watchdog_jedi's Blog

The Politics of Star Wars

As I've listened to the media and all that is going on in our country, I can't help but see some stark similarities to events in the Star Wars universe, both in the movie canon and the expanded universe.

Shortly after the election of President Obama, his then Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel said, "You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that is its an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before."

In Star Wars Episode 2, we hear a similar, though more defined, line. "This is a crisis! The Senate must vote the Chancellor emergency powers! He could then approve the use of the clones [for an army]."

A recent talking point by commentator Glenn Beck has come from a speech by Van Jones that the revolutionary "movement" needs to be "top-down, bottom-up and inside out." Glenn's analysis of this statement is analogous to the Czechoslovakia of the late 1940s. Those with power (on the top) agitate those without (the bottom) in order to squeeze those in the middle, forcing them to turn to the people in power for help.

Now, let's look at the rise to power of Senator/Chancellor/Emperor Palpatine. From the beginning, he was playing both sides. Overtly, its as the kindly Senator of Naboo. Covertly, he's Sith Lord Darth Sidious, who approaches the Trade Federation about placing a blockade on Naboo. He squeezes his own people between the Trade Federation and the bureaucracy of the Galactic Senate. The slow movement of the bureaucracy forces a vote of no confidence in the current Chancellor of the Senate. In the end, Palpatine is nominated, then voted Supreme Chancellor of the Senate.

Throughout the second and third movies he continues to manipulate the Trade Federation (and its allies), increasing the pressure on the Senate to vote more authoritative powers to him, not to mention extend his time holding the position of Supreme Chancellor.

Speaking of the Senate giving the more power to Palpatine, the same could be said of the United States Congress as they approve advisers and write laws that put more power in the hands of the Executive Branch.

The Cloward and Piven strategy was a method to transform a government system by slowly growing the welfare dependancy system (with the goal of overtaxing the system) and simultaneously installing the "framework" of a new government.

The universe of Star Wars does not discuss any kind of welfare system. Instead, the threat to the stability of the galaxy put forth is war.
As was already mentioned, Palpatine had manipulated both sides from the beginning. As he garners additional power to fight the war against the Confederation, he becomes exceptionally powerful. In the end, only one group could challenge his authority, the ranks of the Jedi. They attempted to arrest him, learning the truth about his manipulations and when they failed (due to the interference of Anakin Skywalker), he used it as a rallying cry to transform the Republic into his Galactic Empire.

In the Clone Wars, the two sides were the Republic (the current government) and the Confederacy of Independent Systems (referred to in the movie as the separatists). The Confederacy was made up mostly of massive corporations who banded together due to a Republic tax on their trade routes and to fight the Senate corruption. Simplified, its the government vs. the corporations.

As you listen to the current administration, particularly speaking about the current economic environment, the blame lies with the greedy corporations. In an interview with 60 Minutes, President Obama states that, "I didn't run for office to help Fat Cat Bankers."
Who messed up the gulf? It was 100% all BPs fault (ignore the fact that government regulation forced rig placement in such deep water).
Why did we need the health care reform legislation? Those greedy health insurance companies.

The Holonet was a massive, government-constructed communications grid (think a combination of our Internet and television). It was able to disseminate information galaxy-wide nearly instantaneously. Only planets from the Outer-Rim Territories were excluded (plans to include them were set, then delayed due to budget constraints). With the reorganization of the Republic into the Galactic Empire, the Holonet was heavily restricted and limited to military and "approved" news/free speech.

Right now, we have efforts to bring in "localization," the Fairness Doctrine and net neutrality.

The Imperial Holovision was one of the largest news and entertainment providers in the galaxy. In the years before the Empire, it was known as HoloNew News or Republic HoloNew News.
[Imperial Holovision's] executives were not on the Imperial government's payroll; they didn't have to be. They were largely holdovers from the fall of the Republic, who were trained to be loyalists as a matter of course. Their allegiance to the Emperor was freely given; it did not have to be purchased. But they were still journalists, and sought a certain amount of autonomy in their reporting...Rather than distort the Empire's more questionable policies, it simply ignored them altogether, ensuring that the population at large never even heard about the New Order's atrocities.

Meanwhile, in the real world, we've got news organizations like MSNBC where commentators have 'thrills up their leg' and 'forget he is black' when they hear the President speak. We have stories that is outright ignored by the vast majority of news organizations, leaving the public in the dark. Those that choose to report these stories are labeled as fringe or not legitimate news organizations.

The Galactic Empire was highly xenohobic, holding up humans as superior over all other species. This divided the galaxy, not just into human v. non-human but also humans who believed it and humans who did not. A divided galaxy would be an easier galaxy to control as the groups could be played off each other. However, if a non-human was talented or powerful enough, they could be included in the structure of the government.

Similarly, there are many people of power, in and out of the government, who seem to be more than willing to use race, gender, social status, etc. to divide the country. Set the poor against the rich or white against black so as to create the tension needed to sustain the "emergencies" needed to push through certain agenda items.

Imperialization is a term for the process by which the Galactic Empire established a system of control over the individual, instructions, commercial enterprise, or planets, and tight coordination over all aspects of society and commerce. There were dramatic increases in state control and centralization of economic procedures by nationalization of commercial enterprise (like many Separatist organizations including: the Trade Federation the Techno Union, the Commerce Guild, the InterGalactic Banking Clan, the Corporate Alliance and the Hyper-Communications Cartel) and commerce in some regions of the Empire.

In a deleted scene of A New Hope, we even hear this line: "What good is all your uncle's work if it's taken over by the Empire? You know they're starting to nationalize commerce in the central systems. It won't be long before your uncle is merely a tenant, slaving for the greater glory of the Empire."
See the scene, begins 3:00

Its quite easy to see the bank bailouts, auto company bailouts, the health care legislation and the government's "partnership" with GE as nationalization in varying degrees.

Throughout the whole of the prequel trilogy (The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith) one thing is abundantly clear about any person or group associated with Palpatine/Sidious who thinks they have power...they will soon be out of the picture. Palpatine/Sidious has no compunction about allowing his subordinates to die if it improves his position. A prime example is former Jedi Count Dooku (played by Christopher Lee), who is allied with Palpatine/Sidious. He serves his usefulness as the rallier of the Separatist movement, but in the beginning of Revenge of the Sith, Palpatine has him executed.

Its much more difficult to find anyone that could be defined the same way in the current government. Van Jones, while forced out of the administration, is by no means out of the picture. We may have to wait until 2012 to see if Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton or some other high-ranking personality is removed because it is politically adventageous for the President. The national-level ACORN, which did what it could to aid through the 'get-out-to-vote' effort (setting legality of their actions aside), was placed in bankruptcy, but its state and city-level subsidiaries changed their names and still exist.

My latest project

Even though very few or no people visit this blog, I'm going to share the URL for a project I've been working on for the last few months.

Its my Reagan Speeches Wiki. By providing background and source material for his speeches, I hope that people can better appreciate the relevance these speeches hold, even 50 years later.

Reagan Speeches Wiki

Slavery and the Founders

Yesterday, I wrote of a statement made to me about America. The following was made at the same time.
The founding fathers are important, but they are not gods, nor are they necessarily any more righteous or smarter than many political and social thinkers of today. They made mistakes, had terrible views on some issues (slavery for example), and most certainly didn't agree on everything.

Yes, many Founders were slave owners. This did not necessarily mean they (all or in part) supported slavery.
George Washington signed the first law which abolished slavery. The 1787 Northwest Ordinance abolished slavery in the areas of the country which would end up being Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan. He wrote to a friend, "I never mean ... to possess another slave by purchase; it being among my first wishes to see some plan adopted, by which slavery in this Country may be abolished by slow, sure and imperceptible degrees."

Slavery was a highly divisive issue and one that could have ripped the U.S. apart before the Constitution was created. Many claim that the US Constitution is a pro-slavery document, reading it to say that all non-free, non-Indians are 3/5 of a person.
This is inaccurate.
The actual wording is, "Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons."
What it is saying is that for the purposes of representation in the House, states would require 50,000 slaves, rather than 30,000, to earn an additional House seat.

In the writing of the Constitution, the Southern states wanted to count slaves as whole persons. It was the North who felt they should not be counted because of their legal status (at the time) as property. If the South had won out, their resulting representative power in the House would have ensured no end to slavery on the Federal level. The Founders knew they could not outright abolish slavery on the Federal level and maintain the continuity of the 13-state union, but they were able to sow the seeds of its removal for the future.

Founders Ben Franklin and Benjamin Rush founded an early anti-slavery society in Pennsylvania. John Jay was the President of one in New York. Richard Bassett, James Madison, James Monroe, Bushrod Washington, Charles Carroll, William Few, John Marshall, Richard Stockton, Zephaniah Swift and many others were all members of similar groups. Through their leadership, and that of others, slavery was abolished in 8 of the 13 original states within 15 years of the Constitution's ratification (the final 5 would remain that way until the conclusion of the Civil War).

What did some of them actually say, though?

"The whole commerce between master and slave is a perpetual exercise of the most boisterous passions, the most unremitting despotism on the one part, and degrading submissions on the other. ... And with what execration [curse] should the statesman be loaded, who permitting one half the citizens thus to trample on the rights of the other. ... And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever."
Thomas Jefferson
Notes on the State of Virginia, 1794

"That men should pray and fight for their own freedom and yet keep others in slavery is certainly acting a very inconsistent, as well as unjust and perhaps impious, part."
John Jay
The Correspondence and Public Papers of John Jay, 1891
From a letter to Reverend Dr. Richard Price, September 27, 1785

"Domestic slavery is repugnant to the principles of Christianity. ... It is rebellion against the authority of a common Father. It is a practical denial of the extent and efficacy of the death of a common Savior. It is an usurpation of the prerogative of the great Sovereign of the universe who has solemnly claimed an exclusive property in the souls of men."
Benjamin Rush
Minutes of the Proceedings of a Convention of Delegates from the Abolition Societies Established in Different Parts of the United States Assembled at Philadelphia, 1794

"Justice and humanity require it [the end of slavery]--Christianity commands it. Let every benevolent ... pray for the glorious period when the last slave who fights for freedom shall be restored to the possession of that inestimable right."
Noah Webster
Effect of Slavery on Morals and Industry, 1793

"Christianity, by introducing into Europe the truest principles of humanity, universal benevolence, and brotherly love, had happily abolished civil slavery. Let us who profess the same religion practice its precepts ... by agreeing to this duty."
Richard Henry Lee
Memoir of the Life of Richard Henry Lee, and His Correspondence With the Most Distinguished Men in America and Europe, Illustrative of Their Characters, and of the American Revolution, 1825
speech to the Virginia House of Burgesses

"I hope we shall at last, and if it so please God I hope it may be during my life time, see this cursed thing [slavery] taken out. ... For my part, whether in a public station or a private capacity, I shall always be prompt to contribute my assistance towards effecting so desirable an event."
William Livingston
The Papers of William Livingston, 1988
Written to James Pemberton, October 20, 1788

"[I]t ought to be considered that national crimes can only be and frequently are punished in this world by national punishments; and that the continuance of the slave-trade, and thus giving it a national sanction and encouragement, ought to be considered as justly exposing us to the displeasure and vengeance of Him who is equally Lord of all and who views with equal eye the poor African slave and his American master."
Luther Martin
The Genuine Information Delivered to the Legislature of the State of Maryland Relative to the Proceedings of the General Convention Lately Held at Philadelphia, 1788

"As much as I value a union of all the States, I would not admit the Southern States into the Union unless they agree to the discontinuance of this disgraceful trade [slavery]."
Joseph Reed
Elliot's Debates, 1836
To George Mason, June 15, 1788

"Honored will that State be in the annals of history which shall first abolish this violation of the rights of mankind."
Joseph Reed
Lives of the Governors of Pennsylvania, 1874

"Slavery, or an absolute and unlimited power in the master over the life and fortune of the slave, is unauthorized by the common law. . . . The reasons which we sometimes see assigned for the origin and the continuance of slavery appear, when examined to the bottom, to be built upon a false foundation. In the enjoyment of their persons and of their property, the common law protects all."
James Wilson
The Works of the Honorable James Wilson, 1804
lecture, "The Natural Rights of Individuals"

"[W]hy keep alive the question of slavery? It is admitted by all to be a great evil."
Charles Carroll
Life and Correspondence of Charles Carroll of Carrollton, 1898
Letter to Robert Goodloe Harper, April 23, 1820

"As Congress is now to legislate for our extensive territory lately acquired, I pray to Heaven that they may build up the system of the government on the broad, strong, and sound principles of freedom. Curse not the inhabitants of those regions, and of the United States in general, with a permission to introduce bondage [slavery]."
John Dickinson
The Life and Times of John Dickinson, 1834
from the Second Session of the first Congress, March 22, 1790

"[I]t is certainly unlawful to make inroads upon others . . . and take away their liberty by no better means than superior power."
John Witherspoon
The Works of John Witherspoon, 1815
from Lectures on Moral Philosophy

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