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Star Wars: Corrupt Powers

In a galaxy far, far away, a supreme chancellor existed who wanted authority over the entire universe. To do so, he extinguished all the Jedi masters who posed a threat to his political rise. This supreme chancellor is the darkness that destroyed democracy. Democracy dies in darkness. This political figure, chancellor Palpatine, wanted the republic to die off so that a Galactic Empire could rise and induce psychological terror on its citizens. He possessed a closed-minded philosophy that power and confinement led to a safe and secure society. During the Galactic Senate meeting, Emperor Palpatine proclaimed “To ensure the security and continuing stability, the Republic will be reorganized into the first Galactic Empire! For a safe, and secure, society!” Senator Amidala responded after the crowd gave a rapturous applause to Emperor Palpatine reign of terror. Senator Amidala emphatically proclaimed, “This is how liberty dies with thunderous applause!” The New York Times Film Critic A.O. Scott proclaimed, “Padmé observes as senators, their fears and dreams of glory deftly manipulated by Palpatine, vote to give him sweeping new powers.” Senator Amidala had this philosophy that basically, every law slowly erodes our individual liberties especially the reconstruction of the republic to a galactic Empire. To understand the Star Wars Prequel Trilogy, the idea of liberty needs to be sorted into four crucial questions: why did George Lucas write the prequel trilogy? what are Senator Amidala and Anakin Skywalker’s view on liberty? why does liberty matter? is it worth fighting for?”

First, why did George Lucas write the prequel trilogy? The New York Times had a hypothesis that Chicago Tribune did an interview with George Lucas. George Lucas is the creator and executive producer of Star Wars. George Lucas reported to Chicago Tribune on why he created Star Wars. George Lucas Stated, “It was really about the Vietnam War, and that was the period where Nixon was trying to run for a [second] term, which got me to thinking historically how democracies get turned into dictatorships?” (Mark Caro, 2005, Para. 3). Lucas continued, “Because the democracies aren’t overthrown; they are given away” (Mark Caro, 2005, Para. 3). This is leading to the climactic moment of “The Revenge of The Sith.” The Parallels between “The Revenge of the Sith” and Hitler’s reign is not coincidental. Chicago Tribune noted, “In ‘Revenge of the Sith,’ Chancellor Palpatine exploits war fears to turn the Republic into an Empire ruled by him alone. As Senator Padme, played by Natalie Portman, watches Palpatine consolidate his power amid a rapturous senate, she comments disgustedly, ‘This is how liberty dies: with Thundering applause” (Para. 5). Then, George Lucas concluded the interview with Chicago Tribune with this groundbreaking truth. Lucas stated, “No matter who you look at in history, the story is always the same, that is what is so eerie. It was a little eerie that things have developed the way they have” (para. 14).

George Lucas is hinting that the United State may be heading to a dictatorship. Newsweek brings an interesting idea on the forefront. Newsweek reported, “Even more importantly, Nazi Germany wasn’t the model for the Empire, but the United States. This completely flips the narrative on its political joint. Lucas’s concern with a militarized dictatorship led by a conservative leader certainly implies sympathies with liberal ideology” (O’Connor, 2016, para. 22). However, Christopher Klein, whose work has appeared in numerous publications such as The Boston Globe, The New York Times, and National Geographic Traveler, disagrees with Newsweek. Klein wrote, “There’s nothing subtle about this historical allusion in ‘Star Wars.’ After all, the elite assault force who defended the Nazi Party—Stormtroopers” (Klein, 2016, para. 3). To further his point, Klein continues on, “The Imperial officers’ uniforms and even Darth Vader’s helmet resemble those worn by German Army Members in World War II, and the gradual rise of Palpatine from Chancellor to emperor mirrored Adolf Hitler’s similar political ascent from chancellor to dictator” (Klein, 2016, para. 3).

In addition, Klein wrote, “The final scene of the Original 1977 ‘Star Wars’ in which Princess Leia awards medals to Rebel heroes Luke Skywalker and Han Solo while soldiers stood at attention echoed the massive Nazi rallies in Nuremberg captured in Leni Riefenstahl’s 1935 propaganda film “Triumph of the Will” (Klein, 2016, para. 3).

Throughout Lucas’s work on the Star Wars franchise, George Lucas strongly emphasized the importance of a liberated society, and the dangers of an authoritarian one. Most importantly, the developments in ‘Revenge of the Sith’ delve into the nature of how a liberty-oriented society collapses into an authoritarian dictatorship through consenting individuals woefully unaware of the consequences of this transformation, and not from sheer brute force. Lucas’s concern resembles a problematic mindset commonly seen in societies throughout the course of history, and one that could apply to Americans if they fail to stay vigilant

This is evidenced in Episode II: Attack of the Clone. Senator Padme Amidala did not like the Military Creation Act. Senator Amidala responded with this warning.

Wake up, Senators…you must wake up! If we offer the separatists violence, they can only show us violence in return! Many will lose their lives. All will lose their freedom. This decision could very well destroy the very foundation of our great Republic. I pray you, do not let fear push you into a disastrous decision. Vote down this security measure, which is nothing less than a declaration of war! Does anyone here want that? I cannot believe they do. –Padme Amidala

This quote is referring to historical significance of rebellions. Commonly, through riots, an empire can rise because empires are known for ‘producing a safe and secure society.’ The only way to ‘produce a safe and secure society’ is through inflicting psychological terror among citizens which suffocates their free speech and the right to be a unique individual. This type of suppression can be seen when Stormtroopers inflicted psychological terror on the citizens of Tatooine during the movie—Star Wars IV: The New Hope. Therefore, A liberated society can produce an atmosphere of freedom that allows the citizens to breathe again like when the Death Star was destroyed, and the republic was restored again in the movie—Star Wars VI: The Return of the Jedi. A free society has more quality of life, life + more, than a society with the philosophy of sanctity of life (i.e. the protection of life.

Second, what are Senator Amidala and Anakin Skywalker’s view on liberty? Anakin Skywalker, a young Padawan learner, favored dictatorships as evidenced in ‘Star Wars: Attack of the Clones.’ ‘Star Wars: Attack of the Clones’ is the precursor to ‘Star Wars: The Revenge of the Sith.’

In ‘Attack of the Clones,’ Padme Amidala asked Anakin Skywalker, “How would you make the politicians agree?”

“The politicians should be forced to agree!” Anakin Skywalker quickly responded.

“By whom, Anakin?” Padme quickly quipped.

Then, Anakin Skywalker was silent on this question, which makes Padme Amidala suspicious. Padme Amidala found out that Anakin Skywalker, due to the influence of the notorious Supreme Chancellor and his arrogance, was in favor of a dictatorship. Padme Amidala and Anakin Skywalker possessed two entirely different views on liberty.

Regretfully, Anakin Skywalker frowned upon the concept of liberty. New York Times continued on the subject of the Revenge of the Sith, “ ‘Revenge of the Sith’ is about how a republic dismantles its own democratic principles, about how politics becomes militarized, about how a Manichaean ideology undermines the rational exercise of power. Mr. Lucas is clearly jabbing his light saber in the direction of some real-world political leaders. At one point, Darth Vader, already deep in the thrall of the dark side and echoing the words of George W. Bush, hisses at Obi-Wan, “If you’re not with me, you’re my enemy” (Scott, 2005, para. 10). According to Revenge of the Sith movie, militarized politics was the view of Anakin Skywalker.

Anakin Skywalker believes that the Republic is made up of corrupt leaders and the Jedi is the cause of this problem. Senator Amidala wisely quipped, “What if the democracy we thought we were serving no longer exists, and the Republic has become the very evil we have been fighting to destroy?” By this quote, Senator Amidala, also known as Padme to Anakin Skywalker, was in favor of democracy and diplomacy. Democracy is a concept that makes sure the power rests on the people. Diplomacy is a means by which negotiations can take place. In response to Anakin Skywalker being the personal council of Chancellor Palpatine, Padme Amidala responded, “This war represents a failure to listen. Now you’re closer to the Chancellor than anyone! Please, ask him to end this war and let diplomacy resume.” Diplomacy is better than going to war. This is evidence that Senator Padme Amidala had a libertarian philosophy. Therefore, Senator Amidala and Anakin Skywalker had differing views on Liberty.

Third, Is Liberty worth fighting for? Absolutely. To understand liberty, liberty needs to be defined. It is defined by Collins Dictionary as “The freedom to live your life in the way that you want, without the interference from other people or the authorities” The Right to Individual privacy stems from liberty. The Right to Individual privacy is defined by Edward Snowden as “Freedom from damaging publicity, public scrutiny, secret surveillance, or unauthorized disclosure of one’s data or information, whether by government, corporation, or individuals” (Snowden, 2020, para. 1). This is basically the view of Senator Amidala. Whereas, Anakin Skywalker favor “a safe, and secure society” above the rights of citizens on Coruscant. Chancellor Palpatine was feeding Anakin Skywalker lies that led to the detriment of the free Republic that Senator Padme Amidala so valiantly tried to protect. During a Galactic Senate Meeting, The Senate ruled in favor of reorganizing the Republic into a Galactic Empire. In response to this ruling, Padme Amidala stated, “This is how liberty dies-To thunderous applause.” This brings up an important point. If citizens do not fight for their liberties, it can lead to a communist society. If the citizens do fight for their liberties, it can lead to the betterment of society and increase their quality of life. Chancellor Palpatine used his executive order to eradicate the Jedi Order by using the Executive order of 66. Executive orders should be worth trying to eliminate. Giving a government official the unlimited power to establish an executive order, it can lead to suffocation of individual rights.

The Washington Post made an interesting observation on why liberty is worth fighting for. The Washington Post claimed, “The Story of the ‘Star Wars’ prequels: The Triumph of empire over democracy, facilitated by Anakin Skywalker and resulting in autocratic rule by Chancellor (later Emperor) Palpatine.” This is so true. When Anakin Skywalker had a conversation with Padme Amidala, He indicated, “We need a system where the politicians sit down and discuss the problem, agree what’s in the interest of all the people, and then do it.” And if they didn’t, “they should be made to.” This conversation didn’t help the circumstance of how the republic turned into an empire. Therefore, the Star Wars universe equivalent to Congress located on the planet of Coruscant needs more people like Padme Amidala that are willing to fight for Liberty. George Lucas noted that the problem with society today is “a democratic body, a senate, not being able to function properly because everybody’s squabbling” (Sunstein, 2016, para. 8). The Washington Post has an interesting message about Authoritarian politicians with nationalist tendencies. They said, “Their platform” consists of “Protection against terrorism and crime, economic nationalism, doubts about free trade, and an insistence on a muscular government, striking against the pervasive forces of disorder” (Sunstein, 2016, para. 13). The American populace needs to rise and combat Authoritarianism with organizational leadership. Organizations should be providing humanitarian aid to other countries, not the government. Therefore, Padme Amidala should be classified as a libertarian who is fighting for the liberty of her people on Naboo.

Fourth, why is liberty is so valuable? Liberty is so valuable because Liberty protects society’s Quality of Life. Liberty can be a foreign concept to politicians that have the same philosophy of Anakin Skywalker. Liberty protects the inherent rights of every citizen in the Star Wars universe and the people that are on planet earth. Liberty is the value that represents the founding Fathers dream of a free, and independent society. When a Dictator rules the world or the universe, it create an atmosphere of dependence on other nations. Once Chancellor Palpatine rearranged the Republic into a Galactic Empire, it created a dependence on other planets like partnering with the Trade Federation that was on the planet of Musafar. Later, in the Star Wars franchise, Rogue One touched on the consequences of rebelling against the Galactic Empire. Somin, A writer for Learn Liberty, wrote, “More than any previous Star Wars film, this one focuses on the rebels and their reasons for rising against the Empire. Jyn and several other characters are victims of the Empire’s cruelty and oppression, which give them obvious motives to oppose it. But while we see what the rebels against, we have almost no sense what they are fighting for.” (Somin, 2016, para. 5). When a viewer of Star Wars puts the pieces together, one can find that they are fighting for liberty. Liberty does matter that is why one should hold fast to the ideologies of Liberties. Senators from the Galactic Senate should have partnered with Padme Amidala and not let the Chancellor Palpatine rise to Emperor Palpatine. Liberty is so important. Liberty is so important because it defines who a person is. Liberty encourages creations. Liberty encourages people to work harder. However, when a darkness comes over someone, dictatorships can destroy innovations, free markets, and freedom of speech. Therefore, due to these reasons, Liberty does matters.

In Conclusion, Star Wars Prequel Trilogy answers four crucial questions. Why did George Lucas write his film? What was the differing opinions of liberty from the perspective of Senator Amidala and Anakin Skywalker? Is Liberty worth Fighting for? And Does Liberty matter? Star Wars Prequel Trilogy had the message that corruption in government will inevitably fall. People, in general, should not allow the government to interfere in their daily lives. Stand with Padme Amidala and fight for liberty!

References

Caro, Mark. ‘Star Wars’ inadvertently hits too close to U.S.’s role. Chicago Tribune. https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-xpm-2005-05-18-0505180309-story.html

Klein, C. (2018). The Real History that inspired ‘Star Wars.’ The History Channel. https://www.history.com/news/the-real-history-that-inspired-star-wars

O’Connor, M. (2016). What are the politics of ‘Star Wars’. Newsweek. https://www.newsweek.com/does-star-wars-endorse-political-republican-democrat-498365

Scott, A.O. (2005). Some Surprises in that Galaxy Far, Far Away. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/16/movies/some-surprises-in-that-galaxy-far-far-away.html

Snowden, E.(2020). What is privacy. Snowden Treaty. http://www.snowdentreaty.org/what-is-privacy/

Somin, I. (2016). Rogue One and the Politics of Star Wars. Learn Liberty. https://www.learnliberty.org/blog/rogue-one-and-the-politics-of-star-wars/

Sunstein. (2016). You may hate the ‘Star Wars’ prequels – but they predicted our current political era. The Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/arts-and-entertainment/wp/2016/06/01/you-may-hate-the-star-wars-prequels-but-they-predicted-our-current-political-era/

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