So the second page of Star Wars Propaganda (well, page 9 to be exact) has this real gem of a passage that I sat and thought about a lot last night:
In the rickety Alliance government that rose in the wake of the Galactic Civil War, I ascended to a rank of Propaganda Bureau Chief. With a small team of beleaguered journalists, and other such willfull idealists, we crafted messages meant to explain to the citizenry of the galaxy the true state of the empire. In practice it meant attempting to counter the nonstop Imperial propaganda spewed into the ether by a government with nigh endless resources. I admit, to tip back the scales upset by its outrageous lies, we were forced to craft lies of our own and hope that somewhere in the balance a truth could be found.
It actually never occured to me before that the Rebellion would also lie. Mostly because the Empire is so horrible that it feels like there’s few accusations you could throw at them that wouldn’t be true. But as the Empire propaganda was so pervasive and so false it makes sense that the Rebellion in their efforts to push back, would also be driven to lies. When using the “somewhere in the balance a truth could be found” mindset, said balance often ends up being the middle. This worked against the Empire. The Rebellion lied, but their lies pushed the galactic narrative closer to the truth.
But I really wonder what effect this had on the New Republic. Their early leadership appears to have very much been the leadership of the Rebellion. How did it affect the way people viewed the New Republic, how much trust it managed to build? How did it affect the rise of the First Order?
There must have been people out there that had grown accustomed to finding the truth somewhere between what this leadership said and the opposing claims. People that had been led there almost intentionally. The Rebellion becomes the New Republic and stops lying (mostly) or at least moves closer to the truth. Let’s say they go from 5 steps to 2 steps away from the truth. Then the First Order starts to rise and spread their propaganda and lies. They are 14 steps from the truth. People go for the middle. At 6 steps from the truth you’re not all that well informed and not exactly safe either. You end up being way too complacent about a real threat. But how do you know before it’s too late?
There was so much misinformation going around, and had been for decades. We who are blessed with an out-of-universe perspective can see everything (or at least some things) much clearer. The Empire was an absolute evil, a fascist government built on pain, tyranny and fear. But if you’ve never seen the Empire’s evil for yourself… for those who can only rely on others lies, who do you decide to trust? Through what process? Mistrust for the government of the New Republic and it’s information must have been widespread in some circles.