Thursday, April 19, 2018

The Problem of Evil

Have you, like me, ever wondered how evil empires work? Not just the ‘bad guys’ so to speak, but the really evil empires that tend to kill their own people?

Think about it. You’re at work, doing your thing, and there’s a sudden crash. You look over and see Steve from Accounting looking sheepish, a broken mug at his feet and coffee soaking into the carpet. Your boss, whom I’ll call Lord Fleshripper, stomps over and shouts “you’ve failed me for the last time!” then draws a gun and shoots Steve in the face.

Lord Fleshripper then turns to Nancy, as Bob and Chuck from maintenance drag Steve’s body away and says. “Congratulations on your promotion,” while holstering his gun.

Quick question: would you want to work there?

I will assume you said ‘no.’

NOTE: if you said yes, drop me a message. I will be needing flunkies for my evil empire. Currently, it’s me, a 10# bag of rice, and a recently deceased spider.

How do these organizations even work? I mean, take a look at the Empire in Star Wars. Vader keeps strangling Admirals and there can’t be that many of them. Even an otherwise excellent officer will screw up occasionally, so Vader is not only strangling incompetent officers, he’s killing off the good ones as well. And what about the Lieutenants and Captains and the like? If your career goal is to be an Admiral, then you have a non-zero risk of getting Force Choked. I can’t imagine anyone but a psychopath thinking ‘yeah, I’ll risk getting executed if it means I get to wear the big Jolly Rancher chest piece.’

And that’s not even the worst example. In the Mirror Universe in Star Trek, anybody who can kill the Captain of a ship gets the be the Captain. This seems like a recipe for disaster as the qualities needed to successfully murder your Captain are not necessarily the same ones needed for . . . oh, you know . . . actually commanding a ship.

Now, I’m not an expert on the Mirror Universe, but it would also seem to be easiest to murder your Captain when he’s distracted, such as in the middle of a space battle, which would be poor timing at best. Especially since everyone else would have the same idea. Enemies would just need to shoot once, wait for the half of the crew to murder the other half, then just blow the ship up or take it, as you need a minimum number of people to y’know, actually fight back.

Now, I realize the whole ‘murder your subordinates’ is simple shorthand for showing how evil a society is, but it doesn’t really stand up to scrutiny. If you really want to show how evil a society is, just have puppies everywhere and then have the bad guys occasionally kick them for no reason. That would certainly make me set phasers to kill.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think in real life they just lose. Hussein was pretty nutty in the evil-empire way you describe and I got the impression his subordinates lied to him a lot. This contributed to his defeat.

Fiction wise, the average evil empire isn't a very *stable* place. You've got your first generation of evil leaders who built the empire; they're pretty smart and don't kill people over a single screw up. But after the old guard starts to get thin on the ground a plucky band of heroes can knock them over like they're nothing.