The Power of a Name?

I had a class on the psychology of conflict, and how leaders and wars are portrayed and perceived by public. What I found very interesting is that for us, as people, the names and associations we place on things are incredibly important.

For example, when you think of the Northern Ireland Conflict you instantly focus on the location of it “Northern Ireland” and, if you’re from the UK and learnt about it in high school like I did (and at home because Irish family heh) you are automatically associating the conflict with people from Northern Ireland and only Northern Ireland.

Then, when you learn about British personnel being in Northern Ireland – there to “keep the peace” and all that jazz – you get the implicit message that the British personnel are under attack from Northern Ireland individuals when they don’t deserve to be. It’s an implicit, nationalist bias that spreads through the education and media coverage of such things.

The truth of the NI Conflict is long and arduous and stems from British Colonialism and the refusal to permit the entirety of Ireland to act as a singular entity based on cultural, ethnic and secularistic grounds. BUT you don’t hear about that in high school. You don’t learn about that on the street, and you certainly don’t learn about the Other Side’s Story. You learn what is told to you with a specific bias to spin it in favour of YOUR government, of the desires of YOUR leaders.

The truth isn’t shared clearly or accurately, it’s shaped and misled and tainted by the desires of powerful people who want certain things.

We see this happen over and over in conflicts and wars all over the world. We come to de-humanise the enemy, and personalise our own combatants because we learn about our people and humanise them.

When you hear stories about The Other Side and their experiences, suddenly you get a whole other perspective and it shakes your worldview. In my Psych Class we watched an interview with a man who was in Northern Ireland during the conflict in the 70s and 80s (when it was “at its height”) and there was intense discomfort from a number of my classmates who had sat there earlier in the day and rationalised the British presence in Northern Ireland as being “for the best” and “the right thing for everyone overall.” Suddenly they were confronted with the knowledge that those British soldiers had been prejudiced, angry and just as violent and cruel in places as those they were there to “catch”.

Anyway, I’m digressing but the point I’m trying to make is this:

In the Star Wars Universe, the naming of conflicts is just as much a psychological ploy as it is a political one. Palpatine systematically designed the entire War so that it would de-humanise the Jedi, isolate them from any supporters or defenders, and build up a perception of arrogance, distaste and high-handedness that Palpatine could ultimately use to destroy them.

The Clones were made by a Jedi. The Clones invaded Genosis to save a Jedi. The Clones were the army of the Jedi. The Clones eventually came under the purview of the Senate and became the GAR. And it was only when they came under Senate control that non-Clone combatants joined in the War.

The entire set-up for the Clone Wars was designed to focus on their existence in a Republic that banned full-body cloning, that accepted them out of necessity but denied them any rights granted to members of the Republic, that tried to take control of them from the Jedi.

Palpatine used the Clones as a domino chip against the Jedi. Before the Clones were common-knowledge, the Jedi were well-liked and tolerated across the galaxy. The Republic had them as peacekeepers who carried out both diplomatic and military actions on behalf of the Senate. In order to undermine all of that, Palpatine had to bring the moral and social basis of the Jedi Order into question.

What better way than to have it so the Jedi commissioned a Clone Army even when cloning was banned in the Republic? What better way than to have the Jedi leading a War with those Clones on behalf of the Republic? What better way than to have the war dragged out and to focus on every failure of the Jedi – regardless of their successes? What better way to imply that the Jedi weren’t to be trusted than to take away their Clone Army and put it under the command of the Senate?

It was all carefully crafted so as to erode the base the Jedi Order stood on in the galaxy, just so Palpatine could then go “traitors! They’re traitors to the Republic!!” and have people believe him.

The attempted ‘assassination’ of Palpatine by members of the Jedi Council just cemented the perception that the Jedi were traitors who had been gearing up for the War for a long time and were planning on taking advantage from it. After all, “they had a Clone Army hidden for ten years didn’t they? Who knows what else the Jedi had up their sleeves hmm?”


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