...And Another Thing: Those Jedi Children Were a Threat!
So George Lucas has admitted that"Revenge of the Sith" contains a (none-too-subtle, apparantly) critique of Bush administration foreign policy.
But the guys at the Weekly Standard knew that already, to judge from this May 2002 tongue-only-partially-in-cheek review of Attack of the Clones, which argues:"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."
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."
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.
The writer even makes the case for the planet-destroying Death Star. Alderaan might have had weapons of mass destruction, after all:
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.
Is this satire? I really can't tell. It's pretty deadpan and earnest, and hell, Max Boot sang the praises of the U.S. counterinsurgency in the Philippines, with its 200,000 dead, so who can tell with these people?
Max Swing - 5/16/2005
I don't think it is Satire, but the inner core of their true belief. They feel that the empire is the perfect state of human society.
I think his "try" on the Death Star as a good mean to solve problems is the most horrible and shocking vision of a "conservative" world. The same alleged greater good obviously is handy to him as well. Though, he not even makes a difference by casualties and grants that it is not important what Leia answeres, every answer will lead to the destruction of Alderaan.
In my point of view, this compromises everything that can be said about something being a human being. And even in Satire, it is a very dark and deep tunnel you have to go through... Oo
Jonathan Dresner - 5/16/2005
The spread of bourgeois democracy, in the form of Republics, is just a stage on the way to their collapse and the imposition of order through strength... it's kind of an inverted, perverted Marxist stage theory, neo-fascist style. Yeah, they're serious.
Max Swing - 5/16/2005
I rather thought the event that gave the chancellor Palepatine all the power, were inspired by the events in Germany during the Weimar Republic. The coincidences are there, although it was not a war, it was the emergency situation that gave the power to the Emperor.
At least, this was before I heard of the connection between SW and Bush :)
Anthony Gregory - 5/16/2005
I don't think it's satire. Some neocons can't understand that the Dark Side is evil. Others are confused because they thought Episodes IV, V and VI were pro-war, with the wonderful patriots fighting the Evil Empire, but the new prequel is antiwar. They don't understand that, from the beginning, this was a story of how a republic degraded into an empire, all because the bad guys were playing people against each other and manipulating public fear to militarize society.