Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The Jedi Knights of Plato's Republic

"In the name of the Galactic Senate of the Republic, you are under arrest, Chancellor"

"Are you threatening me, Master Jedi"

"The Senate will decide your fate."

"I am the Senate!"

"Not yet."

"It's treason, then."

In the final move against democracy Supreme Chancellor Palpatine has chosen to remove the Jedi Council from power. The worst fears of the Jedi Council become real when Palpatine crowns himself emperor. Everything that the Jedi Council stands for is in jeopardy as Palpatine gains more and more power in the senate. This is a turning point for the Republic, from this point on it will be only referred to as the Empire, a tyranny born from the ashes of a democracy of corruptness and pestilence. The Republic has entered its own twilight phase of its life, where just as Socrates has predicted, the lifecycle of the government has gone from its middle age years of democracy and into the death thralls of tyranny under Supreme Chancellor Palpatine.

The panning shots of the Senate and the great city around it shows a hustling a bustling city of commerce and activity. The skies are clear and sunny and the Republic is at the height of its trade and commerce. The skyline of the city could be the projected future of New York or Chicago, with the towering high rises, and crammed feeling of a city. Even the senate has become corrupted by the wealth and commerce around them. They are no longer guardians of the Republic; instead they merely use the system to their own ends. This was highlighted in the episode 2, when the Trade Federation attempts to rebel and become directly involved in politics.

In the democracy under the republic, the Jedi Council serves as the guardians. They are taken from a young age and brought up with the ideals of the Republic in mind. They serve to protect the Republic from people such as Chancellor Palpatine. They are the same guardians that are outlined and used in The Republic of Plato. The Jedi are not allowed to have any emotional contact or family ties for their entire lives, because of this Jedi are found when they are young enough to not have made any of these ties. Anakin differs because he has ties with his mother when they bring him into his training. The Jedi are also the war leaders of the Republic planning and managing the battles and wars. The gymnastics and training that the Jedi have are what brings them fame throughout the galaxy and on the movie screens, but there is also another side of the Jedi mindset. The intellectual premise of the Jedi is not often discussed yet make up a huge part of their mindset. Kenobi knows where to draw the line between good and evil because of his own philosophies. This makes him the perfect philosopher guardian that rules from behind the scenes instead of in the limelight. The same issues that Annakin is grappling with are constantly coming to light in our own time.

The United States is showing many of the same symptoms that plagued the Republic just before it fell into the tyranny of the Emperor. The emperor’s cravings for power came out of an engineered and never ending conflict that was controlled by Palpatine. This war that nobody can win, goes on and on, and strikes fear into the hearts of the populace is very similar to our own war on terrorism. Even our political leaders have told us that it is impossible to win this war in the conventional means, and that no amount of fire-power can combat the underground dealings of a terrorist group that is not affiliated with any places or governments. Even so, our leaders have asked for more power than has ever been granted a single person, in the form of the patriot act. This legislation sounds vaguely familiar the emergency powers that were granted Chancellor Palpatine by Jar-Jar Binks in Episode 2.

While it has not been proven there are some scholars and intellectuals that speculate about whether the entire conflict with Al-Qaeda has been manufactured because of the many powers that were subsequently given to our commander-in-chief. Just as Palpatine was behind the entire war with Count Dooku, there could be more sinister plotters than Osama Bin Laden behind 9/11. “You’re either with us or against,” said Anakin and Bush. Seeing as this is coming from an evil Sith-lord it does not bode well for the intentions of Bush.

The fall of the Republic is the classic story of a democracy moving to a tyranny. According to Plato’s Republic, it is a natural part of any government and it is just a matter of time until every society picks up despotic ideals. Plato’s theories about the need for power and the corruptness found in a democracy all hold true in the present in our own society, in the past in Plato’s time, and even in the future in the time of Galactic empires.


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