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Only Two Cheers for the Jedi?

Bryan Caplan takes issue with his mentor, Tyler Cowen over “The public choice economics of Star Wars: A Straussian reading. (I also commented on that post). Caplan says:

After Anakin’s betrayal, the remnant of surviving Jedi reveal their “secret and mysterious ends.” They turn out to be neither secret nor mysterious. Yoda and Obi-wan take on near-suicide missions to assassinate the Emperor and Anakin before they solidify their totalitarian rule. It’s about as diabolical as the German officers’ plot to kill Hitler.

So why only two cheers for the Jedi? Because their enduring virtue strains my suspension of disbelief. In reality, the power of the Jedi would swiftly attract talented but unscrupulous careerists. In a generation or two they would take over. In another generation these power-hungry pragmatists would turn to the Dark Side.

I’m not going to argue that power tends to corrupt, but would the Jedi order attract “talented but unscrupulous careerists?” The Jedi take their students very young. Some of the “younglings” seem to be 6 or 8 at most. Presumably, part of the reason for that is so that they can be raised to have scruples. Being brought up by the Jedi, you’re unlikely to have much privacy. Not only are you living in a temple, but the masters can sense your feelings and inner conflicts.

Finally, using the force requires training. Luke knows nothing of the force when he meets Obi Wan. So most unscrupulous trainees, who can’t manage to hide their feelings from their instructors, will be kicked out, untrained and unable to use the force.

2 comments on "Only Two Cheers for the Jedi?"

  • Anonymous says:

    Not to mention in Phantom Menace, they say that anakin who can’t be more thn 5 or 6 is already too old….

  • Kyle says:

    He’s nine in TPM, actually, and evidently the Republic lets Jedi screen all kids for Force sensitivity, so I think it’s even younger than that (maybe 3 or 4).
    That said, this post raises an interesting real-world issue: when do people acquire a taste for power? Not to jump to the ancient and probably unanswerable “nature-vs-nurture” debate, but clearly there’s some of both. My daughter is a year and a half old and knows nothing of power, though occasionally maybe a bit of selfishness. When do we start to feel the pull of the “dark side”?

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