Who doesn’t love Empires? As an extensive group of states or countries ruled over by a single monarch, an oligarchy or a sovereign state (thanks Wikipedia) what’s not to love? Well apart from the impoverishment of a working-class, the struggle to effectively manage logistics for an empire that spanned entire continents and the said working class’s tendency to rise up and topple everything you’ve built there’s pretty much no downsides!
However, considering I’m currently residing in a convict colony for one of the greatest empire builders of the modern-day, I thought I’d steer the discussion onto fictional empires and specifically, which one of them would be renowned as the greatest empire there ever was.
Contestant One: Fire Nation – Avatar The Last Airbender
One of Avatar The Last Airbender’s four states and five sovereign nations, The Fire Nation is ruled as an absolute autocratic monarchy with the largest substantial military presence by far of anyone in that world/story universe.
That fire in the Fire Nation’s name isn’t just a clever reference to their temperament towards others, they can literally bend fire to their will like any good warlock worth their salt. It’s also a not-so-subtle allegory to their militaristic and political dealings as they’re very much a scorched earth leave no stone unturned type of empire.
I mean, they did plunge the entire world into a centuries-long global conflict and commit just a whole lot of war crimes but who here hasn’t gotten a little war crazy during a night on the town with your mates.
During this conflict, they invade and enslave their enemies as any “good” empire does but what keeps them from being a real contender is that they just don’t stick around that long. Sure, they go to war for a century but never really get around to establishing themselves as the undisputed rulers of the world, which is a pretty big gap on the resume if you ask me.
Contestant Two: United Citizen Federation – Starship Troopers
Straight away, our new contestant leapfrogs The Fire Nation based on the fact they’ve actually established themselves as a ruling faction for the planet of Earth. Yes, it’s the twenty-third century and the people are under the spell of that damn menace – Patriotism or the planetary space-esque version of Patriotism anyway.
Everyone loves the United Citizen Federation in Starship Troopers, they’ve got a dedicated military force that citizens are encouraged to join regularly which they are more than happy to do. They’re even waging interplanetary wars, committing various war crimes and likely starting the war against the bugs that we see unfold in the movie (as I walked about in my previous blog post about villains).
Brainwashing your citizens into believing your own propaganda and actively joining your military in the belief that they’re destined for greatness is a go-to move for many empires in real life and fiction so this alone doesn’t give them a great chance in this contest. They also don’t really become a galaxy or universe conquering empire they’ve only stuck to the Earth which is small fry compared to our next contestant.
Contestant Three: The Galactic Empire – Star Wars
You all knew this one was coming. It’s the big daddy, the pinnacle, the go-to example when people think about the big bad of sci-fi – Star Wars’ Galactic Empire.
They’ve got everything the previous two contestants had and then so much more. Invaded and enslaved any enemies or worlds that resisted them?
Swayed the public perception of themselves through the use of propaganda and scapegoating their enemies?
Committing war crimes?
With the best of them.
Yeah, the Empire didn’t even have that much opposition to its implementation in the beginning thanks to the long-term planning of Darth Sidious. After years and years of galactic warfare that Sidious orchestrated, pulling the strings on both sides masterfully before swooping in while the Republic was on its knees and converting the beacon of freedom into the tyrannical empire Star Wars fans know all too well.
I’ve got to give Sidious credit, getting a populous to vote him into power so willingly was a masterstroke as was the fact that the Galactic Empire was only defeated after Sidious’ protégé turned heel and overthrew him for the power of love.
The Empire was an incredible expansive power for years, destroying planets at their whim and undoubtedly would have continued their expansive iron gripped reign for even more years to come had it not been for a whining Tatooine farm boy and his equally whining son.
So, I guess that wraps up this post, now I’ve just got to sort out the post, get it edited and then it’s ready to be posted. Wait, what’s this?
A new challenger approaches…
Contestant Four: The Federation – Star Trek series
Yes, yes let the hate flow through you. You know what’s better than taking over an entire republic after years and years of constant war and infighting? Forming an entire federation and deluding the masses into thinking that you’re the good guys, that’s what.
Now before you start explaining the intricate details of everything Star Trek related in order to justify the actions of the characters across the series run let me just explain. This is a society that has collectively ended any and every source of conflict and difference between its citizens and as a result have turned their attention to space and decided to bring the humanity brand of “help” to the wider universe.
Throughout the series the formula is pretty much this – a planet is having a bit of a disturbance or internal conflict that the Federation has decided to monitor while espousing their Prime Directive only to explain why they need to break the directive ‘just this once’ in order to step in and impose their values and will onto these sovereign people. And people still see them as the good guy. It boggles the mind!
Taking all this into consideration, I’m giving the top award to Star Trek’s Federation because the greatest empire has the people under said empire not even knowing they’re part of the empire.
Have I left out any obvious fictional empires? Do you agree with the list? Let me know in the comments below.
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