April 23, 2002
3:30 PM   Subscribe

"All democracies turn into dictatorships -- but not by coup. The people give their democracy to a dictator, whether it's Julius Caesar or Napoleon or Adolf Hitler. Ultimately, the general population goes along with the idea... It isn't that the Empire conquered the Republic, it's that the Empire is the Republic." George Lucas talks about the politics of his new Star Wars films.
posted by tranquileye (19 comments total)
So Jar Jar is symbolic of the wool being pulled over our eyes?
posted by Settle at 3:47 PM on April 23, 2002

People always need to criticize something. I wonder what it will be this time...

Btw, I like the printable page better ;)
posted by roel at 3:55 PM on April 23, 2002

Democracies can be dictatorhips in and of themselves -- slavery by the one or by the many is really not much difference. This is why it is wise to put limits on democracy, as the founding fathers tried to do in America.
posted by dagny at 4:07 PM on April 23, 2002

Hmm, tried to do.
Where did they succeed, and where did they fail, according to you?
posted by roel at 4:20 PM on April 23, 2002

Well, one specific way the Constitution failed is that it didn't scale very well. For a population of 3 million in an agrarian country of 13 states the Constitution worked fine. Representatives had constituencies of 30,000 people. After nearly three hundred years of doctrinaire growth and international management, each representative has a constituency of well over half a million people.

No single Rep could achieve a human level of interaction with that many people, let alone represent that many people’s political hopes. Had the Constitution never been amended there would be about 9,000 members in the House of Representatives.

The Constitution is also much too difficult to amend. When the framers wrote it they never imagined a country stretching from one ocean to another, let alone 50 different states—38 of which must agree to any changes. It's hard to imagine any non-adminstrative political issue that could garner enough clout to amend the Constitution, regardless of its merits.

Then there's the framers themselves, James Madison in particular. He said that good government must be about protecting the “opulent minority from the majority,” especially those who “labour under all hardships of life, and secretly sigh for a more equal distribution of its blessings.” Even fifty years later he was warning about reformers—suffragists—undermining the political clout of the wealthy.

In other words, I agree with George Lucas. Wow, he owned Pixar? Phantom Menace was trash, but the guy really is a visionary.
posted by raaka at 5:35 PM on April 23, 2002

Is this LJ's bid at immunity for another bad film, i.e., All good films turn into bad sequels-- but not by the director's dimentia. The people think that if something is good, more of the same is also good...and with enough marketing and mindless critics agreeing, the general population goes along with the idea... ?
posted by ParisParamus at 5:47 PM on April 23, 2002

I always admired Lucas' use of the fall of the Roman Republic as historical inspiration for Star Wars - it's one of the most fascinating puzzles in history. And I'm glad to see he's still thinking about it. Unfortunately, I'm not confident that any film can meaningfully explore such a complicated issue. Either it will be a gross simplification, or a boring film. From the sounds of it (the inaccuray of his comment about Caesar), Lucas is heading towards the gross simplification side of things.
posted by D at 6:07 PM on April 23, 2002

raaka: I strongly doubt your assertion about the continental aspirations of the colonies. Some of the very first acts of the new government were to handle the Westward claims of the 13 states; the most important achievement under the Articles of Confederation -- pre-Constitution -- was the establishment of the Northwest Territory; and Thomas Jefferson, as President, considered one of his most important acts the Lewis and Clark expedition to the Pacific, even as we acquired the Louisiana Purchase stretching to Colorado and Montana.

I also need more convincing that our constitutional system is broken, and especially that the process of amendment requires easing. Even though it's essentially the process by which our own constitution was created -- the convention was only supposed to propose alterations to the Articles of Confederation -- I'm suspicious of countries that revamp their constitutions top to bottom every generation like clockwork.

By the by, tranquileye, that's just about the only political comment in the article. It's not as revealing as the FPP suggests. (I'm not convinced that Lucas has thought about his hypothesis that deeply, either.)
posted by dhartung at 6:08 PM on April 23, 2002

Great article on Lucas's attempts to dress up his run-of-the-mill space opera themes with half-baked mythology and "visionary" thinking.
posted by Mid at 6:21 PM on April 23, 2002

"The Constitution is also much too difficult to amend" not really, they had one just for booze.
posted by clavdivs at 7:22 PM on April 23, 2002

Actually, they had two just for booze.
posted by NortonDC at 7:41 PM on April 23, 2002

D: It's not like SW has to exhaustively explore the issue. It's enough to express a view. Given the views Lucas has been accused of promoting (and I gotta say that essay defends its point well), it's nice to see some evidence of good thoughtfullness in SW.

SW has really always suffered ideologically and artistically for being totally incomplete. Here's hoping the whole story is worth 10-12 hours of film...!
posted by Jeremy Bowers at 7:53 PM on April 23, 2002

posted by clavdivs at 8:20 PM on April 23, 2002

Nice to see the Joe Campbell reading list augmented with a little Plato and Phillip K Dick. Get me rewrite!
posted by crunchburger at 9:40 PM on April 23, 2002

inaccuray=inaccuracy. Touché.

Jeremy: actually, I'd be happy if he used the era as a sort of thematic backdrop. I'm concerned that if he does attempt to express a view, that view will be hopelessly simplistic - such are the limitations of the popcorn movie. Gotta make room for the smooching and the swordfights!

Or, said view could be hopelessly confused. Wasn't Amidala a democratically elected Queen?
posted by D at 10:28 PM on April 23, 2002

"One day Princess Leia and her friends woke up and said, 'This isn't the Republic anymore, it's the Empire. We are the bad guys. Well, we don't agree with this. This democracy is a sham, it's all wrong.'"

Sounds like a pretty timely sentiment to me.
posted by Optamystic at 10:36 PM on April 23, 2002

roel: They succeeded in formulating a brilliant constitution; they did not -- however -- succeed in making people like FDR respect the damn thing.
posted by dagny at 12:51 AM on April 24, 2002

FDR- he had his own too.
posted by clavdivs at 5:05 AM on April 24, 2002

there's also the lucas/crowley connection! (via skallas :)

so subversive.
posted by kliuless at 6:40 AM on April 24, 2002

« Older Death of a Movement (?)   |   Bonkers or BubbleYum anyone? Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments