem, there’s no outreach to the population to recruit new members, no way to justify violence, no means of fund raising, or buying arms. If units are separated from the main hierarchy they have no guiding principle to direct their actions, they are impotent without orders and direction.

The Star Wars Rebellion is not a rebellion, it is a near peer power engaged in a conventional war with the Empire (who at least have an ethos!) Disney is lies!

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