Palpatine, The Portrait of a Perfect Sociopath and Master Politician

By Xah Lee. Date: . Last updated: .

Good is a Point of View

Palpatine, the master salesman. Watch carefully his intonations, the way he pauses his speech. And, every nuance of his facial expressions. At critical points, he turns and exams carefully his subject's reactions.

“Not from a Jedi”
Star Wars Palpatine Anakin opera scene

PALPATINE Anakin, you know I'm not able to rely on the Jedi Council. If they haven't included you in their plot, they soon will.

ANAKIN I'm not sure I understand.

PALPATINE You must sense what I have come to suspect… the Jedi Council want control of the Republic… they're planning to betray me.

ANAKIN I don't think…

PALPATINE Anakin, search your feelings. You know, don't you?

ANAKIN I know they don't trust you…

PALPATINE Or the Senate… or the Republic… or democracy for that matter.

ANAKIN I have to admit my trust in them has been shaken.

PALPATINE Why? They asked you to do something that made you feel dishonest, didn't they?

PALPATINE They asked you to spy on me, didn't they?

ANAKIN I don't know … I don't know what to say.

PALPATINE Remember back to your early teachings. Anakin. “All those who gain power are afraid to lose it.” Even the Jedi.

ANAKIN The Jedi use their power for good.

PALPATINE Good is a point of view, Anakin. The Sith and the Jedi are similar in almost every way, including their quest for greater power.

ANAKIN The Sith rely on their passion for their strength. They think inward, only about themselves.

PALPATINE And the Jedi don't?

ANAKIN The Jedi are selfless. They only care about others.

The Story of Darth Plagueis

Q: “Is it possible to learn this power?
A: Not from a Jedi.”

PALPATINE Did you ever hear the tragedy of Darth Plagueis “the wise”?


PALPATINE I thought not. It's not a story the Jedi would tell you. It's a Sith legend. Darth Plagueis was a Dark Lord of the Sith, so powerful and so wise he could use the Force to influence the midi-chlorians to create… life. He had such a knowledge of the dark side that he could even keep the ones he cared about from dying.

ANAKIN He could actually save people from death?

PALPATINE The dark side of the Force is a pathway to many abilities some consider to be unnatural.

ANAKIN What happened to him?

PALPATINE He became so powerful… the only thing he was afraid of was losing his power, which eventually, of course, he did. Unfortunately, he taught his apprentice everything he knew, then his apprentice killed him in his sleep. Ironic, he could save others from death, but not himself.

ANAKIN Is it possible to learn this power?

PALPATINE Not from a Jedi.

Consider All Aspects

Palpatine reveals his identity. Consider All Aspects

Listen to him talk. The wisdom, the honesty, the confidence. Such a riveting attraction.

One of the quote is worth mentioning:

If one is to understand the Great Mystery, one must study all its aspects, not just the dogmatic narrow view of the Jedi.

This reminds me, the point of view of the Church, especially of the Middle Ages.

And in real life, that dogmatic view, today, in USA, a view so powerful that anyone who says otherwise is to be condemned, is “equality”, “human rights”.

Darth Sidious the Sociopath

Mace Windu vs Palpatine
Darth Sidious killing 3 Jedi in 10 secs

Look at this character. A smooth operator, and master of swordplay as well. In 10 seconds, kills 3 Jedi knights. Watch this nutty fellow during the sword fight. The angry thrusts, cries, lunatic grimaces. Then, in a sudden twist, his appearance becomes of the weakling, the beggar. A supplicant for mercy and his life. Then, in the next second when he sees the opportunity, he turns into this all powerful exuberance, with over-the-top display of joy.

Recently i read the sociopath article on Wikipedia. In short, it is said to be a “personality disorder”, characterized by a abnormal lack of empathy combined with strongly amoral conduct, masked by a ability to appear outwardly normal. Quote:

“use charisma, manipulation, intimidation, sexual intercourse and violence”[5][6][7] to control others and to satisfy their own needs. Hare states that: “Lacking in conscience and empathy, they take what they want and do as they please, violating social norms and expectations without guilt or remorse”

According to Hare, psychopaths are glib and superficially charming, and many psychopaths are excellent mimics of normal human emotion;[10] some psychopaths can blend in, undetected, in a variety of surroundings, including corporate environments.

It has been estimated by some that one percent of the general population are psychopaths[15] although other studies have reported far lower rates.

Darth Sidious vs Yoda

Darth Sidious vs Yoda

This nutcase is truely fascinating to watch.

Of the 6 star wars movies, the one acting that is most fascinating is this Palpatine, played by Ian McDiarmid (born 1944)

Palpatine Declares the Empire

Palpatine Declares the Empire

So this is how liberty dies, with thunderous applause.

This is a scene from Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005). Revenge of the Sith

At the time, i've spend perhaps 20 hours reading various reviews or commentaries, including much Wikipedia articles about Star Wars. When i watched this movie, the similarity to USA under George W Bush's lead is apparent to me, but i haven't seen similar expressions. Though, in the back of my mind, i thought it must be common. Indeed, the uploader of this video titled it “Bush's next speech”.

Quote from USA Today:

Since early screenings of Episode III: Revenge of the Sith began last month, film critics, commentators and Internet bloggers have been debating whether filmmaker George Lucas is comparing President Bush and the Iraq war to the Dark Side of the Force. The conservative film site has called for a boycott. The topic even made NBC's Today show.

[Politics creates a disturbance in the Force , By César G. Soriano, USA TODAY.]

For another depiction of mastery manipulation, see: Poor Unfortunate Souls.