January 17, 2007

GEOPOLITICS WITH THE GEORGES:

So, our youngest is watching Star Wars III -- for the umpteenth time -- and it was just at the part where George Lucas delivers his stinging rebuke to the other George, with Annakin Skywalker saying to Obi Wan; "If you aren't with me, you're my enemy." Obi Wan's response: "Only a Sith deals in absolutes."

The suggestion that the two are not enemies, or that Obi Wan could be kind-of-pro-Dark-Side, is insipid even by the low standards of these philosophically incoherent films. Perhaps all you really need to know about the dismal state of liberalism is that it has trouble even saying that it would oppose the Dark Side.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 17, 2007 11:54 AM
Comments

Yes there appeared to be a lot of anti-Bush symbols in the latest batch of Star Wars films. There were plenty of cartoons with Bush/Cheney in the Vadar mask.

But this is nothing new as many lefty sides were comparing Bush/Cheney to Sauron/Sarumun from LOTR when it came out.

Posted by: AWW at January 17, 2007 12:20 PM

Yes there appeared to be a lot of anti-Bush symbols in the latest batch of Star Wars films. There were plenty of cartoons with Bush/Cheney in the Vadar mask.

But this is nothing new as many lefty sides were comparing Bush/Cheney to Sauron/Sarumun from LOTR when it came out.

Posted by: AWW at January 17, 2007 12:22 PM

Sadly, that's some of George Lucas's best dialogue. Clear, coherent, understandable. It's the underlying logic that's crap. (Invert the statement: so, you could have a good Sith?)

Posted by: ed in texas at January 17, 2007 12:26 PM

Gentlemen: That's what the Star Wars stories are all about: phoney. pseudo-Bhudda in the pizza shop, make-me-one-with-everything mumbo-jumbo.

Posted by: Lou Gots at January 17, 2007 12:47 PM

Stalin put it better: "When a Russian sees a wolf, he doesn't wait - he shoots it!"

But if Lucas intended the Sith to be morally fuzzy, then why make Palpatine look like a corpse and stage Annakin's fight with Obi-Wan in a pseudo-hell?

Evidently, absolutes aren't his specialty.

Posted by: ratbert at January 17, 2007 1:27 PM

Liberals are incapable of dealing in absolutes.

Posted by: Bartman at January 17, 2007 1:37 PM

Liberals are incapable of dealing in absolutes.

Posted by: Bartman at January 17, 2007 1:39 PM

Raoul--Jonathan Last would probably agree!

Posted by: Ed Driscoll at January 17, 2007 2:11 PM

"Only a Sith deals in absolutes."

"Are you absolutely sure of that?"

"Absolutely."

"Then you're a Sith yerself. Q.E.D.!"

"No! I'm not a Sith, I'm an enlightened, pro-choice, multicultural, tolerant, rationalist, Darwinian, postmodern progressive liberal kind of guy. I'm absolutely sure of that . . . but only Siths are absolutists, and I'm not a Sith, so . . . ILLOGICAL! ILLOGICAL! NORMAN COORDINATE!"

Posted by: Mike Morley at January 17, 2007 2:52 PM

I don't take the line seriously given how all six movies make a pretty firm distinction between good and evil. Write it off as a stupid thing said in the heat of the moment.

Brin's articles are terrible. He has no regard at all for things like duty, tradition, honour, faith etc. and would rather we all kowtow to the antiseptic Star Trek: TNG types.

Posted by: Ali Choudhury at January 17, 2007 2:55 PM

The correct response to Anakin's whining is that his statement transforms critical issues involving the fate of the entire galaxy to his own selfish desire. The universe can't be based around him alone. That mentality is what caused him to murder little children and support tyranny, and if he doesn't recoil from that kind of evil, then Obi-Wan must reject and defy him.

Anakin's statement that Obi-wan is either with him or against him is only superficially similar to Bush's statement that people are either with us or with the terrorists. That statement was meant to highlight that a failure to actively oppose terrorism is, in effect, supporting it. It was not a call that everyone had to support specific US policies.

Brin is correct that that a traditional fantasy setting (having nobility and a semi-caste system) makes for bad politics. However, he forgets that fantasy is not meant to be political commentary, but uses symbols to discuss meaningful spiritual problems and development. Star Wars and Star Trek use the same sci-fi tropes, but are telling utterly different kinds of stories.

That essentially is the problem with some of the elements Lucas uses in Episodes I-III. The major problem with the prequel trilogy is that he fails to show the evident rot of the Republic and how it allowed evil to overcome it. A lot is hinted at, but it should have been made more explicit.

The key to understanding the series is that the old Jedi order is hidebound and complacent. Instead of being spiritual guides and inspirations, they have accepted the role as policemen. Qui-Gon knew this, but Yoda did not. This explains why even though Yoda was a necessary mentor to Luke, that Luke was right and Yoda wrong in two key decisions: trying to save Han, Chewie, and Leia in Empire and attempting to redeem his father in Return. Obi-wan shared Yoda's faults as well.

Posted by: Chris Durnell at January 17, 2007 4:52 PM

Yoda was right about the first. Luke's friends managed to get away fine without him and he was nearly killed\captured thanks to his lack of experience.

Posted by: Ali Choudhury at January 17, 2007 5:04 PM

What does the Left consist of but the overweaning focus on the self?

Posted by: oj at January 17, 2007 5:59 PM

I'm reminded of a "news eport" the great NewsRadio episode "Space":

"Tragedy struck today in Sector 9 as rebel terrorists blew up the Death Star, killing thousands. The Rebel Alliance, a fringe group of Anti-Empire fanatics, has claimed responsibility for the terrorist act. Fortunately Lord Vader escaped without harm. Our hearts go out to the families of the victims."

Posted by: tsol at January 17, 2007 6:58 PM

He has no regard at all for things like duty, tradition, honour, faith etc. and would rather we all kowtow to the antiseptic Star Trek: TNG types.

Another of Brin's articles covers such Romantic notions in regards to Lord of the Rings. And where exactly are those qualities shown in any of those movies, anyhow?

From the end of Last's article:

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.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at January 17, 2007 8:14 PM

Last's analysis is incomplete to say the least. Star Wars is a magnificent critique of Big Government. An overly centralised Republic turns corrupt and falls under the sway of a genocidal tax-and-spend despot who crushes any countervailing institution he can't control. It's the Road To Serfdom with laser swords.

"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."

Well duh, it's an action fable not an edition of Meet The Press. All you need to know is it ends happily.

Posted by: Ali Choudhury at January 18, 2007 6:56 AM
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