Palpatine and Perpetual Peace


Jamelle Bouie has a post up that he frames as a qualified defense of Emperor Palpatine’s agenda but I think is just better read as expressing the view that the idea of a galaxy-spanning Republic is just hopelessly naïve. I think the structure of the argument is fundamentally similar to what Kant says in Perpetual Peace about the idea of creating peace through a universal monarchy. According to Kant, such a monarchy couldn’t possibly remain as a nice, friendly, constitutional one but would inevitably need to become a despotism. Thus in Kant’s view it’s better to secure peace through a kind of loose federation of Republics.

That, in turn, is essentially the initial animating vision behind the European Union. But as the EU has drifted more in the direction of being state-like, the more it also looks like a curiously post-democratic form of quasi-state. The European Central Bank, for example, takes the idea of central bank independence to a wild new level. It’s not merely that elected officials don’t play a role in making month-to-month monetary policy decisions, there’s no institutionally feasible for political influence to be exercised. At the same time, the regime in place is hardly what you’d call despotic. And in an interesting way a lot of the undemocratic aspects of the EU actually stem specifically from its origins as a fairly loose confederation that needed a freestanding bureaucracy to implement intergovernmental agreements.