Saturday, December 17, 2016

"Peace Through Strength" and the Propaganda of the Death Star as an Instrument of "Peace"

Saw Rogue One last night.  I'm not one of these big Star Wars guys who knows facts about the characters and storylines that don't actually appear in the movies.  But in light of recent political events, it got me thinking about the meta-narrative of Star Wars.

It was very striking to me that, amongst the Imperial Army, the Death Star is regularly spoken of as an instrument of "peace".  Whatever "peace" is in the minds of the Imperial Army, a vision which is ultimately formed by the Emperor and the Dark Side of the Force, it is best (and perhaps ultimately achievable only) through military strength.

Where have I heard this sort of thing before?

A strong military will stop wars. Peace through Strength! Let’s Make America Great Again!

In Star Wars, the Imperial perception is that the ultimate power exists with the Death Star.  For them,  it is the truth of the way things are.  It is written into the fabric of the universe.

"This station is now the ultimate power in the universe!  I suggest we use it."
-General Motti

Doesn't "peace through strength" have a certain ring to it?  And a certain sober realism about human nature and the human condition?

"Love won't save you, Padme. Only my new powers can do that!  I won't lose you the way I lost my mother. I am becoming more powerful than any Jedi has ever dreamed of, and I'm doing it for you. To protect you."
-Anakin Skywalker

But make no mistake.  Peace through (military) strength is really just a way to say peace as submission.  Peace through submission to a military will.  Peace through fear.  Which is to say there is no such thing as peace at all, only power.

"Fear will keep the local systems in line. Fear of this battle station."
-Grand Moff Tarkin

"Once more the Sith will rule the galaxy. And... we shall have... peace."
-Chancellor Palpatine

The Sith Code

Peace is a lie, there is only passion.
Through passion, I gain strength.
Through strength, I gain power.
Through power, I gain victory.
Through victory, my chains are broken.
The Force shall free me.


The stories we create have something to tell us.  As we see in the movie, Chancellor Palpatine's "peace" is anything but.  Haven't we tried this already?  It will not work.  And it isn't the "ultimate power in the universe".

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