I’m going to go off on a total nerd tangent for a minute (as if this whole series hasn’t been one long indulgence in my nerd tendencies). One thing in particular has always bothered me about Star Wars (even more so than the thing that just struck me the other day: why does Luke not ask Obi Wan about his mother when Obi Wan reveals he and Luke’s dad were best buds? Would not the next logical question be: you knew my dad? Who the fuck was my mom?). Where do they get all their money?
If I wasn’t lapsed in my nerdom I’d probably recall some obscure reference in one of the expanded universe books where this question is answered. In fact, I’m sure I remember it being discussed. But short of going back and rereading the hundreds books of the expanded universe, I’m just going to pretend it’s never addressed.
Think about this. During the Empire Strikes Back, the rebel forces build an entire hide out on an ice planet. They then proceed to abandon this outpost and go build a new one somewhere. First off, imagine the expense of building an entire defensible base of operations. And then add into that the expense of building it on, you know, an ice planet. You’d have to import everything, of course. How did they get all the materials there without anyone noticing? Some little tidbit in the back of my head says maybe they took over the actual building from smugglers or something, but even so. What were they all eating? How did the food get there with no one noticing? How did they afford to start over when they abandoned it all?
And who paid for it all?
Maybe this is a silly thing to focus on, but man, I work for a nonprofit. It is damnably expensive just to EXIST. Of course, most of our funding goes to staff salaries, and I imagine Princess Leia was not getting a stipend. But I imagine the costs of housing and feeding all those rebels was pretty expensive. And clothing! Think how many suits those fighter pilots must have gone through. And who was doing laundry?
Before you say this is nitpicky, give it a second of thought. If a group of people today were going to start a rebellion against the empire, they wouldn’t be able to just go take over an abandoned smuggling post on the ice planet. And you’d have a hard time pulling off any operations if everyone was wearing clothes that hadn’t been washed in months (you’d stick out pretty badly). It is possible to do some things fairly cheaply- you could squat a house, maybe- you could dumpster for clothes- you could scrounge for food- but what if you need weapons? What if you need any equipment?
I recently read the Monkey Wrench Gang (which is awesome, go read it right now) and if you’re not familiar, the basic concept is this: a mismatched group of environmentalists in the 70s(?) get fed up with development in the southwest and decide to put an end to it. By blowing up bridges, roads, and all equipment they can find. They conveniently have the assistance of a wealthy surgeon who funds the purchase of explosives, and who can get the permits to do so because he has land with a mining claim. Very convenient. But not everyone can conveniently afford to go out and buy explosives, or get the permits to do so. There’s the black market, but you can get away with it a lot longer if you do it on the up and up (I would argue). So what does the young upstart rebellion do to fundraise?
Which brings me back to Star Wars. What did THEY do to finance their campaign? Obviously it was well funded. Not as well funded as the Empire, but they had space ships, for chrissakes, and no matter how common space ships were in this distant galaxy, they still had to be expensive. And fuel costs! Wasn’t there ever an energy crisis in the Star Wars Universe?
If you’re going to go about starting an effective rebellion, you have to think these things through. How is everyone going to eat? Where are you going to get the money for the supplies? Hopefully you would be able to identify some wealthy, eccentric donors who are willing to fund your campaign- or you could be like most of the rebellions in our modern world and fund your campaign on drug sales, though that has obvious downsides. Regardless, I would make the argument that to be truly successful, money is necessary. Grassroots blah blah blah- eventually you’re going to need money if you even hope to make a dent.
I don’t know. What do you think, readers? Were the rebels getting by on the generous donations of sympathizers? Princess Leia’s adopted father was a wealthy man, after all, but you would think they would have lost most of their fortune when their planet was blown up and Leia went on the run…