Star Wars and Philosophy: More Powerful Than You Can Possibly Imagine

By Kevin S. Decker; Jason T. Eberl | Go to book overview

14
By Any Means Necessary:
Tyranny, Democracy,
Republic, and Empire

KEVIN S. DECKER

Palpatine—the weasel-like Senator from Naboo, the rapidly wrinkling Supreme Chancellor, and ultimately the cackling, loathsome Emperor—is reviled universally by fans as the epitome of evil. Still, you've got to give him credit for his political savvy. After all, Palpatine's career is a textbook case in how the unceasing desire for power can change something like democracy, or rule by the many, into a tyrannical dictatorship. Using the constant threat posed by the Dark Side of the Force, the Sith—Palpatine and his protege, Darth Vader—use the hyper-technological Imperial military to keep iron-fisted, monochromatic control over the galaxy. How different this vision is from the diverse and colorful, if conflicted, Old Republic of the prequel trilogy!

This same kind of political one-hundred-eighty degree turn has occurred in human history, too. Politicians, political scientists and theorists over many centuries have grappled with how this could have happened, in most cases in order to prevent it from happening again. But the story of the road to tyranny isn',t just of historical interest, even though democracy and tyranny date back to ancient Greece. It also embroils us in heady debates of today about the source of political authority, whether the needed expertise of politicians is a good trade-off against the possibility of their corruption, and how much power can safely be concentrated in the hands of a few.

These arguments often boil down to the question of who rules versus who should rule. This isn',t an easy question, because it presumes that we've settled on what kind of govern

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