Political Science A Long Time Ago In A Galaxy Far, Far Away (was Re: Empire Luving
Sun, 19 May 2002 20:13:36 -0700
I had actually read the Slashdot "Death Star Memorial" parody news-
item just before seeing Tom's message about the WeeklyStandard
"Case for Empire" article.
My first reaction to the Empire-praising excerpt was:
Silly, dumb misreading of Star Wars. The Empire clearly engages in
mass-murder in the large (Alderaan), and brutality and oppression
in the small (many incidents).
I was, however, reminded of David Brin's criticism of Star Wars
as compared to Star Trek: how it asks us to put our trust in
antidemocratic and magical, "superhuman" impulses rather than
science, reason, and cooperation.
So I read the WeeklyStandard piece.
My next reaction was:
The author, Jonathan Last, makes some good points. The Old Republic
doesn't really deserve much admiration or loyality. The Jedi are
snooty and superstitious; their faith and magic seem to lead them
astray as often as assist them, at least as the Republic is
Beside crushing the rebellion, is is unclear what else is oppressive
about the imperial program. A doctrine of racialism? A state
religion? Onerous taxes? Slavery? We don't see it. Totalitarian
control of every aspect of society is the visual motif, but we don't
witness much oppression in action. Average folk seem quite able to
carve out free lives below the Empire's attention.
But thinking further, and addressing the author's specific points:
The Jedi use their magic to serve -- with great power comes great
responsibility, blah blah blah. Meanwhile the Emperor (and the Sith)
use their magic to command and reduce the options of those around
The rebellion is just as meritocratic as the Empire, and would
presumably restore a system of democratic governance and due
process, to check the abuses of power which -- while present in
every government -- run rampant in autocratic regimes, reaching
the scale of genocide/planet-destruction.
The whole story arc could be viewed as the galaxy outgrowing its
dependence on the priesthood of Jedi, who proved insufficient to
answer the threat posed by their shadow opposites, the Sith, when
that group manipulated real armies and fleets. The Old Republic
lacked the proper broad-based and accountable institutions --
including various kinds of well-regulated police, militia, and
armies -- to shake off such threats.
While the last few Jedi/Sith magicians play key roles in the
final battles to topple the Empire, the theme of the post-
Revolution era could be a more federal system -- with expanded
citizen-based non-magical law-enforcement institutions, and
semi-autonomous regions of self-government -- that could only
be forged after the growing pains of republic-empire-rebellion-
----- Original Message -----
From: "Tom" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Friday, May 17, 2002 1:17 PM
Subject: Empire Luving
> A really nice article pointed to from smashrot...
> "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