In the original Star Wars trilogy, I can never decide whether or not the Empire is a “Human Empire” where humans rule over other races. On the one hand, everybody, including humans, seems to be equally oppressed by the government. On the other hand, all the Imperial administrators, officers and troops are human, and so is the Emperor. Attack of the Clones made it clear that the Stormtroopers are all modified clones of a human mercenary – which explains why they’re all the same species, as well as Princess Leia’s remark, “Aren’t you a little short for a Stormtrooper?” And in the Republic, at least, all species seem to be on equal terms, all are represented in the Senate, and the Jedi Knights are a multiracial organization. But in The Phantom Menace, there is some evidence of ethnic tension between the humans of Nauboo and the Gungans, rather like that between “colonists” and “natives” in a 19th-Century European colony. Certainly the planetary government is all human and the Gungan leader is like a barely-tolerated tribal chief. Also, in both trilogies, humans seem to be the only species you’ll run into practically everywhere you go – suggesting they have some kind of undefined privileged status (like humans in the Star Trek Federation, who appear to be the founding race, and the only one with colonies in multiple star systems – and Earth is cleary the center and capital-world of the Federation).
I’m hoping Lucas will resolve this in the next movie by having Palpatine rise to absolute power on a “human supremacy” platform, but somehow I don’t really expect that even though it would make a lot of sense. Lucas has squandered every chance he’s ever given himself to explore real political issues. (We never even did find out what the Trade Federation’s blockade of Nauboo was all about, or whether the “Alliance to Restore the Republic” in the second trilogy envisions a united Republic or a galaxy of independent planets.)
It’s not entirely improper, is it? The phrase “human race” is considered perfectly acceptable usage. On the other hand, there was a time when “race” meant family – as in the description of a noble family as one “of ancient race,” which you’ll find in Thackeray and many other sources. Also, Barry Lyndon, speaking of the death of his only son, laments that “it was not destined that I should leave any of my race to live after me,” or words to that effect. And I read in Durant that Alkibiades claimed he had cuckolded the king of Sparta, not because he did anything so weak and undignified as falling in love with the queen, but because he could not resist the chance to “found a race of kings” – although that, of course, would be a translation from the Greek and more than one rendering might be defensible.
So that’s why people keep confusing “race” and “species” – because “species” is a word of precise definition and “race” is one whose meaning has changed a great deal over time.
Just a W.A.G. of my own, but I had presumed it went something like this: The Trade Federation had a Republic-granted monopoly on interstellar trade in that sector of the galaxy. But the Trade Federation demanded that Nauboo sign a trade agreement that would practically dictate the planet’s government and economy. Nauboo refused on grounds of planetary sovereignty. So the Trade Federation was technically entitled to establish a blockade pending negotiations, but it was clear that their demands were excessive and would not be upheld. So the Trade Federation invaded, assured by Darth Sideous that he could stall any reaction by the Senate long enough that the Trade Federation could get a treaty signed at gunpoint that would validate their actions.
Brief hijack but those two points are no longer the case in Trek. *Enterprise *has referenced many alien colonies and has recently made the fanon (fan canon) founding of the Federation by Earth, Vulcan, Andor, and Tellar into established canon.
Earth is clearly the dominant planet in the Federation though.
Don’t forget that in one of the Star Wars movies, a comment is made about how Tatooine is off limits to the Empire because it was controlled by the Hut. That would certainly sound like there is at least some accomodation between races, and that not all races are equally subjugated.
Also, there seem to be races that are immune to the force (probably make those stupid Midicloreans or whatever they’re called ill). But other races, like Yoda’s, are strong in the force. So maybe that’s where the dividing line is - between races that are part of the ‘force’, and those that aren’t.
In the original SW movie (Episode IV, that is), the Empire operated freely on Tatooine, even to the point of butchering Luke’s aunt and uncle, and interrogating everyone passing through Mos Eisley. But in Phantom Menace, Tatooine is effectively outside the Republic, which is why Republic credits are no good there and slavery is legal.
The only way any Imperial “prejudice” made sense was simply in terms of the Emperor using it to screw over potential non-human rivals. In practical terms he himself never apparently cared. And it really didn’t make much sense when the EU writers put it in.
Dilbert’s Boss: Don’t go confusing my slogans with your logic!
It seems unwieldy to use it when talking about completely alien species, to me.
Well, all the crawl at the beginning of the movie says about it is:
I had sort of gotten the impression that the Republic had weakened so much that it couldn’t collect taxes in the outlying systems. So the Trade Federation had been avoiding taxes on their trade routes. Finally, just before the movie started, the Senate decided to crack down on this and start taxing the trade routes again. So the Trade Federation, upset at the loss of revenue, and assured by Darth Sideous that a show of strength would make the Senate back down, blockaded Naboo.
Huh. It was my impression that the Trade Federation was the one collecting the taxes - that the Republic had subcontracted its revenue collection to private bodies like the TF, leaving the door open for a great dea of corruption.