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The Case for the Empire 752

Posted by michael
from the evil-is-in-the-eye-of-the-stormtrooper dept.
fReNeTiK writes "In this amusingly controversial article over at the weekly standard's web site, we get to hear an opinion not often heard among the hordes of Star Wars fanatics out there: The rebel alliance are actually "... an unimpressive crew of anarchic royals who wreck the galaxy so that Princess Leia can have her tiara back." An entertaining read which will surely spark flame wars of epic proportions." Reader kaypro submits an MSNBC story examining the science of Star Wars. And Ant notes that the Clones DVD will be out earlier than expected.
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The Case for the Empire

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  • Pinochet...? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ChiPHeaD23 (147491) on Friday May 17, 2002 @07:19AM (#3536000) Homepage
    Make no mistake, as emperor, Palpatine is a dictator--but a relatively benign one, like Pinochet.

    Wow, calling Pinochet "relatively benign" is about the biggest stretch I've ever heard of. Sure, beningn to the US and its economic interests, but I think any Chileans in the room will disagree.
    • Wow, calling Pinochet "relatively benign"

      Remember, he called Pinochet a relatively benign dictator. He didn't say that Pinochet was benign on his own merit.
      • Re:Pinochet...? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Simon Brooke (45012) <stillyet@googlemail.com> on Friday May 17, 2002 @08:23AM (#3536237) Homepage Journal
        Remember, he called Pinochet a relatively benign dictator. He didn't say that Pinochet was benign on his own merit.

        No, no, no. Pinochet wasn't a relatively benign anything. Thousands killed, tens of thousands tortured. Pinochet was one of the really top-level international criminals of the last century, not perhaps in the same bracket as Hitler, Stalin or Pol Pot, but certainly at the top of the second rank.

        • This is the mail that I sent the Standard:

          I enjoyed Johnathan Last's musings on the Star Wars universe immensely, it
          does rather occur to me - as a Briton - that this is something of a post
          9/11 viewpoint. Here's why, before 9/11 the USA could look back with pride
          on both their acheivements in WWII and (to a lesser degree) in the American
          War of Independence. In both cases the US painted herself (accurately or
          not) as the freedom loving opponent of the tyranny of empire. The British in
          the former war and the German & Japanese in the latter. Skipping over the
          nightmare of Vietnam (although this might perhaps have given a clue to the
          inevitability of a 9/11-like eventuality) the Gulf War could also have been
          looked at in similar terms, though it's a much tougher fit when both oil and
          the incredibly undemocratic Saudi and Kuwaiti regimes enter the picture.

          But where is the USA now? Undoubtedly the Empire itself. Imagine the city of
          New York as the Death Star itself, and those precisely planted Boeings as
          X-Wing fighters. The Force may not have been intended as a martyrs creed,
          but Obi-Wan Kenobi was a suicide bomber without ANY doubt. And what an
          economic weapon NYC is, certainly able to destroy a country's economy at
          will - Argentina provides our best recent example.

          Pretty horrible, isn't it? George Bush as the Emperor himself? Colin Powell
          as Darth Vader? Rumsfeld as Grand Moff Tarkin? Surely not?

          I look at the US-backed oppression in the Middle East, the oil producing
          potential of Afghanistan and the recent (US backed??) events in Venezuela and I have to
          wonder.
    • Re:Pinochet...? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by rifter (147452)

      I am no fan of Pinochet, but when you consider there were massive demonstrations in favour of him, and against his trial in Europe, and a hero's welcome when he was returned, it becomes plausible some Chileans actually like him. Granted, it is possible these were all staged, and people were paid to celebrate in what we believe to be a relatively poor and unfree country, but this was believed to be the case in Nazi Germany, and was proven wrong. There actually were ordinary citizens in direct favour of the oppressive dictatorship.

      In freer and ostensibly democratic societies this seems unconcionable to the average person, but it appears to be the case in such places.

    • Re:Pinochet...? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Mike Connell (81274)
      (There is a sound of weeping)
      Please, laugh, the piece is satire. Only a few lines later:
      Captain Piett is quickly promoted to admiral when his predecessor "falls down on the job."

      Piett's predecessor was Kendal, whom Vader killed by crushing his throat so that he did indeed "fall down on the job"

      Not to mention that as a dictator Pinochet was relatively benign.
    • Re:Pinochet...? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by LatJoor (464031)
      I think that the author intentionally named Pinochet as "benign" in order to drive home the irony of his article, and also to give us a real-world example of the kind of regime he would be justifying. He values the end over the means, even if the means involve murder and torture.

      What this article neglects to mention is that rule by sheer terror inherently breeds rebellion. When fear, not loyalty, is the only reason for obedience, sooner or later people *will* rebel. In the face of rebellion the ruling power depends on its own strength of arms and the loyalty of its supporters. The final battle in Episode VI proved that it had neither -- the Death Star was defeated and Vader betrayed his ruler.
    • relatively benign (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Martin Spamer (244245) on Friday May 17, 2002 @09:05AM (#3536432) Homepage Journal

      Make no mistake, as emperor, Palpatine is a dictator--but a relatively benign one, like Pinochet. It's a dictatorship people can do business with. They collect taxes and patrol the skies. They try to stop organized crime (in the form of the smuggling rings run by the Hutts). The Empire has virtually no effect on the daily life of the average, law-abiding citizen.

      Much as I disapprove of Pinochet; and agree that on an absolute scale he is a pretty despicable character, he was relatively benign when compared to dictators. He killed thousands of people and not millions like, Pol-Pot, Stalin, Hitler, Mao.

      Further more, nature is entirely dictatorial, kills millions of people a year, and to quote my Physics teacher 'nothing kills like the laws of physics'. Does that make Nature or Physics evil or immoral ? I would suggest that dictatorship is actually amoral, neither good or evil, it simply is.

      • Re:relatively benign (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Mr.Ned (79679)
        --
        Make no mistake, as emperor, Palpatine is a dictator--but a relatively benign one, like Pinochet.
        --

        When I first read that sentence, I honestly thought it was sarcasm. Then I became a bit disgusted when it wasn't. Things cannot be good or evil by themselves; people can. Just because Pinochet couldn't round up millions like Stalin or Hitler did, doesn't mean he didn't do the same thing with death squads and 'mysterious dissaperances'.

        Dictatorships can be good or evil. The Romans (pre-Empire) had a good dictatorship system - a man was voted emergency powers for six months. The example is Cincinnatius, who was asked while he was working on his farm, went, won a war, gave up his powers, and returned to his farm, all in the span of a week or so. He forwent the other five months of his powers, didn't kill any of his countrymen, and defended Rome. Hitler, of course, is an evil dictator, and I don't particularly think I need to give examples.
  • by Zocalo (252965)
    Sigh. Here's the text:

    The Case for the Empire
    Everything you think you know about Star Wars is wrong.
    by Jonathan V. Last
    05/16/2002 12:00:00 AM

    Jonathan V. Last, online editor

    STAR WARS RETURNS today with its fifth installment, "Attack of the Clones." There will be talk of the Force and the Dark Side and the epic morality of George Lucas's series. But the truth is that from the beginning, Lucas confused the good guys with the bad. The deep lesson of Star Wars is that the Empire is good.

    It's a difficult leap to make--embracing Darth Vader and the Emperor over the plucky and attractive Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia--but a careful examination of the facts, sorted apart from Lucas's off-the-shelf moral cues, makes a quite convincing case.

    First, an aside: For the sake of this discussion, I've considered only the history gleaned from the actual Star Wars films, not the Expanded Universe. If you know what the Expanded Universe is and want to argue that no discussion of Star Wars can be complete without considering material outside the canon, that's fine. However, it's always been my view that the comic books and novels largely serve to clean up Lucas's narrative and philosophical messes. Therefore, discussions of intrinsic intent must necessarily revolve around the movies alone. You may disagree, but please don't e-mail me about it.

    If you don't know what the Expanded Universe is, well, uh, neither do I.

    I. The Problems with the Galactic Republic

    At the beginning of the Star Wars saga, the known universe is governed by the Galactic Republic. The Republic is controlled by a Senate, which is, in turn, run by an elected chancellor who's in charge of procedure, but has little real power.

    Scores of thousands of planets are represented in the Galactic Senate, and as we first encounter it, it is sclerotic and ineffectual. The Republic has grown over many millennia to the point where there are so many factions and disparate interests, that it is simply too big to be governable. Even the Republic's staunchest supporters recognize this failing: In "The Phantom Menace," Queen Amidala admits, "It is clear to me now that the Republic no longer functions." In "Attack of the Clones," young Anakin Skywalker observes that it simply "doesn't work."

    The Senate moves so slowly that it is powerless to stop aggression between member states. In "The Phantom Menace" a supra-planetary alliance, the Trade Federation (think of it as OPEC to the Galactic Republic's United Nations), invades a planet and all the Senate can agree to do is call for an investigation.

    Like the United Nations, the Republic has no armed forces of its own, but instead relies on a group of warriors, the Jedi knights, to "keep the peace." The Jedi, while autonomous, often work in tandem with the Senate, trying to smooth over quarrels and avoid conflicts. But the Jedi number only in the thousands--they cannot protect everyone.

    What's more, it's not clear that they should be "protecting" anyone. The Jedi are Lucas's great heroes, full of Zen wisdom and righteous power. They encourage people to "use the Force"--the mystical energy which is the source of their power--but the truth, revealed in "The Phantom Menace," is that the Force isn't available to the rabble. The Force comes from midi-chlorians, tiny symbiotic organisms in people's blood, like mitochondria. The Force, it turns out, is an inherited, genetic trait. If you don't have the blood, you don't get the Force. Which makes the Jedi not a democratic militia, but a royalist Swiss guard.

    And an arrogant royalist Swiss guard, at that. With one or two notable exceptions, the Jedi we meet in Star Wars are full of themselves. They ignore the counsel of others (often with terrible consequences), and seem honestly to believe that they are at the center of the universe. When the chief Jedi record-keeper is asked in "Attack of the Clones" about a planet she has never heard of, she replies that if it's not in the Jedi archives, it doesn't exist. (The planet in question does exist, again, with terrible consequences.)

    In "Attack of the Clones," a mysterious figure, Count Dooku, leads a separatist movement of planets that want to secede from the Republic. Dooku promises these confederates smaller government, unlimited free trade, and an "absolute commitment to capitalism." Dooku's motives are suspect--it's not clear whether or not he believes in these causes. However, there's no reason to doubt the motives of the other separatists--they seem genuinely to want to make a fresh start with a government that isn't bloated and dysfunctional.

    The Republic, of course, is eager to quash these separatists, but they never make a compelling case--or any case, for that matter--as to why, if they are such a freedom-loving regime, these planets should not be allowed to check out of the Republic and take control of their own destinies.

    II. The Empire

    We do not yet know the exact how's and why's, but we do know this: At some point between the end of Episode II and the beginning of Episode IV, the Republic is replaced by an Empire. The first hint comes in "Attack of the Clones," when the Senate's Chancellor Palpatine is granted emergency powers to deal with the separatists. It spoils very little to tell you that Palpatine eventually becomes the Emperor. For a time, he keeps the Senate in place, functioning as a rubber-stamp, much like the Roman imperial senate, but a few minutes into Episode IV, we are informed that the he has dissolved the Senate, and that "the last remnants of the Old Republic have been swept away."

    Lucas wants the Empire to stand for evil, so he tells us that the Emperor and Darth Vader have gone over to the Dark Side and dresses them in black.

    But look closer. When Palpatine is still a senator, he says, "The Republic is not what it once was. The Senate is full of greedy, squabbling delegates. There is no interest in the common good." At one point he laments that "the bureaucrats are in charge now."

    Palpatine believes that the political order must be manipulated to produce peace and stability. When he mutters, "There is no civility, there is only politics," we see that at heart, he's an esoteric Straussian.

    Make no mistake, as emperor, Palpatine is a dictator--but a relatively benign one, like Pinochet. It's a dictatorship people can do business with. They collect taxes and patrol the skies. They try to stop organized crime (in the form of the smuggling rings run by the Hutts). The Empire has virtually no effect on the daily life of the average, law-abiding citizen.

    Also, unlike the divine-right Jedi, the Empire is a meritocracy. The Empire runs academies throughout the galaxy (Han Solo begins his career at an Imperial academy), and those who show promise are promoted, often rapidly. In "The Empire Strikes Back" Captain Piett is quickly promoted to admiral when his predecessor "falls down on the job."

    And while it's a small point, the Empire's manners and decorum speak well of it. When Darth Vader is forced to employ bounty hunters to track down Han Solo, he refuses to address them by name. Even Boba Fett, the greatest of all trackers, is referred to icily as "bounty hunter." And yet Fett understands the protocol. When he captures Solo, he calls him "Captain Solo." (Whether this is in deference to Han's former rank in the Imperial starfleet, or simply because Han owns and pilots his own ship, we don't know. I suspect it's the former.)

    But the most compelling evidence that the Empire isn't evil comes in "The Empire Strikes Back" when Darth Vader is battling Luke Skywalker. After an exhausting fight, Vader is poised to finish Luke off, but he stays his hand. He tries to convert Luke to the Dark Side with this simple plea: "There is no escape. Don't make me destroy you. . . . Join me, and I will complete your training. With our combined strength, we can end this destructive conflict and bring order to the galaxy." It is here we find the real controlling impulse for the Dark Side and the Empire. The Empire doesn't want slaves or destruction or "evil." It wants order.

    None of which is to say that the Empire isn't sometimes brutal. In Episode IV, Imperial stormtroopers kill Luke's aunt and uncle and Grand Moff Tarkin orders the destruction of an entire planet, Alderaan. But viewed in context, these acts are less brutal than they initially appear. Poor Aunt Beru and Uncle Owen reach a grisly end, but only after they aid the rebellion by hiding Luke and harboring two fugitive droids. They aren't given due process, but they are traitors.

    The destruction of Alderaan is often cited as ipso facto proof of the Empire's "evilness" because it seems like mass murder--planeticide, even. As Tarkin prepares to fire the Death Star, Princess Leia implores him to spare the planet, saying, "Alderaan is peaceful. We have no weapons." Her plea is important, if true.

    But the audience has no reason to believe that Leia is telling the truth. In Episode IV, every bit of information she gives the Empire is willfully untrue. In the opening, she tells Darth Vader that she is on a diplomatic mission of mercy, when in fact she is on a spy mission, trying to deliver schematics of the Death Star to the Rebel Alliance. When asked where the Alliance is headquartered, she lies again.

    Leia's lies are perfectly defensible--she thinks she's serving the greater good--but they make her wholly unreliable on the question of whether or not Alderaan really is peaceful and defenseless. If anything, since Leia is a high-ranking member of the rebellion and the princess of Alderaan, it would be reasonable to suspect that Alderaan is a front for Rebel activity or at least home to many more spies and insurgents like Leia.

    Whatever the case, the important thing to recognize is that the Empire is not committing random acts of terror. It is engaged in a fight for the survival of its regime against a violent group of rebels who are committed to its destruction.

    III. After the Rebellion

    As we all know from the final Star Wars installment, "Return of the Jedi," the rebellion is eventually successful. The Emperor is assassinated, Darth Vader abdicates his post and dies, the central governing apparatus of the Empire is destroyed in a spectacular space battle, and the rebels rejoice with their small, annoying Ewok friends. But what happens next?

    (There is a raft of literature on this point, but, as I said at the beginning, I'm going to ignore it because it doesn't speak to Lucas's original intent.)

    In Episode IV, after Grand Moff Tarkin announces that the Imperial Senate has been abolished, he's asked how the Emperor can possibly hope to keep control of the galaxy. "The regional governors now have direct control over territories," he says. "Fear will keep the local systems in line."

    So under Imperial rule, a large group of regional potentates, each with access to a sizable army and star destroyers, runs local affairs. These governors owe their fealty to the Emperor. And once the Emperor is dead, the galaxy will be plunged into chaos.

    In all of the time we spend observing the Rebel Alliance, we never hear of their governing strategy or their plans for a post-Imperial universe. All we see are plots and fighting. Their victory over the Empire doesn't liberate the galaxy--it turns the galaxy into Somalia writ large: dominated by local warlords who are answerable to no one.

    Which makes the rebels--Lucas's heroes--an unimpressive crew of anarchic royals who wreck the galaxy so that Princess Leia can have her tiara back.

    I'll take the Empire.

  • And Ant notes that the Clones DVD will be out earlier than expected. "

    It's not like they've got to do a lot of work to create the base digital master!

  • Questions (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    How can the Rebels be called anarchic if they are primarily people with Royal titles trying their best to establish the "Old Republic".

    Besides that though, the Empire kills people at will, and they impose Draconian smuggling laws which only serve to prop up Hut gangsters.

    As tiresome as a republics claims to a monopoly on 'good' can be (and lord knows we see enough of that), the only other alternative at the time is a group that claims a monopoly on 'evil', which can't possibly be any better.
    • Re:Questions (Score:5, Interesting)

      by CatPieMan (460995) on Friday May 17, 2002 @07:40AM (#3536064)
      I actually was just mentioning this article to a friend of mine. He too thought it was interesting, but, put forth the idea that the rebels were probably trying to have the old republic rebuilt.

      Just look at the US Revolution, the people didn't really know how they were going to change the government, they just knew that they wanted (or needed) it to change. The new government was created years after the old one was overthrown, and even then people were challenging it even up to and including the Civil War (ok, yes, I know, many causes of the Civil War).

      Did the old British Empire work, for the most part it did. It didn't interfere with the small farmer (like this empire), so the farmers didn't all pick a side until one came and found them. Most of the US revolution came from and began in the larger seaport cities (Philadelphia and Boston were the big ones that I can think of right away). This parallels the Empire in that the small planets, like tatoine that didn't have many cities, really wouldn't see much interferrence from the empire (unless they did something to warrent the empire getting into their buisness, as this guy is claiming).

      It is very true that this Dark side is only evil when compared to the alternative (the Light side). The Dark side really doesn't do much that is 'bad'. Their main crime is trying to undermine the light side and gain power. This sounds like commercialism and capitalism (a new competitor trys to build strength while hiding from the old established corporation).

      While I may not have all of my ideas straightened out, I just wanted to get some of my ideas out on the forum for dissection (and perhaps some karma in the process :) )

      -CPM

    • The rebels represent a coalition of "royals" and are chaotic in their composition. Also, the Empire does not kill at will, they are fighting for their existance. In their desparate attempt to bring back order and justice to the universe, a small band of spoiled princes and princesses fight to preserve their cherished thrones at the expense of the people.

      It is time to rise up and take arms against the petty princes who are holding us back!

      Oh yeah, and the Ewoks really are annoying. I would vote for the emporer if he only promised to rid us of this vermin alone. (If only I were allowed to vote....)

      • Oh yeah, and the Ewoks really are annoying. I would vote for the emporer if he only promised to rid us of this vermin alone.

        Actually the rebels already took care of that [theforce.net].

        belbo

    • Re:Questions (Score:4, Insightful)

      by mmaddox (155681) <(oopfoo) (at) (gmail.com)> on Friday May 17, 2002 @09:14AM (#3536479)

      If you really want a good parallel, look at Rome. Starting with the reign of the Etruscan kings, Rome grew to a moderately-sized city state. Rebelling against the foreign authority of the kings, Rome installed a republic, founded on the premise that no single person (no king) could wield unlimited authority over the population. Remember, even Rome's executive was dividing between TWO consuls, compared to our single president. Again, Rome grew. However, Rome's growth served to illustrate the problems inherent in large representative republics: elections begat corruption. To quote Juvenal:



      "The people who once bestowed commands, consulships, legions, and all else, now concerns itself no more, and longs eagerly for just two things - bread and circuses."



      Of course, corrupt elections yield corrupt politicians. The more bread and circuses a potential politician could provide, the more likely his election. Corrupt politicians move slowly, each following his own personal interests to the exclusion of the interests of the state. Add to this the communication problems inherent in an steadily-growing sphere of influence. It's surprising that anything was accomplished at all, and eventually, nothing was. Petty squabbling and orgiastic spending replaced government.


      Rome was too large and too decentralized to handle the corruption in the system. Decision making was all but stopped, and the government was an ineffectual burden on the growth and power of the state. Enter Julius Caesar. Though he was killed before the empire was realized, the events Julius Caesar put into motion took Rome out of its decline by introducing a government that reduced the effect political squabbles exerted over the state.


      A single-person state cut straight through the bottleneck of the republic. Decisions, though sometimes harsh, were made. As a single executive, Caesar was the ultimate "the buck stops here." Functioning as a central decision maker, the Caesar was involved only in decisions he HAD to make, leaving the rest to appointed authority. (When later emperors deviated from this, trouble started.) Rome under this strong but benevolent guidance grew larger than any empire before it, and became firmly rooted in our own world by its grandeur.


      Parallels with the Star Wars story are obvious. Large, corrupt republic replaced by an emperor with impeccably good timing. While the effect of a bad emperor can be devastating, good emperors (meaning: those who resist micromanagement) can be wonderful. The Weekly Standard author is attempting to point this out: good emperors are the ultimate laissez-faire economists. Rome was big by human standards, but a galactic civilization - spanning god-knows how many cultures and people with a HUGE communication lag - would almost require an emperor to even move. Most likely, an emperor would be required long before such a political state could exist.


      Contrary to the prior poster, no government is totally "good" nor totally "evil." Strength and power may often be confused with evil, but the evil lies only in its application for a negative effect on the state and the populous as a whole, at least by the standards the author is using. By these standards, the Empire is quite good.


      Personally, I'd rather be in anarchy, but the Weekly Standard is a rather right-wing, law-and-order sort of rag. (My conservative, Southern Baptist father subscribes and bought ME a subscription...ick.) Not something that most rather-libertarian (I'm a capital-L Libertarian, myself.) would read nor agree with wholeheartedly.

  • Satire? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Wister285 (185087) on Friday May 17, 2002 @07:27AM (#3536035) Homepage
    While the points in this may be true, I feel that there is a very good chance that the author wished that this piece would be viewed as satrical, not a proclamation of truth. I mean, the most common analogy between Star Wars and history is that the Emipre parallel Nazi ways. Ever notice that the Empire people are always humans? What about the complete control that the emperor has, much like Hitler did during WWII. Both of these people demanded absolute power (at all times, but most specifically at times of conflict), which led to mistakes being made because they only had one specific goal. It is possible to equate Dunkurk with Yavin or Endor? Yes it is.

    So, one must look at this situation differently. I really don't think the writer meant to side with the Empire 100%, mainly because that justifies Nazi-esque policies. And if he did, well I hope he has a good time refuting all the /. flames. :-)
    • It is possible to equate Dunkurk with Yavin or Endor? Yes it is.

      Go ahead. I didn't see any evidence in EOTC or ROTJ of the Emperor refuting his generals' advice (The Emperor actually seemed to seriously listen to Vader as a matter of fact) and changing battle strategies on a whim, or, indeed, of him taking "complete control." What scenes are you thinking of that give evidence of this?
    • Re:Satire? (Score:2, Insightful)

      It is satirical. If the Pinochet comment didn't convince you, then certainly the comment about blowing up a planet of people not being as bad as you might think.

      If nothing else, he makes an interesting point that the Old Republic is, at best, the lesser of two evils.

    • It's Dunkirk, Scbwachkopf, not Dunkurk. Duenkirchen is it's authentic German name. You may note that life in the 3rd Reich wasn't all that bad. They had clean boulevards, virtually no crime, no racial tension among citizens except of course for the lawful tensions between citizens and undesirables, free and unrestrained capitalism (this capitalism was so capitalist that they ended up with a lot of monopolies). If only they had invested more into their highly impressive technological advantage, chances would have been they had the first nukes. In which case, you would (if you qualify, of course ;-) ) be able to enjoy all the benefits of a citizen of the 3rd Reich I listed above and more instead of having to put up with a Republic, which to put it into Senator Palpatine's words: "simply doesn't work!"
      • Not so bad... unless of course you were Jewish, or gay, or Russian, or Romany, or anyone else that Hitler didn't like and gave his people permission to beat up, lynch, or otherwise kill.

        You're trolling, aren't you? Next thing you'll say is Mussolini made the trains run on time (which he didn't, btw)...

        /brian
    • Re:Satire? (Score:5, Informative)

      by iphayd (170761) on Friday May 17, 2002 @09:49AM (#3536633) Homepage Journal
      I call Godwin's law. The conversation is over, please go home everyone there is nothing to see here.

      http://www.godwinslaw.com/
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 17, 2002 @07:30AM (#3536042)
    Its clear that the rebel alliance are terrorists.

    Parallel: Imagine a bunch of heavily armed British (or even French) Monarchists waging guerilla war across th US to undo the "injustice" of the American revolution and restore the House of Windsor to power.

    The whole Star Wars series is responsible for promoting and glamorizing terrorism. Somebody arrest George Lucas.

    ...of course, he should have been arrested for Ep 1.
  • "This isn't the story you wanted to read."

    "Hey, what's this crap, I didn't wanna read this!"

    "Move along."

    "I'm gonna reload so I can get first post on the next story!"
  • Points (Score:4, Interesting)

    by el_flynn (1279) on Friday May 17, 2002 @07:31AM (#3536046) Homepage
    Like it or not, he does put some of the points across in a clear, lucid manner. I must admit, a quarter of the way into the article sees of doubt were already being sowed into my idea of who the "good guys" are.

    Of course, some points he makes about the rebel only havings plots, and no clue about what to do once the empire is decimated doesn't really hold water - i'm sure lucas would have made more installments to handle that case, but then again it probably wouldn't make for good viewing. It's a man's fantasy after all, for god's sake!

    Maybe it's just a case of this guy being able to argue his way convincingly out of anything. Sure did convince me.
    • Maybe it's just a case of this guy being able to argue his way convincingly out of anything.

      yup. there's a lot he didn't point out. Here are a couple examples.

      For example, why does he trust Palpatine's words? His argument against trusting Leia is that we know she's lied to the Empire so nothing else she says to him is beleivable. We've seen that Palpatine is willing to deceive people, so his words of wanting order or of the Senate not working should not be trusted either.

      Comparing the Post-Empire galaxy to Somalia is naive - Somalia doesn't have a 1000 year history of governing itself democratically. There are plenty of examples of countries which have gone from dictatorships to more democratic governments with substantial success - look to latin america for plenty of examples.

      And i see no reason to trust Darth Vader any more than Palpatine - though arrogant he shows many signs of being manipulated by Palpatine.

      Finally, is there a point in the movies where the rebels actually say they have no idea of what to do with the dissolution of the empire? i was under the impression that their goal was to re-implement the Democratic Senate which had previously served them for 1000 years, right up to the point that Palpatine started manipulating organizations (like the Trade Fed) to blockade others, start wars, secede, etc.

    • Re:Points (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Fishstick (150821) on Friday May 17, 2002 @08:00AM (#3536137) Journal
      You know, you think about it, Leia and her "rebel friends" look like a bunch of terrorists, depending on your perspective. "Striking from a hidden base", and all that.

      Sure, the empire is evil. Sound familiar? Striking out against the great evil that has enveloped the galaxy in its wicked grasp, this small band of freedom fighters struggles against the overwhelming might of an unjust and corrupt empire.

      But, from the other side of the "war on terror":

      "Our top story tonight, imperial security sources tell us that a radical terrorist group, calling themselves "the alliance", has struck once again at key imperial military and economic interests in the outer rim of the galaxy."

      "Our source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that terrorists, using small, lightly armed attack fighters, carried out a cowardly surprise attack against a major imperial space station. The source reports that the terrorists were beaten back and that the space station sustained only minor damage."

      "However, we at ENN have received unconfirmed reports that the space station was, in fact, destroyed by the terrorist attack. Only one imperial commander reportedly managed to escape from the space station, and is now leading a manhunt to track down and destroy the terrorists responsible for this attack."


      No, I'm not equating the star wars empire to any particular country on earth, just making the observation that what differentiates a rebel hero from a terrorist is your perspective.
      • "No, I'm not equating the star wars empire to any particular country on earth, just making the observation that what differentiates a rebel hero from a terrorist is your perspective."

        And since when is this new? "One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter" has been a truism for so long now that the label "terrorist" no longer even holds meaning for many people. (or makes them wonder about the motivations of whoever is doing the labelling?

        Unfortunately, if you're on the wrong side, it's becomes very difficult to grasp that there may be two sides to the argument. That's exactly the reason why Star Wars wouldn't make sense to us if Luke and Solo had gained their victory by destroying the Pentagon instead of the Death Star.

        • Re:Points (Score:5, Insightful)

          by TWR (16835) on Friday May 17, 2002 @09:56AM (#3536674)
          "One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter" has been a truism for so long now that the label "terrorist" no longer even holds meaning for many people.

          Horseshit.

          Terrorists attack civilian populations for the PRIME reason of sowing (duh) terror. This is why George Washington wasn't a terrorist, but he was a freedom fighter. I'm not aware of any mass executions of British loyalists during the Revolutionary War (yes, many were driven out of their homes and into Canada. But that's what happens when you support the losing side in ANY war.)

          Since the rebels attacked a MILITARY base (the Death Star), it wouldn't have been an act of terrorism. If they had killed Grand Moff Tarkin's Momma, that would have been terror.

          Moral relativism is the sign of a lazy, spoiled mind.

          -jon

    • who knows... Lucas may just make another few of these movies - at a revenue stream of a couple hundred million a pop... why not?
  • by ascholl (225398) on Friday May 17, 2002 @07:32AM (#3536048)
    "Well, they make the trains run on time ..."
    • by Mignon (34109) <satan@programmer.net> on Friday May 17, 2002 @08:18AM (#3536217)
      (With apologies to Martin Niemoller, not to mention 12 million or so Nazi victims)

      "First they came for the Droids but I was not a Droid so I did not speak out;
      Then they came for the Wookies and the Naboo but I was not one of them, so I did not speak out;
      Then they came for the Jedi but I was not a Jedi so I did not speak out.
      And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me."

  • Don't open your eyes, you won't like what you see.

    The devils of truth, deal the souls of the free.
    Don't open your eyes, take it from me.
    I have found, you can find, happiness in slavery.
    Personally, I don't see where a poor set of rebels without a governing plan justifies as facist dictatorship. Too bad the seperatist movement (those eager for a capitalist society) didn't win, they might have been the Hong Kong of the Star Wars universe.

    Of course, they would probably be handed to the Empire after several centuries anyway...
  • by phaze3000 (204500) on Friday May 17, 2002 @07:37AM (#3536057) Homepage
    Make no mistake, as emperor, Palpatine is a dictator--but a relatively benign one, like Pinochet.

    Pinochet [remember-chile.org.uk] was a benign dictator? This man tortured and killed thousands of people. I'd hardly call that benign..

    • relatively benign (Score:4, Redundant)

      by wiredog (43288) on Friday May 17, 2002 @07:51AM (#3536108) Journal
      I guess that's "relative to other mass-murdering dictators". Funny line though.
    • Pinochet [remember-chile.org.uk] was a benign dictator?

      (I'm going to assume on day two if you don't want to see spoilers you're not reading stuff like this)

      I think this would be one of the first clues of the satirical nature of the peice. In the beginning the author desposes of the novelisations and comic books because he thinks they are attempts at "cleaning up philosophical messes," etc. I suspect that he feels similarly about the first two fo these three movies. That the two movies have not made a compelling case for why over throwing the old government was such a bad thing. AOTC is clumsy in spots, as was Phantom. Why do I care that Anakin is hovering on the precipice. I have to use my knowledge of Jedi to assume there's anything but jerk burried deep away (yes, I did notice the many ways he was manipulated). And, in the same vein, what does Amadala, a supposedly intelligent person see in him? Why are they together? The best I can come up with is that perhaps he's the only person that treats her like a person instead of queen/senator all the time.


      Or maybe he is attempting to be topical, which still puts the peice firmly in the camp of satire. There seems to be a great willingness these days amongst people in general to hand over more and more powers to the government to be safe. And, hey, look at the results! The good thing about AOTC (I'm going to assume on day two if you don't want to see spoilers you're not reading stuff like this) is that there is an attempt of a gradual slide down the slippery path (well, gradual for a movie anyway).

  • Thoughtful Articles (Score:5, Informative)

    by Spencerian (465343) on Friday May 17, 2002 @07:39AM (#3536061) Homepage Journal
    This article reminds me of a series of articles found on Space.com called The Phantom Heresies [space.com], a collection of speculation on why things were in Star Wars. (Because these links are fairly old, you may have to scrounge around--use Google.)

    The link above discusses the powers and the arrogance of the Jedi, and why they had it coming. The cool part for me about these articles was that they reflected my views after watching The Phantom Menace after watching how mortibund both Jedi Council and Senate were in comparison to the efficient manipulations of Darth Sidious in TFM.

    Was the Empire a better system? I think that a gilded cage is a cage, no matter how informative or high-class the reading material is that covers the bottom of my cage. I would side with the Rebels, lightsaber in hand if I were a Jedi.
  • I think it is exactly to head off this sort of criticism that AOTC has all this silly business about the former Queen Amidala having been democratically elected. This, of course, makes no sense at all (why would the daughter of an elected i.e. non-hereditary ex-"queen" be a princess?) except that it makes the rebels seem a little less totalitarian.
    • The people of Naboo have a democratically elected leader who happens to be a monarch. That is, they elect a monarch. Swap in President for monarch and give that President absolute authority. Note that she stepped down at the end of her term, thus preserving the constitution.

      There seems to be some confusion as to Leia. Leia is Princess Leia Organa, of the Royal House Organa of Alderaan. Her mother having been Queen of Naboo has *nothing* to do with this.

      ~Chazzf
  • Sure, Star Wars is just like the American Revolution. The Americans were rebels fighting against the opressive Britans for their freedom. The reality of it is that we were rebeling against our own government. That would be like Americans now a days taking up arms and fighting against our own military and president Bush.

    If the Britans had won that war do you think it would still be called the American revolution? I think it would go down in history more like The quelling of political extremists, where Britain had to restore peace to it's original form.

    What about Star Wars? What if the "dark side" killed off the rebels? They would be restoring peace to the way it was before the rebel uprising. Everything's relative.
  • by wiredog (43288) on Friday May 17, 2002 @07:49AM (#3536103) Journal
    From Jerry [jerrypournelle.com].

    Silly people the Jedi are, with the partial exception of Yoda who at least knows not to show up for a gunfight without some guns. The other Jedi always bring a knife to a gunfight.

    People as stupid as these, in possession of the kinds of weapons they have, probably NEED an Emperor,...

    maybe he wants to be Emperor because he realizes these people are idiots playing with machine guns and atom bombs, and need to be protected from themselves, and the Jedi sure aren't smart enough to do it.


  • by Stephen VanDahm (88206) on Friday May 17, 2002 @07:52AM (#3536111) Homepage
    It's time to put my full karma load to good use....

    I'm hoping that this article was written in jest, but in case it isn't, it needs to be addressed. The whole thing is asinine, but here are the most offensive errors.

    The Republic is controlled by a Senate, which is, in turn, run by an elected chancellor who's in charge of procedure, but has little real power.

    The Senate moves so slowly that it is powerless to stop aggression between member states.

    Episode I makes it clear that it's Palpatine who is behind the bureaucratic mess that plagues the Senate. He's trying to discredit Chancellor Velorum so that he can become Chancellor. Palpatine (as Darth Sidious) admits to this.

    "The Republic is not what it once was. The Senate is full of greedy, squabbling delegates. There is no interest in the common good." At one point he laments that "the bureaucrats are in charge now."

    But it's obvious to everyone in the audience that Palpatine's concern is an act to gain the trust of Amidala. This is just a no-brainer.

    What's more, it's not clear that they [the Jedi] should be "protecting" anyone. The Jedi are Lucas's great heroes..., but the truth, revealed in "The Phantom Menace," is that the Force isn't available to the rabble. ... If you don't have the blood, you don't get the Force. Which makes the Jedi not a democratic militia, but a royalist Swiss guard."

    I don't understand the problem with this. Qui-Gon explains that they have a screening program that presumably recruits kids from no specific background to become Jedi. So membership in the Jedi order isn't hereditary at all. That one must possess special qualities to be a jedi isn't a problem either. You can't program computers if you aren't good at technical stuff, but that doesn't make us a Royal Swiss Guard.

    As for the Jedi being blinded with arrogance, yeah I guess that's true. But if they hadn't fucked up somehow, you wouldn't have had Vader, or the Emporer, and Episodes IV-VI would just be about the Jedi council sitting around picking their noses.

    If anything, since Leia is a high-ranking member of the rebellion and the princess of Alderaan, it would be reasonable to suspect that Alderaan is a front for Rebel activity or at least home to many more spies and insurgents like Leia.

    Assuming that this is true, and Alderaan is armed to the teeth and crawling with terrorists, the indiscriminate slaughter of every man, woman, and child on an entire planet would be an act of evil greater than anything we've ever seen. Much worse than Nazi Germany, Maoist China, and Stalin combined. Of course, there's no reason whatsoever to believe that his claims about Alderaan are true.

    Oh yeah, and that remark about Pinochet being a benign dictator. Saying that Pinochet's rule in Chile was acceptable is like saying that a little bit of murder is OK, just not too much. How many innocent people is it OK to murder? 100? 1000? 10,000?

    I'm sorry for ranting about something that isn't even a big deal, but this article is so badly written that it's offensive. This conservative fuckhead should go back to the trailer park where he belongs.

    Steve
    • This conservative fuckhead should go back to the trailer park where he belongs.

      It was heretofore difficult for me to contemplate someone being so pathetic that they took real offense at someone mischaracterizing the actions of fictional persons.

    • Consider that, if the Jedi were as justice-seeking as they proclaimed, perhaps they would've gone to places where the Republic didn't hold much power, such as Tatooine.

      If they did, Anakin would never had been born into slavery, never known anger at such an early age, and the Jedi would have found their Chosen One at a much more malleable age.

      Instead, they now have a messiah that will destroy them to complete one part of his destiny. If they were as just as they claim, Anakin would've been trained enough to take any anyone, even Maul, and Dooku, and Sidious.

      Still, that "Balance of the Force" thing works. Let Anakin grow up bad, and he will side with the bad to make things good. Let Anakin grow up good, and the good maintain their odds since Anakin is the most powerful force-sensitive being in the galaxy and, with training and experience, could take on all comers.
    • by Dolly_Llama (267016) on Friday May 17, 2002 @08:45AM (#3536335) Homepage
      Assuming that this is true, and Alderaan is armed to the teeth and crawling with terrorists, the indiscriminate slaughter of every man, woman, and child on an entire planet would be an act of evil greater than anything we've ever seen. Much worse than Nazi Germany, Maoist China, and Stalin combined.

      The examples you gave are more individualistic removal of enemies from within an area already under control of the perpetrator. The attack in Alderaan was a military attack using a 'weapon on mass destruction' on an enemy civilian target. Maybe a better comparison would be Hiroshima, Nagasaki, or the firebombing of Tokyo or Dresden.

    • Assuming that this is true, and Alderaan is armed to the teeth and crawling with terrorists, the indiscriminate slaughter of every man, woman, and child on an entire planet would be an act of evil greater than anything we've ever seen. Much worse than Nazi Germany, Maoist China, and Stalin combined.

      Or it's just the galactic-era version of a nuke. Same thing, just a larger scale. Just as a nuke's simply a larger scale version of the bombs we use that we know will be taking out civilians no matter how precise we try to make them.
  • unattractive choices (Score:4, Informative)

    by g4dget (579145) on Friday May 17, 2002 @07:55AM (#3536121)
    We have the sclerotic and bureaucratic republic, an empire run by some evil guys dressed in black, and a bunch of rebellious royals. I'm with Brin [salon.com]: Star Trek offers a more inspiring vision of the future.
  • by Tyrone Slothrop (522703) on Friday May 17, 2002 @07:59AM (#3536133)
    Reminds me of the time I came in late on one of the Star Trek movies and missed the set up. What I saw was a bunch of handsome/cute creatures (the starship) beating up the ugly Klingons for no reason whatsoever. I came to the conclusion that this was how hollywood sees the world: the triumph of the beautiful.
  • by Vroom_Vroom (29347) on Friday May 17, 2002 @08:05AM (#3536160)

    From a background briefing.....

    The report, based on nine months of testimony and research, describes several stages of repression. In the weeks after the military seized power in a coup Sept. 11, 1973, thousands of Chileans sympathetic to the socialist government were detained. Many were tortured, and several hundred were tried and executed by military war tribunals. A woman described the corpse of her son, the manager of a state cement plant, who turned himself in after the coup and died in custody five weeks later: "He was missing one eye, his nose was torn off, one ear was separated and hanging, there were marks of deep burns on his neck and face, his mouth was very swollen." In the next stage, the army's secret police squads waged a "systematic campaign to exterminate" leftist dissidents from 1974 to 1977, the report states. Inside clandestine prisons, people were tortured with electric shocks, choking, confinement and even animal rape. There were 957 victims who never reappeared and are presumed dead.[6]

    Thats a lot of benevolence.

    Mmmmmm I suspect the author has been listening to CNN.

    From the remember Chile website

    Remember Chile [remember-chile.org.uk]

  • by Rogerborg (306625) on Friday May 17, 2002 @08:09AM (#3536175) Homepage

    Well, Athenian, specifically. That city state had direct democracy (restricted by gender and status, as the US system was originally) rather than representative democracy. Every free adult man could and should (and were sometimes coerced to) take part in city assemblies, on an equal basis. Anyone could speak, everyone could vote.

    The results of this great experiment? Well, tyranny, for one. They regularly executed "traitors" (e.g. anyone who spoke against the democracy like Socrates), or in fact anyone that annoyed a sufficient number of people. They engaged in wars of aggression. They demanded tribute with menaces. They justifed all of this by saying that they must be right simply because they were a democracy.

    In the end, the system turned into the Senate scene from Menace. It became too big and too unweildy. Votes were bought, issues were decided on a whim or a clever turn of phrase, and eventually a majority of them decided that they'd be much better of as a dictatorship.

    No, dictatorships never last, but then neither do democracies in the true sense. A ruling overclass always emerges, and eventually becomes heriditary. We reelect 90% of incumbent candidates, draw our political candidates from privileged political dynasties, and our monarch - sorry, President - is the son and heir of a previous mo^H^H President, groomed from birth for the role, and appointed (ultimately) by a council of political appointees (all very reminiscent of the Anglo Saxon witan system). And yet we still applaud ourselves for living in a democracy because it must - must!- be better than any possible alternative.

    I'm in agreement with the article. The Empire appears to be a lot better for the average Galactic Citizen than the Republic, and the only rational result of the actions of Episode VI are destructive anarchy, the rise of many mini-emperors, and death on a scale to make the destruction of Alderaan look like "regrettable collateral damage" (sound familiar?)

    The first duty of any government is to maintain control, both of its position and of the most unruly of its subjects. The Empire of Star Wars does it with strength and shiny boots. Our government does it with stealth and lies (aka PR). But they both do it very well (90% incumbents, remember?), and - by and large - we're better off for it. For a New Order to rise from the ashes of the old, you have to burn down a lot of moisture farms.

    • And yet we still applaud ourselves for living in a democracy because it must - must!- be better than any possible alternative.



      This reminds me of a quote about our economic system: "Capitalism is the absolutely worst economic system you can have, except for the alternatives."

    • "Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide."
      -- John Adams

  • But the most compelling evidence that the Empire isn't evil comes in "The Empire Strikes Back" when Darth Vader is battling Luke Skywalker. After an exhausting fight, Vader is poised to finish Luke off, but he stays his hand. He tries to convert Luke to the Dark Side with this simple plea: "There is no escape. Don't make me destroy you. . . . Join me, and I will complete your training. With our combined strength, we can end this destructive conflict and bring order to the galaxy." It is here we find the real controlling impulse for the Dark Side and the Empire. The Empire doesn't want slaves or destruction or "evil." It wants order.

    What an amusing exercise in taking quotes out of context to try to make a silly point. Just because Vader didn't kill his son doesn't make him a good guy.

    Didn't Palpatine order the entire planet of Alderaan destroyed. The entire planet? Not the single, stupid Quickie-Mart on the corner that refused to give Palpatine change to make a phone call without him having to buy something -- I mean the whole planet!

    These are the actions of a benevolent dictator?

    The writer excuses this as Leia probably lying about Alderaan being peaceful and that somehow justifies Palpatine's actions. That's a pretty big lie to justify destroying an entire planet.

    I guess it's just another example of misguided effort put towards silly ends.
  • This gentleman has made what is, on the surface, a reasonably sound argument, and one that will no doubt appeal to many on this site. Yes, it is true that the Empire maintained law and order. Yes it is true that the Alliance to Restore the Republic was in rebellion against the technically legitimate government.

    However, the coming to power of this government must be examined. It's head, former Senator Palpatine, engineered several diplomatic crisis and instigated a full-scale war in order to achieve dictatorial powers. He dabbled in the Sith teachings, long abhorred by the galactic public. These are not the actions of a "good guy."

    I also find it interesting that he states he will not use the Expanded Universe because it was not in the movies. All well and good, except that in excluding the Expanded Universe one omits a lot of crucial detail about the nature of the Empire. The Expanded Universe was created with Lucas' blessing, and information relating to it can be found on the official Star Wars website. I'd say that this information is safe to use. Of course, it goes without saying that said information demonstrates beyond a doubt the inherent cruelty of the Galactic Empire. So there.

    ~Chazzf
  • "Clerks", anyone? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by JaredOfEuropa (526365)
    For an article that is intended to be humorous, I find it a rather try and sparkless piece. Compared to the discussion in the movie "Clerks"...

    Go here [prohosting.com] and search the text for "Jedi or". Sorry, I tried pasting the funny bit from the script in here, but I have given up trying to please this damn Slashdot code about how many characters per line I use. *curses loudly*.
  • In Episode IV, we didn't see from the start why the rebels were fighting, although we began to understand when Alderaan was destroyed. In Episodes I and II, Palpatine is manipulating things behind the scenes so we don't really see everything. I figure Episode III will reveal the Palpatine regime to be unquestionably evil and murderous, not just to Jedi knights and political opposition, but to the general populace.

  • Palpatine is a dictator--but a relatively benign one, like Pinochet. It's a dictatorship people can do business with.

    I heard rumors that, before submitting this article, the author made inquiries with NASA about obtaining some of those bricks that they use to shield the shuttle on re-entry.

    For those of you who don't read outside of the tech/SF industries, Pinochet made the news, not too long ago when spain had Britain arrest him for the kidnapping, torture and murder of Spanish nationals in Chile after his 'benign [telefilm.gc.ca]' rise to power, where he bombed the presidential pallace. After the death of Chile's elected president, he hunted down the supporters of the elected government, arresting, torturing and/or killing them ('disappearing').

    If that's what he calls benign, I'd hate to see what he calls 'nasty'. It's not exageration to say that Pinochet's CIA-supported regime probably has more blood on his hands than AL Quaida (which also had CIA support).

    And, as for Palpatine's lament that " "the bureaucrats are in charge now." He was in the middle of an attempt to (successfully) manipulate Padme into making a move that would give him the chancelorship (and eventual emperorship) of the republic.

  • ...Clones DVD will be out earlier than expected.

    Well of course it will be out earlier; DVD cloning technology is vastly improved from 1999 when Phantom was delayed!

    *Dodges rotten tomatoes*

    By the way, you don't have to wait for the DVD, the VCD is available from most asian sidewalk vendors TODAY! Act now and you can even download it and burn a copy for yourself! Who cares if it looks like a guy with a pinhole camera...

  • Republicans are out for world domination :-)

  • Their victory over the Empire doesn't liberate the galaxy--it turns the galaxy into Somalia writ large: dominated by local warlords who are answerable to no one.

    I've heard that Lucas originally planned three movies, and was told that, in short, each of those three movies were too dense and complicated--that, in fact, each was worth three movies of its own. Hence, Lucas' originally trilogy becomes three trilogies.

    Therefore, there is at least a plotline planned for three movies after "Return of the Jedi". And, like the author points out, this could be interesting and even topical: the newly re-established Republic trying to enforce rule of law over often very powerful and recalcitrant backwaters in the Galaxy. Unfortunately, no unified evil to combat, but I think it could lead to interesting storytelling; "Millenium Falcon Down", anyone?

    Does anyone who collected all the figurines care to expand on the idea of movies 7, 8, and 9?
  • I noticed something in the replies posted to this point. The vast majority are in defense of the canonical reading of Star Wars. This is understandable, given the constitution of the /. community. A significant number of them are simply unwilling to let our favorite heros become the Bad Guys. This is understandable too. But at least that many are given over to a dangerous but common assumption: democracy is inherently superior to other forms of government. This is inexcusable. What Lucas has really done is appeal to a deep seated artifact of Western - especially American - consciousness, the idea that democracy and individualism are morally superior to other brands of social order.

    Historically, representative governments have fared exceptionally poorly: Athens was simply a pretty cool city until it *established an empire* by forcing other city-states to pay tribute and fight its wars. The Roman Senate was ruled by a powerful group of aristocrats who could not deal with the social and economic realities of anything larger than a city. And even they were well on their way to regional control by the time good old Julius stepped in to fix the mess - and they killed him for it. The only historical representative government that has had any measure of success has been Britain, and the only people who could vote were wealthy landholders, and then only to create an advisory body to the hereditary king. Our own system sure as hell doesn't work. Sure, every once in a while we get to participate in the purely symbolic act of voting, but hey: do you want the puppet on the Left or the puppet on the Right? Democracy ain't all it's cracked up to be, people. When reading Mr. Last's article again, try to remember that.
  • ... for the author of the story. He could not resist it. ;)

    Personally I have always asked myself if we know everything about the rebellion, especially who supported it. These poor rebels are hunted all the way through the galaxy by the Imperial fleet, there is no planet in the Empire that supports them openly and no central base. Yet it is not a "Grab a gun and let's go over to the palace and overthrow the king" kind of revolution. They have a quite impressive fleet of starships in Episode VI that probably takes years to build. Where are those coming from?

    Maybe be the rebels are supplied by someone outside of the Empire like we try to destabilize regimes by supporting the opposition. There is mor e about this rebellion than we know ... :)

    But then again I could be completely wrong. May be they are just a bunch of freedom fighters with homemade weaponry. "Come over and bring all your scrap metal, we are going to build a star destroyer in the backyard ..."

    • As a self appointed Star Wars demigod, I'll address this quite reasonable point. Something established in the books and hopefully cemented in Episode III is that the initial revolt against Palpatine and the New Order was led by Galactic/Imperial Senators. Leia Organa, Mon Mothman, Garm Bel Iblis, Bail Organa...they channeled funds and weapons to the first resistors.

      The ships from Return of the Jedi that you speak of were supplied by the Mon Calamari, of Calamari, who were in open revolt against the Empire. Also visible were Corellian Covettes, comercially available, and Nebulon-B frigates hijacked from the Empire. This is a galaxy at war, there is a LOT of surplus hardware floating around. It doesn't seem all that unreasonable that the rebels could get their hands on old clonetrooper weapons.

      ~Chazzf
  • by el_gregorio (579986) on Friday May 17, 2002 @09:34AM (#3536564)
    forget comparing Star Wars to the American Revolution, look at Israel vs. the Palestinians. The palestinians are a rebel alliance devoted to nothing more than destroying the "evil" empire of israel (and the united states). their interpretation of evil is anything which contradicts the teachings of their Force-like religion known as Islam. 50 years ago Israel came in and took the Palestinians' land and imposed law and order on a region in chaos. the Palestinians fought back with terrorist attacks on military and civilian targets. Israel counters with invasions, assassinations, and wholesale destruction of buildings suspected of harboring terrorists, just like Alderaan. as a challenge to all those digital junkies out there, how about trying to change the music of one of the original pics, say Episode IV? give the Empire some uplifting, majestic, patriotic music. give the rebels something sinister and treacherous. i'd like to see if that change alone would completely reverse the "moral teachings" of the movie.
  • by connorbd (151811) on Friday May 17, 2002 @09:41AM (#3536593) Homepage
    Lucas' whole point about evil seems to be that evil is what happens when good can't get its act together and order outweighs freedom. Yes, the Jedi are a bunch of self-righteous pricks; that's what happens when you have an elite that doesn't necessarily have to earn its status.

    No, the motives of the Rebellion aren't really spelled out. Nor is the precise reason for the existence of the Rebellion in the first place. But that's somewhat outside the scope of the movies; the simple fact is that for Tarkin to destroy Alderaan would probably be an act of insubordination if done without the direct assent of the Emperor. At the very least, Tarkin's actions would be equivalent to recreating the My Lai massacre on Hanoi. The evil here: order at all costs, and massive retribution, even genocide, as a political tool.

    I don't know if Last is truly the fascist he comes off as in the article (he's probably trolling; handwaving over genocide and the like comes off as being some sort of satire), and he does make a few good points, but the fact remains that order at all costs is ultimately either stagnating or outright destructive.

    /Brian
  • I couldn't figure out whether he was being tongue in cheek when he claimed that "Pinochet was a relatively benign dictator". Pinochet ordered the murder (with the help and blessing of the CIA) of the elected President, he had literaly thousands of supposed "dissidents" (anyone, who in the USA would just have been complaining) arrested, tortured and killed, including, without discrimination, many foreign nationals (Americans, Spanish and French citizens). This is why he is a wanted man in Spain and France. His reign of terror was only exceeded in South America by the Argetnian military Junta who murdered over 30 000 of their own citizens in the space of about ten years.

    But perhaps it's funny, right? Perhaps he is one of these people who favour a "strong government" in times of emergency, irrespective of what that government is doing or the fact that he might be one of the first ones to be put up against the wall.
  • by {tele}machus_*1 (117577) on Friday May 17, 2002 @09:59AM (#3536696) Journal
    This author characterizes some events from this movie in a, um, novel way. First, the destruction of Alderaan as the rightful putting down of a probable nest of violent rebels. From one perspective what he says is true. However, the people of Alderaan were not given a chance to declare or denounce their loyalty to the Emperor. On a planet of millions, it is reasonable to assume that their were a wide variety of opinions. Certainly some people supported the Emperor, just as others obviously denounced him. His supporters were executed as traitors for a crime they did not commit.

    Second, if Darth Vader and the Emperor really wanted order, then they would not summarily execute millions of people. All governments that are worthy of the name provide their constituents with something called due process. Now, due process is not always as rigorous as it is in the United States. But in any fair government, there is always a set of rules that govern how the authorities can proceed to the decision to incarcerate or execute. Again, there was no process given to the denizens of Alderaan. Those people were executed as traitors for a crime they either did not commit or were not proven to have committed. That is something, but it is not order. Wearing the veil of government does not automatically make the Emperor's actions legal. For example, Hitler lawfully took power in Germany. In everything he did, he made sure that there was legislation, the imprimatur of legality, to support the action. However, his government lacked legitimacy. Nothing that the Nazis did should have been considered binding legal authority, because the Nazis did not have a legitimate claim to govern. Legitimacy comes from support of the governed (by, for, and of the people, remember?), not from standing up and declaring one's self emperor and thus the sole source of all legal authority. Legitimacy also comes from a certain moral authority. A government that executes its citizens like playthings, in a back room judgment about the greater good, lacks the moral authority to govern.

    Third, the author characterizes Piett's promotion as a laudable example of merit rising into its own right. But we can assume then that his superior, Admiral Ozzel I think, did not rise to his lofty position through incompetence. No, Darth Vader executed Ozzel, because Vader had, to put it lightly, an anger management problem. If you ask any soldier worth his salt whether he would want to rise in rank based on his own merit, that soldier would enthusiastically say yes. But if you ask that soldier if he would like to serve in a force where field promotions were conducted by the commander-in-chief after he executed a top-rank officer for a minor mistake, that same soldier would give a resounding no. Meritocracy does not mean rewarding incompetence with execution. Nor does meritocracy mean that the rewards of life are available on the whim of one's superiors. Darth Vader's system of promotion is about as far from meritocracy as one can go.

    Fourth, the author characterizes the Republic as eager to quash the separatists. Actually, the senators that we have come to associate with peace and justice (Amidala and Organa) are the main opponents of forming an army to counter the separatists. The only members of the Republic that are eager to quash the separatists are the ones under the direct influence of the guy that is funding both the separatists and the clone army in a brazen attempt (at least to the audience) to engineer a crisis that will allow him to seize total power. It's the burning of the Reichstag. First, Darth Sidious engineers the separation movement. Then, he secretly orders the construction of a clone army. Then, as Palpatine, he engineers the discovery of the separatist army. This discovery turns the separatists into something other than a bunch of systems that want small government--they become a force that is ready to attack the Replublic. Then, Palpatine is able to manipulate a weak-minded senator into pushing him into power in service of the cause of defending against the separatists. Palpatine is then able to call on the thing that he wanted all along: his army of efficient, obedient killing machines. The separatists are not earnest capitalists seeking the freedom of a laissez-faire government to bring themselves prosperity, they are dupes of a man with designs on nothing less than absolute power. By the time Palpatine is done he will have destroyed those separatists right along with the Republic.

    I could go on, but you get the point. The author has taken the Star Wars story and used it in an attempt to weave his own little tale about how big government is bad. But by glossing over atrocities such as the wholesale murder of millions of people, he reveals that what he really thinks is that he ought to be the government because he knows better than all us stupid, little people. We should all do as he says, and if we don't like it, he won't mind killing us in the name of the greater good (of which he is sole arbiter). Frankly, I'll take freedom.
  • Flame Wars (Score:3, Funny)

    by eth1 (94901) on Friday May 17, 2002 @10:09AM (#3536756)
    An entertaining read which will surely spark flame wars of epic proportions.


    Hmm...


    A long time ago, on a message board far, far away...


    It is a period of flame war. Rebel thinkers, striking from their hidden message board, have won their first victory agains the Marketing Empire of Lucasfilm.


    During the battle, Rebel geeks managed to come up with a new interpretation of the Empire's ultimate weapon, Episode I, a film so boring it could put entire audiences to sleep.


    Pursued by the Empire's sinister lawyers, Princess Leia races home on her encrypted email, custodian of the new thoughts that can liberate her people and restore freedom of speech to the galaxy...

  • by Mr. Neutron (3115) on Friday May 17, 2002 @10:34AM (#3536903) Homepage Journal
    I would consider this canon, even if it was left on the cutting-room floor:

    BIGGS: I thought you were going to the Academy next term. You'll get
    your chance to get off this rock.

    LUKE: Not likely! I had to cancel my application. There has been a lot
    of unrest among the Sandpeople since you left...they've even raided
    the outskirts of Anchorhead.

    BIGGS: Your uncle could hold off a whole colony of Sandpeople with one
    blaster.

    LUKE: I know, but he's got enough vaporators going to make the place
    pay off. He needs me for just one more season. I can't leave him now.

    BIGGS: I feel for you, Luke, you're going to have to learn what seems
    to be important or what really is important. What good is all your
    uncle's work if it's taken over by the Empire?...You know they're
    starting to nationalize commerce in the central systems...it won't be
    long before your uncle is merely a tenant, slaving for the greater
    glory of the Empire.

    LUKE: It couldn't happen here. You said it yourself. The Empire won't
    bother with this rock.

    BIGGS: Things always change.

    LUKE: I wish I was going...Are you going to be around long?

    BIGGS: No, I'm leaving in the morning...

    LUKE: Then I guess I won't see you.

    BIGGS: Maybe someday...I'll keep a lookout.

    LUKE: Well, I'll be at the Academy next season...after that who knows.
    I won't be drafted into the Imperial Starfleet, that's for sure...Take
    care of yourself, you'll always be the best friend I've got.

    BIGGS: So long, Luke.

    Biggs turns away from his old friend and heads toward the
    power station.

    Just before the Battle of Yavin, Luke runs into Biggs and they gab a
    bit, then Red Leader shows up and mentions that he had met Anakin,
    Luke's father.

    -------

    Seems to me the Empire was controlling and anti-free enterprise.

  • by Namarrgon (105036) on Friday May 17, 2002 @10:45AM (#3536967) Homepage
    CORUSCANT -- Presiding over a memorial service commemorating the victims of the attack on the Death Star, the Emperor declared that while recent victories over the Rebel Alliance were "encouraging, the War on Terror is not over yet."

    "We will continue to fight these terrorists, and the rogue governments who harbor them, until the universe is safe, once and for all, and the security of the Neo-New Cosmik Order ensured."

    It was one year ago today that the Death Star, perhaps the greatest symbol of the Empire's might, was destroyed in an attack by fanatic Rebels, who used small, single-person crafts to infiltrate seemingly impenetrable defenses. Thousands of mourners were on hand to remember and pay tribute to the victims and their families.

    "We lost our innocence that day," reflected one mourner. "I guess we thought we were immune from the kind of violence that happens in other galaxies. We were wrong." "I lost hundreds of buddies that day," said one teary-eyed Stormtrooper. "Guys whose only crime was trying make the Universe a safer place."

    Although the day was colored by sadness, the mourners found some relief in the news of a decisive victory over the Rebels. In an attack led by Darth Vader, Empire forces were able to rout hundreds of Rebels from a network of caves underneath the surface of the planet Hoth. "We're not sure we got them all," says a Vader spokesman. "There are a lot of places to hide in those caves. But we've delivered a powerful blow to the terrorist's infrastructure, that's for sure. Today, the Empire has struck back."

    Initial reports are unclear as to the fate of Luke Skywalker, a hero among the Rebels, who is rumored to have delivered the fatal blow to the Death Star. Skywalker, a former desert-dweller from the planet Tattooine, became a part of the Rebellion after family members were killed. Skywalker was trained by a militant wing of the Rebels, known as "Jedi Knights." Fanatical in their religious beliefs, the Jedi Knights claim to derive their power from the mystical "Force."

    It's believed that Skywalker was specifically trained by infamous terrorist O bin Wankanobi. Wankanobi, occasionally called "Ben" and easily recognized by his bearded visage and long, flowing robes, achieved near-martyr status among the Rebels after his death last year during a spy mission. His more fervent followers believe that Wan Kenobi lives on within them today, some even claiming to hear his voice during times of duress.

    The attack on the Death Star came shortly after the Empire's destruction of Alderstaan, a planet whose government was known to harbor terrorists. Responding to criticism over the total annihilation of the planet, Vader stated, "There is no middle ground in the War on Terror. Those who harbor terrorists are terrorists themselves. Alderaan was issued ample warning. The fight for continuing Freedom is often burdened by terrible cost."

    The cost of this war can still be seen today in the continuing efforts to build a coalition government on Tattooine. Longstanding animosities among the planets various ethnic groups, including the Jawas, Tusken Raiders and scattered human settlers, have been an impediment to the peace process. The Empire continues to maintain a small peace keeping force until a provisional government is finally in place.

    Much of the difficulty in fighting the Rebel forces stems from their lack of a central organizing structure. "They don't play by the traditional rules of war," complained one spokesman. "They come in all shapes and sizes, united only by their single-minded desire to destroy the Empire before it destroys them."

    The Emperor closed his comments today by stating that "the cowardly attack on the Death Star left a deep scar on the Empire. However, we will not stop fighting until every last evildoer has been brought to justice." He paused for several moments, wiping away a tear and then added with determination, "We will never forget."

    "I wish we could all just get along," said one of the mourners. "But it's hard to offer an olive branch to a cult of religious fanatics whose main tool is violence and who insist on calling us the Dark Side."

    (I posted this once before, but it seemed appropriate to post it again :-)

  • by madmancarman (100642) on Friday May 17, 2002 @11:50AM (#3537432)
    Back in 1999, when the internet was supposedly profitable, Salon.com ran an article by David Brin [salon.com] arguing that George Lucas has an agenda pushing the benefits of a totalitarian government as opposed to Star Trek's belief that the best system is one in which everyone can participate, even the "commoners".

    From the article:

    By now it's grown clear that George Lucas has an agenda, one that he takes very seriously. After four "Star Wars" films, alarm bells should have gone off, even among those who don't look for morals in movies. When the chief feature distinguishing "good" from "evil" is how pretty the characters are, it's a clue that maybe the whole saga deserves a second look.

    Just what bill of goods are we being sold, between the frames?

    • Elites have an inherent right to arbitrary rule; common citizens needn't be consulted. They may only choose which elite to follow.
    • "Good" elites should act on their subjective whims, without evidence, argument or accountability.
    • Any amount of sin can be forgiven if you are important enough.
    • True leaders are born. It's genetic. The right to rule is inherited.
    • Justified human emotions can turn a good person evil.

    All in all, an interesting argument that reminds me of the article mentioned in this story.

    First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Gandhi

  • by Maul (83993) on Friday May 17, 2002 @11:53AM (#3537458) Journal
    My understanding of the prophecy about the one to bring balance to the force (Anakin) is that the Empire was basically supposed to happen. The the prequels, we see that the republic has been weakened due to various elements. The "Light Side" has essentially been corrupted by thousands of years of going through the motions. Perhaps Yoda and Mace Windu are the only ones who seem to really have a full understanding of this, and what it would mean for the prophecy to come true.

    What is necessary to return the "Light Side" to the proper state is that the republic needs to be returned to its roots and original purpose. For this to happen, it must be destroyed and rebuilt.

    The Emperor and his regime destroy the republic, and it is Luke Skywalker and the Rebel Alliance that rebuild it. Anakin is central to this in that he is the one who enables all of this to happen.
    By becoming Vader, he helps Palpatine destroy the republic. Palpatine isn't a good guy who wants to bring order for the common good. He wants to bring order so he can rule the galaxy. By killing the Emperor, Vader fulfills the prophecy as the one who brings balance to the force. Presumably, the Rebel Alliance forms a new republic that has the restored ideals of the original. And perhance is a little wiser than the old as to not let anything like the Empire happen again.
  • by talleyrand (318969) on Friday May 17, 2002 @12:58PM (#3538022) Homepage


    I'd point out that while the author claims that he would only use the movies as sources, he then throws out things like the following lines


    And yet Fett understands the protocol. When he captures Solo, he calls him "Captain Solo." (Whether this is in deference to Han's former rank in the Imperial starfleet, or simply because Han owns and pilots his own ship, we don't know. I suspect it's the former.)
    *snip*
    Also, unlike the divine-right Jedi, the Empire is a meritocracy. The Empire runs academies throughout the galaxy (Han Solo begins his career at an Imperial academy), and those who show promise are promoted, often rapidly.


    So which is it --- Movies only or movies and the expanded universe?


    From the movies, the only past we know about Han is:

    He was a smuggler for Jaba the Hutt.

    He dumped his cargo prior to being boarded by an Imperial vessel. Jaba's pissed about that and wants his money back or Han dead.

    Han's got a big furry buddy named Chewie (what a Wookie!)

    Chewie is subservient to Han with no explanation why.

    Han has a fast, if somewhat unreliable, ship called The Millenium Falcon which he won from Lando Calrissian "fair and square".

    That's it. Nothing about academies, nothing about Han having been a cadet who certainly did not obtain the rank of captain in the imperial navy. That information is based solely on the expanded universe.

    Again, it's conjecture that the Empire runs a meritocracy but if it is a meritocracy, how did Admiral Ozzel obtain his rank? He clearly knew nothing about tactics as he dropped out of hyperspace too close to Hoth. Why are there no women, minorities or aliens of rank in the Empire? Do these people not have merits? (Yes, I know about GA Thrawn and Mara Jade but we have limited our discussion to the film-based realm)

  • by mikemulvaney (24879) on Friday May 17, 2002 @04:20PM (#3539651)
    The article says: The Empire has virtually no effect on the daily life of the average, law-abiding citizen.

    I think that's a hard argument to make. In the 3 films that come after the empire, we never get a chance to see what the daily life of an average, law-abiding citizen is like. The films mostly follow the rebel alliance, which hides out on remote/uninhabited planets. Check out the different settings used in the movies:

    Tatoonine: A remote outer rim planet, where the Empire doesn't really have any control (nor do they want it).

    Hoth: Apparently the only creatures that live here are tau-tauns and those Sasquatch things.

    Bespin: The only "normal" place shown in the 3 movies. We don't really see the Empire's presence here. However, it must be really bad: Lando turns over his best friend to Darth Vader just to get the Empire to leave him alone.

    Endor moon: Nothing here but Ewoks, and they probably deserve whatever punishment the Empire can dish out.

    Alderaan: Destroyed by the Empire as part of a negotiating tactic with Princess Leia.

    I doubt this guy really thinks the Empire is better than the Rebel Alliance. He might be turned off by the more egalitarian and liberal ideas espoused by the Rebels, but to make the stretch and claim that the Empire is a force for good is deeply disturbing. Star Wars may be an imaginary universe, but The Weekly Standard certainly is real, and it has a real effect(albeit a small one) on political discourse in the United States. If the editors of a major magazine think the Empire is ok, it casts great doubt on their analysis of events in the real world.

    -Mike

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