🥈 ESSAY CONTEST FINALIST
I write this essay with the intention to be useful for any further conversation on this matter. Hopefully, it will be helpful to decide this question once and for all.
The Galactic Republic
The Galactic Republic was a democracy, with the cornerstones of freedom and justice. It consisted two levels of power: most of the member worlds - such as Naboo, Onderon, Alderaan, Toyderia, Mon Cala etc - were ruled by monarchs who were elected by the people, their ruling councils, or were legitimized fundamentally by the support of the public. These planetary systems appointed Senators to represent them in the Galactic Senate, the governing and legistlative body what elected the Supreme Chancellor of the Galactic Republic. This government was under the protection of the Jedi Order, who had the mandate to call the forces of the Republic and hold monarchs accountable, guarding peace and justice.
The Galactic Republic, as we can see, is a democratic form of government with elected, accountable leaders and with principles ensuring rights and freedoms. How did it fall, then? The answer is quiet disturbing: a democracy is only as good as the people who are upholding it are good. The principle what underpins real-world democracies and the Galactic Republic is the "will of the people". If people have freedom, they are free to mind and build their individual businesses and lives, but in a democracy, the institutions are responsible to uphold the individual's freedoms and rights, and each individual is responsible to uphold the institutions by engaging actively in politics, like voting and running for state officials. Democracy falls in five steps.
- Step one: people start to see engagement in politics as a nuisance. This gives free way to those who see wielding democratic power as an opportunity to feed their hunger for power, and most importantly, to gain wealth. This clearly happened with the Galactic Republic, and if this happens, the structure what was built to serve the good for all become powerless and paralyzed, since it becomes a vehicle through which politicians are able to serve their own personal interests and goals. The system becomes brain dead.
- Step two: the people who doesn't want to engage in politics - since it's tiresome - recognizes something is wrong. Some believes, the system is broken, and was doomed to fail from the very beginning, and they need to come up with a better one. Some may or may not blame the government and decide to leave and start a new one, while they are still not wish to have responsibility for it's survival and functioning.
- Step three: one person, or a group of persons says, he/she will be able to repair the system. They will always introduces themselves as the answer for the problem, but knowing very well that the true answer for the problem is to reset democracy and awake sense of responsibility in the people.
- Step four: he/she or the group will promise justice, freedom, peace and security, but he/she will say, more power is needed to achieve this, since the bureaucracy and corrupt, useless barriers - and these barriers are always the checks and balances - are preventing him to operate quickly. He/she may, or may not orchestrate a threat when people will need someone to tell them what to do, someone who can protect them, but someone, who is not the corrupt and bureaucratic Senate/Parliament/Assembly/Congress.
- Step five: He/she will inevitably makes the offer: he/she will deal with all the politics, so the people will be free from this nonsense. The people vote this person full power, giving away the opportunity to take it back or hold the leader accountable: tyranny is born.
The Galactic Empire
While a democracy is about freedom, equality and accountability, and it's invented to serve the good for all, in a tyranny the right to decide is monopolized by a sole ruler or a circle of advisers whom he/she trusts, and he/she is not accountable. The person who sits on the throne on the pike of the hierarchy has no obligation to consider the public's opinion or needs, and the whole system is focusing on to fulfill his/her wishes.
It's also important that the Emperor can and will get rid of the corrupt and paralyzed democratic institutions, but it doesn't mean that corruption is ceased. It's just shifted focus, and consumed all the state: every single political positions, every single property what one may hold, every title and rank is depending on the Emperor's will. He will give wealth, position and rank to those who he knows they are his blindly loyal servants or/and who are greedy enough to do everything just to get crumbs from the power he holds.
A democratic system, even if it's functions properly with large masses of politically active and conscious citizens, is not without flaws. Since it's built on the principles of freedom, equality and justice for all, there is a chance that organizations (Black Sun, pirates) are taking advantage on their rights, or with twisted interpretation of laws, try to undermine justice (Trade Federation).
Since a tyranny is focusing on to keep the power and full control of the Emperor, these organizations are defeated more effectively. Military wipes them out, causing crime decrease drastically.
But only because these organizations are a threat for the Emperor's rule and full control, therefore, they are considered to be enemies of state, a label what is suitable to anyone else who threatens the rule and control of the Emperor. An Empire can, and will answer with the same brutality for critique as it answers for the threat of crime organization, for it's sole goal is to eliminate every threat for the person who sits on the throne, not the threat for the people. Anyone, who dares to oppose the Emperor, or anyone who has anything what the Emperor wants for himself, is in mortal danger.
In addition, a tyranny will boost economy and create jobs, but not to raise the quality of living in the Empire, but to create an effective working force to achieve the goals of the Emperor. These are going to be a) developing military and building destructive weapons to ensure the rule of the Emperor b) building statues and palaces to feed the Emperor's ego c) develop agriculture, industry and other areas of economy to have a healthy and capable work force, military, and of course, to give the Emperor and his circle a perfect luxury lifestyle.
Many who may serve the Empire and the Emperor are not recognizing themselves as puppets of oppression. The Galactic Empire had numerous officials and generals who truly believed to serve the greater good, and they were compassionate, caring people. But they are deceived. All forms of tyranny - in Star Wars and in our real world - are heavily relies on these people, carefully selecting the information what they have access to. They will be most likely from states what was outside of the democratic system's radar, and had failing economy and security, so the Emperor can introduce himself as their savior - and in this case, he does purged some communities from crime, corruption and other poisons of democracy. The soldiers coming from these communities will be unable to compare the regime they serve with the system before it, for they didn't experience the benefits of democracy. They will easily believe that the Emperor is a force for good, and anyone who opposes it's rule are the same kind of terrorists and criminals, agents of chaos who made their life sour during the days of the Republic. And if they realize how cruel the system is... they will be quickly labeled as traitors and terrorists.
When it comes to the question, "was the Empire good?" ask yourself: "What the Empire asks in exchange for what it offers?" Then think again.