Democracy vs Autocracy - which should Star Wars focus on the most

Discussion in 'Literature' started by Jedi-Sith, Jan 13, 2008.

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  1. Jedi-Sith Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 4, 2001
    star 3
    I've been noticing this topic popping up alot lately in various threads, and it seems to be one many people are divided on.

    I've heard some declare absolute love of the Empire, particularly that of the Fel Dynasty, whilst others have argued that Star Wars is the democracy's fairy tale and modern myth.


    So whats your choice: should we be more focused on the Democratic societies like the Galactic Alliance, should they win all the wars, or are you more interested in seeing the autocratic institutions like the Fel Dynasty's Empire?


    Personally I've always thought Empire's and Kingdoms come part and parcel with Star Wars, being a mythological based story. It was wizards, princesses and knights fundementally at its story, thus for the princesses alone Kingdoms/Empires tend to be required. And in these myth/legends/fantasies they are not necessarily evil.

    In Star Wars there are tonnes of groups that are not democratic.

    The most obvious is Palpatine's Galactic Empire, and they are most definately of the evil variety, however don't be fooled by this representation for even in the original movies there were others.

    The first I can think of is Alderaan itself. Ruled over by a Queen, with its Princess as one of the trilogys main characters, I'm pretty sure that autocracy wasn't supposed to be considered evil.

    The Republic/New Republic/Galactic Alliance are most definately democratic, however there member states are not necessarily so. Hapes is another prime example I can think of and in the ancient times the Empress Teta System. The Imperial Remnant itself was a member state of the GA at some point.

    Hapes itself an absolute monarchy no different to Fel's Empire, is ruled over by a Jedi no less.

    And for that matter the Jedi themselves are certainly not democratic, they are ruled over by a Jedi Council that chooses its own members, and headed by a Grandmaster who declared himself so, and judging by Luke's remarks in Fury it will be him who chooses his own successor for the position of Jedi Grandmaster should he step down, and if he is killed before choosing a successor then I expect the Jedi Council will choose one of there own to replace him. No elections will be held thats for sure.


    So I guess my point is I don't personally see undemocratic as a bad thing, (or democracy as an inherintley good thing). Add this to the fact that I see Star Wars as a fantasy in a sci fi setting, kingdoms and empires are a natural part of that story telling.

    So bring on the Fel Dynasty, bring on the continuation of the Jedi and Sith and keep the GA around, but the more interesting stories let fall with the interesting groups.
  2. The Loyal Imperial Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 19, 2007
    star 6
    I say focus on both. Star Wars would be boring if all the focus was given to one side.

    Now, to the bunker!

    [face_worried]
  3. Charlemagne19 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jul 30, 2000
    star 7
    Fundamentally, Lucas felt so strongly about Star Wars being a Democratic Fairy Tale that he actually went to the ridiculous gesture of making sure that it was clear that Naboo wasn't a Monarchy but it was a Republican Institution with the trappings of Monarchy. Given Naboo is a clear substitute for Alderaan, I note that it's also likely to be much the same on Alderaan with the title of Queen either elected or simply a powerless aspect of social institution for an otherwise democratic society.

    Part of my disgust for the Hapans is the fact that they're a monarchy. The idea of Princess Leia, the ultimate ironic symbol for rebellion, being tied to a bloodline that supports a woman to the throne not for her inherent abilities but solely her pedigree is rather disgusting. Let's look what it's done to the fan-favorite character of Tenel Ka. Instead of us seeing her as a bold and intrepid adventurer, she's constantly shoe-horned into the plot of being head of a society that is corrupt and stagnant.

    The Fel Empire is a bit of an enjoyable bit of subversion but I also think that the story has a lot of resonance that Jan and Jon Ostrander may or may not have realized thanks to the nature of Star Wars as a fairy tale of Modern Myth. First of all, Roan Fel declares that by right of birthright that the Empire is "his." In a normal Fairy Tale or fantasy, that would totally not be out of place.

    However, in Star Wars, we recall that the Empire was created illegally by Emperor Palpatine (at the very least it's illegal because Palpatine was secretly guilty of treason against his own government and conspiracy even if it was legally created). Roan Fel's ancestors were a bunch of farmers plus fighter pilots and the Empire is currently composed of a bunch of worlds that were conquered and subjugated in a war that was arranged by the Sith. The myth of divine right is a huge joke in Fel's case.

    Hell, the honest to Force, children of GOD in Star Wars are the Skywalkers. Yet Anakin Skywalker is a fallen hero and his Children are tireless Champions of Democracy. The fact that both voluntarilly rejected the trappings of monarchy and divine right while those who pursued it is a powerful statement. That Jacen pursued it is only a sign that he deserves to be punished. Roan Fel and Marasiah, if they are Skywalkers, only tarnish the legacy further by claiming such a silly idea.

    Especially since the Empire was originally a Roman meritocracy in its ideals, not a genuine bloodline based monarchy. Indeed, you could make another amusing subversion that the typical wizards of Fantasy who might rule on basis of bloodline and magic....choose to serve the cause of Democracy rather than monarchy.

    Thus, Roan Fel's claim to rule by hereditary right or mystical force is further made ironic and shameful.

    On a basic level, Star Wars is a Marvel Comic/DC Comic superhero fable in some ways. In some fantasy, the Galaxy should be ruled by the most capable. Force wielders, by virtue of superior knowledge and connection to the divine, seem to have a legitimate claim to bloodline rule.

    Except, by their nature, the Force Users choose to SERVE the Forceless and obey their commands.
  4. AdmiralNick22 Fleet Admiral of Literature

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    Member Since:
    May 28, 2003
    star 6
    Come out of that bunker, my friend. AdmiralNick22 will use his fleet to shield your excellent post from those who would criticize or attack it. :)

    Your sentiments, IMO, the best course of act for the EU.

    The Galactic Alliance and the Fel Empire can exist side by side, at peace. It is a masterstroke of Dark Horse Comics to realize that there are equally powerful fan groups who idealize the democractic ideals of the Alliance and the more autocractic, powerful militaristic/royal aspects of the Empire.

    Focusing on one or the other alienates a a segment of the fanbase. By having books and comics focus on both major groups, fans over Star Wars governments/politics get what they want.

    I am prepared to debate with anyone who thinks one segment should be thrown out in favor of another.

    --Adm. Nick
  5. Charlemagne19 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jul 30, 2000
    star 7
    I am prepared to debate with anyone who thinks one segment should be thrown out in favor of another.

    *raises hand*

    I'm prepared.

    I'm not interested in seeing the destruction of the Empire. I always feel it's important to have good antagonists and maybe some Honorable Foils. I have no problem with the Fel Empire rising again after the defeat of Darth Krayt. I do think it's something of a serious mistake to undermine the movies message, however, of remotely attempting to portray the Empire as equal to the Republic so long as its blatnatly militant and autocratic.

    While no one should get their life lessons from Star Wars, Star Wars always has had a Message to it. Subverting that message is a mistake.
  6. Jedi-Sith Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 4, 2001
    star 3
    I am certainly not argueing to throw out one over the other, EU should definately include both forms, don't get me wrong

    My question to you though is where should the majority of focus and heroes be with?

    I've noticed a lot of fans in other threads complaining about the apparent rise of the opinion that autocracy is beating democracy..... just curious on everyones opinion on this


    My biggest thing I guess is whats more important to you about the Star Wars mythos, the modern aspects that Charles is argueing for - that of democracy and the WW2 aspects etc. or the more ancient aspects - that of kingdoms, knights, princesses and wizards.


    Oh and I'm pretty sure Alderaan's monarchy isn't elected like Naboo..... otherwise Leia would not be a princess.

    Plus I remember somewhere a Jedi, I think C'boath of all people went to Alderaan to settle a dispute at one point to determine who held claim to the throne.
  7. AdmiralNick22 Fleet Admiral of Literature

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    Member Since:
    May 28, 2003
    star 6
    Charles, dear friend and long time fellow poster, where is the movies message being undermined? The basic message of the movies is that democracy requires constant vigilance. And, the movies show that protecting democracy and maintaining republican values are worth fighting for.

    Afterall, the original trilogy takes place over four years- during which a ragtag band of Rebels had to fight off the depredations of a Sith-led Empire.

    That ongoing battle for freedom is taking place in 137 ABY as well. The Galactic Alliance Remnant is fighting for democractic values. I would only voice a concern if the EU took a direction that completely removed all democractic values/governments/movements.

    And, thus far, that is not the case. ;)

    --Adm. Nick
  8. Charlemagne19 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jul 30, 2000
    star 7
    My biggest thing I guess is whats more important to you about the Star Wars mythos, the modern aspects that Charles is argueing for - that of democracy and the WW2 aspects etc. or the more ancient aspects - that of kingdoms, knights, princesses and wizards.

    Oddly, I think Lucas doesn't get enough credit for the fact that he actually told a Post-Modern and Deconstructionalist Fairy Tale. Everyone was so focused on the trappings of a actual Fairy Tale, I tend to think they utterly missed that a great deal of Star Wars is actually ironic.

    Luke Skywalker is an obvious Arthur/Galahad analogue. The Chosen One who will rise to become the Great Hero and defeat the Emperor to become King. Except, Lucas specifically shows that Luke's claim to heritage is bupkiss. He's the child of a murderous villain rather than anyone to be honored. Furthermore, Leia isn't a Princess and he doesn't end up getting the girl or defeating the villain.

    Hell, you could even argue that Luke is a interesting figure for the simple fact that he's not even a leader of the Rebellion but a follower.

    The Prequels do one better with the fact that everything the heroes do in the movies up to Revenge of the Sith is part of the master plan of the villain. That the "Chosen Hero" is the Son of God yet falls from Grace and proceeds to not actually be defeated by anyone special in the Force. Indeed, one might argue that the Prophecy WAS broken right until Anakin redeemed it at the end.

    It all still works in the Mythic Sense but it's a very cynical satire on much of traditional fantasy staples. Hell, I like the fact that the story is fundamentally a tale of Humans Oppressing Aliens as opposed to the later.

    ;-)
  9. Charlemagne19 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jul 30, 2000
    star 7
    Honestly, I think I blame Timmy Zhan for a good portion of it. Timmy successfully presented the Empire of Admiral Piett and General Veers after a large number of books and works had presented the Empire as more equivalent to the Armies of Ming the Merciless (i.e. corrupt and evil when they weren't being stupid). Timmy reminded us of the ESB that plenty of the Imperials didn't seem to be outright evil like Grand Moff Tarkin and Admiral Motti (whom we knew was bad because he mocked the religion of Luke and Obi Wan!)

    Unfortunately, I tend to think that he started the trend of creating an ineffectual Democracy versus the cold effectiveness of Autocracy. The fact is, in a fictional environment, governments are only as effective as they are written (in real life---the effectiveness of governments also depends a great deal on personalities and events that are independent of the actual system). Nevertheless, it seems disingenous that we have the major heroes of Legacy be Imperials without an equivalent stance from the GA.

    Though I'm interested in Admiral Stazi's work, Roan and company seem far stronger represented. Plus, Legacy of the Force outright has the Alliance as villains.
  10. Lord Vivec Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Apr 17, 2006
    star 7
    Autocracy is an illegitimate form of government. That's why the good guys come from a democratic government.
  11. GrandAdmiralJello Moderator Communitatis Litterarumque

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    star 10
    Good to see all the thoughtful and considered responses here.
  12. Robimus Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 6, 2007
    star 5
    It's always easy for someone to sti on a couch in Washington DC(or in my case Winnipeg, Manitoba) and say that Democracy is the be all, end all of goverment when really it is probably just as flawed as many other political systems that have existed in our world's history.
    Ideally Communism should work the best, all are equal and all wealth is equally dispersed, but unfortunatly too many of the people that make up the Communist ideal would be corrupt and take advantage.
    On the flip side I would certainly agree that democracy in its idealistic form seems like the way to go for sure. Yet I think we see a certain amount of funny business go on in democraticly elected goverments as well. Wars over oil for instance, or chasing terrorists we know came from Saudi Arabia in every nation except Saudi Arabia. Hmmmmnnnnn, maybe Democracy has its flaws as well.
    Certainly a benevolent dictator ship is the way to go (though I'm not 100% sure that this is what exists in the Fel Empire). But benevolent dictatorships do require the leader to be nice, thus most benevolent dictatorships eventually end up non-benevolent at some point or another.
    Overall I think Star Wars incorporates all kinds of different goverment systems and I really think it doesn't toot democracy's horn that much. I think it actually warns against democracy, kind of in a be careful who you vote for/freedom is a fragile illusion kind of way.
    I do think Democracy is an excellent form of goverment, but it may not be right for all people in all situations. Star Wars should focus on all kinds of different goverment systems(as it has) or even be bold and create new ones. Remember that Democracy and Freedom are two different words, no matter what the Bush family thinks. :)
  13. GrandAdmiralJello Moderator Communitatis Litterarumque

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    star 10
    Communism is not and never was a "form of government" (or correctly put, a polity). Communism advocates the abolition of the state, so it would be a contradiction in terms to call it the ideal government.
  14. Lord Vivec Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Apr 17, 2006
    star 7
    Considering I've lived in an autocracy for a few years, I believe my response was quite well thought out.
  15. GrandAdmiralJello Moderator Communitatis Litterarumque

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    Sorry, I must have misplaced my dictionary. Living is the same as thinking, now?

    I'm also curious at how you're so happy to generalize one example over all the rest, particular in connection to "legitimacy" and its relationship to "good guys."

    What does Borsk Fey'lya's government say about that? What does the democratic GA say? What about the duly elected Palpatine?

    So much for democracies being indicative of moral qualities, in and of themselves.
  16. AdmiralNick22 Fleet Admiral of Literature

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    star 6
    The Galactic Alliance in Legacy of the Force is not the "villian" of the novel. Far from it. The true villians are neither the Alliance nor the Confederation. The true villians are the Sith behind the scences manipulating every action or outright directing them (in the case of Jacen Solo/Darth Caedus).

    In Legacy, the authors are deliberately making things gray, as opposed to the normal black and white.

    As for the heroes of Legacy- while thus far we haev seen far more Imperials than Alliance characters, that does not mean that Dark Horse is trying to favor them Far from it. We are only 18 issues into the series. There is plenty of time for more Alliance characters to appear, beyond Admiral Gar Stazi.

    --Adm. Nick
  17. Charlemagne19 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jul 30, 2000
    star 7
    Certainly a benevolent dictator ship is the way to go (though I'm not 100% sure that this is what exists in the Fel Empire). But benevolent dictatorships do require the leader to be nice, thus most benevolent dictatorships eventually end up non-benevolent at some point or another.

    While George Lucas prefers it, I'm not actually sure benevolent dictatorships are the way to go either. Even if you assume a subject is genuinely talented, smart enough, and controlling enough to handle everything that subjects want then is it really still a society that people should want to live in?

    Fundamentally, it smacks of a paternalistic viewpoint to society that forces people to basically be children in that they are allowed no say so in their government or a chance for dissent. Even if it's all "good for you." There's plenty of functioning governments that are widely different and divergent in their aims.

    A Benevolent Dictatorship is still the vision and dream of only a single man versus a creation that is the product of many minds working together.
  18. Lord_Boney Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Nov 20, 2007
    star 2

    I my opinion, the prequels themselves may be to blame for this. Before their release, in the bad old Bantam days, the New Republic was portrayed as largely effective and well governed. Then, with the release of the prequels, the New Republic in the NJO is portrayed largely in a negative light, as ineffective and filled with corruption.


    That is debatable. :)


  19. GrandAdmiralJello Moderator Communitatis Litterarumque

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    Not really. Do you realize just how large a galaxy is? No man is wise enough, intelligent enough, or even sane enough to set an entire galaxy in direction--not even Palpatine.

    The whole point of a monarchic system is to remove the political mess from the equation and allow administration by those best suited for it. Essentially, the difference is NOT between rule by the one and rule by the many but rather in who chooses the administrators and ministers: the one or the many. All that besides, a monarch exists in the service of his subjects.

    You want many minds working together? That's precisely what a mandarinate is for.

    EDIT: Another question--who would you rather have the administrators lie to? One man, or all of the people?
  20. Robimus Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 6, 2007
    star 5
    Missed the point of my post. I'm not saying that any form of goverment is ideal. I realize saying they are all ideal is a round about way of going about this though.

    Communism:
    1.Any theory or system of commen ownership
    2.Socialism as formulated by Marx, Lenin, etc....any goverment or political movement supporting this

    Communist:
    1.an advocate or supporter of communism
    2.a member of a communist party

    Yes, Socialism would be the term I guess. Of course you could have pointed that out but didn't. And where did you get that definition of Communism? Communist political party's are not looking to destroy the state, but to govern it.
  21. Quiet_Mandalorian Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 19, 2005
    star 5
    I think they merely chose to ignore it, presupposing that Star Wars actually was meant to be ironic. Similarly, if anyone watches Paul Verhoeven's Starship Troopers at all today, they do so for the violence, nudity and enjoyably lamentable stupidity of the film, not because of the director's attempts to be clever and ironic.

    Only in the EU, Charles. ;)
  22. Charlemagne19 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jul 30, 2000
    star 7
    EDIT: Another question--who would you rather have the administrators lie to? One man, or all of the people?

    Neither.

    I favor a Panopticon of everyone watching everyone else.
  23. GrandAdmiralJello Moderator Communitatis Litterarumque

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    Robimus: Where? Well, the Communist Manifesto--where else? Marx and Engels would be a great source, considering they developed the socio-economic theory. Or, one may choose to read Lenin or Trotsky for elucidation on how they planned to implement idea into practice.

    You'll notice this tendancy of mine to trust primary sources over those intended for the layman's consumption. It's generally a good scholarly habit.

    Socialism is another economic policy--you'll notice that socialist régimes can come in all forms, from the parliamentary to the republican to the monarchic.

    Communist parties do seek to gain parliamentary majorities, yes, but it is part of their solution to the issue of the state. The violent overthrow of the government--as outlined by Marx--has only happened in polities unbalanced enough to benefit from such a mass movement. Other times, Communist political movements seek to take control of a government so that they can later destroy it (analogy: Palpatine was democratically elected so that he could destroy the democratic system).
  24. Charlemagne19 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jul 30, 2000
    star 7
    Actually, let's just look way back when to the Qin Dynasty and we see that the nature of the Beast is a simple matter of passing down decrees for implementation.

    In the case of Emperor Palpatine and his Empire, the depiction is decidedly of doing his best to wipe away local culture and ideas for his ideal of Imperialism. An independent society that overwhelms all existing societies and replaces them.

    Very similiar to the failure of Leninist-Communist ideals that were attempted to be implemented in Russia and Maoist-Communist ideals. I.e. where the state attempts a social revolution. The broad agenda merely has to be set by the leader and people will follow through with it.

    It depends on what sort of monarchy we're referring to.

    You have the Chinese Imperial system, for example, where the Bureaucracy is of incredible importance and the Emperor's role can range from important to almost completely ceremonial.

    By contrast, you have the joke of the Sun King of France where the nobility was drastically depowered for the role of the King.

    While an Emperor will never meet with the average member of his subjects, the will of the Emperor and what is expected can echo through the entirety of the Empire.

    As we see with Palpatine alone, this is clearly optional. As history has demonstrated many times in the past that subjects are fully willing and capable to tolerate corrupt or self-serving governments that exist for themselves so long as one has less to lose by obedience than by open resistance.
  25. Robimus Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 6, 2007
    star 5
    I guess its the use of the word destroy that I really take issue with. The broad usage of saying Communism is trying to destroy the state is untrue, change the state yes, control the state yes, but not destroy it. Certainly the Communist Party of the Russian Federation is not getting a large percentage of the vote because Russians feel the country will be destroyed if they get elected?

    Scholary habits are fine, but they really don't dismiss the Layman's terms. Anyway, no big deal as I have no belief that Communism works, but as you say Socialism has its place.
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