10 things Star Wars has taught me about running a fascist dictatorship

Thinking of taking over the universe? The Star Wars movies can teach us all a thing or two about running an efficient, rebel-proof galactic empire...

The Galactic Empire is shown to be a practically unstoppable force that is run with military precision. Almost.

The Empire’s strategies are filled with mistakes that are probably a result of cost-cutting measures, overconfidence, or possibly just plain laziness. But the Empire is instructive and, to me, has served as something of a ‘how not to’ guide when it comes to being a merciless dictator.

Here are ten things that Star Wars has taught about running a dictatorship…

1. You need to make sure you hire a decent architect.

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When you’re an evil fascist empire in possession of a superweapon that can turn planets to dust in a matter of seconds, it’s likely that some killjoy’s going to come and try to blow it up. So, it’s sensible to hire an architect who’s not going to install an exhaust port that will cause the whole to thing to explode on you the second somebody shoots a torpedo at it.

Also, it’s a good idea not to have a trench that leads right to the exhaust port and that is wide enough to fly a spaceship down.

You also have to question the competence of an architect who builds his Emperor’s throne room above the main reactor of a space station. All it takes is for the railing around the reactor shaft to buckle and your empire is without a leader.

This is just the kind of issue that the tendering stage for the job is, surely, designed to weed out.

2. Make sure you protect your Achilles’ heel.

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If you’re unfortunate enough to have hired an architect as stupid as the one mentioned in the first point, as well as executing him, it might be sensible to put some rather significant protection around the aforementioned exhaust port. Installing ray shielding is all well and good, but it’s not going to do you any good against torpedoes.

It probably wouldn’t break the bank to install particle shielding as well, just as a precaution. Y’know, on the off chance that a tin-pot little fighter can get past those impenetrable defences?

3. Protect your main reactor by learning from your mistakes.

This really is elementary stuff when your space station is only half built and there’s an open shaft that both leads to the main reactor and is big enough to fly several spaceships down. Putting shielding around the reactor and mounting a few turrets close to it would be a very simple exercise. Especially if you’ve watched your first attempt at building a planetary fortress in space go tits up.

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And, let’s face it, as you’re building an enormous space station for the second time in four years, there’s probably enough money in the budget for a small shield generator and a few laser turrets. Perhaps some proper targeting equipment might help, too.

4. Always have a backup plan.

You’ve spent a fortune on a brand new space station. But as it’s still under construction, it’s going to need some protection while you finish it. The protection you decide on is provided by a single shield generator that can be blown up by a Wookiee, and a smuggler with a bag of explosives.

The battle of the Second Death Star would have gone a lot differently if the Emperor had had the foresight to order the construction of a few backup shield generators. The same goes for the first Death Star’s tractor beam. In both instances, a spare pack of batteries from down the back of the sofa might have at least have made it a bit tricky for a group of upstarts to take down your main base twice in six hours of film.

5. Make sure you breed an army that can shoot straight.

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Was Jango Fett myopic? It’s either that or the Stormtroopers’ helmets are so poorly designed that they impair the troopers’ eyesight. Because, for some reason, Imperial Stormtroopers seem incapable of hitting their targets.

In the first three films, the only casualty to a main character that is caused by a Stormtrooper is Leia being shot in the shoulder. And even then the shot only grazes her.

The budget that was thus blown on massive spaceships, huge bases and posh weapons could have been scaled back slightly, in favour of introducing a Stormtrooper HR department, and a bit of a training schedule.

Failing that, if the Empire is going to invade your city, call a builder. Because most of your walls are going to end up full of holes.

6. Give your soldiers armour that actually protects them.

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Stormtrooper armour is, quite frankly, abysmal. It doesn’t protect them in the slightest. One shot to the chest from a small blaster will take out a Stormtrooper instantly. It’s so flimsy that it can’t even defend them against stones and tiny catapults. It’s enough to make you wonder why you bought the armour off the cheapest supplier in the first place.

If you’re so willing to sacrifice your troops over a simple economy, do away with high powered laser weapons and just take on the Empire with air rifles. The results are going to be the same, but it’s going to be significantly cheaper.

7. When building war machines, remember to make sure they don’t have legs.

This one’s a biggie. If you’re going to subjugate an entire planet, it’s probably not the best idea to use walking tanks that can be brought down using a harpoon gun or a barrage of logs. Especially if you’ve got an almost unlimited arms budget and the technology to build floating tanks. Just a thought.

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8. Always keep your bodyguards around.

Anyone who is familiar with the Expanded Universe knows that the Imperial Guards kick arse. If the Emperor had kept them around, rather than sending them away, Luke Skywalker wouldn’t have stood a chance. The Star Wars saga would have been very short, indeed.

If you’re bringing your arch enemy (who single-handedly blew up a space station that you spent more than twenty years building) up to your throne room, then it’s probably a good idea to bump up security a bit, rather than minimising it.

9. Never forget that blood is thicker than water.

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If you start zapping your apprentice’s son with enough electricity to power a small city (and, crucially, still fail to finish him off), it’s almost a certainty that said apprentice isn’t going to be a happy bunny. Chances are, he will not like you, especially if you let him watch all of this going on. Schoolboy errors, there.

It’s an especially silly thing to do if (as mentioned before) you’ve previously sent away your bodyguards, and said apprentice who was supposed to protect you decides to throw you down to your space station’s reactor core.

10. Understand that your cunning trap might not be that cunning.

Especially if it’s a trap that brings the enemy fleet to your doorstep in its entirety. Even more so if you’ve lured them to a space station that has its internal structure completely exposed and is only protected by a single shield generator that is based on the moon you’re in orbit around and that can be ripped apart by a few strategically placed explosive charges. A simple process diagram would have exposed the flaw in this particular piece of thinking, and different arrangements could then be catered for.

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