In response to this symposium at Wired about the Battle of Hoth, my thoughts:
“The overly episodic focus of military historians and policy experts rather typically leads them to ignore the deeper structural considerations shaping this period in the history of galactic society. The Battle of Hoth is in fact an epiphenomenal afterthought notable largely for the waste of lives and resources on both sides, rather than any kind of turning point in the conflict. In the longue duree, what is more striking by far is the escalating failure of bureaucratic centralization under the late Imperial government, which was in turn little more than an extension of a similar structural contradiction in the late Republic period. Paying too much attention to ideological superstructures like ‘The Force’ conceals the degree to which galactic governance in either period had become a form of tributary extraction from separate polities whose cultures and languages were poorly integrated into the dominant elite culture. The Empire’s racial preference for humans with pink skin and a selected set of other privileged subaltern cultures was simply a ratification of the tendencies towards speciescentric elitism in the Republic, and the tendency to rely upon technological violence and coercion to keep systems in line merely a variation on the use of highly trained paramilitary “Jedi” to intimidate rebellious or dissenting local elites in the late Republic.
Battles like Hoth were a constant feature of the late Republic and Imperial periods alike, but have received less attention from scholars due to the lack of participation by charismatic leaders whose long-term importance was negligible, like Darth Vader and Leia Organa. In many ways, the destruction of Imperial facilities by poorly armed indigenes in the Endor system is more indicative of the ways in which galactic governance was fragmenting and failing in the late Imperial period. Treating the Rebellion as a privileged mode of dissent in an era when many other systems and social classes were in other ways ‘slipping through the fingers’ of the Coruscant metropole is itself granting too much credit to a ragtag band of avidly self-promoting malcontents.”