Hello all, the coming weeks, due to the time constraint, and when Banath will truly have experienced his first MMO, he will release each week a Casual Thursday up untill the game’s release.
This time it will be a short philosophical analysis of Plato’s Republic in comparison with the Star Wars universe. So, yeah, we would like you to read it, so…. yeah…
Welcome back to a new round of Casual Thursday. This is just like the episodes five and six of Casual Thursday, a sidestep of my normal breakdown. This time I will talk a bit more philosophically, like a fellow writer has done here on the site.
Torlore has written an article about “Democracy and Dictators.” Here, Torlore explained of the difference between the way the Republic works and the Sith Empire. But I will tackle this in another way. I will refer to the degradation from the Republic into the Sith Empire following the logical breakdown of Plato in Republic (no, serious, this is how the book was called) and other short links with different items in the realm of Star Wars.
In Plato’s Republic, the Greek philosopher puts his teacher and friend Socrates at the core of the book. Historians and philosophers are not convinced that it was Socrates’ own words from the second book in. Most think (and I concur with those historians) that it was actually Plato that uses the mouth of Socrates to give his own opinion on the city-state of Athens. According to “Socrates,” the best state is the state where the philosopher-king rules. He is the wisest, noblest, and fairest person. Having this kind of ruler would be the best thing to happen to a state, and this can be in either a form of monarchy (the one) or an aristocracy (the few). The Philosopher needs to rule because he understands the true nature of things the best. He is however reluctant to rule, since he cannot do what he wants, practice philosophy. This reminds you of course of something. The Jedi are in a way the extension of this ideal. They do not rule however. And like the philosopher-king they don’t want to. However, where the philosopher-king wants to remain in the realm of ideas and truth, the Jedi do “go down to Perias” and always interact with the people. But not just with interacting and talking to the people.
The Jedi also have an aspect of the first degenerated state. The first degenerative state is what Plato called a timocracy (no, I’m not boasting my own name). Such a society has almost only existed once, in its purest form. I am referring to Sparta. The wise still exist, but they become less interested in what is wise, and more interested in what is honorable, in what gives you great acknowledgment from your peers and fellows. This can still be achieved through knowledge, but you do not do it for knowledge’s sake. You do it for personal gain. And also on the battlefield this trait is being professed. Jedi (and Sith as well) have a trait of that in them. The Jedi are slipping somewhat into arrogance, since they value combat more highly than knowledge and peace. We saw the response of Revan against the Jedi Council. He defied the ruling council to fight the Mandalorians. But did it against the wisdom of the Council. Or maybe… just maybe, Revan had more knowledge and it was an act of wisdom on his part. But that’s just speculation at the time he actually went into fight. Sith, well, I don’t need to elaborate too much on the Sith. For the Sith, fighting is life. Nothing more, nothing less. The continued struggle to gain more for oneself. It never stops. Strength is the most important trade. But personal gain can also be expressed in money.
Thus coming by the second step towards doom. When money rules, needs are more important than wisdom or courage. Corruption lurks everywhere, since gaining more money is more important than anything. This does not happen with the Jedi. They are morally stronger than that. However, they are an extension of the arm of the Republic. And its Senate is capable of being corrupted. And it has been corrupted. Just look at the time where the movies play in. The Senate is hardly an effective and good body, due to corruption and just inherent problems of democracy.
And now I arrive at Plato’s second-to-worst state: the democracy. In this state of affairs, it’s the people that have overthrown the idle rich and gotten power for themselves. However, in such a state, you need a lot of talking and a lot of people agreeing with your position. It slows the system down and it becomes more about what are, quite literally, my needs and at best, the needs of those that back me up. Not the needs of all. The Senate in Star Wars has reached this point due to the amount of planets that are part of the Galactic Senate. There is no other way. However, the watchdogs, i.e. the Jedi, are not always allowed to intervene, or do their job. The danger that it will be turned against them is obvious. We all saw it in the movies. And it also happened in the prelude to Star Wars the Old Republic. The Jedi were unable to defend Coruscant against the sneak attack of the Sith Empire, and they were blamed. They were used as a scapegoat.
Tyranny. So deceptive, and easily constructed. The worst form that a state or government can have. Palpatine has played his cards brilliantly. The problem with democracy is that due to the inefficiency or corruptibility of democracy, actions – ie. legislation – take a long time to fix or to adopt. When this happens, people start to doubt their representatives and the call for a strong man starts to echo. This has happened in the Star Wars universe. In the movies, the Republic had become stale, slow, inefficient and politicians were out for their own gain. Palpatine used this to his advantage and destroyed the democracy from within. Those former protectors of the Republic had become the enemy. A scapegoat was needed. And the Jedi were to blame. The final stage had arrived. The Republic went into an age of fear, distrust and evil. The Sith Empire after millennia had won.
Instead of using military force, Palpatine destroyed the Republic from the inside, using those things that Plato warned in Republic would happen. Palpatine sits longer under the guise of war, sitting far longer than he was by the “constitution” of the Republic. And his powers were extended far longer than should have been. Democracy’s flaw can, was, and will be turned against itself, making it both ineffective and uses its weakness against itself. The old age enemies of the Sith were reduced to a handful, freedom had been destroyed, people were being prosecuted and executed on a whim. Military production becomes unscaled. Wisdom was being put down, justice has been destroyed. A time of darkness had overcome the Republic. Of course, the Sith Empire that had emerged then, only lasted a couple of decades, but through the warnings of Plato we see what can happen. Democracy isn´t holy, nor are any of the other forms of the “State,” even the philosopher’s version is subjected to degeneration.
Why this side note? Well, partly because I wanted this out of my system of course. I see these connections with what I have learned in the past, but also very eloquently described over a period of time how this can happen. In a way, Lucas has shown us the danger of our own government system. If we let the dark side rule, ie. fear, hatred and war, we will reap the effects. And fall ourselves in, again, a period of destruction. We have seen it happen before, it can happen again. Especially if we continue on this road the world has taken now.
For now, may the Force be with you.