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Is the Empire the real good guys?

Discussion in 'Star Wars Saga In-Depth' started by shoney, Dec 14, 2006.

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  1. Master_Starwalker

    Master_Starwalker Manager Emeritus star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

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    Luke's a hero because the government he fought was pure evil and he was fighting for altruistic reasons. There's also the whole reality vs. fiction thing that Jamie brought up.
     
  2. WhiteKnight

    WhiteKnight Jedi Grand Master star 1

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    Dec 31, 2002
    The thing is, if McVeigh was fictional, we'd still look at him as evil. Likewise, if Luke were somehow real, he'd be looked over as a hero. It all matters who wins. America's Founding Fathers were rebels. Overthrough a legal goverment, and probably unintentially killed many, many innocents in the process. Colateral damage. If the Founders had lost and the British still controlled the US, we'd be reading about how there was a terrorist movement in the 1770's and how the good guys prevailed.
     
  3. WhiteKnight

    WhiteKnight Jedi Grand Master star 1

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    Dec 31, 2002
    No such thing as good and evil, it's all in the eye of the beholder. McVeigh fought what he believe was a intrusive government on its way to fascism. The way things turned out in the US (with the Patriot Act and unneccessary wars), his predictions worry me.
     
  4. Master_Starwalker

    Master_Starwalker Manager Emeritus star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

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    In reality, yes. In Star Wars, no.
     
  5. Jamiebacca

    Jamiebacca Jedi Padawan star 4

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    Jun 17, 2003

    Sorry, you're wrong.

    Good vs. evil is very, very prevalent in the Star Wars saga and many other series, tales, and lore of the past.

    It's a quintessential story-telling element. You can take your post-modern ambiguity, your flawed heroes, your sympathetic villians, and all the poilitical or ideological dogma you want and intellectually fake your way through time and space and back again.

    But the long and short of it is, there is good, and there is evil.
    In Star Wars, one could say that the Evil Galactic Empire is evil, which would be correct. On that note, The Rebels are the good guys in Star Wars Land.

    Empire Bad, Rebels Good.
     
  6. lowbacca_solo_choice

    lowbacca_solo_choice Jedi Youngling star 1

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    May 31, 2007
    I like to be the Empire in th Star Wars games but...[face_thinking] All in all I hate Empire.
     
  7. TaradosGon

    TaradosGon Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

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    Evil is a concept that can be defined in many ways. Which are we going by here? Is the Empire evil? Not to Palpatine. In the commentaries Lucas even states that Palpatine believed that his rule was going to end corruption and restore peace and stability to the Universe. Palpatine saw himself as good, just as Hitler saw himself as good. One definition of evil simply states that to cause harm is to be evil. Did the empire cause harm? Yes. So in that sense it is evil, but to people like Stalin, Palpatine, Hitler, it is a necessary evil to achieve their ends, which they see as good. And if we are to look at evil in this light, every single nation has caused harm on another, every nation is evil to an extent, just as every nation is good to an extent, there are just degrees of both.

    A second definition of evil as an adjective simply has it as a state of being angry. The Sith clearly use their anger, which makes them evil by this definition. But anger is not inherently a bad thing. The Empire hated the rebels just as Luke and the rebels hate the Empire.

    The last, most commonly used definition of evil is in reference to a violation of morality. But morales vary from civilization to civilization. Generally, only those that believe that morality is passed down to man by a God see morality as transcending humanity. Perhaps with the force as a supernatural entity in Star Wars, the Jedi and rebels felt that the Sith and Empire violated some supernatural set of laws in the Universe. But from a secular perspective, morales are a thing created by humans and thus evil, just as Palpatine had said, "is a point of view."
     
  8. WhiteKnight

    WhiteKnight Jedi Grand Master star 1

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    Dec 31, 2002
    I'm not wrong, it's just that Lucas told the story from a very slanted angle. He didn't let us decide, he made us believe they were the bad guys.
     
  9. WhiteKnight

    WhiteKnight Jedi Grand Master star 1

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    Dec 31, 2002
    Blowing up the legal government's Death Star caused plenty harm. Is that Evil? Luke was probably on the terrorist most wanted list and broke tons of laws. Was that evil? I wouldn't compare Palpatine with Hitler or Stalin. Palpatine didn't kill you for who you were. He wanted to restore order to the galaxy. So he was a dictator. We'd all be if we could, it's the ultimate job.
     
  10. Arawn_Fenn

    Arawn_Fenn Chosen One star 7

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    Jul 2, 2004
    Speak for yourself. Not everyone is into power.

    Oh wait, I forgot, "Everyone is the same". Right.
     
  11. Master_Starwalker

    Master_Starwalker Manager Emeritus star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

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    Nope, Luke and the Rebellion did that to prevent other star systems from meeting Alderaan's fate.

    Nope, rebelling against an evil government is a heroic action.

    Tell that to the people of Alderaan and the Jedi. They also tortured people just to get someone else's attention.

    I just find it sad that so many people can't see that what the Empire did was wrong.
     
  12. Arawn_Fenn

    Arawn_Fenn Chosen One star 7

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    Jul 2, 2004
    Well, you're not the only one, but it doesn't seem like we're going to get anywhere arguing with them.
     
  13. TaradosGon

    TaradosGon Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

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    Feb 28, 2003
    Perhaps, but the label of the government as evil in the first place is subject to your own perspective. If you asked me if Palpatine's Empire was evil, then I would say yes. But that answer is also subject to my point of view. To an individual that benefited from the Empire in the Star Wars Universe are the rebels going to be seen as good? No. The Empire probably felt justified in blowing up Alderaan in the belief that it would be better in the long run in that no future planets would rebel, the war would end, and order would be restored with no future loss of life. And for the record, I'm not saying that this is my own personal view.
     
  14. Master_Starwalker

    Master_Starwalker Manager Emeritus star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

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    And in the real world I think it's a valid argument(barring a few historic examples) however in Star Wars I don't think it is at all. The people who benefitted from Imperial rule may believe it to be good and the Empire may believe they were justified, however they're simply wrong.
     
  15. TaradosGon

    TaradosGon Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

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    Feb 28, 2003
    How is it "simple"? Look at arguments relating to the U.S's use of nuclear weapons against Japan. Some historians argue that, while incredibly destructive, it facilitated the end of the war and prevented the far greater destruction that may (or may not) have resulted from an American or Soviet invasion or the establishment of a Communist regime. Others argue that it was simply atrocious because the Japanese had intended to surrender any way. Perhaps the use of the Death Star was seen as the equivalent of nukes in a galaxy far, far away. Yes, with the destruction of Alderaan many innocents would die (as happens in all modern wars, and happened with indiscriminate carpet bombings and the use of nukes) but it could have been seen as a better alternative to a long drawn out war. I would hardly say it is "simple" the answer isn't black and white IMO.
     
  16. Ghost

    Ghost Chosen One star 7

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    Oct 13, 2003
    But Alderaan wasn't like Japan in World War II, but more like Switzerland. They were innocent, they had no weapons. It was destroyed as a demonstration to the galaxy of how powerful the Empire was, to be able to destroy one of the most influential core worlds for no reason. That is EVIL. Evil is valuing power and domination over diversity, harmony, freedom, life.
     
  17. Master_Starwalker

    Master_Starwalker Manager Emeritus star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

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    I definitely think it's not in regards to the US and Japan. I just think the parallel isn't there because as Darth-Ghost points out Alderaan was peaceful and had no weapons. Tarkin was motivated by his lust for power and his belief in rule by fear.

    The reason it's simple is that Star Wars was conceived as a universe with absolute morality where the Rebellion is good and the Empire's bad. Lucas made this clear back in an interview from 2005(in otherwords post-RotS so it's still his intention even after the trilogy that has been said to be far more relativist)

    "It's the more old-fashioned version of good and evil -- the version that those of us who grew up in the '40s and '50s had, when there was a strong sense of good and evil because of World War II. That's one of the few times in history when the bad guys were very clearly delineated for us. There really was a fight for survival going on between pretty clearly good guys and bad guys. The story being told in Star Wars is a classic one. Every few hundred years, the story is retold because we have a tendency to do the same things over and over again. Power corrupts, and when you're in charge, you start doing things that you think are right, but they're actually not."

    It's worth remembering that Lucas based the Empire off of Nazi Germany in many ways from their soldiers being stormtroopers, to their belief that uniformity is superior to diversity, their Emperor's rising to power under the pre-text of an event he created(in some ways the 'Jedi Rebellion' is Palpatine's Reichstag) and to the heavy use of red, black, and white in Imperial aesthetics. It's also got the hinted racism when the Imperial officer in Star Wars(ANH) calls Chewbacca "this...thing."
     
  18. Arawn_Fenn

    Arawn_Fenn Chosen One star 7

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    Jul 2, 2004
    Somewhere in the ESB commentary he calls them Nazis, it's kind of like he went into Indy mode for a moment.
     
  19. TaradosGon

    TaradosGon Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

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    The point of the Japan comparison, is that the anti-nuke arguments basically consists of claims that Japan was on the verge of surrender anyway. In which case the US wasn't nuking a hostile and dangerous enemy anymore, but rather an entity that was going to roll over. And one major component in pro-nuke arguments is that the US used them, not because of fear of Japan, but because of what the soviets might do to it; it was more of a coup de grace. Again, I am not trying to spark a debate on the issue of nukes. I could be mistaken, but didn't Alderaan largely support the Rebellion? If everyone on the planet was a loyalist, then you'd think Tarkin wouldn't destroy it. Lucas invokes images that resemble Nazi Germany because that is often seen as pretty much the apex of human evil. But Nazis did not start war with the rest of Europe, just because. The Nazi regime moved to annex much of Europe because during that time, the end of colonialism, that was seen as the determinant of prestige. The rest of Europe had been doing it for close to 100 years, only in WWII Europe began to turn upon itself instead of expanding into other continents. It is western ethnocentrism I think that made WWII seem like such an atrocity, while colonialism elsewhere pretty much went on with relatively little western resistance. The Holocaust is something else all together, and I'm going to omit discussion on it since it went largely unknown until the end of WWII and it is only superficially similar to events in Star Wars, and that's a stretch.

    But perhaps instead of only focusing on whether or not the Empire is evil, we should also look at whether or not the Rebellion was good. In the American Civil war there were abolitionists. There were those that peacefully protested, and there were those like John Brown that showed no quarter to slave owners and executed them without trial. Is that good? After the Civil War there were abolitionists that called for the borders of the Southern States to be redrawn, with all former slave owners losing all civil rights, and establishing military governments to rule the South, ultimately this idea was shot down, but would such action have been good? Weapons like the Death Star existed to suppress opposition like the rebellion. Were raids and attacks on the Empire which could inadvertently drag innocents into the fray (like how in Lebanon militants have launched attacks on Israelis from urban areas or in French colonial Algeria when rebels would blow up French cafes full of civilians) good, even if done against a tyrannical government?

    Lucas can't tell you what to think. If someone can see the logic behind an action of the Empire, they aren't wrong by default.

    So basically what he's saying is "you think that evil is relative, but it isn't." Which is silly to me; that's his own point of view, e.g. relative.
     
  20. Darthdias

    Darthdias Jedi Youngling star 3

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    Aug 12, 2004
    Alderaanians had no weapons themselves, but I'm almost positive that the Empire had the planet firmly in its grasp and that they had an armed presence there. It wouldn't be much of a totalitarian regime if it didn't IMO, considering Alderaan's status. In other words, Alderaan was already in imperial control and Tarkin could have deposed Bail Organa with one snap of his fingers. To blow it up was completely unwaranted.

    I agree with those that say that Star Wars morality really is very simple. It's fairy tale good versus bad. You don't question that the witch in snowhite is evil, she just is. The same goes for Sauron or Palpatine or other characters in these fantasy adventures. The villians simply are evil. In a way it's a bit comforting in contrast to the moral relativity of the real world.
     
  21. Master_Starwalker

    Master_Starwalker Manager Emeritus star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

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    It's certainly a possibility given that Leia and Bail both were pro-Jedi, however I don't know that the government of Alderaan had ever made treasonus actions as a whole. The general impression of Alderaan I got from what Lucas has said on it and some of the EU(noting because it's entirely dismissable given the forum) is that Alderaan doesn't so much have a single position, but that it's a fiercely democratic planet in that Bail allowed protests etc. However, this means that if Tarkin wants to send the message that if you dissent you will be destroyed, Alderaan's one of the best targets because they've only been peaceful.

    Of course, I think he's evil but he's still not stupid.

    I just think the fact that he's trying to evoke the Empire is possibly either a hint at a greater evil within the Empire that we don't see, or simply that they're supposed to be evil and something that needs to be brought down.

    Yeah, I don't think there's a holocaust equivalent at least in the films, there's one that is distantly similar in the EU.

    No, but knowing the intent can be helpful.

    I'd argue that given that it's a fictional universe so it's arguable that that not every argument about it is a valid one.

    I took it more like "those who are evil believe they're not" which is the same thing I suppose overall.

     
  22. Connant

    Connant Jedi Youngling star 1

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    Aug 22, 2007
    I don't think the basic concept of the Empire itself was evil, but rather the way it was carried out and by whom are what made it that way. Let's turn the Star Wars Universe on its head and pretend that the Galactic Empire had stood for 25,000 years when a corrupt Emperor inherited power and turned it into a Galactic Republic. A Republic that was controlled by a senate filled with thousands of his corrupt supporters... I'm quite certain that corrupt and greedy republic would be just as evil as totalitarian Empire. The only difference is things might even be a little more chaotic and disjointed in parts. Perhaps people would have more freedom as a result but they'd still probably be powerless.

    If the Empire's first ruler had been say, a Light-side Jedi then maybe the Galaxy would have entered into a stable age of peace? If the Empire had allowed personal freedom and instead directed its power at bringing an end to space pirates, slave traders, and other galactic criminals then they'd have been the good guys. If they'd done that they'd have probably never had any need for a Death Star or a Sun Crusher.

    No system of government is perfect and if there is any one universal truth that holds to all of them it is that corruption is inevitable and it will always bring about that system's downfall.

    Edit:

    I think that if I were a person inhabiting the Star Wars universe it is very possible that I'd be someone who would willingly join the Empire, at first, only to eventually grow disillusioned due to the senseless and (in my opinion) useless and ultimately counter-productive violence. Sooner or later I'd have to jump ship and join the Rebellion. After that though I'd probably remain wary of the New Republic until it had proved that its new founders had learned from the mistakes of old.
     
  23. Kevin_Solo

    Kevin_Solo Jedi Knight star 2

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    Jun 22, 2007
    The question of whether people in the Galactic Empire think that regime is good or evil is discussed in detail on a very interesting website:

    www.domuspublica.net/index.html.

    The site is that of Julius Sykes, an amateur artist and writer, who, among other things, looks at the Galactic Empire. One essay is, in particular, well worth a read:

    'Leviathan: Civil Life, the Rebellion, and the Apotheosis of Palpatine'

    Here are a couple of quotes from it. The author believes that the Empire is more popular than what we see on the big screen:

    For the most part, life in the Empire is not a constant terror, but is rather characterized by cleanliness, neatness, and orderliness, in keeping with the Empire?s ideals of unity, stability, conformity, and security (or, as in the Galactic Emperor?s first Speech from the Throne, ?safety, security, justice, and peace?). Provided that one pays one?s taxes, obeys the laws, and doesn?t attract unnecessary attention to oneself, one has nothing to fear from the State. One is under constant surveillance and scrutiny, but this is mostly passive and generally does not actually interfere with one?s life, except when one is a State employee. Although Imperial law is rather draconian in many respects, one certainly isn?t obligated to watch the Execution Channel (mentioned by the 'Han Solo and the Corporate Sector Sourcebook').

    This comfortable, insulated life would very likely predispose most Imperial citizens to be at least passive supporters of Imperial rule, especially when the alternative is perceived as being the chaos, violence, and disorder of the Clone Wars. Furthermore, the
    popular conception of the Galactic Emperor as a beloved elder statesman, the heroic and noble statesman who brought order and stability to the galaxy and ended the horrors of the Clone Wars, makes it possible to resent Imperial government but still have a
    strong sense of loyalty to the Empire itself, as embodied by the Galactic Emperor. The Galactic Emperor deliberately took advantage of this by divorcing his person from the day-to-day operations of the Imperial State; instead, actual government of the Empire was handled by de facto regents like Ars Dangor before the Battle of Yavin and the Grand Vizier around the time of the Battle of Hoth, according to the 'Death Star Technical Companion' and the 'Dark Empire Sourcebook'. Indeed, in 'Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Skywalker', First Mate Biggs Darklighter, a recently commissioned officer of the merchant marine, explained to his friend Luke Skywalker why he had joined the Rebellion by saying ?the Empire may have been great and beautiful once, but the people in charge now ? ?; rather than blaming the revered Galactic Emperor for Imperial viciousness and brutality, much of the citizenry (like Darklighter), would instead tend to blame the Moff Governors, Government ministers, and other political leaders.


    ****

    If the general population of the Galactic Empire lives on the Mussolinified worlds and has at least a passive acceptance of Imperial rule, what of the rebel Alliance to Restore the Republic? How much popular support does this revolutionary movement actually enjoy among the majority? In all likelihood, relative to the total population of the galaxy, the rebel Alliance probably had very little actual popular support. As already noted, popular support for the rebel Alliance tended to weaken relative to proximity to the Core. Indeed, because of the Imperial State?s monopoly on the HoloNet and probable tight regulation of subspace communications networks, Hextrophon himself admits in the 'Rebel Alliance Sourcebook, Second Edition '(a document that notionally corresponds to part of his 'The Official History of the Rebellion, Volume One', the authorized history of the rebel Alliance itself) that Imperial propagandists were generally successful at portraying the Rebellion as ?pirates, criminals, and anarchists, intent upon overthrowing the Empire for personal gain.?

     
  24. Master_Starwalker

    Master_Starwalker Manager Emeritus star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

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    Does it matter what the Empire thinks of the Rebellion given that we know from the opening crawl of Jedi that they're "struggling to restore freedom to the galaxy..." and from the crawl of A New Hope that it's the "evil Galactic Empire."
     
  25. DarthBoba

    DarthBoba Manager Emeritus star 9 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

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    Jun 29, 2000
    9 months and 20-odd days later, all signs still point to the Empire indeed being the bad guys. :p
     
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