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This just occurred to me as a shower thought the other day, but why, in Star Wars, do planets of the Republic during the era of the Old Republic even tolerate the Jedi in the first place? The Jedi are basically wandering "knights errant", right? They go around doing good, righting wrongs, fighting injustice and all that stuff. But from a legal standpoint, whose authority do they get they power to do this from? From the perspective of most people in the galaxy the Jedi just show up (violating planetary sovereignty), start poking their nose around where they aren't wanted, and before long they've stirred up a whole bunch of trouble and there a lot of people dead from lightsaber wounds.

So who gives them the power to go where they want and investigate what they want, especially when their operations so often involve violating planetary independence or resulting in a lot of collateral damage? Are they deputized by the Senate? What do they have jurisdiction over? From the Jedi perspective, they get their authority to intervene from the Force, which is a universal phenomenon (and hence, supercedes planetary authority) that dictates morality that conveniently only they can hear. That isn't going to convince a lot of people. What part of society gives them the legal right to get involved, and who holds them responsible if they make a bad decision (e.g., the Jedi equivalent of police brutality).

I know there's that whole argument that most folks in the galaxy see the Jedi-Sith feud at little more than a religious dispute between sects of the same religion, but this even applies to the Jedi by themselves. There are a lot of cases where the Jedi are invited to solve a problem (e.g., Naboo, Kamino), but what about other times? All the way back in Episode IV one of the first things Obi-Wan does is cut someone's arm off with a lightsaber. Granted that was a random thug in "a wretched hive of scum and villainy" in Hutt space where kill or be killed is the one true rule, but what if that happened in a core world like Corellia or Alderaan? What if someone snapped like Anakin did in a highly public area? Are the Jedi held responsible for their actions? What if one of them falls to the Dark Side, is the Council legally responsible for them? And in Episode II Obi-Wan sneaks onto Geonosis during what is ostensibly peace time before the outbreak of the Clone Wars. Is he violating planetary sovereignty? Or better yet, remember how in Episode III the Jedi tried to arrest Palpatine for the crime of "being a Sith"? I get that was meant to show how corrupt the Jedi Order has become, but it's not that much different from their usual modus operandi.

The other thing is the Jedi are a militant religious order that although they pay lip service to Republic laws are ultimately only bound to their code and beliefs. The closest things I can think of to them might be the Hashishin in the Middle East or the Teutonic Knights in eastern Europe. The same Teutonic Knights, I should mention, who were a major pain to the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth because they were a non-governmental superpower who rampaged wherever the heck they liked in the name of their religion (even if the people they were rampaging on were also Christian). And that's not counting the people who would outright see them as the Republic's militant arm or international police force.

Now, I know that on paper the Jedi weren't the military arm of the Senate. They were supposed to be a neutral third party who were the go-to diplomats for disputes because they were known for their non-aggression and they were also very, very hard to kill, preventing someone from ending peace talks by just assassinating them (see: Episode I). But the thing is a lot of people in-universe seemed to treat the Jedi as the Republic's police, to the point that the Jedi Council had to explicitly remind the Senate "uh, you guys know we're not your military, right?"

So, from the average person in the Republic's perspective, the Jedi are a militant religious order with a tendency to engage in civil war, who go wherever they want enforcing their idea of justice despite being beholden to no government or law, have a tendency to pressure their citizens into giving up their children to them, and if one shows up is basically a sign that the Senate is likely to start turning over rocks and uncovering dirty secrets. So why do the planets across the galaxy not start putting up giant "no Jedi allowed" signs?

To be clear, I understand why things are the way they are from a storytelling perspective and admit that this is a bit of a slanted view. I actually like the Jedi as characters, I'm not some crazed Karen Traviss Mando supporter. But my broader question is why in-universe did the planets of the Republic tolerate them so much (or at the very least not ban their vigilante actions)? Especially when they're not privy to the Jedi's motivations like the audience are and don't know they are mostly good guys rather than a non-governmental monastic order with too much power and too little oversight?

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    The Jedi only have "a tendency to engage in civil war" from a historical perspective; at the time of the prequels, the Sith had been quiet for so long that even their archnemeses weren't sure if they still existed. To the average citizen of that time, the events of the previous Sith Wars were ancient history. – Cadence Dec 24 '20 at 9:51
  • @Cadence Until a Jedi decides to go rogue and form a new Sith group, as has happened numerous times in both the current and Legends community. They may not be the original Sith order but it would be another bunch of Dark Side Force users. – user2352714 Dec 26 '20 at 3:22
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The order of the Jedi is an ancient religion-like order which existed long before the republic. Your question is somewhat similar to asking who gives the global authority to the Vatican.

In the old Republic era, the Jedi order is appointed by the Republic to keep the peace. This is evident by Republic payments to the order for their services (follow this answer).

However, yours is more of a question on the balance between religion and other regimes. Even in our reality, no regime could rise while totally ignoring the power of religion. The kings of Europe got their authority to rule "from god". They were coronated by the church. Some rulers along the history of the world were considered gods themselves. In cases where a ruler defies the religion, a military struggle would occur, as the religion is usually strong, has many followers, and will not relinquish power easily.

I am assuming a similar process happened with the Jedi order. Once the Republic rose into power, they probably did not want to open a confrontation with the Jedi temple and its followers. It was probably easier to legally establish their authority and ally with them.

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    But that's what's so strange. In the case of the Catholic Church the Church has so much power because most of the people of Europe at the time were Christian, and thus the Church represented the voice of the majority religion (and rulers also had to pay attention to it to keep the masses happy). Most of the people in the Star Wars galaxy do not follow the Jedi code or place it on any sort of pedestal, and thus all of those pressures that have created a Catholic Church-like organisation in our world don't exist. – user2352714 Dec 23 '20 at 8:12
  • Maybe, prior to the old Republic, most of the people in the Star Wars galaxy did place the Jedi religion on a pedestal. Surely, there was some sort of authority before the old Republic and something before that one and so on. One of the former authorities probably was a regime dictated by the Jedi religion. – havakok Dec 23 '20 at 8:32
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    One also notes that if you want them to stop, you are probably going to have to stop them. That is non-trivial. – Mary Dec 24 '20 at 14:05
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    The Republic was not a Jedi theocracy nor did it “happen” to be run by Jedi either. It was just as much a secular republican government. There were just as many worlds that didn’t believe in the Jedi code just like worlds that didn’t believe in the Sith code, so I’m not sure what you mean. A very powerful Sith Lord was behind and orchestrated the Empire. There were no non-Sith who would have built it, especially without the Sith’s help. They didn’t get to where they were without tolerating and even bowing to the Sith in many cases (the Emperor for one). – MissouriSpartan Dec 24 '20 at 14:09
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    @user2352714 "That's what's so strange" - Frankly, the reverse is what is strange. The Jedi prove that their magic works, over and over and over. Picture the power the Catholic Church would have had if they had a militant order that performed actual, verifiable miracles every day. – tbrookside Dec 24 '20 at 14:45
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To address this issue in particular:

if one shows up is basically a sign that the Senate is likely to start turning over rocks and uncovering dirty secrets. So why do the planets across the galaxy not start putting up giant "no Jedi allowed" signs?

The Jedi aren't a sign that the Republic is likely to start investigating. They are the investigation. (And, given the ratio of Jedi to planets, a pretty good sign that the Republic's non-Jedi investigatory assets turned up some major red flags.) They have an official mandate from the office of the Supreme Chancellor to poke into suspicious dealings and report back anything they find. Individual planets don't have the authority to refuse representatives of the Republic; if they do, they're not really in the Republic any more, are they?

The reasons why the Supreme Chancellors would want to keep the Jedi around are pretty obvious: if your regime needs investigators, who better than ones that can read minds, can't be bribed, and are exceptional fighters? And Force users are going to pop up anyway; it's better to have a plan to channel them into useful service than to hope that they can be handled as they arise.

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  • That's more what I was wondering, is there ever some in-universe statement that the Senate deputized the Jedi to act as investigators and law enforcement officials? I mean in a general sense, in some cases it's clear the Senate asked them to get involved (e.g., Naboo in Episode I), but in others it seems like the Jedi just start getting involved in vigilantism without any Republic mandate. And it also seems like the Republic has no way to reprimand the Jedi if they cross a line. – user2352714 Dec 26 '20 at 3:12
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The influence of The Hidden Fortress on the original Star Wars points us in the direction of an answer. Everything about Obi-Wan, the first Jedi we encounter in ANH - his manner of speech, his manner of dress, his weapon of choice, even his vaguely Asian-sounding name - makes it clear that the samurai were the inspiration for the Jedi. Or, at least, a garbled and semi-mythical idea of the samurai, as munged up by a very young American filmmaker's imperfect understanding of a culture he clearly romanticized.

So the Jedi possess class authority in the way that an American in the mid-70's would have imagined that the samurai possessed class authority. They get to bear magic swords and walk around killing anyone who isn't a Jedi, as long as they obey certain internal rules or codes promulgated by the other members of their class. The rest of the political order accommodates itself to that class authority, and employs it, or occasionally struggles (generally fruitlessly) against it. But no one asks "Why?" in the basic way you're asking.

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    The Jedi don't go around killing people who question their authority. – Valorum Dec 24 '20 at 14:56
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    Obi-Wan doesn't call the authorities on the Sand People or the cantina bullies. He just pulls out his lightsaber and deals with them. What gives him the authority to do this? His code, and his class status, and his abilities (which give him his class status). Or at least that is clearly what we are supposed to understand. And those are the "establishing shots" of who he is that the audience is given. – tbrookside Dec 24 '20 at 14:58
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    At that point in the story Obi-Wan is hiding on a lawless planet. He could kill everyone in the joint without breaking any "laws". His former status as a Jedi gives him zero protection. – Valorum Dec 24 '20 at 15:02
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    Why do you possibly think being a Jedi meant anything on a Hutt controlled planet, where the cities were lawless crime havens and the rural areas had the Tusken Raiders and other natural threats who would not care either? Jabba, arguably the ruler of the planet, certainly didn't care when he got a visit by a Jedi Knight named Luke Skywalker. Obi-Wan's cantina actions were, like Han, purely self-defense (and defense of Luke in Obi-Wan's case). – suchiuomizu Dec 24 '20 at 15:49
  • At the same time the samurai enforced their dominant power in society mostly by threat of physical force against the peasantry. They had the best armor and swords and the peasants did not. And the samurai were kind of the ruling class most of the time. By contrast the Jedi are a monastic order that never attempts to directly impose their rule upon the Republic, and generally don't oppress people though physical force. The only thing they do is take it upon themselves to become investigators and vigilantes, which while meddling does not confer the same amount of social power. – user2352714 Dec 26 '20 at 3:16

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