Friday, December 5, 2014

“The Empire Proactively Strategizes Back”: The Life of a Corporate Peon in the Empire

For those that are new here, I currently work for a large corporation on a government contract, as I did in my prior jobs going back to 2005.  In my final months here before I strike out on my own next summer, I've tended to do a lot of random pondering and look a little more closely at the quiet desperation that exists in some of my coworkers.  One such thought took an odd turn to a comparison with Star Wars.  As US foreign policy continues to get more aggressive and more revelations come out about the terrible things being done here and abroad by the US government, I can’t help but think, “Is this what the office peons working for the Empire in Star Wars felt like?”.  Granted we're not blowing up entire planets, but our government's complete lack of scruples when it comes to its near-total indifference to civilian collateral damage, its treatment of its own citizens as tools to be monitored and controlled, and its destabilization of foreign nations for short-sighted policy objectives is still pretty malevolent, even if on a lesser scale.

Would the underlings in that fictional universe, like myself and some of my coworkers, question one’s place in working (even indirectly) for an organization whose primary motivation is constant growth and the acquisition of power by any means?  For that matter, would they experience the same combination of mind-numbing tedium, BS bureaucracy, and idiotic and/or selfishly scheming management?  Wouldn’t most of them simply be regular people like us trying to get by in the day-to-day office grind?  

Before one dismisses this as absurd, just think about all the types of jobs and skills required to support a massively powerful government like the Empire.  As Randal from the movie Clerks points out, the Empire’s entire workforce can’t all be storm troopers…

Taking Randal’s argument and applying it to the entire Imperial government, one would expect the number of bureaucrats, support personnel, and other civilian workers would be massive in order to support the Empire’s government and war machine.  To paraphrase Randal, what would a storm trooper know about server administration, setting up a LAN, or configuring firewalls?  So I figure there would have to be office drones much like us.  Not evil people who believe in galactic domination, but simply regular people who just want a decent job and paycheck.  People that are too busy and distracted by the bureaucracy and the daily grind to sit up and object to the Empire’s enslavement… er, ‘extraordinary rendition’… of the Wookies, or the complete destruction of Alderaan (“but wait, the Empire said Alderaan was behind 9/11 so it’s ok, right?…”).  Millions, if not billions, of regular people just trying to hold down a job, support their families, and make it through life.  Heck, Luke himself pretty much echoed that sentiment to Obi Wan Kenobi early in Episode IV: "I can't get involved! I've got work to do! It's not that I like the Empire. I hate it! But there's nothing I can do about it right now."

How many of us feel that way about the NSA domestic spying revelations, or the unreasonable level of civilian casualties due to our drone programs, or the arming of any rebel group in Syria that can say the word “moderate”, or big banks and big government working together in committing & covering up crimes that would get any one of us little people life sentences?  How many feel that sense of hopelessness in their ability to change anything, and in the end just keep their mouth shut and cross their fingers hoping they won’t be the next in line to be screwed.  In the Empire, the peons desperately toe the line hoping to get through life without falling on the wrong side of the internal power struggles or getting force-choked by Darth Vader.  In the USA, the peons desperately toe the line hoping to get through life without losing their job or retirement funds & 401k’s or ending up a target of the government bureaucracy through no fault of their own.  Either way, the decision to remain a peon is up to you.  Find your way to independence and take control of your life, or end up like this guy...

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