April 12, 2012

Horse 1318 - Long Live The Galactic Empire

Episode IV
It is a period of civil war. Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire.
During the battle, Rebel spies managed to steal secret plans to the Empire's ultimate weapon, the DEATH STAR, an armored space station with enough power to destroy an entire planet.

Pursued by the Empire's sinister agents, Princess Leia races home aboard her starship, custodian of the stolen plans that can save her people and restore freedom to the galaxy....

Reading this as a small child (I was born one year after Star Wars Episode 4 came out, in 1978), the lines about who the viewer should support in this film are heavy-handedly and explicitly stated right at the beginning. These are the bad guys, these are the good guys; there you go; and everyone is supposed to be happy about it.
Looking back on this now, I think that this opening blurb and indeed the whole Star Wars saga is little more than revisionist propaganda. The Empire itself is described in so called "official media" as one based on "tyranny, hatred of nonhumans, brutal and lethal force, and, above all else, constant fear." Is this truly the case though?

The Galactic Empire was born out of the conflict between the Old Republic and the Confederacy of Independent Systems. As the Republic decends into what amounts into anarchy, Chancellor Palpatine is given a set of emergency powers which in due time he does not return to the Senate.
It should be noted that although the Old Republic and indeed the Senate is democratic, it would appear that it is tied up in so many layers of bureaucracy as to render it totally incapable of being fit for purpose; hence the reason why the Civil War breaks out in the first place.

Largely due to the fact that the "Star Wars" saga is told through the eyes of an unreliable narrator, they only seem to focus on attempts to destroy the Empire and not on the Empire's feats in civil construction, sciences, the arts et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. The problem of how to communicate across distances of light-years for instance, must have been solved in this period but even a small thing like this is passe and unremarkable in this universe.

The mere existence of a vast fleet of spaceships indicates that the metals and other raw materials which are used to make them are being mined, smelted and refined; this would indicate an equally vast chain of mining, manufacturing, services industries required to produce such things, however this is never touched upon. Also I can't imagine that the entire population of the Empire is all currently serving in the military. Assuming that military personnel account for only a small portion of the Emipre's population, then there must be a multitude of people living within its territory; not once throughout the Star Wars saga do we ever hear anything about issues of overcrowding, poverty, healthcare or education. If these subjects are never touched upon then are we to assume that it's simply not an issue and that the Empire is for the most part a largely civil "country"? If it was a problem, then I'd assume that a party which is interested in painting the Empire as horrid place would do so for all it's worth but this never happens; instead the Empire is shown up in the films as a rather egalitarian society with trade between all sectors and places under its protection.
Coruscant itself is described by Pollux Hax as a "An incandescent organ of life, visibly vibrating with the pulses of billions"; indeed the population of Coruscant and the Core Worlds is said to be more than 1 trillion permanent ground residents. It also seems to have solved its problems of recycling, and waste disposal because it recycles most packaging and clothing, reclaiming oils and greases and incinerates the rest in its sun.

Under the rule of Emporer Palpatine, within the The Galactic Empire there is effective governance and it also appears that there is effective and efficient taxation and industry. However when I sent a  tweet to the ATO to establish their position they replied in decidedly non-standard English which is one of the hallmarks of one of the co-conspirators in this, Yoda:
Admittedly Sol III or what we call "Earth" is a somewhat backwards planet orbiting an equally pathetic G2V class yellow dwarf, upon which humanoids haven't even developed anything much more beyond chemcial-based rocketry; so I'd expect that it should be relatively easy to fool the population through entertainments like moving pictures.

I also have distinct problems with the reportage of the destruction of Alderaan. Firstly Emporer Palpatine expresses deep regret for its destruction which seems out of character for someone who supposedly does not care.
Secondly, Ben Kenobe says that he "felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced." This poses a distinct problem. We are told elsewhere that Alderaan has more than 2 billion inhabitants and that most of them were "evacuated". This sounds to me as though the planet had been scheduled for renovation and that proper planning and an environmental impact studies had been made. However, only Kenobe ever reports this and again, why should be believe a propagandist as reliable; especially when he's not even a witness?
Thirdly, Govenor Tarkin reports that "The regional governors now have direct control over their territories" which at very least suggests a more decentralised government, which is not what you'd expect for a supposedly totalitarian society.
Actually I suspect that Alderaan was subject to a demolition order for mining purposes and that all the planning charts and demolition orders were on display at the local planning department in Cloud City, Bespin; so in all honesty they probably had plenty of time to lodge any formal complaints and it was far too late to start making a fuss about it after the event.
Alderaan even went so far as to "persuade" the weapons inspectors of the Galactic Republic to ignore the arming of their one-time cargo craft, through bribery.
Given this right at the beginning of Episode IV which isn't even the first episode and even that suggests retroactive continuity rewrites, I just don't think that the events as depicted in "Star Wars" are accurate.

Besides which, the Empire has better looking uniforms and a more rigorous discipline code. Granted that the training to teach Stormtroopers how to shoot straight probably isn't up to par but that's a relatively minor concern. The Empire also has the best national anthem... ever. The "Imperial March" makes "God Save the Queen" seem dreary and "La Marseillaise" quiver in its majesty. I'd be happy to walk into an Olympic Stadium with that going, wouldn't you?

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