CT How evil was the Galactic Empire?

Discussion in 'Classic Trilogy' started by Barkey Foreman, Apr 5, 2014.

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  1. DRush76 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 25, 2008
    star 4
    Is Lucas' idea of balance is the complete lack of evil? :rolleyes:
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  2. MOC Yak Face Moderator, Classic Trilogy

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    No. His idea of balance is when evil doesn't "take over".
  3. MOC Yak Face Moderator, Classic Trilogy

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    First, although I agree that an evil act doesn't necessarily make someone unequivocally evil, the reality is that a person is judged on their actions. The greater the number and scale of the evil deeds, the more likely a person will be considered evil.

    Secondly, Sidious' path to power. Even if the bribery and constitutional foul play etc doesn't constitute evil, how about the instigation of a totally unnecessary war which cost countless lives for the purposes of gaining absolute power? It might not be hurting people 'just for fun' but it is certainly sacrificing large number of lives, under false pretences, in order to achieve a position of power.

    Still not evil? You're a more generous judge than I. ;)
  4. CommanderDrenn Jedi Grand Master

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    Oct 19, 2013
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    All valid points. ^^
    I guess I am just a fan boy :p
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  5. MOC Yak Face Moderator, Classic Trilogy

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    Lol. All our opinions are equally valid. :)
  6. TX-20 Jedi Grand Master

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    Jun 21, 2013
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    Alderaan was asking for it.
  7. WindowsX Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    Apr 12, 2014
    These arguments always seem to get bogged down due to the core philosophical question: what is evil? We need to establish this first before we can continue, because we cannot establish whether or not the Empire fits the definition of "evil" unless we define "evil" first.

    But let's not get bogged down into the philosophy of moral relativism and utilitarianism and all that. Let's just take Hitler as a baseline, because I'm sure that all of us can agree that Hitler was evil. Put simply, he created a lot of sadness in others for personal happiness. aka he killed a lot of people for his own benefit.

    With Hitler as our baseline, let's look at Palpatine. Killed a lot of people, just like Hitler. Did so out of abuse of and thirst for power. Just like Hitler. Palpatine = evil.

    Tarkin. Killed a lot of people, just like Hitler. Did so out of abuse of and thirst for poewr. Just like Hitler. Tarkin = evil.

    How is this even debatable?

    This is where someone will try to bring in utilitarianism and argue that such actions were done for the "greater good". Palpatine killed a lot of people to ensure peace and stability. Tarkin killed an entire planet to save solar systems. So they're not evil, right?

    But that's not how utilitarianism works. Utilitarianism doesn't just mean "choose anything but the worst option", it means "choose the best option".

    For example, I'm sure we've all heard of the famous "push a guy in front of a train to save 5 others" scenario. It's a pretty ridiculous scenario - I think the way it happens is if you push a guy off a bridge onto a lever, his dead body will switch the tracks to avoid five people who cannot otherwise avoid the train. There are arguments on both sides about the right thing to do, but let's say it's not just one guy on the bridge but four. If pushing one guy to stop the train would work, and you pushed one guy, killing him, is that evil? Probably not. But what if you pushed four guys off the bridge, killing them all, when only one would have sufficed? It doesn't matter that you ended up saving five other people. It doesn't matter that more people "lived" than "died". You had a choice to save a net total of four people but instead picked the choice to save a net total of one person. This kind of overkill could definitely qualify as evil.

    Let's look at Tarkin. If his only two choices were: a) blow up Alderaan, killing its entire population and b) don't blow up Alderaan and lose many more beings, then fine, maybe what he did wasn't evil.

    But those weren't the only two choices. First of all, it's not even a fact that all those people in other solar systems would have died if Alderaan hadn't been blown up. But let's say it's true, that citizens of the Empire were at risk due to the growing threat of rebellion. There are many, many, many different options of confronting the threat of rebellion that don't involve instantly murdering about two billion people. Same for Palpatine - there are many, many, many different options for creating peace and stability that don't involve triggering a massive war to justify an oppressive regime.

    Tarkin = evil. Palpatine = evil.

    Another point - does committing an act of evil automatically make one evil? Maybe not, but if the balance of their evil acts outweighs that of their good acts, then yes, they are evil.

    I respect everyone's opinions, but I don't quite agree that they are all equally valid. But this can be a tricky subject.
    Last edited by WindowsX, Apr 14, 2014
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  8. Tornado Wrangler Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 22, 2013
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    Could he have just killed the leader of the planet then? Even today, we don't kill all the civilians of a nation we're at war with.

    So with the idea that people can do evil things without being evil themselves . . . where do you draw the line between doing evil and being evil? Is it just how much or how often they do evil things?

    One thing a few people have expressed, which I just don't understand, is the idea that if you do bad things for a reason or purpose, it's not evil. To me, hurting others for the fun of it is psychopathy, not just evilness. I would argue that most evil acts by governments in our history was done for a purpose, sometimes even for a "greater good."

    The set-up for the movie states that Liea is trying to "restore freedom to the galaxy." That would imply that the galaxy was at that time not free. We can't be sure what "freedom" means in this case. As I stated before, people probably had local freedoms, but when he Empire came calling, they were forced to comply with any and all demands without a say in it. In the EU, all i know is that the Empire enslaved the Wookies, and had a conspiracy to keep the Nogri's world poisoned to keep them serving the Empire. I haven't read enough Empire-era EU to know more.

    Also, a stated "rule by fear" policy is immoral enough to me. Do what we say or your planet will be destroyed. It's not going to make for a free society.

    Now, one can hardly debate the morality of slavery. I do think it's somewhat hypocratic to apply today's morality on past generations, or even other societies. If someone wasn't generally considered evil in their time and place, we shouldn't judge them by our standards. However, we already know from EP1, that the Republic had anti-slavery laws, and Padme, a well educated politician, didn't even know slavery still existed in the galaxy. So, it's safe to assume that most in that time and place considered it immoral. We can't apply our morals on a fictional world, but we can apply their own morals on it.


    No offense. This is all for fun!
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  9. Cushing's Admirer Force Ghost

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    Jun 8, 2006
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    Scaling is part of the very problem it's a justification. For some the fact a person does wrong acts doesn't make them unredeemably evil. Like for me. For me, no physical sapient is beyond the possibility of redemption and that *includes* Tarkin and Sidious. It may well be GL's intention to make everyone believe they are beyond redemption and the Empire's evil and must be destroyed. It does NOT mean all of us are required to read it that way.
    Last edited by Cushing's Admirer, Apr 14, 2014
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  10. MOC Yak Face Moderator, Classic Trilogy

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    I don't think being evil and being redeemable are mutually exclusive. If Vader's redeemable, so, perhaps, are Sidious and Tarkin. It just so happened that they died before they reached that point.
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  11. darth-sinister Manager Emeritus

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    Uh, yeah, Death Star blows you up. Trading freedoms for security through manipulation is not a good thing. I suggest you read up on your world history starting with Germany in the 30's and 40's.

    Clearly. :p

    So you think that Hitler, bin Laden and Manson were or are redeemable?
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  12. Cushing's Admirer Force Ghost

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    Jun 8, 2006
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    Sinister: Yes, I believe God will offer *all* the opportunity of redemption. As I said, it's not my place to condemn people. I condemn bad actions not those that commit them. I am not Judge.
  13. darth-sinister Manager Emeritus

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    But there's a fundamental difference, those three are real men. Tarkin and Sidious, not so much. You're supposed to judge them. That's part of the point of art.
  14. DARTHLINK Force Ghost

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    Feb 24, 2005
    star 3
    + Having a racist ideology of human supremacy, enslaving all the non-humans.

    + Torture/murder/general "FEAR ME" the Empire was doing.

    + Using their Death Star to blow up a planet.

    + Numerous other atrocities I don't even know of.

    Oh they were evil, no doubt. Palpatine made Hitler look like a spoiled, rich bully at the playground.
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  15. Sarge Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 4, 1998
    star 4
    "By their fruits ye shall know them." What fruits have we seen Tarkin bear? 2 billion murders. Ouch.

    Could Tarkin have been redeemed, possibly by some kind of death bed repentance? Yes. Did we see any sign of that in the movie? No. I'm sure GL's intent was for us to see him die unrepentant. It's not my place to judge his life, but I can tell you what the judgment must be, given what we've seen onscreen.
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  16. CommanderDrenn Jedi Grand Master

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    Oct 19, 2013
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    I already know a lot about history. I just don't think we're getting the full story in Star Wars. Going off solely what we see in the films, then yes, the Empire is at least mostly evil.

    He already has. See: Jesus :)
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  17. WindowsX Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    Apr 12, 2014

    I agree. As you say, Vader was definitely evil, but he had a small moment of atonement at the end that changed his character. Sidious and Tarkin never repented, and so, yes, they remained evil till the end.
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  18. Cushing's Admirer Force Ghost

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    They never were given the chance. It doesn't mean they were beyond hope.
  19. TX-20 Jedi Grand Master

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    Anakin is the Jesus of Star Wars. He murdered children, choked his pregnant wife unconscious, participated in the genocide of the holy people, and was redeemed when he killed an elder.

    Heroes on Both Sides. Allegories are everywhere.
  20. darth-sinister Manager Emeritus

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    Jun 28, 2001
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    Some people are beyond hope. Some people just want to watch the world burn.

    No, he was just a man who had a simple destiny to fulfill and he opted to forsake it in favor of his own selfish desires.
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  21. MOC Yak Face Moderator, Classic Trilogy

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    I'd say if Vader's soul can be salvaged, anyone's can.
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  22. darth-sinister Manager Emeritus

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    Anakin was salvageable because he didn't want to be evil. He made a series of bad decisions and thought he wasn't worthy of said redemption. Luke had to prove to him that he was which he did with his own sacrifice. Palpatine, on the other hand, was raised as a Sith from day one. He's never known a life of true conscience. He has never loved anyone other than himself and power. He doesn't understand compassion and selflessness. These things are weaknesses in one who wishes to be a Sith.
  23. MOC Yak Face Moderator, Classic Trilogy

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    Sidious would obviously be the ultimate test case for the 'anyone is redeemable' theory. As for Anakin... Didn't want to be evil? Really? People often believe that they have legitimate and right motives for their actions, but their actions are evil nonetheless, and people are defined by and judged on their actions.

    If we transposed Anakin's actions into a planet Earthly context, say Word War II, we'd be describing one of the evilest people ever to walk the Earth. Imagine an Allied General who betrayed and slaughtered those he'd fought alongside in the war in order to help Hitler take control of the World and then help him rule it with an iron fist for twenty odd years.
    Last edited by MOC Yak Face, Apr 16, 2014
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  24. TX-20 Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 21, 2013
    star 3
    Anakin might not want to be evil, but he certainly didn't want to be good either.
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  25. DARTHLINK Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Feb 24, 2005
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    That's the problem I have with Anakin's redemption. What, he's suddenly a good guy because he chucked Emperor Palpatine down a hole? Let's say in the middle of WWII, a Nazi decided to save a Jewish child by smuggling him/her to the UK. Keep in mind that this man would have been responsible for numerous atrocities before deciding to 'pet the dog' as TV Tropes would say. So what would you say then? Is he suddenly a hero among heroes because for once he decided to be decent? Because he decided to forsake everything, even his life, so one little child would survive?

    Look, I'm all for redemption, I'd take my childhood bully out for a drink of beer and pool if I found him again and saw that he's changed. The thing is, if you had spent 20+ years being demonstrably evil, randomly saving a young man, or a little child isn't going to make you Jesus Christ. Sometimes, even if you die in the process, you can't be redeemed because your evil far outweighs the good. Way I see it, redemption is on an individual basis. If Luke Skywalker/that little child in my example wants to think "Yeah, you're redeemed now" to the guy who just got himself killed trying to save them, then that's their business, their right. Me? I would disagree. Maybe he wasn't a total psychotic monster, but if he really wanted to redeem himself, he would've tried to keep himself alive so he can keep doing what he can to make up for what he's done, if that's even possible. Some evils are just too great. Even if the hypothetical Nazi in my example saved an entire orphanage of blind Romanian children, it still wouldn't erase his past.
    Last edited by DARTHLINK, Apr 17, 2014
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