October 10, 2004

Star Wars: The Unreconstructed Strikes Back

Just to make sure we’re all on the same page I’ll briefly summarize what occurs:

A galaxy is host to a Republic comprised of many, but not all, star systems contained within. The Republic is at least 1,000 years old. The star systems are represented in the senate. A group of star systems becomes unhappy with the ineptitude & corruption in the Republic & attempt to split off. The senate temporarily abrogates its power to the Supreme Chancellor, who brings the secessionist systems in line through force. The Chancellor then becomes an emperor. He eventually disbands the Senate. A rebellion is formed by a group that seeks to restore the Republic. The emperor is eventually defeated by this rebellion.

Now that’s the brief political view of the Star Wars films. Here it is with a little more substance:

A young Jedi called Anakin Skywalker is seduced by the Dark Side of the Force. He aligns himself with a Sith master called Dart Sidious. Sidious is also Palpatine, who rises from Senator to Chancellor to Emperor. Palpatine claims he longs for order in the Republic instead of the petty bureaucracy of the Senate & he launches a very elaborate plan involving the Jedi & the secessionists to gain more power to achieve his alleged ends. An alliance is formed to counter Palpatine’s moves towards empire. Part of that alliance is a young Jedi named Luke Skywalker. He’s the son of Anakin. Anakin helped Palpatine hunt down the Jedi & so Luke remains one of the last of that order. Through several battles & many years the rebel alliance defeats the emperor but not without paying a great price.

Now what does this have to do with the usual content of Publicola? Everything.

A republic that’s bogged down in corruption & bureaucracy. A group that wants to secede from the Republic. A man who claims order is his goal as he grabs more & more power for himself. An alliance devoted to restoring the Republic & engaged in armed rebellion against the emperor. Outlawed weapons. Religions disfavored by the state. Intrusive law enforcement. Prohibitions. A pacifistic planet being destroyed by a violent government. Starting to see the picture now?

The plot is Star Wars is not that different than U.S. history. In the 1860’s we had a group that wanted to separate from the rest of the nation & was met with brute force. We’ve seen a transfer of power, but from the people to the government rather than from the Senate to one person (although at times this is the case). We have a government, not just one man, who claims that it needs more power to maintain order. We have various political groups that attempt to restore the respect for the constitution of the u.S. We have outlawed some weapons in this country. There are religions the state does seem to frown upon. Law enforcement usually has too much power. We have prohibitions on certain goods. We’ve had peaceful people murdered by our government.

Lucas in large part was retelling a story with Star Wars rather than creating a new one. The most striking comparison can be made between the War of Nothe’n Aggression (1861-1865) & the basic plot in Star Wars, especially Episodes 1 (The Phantom Menace) & 2 (Attack of the Clones). Chancellor Palpatine rises to power & uses force to keep his dominion together. Is that so different from that great usurper Lincoln? There are other similarities: "The Grand Army of the Republic" anyone? The Separatist movement in the Republic is similar to the Confederacy. In both cases it’s plausible that a powerful man caused great evil while attempting to maintain order. In other words I don’t rule out the possibility that the intentions of Palpatine & Lincoln were good. In both cases though, the intentions were eclipsed by the harm the actions caused.

Fast forward to the late 1930’s & early 1940’s. We have another great usurper holding power. This time it’s that socialist bastard FDR. It has been speculated & debated that he orchestrated events for the purpose of getting the u.S. involved in the war in Europe that was occurring. I have heard form a few different sources that he was quite Machiavellian in his methods, perhaps not unlike Palpatine. Although Palpatine has him hands down on the level of complexity his manipulations consisted of. FDR simply lacked the time & ability to be that Byzantine. It has been suggested that FDR let the u.S. get sucker punched at Pearl Harbor so the u.S. would jump into WW2. Palpatine was a bit more subtle than FDR, but using the issue of trade was central to his plot, just as FDR is accused of using the trade of oil to goad the Japanese.

As an aside, Lucas took more than the plot from history: many of the weapons & vehicles in Star Wars were directly modeled on ones used in the last century. (In fact I held a trivia contest on my old blogspot site on this very theme.) For example the blaster that Han Solo & a few others use (the Blas-Tech D-44) is merely a dressed up C96 Broomhandle Mauser. The carbine that the Stormtroopers use is directly based on the Sterling submachine gun. The white clad soldiers of the Empire take their name directly from Hitler’s shock troops. A more subtle comparison can be made between the fighters of the Alliance to Restore the Republic (i.e. the rebellion) & the Empire. The Tie Fighters were faster than the X-wings & used a more powerful main armament (the laser cannons) but lacked the shields & range of the X-wing. Is that so different than the faster & more agile Zero with its 20mm cannons compared to the F-4 Wildcat with its self sealing fuel tanks & heavier armor plating?

& the Jedi. How can we not discuss the Jedi? An elite class of warriors who base their fighting skills on a religion-like belief system. Guardians of peace & justice in the galaxy for over a thousand years. When I first started exploring the internet I frequented a chat room on Yahoo called Star Wars. Like most chat rooms the title didn’t necessarily have much to do with the topic of discussion, although almost all who frequented there were fans to one degree or another. On the rare occasions when the subject was Star Wars some very interesting theories were tossed about. The one that stuck in my mind most was developed by a very bright young lady (who taught me much about arguing on the internet) who went by the handle of Sophisticated Jedi. She even set up a web page devoted to her theories concerning Star Wars. The one I hinted at was that perhaps Yoda wasn’t the altruistic sort that he has always been assumed to be. She had pieced together certain actions & words & presented quite a convincing case. What it boiled down to (if I recall correctly) was that Yoda specifically & the Jedi in general had become preoccupied with self preservation to the extent that they were not above doing things that were morally questionable for their own survival. If I can find her page I’ll post & link & let you explore her thoughts.

Speaking of the thoughts of others I’m by no means the first to make comparisons between Star Wars & American/Confederate history. I offer you the following pieces: Is George Lucas Johnny Reb? : The Star Wars Trilogy & The American Civil War by David Rogers & Episode II: Art Imitates Life by David Dieteman.

Which brings us at last to the main point of this post: my favorite Hobbesian is in agreement with Jonathan V Last about Star Wars. It’s tempting to summarize Last’s position right now, but I think I’ll let it unfold in the fisking of his piece.

One note before I begin. D flat. No really, Last limits the discussion to the films. The Expanded Universe he speaks of, or rather states he won't speak of, is what the series of books, novels & comics revolving around the Star Wars universe is referred to. Now let's begin.

“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.”

I see the evils of reconstruction haven’t finished working their poison. This will be an exercise in a sort of moral relativism that values freedom less than order. In a way it’s not that uncommon. I recall a friend of mine telling me that certain eastern European nations were less like a police state than the u.S. This was because while the state has greater power in those countries, it rarely flexes its muscles, while the u.S. uses the limited (& I say that in the most relative sense) power it has as often as possible. So in one country on paper there is more freedom but in practice there is less, while in the other in practice there is more freedom while on paper there is less.

I’ll skip over his summation of the political structure of the Republic & get to the points of serious contention I have.

“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.”

First of all, the Force is available to everyone, just not in sufficient quantity for everyone to become Jedi. I point you to Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back. Yoda explains to Luke that the force is all around & made of life itself. He further explains that the Force touches every living thing & serves to bind the galaxy together. I would also point to a fairly common phrase throughout all the films: “the force is strong in that one” or “the force is strong in my family”. If the Force were only available to the elite then it would more properly have been said “this one has the force” or “my family has the force”.

As for the Jedi’s role: they’re merely peacekeepers. To accuse them of being a royalist guard instead of a militia is to misunderstand both what the Jedi were & what a militia is. A militia is a martial force composed of the body of the people. I have seen nothing to imply the Jedi were such a group. They were a combination of statesmen, monks, spies, soldiers & cops. They conducted negotiations, concluded treaties, investigated matters (covertly & overtly), & fought battles in addition to practicing their religion-like beliefs. If the Swiss Royal Guard ever did all those things, I’d be even more impressed by them.

I do find it interesting that the country he uses to identify an elite fighting unit is also the country whose entire fighting force (well, almost entire) is comprised of militia. Gotta love those Swiss.

“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.)”.

I’ll grant the point about the Jedi librarian’s arrogance. But the counsel of others that is most often ignored come from fellow Jedi. When Palpatine & Padme offer advice or direction, it is often heeded. When Obi Wan seeks information he goes to a non-Jedi (I refer to Attack of the Clones where Obi visits his friend Dax(?) to ask about the dart used to kill the bounty hunter). The only time when I recall a Jedi refusing counsel of any kind is when Yoda tells Luke (In The Empire Strikes Back) that since he’s been training Jedi for 800 years he doesn’t need advice on how to decide whom he will train. Obi Wan ignores Padme’s advice (in The Phantom Menace) when he thinks she’s merely a handmaiden to the Queen. Turns out there weren’t terrible consequences to that decision. Qui Gon Jinn (in The Phantom Menace) ignores the advice of the Jedi counsel, but again that’s an inter-Jedi dispute. Anakin is rebuked a time or two in Attack of the Clones for not following Obi Wan’s instructions (again, inter-Jedi) & Luke ignores Yoda’s warning to finish his training before helping his friends in The Empire Strikes back (inter-Jedi). So I don’t quite see that this point (the Jedi are arrogant & ignore good advice to everyone’s detriment) is substantiated.

“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.”

Nope. No reason to doubt the motives of most of the secessionists. There’s no argument that at the point where they try to secede that the republic isn’t “bloated and dysfunctional”. In fact free trade & smaller government are laudable goals under almost any circumstances I can imagine. Dooku’s motives however are not pure & principled – at least not in the same way most of the secessionists’ motives are.

“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.”

I can speculate as to the Republic’s motives in preventing secession: none of them are good. The two top contenders are an unwillingness to see the Republic lose volume as it were, & a fear that the seceding systems will be a threat to the Republic in some way. But the basic point is correct: a freedom loving political entity does not use force or coercion to keep members.

“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."

As is often the case, an emergency, real or imagined, leads to an increase in government power that becomes more permanent than promised initially. The process seems quick to us, but remember that Palpatine was granted emergency powers at the end of Episode II: Attack of the Clones & the Senate was finally dissolved in the beginning of Episode IV: A New Hope. That’s at least 18 years, judging by Luke being 18 in Episode IV but not being born by the end of Episode II. Slippery slopes are not always fast. In fact usually they take a bit of time to do their thing.

“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."

See where he’s going with this yet?

“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.” (Link added by Publicola)

Possibly. But the difficult part so far is unraveling Palpatine’s true motives. He could have been sincere when he uttered that line, or he could have been merely trying to feign sincerity at a desire for civility.

Something that may help is a very subtle implication. In Episode II Anakin mentions that Palpatine has been mentoring him. Later on in the same movie Anakin expresses displeasure with the nature of the Republic: specifically the politics involved in running it. He then mentions that his solution would be for a strong leader to make the political infighting stop. When dictator is mentioned he assumes a more jovial attitude & it’s assumed that he was merely jesting. But it is possible that Anakin developed ideas about a benevolent dictatorship from Palpatine’s tutelage. Again we’re left with the question of whether Palpatine’s altruistic motives behind this idea are genuine or merely a pretense to make his ideas seem more palatable.

“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.”

This I disagree with. By its very nature the empire does affect the lives of people under its influence. Perhaps not to the degree where there is active oppression (i.e. mass round ups, death camps, on every planet) but for those who fall out of line the consequences are often swift & severe. The movies center on the rebels but there are glimpses of Imperial interference in the lives of the common person. Garrisons of Stormtroopers are on every planet save Dagobah. Tatooine, Bespin, Endor (actually it’s moon), Hoth, Alderaan, & Yavin IV (again I believe a moon) are the planets that appear in episodes IV, V, & VI. Of those Dagobah is deserted (so we assume) as are Hoth & Yavin IV. Endor, Yavin IV & Hoth receive Imperial attention because of the Galactic Civil War. But Bespin is a slightly different case. Lando Calrissian makes a deal with the Empire & cooperates with them to the point of betraying his friends. Still, despite this an Imperial presence is left there. Alderaan, oh Alderaan: a planet that adopted a pacifistic plan was completely destroyed because it was suspected a group of Alderaanians were members of the rebellion. But more on that in a bit.

“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."

I suppose one could say the same thing about Stalin’s Soviet Union. I mean after all, the purges were simply allowing the more competent (in Stalin’s view) to rise to the top. Slavery could also be viewed as a meritocracy in a sense: if you do your job correctly, then the Master won’t whip you & he’ll allow you to eat.

“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.)”

A very small point. I’m sure “comrade” was used frequently right before execution. The presence of manners denotes politeness, which is not to be confused with goodness.

“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.”

Here’s the problem: the intentions behind actions do matter, but not so much that they can negate harm caused by the actions in all cases. I’m sure that “order” was Palpatine’s desire, as it was with certain Roman emperors & perhaps even with Hitler & Stalin. Very few people commit actions they think are evil for the purpose of being evil. Most commit evil actions in the mistaken belief that these actions will cause a greater good. In Palpatine’s case I can accept that he wanted to rule strongly to bring order, which he thought was good. But that does not mean that he or his empire were good because of his intentions. His actions negated his motivations for them. Now Darth Vader’s plea to Luke could very well have been sincere: he could have desired to end the conflict & bring about order.

What is left out of the quote though is this: “You can destroy the Emperor; he has foreseen it. Join me, and together we can rule the galaxy as father and son” That would seem to hint at Vader’s real motive being to become the ruler with Luke’s help. It’s possible that he wanted to replace the Emperor because he thought he could do a better job, say at bringing about this desirable “order” everyone keeps talking about. The bottom line though, is even those who wish to be just masters wish to be masters. This is the point I feel is being missed with the exploration into the nuances of the empire’s motives.

“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.”

Actually it is not known what Luke’s aunt & uncle did or did not do. Since Luke had taken off to find the missing droid (R2-D2) without telling anyone what he was doing it’s unlikely that they would have thought it necessary to “harbor” the droids. They could have cooperated fully & the Stormtroopers killed them anyway. As for hiding Luke, at that point his existence was unknown to the Empire. It’s real hard to be rightly executed for doing something that you haven’t been suspected of doing. So their deaths are not justifiable under the pretense of harboring fugitive droids or Jedi. They were simply killed as a normal course of business. The same applies to the Jawas that were massacred prior to Luke discovering his aunt & uncle’s remains. No indication or motive can be found for the Jawas not cooperating, so no reason can be assumed for their slaughter being justifiable.

One thing that is hinted at in the movies, but explored more in depth in the Expanded Universe is the Empire’s Xenophobia. That is, there’s an institutional bias for humans & against all other types of being. Anakin shows this prejudice when he slaughters the Sand People in Episode II. Now it’s true they did kill his mother, but his hate was not contained to those who did the deed. He freely admits he murdered the women & children as well as the men & justifies it by saying they were animals. Also you’ll observe that in the reign of the Empire, no non-humans are seen in its service, except for the bounty hunters that appear in Episode V. This could be an explanation to the argument made about manners: Vader called them bounty hunters instead of by name simply because he felt a formal acknowledgement of a non-human individual was beneath him. An old e-mail listed the difference between Star Wars & Titanic. One of the funniest comparisons was (& forgive me as I’m going from memory) Titanic tried to show altruism by having a poor kid fall in love with a rich girl. Star wars showed altruism by having a fish headed alien in charge of an entire fleet. Also, said fish head did not lose his ship!

But the Empire just didn’t seem that friendly to non-humans, whereas the rebellion did. So the slaughter of the Jawas probably wasn’t due to their defiance: rather it was their existence.

“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.”

Whether Alderaan is in fact defenseless or not is not relevant. What is relevant is that Tarkin destroyed an entire planet as a show of force. Alderaan may have very well harbored many more rebels & rebel sympathizers. In fact if the Expanded Universe were included we’d have a rich history of Bail Organa being one of the main leaders & founders of the Alliance to Restore the Republic. But since the Expanded Universe is not allowed in this discussion we’ll simply look at what happened in the movies.

Tarkin explained that fear of the Death Star would keep local systems in line after the dissolution of the Senate. He then explains that Dantooine (the planet Leia named as holding the rebel base) is far too remote to make an effective demonstration. Tarkin did not feel that he’d wipe out a good chunk of the rebels because they were hiding in Alderaan. He felt that Alderaan’s prominence would serve as an example to other planets & people. The act wasn’t random, but it was in fact an act of terror. It would be akin to Lincoln nuking Virginia in 1862. Not that I’d have put it past that bastard, but the point is it’s morally wrong to wipe out a whole state, region, people, or planet because you suspect or even know of the actions of a few.

“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?”

Assassinated? If I recall correctly, the Emperor was thrown down a reactor shaft because he was using Force-generated lightning to inflict pain & eventually kill Vader’s son who had refused to fight. That was not assassination by any means. It would rather fall into the category of “defense of self & others”. Assassination is when a person is killed for political reasons, & usually when that person is defenseless. Trying to kill someone’s son kind of negates the whole assassination angle.

The Death Star was not the “central governing apparatus” of the Empire. That would have been the seat of the Empire on Coruscant. I do agree the Ewoks were annoying, but probably not as annoying to me as to most other people.

“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.”

“Fear of this battlestation” was how Tarkin’s quote ended. An important omission.

But there’s a larger point: you can’t have it both ways. In the beginning Last championed the secessionists who wanted to make their own way in the Galaxy, now he seems to be lamenting the loss of a central governing authority. Please, pick one: freedom or order. It’s damn difficult if nigh on impossible to have both.

“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.”

I wonder if he’d have taken King George in 1776? After all, I don’t recall much of a plan for governing strategy while the American War for Independence was going on. Aside from random talk of Rights & such, it’s just possible that, oh I dunno…they were too busy fighting a war for their freedom to make formal plans??? Since the formal name of the rebellion was the Alliance to Restore the Republic I’d assume their plan was fairly simple: restore the Republic.

Again though, it’s a choice between freedom or order. You can have both in varying degrees but one always comes at the expense of the other. Imagine a table that’s 4 feet long by 2 feet wide. You have four feet by two feet sheets of freedom & order. You have to arrange them so the table is completely occupied by one or the other, but no overlap is allowed. If you use the entire sheet of freedom & none of the order you’d have what is assumed to be Anarchy (though Anarchy is a little different than most imagine). If you have the entire table filled with order & no freedom you’d have slavery (although again these are rough descriptions). If you try to fit both freedom & order on the table you’ll see that you cannot increase one without decreasing the other.

Personally I’d rather have a bunch of warlords as he puts it than a centralized empire. With the warlords there could be oppression just as bad if not worse than the Empire, but with the warlords you have a smaller table & it’s thus easier to make a shift in the proportions of freedom & order than on a larger table.

Addendum: Turns out I wasn't the first to fisk Last's piece. I found the following as I was trying to clean up a few links: Attack of the Clones by Bob Murphy.

Posted by Publicola at October 10, 2004 01:16 AM

There were extremely excellent scenes in the movie "The Empire Strikes Back".
Good originality and great imagination in this movie!
I'm very interested in science fiction movies.

Posted by: Creford at May 4, 2005 07:21 AM
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