One of the things I’ve enjoyed about the TV versions of Star Wars (both Cartoon Network’s The Clone Wars and Disney’s Rebels) is their exploration of the moral consequences of war and rebellion. I could write an entire book on the different aspects they bring up and how the various characters deal with them. For nominally kid’s shows, they deal with surprisingly adult topics.
One of the topics they discuss is pacifism. This is very obvious in the Clone Wars series, which is where my focus will be today (to save time, I will not be recapping major plot points or background information except what is absolutely necessary. Please follow this link to a more detailed description of the Clone Wars).
Resistance is Futile
In the first season of Clone Wars, Anakin Skywalker, his Padawan (apprentice) Ashoka Tano, and their detachment of Clone troopers crash on the planet Maridun. Anakin is injured and they find a village of natives called the Lurmen. Wishing to remain out of the conflict between the Galactic Republic and the Confederation of Independent Systems (CIS), the Lurmen initially refuse to even grant Anakin medical care (although they eventually do). Shortly thereafter, a CIS recon force lands and, (unaware of the Republic’s presence), make their way to the Lurmen village, proclaim the Lurmen are under the protection of the CIS, and station troops on the planet, all over the objections of the Lurmen. However, the Lurmen leader refuses to fight at all, believing any form of violence is immoral. He acquiesces to the CIS demands, declaring (in a very Chamberlain-esque manner) that he has secured peace for his village. The leader’s son objects to his deal, asking pointedly “Peace for now, but for how long?” Eventually, the CIS leader returns and tries to test a new weapon on the Lurmen village. The Republic forces stop him.
Defense is the Best Offense
In the second season of Clone Wars, Republic Jedi Obi-Wan Kenobi is dispatched to the planet Mandalore to explore a terrorist plot by a group called Death Watch to overthrow the pacifist government lead by Dutchess Satine Kryze. Mandalore was once a planet full of warriors who often was a thorn in the side of the Republic. However, after a particularly brutal civil war, the Mandalorians renounced their warrior ways and instead embraced pacifism. During the time of the Clone Wars, Mandalore is a neutral planet.
Satine meets with Obi-Wan and assures him the threat of the Death Watch is well-contained. However, the Republic still wants to land troops to maintain the planet’s neutrality, a plan the Duchess compares to an occupation.
On a trip to Coruscant (the Galactic Republic’s capital) to beg the Senate not to land troops, she faces several assassination attempts and ably defends herself from them with the help of Kenobi. Kenobi is impressed by her fighting skills and asks why he trained for war if she is a pacifist. She replies “just because I am a pacifist doesn’t mean I won’t defend myself!”
The Styles of Pacifism
The preceding sections, show the two main styles of thought in pacifism: 1) violence of any kind is abhorrent. ‘Tis better to be a peaceful slave than a chaotic freeman (the Lurmen), and 2) The goal is to avoid conflict, but self-defense is permitted (Duchess Satine).
Duchess Satine’s version of pacifism is more realistic than the Lurmen’s. It is the form of pacifism I practice myself: try to avoid conflict, but do not be afraid to defend yourself should conflict arise. Unfortunately, there will always be those who want conflict with you or who want take your property, either “for your own good” or simply because they think they are entitled to it. You have the right to your property, but if you are unwilling to defend said right, it’s not worth much.