Halrloprillalar (prillalar) wrote,
Halrloprillalar
prillalar

For Your Own Good: Jedi, Psi Corps, and Wizards

Back in the day, I thought the Jedi were the good guys. They were noble and used their powers for good. Then Episode I came out and suddenly they looked a lot more sinister.

I realised that the Jedi reminded me strongly of the Psi Corps in the Babylon 5 universe. Although nothing is ever black and white in JMS's worlds, the Psi Corps were definitely positioned as bad guys.

These are the parallels I see:

Innate, unusual powers. The Psi Corps are telepaths. The Jedi can use the Force to do all manner of supernatural things, including mind control. They are born with these abilities -- they're special.

Indoctrination from a young age. ("The Corps is father, the Corps is mother.") In B5, any human discovered to have telepathic ability is required to join the Corps. Children are taken away from their parents and raised by the Corps. The Jedi also train as children. Qui-Gon says to Shmi that if they had been nearer the Republic, they would have discovered Anakin's Force sensitivity early. Now, at 9, he's "too old". It's not known, however, if these children are made to join the Jedi or if their parents can refuse. But the fact that they are trained from such a young age means that they are less likely to question the way the group operates.

Authority without accountability. While most of the Psi Corps work as commercial telepaths, there is a group of high-rated telepaths called Psi Cops who work as enforcers. They inspire fear in telepaths and normals alike. The Jedi have special status that allows them to do more or less as they please. Recall in Episode II when Obi-Wan and Anakin crash into the club. "Jedi business," they say and wave everybody back to what they were doing. In Episode I, Qui-Gon takes command of every situation he is in, and others expect him to do so.

Abuse of power. Psi Cops disregard the rules against unauthorized mental scans when it is advantageous for them to do so, against other telepaths and against normals. The Jedi use their powers to influence the minds of others. Qui-Gon uses the Force to try to cheat Watto into accepting currency he can't use. Obi-Wan uses the Force to make the Death Stick pusher in the club leave and go home to contemplate his future, even though that had no bearing on their mission.

The more I thought about it, the more sinister the Jedi seemed to me. The idea of a group with unusual powers who are raised to think they are better than everyone else and who are given wide latitude to do what they deem necessary is frightening.

Which brings me to Harry Potter and the wizarding world. The wizards also share several of these characteristics. They have special powers. They are a group apart and most seem to consider themselves better than the Muggles. Children with magical ability and Muggle parents are assimilated into the wizarding world and taught to think of the world they were raised in as "other".

I wonder what would happen if a child didn't attend Hogwarts. We know that Harry was taken off to Hogwarts against the explicit wishes of his legal guardians. But he's a special case. What if Hermione's parents didn't want her to go to Hogwarts? What if Justin Finch-Fletchly decided he'd rather go to Eton after all?

These kids are able to do some magic without training or wands. It's only after they are somewhat trained that they are forbidden to do magic at home in the holidays. It can't be tracked solely by their wands, though. When Harry blows up his Aunt Marge, he does it accidentally, no wand needed, and the MInistry knows about it.

So, if Hermione didn't go to Hogwarts because her parents wouldn't let her, you can be sure that she would learn how to do magic anyhow. What would the MInistry do? Would they leave her alone or crack down on her to stop? Or would they force her parents to let her go to Hogwarts after all? If a telepath doesn't want to join the Corps, they are forced to take drugs to damp their ability. Would the Ministry do likewise?

The thing that creeps me out most about the wizards, and I've raised this point before, is how cheerfully they use their Memory Charms, mostly on Muggles, but also on each other. They erase experiences from people's minds without permission. It's an incredible violation. But nobody really seems very fussed about it. That's scary. Scarier than the Jedi, actually.

So, in conclusion, with great power comes great responsibility, but nobody really seems to remember that.

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