The second season of “The Mandalorian” has recently premiered at “Disney+“. Under the appearance of an adventure and science-fiction story of “Star Wars”, it actually hides the soul of a classic American western. The series has all the formal elements of a western. It is not in vain that the first scene takes place in a space tavern resembling a saloon.
The protagonist has to tame a blurrg, as if it were a wild horse. There are gunslingers and bounty hunters, who duel in search of fortune; natives and settlers fighting for survival, threatened by looters and the natural environment itself. Gangs of outlaws plan and execute assaults on cargoes. Even in its soundtrack, Ludwig Göransson is inspired by the compositions of the late Enio Morricone. All these and many other elements generate an atmosphere of spaghetti western but, in addition, the series can be considered a western because of its narrative.
According to Malcolm Gladwell, archetypically a western takes place in a world without law and order, with non-existent or incipient institutions, in which a man appears who personally imposes law and order on the territory or community.
An Eastern would be in a world where law and order exist, with institutions and justice, but these have been subverted by corrupt elements, being necessary that the hero restores them from within. In a Northern, there is a justice system that works perfectly and is morally superior. -Although the system can be somewhat clumsy and needs the help of the protagonist, such as Sherlock Holmes-. Finally, the Southern has totally corrupt institutions and it is only an outsider who can confront the system or tries to reform it.
In this sense, “The Mandalorian” is presented six years after the fall of the Galactic Empire, after the destruction of the second Death Star during the Battle of Endor. The incipient “New Republic” is hardly able to be present in a few systems and it seems that each planet and each individual are organizing themselves to pursue their goals in a spontaneous way. The figure of the bounty hunter, on his own or with a guild, begins to proliferate as a way of bringing justice and order.
When Greef Karga (Carl Weathers) tries to pay for his services using imperial credits, the Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal) rejects them, because although they are still valid, they are hardly worth anything. We know that in this universe the imperial credits, both physical and digital, are a fiduciary currency from central banking, the “Banking Clan”. Due to the enormous military expenditure that the Empire demonstrates in the original trilogy, it is not unreasonable to think that they issued a lot of currency, utterly and only backed by the imperial cruise ships and the Death Star.
Once the Empire falls, it is not compulsory to endure hyperinflation, and so money emerges in the form of other non-devaluated currencies. Mando accepts payments in calamari flans and in beskar, a very precious metal due to its scarcity and stability, since it can only be extracted from a couple of planets in the whole galaxy. It would be interesting to see if in future Star Wars productions a decentralized digital currency appears in the galaxy, with a finite number of units and stable emission.
Although because of the western movies it seems the opposite, the truth is that the “Wild West” was not so wild. In the book “The not so Wild, Wild West” (Terry Anderson & P.J. Hill) is explained how the search for emotion and intensity in movies has distorted our perception of how life really was during this era. In The Mandalorian, while by its very nature there is action and laser fire, these are not the norm, while the story is relatively quiet. It is particularly striking that the protagonist always tries to avoid confrontation and never resorts to violence if he can negotiate.
The teachings in “The Mandalorian”
Not only does he negotiate with his clients, but he does so with the fantastic character of Kuiil (Nick Nolte) to help him find Baby Yoda. He looks for the agreement in the distribution of the booty with the bounty hunter robot IG-11 (Taika Waititi). He gives some binoculars to the Tusken raiders in exchange for being allowed to cross their lands. He makes a deal even with the Jawas who had disabled his ship by stealing the pieces. The list is much longer.
So much longer that it is clear that this is an explicit message about the personality of the protagonist. If we add the predisposition to dialogue on the part of almost all individuals, a generalized atmosphere of search for a kind of spontaneous order prevails. In fact, the trigger for the whole plot of the series is when, for the first and only time, Mando decides to break an agreement, in this case with “The Client” (Werner Herzog), protecting Baby Yoda when he had to hand him over or kill him.
Just as the seemingly defunct western genre helped to understand current events through the hard life on the border, The Mandalorian also contains at least these 2 important lessons on politics and economics fully applicable to our society.
To finish outlining the political profile of the character, if we take into account his constant search for voluntary exchanges, his respect for contracts and for life, his economic knowledge and, finally, that weapons are part of his “Mandalorian” religion, but he does not initiate violence, we could say that he is a conservative-libertarian in the purest style of Clint Eastwood. The authentic personification of the spirit of the western.