Star Wars is not usually considered filled with economic lessons so this may surprise you. Did you know the Empire was Socialist?

Before we get to that briefly, what is Socialism? As Socialism has failed time after time its advocates constantly shift their definition. As a result the economists of today, most of whom were educated 20+ years ago, rebut Socialism as it was advocated in the 80s. That analysis is oftentimes not helpful in discussing the flaws of Socialism with a 2016 Socialist.

The discussion goes like this:
You: Socialism is State-ownership of the means of production.
Socialist: That’s not what I advocate! That’s communism!
(Occasionally they’ll be bold enough to call that “state capitalism”).
Socialist (con’t): Don’t you know anything! Socialism is ownership by the workers. You know, co-ops. I am AGAINST central planning!

Notice what the Socialist did? They distanced the economic system they advocate from the failures of Socialism in the 90s. They’ll follow this argument with claims that anything unfavorable that occurred in the USSR or its satellites was the fault of a totalitarian government, but not of Socialism the economic system.

How do you address this? Very simple. Co-ops are not socialism, they’re capitalism. Co-ops already exist in every capitalist economy on earth. They’re highly unpopular and tend to only make up a small proportion of firms, but they do exist. What your Socialist in the conversation above is advocating is NOT co-ops. What they’re advocating is forcibly outlawing every form of organization EXCEPT co-ops. That system can only exist by a State centrally planned economy. On its own an economy of only co-ops will never exist.

The Final Blow: Finish them with these questions:
“How will you get from our current economy to one of only co-ops?”
The answer always ultimately comes down to: the State will force existing owners to sell their means of production to the workers.

“How will redistribution of this scale be accomplished,” you should ask.
If you drill down ultimately the Socialist will concede it can only be done by the State first taking control of the means of production, then reallocating it. And that, boys and girls, is what your Socialist called “communism” at the start of the discussion. That’s also why there is no difference between Socialism & Communism.
(For those who want a more technical economic reason you can point out that under both systems the citizens have the same relationship or lack thereof between them and intermediate capital goods / producer goods).

Now what you came here for, the Empire from Star Wars was a Socialist economy: