Relativist Sith

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Rmmmm, of Master Benedict's "dictatorship of reletavism," the source have I located:

ANAKIN: The Jedi use their power for good.

PALPATINE: Good is a point of view, Anakin. And the Jedi point of view is not the only valid one. The Dark Lords of the Sith believe in security and justice also, yet they are considered by the Jedi to be. . .

ANAKIN: . . . evil.

PALPATINE: . . . from a Jedi's point of view. The Sith and the Jedi are similar in almost every way, including their quest for greater power. The difference between the two is the Sith are not afraid of the dark side of the Force. That is why they are more powerful.

And later…

ANAKIN: I should have known the Jedi were plotting to take over . . .

OBI-WAN: From the Sith!!! Anakin, Chancellor Palpatine is evil.

ANAKIN: From the Jedi point of view! From my point of view, the Jedi are evil.

Of course, that also raises the possibility that the "dictatorship of virtue" talk is an attempt at misdirection from a secret identity.

NEXT: Journalism Is Over

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  1. But what to make of Obi-Wan the relativist in “Return of the Jedi”?

    “So you see, what I told you about your father was true… from a certain point of view.”

  2. And how about this from the script Julian linked to:

    OBI-WAN: Only a Sith Lord deals in absolutes. I will do what I must.

  3. The 12/26/02 issue of the Weekly Standard had an article entitled ‘The Case for Empire’ which concluded:

    In Episode IV, after Grand Moff Tarkin announces that the Imperial Senate has been abolished, he’s asked how the Emperor can possibly hope to keep control of the galaxy. “The regional governors now have direct control over territories,” he says. “Fear will keep the local systems in line.”

    So under Imperial rule, a large group of regional potentates, each with access to a sizable army and star destroyers, runs local affairs. These governors owe their fealty to the Emperor. And once the Emperor is dead, the galaxy will be plunged into chaos.

    In all of the time we spend observing the Rebel Alliance, we never hear of their governing strategy or their plans for a post-Imperial universe. All we see are plots and fighting. Their victory over the Empire doesn’t liberate the galaxy–it turns the galaxy into Somalia writ large: dominated by local warlords who are answerable to no one.

    Which makes the rebels–Lucas’s heroes–an unimpressive crew of anarchic royals who wreck the galaxy so that Princess Leia can have her tiara back.

    I’ll take the Empire.

  4. Of course the Weekly Standard might have been joking… not!

  5. E. Steven, their full name is The Alliance to Restore the Republic, so there is at least some slight mention of what they plan to do once the Empire falls.

  6. Which is what I would have said if I hadn’t realized you were quoting. Which I’m quite sure I did. *shifts eyes* Eventually.

  7. E. Steven,
    When I was in high school, arrogant shit that I was, I told a friend of mine, that I could beat him in a debate about anything, he could pick the subject and my side. So he gave me, “The Empire is not evil”. I basically had a similar argument as the one you point to from the Weekly Standard and then he tried to throw the destruction of Alderaan in my face, so I asked him about WWII and Hiroshima and if the US was evil because of that. He agreed that it had to be done militarily. I then said in a universe of multiple system, a single planet was the equivalent to a large city, such as the firebombed Tokyo or Hiroshima. Man, was he pissed.

    God, I’m a dork.

  8. Mo,

    I think your friend was a bit dim. Insofar as Alderaan was peaceful, nominally loyal to the Empire, and had no weapons to speak of, the wholesale destruction of the planet was clearly a wartime atrocity. C’mon.

    Incidentally, that Weekly Standard argument seems awfully realist, doesn’t it? I’m actually half inclined to think that whoever wrote it intended it as a subversive jab at the editors, who were already on the war path concerning Iraq. In any case, the piece certainly doesn’t follow the utopian liberal revolutionary line which has characterized the Standard for, well, as long as I can remember.

  9. Mo, you are barely at the foothills of dorkdom, whereas I stand at the summit.

    I used to know this girl who was a big Star Wars fan. For about two years we wrote and e-mailed each other soft-core pornographic stories, with idealized versions of ourselves as the main characters, set in the Star Wars universe just prior to the time of The Phantom Menace.

    Wait, that’s not even the dorky part. In my personalized Star Wars pornographic fanfic, I tried to work some libertarian philosophizing into the background. (My character came from a semi-anarchistic planet that was sort of a cross between medieval Iceland and modern-day Somalia.) Now that’s dorky.

    I also had Republic officials secretly in league with the Sith to launch a wave of terroristic acts, which would unite the populace in fear and allow the central government of the Republic to assume extraordinary “emergency” powers with little opposition. (This was before Attack of the Clones, by the way, and also before 9-11.) My fic was porn of unusual depth. And also, extreme dorkiness.

  10. I’m sure you’re familiar with, but for those who aren’t:

    http://www.brunching.com/geekhierarchy.html

  11. Damn. I am a humungous geek. At the very least, I’ve hit the level of “Erotic Fanfic Writers Who Put Themselves in the Story.” (Tier 5.)

    And if you exchange “furries” with some other fetishes, and change “Star Trek” to “Star Wars,” I have plumbed the geekiest of geekdom. (Tier 9.)

    (For anyone whose employer has blocked Munching Shuttlecocks, the geek hierarchy chart can also be found at http://strangepath.net/archives/2004/07/geek-hierarchy/ )

    Thanks, T Bone.

  12. Stevo, if your dirty SW fanfic has any Wookies or Ewoks getting busy, I think you qualify for the “furry” tier.

    Promise not to quote any of it, OK?

    Kevin

  13. What is truly “evil” is how Lucas totally shit on his own work after the second (or 5th?) movie.

    May 19 is judgement day. Is Lucas a master storyteller or a pathetic hack? Take your bets.

  14. Neither. He is a brilliant business-man and innovator who hadn’t directed a film in so long that he forgot the little things the make the medium special, instead churning out special effects with compelling stories.

    That, and he may be one of the worst writers of dialogue ever to make a movie.

  15. I worked with Tier Nines. And to second David, Lucas ability to write clunky dialog is masterful, rivaling Thomas Friedman’s ability to abuse a metaphor.

  16. But what to make of Obi-Wan the relativist in “Return of the Jedi”?

    “So you see, what I told you about your father was true… from a certain point of view.”

    Wry irony as Obi-Wan remembers his conversation with Anakin … jeez, Lucas is a better writer than I thought?

  17. At the end of the day, I would think that the Sith should be able to look at the horned visage in the mirror and say, “Hey, I might be evil. Obi Wan may be on to something …”

  18. You ?win? Stevo, I?ve only plumbed to the depth of Tier 3. Though I guess, technically I?ve hit tier 5 since I was once a 13 year old gamer.

    The only thing worse than Lucas? dialogue is his romantic subplots. His stilted scenes between Anakin and Amidala make the ?Take My Breath Away? scene in Top Gun look like Gone With the Wind

  19. Neither. He is a brilliant business-man and innovator who hadn’t directed a film in so long that he forgot the little things the make the medium special, instead churning out special effects with compelling stories.

    Fourth option: He’s the world’s greatest argument against the auteur principle. The movies would be fine if Lucas had somebody, anybody, willing and able to say No to him. In terms of economics, culture, popularity, technology, and even geography, Lucas is the most independent filmmaker of all time. As long as it’s within the Star Wars franchise, he can do anything he wants, and enough people will turn out for it that it will make money. What you’re seeing up on the screen is his vision, untainted by any compromise (and though I’m not a fan, I think the movies are interesting to watch just on that basis). But that’s his problem. (I should have such problems, of course.) Filmmakers complain incessantly about having to make changes to satisfy test screening audiences, shoot additional coverage to explain plot points to some dumb money men, rewrite important scenes, cut great moments that “slow down the plot,” and so on. The second Star Wars is a great negative example of the value of those whorish compromises. It’s a testament to Lucas’ brilliant popular sensibility that the films aren’t even more incoherent than they are. (I think the last one was a vast improvement on the previous one, though I still could barely follow the plot.)

  20. PALPATINE:

    “The Sith and the Jedi are similar in almost every way, including their quest for greater power.”

    That’s misleading. The “power” here is far different. The Sith helped establish the Empire. The Jedi were far more libertarian. Note:

    Obi Wan:

    “For over a thousand generations the Jedi Knights were the guardians of peace and justice in the Republic. Before the dark times, before the Empire.”

  21. As long as we’re talking about the morality of Sith Lords, I think Darth Vader’s parenting skills are vastly under-rated. I mean, unlike my father Darth Vader had a legitimate, full-time job. And although he was absent for most of his son’s life, once he learned that he had a son he made a point of trying to teach the kid a useful skill.

  22. Tim,
    Interesting theory, I’d be curious what his vision would be like had he continued directing movies after Star Wars. Spielberg did, and experimented in other genres. I think the second Star Wars trilogy could have been stronger if Lucas had done so as well. If nothing else, he would have had a better handle on what works story and character wise. He may have even gained respect for a few writers or other peers to help him temper his vision. The best example I can cite is Raiders of the Lost Ark where he collaborated with Kaufmann, Kasdan, and Spielberg to make IMO, a perfect movie.

    PS While BenedictXVI looks like Palpatine, he speaks like Toht from Raiders. A lethal combination.

  23. E. Steven,

    That Weekly Standard article was interesting, but always like David Brin’s articles on the series better –

    http://www.davidbrin.com/starwarsarticle1.html

    I thought the suggestion that the Emperor and Yoda were working together and that Anakin was actually a double agent was particularly clever.

  24. Interesting theory, I’d be curious what his vision would be like had he continued directing movies after Star Wars. Spielberg did, and experimented in other genres. I think the second Star Wars trilogy could have been stronger if Lucas had done so as well. If nothing else, he would have had a better handle on what works story and character wise. He may have even gained respect for a few writers or other peers to help him temper his vision. The best example I can cite is Raiders of the Lost Ark where he collaborated with Kaufmann, Kasdan, and Spielberg to make IMO, a perfect movie.

    It’s a good question, though I’m not sure you could say that Lucas has mismanaged his talent. Counting Raiders, Star Wars, and American Graffiti (the last of which I think has aged the least gracefully, but was still a pretty iconic picture), he’s hit the zeitgeist jackpot three times, which is three times more than the rest of us ever have. His real genius is as a mogul rather than as a director-by most accounts he doesn’t even particularly like directing, and by all accounts he would prefer to do everything digitally and never have to deal with sets, actors, or cameras at all.

  25. “As long as we’re talking about the morality of Sith Lords, I think Darth Vader’s parenting skills are vastly under-rated.
    Comment by: thoreau at April 26, 2005 02:33 PM”

    Darn right. Most kids would give their right (or left) arm to have a father like Darth Vader!

  26. The curse of clunky dialogue and HORRID love asides is but a small blemish on the magnificence of an imagination that must have somehow come up with a way to transform Hayden Christiansen into James Earl Jones.

  27. I’m at tier 5 since I play rpg’s. But here’s a test you can take to see how geeky you really are: The Geek Test

    I’ve taken it before, but I don’t remember what my score was…pretty high, though…

  28. >Insofar as Alderaan was peaceful, nominally
    >loyal to the Empire

    I’m not you can consider them either peaceful or nominally loyal. I mean, their senior government officials were using thier diplomatic credentials (e.g., Leia’s ‘this is a diplomatic mission’ line from the begining of Part IV) as a cover for espionage and participation in paramilitary attacks against the government.

    Suppose we discovered that the X-istan government had been using their ambassador to the US to smuggle messages in and out of the US for the 9/11 hijackers; what do you think we’d do to X-istan?

  29. X-istan is far too remote to serve as an effective demonstration of this battle-station’s power.

    Proceed with the destruction of Proximastan. We’ll deal with your rebel friends later.

  30. “Suppose we discovered that the X-istan government had been using their ambassador to the US to smuggle messages in and out of the US for the 9/11 hijackers; what do you think we’d do to X-istan?”

    We would not be happy with them, heck, we might even go to war with them. I don’t think we would deliberately wipe the country and the people completely out of existance. That’s just a tad over the top, don’t you think?

  31. “But what to make of Obi-Wan the relativist in “Return of the Jedi”?”

    Lucas covering his ass from an embarrassing bit of exposition he wrote at least six years earlier.

  32. “Lucas covering his ass from an embarrassing bit of exposition he wrote at least six years earlier.”

    It was still a clever line, nonetheless.

  33. >We would not be happy with them, heck, we might
    >even go to war with them. I don’t think we
    >would deliberately wipe the country and the
    >people completely out of existance. That’s just
    >a tad over the top, don’t you think?

    Well, we’ve haven’t tried to wipe out an entire country yet, but I think we demonstrated on a number of occasions during WWII that we’d wipe out an entire city if sufficiently provoked. Just because something would be over the top doesn’t mean we’d never do it.

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