Reviewing Andor : Yup, still Marxist

Why does a Disney streaming show about young Stalin make us uncomfortable?

Damien Walter
3 min readDec 3, 2023

Ever since the Andor Controversy I’ve been chewing over why people were

1) generally comfortable with Andor as anti-fascist

2) generally uncomfortable with Andor as Marxist

I was as surprised than anyone to find a Disney streaming show presenting Leninist revolutionary ideology but as I watched Andor season 1 and did the research it became inarguable

The facts we have on record from Tony Gilroy are that

a) Andor is based on the young Stalin

b) the robbery and prison are inspired by events from Stalin’s early revolutionary career

c) Luthen’s speeches are cribbed from the writings of Lenin

d) Nemik’s manifesto is taken from Trotsky

Knowing all this I can’t see any possible way to refute that Andor is a depiction of Marxist revolution, played out in a galaxy far far away.

So why is this an uncomfortable idea?

Firstly, Star Wars as a whole is clearly not Marxist. It is much closer to the American revolution in ideology and outcome. But Andor is clearly departing from the main Star Wars narrative.

Secondly, we tend to assume that a story which presents an ideology must be an argument for that ideology. But I don’t believe this is the case with Andor. It seems likely that season one is setting up Luthen’s “revolution within a revolution”, and season 2 will show the dark side of Luthen’s plans.

The third reason says the most about our politics today.

It’s not surprising that right wing / libertarian folks were unhappy that some Marx had been smuggled into their Star Wars.

But it’s more interesting that the left and progressives were also generally unhappy with the idea of Andor as a Marxist text. There were a dozen or more essays from the well known left / progressive youtube critics that identified Andor as “anti-fascist”. And it’s from the audience for those channels that I got the most pushback.

After some cogitating I’m led to this conclusion.

Anti-fascism is a comfortable position. It is agreed on by almost everyone, except actual fascists. And while it identifies the risk of fascists co-opting the power structure, it doesn’t otherwise oppose the political power structure.

Marxism is a much less comfortable ideological position. It asserts that the power structure itself is oppressive, and that fascism is a potential within the power structure, not an external threat to it.

Anti-fascism is a status quo position, while Marxism is a revolutionary position. And while we like watching the drama of revolution on streaming, we do not live in a revolutionary time.

PS — I find Marxism generally incoherent and its advocates at least slightly delusional, just to save time for anyone who responds by assuming I am arguing for the Revolution.

Watch the original essay on the Science Fiction channel



Damien Walter

I tell stories about the future, technology and culture. Published by The Guardian, WIRED, BBC etc.