Chris Lee’s Millennium Falcon: Journey to the Corporate Sector

It is such a pleasure in a world that has seemingly gone mad politically, philosophically, and economically to see the glorious gumption of Chris Lee and his entourage of dedicated Millennium Falcon builders.  I have covered the exploits of Full Scale before—but that was upon the original announcement that Chris and company had dedicated themselves to building a full sized Millennium Falcon on an 80 acre lot outside of Nashville, Tennessee.  CLICK HERE FOR REVIEW.  For me and millions of other Star Wars fans the Millennium Falcon represents rebellion, freedom, and hope.  It is impossible to step into my home and not see something relevant to Star Wars—but in my bedroom there are Millennium Falcons everywhere.  For me it represents more than just a nice plot point from a cool movie—the roots of the Falcon represent far more—and those roots are obviously driving Chris and many others to spend their own time, money, and effort on making a real Falcon that people can see and touch—and walk through.  The Millennium Falcon is about more than just escapist fantasy—I would argue it is the direct result of laissez-faire capitalism, and people deep down inside know it—which is why they love the iconic space ship.  It was because of laissez-faire capitalism that The Millennium Falcon was able to nearly single-handedly beat a galactic empire with speedy modifications, powerful weapons and raw guts born out of a Star Wars invention called the Corporate Sector.

When I was in the fifth grade my mother used to put together a gift bag of goodies to play with and read while taking long vacations that required many hours in the car.  That year my family went to Myrtle Beach and inside my gift bag was a novel just published by Del Rey called Han Solo at Star’s End.  It was the first book published after the 1977 release of the first Star Wars film and it featured my favorite character and I couldn’t wait to read it.  My mom purposely kept the book on top of the refrigerator out of my reach but positioned it so that I could see it.  I was salivating for weeks to read it.  I was looking forward to our family vacation not for the opportunity to go to the beach, but to read that book.

Finally on a hot summer morning after a devastating thunderstorm that nearly delayed our trip, we left.  The moment we were on I-75 south, my mother gave me the carefully constructed gift bag with all the goodies in it to keep me occupied for the long drive.  There were lots of neat things in the bag, but only one thing I wanted and the moment I put my fingers on it, I was in love for life.  I devoured Han Solo at Star’s End.  I read the book all the way to Myrtle Beach, at every restaurant we stopped at, on the beach, at the hotel room, everywhere that I could hold a book.  When I finished I read it again, then again, then again.  I lost count of how many times I read that book.  I was in love with the Millennium Falcon not because of the movie—which was great, but for deeper reason that I couldn’t quite put my finger on.  It was the Corporate Sector and specifically a guy named Doc Vandangante who could have only been employed by such an experiment of laissez-faire capitalism that had sent my mind ablaze for some unknown reason.

On my family’s Myrtle Beach vacation I read in Han Solo at Star’s End that while in the Corporate Sector, the Falcon was damaged after Solo and Chewbacca attempted smuggling weapons to insurgents on Duroon. They did collect payment from the insurgents and went to pay off Ploovo Two-For-One, but in a rather creative manner. Given the prickly relationship and even outright disgust they had for each other, Han bought a foul, irritable, putrid dinko, attached the payment to it, and unleashed it on the unfortunate employer. Although Corporate Sector Security arrived at the establishment where they were, Han and Chewbacca escaped their grasp relatively unscathed. Payment completed, they went off to find the outlaw tech “Doc” Vandangante‘s hideout, only to discover he had been taken to the Corporate Sector Authority prison at Stars’ End. Doc’s daughter Jessa offered upgrades and repairs to Han’s ship, and a Corporate Sector waiver, in exchange for Han helping rescue Doc and the other prisoners. Before Han could take off, the outlaw techs were attacked by IRD-A Fighters. Piloting a Z-95 Headhunter, Han led the other techs and Jessa in defense of the base. Despite heavy losses, they were successful. To complete their rescue mission for Jessa, Solo and Chewbacca were given two droids, Bollux and Blue Max, and went to the agriworld Orron III to meet up with a group led by Rekkon planning the prison rescue. Though Solo was initially only interested in getting the repairs for his ship, his motives became personal when Chewbacca was captured. After dealing with a traitor in the group, Solo and the others arrived at Stars’ End. In order to gain entry, Han, Atuarre, Pakka, Bollux and Blue Max posed as a troupe of entertainers. The rescue proved successful; freeing Chewbacca, Doc, and the other prisoners and destroying the Stars’ End in the process. After the Falcon was repaired, Solo and Chewbacca left the Corporate Sector for a time, taking Bollux and Blue Max with them in future books…….all of which I read with the same enthusiasm.[18]

The Corporate Sector was formed in 490 BBY[9] to free the Republic lawmakers and the Corporate moneymakers from their differences, after being exiled from the Inner Rim to the Tingel Arm. The Corporate Sector originally had a few hundred systems all devoid of intelligent life. Its creation came in the aftermath of the disastrous experiment with corporate control in the Outer Expansion Zone. The new experiment was tried under more careful supervision, the Republic sent the equivalent of a full subsector’s worth of ships to protect the rights of the workers in the sector and to ensure the companies preserved the basic integrity of the environment on the planets in the sector. The corporations were allowed to operate in the sector and could purchase entire regions of space, but were supervised by the Galactic Republic. A general tax was paid directly to the Republic government which enabled the companies to avoid the morass of sector, system, planetary and local taxes found on most worlds in the Republic.  The Corporate Sector thrived because of deregulation and low taxes.

Doc was born on Coruscant to Carmilla Vandangante, a corporate viceprex and widow who doted on her only son. He rebelled against his life of luxury and privilege at the age of seven, reprogramming his droid nanny to discard such unpalatable foods as kibla greens, flangth, and stewed gwouch into a living room vase. This demonstrated his technical gifts to his tutors, who soon tailored their lessons to these skills.[1]

Upon graduation, Doc accepted a position at Alkherrodyne Propulsions as design systems team leader. He soon became disenchanted with the corporation’s shoddy workmanship covered with flashy marketing, but swallowed his pride and remained with the company. However, when the Azaria 66 began exploding in minor accidents, Alkherrodyne’s slicers framed Doc. The countless lawsuits wiped out the multi-billion credit Vandangante fortune, and left the name slandered.[1]

Doc became a drifter, eventually making his way into the Corporate Sector, where he met an outlaw tech by the name of Shardra. They immediately fell in love, and when introduced to her profession, Doc found his calling, repairing smuggling ships and souping them up to be some of the fastest in the Corporate Sector. Shardra bore the couple a daughter, Jessa Vandangante, but soon died in an unfortunate fuel dump explosion. Doc found raising a daughter to be a difficult task, especially as the free-spirited woman grew older and started catching the eye of younger smugglers like Han Solo.[1]

The Millennium Falcon was a direct result of very creative free enterprise by a number of previous owners but culminating in the exploits of Han Solo who ran into Doc Vandagante.  In a very large galaxy of ideals, some parts of it ruled by peace-loving pacifists, some ruled by ruthless crime lords, some ruled by sinister agents of tyranny, some just trying to preserve their heritage among the intermingling of many races and species—it was the Corporate Sector that made The Millennium Falcon such a special starship.  Much like today’s world in real life, government and business could not get along—so government gave business free rein on the outer edge of the galaxy away from their control in exchange for the benefits.  The equivalent in the real world might be the Caribbean, Las Vegas, Gatlinburg, Tennessee, Hong Kong, or even Disney World where politics leaves the areas alone with their overly intrusive rules and regulations.  The direct benefit is the vibrant economic activity of creative minds such as the fictional Doc Vandagante.  My question as a young fifth grader on Myrtle Beach was why wasn’t the rest of the galaxy the way the Corporate Sector was?  Why would the government within the core worlds want the benefits of the Corporate Sector not on the outer rim of the galaxy, but within the core near the capital planets?  Well, the sad answer was power.

Star Wars is of course a fictional story, but it has so many references to our current life that the mythology accurately reflects many competing ideals that are in actual conflict.  The concepts introduced through the story are familiar to us all.  The Imperials love statism, the Rebels love freedom, and then there are those who might otherwise find sanction in the Corporate Sector with all the good and bad that comes with it.  Some of the planets in the Corporate Sector are ravaged with pollution, and corrupt board of directors just out trying to make money at the expense of others.  It’s not all good in the Corporate Sector—it’s not safe—fair, or even remotely nice.  But, the Corporate Sector was responsible for much of the technological innovation that the rest of the galaxy enjoyed and there is a philosophical argument there worth noting.

The Millennium Falcon is a direct product of the laissez-faire capitalism of the Star Wars universe.  When I returned back to the real world after reading Han Solo at Star’s End it was clear that my public school was intent to teach the politics of the core worlds, what we might call in the real world—socialism.  The public schools were intent to preach the merits of statism—rules and regulations, federal control of everything.  Not me. I wanted a Millennium Falcon—I wanted something like it in my lifetime, and it quickly became clear to me that the kind of education that the public schools were offering would not take the world where I wanted to go.  When John F Kennedy dared America to go to the moon, he tossed at NASA a bit of laissez-faire capitalism to make it happen—and beat the Russians to space.  Stanley Kubrick watched this progress and built is movie 2001: A Space Odyssey around that type of progress.  But once the Berlin Wall came crashing down in 1989, America took its foot off the gas and started over regulating everything once again to give politicians something to do—and that space race progress came to a halt.  Now there has been over 20 years of blatant and gradually increasing socialism coming out of WashingtonD.C. because that’s what everyone was taught in their public schools, and there are no real plans for space under the Obama administration going forward.  They are instead focused on solar panels, street cars, public transit, and a communist care health system.

NASA if turned loose with laissez-faire capitalism could likely build a real functional Millennium Falcon within a decade.  The technology is close enough that at least a vessel that could take off and fly into space with artificial gravity, ion propulsion, life support and other forms of sustainability could be achieved quickly if the real life Doc Vandagantes were turned loose of government regulation.  I know a few of them, I know people who have invented flying cars that could take off from one driveway and land in another half a world away, but has no real interest from large aerospace companies facing gigantic liability concerns, and mountains of paperwork in compliance to purchase—and advance.  I know of people who have cured most cancers, but the FDA has tried to throw them in jail to keep the technology off the market so pharmaceutical companies can continue keeping people sick and addicted to their products.  I know of scientists who have started the process of regenerative growth—who can re-grow fingers lost, or legs amputated.  They are solving the problem of aging and whether or not human beings actually have to die.  They are a threat to the companies who make prosthetic limbs, and ADA legislation that wants more ramps for wheel chairs, elevators for the disabled, and generally more handicapped people to use for political advancement in the here and now.  Those types of people will gladly sacrifice the opportunities of tomorrow for power today.

Statists inside the beltway of Washington D.C. are the first to say that if people never got sick, never died, and had unlimited freedom of transportation, then the world would become over polluted, over populated, and a menace to itself.  They are still thinking small, because they obviously never read anything like Han Solo at Star’s End as kids—an act I’m sure Chris Lee shares with me.  People like Chris and I ask ourselves why can’t I have my own Millennium Falcon to take off and go to work in orbit around earth where all the pollution and byproduct of production could be dumped into space preserving planet earth forever.  When work was completed at the end of the day, we would just fly home and land in our back yards with our Millennium Falcons.  Why can’t we have it–because we live on earth with restrictive governments that hate laissez-faire capitalism?

I’ve read many of the European classics and compared to Star Wars, they are boring.  I love Shakespeare, but I would take any Star Wars book over William Shakespeare any day of the week.  Shakespeare was a better writer than Brian Daley who wrote Han Solo at Star’s End without question.  But Daley is much more positive as a thinker than Shakespeare, and that optimism about what’s possible is what Star Wars is all about.  Yet much of the modern statism that is infecting the world is because of European culture, Thomas Mann’s Magic Mountain, Dante’s Inferno, or the master himself James Joyce of Finnegan’s Wake fame, which I have read and understand. Give me Star Wars over Finnegan’s Wake and give me the Millennium Falcon over a fu**ing street car.  Give me a manufacturing plant floating around earth dumping its garbage into space or on the surface of the moon as opposed to the socialism of Brazil where everyone lives in a card board hut.  Give me a Corporate Sector that can build a Millennium Falcon in America so that I can have one as opposed to the dying towns of Detroit choking on socialism and feel-good progressivism.

What Chris Lee is attempting to do is no different from what Doc Vandagantes did in the book Han Solo at Star’s End for The Millennium Falcon. Chris isn’t working for NASA, or some other group building Falcons for the general population.  Government will not get behind such an effort, so Chris is doing it on his own.  I was a bit skeptical at first even though I wanted to see the results.  But after Chris showed off the latest cockpit construction after many months of meticulous effort, I can see clearly that he will be successful so long as he can continue to fund the project. It is for that reason that I am starting an icon on my side bar here at Overmanwarrior’s Wisdom encouraging my readers here to help Chris with his project.  I think it’s important.  Is it as important as sex trafficking in the world, or the sad state of current politics———-no, but yes.  Yes because Chris’s Millennium Falcon project is about the most important ingredient to human society—imagination—and the gumption to make things happen.  Chris wants like I do to walk inside a real life Millennium Falcon—and he’s making it happen on his dime, with his time, and his effort.  And now that I’ve seen it, I can’t help but wonder what our world would be like if government simply got behind people like Chris and allowed them to function in a Corporate Sector of America where inventions like the Falcon could flourish, instead of trying to heard people into cities through progressive politics and force them onto government sponsored mass transit.  The Millennium Falcon is a larger symbol than that—it is the result of laissez-faire capitalism and a hope for mankind that resides in the spirit of ideals and innovation—and a lot of perspiration.

That old Han Solo at Star’s End novel still sits near my reading chair.  It’s now torn, and very worn out from years of handling—but it still evokes in me boundless imagination opportunities and optimism.  Many people look at what Chris is doing in Nashville and read what I have said here and think that we are grown up kids who love the escapism of cinema, or fantasy which has a grain of truth to it.  But what do we want to escape from—and to what.  Speaking for myself, I wish to escape from the clutches of those with undeveloped imaginations—people who avoid thinking rather than thriving from it. For me, a personal Millennium Falcon would allow me to leave those sluggish minds behind in a flight for the stars and the endless possibilities available outside of the laws comb-over politicians have constructed just to increase their power base.  My wife has read Han Solo at Star’s End—in fact she’s read every Star Wars book ever written up to this point which is in the hundreds—and she understands why there are Millennium Falcon’s all over our bedroom.  Many don’t because they failed to let novels like Han Solo at Star’s End capture their imaginations at a young age, or failed to enjoy a film like Star Wars for whatever reason.  They lack the mechanism to enjoy those kinds of things and it is they who are weights on minds like mine.  I want to escape from their limitations, their restrictions, and their lives stuck in quicksand of self-construction.  The Millennium Falcon to me is freedom from all that, and a symbol against restriction because The Falcon is a pirate vessel built by illegal components that’s faster than anything regulations in the Republic or Empire would allow.  And that’s why I love it, and why people like Chris are dedicating their lives to see a real life Millennium Falcon—even if they have to build the damn thing themselves.  I sleep better at night knowing that there are people like Chris and his friends out there—beyond the reaches of those who use rules and regulations to mask the lack of imagination that plagues their thoughts like a cancer—and the democracies of tyranny that they create with good intentions imposed from faulty thinking.  The Millennium Falcon is an escape from those who don’t understand and a celebration by those who do.

Rich Hoffman