How Liberty Dies

Youtube has been suggesting for weeks that I might be interested in watching the video below, "how liberty dies" and I eventually made the bad mistake of taking "a glance" at it late one night last weekend when I had been about to retire for the evening.

I am no longer allowed to display the sound and video on this blog but you can still watch and listen to it on Youtube by clicking on this link.

To be clear, the mistake was choosing that time to look at it and my wife quite rightly told me off an hour and twenty minutes later when I finally came to bed in the wee small hours. 

It wasn't a mistake to watch it and I strongly recommend it to anyone with an interest in politics. Just make sure that you have an hour ant twenty minutes clear. 

In "Star Wars III - Revenge of the Sith" Senator Padme Amidala (Natalie Portman) says "So this is how liberty dies - to thunderous applause." 

This video pulls together material from all three Star Wars prequel films and animated series from "The Clone Wars" to "Star Wars Rebels" and this year's "The Bad Batch" to tell the story of the fall of a democratic republic and how it was replaced by a brutal dictatorship.

Of course, the Republic in Star Wars is unusually unfortunate in that Robert Conquest's third law does not just accurately predict its' behaviour but is literally true - both the Republic and its open opponents, the Separatists really are secretly controlled by a small group of Sith Lords whose aims are inimical to both.

The survival of free societies is not an inevitability and history offers many examples from the Greek city states through the Roman republic to the establishment of the Third Reich of how a democratic soceity can decay into tyranny, wehther the state that results calls itself and empire or a "People's democratic republic." (It seems, of corse, to be an unvarying rule that any state with "Democratic" in it's title, isn't.)

Do I think that democracy in the West is in immediate and urgent danger of being replaced by dictatorship? No.

But do I think that we can safely assume that it could never happen here? Again, No.

As per my "quote of the day" this morning, the price of liberty is eternal vigilance. 

The author of this video, who calls himself "Arken the Amerikan" suggests that the saga of the fall of the republic in Star Wars draws parallel not just to real-world history but to contemporary politics as well. I think this is true: I don't think democracy is in as bad a state in the USA or Britain as it was in the galactic republic of the Star Wars stories even at the start of "The Phantom Menace" and before the rise of Sheev Palpatine.

The temptation for anyone watching this clip and making parallels with the real world might be to assume that the mistakes called out in the video correspond to the real-world errors of those we already disagree with. But we will learn far more from it if we ask ourselves whether we, and the people we support, are walking into some of the same traps. 

To illustrate the point, I had assumed that the author of the video was on one side of the political spectrum in America until at almost the end of the clip he repeats, too exactly for it to be anything other than a direct quote, a phrase coined by someone at exactly the opposite end of the mainstream political spectrum to where I had assumed he was coming from. 

So if the author is where I had placed him, it does not stop him reading and learning from the views of people who take a different view. Perhaps that too is something we can learn from this.


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