What ‘Star Wars’ Can Tell Us About Political Risk


Global Risk Insights recently spoke with Dr. ​Zachary Feinstein at the Washington University in St. Louis about the connection between science fiction and political risk.

The human race has never known any limits to the imagination. From energy exploration on the moon to the space act signed last November by the Obama administration, space and science fiction mixes seamlessly into the possibilities of innovation and future opportunities. What lessons does this genre hold for analysts and researchers of international affairs, economics and political risk?

Science Fiction’s Beginnings

The “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” miniseries inspired by the Jules Verne novel takes place in 1886. (ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)

What is some of the history of political risk in the world of science fiction? Do we see elements of risk in works such as “The Foundation” series by ‎Isaac Asimov? What can business analysts and students of political economy and international affairs learn from works from the classical age, or from sci-fi, in general?

The history of political risk in science fiction goes back even before Isaac Asimov to the original classics. It goes to Jules Verne and H.G. Wells. “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea,” it begins with an international incident. This is where political risk begins to appear in science fiction. Captain Nemo begins his journey after his family is murdered in a war.

Going forward to the “Foundation” series, you see the idea of psychohistory and the first and section foundation. This is the done by the mathematician Hari Seldon to hedge his bets in regards to the political risk and to make sure the dark ages did not extend 10,000 years. This was based on statistics, mathematics, and low probability events; psychohistory and the second “Foundations” was how to restart a stable, galactic government when —> Read More