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The Galactic Republic was corrupt. Many of its Senators and bureaucrats were corrupt. That became clear when the Senate would not lift a tentacle to save Naboo from attack by the Trade Federation when its people were dying.

Surely the Jedi knew the Republic was a democracy in name only, and that it was hopelessly corrupt. It was probably corrupt centuries before a politician named Palpatine began manipulating the Trade Federation and Naboo towards war.

They surely knew - or should have known - the inner worlds became wealthy by oppressing the outer rim worlds. This oppression led to many outer rim worlds breaking away from the Republic to create the Confederacy of Independent Systems.

By supporting it as peacekeepers and negotiators, the Jedi helped prolong the suffering of people affected by corrupt governments and corporations.

Why would the idealistic Jedi serve a corrupt system?

Edit: I am offering a bounty for an answer because none of the answers so far really satisfy the question. TheIronCheek provided a really good reply that my premise is flawed (and I even voted up that answer), but I disagree with the answer. I genuinely think the Galactic Republic was mostly corrupt. I will approve an answer that convinces me the republic was not corrupt or an answer that shows why the Jedi would support it knowing full well it was corrupt.

Consider these points which show the republic was corrupt and weak:

  • The Republic can't break a corporation’s blockade of a defenseless planet in Episode I and many of the senators don't seem to care. If a corporation here on Earth tried to blockade a small country with a private army, would you expect the other nations to tolerate it?
  • People are surprised to discover slavery still exists in the Outer Rim worlds. Thus showing the Republic's laws are not enforced, and where a government can't enforce its own laws, corrupt people will take over.
  • By Episode 2, thousands of worlds were ready to leave the republic and form the Confederacy of Independent Systems, and I would say many of those worlds saw the republic as corrupt. We know the Sith Lords, Palpatine and Count Dooku, were behind the CIS, but the fact that thousands - rather than mere dozens - of worlds were ready to secede shows how weak the Republic was.
  • The Jedi Council allowed Chancellor Palpatine to appoint a personal representative on the Jedi Council. Jedi Master Mace Windu said it was inappropriate but allows it anyway. (This may show the Jedi were more under the thumb of the Republic government than they wished.)
  • Watto, the junk dealer on Tattoine, says "Republic credits are no use out here." This shows that if Republic currency was not respected in the Outer Rim, neither were its laws (such as laws against slavery). This is like asking if the US dollar is respected in an outlying state such as Alaska.
  • Corporations get their own senators as shown by this line by Chancellor Valorum. "The chair does not recognize the senator from the Trade Federation at this time."
  • Articles on Wikipedia, Star Wars Databank, and Wikia describe the Republic as corrupt.

If the Jedi are idealists as they claim, then why serve a corrupt system?

They could have done many things to lessen the corruption.

  • Refuse to serve it until the Republic reforms itself.
  • Protect people harmed by corrupt officials.
  • Use their Jedi powers to expose corruption.
  • Arrest the corrupt.
  • Only serve republic leaders they believe are not corrupt.
  • Serve only local governments they believe are just (e.g. - Naboo or Alderaan), in local ways, but not serve the galaxy-wide government.
  • Protect non-corrupt worlds from corrupt organizations.

The Jedi don't do any of these, even though some would be easy to do. (Or "not do" in the case of refusing to serve.) The Jedi are astute. They should have known the extent of corruption. So that means they are serving a system that does not support their values.

Edit to add: I'd imagine many Separatists saw the Republic as corrupt and wanted to free themselves of its corruption. They surely saw themselves as the aggrieved good guys and the corrupt Republic as perpetuating suffering. And to see the nominally good Jedi supporting the corrupt Republic in battle probably harmed the reputation of the Jedi. I think a politically astute Jedi corps would have been aware of how their opponents would perceive them.

Edit to add: Qui-Gon Jinn knew the Republic was corrupt. He shared his thoughts about the corruption with his teacher, Count Dooku, as evidenced by Dooku's own admission. Dooku claims Qui-Gon not only knew about the corruption, but went along with it because Qui-Gon did not know the truth, or so he tells Obi-Wan. The implication is that Qui-Gon knowingly supported a corrupt government. (On the other hand, Dooku might be flavoring the truth about Qui-Gon's views or outright lying to Obi-Wan.)

Dooku: Qui-Gon always spoke very highly of you. I wish he were still alive. I could use his help right now.

Kenobi: Qui-Gon Jinn would never join you.

Dooku: Don't be so sure my young Jedi. You forget he was once my apprentice as you were once his. He knew all about the corruption in the Senate, but never would have gone along with it if he had learned the truth as I have.

That conversation comes from this scene in the movie, Attack of the Clones.

Count Dooku was so disillusioned with the Jedi serving a corrupt Republicthat he refused to serve the Jedi.

So the point is that some Jedi knew the Senate was corrupt, and yet they went along with it.

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    What's the alternative? Overthrowing it in bloody revolution? – user867 May 31 '16 at 5:54
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    There is a distinction between "The Republic is corrupt" (absolute) and "There exists corruption in the Republic". Of course, most people does not want to enter into such subtleness... – SJuan76 May 31 '16 at 7:14
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    The Jedi had a pretty nice position of power in said corrupt Republic... – Null May 31 '16 at 14:42
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    Well, SOME Jedi chose not to serve the corrupt republic. One Anakin Skywalker comes to mind. We all know how THAT ended up. – DVK-on-Ahch-To May 31 '16 at 18:45
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    Consider the fate of Count Dooku. Not a good track record for Jedi who chose not to serve the corrupt republic. – RichS Jun 1 '16 at 14:45

12 Answers 12

37

I love this question. It is one of the most fascinating dynamics of Star Wars, in my opinion.

Summary answer first, then I'll back it all up.

SUMMARY

The Jedi knew the Republic was corrupt, but went along with it because:

  • They didn't know just how bad it was.
  • There was nothing better at their disposal.
  • They were happily complacent in their bubble where they can just pretend evil does not exist and hide the dark side from their students.
  • They were too arrogant to open their minds to the idea that the Dark Lord of the Sith was not only in their presence, but actually had power over them.
  • The dark side of the Force was masking the Sith presence.
  • By the time they figured it out, they had little choice.

OBLIVIOUS TO HOW BAD

I think the Jedi knew the Republic was corrupt. They were simply in denial. In Attack of the Clones, Count Dooku explained that Qui-Gon Jinn knew all about the corruption in the senate, but went along with it. He also said that Qui-Gon would not have gone along with it if he were aware the the Dark Lord of the Sith was controlling it. This makes sense. They knew it was bad... but not that bad.

NOTHING BETTER

What could they have done? It's not like there was a second Galaxy-wide democratic government they could switch their allegiance to. As Obi-Wan put it:

OBI-WAN: Anikan, my allegiance is to the Republic, to democracy!

Even if true democracy wasn't really in the Republic anymore, the Republic was the symbol of democracy, politically. What else would the Jedi protect?

ARROGANCE & COMPLACENCY

I think the Jedi had become arrogant and complacent. Yoda even admitted to the arrogance:

OBI-WAN: His abilities have made him, well, arrogant.

YODA: Yes, a flaw more and more common among Jedi these days. Even the older, more experienced ones.

Mace Windu and Ki-Adi-Mundi demonstrated their absolute confidence that Count Dooku would never murder anybody:

MACE WINDU: You know, M'Lady, Count Dooku was once a Jedi. He wouldn't assassinate anyone, it is not in his character.

KI-ADI-MUNDI: He is a political idealist, not a murderer.

In The Phantom Menace, Mace Windu says the Sith could not have returned without their knowing.

MACE WINDU: I do not believe the Sith could have returned without our knowing.

YODA: Hard to see, the dark side is.

VISION CLOUDED BY DARK SIDE

Yoda and Mace Windu discussed their inability to see what was going on:

YODA: Blind we are, if creation of this clone army, we could not see.

MACE WINDU: I think it is time we inform the Senate our ability to use the Force has diminished.

The Dark side was clouding their vision:

PALPATINE: Master Yoda, do you think it will really come to War?

YODA: The dark side clouds everything. Impossible to see, the future is.

Confirmed by Count Dooku:

DOOKU: What if I told you that the Republic was under the control of the Dark Lord of the Sith?

OBI-WAN: Impossible. The Jedi would be aware of it.

DOOKU: The dark side of the Force has clouded their vision my friend. Hundreds of senators are under the influence of a Sith Lord, called, Darth Sidious.

Wiikieepedia backs this up: http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Sith_training

The Sith were trained to mask their presence.

FEAR OF THE DARK SIDE

In Revenge of the Sith, Palpatine/Darth Sidious explained that the Jedi stick to their dogmatic comfort zone.

ANAKIN: You know the dark side?!?

PALPATINE: Anakin, if one is to understand the great mystery, one must study all its aspects, not just the dogmatic, narrow view of the Jedi. If you wish to become a complete and wise leader, you must embrace a larger view of the Force. Be careful of the Jedi, Anakin.

from http://www.imsdb.com/scripts/Star-Wars-Revenge-of-the-Sith.html

This backs up how strongly against the dark side the Jedi had become. They were so convinced it was pure evil, wrong, and most arrogantly, that it was eliminated from the galaxy. In the old days, the Jedi used to teach students about the dark side. They understood the dark side. They knew what its strengths were, and they knew its risks. They knew how to avoid its temptations. In the time of the movies, they had become so set in their ways that they didn't bother talking about the dark side other than telling students that it is bad.

Shortly before Revenge of the Sith and near the end of the Clone Wars, Yoda is approached by the ghost of Qui-Gon Jinn and brought through trials where his internal dark side is tested. This was done to prepare him because it was clear that in order to survive the imminent Great Jedi Purge, they needed a Jedi who understood the dark side, was comfortable with it, and could avoid its temptations at all cost. He was put through a dream where he could learn who the mysterious Dark Lord of the Sith is in order to defeat him, but the cost would involve Yoda himself succumbing to the dark side.

See http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Destiny_(episode)

Ultimately, the wisdom that Yoda gained from this, which is that the Jedi are going to lose, the dark side must be understood rather than dismissed, and someone who can handle the dark side must survive at all costs. This, in my opinion, is why Yoda fleas his fight with Palpatine. It becomes clear to him that the odds of him defeating Palpatine in direct combat are, at best, 50/50, and perhaps worse. There is more at stake than him winning a battle. He had to put his ego aside and run away for the greater good. Compare this with Mace Windu, who bet everything on hand-to-hand combat, and never considered that he was being manipulated.

Yoda is the only Jedi who got it. Aside from Yoda, I think they were all so complacent that they didn't see any reason to resist the corruption.

Notice what went differently in Luke Skywalker's training. Yoda taught Luke about the dark side. He exposed him directly to evil temptations in a way where Luke could easily observe the consequences of it. Because of this training, Luke was able to use his inner darkness (fear, anger, hate) to defeat Darth Vader, without himself succumbing to the Dark Side. It was about balance.

A bit of a tangent, but I think it's all related.

NO OTHER OPTIONS

The Jedi knew the system was corrupt, but it was the best thing around, and they didn't know the Sith were manipulating it, through a combination of arrogance and the Sith hiding their presence extremely well. Simply put, the Jedi lived in a bubble and didn't figure out what was happening until it was too late.

The Jedi were backed into a corner. When they began to sense the dark side around them, there was really nothing they could do.

MACE WINDU: I sense a plot to destroy the Jedi. The dark side of the Force surrounds the Chancellor.

KI-ADI-MUNDI: If he does not give up his emergency powers after the destruction of Grevious, then he should be removed from office.

MACE WINDU: The Jedi Council would have to take control of the senate in order to secure a peaceful transition.

YODA: To a dark place this line of thought could carry us. Great care we must take.

  • This is a great answer, and it earned my vote, but I still have a nagging doubt about the whole thing. Surely the Jedi would have seen the corruption. Not all corruption was caused by Sith Lords manipulating events from behind the scenes. The Jedi, being idealists, would have seen that and have refused to serve. – RichS Feb 10 '17 at 21:20
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    I cannot provide a quote for it (therefore not an answer, but maybe you can?), but at least "The Clone Wars" gave me the strong impression that a second aspect played into the last point: Not only would taking control of the senate endanger the Jedi of falling to the dark side/abusing this power. The Jedi were more or less revered by the general population, but staging a coup d'etat could indeed facilitate the "plot to destroy the Jedi", by giving parts of the acting government an easy way to declare the Jedi scapegoats or traitors. – O. R. Mapper Oct 22 '17 at 20:50
  • upon the creation of the democratic republic that is the USA, one of the Founding Fathers gave this remark: "Gentlemen, we have just created the worst form of government, except for all the others". Corruption can come in no matter what kind of government you create. Including democracy, but at least democracy gives the people the power to overrule the corrupt leaders if they want. It's still the best thing out there compared to other forms of government/social structure. Hence the Jedi knew although the Republic was corrupt, it was still the best thing, and only thing out there. – MissouriSpartan Jun 28 at 20:22
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+100

False Premise

Surely the Jedi knew the Republic was a democracy in name only

This isn't correct. It was a democracy. A corrupt democracy at times, sure, but a democracy nonetheless.

The fact that it was so inept in its handling of Naboo during the Trade dispute of Episode I and was so easily manipulated by Darth Sidious doesn't by itself make it worse than any other form of government.

In Episode II, Padme even tells Anakin that the government's biggest problem was disagreement, not corruption or structure as you imply:

PADME: You really don't like politicians, do you?

ANAKIN: I like two or three, but I'm not really sure about one of them. (smiling) I don't think the system works.

PADME: How would you have it work?

ANAKIN: We need a system where the politicians sit down and discuss the problems, agree what's in the best interests of all the people, and then do it.

PADME: That is exactly what we do. The trouble is that people don't always agree. In fact, they hardly ever do.

Episode II: Attack of the Clones Script

anakinpadme

The Republic's Ideals

The Jedi were firm believers in the Republic's democratic ideals, ideals many real-life people share. In Episode III, Obi-Wan echos that sentiment saying:

Anakin, my allegiance is to the Republic ... to democracy!

Episode III: Revenge of the Sith Script

obiwan

I feel like I shouldn't need to spend time arguing the virtues of democracy so I'll just say it's generally accepted that democracy = good and dictatorship = bad.

20/20 Hindsight

Despite our feelings on how good of a government The Republic was, we cannot argue with history. According to Sio Bibble in Episode II:

There hasn't been a full-scale war since the formation of the Republic.

Episode II: Attack of the Clones Script

siobibble

That's 1000 years of relatively little conflict. 1000 years. In a fictional universe characterized by the title, STAR WARS, I'd say that's pretty darn successful.

By comparison, the Old Republic saw Sith Wars, the Mandalorian War and more. The Galactic Empire was so poorly run, it only lasted 25 years or so. Now, with new movies and books rolling out, we're seeing a New Republic that after only 30 years in place has had its capitol completely destroyed and new conflict raging.

History tells us that The Republic is the most successful government the galaxy far, far away has ever seen.

It's hard to fault the Jedi for fighting to preserve it.

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    You make a good defense of the notion the Republic wasn't so corrupt. You earned my vote just for the exposition, but plenty of people have discussed and analyzed how the Republic was so rife with corruption, it was a sham democracy. theatlantic.com/notes/2015/10/star-wars-galactic-senate/409600 screenrant.com/star-wars-villains-jedi-sith-history scottjen.wordpress.com/2012/04/27/… en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galactic_Republic At some point, it goes from being just a few bad apples to an entire system. – RichS Jun 1 '16 at 16:49
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    @RichS - I'm not so much arguing that there wasn't a lot of corruption; I'm arguing more that it did enough right to maintain relative prosperity (especially compared to the Galactic Empire, for example), keep the peace, and stay afloat for 1000 years. It's hard to fault them for wanting to protect that. – TheIronCheek Jun 1 '16 at 17:55
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    I like this answer if the Jedi were merely regular folk, however, they were meant to have insight into these things. Corrupt, the senate is. Seen it coming, they should have. – DarkHeart Jul 2 '16 at 7:13
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    This is the correct answer. Another thing to note is, if you read the books, esp Darth Plagueis, a lot of the corruption was deliberately created and encouraged by the Sith Lords, as a way to weaken the Republic and make the people lose faith in democracy. In such a situation, the Jedi had to continue fighting for what they believed in. – Shantnu Tiwari Jul 7 '16 at 12:15
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    @DarkHeart - I just have a hard time blaming the Jedi for supporting a system that had corruption, but wasn't corrupt in nature. I think in trying to illustrate how the Sith infiltrated the Republic, George Lucas and friends pointed out bits of corruption for the purpose giving Palpatine a foothold but the Republic was never intended to be the completely inept, broken system that people have breathed into the spaces between the movie scenes. – TheIronCheek Jul 7 '16 at 13:45
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It's much like today's politics (who would have guessed?) that the Republic itself is not corrupt. A lot of people found ways to abuse the system, but that is not the same.

Even worse, the Republic worlds themselves had to a degree armed forces and while the Jedi are very well trained in battle, they are not an army.

Additionally, the first people to suffer horribly during a probably bloody revolution would be the poor that cannot afford to get out of harms way. So the first thing the Jedi would have done in an uprising would have been to bring a lot more suffering to the people.

Also violence is a Jedi's last measure and it has to be. If the Jedi would use violence too much, they'd risk drifting towards the dark side - not all of them of course, but some would. These would add to the problem of the Jedi being severly outnumbered already in such a case.

Finally, the Jedi believe in democracy but in general they are apolitical. They do not interfere with daily politics. It could be seen as being reclusive by outsiders, but if you look at the Jedi philosophy, that this behaviour is actually in line with it. The Jedi try to be calm and serene which is doubtful to maintain if they take an active political role - also it might antagonize the general population if they did. Powerful beings striving to make politics wouldn't be looked upon too kind by others.

So any kind of uprising by or with help of the Jedi would likely yield catastrophic results. It would be totally against the Jedi philosophy to risk that.

  • I agree. In fact, specially Ep3. describes exactly what's happening in the US today: people getting scammed to give up power while big corporate VIPs serve their own interest and war is used for personal benefit (while its justification is a fabrication). – Overmind Jul 7 '16 at 11:36
  • "So any kind of uprising by or with help of the Jedi would likely yield catastrophic results." - Ah, but there was an uprising the results were catastrophic! The Separatists wanted to break free of the corrupt Republic during the Clone Wars. The Jedi fought against the Separatists, which probably made the Jedi look like the bad guys in the eyes of the Separatists. And this is another example of how the Jedi served a corrupt Republic. A truly apolitical Jedi would have opted not to serve the Republic. – RichS Jul 9 '16 at 5:36
  • This is a complex matter. If they would not of been involved in the separatist problem (as it should of been), their power within the Republic would of been reduced because their usefulness would of been reduced. And they would not want that. That could happen up to the point when they are completely uninvolved and become just a religious organization with no law-related power, but then, that could come in conflict with their 'we serve the republic' propaganda statement. – Overmind Jul 11 '16 at 8:19
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The answer has two parts:

  1. Not serving the Republic would have allowed the corruption to grow faster and increased suffering more
  2. Holding the idea that you can change the Galaxy (for the better) with your powers is taking several big steps down the dark path.

That second aspect is the more vital one to the Jedi, I think. Taking responsibility for changing/running the Republic would create very strong attachments to the outcomes of their efforts. The Jedi would then always find themselves and their powers falling "just a little short". And of course, there is always a different, plentiful source of power available, if they just grasp it...

Not involving themselves in politics protects the Jedi from the Dark Side just as not having romantic involvements does. They can help when asked and follow the guidance of the Force, but cannot commit themselves to changing the Galaxy at large.

From Wookiepedia comes a good example of a Jedi who could not bear the corruption and decided to act against it: Count Dooku.

Dooku was once a Jedi Master of the Jedi Order, but he left the Jedi and the Galactic Republic after growing disillusioned with the corruption in the government. He turned to the dark side and became the apprentice of Darth Sidious.

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    Yeah, changing the universe for the better (like blowing up a gigantic, planet-destroying fortress) by actively using Jedi power is probably too risky... oh, wait... – JBiggs Jul 7 '16 at 18:12
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    Indeed, the Jedi Council definitely would've disapproved of Luke's actions, as they were indistinguishable from forcing your will on trillions of people "for their own good". Oh wait... – Cyrus Jul 8 '16 at 18:14
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There's also the interpretation that the Galactic Republic is the people of the Republic. The Jedis can serve the people even though the Senate (or some Senators thereof) is corrupt.

3

I think the question exposes an interesting thematic tension that really came to a head in the "prequel" movies. In the original trilogy, Jedi were seen as "good" and Sith as "evil". In reality, that is clearly not the original intention, and Lucas was interested in a more subtle take on what Jedi were supposed to be. A better dichotomy between the "prequels" Sith and Jedi might be "passive" versus "agressive". This reflects, to some extent, some of the differences between Western philosophy and theology, and Eastern mystical theory. In Eastern thought systems, "balance" might be considered more important than dualistic "good vs evil" splits.

What is the difference? In Western classical theology, good cannot be passive. It cannot simply tolerate evil, or it ceases to be good. Those who sit by and let evil happen, while not actively engaging in the evil themselves, are certainly morally culpable, since to be purely "good" is to actively resist evil, even in the face of overwhelming odds. Western mythology and classical folklore is filled with heroes who resist evil in the face of overwhelming opposition, and paint those who sit by and allow evil to happen in a very poor light.

In Eastern mythology and tradition, things aren't always so simple. Concepts of "harmony" and "balance" can push up against the moral imperative to resist evil. Not only that, but the Confucian respect for elders, betters, and existing institutions can override an individualistic (more "Western) moral demand on those who are "good" to stand even against their own government/society.

To us old school, O.G. Star Wars fans, this was a bit confusing, because Jedi were called "knights, which seemed to imply a more "Western" view. On the other hand, as the movies continued, the Jedi philosophy seemed to mirror Eastern philosophy more and more. By the time the "prequel" movies came out, it was pretty clear that the consistent direction Lucas had been heading for quite a while was the "Eastern" school of philosophy. Jedi were not "good" in the classical, Western sense. They had no problem living alongside and tolerating corruption in the Republic because they sought "balance", "harmony", and a lack of emotional upheaval far more than "justice". Justice is a disruptive notion, and we see in the Prequels repeatedly that Jedi are not Western paladins crusading against evil, but more like mandarins who are part of the "celestial bureaucracy, sitting in their circular room and debating the best way to preserve balance.

This almost naturalistic view of Jedi might even explain the Midi-chlorian heresy. The universe as a whole is basically seen as an organic system and the Jedi are merely white blood cells moving around combating viruses. The viruses themselves are part of nature (thus, there can be no final victory of "good") and even the question of who is a Jedi is determined by cosmic forces beyond anyone's control. Jedi are a mere instrumentality or organs of a totally impersonal, amoral universe that ebbs and flows like a tide between "dark" and "light".

Needless to say, a lot of O.G. Star Wars fans never liked this (basically depressing) cosmology and eventually rejected Lucas himself rather than give up on the image of the heroic, crusading Luke challenging Vader to a hopeless duel to save his friends even though he had no chance. In a final irony, many people attribute Joseph Campbell's The Hero with a Thousand Faces as a major source of inspiration for the original movie. Campbell based his work largely on a Western mythological basis which strongly assume Western values (like a small group of freedom fighters seeking justice in the teeth of overwhelming odds, willing to completely throw away balance and harmony to do it, and individuals convinced of their moral virtue in the face of every political and cultural authority). In the end, in my opinion, your question hits on the central weakness of the "prequel" movies themselves. Star Wars had retreated from the messy necessity of clear black and white morals and heroes that people can root for in favor of a patina of mystical moralistic dodging and naturalistic cynicism. It became so hard to distinguish "good" versus "evil" in this environment that Lucas had to literally have Anakin walk through a Jedi temple and massacre children to finally differentiate him from everyone else. In the process, he broke the character's inner integrity, but that is another discussion.

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    I would give this answer two votes if I could. – RichS Jul 8 '16 at 18:00
3

The Jedi were religious fanatics. Religious fanatics are not well known for readily changing their path in reaction to circumstances; they instead will tend to stick to the old way of doing things in hopes that the situation will change again so that their actions make sense again in context.

I can provide evidence both of the Jedi being religious fanatics as well as the actions of religious fanatics if you really need, but both have such an overwhelming preponderance of commonly known evidence that I haven't bothered.

Edit: What are some common traits amongst religious fanatics? Mind you, we distinguish here between those who deeply believe and those who are obsessed with their religion.

  1. The fanatic will typically form a group and their first act will be to secure their borders from outsiders. I'm not talking about having a holy sanctuary that only believers may enter. I mean to minimize contact between the believers and those who are not believers. Jonestown is an extreme example where the believers left the continent. But it can actually be more subtle than that, taking over a neighborhood and having private security patrols can act similarly. Said patrols may just be members of the community.
  2. Once the true believers have sectioned themselves off, the next phase begins. Classically a charismatic person or council will be in charge and dominate the lives of those under them, casting as absolute evil those who do not agree with them as heathens- and I'm not just talking about people of other religions but people who argue their interpretations are also anathema.
  3. To ensure their control, those in charge will begin to enact their own arbitrary rules which will typically make no sense to anybody outside of the religion. Not to put too fine a point on it, it's usually something sex related. It might be that all are married to the leader, it might be pedophilia, it might be genital mutilation, it might be enforced virginity. Doing so will often be seen as a path to purity as well as a sign of devotion. It is also a way of ensuring that people are obedient. This will typically be seen as a sign or mark of the people.
  4. Now that the True Believers are marked, the next phase begins. By this point the folks will likely go along with just about anything since they've already left everyone and everything in their lives that they cared about for the religion and even sacrificed something with their genitals. Now is typically where weird stuff with children begins. There will usually be kids and the religion will begin to raise them to also be True Believers. The only book they are told that they ever need to read is their holy book, because it contains all the answers to any question that they may have. All other books are full of lies because they come from outsiders, all of whom are liars and evil. But being faithful makes the True Believers wealthier, stronger, smarter, better looking than the outsiders.
  5. If the group grows large enough and lasts long enough, they eventually break out like a zit and begin to enact their will upon the people around them, insisting that others must live to their own rules and laws and commandments. The Believers will enforce that rule wherever they can. They will often believe that their belief makes them right, makes them the only ones who are right or who can be right, gives them the strength to enforce the necessary rules. Contrary to what folks may think, this may not be a stage where they forcibly convert others; not all religions believe in that. But they will outright reject the freedoms of others to enforce their own rules.

So, let's look at these points through Jedi lenses.

  1. The Jedi have formed their own group (the Jedi) with their own training school and such.
  2. The Jedi have a council. Those who disagree with the council are labeled as Dark Siders. Not a friendly term in the slightest. They are of course the brightest and wisest of the Jedi and therefore the brightest and wisest folks around.
  3. No Jedi make other little Jedi. They don't wear their virginity but they carry light sabers to distinguish them from others around them.
  4. Jedi will kidnap the children of other people to raise among their own (they have to since none may marry and have children). They'll present it as a great opportunity. They will instead be instructed in the Secrets and Mysteries of the Order. All the Padawans need to do with their lives in study the Force. Doing so makes them better than those around them.
  5. They become interplanetary cops. That doesn't appear to be an official job. They carry no badges of authority to indicate legitimacy of their actions. Instead, they just intimidate people around them with their magic to enforce their own particular morality on people. Any who disagree are destroyed or, if the Jedi is in a good mood, has their mind clouded. The Jedi will go to a planet which has nothing to do with them, that has its own rules and laws and traditions and beliefs and enforce their own morality.

Edit: I mean, take a moment to really picture this. You're in your hometown, doing your everyday business. Out of nowhere a group of folks in a foreign (that is, not locally practiced) religion that practices magic suddenly appear one day, swaggering around, telling everybody that suddenly your way of life is against their rules and you have to abide by how they want you to live. They go to your government and demand changes in the laws to reflect their beliefs, and if they don't like what they hear, they will straight up kill your ruler and overthrow the government at need. And you know they'll do this because they've done it before. They seem nice and reasonable as long as things are going their way, but anybody who disagrees with them finds a core of steel, and they will lie, trick, or straight up hypnotize you if you disagree so that you end up allowing them to do what they want anyway. Which seems to be for everybody to follow their religious tenets while they swagger through the streets with lethal weaponry strapped to their sides ready to go. Did I mention that they are the only ones allowed to use that weaponry? Because they are.

Do these really sound like good guys to you?

Edit: just spotted this article which discusses these ideas with regard to the original trilogy, and how Luke becomes a religious extremist here.

  • 1
    While this answer is good in certain respects (insofar as the Jedi are not pure “good” as some people would define it), it is wrong in a variety of aspects, and shoehorns some things to fit its thesis, so I’m downvoting. To wit: 1) Those who disagree with the council are not label darksiders. Dooku left the Jedi council, and not only was he not labeled a darksider (until, y’know, he actually fell to the dark side), but Mace Windu initially refused to believe that he could be doing something evil. Ahsoka left, and was never considered a darksider (and the Order still viewed her warmly). – Adamant Jan 9 '17 at 18:27
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    They call people such because they use the dark side of the Force, which is a real metaphysical entity that the Jedi and the Sith (as well as most other Force-users, the personifications of the Force, the Bendu, and George Lucas) agree exists, and which they agree draws its power from negative emotions (hatred, etc.) Labeling people adherents of the dark side is not a term of exclusion (and most non-Jedi Force users are not darksiders), but a description of a specific phenomenon. Whether it’s still not nice, well.... – Adamant Jan 9 '17 at 18:31
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    2) They are occasionally interplanetary police, but they do indeed have the sanction of the Galatic Senate and the Chancellor, and are subject not only to its laws, but to specific rules. There are various occasions, particularly in the Clone Wars TV series, where they must refrain from taking action because they lack the approval of the Senate. While sometimes they impose their own morality, they’re more often shown shown respecting local traditions (see e.g. “Trespass”). And they certainly don’t demand that everyone worship the Force. – Adamant Jan 9 '17 at 18:38
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    As for killing people’s leaders…um. I’m having trouble thinking of an example, unless it was during the war with the CIS and you mean Anakin killing Dooku, for example? Or perhaps you mean Mace Windu threatening to kill Palpatine, who had engineered the deaths of billions in order to give himself sole power? And finally, while they because warriors during the Clone Wars, their previous role hinged far more on diplomacy. Their move toward constant violence was arguably a factor in the strengthening of the dark side, and by extension the Sith. – Adamant Jan 9 '17 at 18:40
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    3) And finally, I’m not sure where you get the idea that only Jedi are permitted to wield a lightsaber, because that’s simply not true. Non-Jedi have wielded lightsabers in the prequel era without legal consequence. The lightsaber is a marker of the Jedi order, sure, but there’s no Jedi code or Republic law that says only they can use it. It’s just a bad weapon without the Force. It seems possible that you might be getting some information from Legends, but I’m not sure. – Adamant Jan 9 '17 at 18:43
3

The original question is flawed.

Where in all of Earth's history has there ever been a non flawed and thus non corrupt realm? When has there ever been a society with 100 percent totally good ideals? When has there ever been a society where all members and all officials always followed their society's ideals (good and bad) 100 percent?

Never, never, never.

If the Jedi are the peacekeepers of the Republic, their job is to end conflicts in the republic. Presumably violent conflicts. And if the Galactic Republic doesn't have an army or navy at the time of The Phantom Menace the main method the Jedi and the Republic they serve use must be diplomacy.

So basically the Jedi reason with the groups in conflict and get them to agree to a compromise that satisfies both groups, at least enough to stop fighting.

No doubt there were a lot of things wrong with the Galactic Republic, enough that Palpatine saw that it could fall soon and sought to make certain that it would fall to him and the Sith and not to someone else.

But if the Republic's default method of handling armed conflicts between members is to send ace negotiators to persuade the two sides to make a peaceful compromise, and if that usually works quickly, then in that important respect the Galactic Republic at its worst was far better than most historic and contemporary governments on Earth, probably including RichS's own national government.

So RichS might as well ask why any more or less "good" person has ever served any flawed and partially evil and partially corrupt government, and - since every known government has been flawed and partially evil and partially corrupt - thus why any more or less " good " person has ever served any government by seeking to preserve peace and avoid bloody civil war.

2

Good and evil are concepts that depend on how you look at things. Play KOTOR2 and help the beggar. By any average standards, you gave $1 to the beggar (assuming from start he get a bread, not a drink - this is another variation). OK, you gave the beggar $1, he's on the way getting a bread. You, in theory, have earned +1 light side points. But after you do that action, another beggar sees the one with $1, kills the beggar you helped to get his $. Therefore, your action has resulted in +100 dark side points instead of +1 light side points.

This is a matter of causality.

Now apply this to the Republic.

Note: I will not talk about doctrines and beleives, since Broklynite's answer covers this pretty well.

In the case of the Republic, by not helping that system, a lot of way worse things could happen:

  • the corruption could spread faster (in the senate, etc)

  • the system itself could destabilize (war could spread more efficiently)

  • unforeseen consequences may occur (including enemies of the Republic taking control of it)

That does not mean that what the Jedi do is justified.

  • The thousands of worlds that were ready to leave the Republic in Episode 2 and form the Confederacy of Independent Systems, would most likely be able to form something way less corrupted than the current Republic.

  • The fact that the Jedi Council allowed Chancellor Palpatine to appoint a personal representative on the Jedi Council does not mean anything is bad or corrupted, but can be a very good way to maintain good relations with the senate, which could lead to a better stability within the Republic leadership.

    • Your corporation’s blockade is a clear proof of corruption. There are a lot of blockades going on today by the dictating superpowers and noone opposes them. But there is no reason to intervene somewhere if what happens there is part of the big plan. So what the Jedi could of done is very similar to what the Republic itself as an organism could of done and didn't do.

Therefore we can conclude a few things:

  • The Republic is hands-down corrupted, but it not existing could of caused a lot more chaos and destruction compared to its corrupted existance

  • The Jedi are not that good or pure as one may initially think. Jedi = Good and Sith = Evil is a wrong concept. The Jedi have proven several times not to comply by their own rules when the benefit is considered enough. When you do not comply with your own rules, you clearly lack both duty and honor.

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    Ah, I totally agree. The simplistic notion that Jedi are good and Sith are evil isn't quite right. The Jedi, at least the ones in power during the Clone Wars, were stubborn, arrogant, short-sighted, proud, and power-hungry. Palpatine was right when he said that good is a point of view, and subsequently said that the Sith and Jedi are similar in almost every way. He was dead on with that. – Brandon Nov 6 '16 at 22:21
  • @Brandon, about that, you may enjoy reading this: plenty of proof that the Jedi are evil: xaeus.wordpress.com/2016/11/08/… – Overmind Nov 11 '16 at 9:32
2

I know this is somewhat old but I loved reading this. And I'd like to weigh in.

The Republic was seated on coruscant. Controlled by Sith on 2 occassions if I recall correctly. The Sith built a temple there, and once the planet was again controlled by Jedi, they built their temple ontop of the sith one.

They then proceeded to train and teach younglings, padawans, knights and masters to saturate the darkness of the temple.

You will find Yoda said it best, to steeped in tradition. To busy trying to saturate a presence than pay attention. Like water that has become cloudy, they can't see properly. Mace said it too, time to inform the senate of our weakness. Yoda says to many times, to cloudy to see. The old addage - never assume because it makes an ass out of you and me. They truely believed the Sith were gone from existance. So much so that they question when Qui gon says he believes maul is a sith. Where the are people there are problems.

Your question is almost self answering. Why would the Jedi serve such a corrupt government? Because the Jedi are corrupt. They themselves, philisophically and religiously allowed themselves to become corrupt.

By saying the Jedi were the holy knights of the galaxy, they were placed in a high position. The higher you are the further you fall. Evidence suggests that the Jedi couldn't find balance just like a Sith. That it why the prophecy of the one who will bring balance is so important. Because balance is key to everything. Why governments fail. Balance of power tips one way or another. Why serve? Familiarity. The devil you know is better than the devil you don't.

0

Democracy shmemocracy!!

It works if ppl want it to work.

Lets take a real Wold eample and compare notes.

Fall of Ex-Yu 1990-1994

Genocide, mass murder, unspeakable atrocities etc... World Superpowers, NATO, EU etc do nothing... Why? We live in a democracy?? This is horrible!!

Answer

2 countries block the NATO etc. from stepping in and helping to stop the conflict.

Syria 2010-2017

Same as before, civil war, murder, bio gas of the populace etc... Again same situation. A country i wont mention blocks NATO and company from stepping in and stopping this in a timely manner and stopping the killings and the mass refugees that are still streaming all over the Europe borders.

Lybia 2011

Unrest in the country. Civil war. 5 minutes later World powers step in and stop it all. The dictator that has ruled the country for generations gets killed and its al groovy...

WHY?

It was in somebody's interest that war in Lybia be stopped ASAP as Lybia is rich in fuel.

So to sumerise

Democracy ONLY works if somemody with a lot of muscle wants it to work and if it is in the interrest of a coorporation, a Nation or a coalition. Otherwise it gets bogged down in sleezy backroom political deals where all the interrested parties squezze til there is nothing more to squeeze.

Now IMMAGINE all this on a galactic scale. Switch NATO with The Jedi it STILL applies. Planets will get help from the Senate if they have something other planets want or if they can pull enough favours with some Coorporations like the Trade Federation or The Hutt Cartel or The Black Sun etc.

  • Mentioning examples from real life doesn't answer the question. Please focus on specifics from the Star Wars saga. Thanks. :-) – RichS Jul 4 '17 at 18:15
-1

The Catholic Church tried to cover up child sex abuse for decades, which directly contradicts their purported values. Before then there was that whole indulgences thing where they "sold" forgiveness to fund the construction of cathedrals. The motivations for the Jedi were probably similar:

  1. They weren't as idealistic and virtuous as they pretended to be; and
  2. They were heavily invested in the Republic in its then-present form, and benefited from their relationship with it. To go against the corruption in a big way would have brought them face-to-face with some uncomfortable truths they didn't want to confront, so they opted to bury their heads in the sand.

There certainly is evidence that the Jedi were working to address the corruption on a small scale, such as sending Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan to deal with the Trade Federation blockade. However, to go against the Republic in a big way might have ruffled too many feathers and compromised their privileged position in society.

Note the collapse of Catholic dominance in Europe during the Reformation is an excellent real-world example of what happens when a monolithic religious organization loses touch with its core values and devolves into a bureaucracy primarily interested in maintaining its own privileged position within the status quo. Serious reform outside times of crisis is extremely rare in the real world, why would "Star Wars" be any different?

In short: the Jedi enjoyed a privileged position within the Republic and wanted to preserve that privilege. Individuals may have wanted reform, but institutional inertia and a desire by many not to upset the status quo prevented that occurring in a big way. So, they kicked the can down the road instead.

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    I prefer answers grounded in the Star Wars saga rather than answered based on corruption in real life organizations. Although your answer may provide some ideas for understanding the Jedi motives, we can't assume the Jedi will behave the same as corrupt officials within the Catholic Church. – RichS Jul 10 '17 at 5:34

protected by Community Dec 1 '18 at 21:56

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