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Dooku promises these confederates smaller government, unlimited free trade, and an "absolute commitment to capitalism. However, there's no reason to doubt the motives of the other separatists--they seem genuinely to want to make a fresh start with a government that isn't bloated and dysfunctional.

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The Republic, of course, is eager to quash these separatists, but they never make a compelling case--or any case, for that matter--as to why, if they are such a freedom-loving regime, these planets should not be allowed to check out of the Republic and take control of their own destinies. We do not yet know the exact how's and why's, but we do know this: At some point between the end of Episode II and the beginning of Episode IV, the Republic is replaced by an Empire.

The first hint comes in Attack of the Clones, when the Senate's Chancellor Palpatine is granted emergency powers to deal with the separatists. It spoils very little to tell you that Palpatine eventually becomes the Emperor.

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For a time, he keeps the Senate in place, functioning as a rubber-stamp, much like the Roman imperial senate, but a few minutes into Episode IV, we are informed that the he has dissolved the Senate, and that "the last remnants of the Old Republic have been swept away. Lucas wants the Empire to stand for evil, so he tells us that the Emperor and Darth Vader have gone over to the Dark Side and dresses them in black.

But look closer. When Palpatine is still a senator, he says, "The Republic is not what it once was. The Senate is full of greedy, squabbling delegates. There is no interest in the common good. Palpatine believes that the political order must be manipulated to produce peace and stability. When he mutters, "There is no civility, there is only politics," we see that at heart, he's an esoteric Straussian. Make no mistake, as emperor, Palpatine is a dictator--but a relatively benign one, like Pinochet.

It's a dictatorship people can do business with.

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They collect taxes and patrol the skies. They try to stop organized crime in the form of the smuggling rings run by the Hutts. The Empire has virtually no effect on the daily life of the average, law-abiding citizen. Also, unlike the divine-right Jedi, the Empire is a meritocracy. The Empire runs academies throughout the galaxy Han Solo begins his career at an Imperial academy , and those who show promise are promoted, often rapidly.

And while it's a small point, the Empire's manners and decorum speak well of it. When Darth Vader is forced to employ bounty hunters to track down Han Solo, he refuses to address them by name. Even Boba Fett, the greatest of all trackers, is referred to icily as "bounty hunter. When he captures Solo, he calls him "Captain Solo. I suspect it's the former. After an exhausting fight, Vader is poised to finish Luke off, but he stays his hand. He tries to convert Luke to the Dark Side with this simple plea: "There is no escape.

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Don't make me destroy you. Join me, and I will complete your training. With our combined strength, we can end this destructive conflict and bring order to the galaxy. The Empire doesn't want slaves or destruction or "evil. None of which is to say that the Empire isn't sometimes brutal.

But viewed in context, these acts are less brutal than they initially appear. Poor Aunt Beru and Uncle Owen reach a grisly end, but only after they aid the rebellion by hiding Luke and harboring two fugitive droids. They aren't given due process, but they are traitors.

The destruction of Alderaan is often cited as ipso facto proof of the Empire's "evilness" because it seems like mass murder--planeticide, even.

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As Tarkin prepares to fire the Death Star, Princess Leia implores him to spare the planet, saying, "Alderaan is peaceful. We have no weapons. But the audience has no reason to believe that Leia is telling the truth. In Episode IV, every bit of information she gives the Empire is willfully untrue. In the opening, she tells Darth Vader that she is on a diplomatic mission of mercy, when in fact she is on a spy mission, trying to deliver schematics of the Death Star to the Rebel Alliance. When asked where the Alliance is headquartered, she lies again. Leia's lies are perfectly defensible--she thinks she's serving the greater good--but they make her wholly unreliable on the question of whether or not Alderaan really is peaceful and defenseless.

If anything, since Leia is a high-ranking member of the rebellion and the princess of Alderaan, it would be reasonable to suspect that Alderaan is a front for Rebel activity or at least home to many more spies and insurgents like Leia. Whatever the case, the important thing to recognize is that the Empire is not committing random acts of terror.


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  • LSU Doctoral Dissertations. Political Science Commons. Advanced Search. Privacy Copyright. Title Pliny's defense of empire. Document Availability at the Time of Submission Student has submitted appropriate documentation to restrict access to LSU for days after which the document will be released for worldwide access. Included in Political Science Commons.