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. CountJared Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 10, 2000
    star 3
    "Democracy is the worst form of government except for all those others that have been tried."
    - Winston Churchill


    Pretty early on in the NJO, I knew this was inevitably where we would end up at. "Democracy is a failure and the power to govern can only be trusted to the few Elites wise enough to rule," seems to be the order of the day in the EU.

    It makes me kind of sad to even see this question posted let alone given serious weight. In the original trilogy at least there was no question that our heroes were fighting for the restoration of democracy and freedom.

    Democracy may lead to corruption, but there is always next election to kick the bastards out and elect some reformers. Every election cycle you can have a revolution, everybody has their say, and nobody gets killed.

    Autocracy or even an oligarchy inevitably invites tyranny. Maybe this dictator really is a selfless individual who will lead your nation to a brighter age, but what happens when he's gone? Who do you get stuck with when he's dead? You don't have a say.

    Yes democracy can be ugly. But those who serve democracy and freedom, and uphold its ideals, are heroes. That is where the really story of Star Wars lies. Not in corrupt politicians and ruminating on the merits of an empire, but in the selfless acts of those who fight to protect the freedoms of safety of others.
  2. GrandAdmiralJello Moderator Communitatis Litterarumque

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    Nov 28, 2000
    star 10
    Autocracy or even an oligarchy inevitably invites tyranny.


    And democracy doesn't?


    Perhaps you ought to consider reading some Polybius. He highlights the virtues of the three most common forms of good government--monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy and how they tend to become subverted into autocracy, oligarchy, and mob rule. His solution was a mixed government that balanced each aspect and did not allow any feature to run unchecked.

    In your insistence that somehow democracy should only be the government of heroes and that we should ignore all of its downsides, you're operating in an exercise of fantasy. Why should anyone say "democracy is good if you ignore all the bad parts" and not say that about any other form of government? What in particular makes it more heroic? Were the knights of King Arthur's round table any less heroic because they upheld a monarchy? Were the patriots of the American revolution any less heroic because they were defending an aristocracy?

    Why shouldn't this question be considered seriously? What makes democracy so special? Are bad rulers not removed (see: Chinese Mandate of Heaven, or the Roman Praetorian Guard) ? Are vile aristocrats not moved against by their fellows?

    You're expressing a curious mixture of indignation and idealism: but it's an unfocused ideal rooted in fantasy. You prefer democracy, so you are happy with burying its many faults because you say so.

    Lastly, I really don't hope you think that Churchill quote was meant to endorse democracy in any way. It was a wholly ironic comment from a Conservative prime minister who was a fervent monarchist and a supporter of aristocratic rule and imperialism.
  3. Charlemagne19 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jul 30, 2000
    star 8

    Yes, I keep forgetting that nothing says cosmopolitian like Totalitarian Dictatorship.

    wink

    ???

    Did most of the Governing? I imagine the average Imperial Advisor never did anything more than review an Imperial Moff's profile, rubber stamp him, and go back to modelling hats for the Emperor. There's no indications that the Moffs or Grand Moffs did any reporting to the Imperial Ruling Council.

    They were selected by them but all decisions were handled by the Regional Governors. That's not undermining their authority, the RC did wield tremendous power but the galaxy was controlled by the Moffs.

  4. GrandAdmiralJello Moderator Communitatis Litterarumque

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    Yes, I keep forgetting that nothing says cosmopolitian like Totalitarian Dictatorship.


    Come to whatever conclusions you'd like, but you can't overrule the primary source. This is an exercise in research and analysis, not invention.

    Did most of the Governing? I imagine the average Imperial Advisor never did anything more than review an Imperial Moff's profile, rubber stamp him, and go back to modelling hats for the Emperor. There's no indications that the Moffs or Grand Moffs did any reporting to the Imperial Ruling Council.

    They were selected by them but all decisions were handled by the Regional Governors. That's not undermining their authority, the RC did wield tremendous power but the galaxy was controlled by the Moffs.


    The majority of ruling, I should have said. My apologies for the imprecision: I was contrasting their role with the Emperor, not with the moffs.

    Though while we're on that topic, we do have plenty of evidence to support such a claim if it was made. Not 'majority' of course, but certainly a large role. Consider Lord Verpalion's visit to Lianna--it is hardly atypical, since the ISB informs us that the Emperor often sent his advisors around to make sure that everything was proceding properly. I see them as civilian mini-Vaders in a way, with the far less numerous grand admirals functioning as their military counterpart: they inspect and troubleshoot (with great authority) in addition to their bureaucratic duties.

    And the ISB does, after all, place the mofference underneath the advisors in the little authority chart. When advisors extraordinaire like Dangor and Pestage exercise such vast influence over the entire Empire and when the advisors en petit represent the Emperor all over the galaxy, I'd think that they play an important role in the highest levels of Imperial rule.

    So shall we agree on that? The regional governors govern while the bureaucracy rules?
  5. Charlemagne19 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jul 30, 2000
    star 8
    Come to whatever conclusions you'd like, but you can't overrule the primary source. This is an exercise in research and analysis, not invention.

    I know. However, referring to Corulag as cosmopolitan doesn't change the fact the Empire was still determined to wipe out all culture but Imperial.

    The majority of ruling, I should have said. My apologies for the imprecision: I was contrasting their role with the Emperor, not with the moffs.


    True.

    Though while we're on that topic, we do have plenty of evidence to support such a claim if it was made. Not 'majority' of course, but certainly a large role. Consider Lord Verpalion's visit to Lianna--it is hardly atypical, since the ISB informs us that the Emperor often sent his advisors around to make sure that everything was proceding properly. I see them as civilian mini-Vaders in a way, with the far less numerous grand admirals functioning as their military counterpart: they inspect and troubleshoot (with great authority) in addition to their bureaucratic duties.

    Owning Mission to Lianna, it is a very important work for showing Imperial Advisors in (in)action. I also always liked the nice touch that Sate Pestage was running the Empire as early as ESB (even though Palpatine entertained many guests and advisors even on the Second Death Star). But I tend to think from what we know of the Advisory that the majority of their actions seemed focused on merely handling the vast amount of ceremonial state duties based around Imperial Center, appointments, and coordinating the budget. Serving as the Emperor's messangers and observers were part of their duties but seem a smaller part.

    It's interesting to speculate how much of the Grand Admirals duties were divided between "Special Missions" and having their own free hand just to screw with Imperial High Command's control of the military. It seems from what we've seen that Grand Admiral Zaarin had outright control of Imperial R&D while Thrawn's subjugation of the Unknown Regions kept him occupied whenever not working on the projects Vader or Palpatine asked him to handle.

    Certainly, we know that High Inquisitor Tremayne actually didn't seem to 'do' missions so much as he had his own ISD and did whatever the Hell he wanted with it.

    And the ISB does, after all, place the mofference underneath the advisors in the little authority chart. When advisors extraordinaire like Dangor and Pestage exercise such vast influence over the entire Empire and when the advisors en petit represent the Emperor all over the galaxy, I'd think that they play an important role in the highest levels of Imperial rule.

    Well, no one is disputing the fact that I was wrong in certain elements of my understanding of how the Advisory works vs. the Moffs. Also, we know that most Moffs are appointed by the Advisory and the Grand Moffs are selected by the Emperor before passed along by folk like Ars or Sate. My actual point, Jello, is that I think the average member of the Advisory has such limited contact with the planets of the Empire (except Imperial Center) that they have almost no day to day role in their affairs.

    I liken the system to Feudalism, really. The Advisory serves as the proxies of the King but the Moffs and Governors really are Lords and the Gentry. If anyone saw Cate Blanchett's Elizabeth, Duke Norfolk may be the most powerful man in England but when Walsingham walks up with the proper documentation then his power evaporates. Nevertheless, all issues of rule in Norfolk are handled by the Duke and his rule until matters involve the Crown.

    The Governors are Barons, the Moffs are Counts, and the Grand Moffs are the Empire's Dukes.
  6. Earthknight Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 3, 2002
    star 4
    You know in fantasy, not all Empires are bad. It al depends on the Emperor. If the Emperor is screwey than the Empire becomes twisted. If the Emperor or Empress is like the one in Neverending Story than the Empire is grand and noble.
  7. Charlemagne19 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jul 30, 2000
    star 8
    Yes, I think our dispute isn't over whether Empires are good or evil in general.

    Just whether they're good or evil in Star Wars.

    Let's go to Star Wars' roots for a bit. If you're doing, God Forbid, pastiches of the Dune universe then you need to keep the themes of the setting in mind when you're doing works for it. For example, I don't think that it really feels very Dune-like if you portrayal any religion as unambiguously good or a government system that is very pro-democracy. It's an important part of the Dune feel that religion is a powerfully double edged-sword and that people gravitate towards ruthless/dictatorial nobles in Dune.

    A democracy would seem blindingly out of place in Dune.
  8. Master_Starwalker Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 20, 2003
    star 6
    I don't think they'd inherently be bad, but that Jedi training wouldn't necessarily make them good leaders either. It makes perfect sense to keep a Jedi out of a leadership role though to me given how easy it ould be for them to become arrogant and fall.

    Agreed, but as Charles said latter works shouldn't actively undermine the message of the films.
  9. Ghost Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 2003
    star 6
    I'd just like to mention that, on the subject of Jedi rulers, everyone seems to be forgetting Tenel Ka. That is one siutation where if she, as Queen, got more power and took away from the Hapan nobles, it would actually be a good thing. She has not been corrupted, because she feels it is her duty to her people. It's not about power for her, it's about duty, and it always seems that those who don't want power for themselves are always the best to wield it. That's how Marasiah feels too in her conversations with Cade, a sense of duty which she probably got from her father. We haven't seen any reason to think the Jedi Chancellors during the 1000-year-long New Sith Wars were corrupt either, though I admit we know hardly anything about that era.

    As for Democracy versus Autocracy, how about this. The people elect a nearly all-powerful ruler for a certain term, but the ruler is checked by a Court that stops the ruler from violating the equal rights of the people. See, the best of both governments, everybody happy?

    Though I like that we finally had a benevolent dictatorship, in the Fel Dynasty, I do think Star Wars should always focus on fighting for freedom and the rights of the people. Which usually happens more in a democracy, like the Republic or GA, than a dictatorship, like the Empire.

    (Do we even have proof the GA in the Legacy comics is fighting for a democracy? We know how militarized it becomes in LOTF. And it is weird that they chose the name "Admiral Stazi" for their leader in hiding.)
  10. Jedimarine Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Feb 13, 2001
    star 5
    I think the core of Star Wars is good vs. evil...and if we can break the myth that these government systems are good or bad, all the better.

    The one thing I will give Del Rey immense credit for it how they have broken the myth that "democracy is always good, always triumphs in the end". Let's put the flags away...evil can lurk even in the good intentions of democracies...at the same time we do see examples of benevolent monarchs and autocrats...From Hapes to Fel.

    I hope to go to the next level...and see evil even within the Jedi Order...I think that will be fascinating beyond my level to comprehend at this moment.

    Star Wars best message when it comes to any of this is the vigilance of good...cause evil finds away into any situation, no matter how utopian it may appear.
  11. Ghost Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 2003
    star 6
    Well, for evil within the Jedi Order, we have the Jedi Covenant in the KOTOR comics.
  12. Jedimarine Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Feb 13, 2001
    star 5
    That's not really what I meant.

    I meant more a fundamental shift in the Jedi, openly, as they believe they are doing good, but have strayed into severity of action and domination in their words.

    This is much how I thought Lord Hoth's Jedi had become...though I think the severity of his behavior has been dulled.

    I'd like to see a Jedi inquisition...or watch them have to defend their behavior against innocents.

    Allow me to give you an example from an RPG I played...Old Republic Era...a team of 3 Jedi come to collect a infant quite gifted in the force. The Father is willing to surrender the child by the mother refuses and hides...the simple townspeople protect her and the infant from the Jedi and the Father...the Jedi feel the risk is too great for this child to be left in the hands of non-force sensitives...so they, humanely, break the townspeople's defenses and extract the child, force-wiping everyone's memory as they depart.

    As it eventually played out, that infant never became a knight, and later caused trouble with the few skills he was taught by the order.

    The moral intention may have been good, but the action wasn't, and the result played out in a way the Jedi didn't even consider when making their decision.

    How many other decisions like this before the Jedi have isolated their beliefs completely from the people of the galaxy.

    It's obvious that's where Jacen ended up in LOTF...I'm curious what would happen if that person or persons were LEADING the Jedi.

    Let's torch all the sacred cows...including the persistent "always good in the end" Jedi Order.
  13. Charlemagne19 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jul 30, 2000
    star 8
    Let's torch all the sacred cows...including the persistent "always good in the end" Jedi Order.

    We've had so many evil Jedi breakaway sects, I'd utterly not care.

    Evil Jedi Order=Dark Jedi.

    If there were Good Sith, they'd just be Jedi.
  14. BobaMatt TFN EU Staff

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    Member Since:
    Aug 19, 2002
    star 6
    Well, I think the "the light side, male ending is the canon one" sacred cow should be torched.
  15. Charlemagne19 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jul 30, 2000
    star 8
    Frankly, I still find it hilarious and head shaking that they made the Exile male only to have Zayne Carrick perfect for the role.

    They should do "Double player character" options like in Resident Evil. Maybe people would remember with folk like Claire Redfield and the like that people don't find female protagonists icky.
  16. BobaMatt TFN EU Staff

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    Aug 19, 2002
    star 6
    Not to mention the fact that the Male character's story was clearly intended to be the canon one in the first place.
  17. Robimus Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 6, 2007
    star 5
    Here's what Engel has to say:

    What is Communism?
    "Communism is the doctrine of the conditions for the emancipation of the proletariat."

    What is the prolectariat?
    "The proletariat is the class of society which procures its means of livelihood entirely and solely from the sale of labour and not from the profit derived from any capital....The proletariat, or class of prolectarians, is, in a word, the working class."

    What is the aim of the Communists?
    "To organize society in such a way that every member of it can develop and use all his capabilities and powers in complete freedom and without thereby infringing the basic conditions of this society"

    What way does the proletarian differ from the slave?

    "The slave is sold once and for all, the proletarian has to sell himself by the day and by the hour. The prolectarian is, so to speak, the slave of the entire bourgeois(social) class.
    Communism is the theory of liberation which was not possible for the slaves, the serfs, or the handicraftsmen"

    That in breif is Fredrick Engels take on Communism, quoted from the Communist Manifesto. It still seems like a form of goverment to me in simplistic terms. Communist Russia or Communist Yugoslavia were using communist ideals to run their goverments, as have many other country's around the world. So I call communism a form of goverment, it seems to be the simplest way to look at it though it is admittedly much more complex than that. Sid Meier's Civilization series calls it a form of goverment, thus so do I[face_dancing]

  18. Robimus Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 6, 2007
    star 5
    Or what? I'm admittedly not all that schooled on this subject, but I can speak on it, edumacational :) level aside . Feel free to correct me if I am mistaken. Last I checked I've done nothing against the forum rules.
  19. Quiet_Mandalorian Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 19, 2005
    star 5
    I still half-expect to see the female Exile thing circumvented in some way sooner or later.
  20. Rouge77 Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 11, 2005
    star 5
    Why?:confused: There's no reason for it and now several mentions of Exile's gender has been made IU, which then would be hard to explain afterwards if LFL would change the gender in the future.[face_plain]
  21. I-poodoo Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    May 1, 2001
    star 4
    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?

    I favor democracy myself, but in answer to your question they should show both democracy and Autocracy in both heroic and villianous lights as the story they're telling needs it.

    It's been my experience that one's political orientation does not reflect on whether you're a good or bad guy. That depends on the individual not the form of government he is in or swears allegiance to. However there is a certain amount of responsibility placed on that individual when he works for or advocates a government that acts villianously. Like when Palpy's Empire used the DS to blow up Alderaan. Sure Tarkin is rotting in heck for that, but every Imperial bears some small degree of the responsibility of that action.
  22. blackmyron Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 29, 2005
    star 5
    I would think that a harmonius, non-corrupt working system of government wherein the inhabitants were all satisfied would make for rather uninteresting stories. Not to say that it would be impossible...
  23. Charlemagne19 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jul 30, 2000
    star 8
    Well that depends if you believe that the government should be a chief source of conflict. It's sort of like saying that marriage is inherently boring, so that no protagonist should be married. However, a massive amount of conflict is often generated by attempting to protect that union and making it work.

    In say, the Legend of Zelda, you have Princess Zelda and her father being presumably noble and decent people in the government. It's a monarchy system but you could have Cal Omas or Princess Leia or whatever in charge of a Republican system. The sources of adventure would be protecting that union from exterior enemies or internal threats.
  24. Master_Starwalker Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 20, 2003
    star 6
    This is one of those "The EU shouldn't undermine the films." things.

    It would be doable, it would just require an external threat.

    Edit: Though, I think you could have a sect within the Order become Inquisitors(Jedi Shadows would be the best fit) and have the rest of Jedi fight to stop them.
  25. I-poodoo Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    May 1, 2001
    star 4
    I would think that a harmonius, non-corrupt working system of government wherein the inhabitants were all satisfied would make for rather uninteresting stories. Not to say that it would be impossible...

    Agreed, A story needs conflict like rockets need fuel, and nothing creates conflict more than politics...well nothing besides love.
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