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On this "Sith are not evil" thing

STAR WARS: The Old Republic > English > STAR WARS Discussion
On this "Sith are not evil" thing

Highborne's Avatar


Highborne
08.21.2013 , 09:09 AM | #91
Quote: Originally Posted by Gratulor View Post
The Jedi don't participate in most Sith participations except for slavery.

And Bail Organa protested the creation of a clone army in Episode 2.
The Jedi did not. Well, not most of them - a few Jedi refused to participate in the Clone Wars (citing moral objections over commanding what amounted to slaves), but they were kicked out of the Order for refusing to toe the party line of the Council.

What's more, the Jedi sanctioned genocide upon a helpless populace that posed no further threat to them or the Republic they served - in the wake of the Great Hyperspace War, as documented by Jedi Master Gnost-Dural.

The Jedi consistently support a Republic which they know to be corrupt, both in SW:ToR and the prequel movies - I may remind you that, for instance, the populations of several planets in the Clone Wars genuinely wanted to secede from the Republic which had systematically ignored and denigrated them, but were prevented from doing so by Jedi.

The Jedi take infants from their families and forcibly raise them in their tradition - as do the Sith, to be sure.

The Jedi assume a level of control over their adherents that amounts to denial of free will - no relationships, no trust of outsiders, no attachments (except to the Council and its decrees), no freedom of thought, word or deed.

The Jedi Council attempts to systematically destroy any thinking that challenges their chosen dogmas - to an even greater extent than the Sith do (so long as you don't cross them in deed, the Dark Council cares little for what individual Sith think).

The Jedi Order were hypocrites, claiming that nothing good ever comes from the Dark Side of the Force, even as they adapted Rakatan technology (inherently powered by the Dark Side of the Force) to their own uses.

***

The Jedi are no more purely good than the Sith are purely evil - indeed, the Sith are not, and can never be, purely evil - the Sith are centered upon the concept of freedom, and freedom includes the freedom to choose to be and do good. One of the advantages of the class storylines is that you, should you choose to play a Jedi or Sith, can choose for yourself what kind of Jedi or Sith you are.

Euphrosyne's Avatar


Euphrosyne
08.21.2013 , 11:24 AM | #92
Quote: Originally Posted by XantosCledwin View Post
You have a lot of conceit to think that my mentioning of the Jews had anything at all to do with what the Romans themselves did to Israel.

You specifically singled out the cultures in the Mediterranean Basin as being widely acknowledged as some of the most barbaric in the history of the world. I essentially asked you if you were including Israel in your assumption that the cultures of the Mediterranean Basin were among the most barbaric. Seeing as how Israel is one of (if not THE) most famous cultures from the Mediterranean Basin that still exists to this day.

If you are ignoring Israel by virtue of the fact that it was the home of the Jews, then you have to ignore some of the bloodiest parts and single most well documented parts of this worlds history. Because the Jews were some of the most bloodthirsty people this world has ever seen.
Yes, I suppose I jumped the gun there, spurred by your poor wording and failure to actually mention any of the atrocities to which you were referring. Confining your commentary to Jews and Romans instantly made me think of the zealot and bar-Kochva wars. (Why would you specifically bring up the Jews anyway? How bizarre. They really weren't all that important at the time.)

If you're focusing on the various incarnations of the Jewish state, then yes, it was a bloodthirsty and brutal institution. (Insofar as it was an institution at all instead of a mere expression of personal rule yada yada yada you get the idea.) Just like all the other ones. Which is, you know, what I was saying in the first place. So freaking what?
Quote: Originally Posted by XantosCledwin
I make no attempts to pretend that Rome didn't kill people for entertainment or religious purposes. But I also don't try to sugar coat the fact that people are still doing much the same thing even today in some parts of the world. Heck, No Holds Bar Mixed Martial Arts Tournaments can be far more brutal than Gladiatorial Games ever were, and those can happen here in the United States on occasion.
Prize-fighting and combat sports are disgusting, but at least nobody is supposed to die, and every reasonable effort is taken to try to prevent debilitating injury or loss of life. By comparison, Roman gladiatorial combat was predicated on death. The two things are inseparable. There are estimates of 8,000 deaths per year throughout the Empire during the height of gladiatorial combat. That's insane. That would be like every single player in the National Football League being killed five times over, every year. UFC wouldn't even be a drop in the bucket.

And, you know, the other stuff, like the atrocities committed by its military, and the whole 'slavery' thing. It's completely absurd that you seem to be arguing that the Roman Empire was not meaningfully more brutal than modern OSCE states.
Quote: Originally Posted by XantosCledwin
Actually, Eckstein would be wrong in saying that Rome was no less brutal than any of it's competitor states. Especially if he had seen the things that happened in Northern Europe which was ruled largely by the Celts. They may not have made people fight for entertainement, but they did ritualize single-combat to the point where it was essentially a religious activity to them. And thats not even counting their use of ritual human sacrifice. Romans very rarely engaged in Ritual Human Sacrifice.
"Very rarely" - so you know that they did engage in ritual human sacrifice, right? You know, like after a major military defeat (e.g. Cannae, or Arausio), in order to appease the gods? Just checking. Because not only is that evil, that's completely horrifying.

I'd recommend actually reading Mediterranean Anarchy and the Rise of Rome before criticizing Eckstein's conclusions. I haven't got the book easily to hand to directly reproduce the statements he's made, but I'm sure you can find it in most university libraries. In lieu of that, you could bring up academic criticism of those elements of Eckstein's work. I think you'll find that such criticism doesn't exist, because frankly, there aren't a whole lot of modern, well-regarded academic historians that would repeat the line that Rome was not a casually brutal, violent, evil state. Eckstein goes significantly farther than a lot of the scholarship of the last thirty years in saying that Rome was only as brutal as its neighbors and competitors; for a long time, it was fashionable to argue that the Greek East, for instance, was defeated by Rome because it wasn't violent enough.

Let's not get into how problematic Roman ethnography was on the subject of foreigners, especially the so-called "barbarians", because then we'll get unnecessarily sidetracked even further. (I recommend the second, third, and fourth chapters of Guy Halsall's Barbarian Migrations and the Roman West on it, if you care to do the background reading.) But if you think that ritualizing single combat between more or less willing (if frequently drugged-up) participants is an atrocity worse than massacring the populations of cities (and enslaving the rest), then I'm not sure what to tell you.

Frankly, I'm confused as to why you're spending so much time on this sort of defense of Rome. It's making you look a little like a fangirl, honestly. Nobody is disparaging Roman literary achievements, or artistic ones, or the remarkable success of Roman institution-building. Nobody is saying that Rome was worse than, say, Nazi Germany, or the Hutu Interahamwe of Rwanda, or Democratic Kampuchea, or Stalin's USSR. (It certainly wasn't. However nasty Rome could be in other ways, it couldn't even imagine mass murder on a Hitlerite scale.) What we are saying, in the most basic sense possible, is that Rome and pretty much all other premodern states were banally evil. They did many evil things.

What's strange about this argument you're putting up is not that you disagree that Rome did evil things; you've admitted to human sacrifice, you've admitted to murder for entertainment, and you're tacitly admitting to an institutionally brutal military and to human bondage. You're disagreeing, apparently, on the scale. Which is irrelevant. You're free to believe that the magnitude of Rome's evil was less than that of some random Celtic tribes on the edge of the world. You'd be wrong, of course, but it's not important for the sake of the point Alex and I were trying to get across, namely, that Rome was still institutionally evil.
Quote: Originally Posted by XantosCledwin
Eh... the thing is... Each Dark Council member essentially has complete autonomy of his or her portion of the Sith Military. They do not answer to any of the other members of the Dark Council except on matters that affect the entire Sith Power Structure as a whole. And they are only answerable to the Voice of the Emperor who himself is only answerable to Vitiate. So yes, they are easily corrupted. But no, they are not impeded by bureaucracy the way that the Republic Senate is.

As for my statement about the Senate taking decades to make a decision... that was largely drawn from a statement made by one of the Senators in Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

I never said it was better organized, or more stable. I said it was faster at coming to important decisions. That doesn't automatically mean it is going to make the right decisions, or that it is immune to corruption. It just means it is faster to execute plans.

Also, thank you to the poster above me, who has pointed out quite expertly that without WAR as an entity, or at the very least conflict in general... there would be no technology as we understand it today. Which means that without War, this very conversation would not be happening.
So your contention is that a group of semifeudal, internally antagonistic, magocratic megalomaniacal lunatics as a government is better than democratic and bureaucratic institutions because at least it can come to decisions "quickly". Even if that were true - and again, it's never actually been backed up - the colossal drawbacks associated with the Sith style of government should've been a pretty big warning sign.

You - and a few other people on this site - keep repeating "bureaucracy" as though it's a magic word devoid of any positive connotations that automatically makes the Republic a worse place. This doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me. It's certainly a Star Wars tradition to whine about "bureaucracy" in representative government; there was a lot of it in The Phantom Menace. It seems to me, though, that this complaint is frequently misunderstood by the people who are making it. When Palpatine claimed that the decision makers of the Senate were "mired" in bureaucracy, he was not complaining about the elected nature of the government. In a republic, bureaucrats are by definition unelected. They're the policymakers who stay on as elected officials come and go, insuring continuity. Palpatine's Episode I rallying cry was not to weaken the power of elected officials, but to return power to them - making the Supreme Chancellor, a position accountable to the Senate, more capable of exerting authority in the face of opposition from entrenched bureaucrats.

Criticizing "bureaucracy" is not the same thing as criticizing red tape, or overly tortuous and inefficient decision making. Those latter two things can exist in any system. Democracies can be eminently efficient, sometimes in universally acceptable ways (like the United States during the presidency of Abraham Lincoln) and sometimes in universally horrifying ways (like the French Republic under the Committee of Public Safety). And autocracies can be eminently inefficient, again both in relatively benign ways (like in Metternich's Austria) and in awful ones (like in Nazi Germany, which is, incidentally, by near-universal agreement, the closest real-world analogue to the Sith Empire). If the Galactic Republic in SWTOR is inefficient at making decisions, it is not intrinsic to its republican system of government. It can be changed.

And, again, the Republic hasn't actually been shown to be more inefficient than the Sith Empire.

---

All of my comments should not be taken as criticizing war in general. That's entirely outside the scope of this discussion, is arguably irrelevant, and wouldn't make any sense anyway. I've read van Creveld's work and broadly agree with most of what he has to say. (I actually used one of his works as a key reference in a paper I wrote a few years ago, discussing the logistics of the German military's war plan in 1914. So yeah.) It's pretty much incontrovertible that a lot of technological developments have occurred in the context of searches for solutions to military problems. The whole reason states started sponsoring technological research in the first place was because rulers wanted better weapons. Of course.

That's entirely separate from the issue of institutionalized state brutality, violence, and evil. This isn't about war per se. This is about state violence against noncombatants. Or about unjustifiable state violence against citizens and subjects of the same state. Or about state-sponsored or -protected slavery. You get the idea.
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Vecke's Avatar


Vecke
08.21.2013 , 12:08 PM | #93
Quote: Originally Posted by Spetulhu View Post
so the question is - can you leave the Jedi Order?
That's a tricky question. On the surface, yes. Any Jedi can leave the Order. Dooku left (along with 20 other Jedi, I think). They aren't required by doctrine to stay in the Jedi Order.

But the ambiguous part is that they're not given that choice until after they've been completely indoctrinated by Jedi dogma. As babies, they don't have the choice. And they're raised to believe the life of servitude is the only life worth living. So by the time they're old enough to make that decision, it's not really a decision they'd make.

Most circus elephants are kept restrained by a single small rope. This rope is not strong enough to actually restrain the elephant, but the elephants rarely break free. They don't even try. Why? Because for the first several years of their lives, they're kept in place with a large chain that is strong enough to hold them. By the time the handlers switch to the cheaper, weaker rope, it doesn't even occur to the elephant that it can break the new rope because the chain taught it breaking free isn't really an option. So it doesn't even try to break free.

Jedi are tethered to the Order in a similar fashion.
"I know."

XantosCledwin's Avatar


XantosCledwin
08.21.2013 , 06:11 PM | #94
Quote: Originally Posted by Spetulhu View Post
Servitude isn't necessarily slavery outright. There's other systems that for long times were more common in Europe, with different degrees of limitations on freedom. Serfdom of different types where you held a plot of land for a lord and in return for his protection repaid him in goods or service weren't going out of fashion in Central and Eastern Europe until the end of the 19th century. These people were generally bound to their land (they needed the lord's agreement if they wished to leave) and didn't have that many options for getting out. Taking a job as a servant, maybe, or enlisting as a soldier if the lord was expected to provide the local king with such.

The system of serfdom is forbidden in the same text where the UN condemns slavery - it's seen as just another form of slavery. Edit: so the question is - can you leave the Jedi Order?
I am largely familiar with the Feudal System. And Peasants though technically considered Freemen, were essentially indentured workers for all intents and purposes. Meanwhile Serfs were basically the same thing as Slaves, the word is just nicer.

As far as "Can you leave the Jedi Order" the answer is a resounding YES. Ahsoka Tano did leave the Jedi Order at the end of the TV Series Star Wars: The Clone Wars. And she did not fall to the Dark Side or become a Dark Jedi. So it has been shown that it is possible to leave the Jedi Order with no ill intent rendered.

Quote: Originally Posted by Euphrosyne View Post
Prize-fighting and combat sports are disgusting, but at least nobody is supposed to die, and every reasonable effort is taken to try to prevent debilitating injury or loss of life. By comparison, Roman gladiatorial combat was predicated on death. The two things are inseparable. There are estimates of 8,000 deaths per year throughout the Empire during the height of gladiatorial combat. That's insane. That would be like every single player in the National Football League being killed five times over, every year. UFC wouldn't even be a drop in the bucket.

And, you know, the other stuff, like the atrocities committed by its military, and the whole 'slavery' thing. It's completely absurd that you seem to be arguing that the Roman Empire was not meaningfully more brutal than modern OSCE states.
I would be interested in finding out where you got that figure. Because typical Gladiatorial Events only featured around 100 participants (only the incredibly rare Imperial Shows featured participants ranging in the 5,000's). And even then, Gladiatorial Games were not fights to the death except in very special occasions. It would be very bad policy for a Roman Gladiatorial Games Manager to allow his prized fighter to go into a fight knowing that there was a chance that all the training he gave that fighter would result in said fighter ending up dead.

Assuming that Gladiatorial Games were always lethal is something that Hollywood taught us to do. The games were not lethal under most circumstances, and the ones that were were usually between two hardened criminals instead of being between prize fighters.

As for the OSCE States, I have no idea what that acronym stands for. So I have no way of comparing them to Ancient Rome. But, I will say that I do not believe Rome was innocent. But I still acknowledge that because of Rome we have a lot of things that we wouldn't have had otherwise. For example, without Rome we wouldn't have many of the works of classical literature that we still have today (including the Bible). Without Rome we wouldn't have Aqueduct based irrigation, which would mean many cities around the world would not have clean water supplies. Nor would we have proper waste disposal. Nor would we have a concept of how to build international road systems. Point is, that a lot of the things we take for granted today, came about because of Rome's ingenuity.

Quote: Originally Posted by Euphrosyne View Post
"Very rarely" - so you know that they did engage in ritual human sacrifice, right? You know, like after a major military defeat (e.g. Cannae, or Arausio), in order to appease the gods? Just checking. Because not only is that evil, that's completely horrifying.
Only if you look at it with completely perfect 20/20 hindsight. If you were a person living back then, and all you knew was what you had been taught by the Roman Culture, then it wouldn't look all that horrifying.

Also I would like to point out, that the whole "Us being against human sacrifice" is a by product of our culture today being a Judeo-Christian Centric Culture with Judeo-Christian sensibilities. If it had been the Pre-Christian Roman Culture that had survived into the modern era, instead of the Judeo-Christian one... then it is entirely plausible that our morals would be shifted in such a way as to find human sacrifice perfectly acceptable.

I mean, if you were a hindu living in India, your morals would be sufficiently different from the morals of a Christian living in the United States, that the two of you probably wouldn't recognize each others morals. For reference, Hindu's in India still perform animal blood sacrifice. In fact there are some groups in the United States who perform such sacrifices (Santerians for example). Are you going to tell me that people that practice animal sacrifice are automatically evil and disgusting. Because if you are, then you might as well include anyone who eats a hamburger in that list as well.
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steyates
08.22.2013 , 02:19 AM | #95
Quote: Originally Posted by XantosCledwin View Post

I would be interested in finding out where you got that figure. Because typical Gladiatorial Events only featured around 100 participants (only the incredibly rare Imperial Shows featured participants ranging in the 5,000's). And even then, Gladiatorial Games were not fights to the death except in very special occasions. It would be very bad policy for a Roman Gladiatorial Games Manager to allow his prized fighter to go into a fight knowing that there was a chance that all the training he gave that fighter would result in said fighter ending up dead.

Assuming that Gladiatorial Games were always lethal is something that Hollywood taught us to do. The games were not lethal under most circumstances, and the ones that were usually between two hardened criminals instead of being between prize fighters.
I really do think you need to get your facts straight on the Roman arenas. This is not just a Hollywood attitude as can be seen in this letter written by Seneca (a Roman stoic philosopher);

Quote:
I happened to go to one of these shows at the time of the lunch-hour interlude, expecting there to be some light and witty entertainment then, some respite for the purpose of affording people’s eyes a rest from human blood. Far from it. All the earlier contests were charity in comparison. The nonsense is dispensed with now: what we have now is murder pure and simple. The combatants have nothing to protect them; their whole bodies are exposed to the blows; every thrust they launch gets home. A great many spectators prefer this to the ordinary matches and even to the special, popular demand ones. And quite naturally. There are no helmets and no shields repelling the weapons. What is the point of armour? Or of skill? All that sort of thing just makes the death slower in coming. In the morning men are thrown to the lions and the bears: but it is the spectators they are thrown to in the lunch hour. The spectators insist that each on killing his man shall be thrown against another to be killed in his turn; and the eventual victor is reserved by them for sonic other form of butchery; the only exit for the contestants is death. Fire and steel keep the slaughter going. And all this happens while the arena is virtually empty.
Gladiatorial combats were not just between two hardened criminals and were often lethal and held purely for entertainment like watching some Hollywood slasher/gore movie only real.

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XantosCledwin
08.22.2013 , 03:47 AM | #96
I never said gladiatorial games were clean helpless fun. They were often brutal with people losing limbs. But they were only on rare occasions actually fatal. That Roman Poet you cited probably ended up going to one of the really bad ones. And for the record, you need to note that he does make distinct mention of previous gladiatorial games that were in fact safer for the participants than the one he is commenting on.

It should be noted that there are records of certain gladiators who have spent decades fighting in the arena with no deaths, some of which who won their eventual freedom.
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AlexDougherty
08.22.2013 , 05:32 AM | #97
I've said this before, but any failings by the Jedi do not make the Sith any less evil.

The only real consideration is whether the Sith are Evil, and by their actions they clearly are. The fact they don't pretend to be nice does not dull the fact they are on the whole out and out evil. In fact the few good Sith are in hiding and plotting to overthrow the Dark Council, mind you most of the Evil Sith are planning the same thing.
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Vecke
08.22.2013 , 11:27 AM | #98
Quote: Originally Posted by AlexDougherty View Post
I've said this before, but any failings by the Jedi do not make the Sith any less evil.

The only real consideration is whether the Sith are Evil, and by their actions they clearly are. The fact they don't pretend to be nice does not dull the fact they are on the whole out and out evil. In fact the few good Sith are in hiding and plotting to overthrow the Dark Council, mind you most of the Evil Sith are planning the same thing.
I totally agree. I've yet to see an argument saying the Sith aren't evil that isn't really just an argument saying evil doesn't exist. That's a different debate altogether. In a world where evil exists, the Sith are clearly evil.

Now, the argument that the Jedi are good... that position is a little harder to defend. Clearly, the Jedi are not evil and clearly their actions are for a greater good.... but the Jedi often run into the gray area of "do the means justify the ends?"

But the Sith... yeah, if evil exists, they are it.
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Sarlegant
08.22.2013 , 10:44 PM | #99
alrighty then...
The Franco-Prussian war ended in 1871...
Karl Benz built the first car in 1885, patent in 1886...
Germany went to war in 1914...
I'm sure sometimes between 1871 and 1914 there was some war we can create with why Karl Benz built his car.

Lets do some jumping to extremes...

The Wheel... was first the potters wheel, for making pottery... some wise fella flipped in on it's edge, mounted it to a chariot, and presto we've proven war created the wheel.

All this extreme nonsense, is the result of discussing the Sith code... war is progress, peace is stagnation.

In order to make this truth, we're gonna ignore the evolution in design, from Karl Benz's first automobile to the modern automobile sitting in my driveway. WIthout war, ie progress, I'd be driving a vehicle with less than 1 horsepower to work... on the way to work, I'd have to stop off at the drugstore, to get some cleaner fluid, to put in the gas tank. That's correct, cleaner fluid, because in a world without war, we'd have never needed more than cleaner fluid, hence no Standard Oil Company was ever built... no Exxon Mobil.

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Thylbanus
08.23.2013 , 12:19 AM | #100
Quote: Originally Posted by Sarlegant View Post
alrighty then...
The Franco-Prussian war ended in 1871...
Karl Benz built the first car in 1885, patent in 1886...
Germany went to war in 1914...
I'm sure sometimes between 1871 and 1914 there was some war we can create with why Karl Benz built his car.

Lets do some jumping to extremes...

The Wheel... was first the potters wheel, for making pottery... some wise fella flipped in on it's edge, mounted it to a chariot, and presto we've proven war created the wheel.

All this extreme nonsense, is the result of discussing the Sith code... war is progress, peace is stagnation.

In order to make this truth, we're gonna ignore the evolution in design, from Karl Benz's first automobile to the modern automobile sitting in my driveway. WIthout war, ie progress, I'd be driving a vehicle with less than 1 horsepower to work... on the way to work, I'd have to stop off at the drugstore, to get some cleaner fluid, to put in the gas tank. That's correct, cleaner fluid, because in a world without war, we'd have never needed more than cleaner fluid, hence no Standard Oil Company was ever built... no Exxon Mobil.
Just because war isn't looming, doesn't mean that the military isn't working on the next big thing to kill people. The Navy's pursuit of the railgun has NO practical application to the current world situation, and yet they've spent billions on it. When wars end, there is a push by the military to remedy the problems found in battle. So just because a war ends, doesn't mean that the inventing stops, it will generally increase.

Without war we also wouldn't have antibiotics, anesthesia, and many wonders of modern medicine, or at least at the level we do today. Sure, there would be no Exxon-Mobil, but then again, you may not have been here either.

It's not extreme, it's just practical. Extreme it not admitting how much our modern world is here because our ancestors tried very hard to kill each other. Without conquest there would be no homogenization of cultures. Without which, the great ideas that each generation's geniuses build from would not propagate.

BTW, the wheel was just man taking the logs he rolled massive loads on and mounting them on a frame to reduce the amount of timber it took to move things.
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