Star Wars is a film about a struggle between a totalitarian dictatorship that controls most of the galaxy, known as “the Empire” and a militarized band of activists under the title of “the Rebel Alliance”. The empire is trying to bring stability and peace throughout the galaxy by controlling the local star systems through fear and corruption, while the rebel alliance fights for an overthrown democracy known as “The old Republic”. I believe that using the social power lens is super important to view this movie, as it allows you to move out of the “rebels are great” ideology and actually view the film from a political standpoint. To be able to understand the Empire, you need to first understand the history of the franchise.
The old republic was a democratic galactic organization that allowed each star system to send a delegate to the senate, which was run by a supreme chancellor, practically the galactic version of a president. These “delegates” would participate in a galactic senate, which would decide galactic laws and deal with conflicts. The personal problems of each planet were decided by the delegates of the star system. It is a very similar structure to the Canadian democratic system, just on a much larger scale.
The problem was, the Star Wars setting is a very diverse galaxy. It was practically impossible for the Republic to maintain peace and basic rights across a galaxy of distinct species. Due to this, independent star systems or clusters broke off from the senate and began creating their own laws and declaring wars freely. Because factions of multiple groups within the senate, such as the trade federation, could form easily, these factions were able to gain immunity from republic intervention, ended up invade neighboring communities; therefore gaining more power in the senate. The empire, on the other hand, rose out of a military coup within the republic, where supreme chancellor Palpatine purged the senate and assumed direct control. He then proceeded to install a reign of fear. By controlling the different systems directly through military occupation and fear, he successfully created a system where most HUMANS have basic human rights unless they collaborate with the rebellion. Although individual freedoms were limited, they were still mentained at a level to which people still have the right to everything other having political power. This was the ultimate goal of the old republic, a peaceful galaxy, and it was brought around by a fascist dictatorship.
The conclusion is that although the rebels are constantly shown as the “good guys”, I believe that that couldn’t be further than the truth. The Rebels are a highly organized terrorist group trying to bring down the first government that has ever ensured galactic human rights, laws, and stability. The argument can be made that the empire is corrupt, and that it allows criminal organizations to run freely, but those criminals would be prosecuted if the empire wasn’t busy fighting a galactic terrorist group. When all is said and done, the rebels are quite frankly hypocrites. Trying to bring “peace” to an already peaceful galaxy, and as a result, tearing the galaxy back apart; sending the it into chaos.